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Britains SoldiersRethinking War and Society, 1715-1815$
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Kevin Linch and Matthew McCormack

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319556

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319556.001.0001

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Disability, Fraud and Medical Experience at the Royal Hospital of Chelsea in the Long Eighteenth Century

Disability, Fraud and Medical Experience at the Royal Hospital of Chelsea in the Long Eighteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.183) 9 Disability, Fraud and Medical Experience at the Royal Hospital of Chelsea in the Long Eighteenth Century
Source:
Britains Soldiers
Author(s):

Caroline Louise Nielsen

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846319556.003.0010

Chelsea Hospital was lauded by its contemporaries as the honest rewards of service for the lower class soldier and this view of the Pensioners had considerable cultural capital, with a very similar image being presented in various forms of print culture, from the cheapest ballads to the more expensive essay literature. To some extent, this hagiographic attitude towards the Pensioners has remained in the existing historiography of the institution. However, implicit within the praise for these men was concern about the risk of maintaining those who did not fulfil this ideal. This concern was part of the much wider anxieties about the prevalence of fraud amongst the younger able-bodied parish poor. At Chelsea, many of these individuals were young and some presented themselves to the Hospital without visibly extreme disability. Their narratives were not known by their communities, and not known by those at the Board. This chapter looks at some of the lengths Chelsea went to when dealing with those with both obvious disabilities, and with those that were considered more ambiguous and therefore potentially fraudulent.

Keywords:   Chelsea Pensioners, fraud, disability, administration, army pensions, medicine, charity, Poor Law, Poverty, soldiers

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