In 1983, Brigadier L G Hinchliffe MBE introduced his book, "Trust and Be Trusted", with the following Author's Note:
" 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.
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 the development of Army Finance, Pay and Conditions of Service
(first published in the Corps Journal during 1931/32 by Lt Col EE Todd OBE RAPC)