A soldier deserting – from hospital

Hospital admission registers are full of information, though sometimes not quite the information you might expect.  Usually, you’ll see the date the person was admitted, the reason for their admission and the outcome.  But sometimes, there’s a glimpse of something we may never know the answer to.

Take the admission registers for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary during the 1780s.  This image shows people being admitted during February of that year for a variety of illnesses – a fractured lower jaw, a lacerated wound on a finger, and gonorrhoea being some.  The outcome varies from cured, better, incurable or dead, though there is one entry where none of these apply.

Admission register for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary covering 1783 - 1785 showing the admission of Charles Young, a soldier, on 15th February 1783.
GRHB 1/3/27 Aberdeen Royal Infirmary: Admission Register, 1783 – 1785

The register shows the admission of Charles Young, a soldier, who was admitted with an ulcer on his leg on 15th February 1783.  It then notes that he was dismissed from hospital on 19th February but seemingly not as a result of any treatment – the note at the end of his entry records that he ‘deserted’.  This term obviously has a double meaning when referring to a soldier, and in this case it would not appear to refer to Charles Young deserting from the army.  The term is used to describe people who would self-discharge themselves from hospital before their treatment was finished or before the doctors would allow them to leave. Why Charles felt he had to, however, is indeed unknown!

The admission registers to the Infirmary do not have a full index to all those admitted, but the wonderful Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society have published four volumes of indexes of deaths in the Infirmary between 1743 and 1897. However, there is a gap in the indexes between 1822 and 1838 as the admission registers for this time period aren’t as complete as they are before or after.

The indexes give the name of the person, the date of admission, their age (if noted in the register), their residence, and date of death. Sometimes there are notes, which can include any different surnames and in later volumes occupations are recorded too. The information found in the admission registers may not provide anything more than in the indexes, but sometimes the name of the person recommending the patient’s admission is noted – as is the reason for admission. The indexes are an incredible source, as the admission registers themselves aren’t indexed so it can be difficult to find people.

The volumes, titled “Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Deaths Recorded” are available to purchase for £4.50 each from the Aberdeen & North East Scotland Family History Society at their shop on King Street in Aberdeen or via their website. The four volumes are:

AA511: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Deaths Recorded Vol 1: 1743-1822
AA512: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Deaths Recorded Vol 2: 1838-1855
AA513: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Deaths Recorded Vol 3: 1855-1870
AA514: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Deaths Recorded Vol 4: 1870-1897

As always, any queries can be emailed to grampian.archives@nhs.net

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