Bentley Brothers – James, John and Joseph

James, John and Joseph from Bradford were all recruiting sergeants.

1796 – The Duke of York established 15 recruiting districts in England each with an Inspecting Field Officer, adjutant, two sergeants and medical officers, who were responsible for the physical examination and supervision of recruits in their area. A Paymaster was later added to deal with the financial aspects

1807 – Inspecting Field Officers were the senior officer of an area, approving recruits by medical examination and giving them part payment of their bounty

1810 – Recruiting party members had to be fit experienced men with at least two years’ service, no wounded men as they gave the wrong impression

1812 – All recruiting was passed to the Inspecting Field Officer and all Regimental officers returned to their respective regiments, the men were retained to recruit – from then on NCO’s received more recruiting money

1813  – Married men excluded from Recruiting

1814 – Inspecting Field Officer had the authority to expel any man they thought unfit for recruiting

1815 – By the end of the year recruiting had been drastically reduced

Recruiting was a corrupt system heavily abused by the Officers and NCO.s who in particular would ignore the physical standards for recruits and exceed official bounty to increase their commission on each man.

In 1808 A report from Lord Calvert to Lieutenant-General Vyse (WO46) highlighted a lot of irregularities arising between the recruiting parties of the 2/84th and the Inspecting Field Officer

The bounty was used to pay for ‘necessaries’, but recruiting staff invariably invented items which would leave the recruit in debt before even reaching the regiment

The sergeant was held personally responsible for financial losses during recruiting and had to be wary of those recruits who had already been medically rejected and who saw any easy means of procuring money from the unwary sergeant.

The experienced recruiting sergeant would visit the public-houses and places of amusement frequented by the tradesmen during their leisure, and tell wildly exaggerated tales of campaigns he had never served in, foreign adventures and the riches available – Prize money at this time was awarded to all ranks

It was also a common practice to get recruits drunk and slip the ‘King’s Shilling’ into their pocket and swear before an often compliant magistrate that correct procedures had been followed