“Not aggravated by vice or intemperance”

I have been examining the 1854 medical discharge paper written about my great great grandfather.  His name (at that time!) was John Wheare and he had served just over 21 years in the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers).  This did not include the three years when he deserted and then re-joined but that’s another story!

The army surgeon describes John as being five foot ten and a quarter inches in height, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion and this exactly matches the description on his enlistment attestation.
He then describes the symptoms from which John Wheare is suffering.  Apparently he had chronic catarrh and dyspnoea (difficulty) breathing.  The surgeon believed that this was caused by long army service and exposure to climate.  John had served in Gibraltar, Dublin, Barbados and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I was relieved to read that his ill-health had not been aggravated by vice or intemperance!

Retiring aged 46 on an army pension, John Wheare narrowly missed embarking for the Crimea.  He was able to take a job with the Coastguard but sadly died 6 years later.


  1. You are so lucky to have hands on documentation of your family! 5ft 10 was well above average height for the time, so he must have had good nutrition. And missing the Crimea was a Good Thing....however you viewed it.

  2. His son wrote the heights of his children in a family Bible & they were all tall especially the daughters. Two of his grand daughters were 6 foot. I am a little shrimp.