Beginnings

In 1983, Brigadier L G Hinchliffe MBE introduced his book, "Trust and Be Trusted", with the following Author's Note:

  

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" Paymasters first served with the English Army in the latter part of the Sixteenth Century. At least two of the Treasurers-at-War appointed by Queen Elizabeth I to look after her military finances on the Continent had Paymasters on their staffs. There is no detailed record of these Paymasters' duties, but almost certainly they included the supervision of the Army's Treasure Chest. This massive box, iron-bound and furnished with huge locks, was dragged along on a cart by horses or oxen in the army train. Its immediate protection was provided by a guard of at least a score of soldiers. The keys never left the possession of the Treasurer-at-War.

 

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In the field all transactions were conducted in coin. For the pay of soldiers it was issued from the Treasure Chest to the Captains of companies by the Treasurer-at-War on the basis of muster rolls. All dealings with soldiers were in the hands of the Captains and their clerks. These regimental pay duties were jealously retained by the Captains. The reason was plain. So crude and open to malpractice were the methods that the opportunities for peculation, not only from the illiterate soldiers, but from the Queen herself, were many.

During the Eighteenth Century some Colonels of Regiments gave the title "Paymaster" to officers who became involved in the payment of soldiers as a main part of their duties and this practice was formalised in 1797 when Paymasters with special commissions were gazetted to the Regiments, under the so-called " New Military Finance". Eighty years later, following the administrative disasters of the Crimean war and encouraged by the reforming zeal of Edward Cardwell, it was decided to bring all Army Paymasters into a single organisation to be known as the "Army Pay Department". The Royal Warrant giving effect to this was signed by Queen Victoria on 22nd October 1877 and the Department came into being on 1st April 1878. Four years later its complementary organisation comprised of non-commissioned officers was established and called the "Army Pay Corps". The Department and the Corps served through the South African War and, as a result of their efforts in the 1914/18 War, were, in 1920, independently awarded the prefix "Royal". In the same year they were amalgamated into the "Royal Army Pay Corps".

When and where then does this history have its beginnings? Some of the present-day duties of the Royal Army Pay Corps are as old as soldiering itself, as the derivation of the word indicates. We do not know when English soldiers first received pay, but we do know that financial inducements were offered when feudal obligation, as the means of raising armies, began to be replaced by other methods in late Mediaeval times"




The following are a series of in-depth studies of Army Finance, Pay and Conditions of Service
(first published in the Corps Journal during 1931/32 by Lt Col EE Todd OBE RAPC)


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  Notes on Army Pay 1066-1642        

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   Notes on Army Pay 1642-1711    

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   Notes on Army Pay 1711-1802   

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   Notes on Army Pay 1802-1914  



Paymaster of the Forces 1661

The Paymaster of the Forces was a position in the British government. The office, which was established 1661 after the Restoration, was responsible for part of the financing of the British Army. Its full title was Paymaster-General of His Majesty's Forces. This should not be confused with the post of Paymaster General, created in 1836 by the merger of the positions of Paymaster of the Forces, Treasurer of the Navy, Paymaster and Treasurer of Chelsea Hospital and Treasurer of the Ordnance.

The first to hold the office was Sir Stephen Fox.

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Before his time there was no standing army and it had been the custom to appoint Treasurers at War, ad hoc, for campaigns. Within a generation of the Restoration, the status of the Paymastership began to change. In 1692 the then Paymaster, the Earl of Ranelagh, was made a member of the Privy Council; and thereafter every Paymaster, or when there were two Paymasters at least one of them joined the council if not already a member. From the accession of Queen Anne the Paymaster tended to change with the government. By the 18th century the office had become a political prize and perhaps potentially the most lucrative that a parliamentary career had to offer. Appointments to the office were therefore often made not upon merit alone, but by merit and political affiliation. It was occasionally a cabinet-level post in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and many future prime ministers served as Paymaster.

The duty of the Paymaster was to act as sole domestic banker of the army. He received, mainly from the Exchequer, the sums voted by Parliament for military expenditure. Other sums were also received, for example from the sale of old stores. He disbursed these sums, by his own hands or by Deputy Paymasters; these payments being made under the authority of signed manual warrants as far as related to the ordinary expenses of the army, and under Treasury warrants in the case of extraordinary expenses (the expenses which were unforeseen and unprovided for by Parliament).

During the whole time in which public money was in his hands, from the day of receipt until the issue of his final discharge, the "Quietus of the Pipe Office", his private estate was liable for the money in his hands; and failing the Quietus this liability remained without limit of time, passing on his death to his legal representatives.

Appointments were made by the Crown by letters patent under the Great Seal. The patent salary was £400 from 1661 to 1680 and 20 shillings a day thereafter, except for the years 1702–07 when it was fixed at 10 shillings a day.

The office of Paymaster of the Forces was abolished in 1836 and superseded with the formation of the post of Paymaster General.

A list of all post holders can be found here: http://www.history.ac.uk/publications/office/paymaster




Paymaster of the Forces Abroad

From 1702 to 1714, during the War of the Spanish Succession, there was a distinct Paymaster of the Forces Abroad, appointed in the same manner as the Paymaster. These were appointed to a special office to oversee the pay of Queen Anne's army in the Low Countries, and are not in the regular succession of Paymasters of the Forces. The salary of the position was 10 shillings a day. Colonel Thomas Moore was paymaster of the land forces in Minorca and in the garrisons of Dunkirk and Gibraltar and is not always counted among the Paymasters of the Forces Abroad.

  • Charles Fox (23 December 1702 – 10 May 1705)
  • The Hon. James Brydges (10 May 1705 – 4 September 1713)
  • Col. Thomas Moore (4 September 1713 – 3 October 1714)





300-vtiny_rapc_icon.jpg  New Military Finance 1797

Following a review of military finance, new regulations were introduced between 1797 and 1804 formalising the appointment of Paymasters and the activities of the Paymaster-General . Lieutenant Nathaniel Hood produced a book in 1804 describing in great detail the regulations and procedures for the Paymaster-General of His Majesty's Forces and for Regimental Paymasters.