Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Waldegrave Pelham Clay Orderly Books, 1800-1815

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, February 2010

Summary Information
Title: Waldegrave Pelham Clay orderly books
Creator: Clay, Waldegrave Pelham, 1760-1822
Inclusive dates: 1800-1815
Extent: 3 volumes
The Waldegrave Pelham Clay orderly books consist of three volumes of orders from Clay, a British lieutenant colonel who served in the Mediterranean in 1800, and as a major general, in the British West Indies between 1813-1815. The orders document the military's challenges in distributing food, water, supplies, clothes, and wages, and record disciplinary actions, promotions, and notable military events.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1991. M-2717.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Waldegrave Pelham Clay orderly books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


William Waldegrave Pelham Clay (1760-1822), British Army soldier and officer, was the second son of William Clay and Jemima Pelham of Southwell, England. Between 1777 and 1779, Clay rose from ensign to lieutenant-colonel in the 40th Regiment of Foot. He served in the West Indies on board the HMS Sultan and took part in the attack of Fort Griswold in New London, Connecticut, on September 6, 1781. He was stationed in New York until the British evacuation in November 1783, when he returned to England. His next assignments were in the West Indies, where he rose through the ranks from major in 1795 to lieutenant colonel in 1799. He was sent to the Mediterranean in 1800 and 1801 and was appointed inspecting field-officer of a recruiting district in Ireland in November 1804. In 1808 he was promoted to colonel, and in 1811 to major general stationed at British the West Indies, at Antigua and Trinidad, until 1815.

Clay married Catherine Charlotte around 1789; they had six children. He died in 1822.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Waldegrave Pelham Clay orderly books consist of three volumes from Clay, a British lieutenant colonel who served in the Mediterranean in 1800, and as a major general in the British West Indies between 1813-1815. The orders document the military's challenges in distributing food, water, supplies, clothes, and wages, and record disciplinary actions, promotions, and other notable military events.

Volume 1 (162 pages) spans from August 6, 1800-December 24, 1800, and consists of general orders and announcements relating to the 40th Regiment's movements in the Mediterranean and while it was stationed at Valletta and Malta, after the British Siege of Malta. The entries mention the HMS Hector (September 25, 1800) and the HMS Romulus (November 2, 1800). Many orders came from or mentioned Major General Henry Pigot, who was instrumental during the Siege of Malta. The bulk of the orders are from the December 1800, with daily entries covering several pages each. Included in the book are instructions on how to parade (August 7-14, 1800), a recipe for broth (August 19, 1800), and instances of sentencing for courts martial (November 27, 30, December 11, and 16, 1800). Also of note is an entry describing a soldier killed by a French sentinel after he "did not answer when challenged...[and] had straggled from his guard" (December 10, 1800). The order warned that this incident should not be "grounds for Disagreement or Jealousy" between the French and British troops. Women are also mentioned in the orders: the December 13 order stipulates that women and children would be able to draw rations (with amounts noted); and the December 23 order contains information on housing women in military hospitals. The back of this volume contains several charts for Captain Clay's 40th Regiment relating to "bread money accounts" and rations from 1793-1795. Approximately 80 pages were ripped out of the back.

This volume also contains one loose page (page 267) taken from a letterbook with three complete letters and one partial letter from Clay. Two letters, dated October 8 and December 27, 1817, are addressed to Charles Greenwood; a December 26, 1817, letter is addressed to General G. Gibbons; and the December 27, 1817, letter is to Edward. All are addressed from Southwell, England.

Volume 2 (212 pages) spans from November 8, 1811-March 20th 1813, and contains the day to day brigade orders of Clay's regiment while stationed at Antigua. The orders include the daily parole, information on food and supply rations, general instructions for the regiment, disciplinary records, and details on other British military outposts in the West Indies. The volume also contains copies of letters and circulars written from other headquarters in the West Indies including Barbados and Jamaica. The orderly book opens with an entry declaring Clay's command of Antigua.

Notable entries include:

  • December 24, 1811, ordered rations for "Negros in the medical department"
  • January 24, 1812, ordered a medical board to report "whether a Black Man named [Azer] Cadette, late a Private soldier in the 12th 10 F. Regiment is fit for [major] service."
  • March 25, 1812, requested certificates for "Negros Employ'd not being the property of any officer."
  • April 25, 1812, ordered an extra allowance of rum to those involved with extinguishing a fire.
  • May 24, 1812, forbid bathing during the day because it was considered unhealthy.
  • September 27, 1812, called for a celebration after a the Duke of Wellington's victory over the French at Salamanca in July 1812.
  • January 26, 1813, news of a robbery and attempted murder by a group of men in a detachment at St. Johns.

This volume also contains a loose page, possibly from an orderly book. On one side are lists of "Allowances of Provisions to the Troops on board Men of War," and on the other are short entries of troop movements by sea of the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 40th Regiment, dated March 2-May 4.

Volume 3 (48 pages), which spans March 31-1813-May 13, 1815, documents Major General Clay's brigade orders, while he was stationed in Antigua and Port of Spain, Trinidad. This is like the other orderly books, in that this volume records how the regiment distributed water and rations, and notes disciplinary actions and celebrations. Though the book does not mention any military engagements, it does offer some information on events on the islands. Approximately 50 pages have been torn out of the book. The first page contains a copy of a form used when scheduling evening and night patrols. Notable entries include instructions to celebrate the Kings birthday with a "Royal Salute" and an extra allowance of rum (June 3, 1814); and the celebration of the Queen's Birthday on January 17, 1815. The entry from June 19, 1814, forbade smoking cigars or having fire close to the sea battery's magazines. Also of note are entries from February 24, 25, and 26, which reported the reactions of an "outrage of yesterday evening in the Green Market by some soldiers." The orders instituted a strict curfew with roll calls. Soldiers were also "strictly forbidden to appear in the Streets with large Sticks of Bludgeons or in the unmilitary practice of carrying their Bayonets, in their Hands, instead of having them suspended in their Belts" (June 25). The June 26 entry forbade soldiers from using their "firelocks for the purpose of using them as Fowling Pieces" (shooting at birds) after a child was wounded in the leg "by a slug fired in this manner by a Black Soldier."

Subject Terms

    • Antigua.
    • Camp followers.
    • Courts martial and courts of inquiry--Great Britain.
    • Desertion, Military.
    • Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 40th.
    • Great Britain. Army--Appointments and retirements.
    • Great Britain. Army--Colonial forces--West Indies, British.
    • Great Britain. Army--Medical care.
    • Great Britain. Army--Military life.
    • Great Britain. Army--Officers.
    • Great Britain. Army--Ordnance and ordnance stores.
    • Great Britain. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • Great Britain. Army--Promotions.
    • Great Britain. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
    • Great Britain. Army--Regulations.
    • Great Britain. Army--Supplies and stores.
    • Great Britain. Army--Transportation.
    • Great Britain--Army--Desertions.
    • Military ceremonies, honors, and salutes.
    • Military discipline--Great Britain--Early works to 1800.
    • Military hospitals.
    • Military life.
    • Parades.
    • Pigot, Henry, 1750-1840.
    • Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago)
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    • Valletta (Malta)
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Orderly books.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Waldegrave Pelham Clay orderly books [series]:
    Volume   1  
      August 6, 1800-December 24, 1800
    Volume   2  
      November 8, 1811-March 20th, 1813
    Volume   3  
      March 31, 1813-May 13, 1815
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has many books and maps related to Antigua during the War of 1812. Please consult the University of Michigan online catalog.

    The Jarvis family papers contain items documenting Antigua between 1790 and 1884.


    Smythies, R. Henry Raymond. Historical Records of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment. Devonport [Eng.]: Printed for the subscribers by A. H. Swiss, 1894.