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Journal of John Ross, Assistant Commissary in the Field Train Department of the Ordnance

 Single Item
MS. Eng. hist. e. 31
Held at the Weston Library

  • Request

The journal appears to have been written c. 1822-3, though it is clearly based on a contemporary diary. It covers Ross's entire army career, mainly in Sicily. The journal contains details of incidents in the author's army life, and accounts of the social life and customs, religious practices and topography of the places in which he is stationed. Includes descriptions of:

  1. (pp. 1-3) departure from Gartly, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and the sea journey to London, Nov.-Dec. 1805
  2. (pp. 4-7) Woolwich and the Arsenal, Jan.-July 1806
  3. (pp. 14-18) voyage to Malta, Sept.-Nov. 1806
  4. (pp. 21-5) Malta, Nov.-Dec. 1806
  5. (pp. 26- 430 passim) Sicily, Dec. 1806-Mar. 1807, Sept. 1807- Oct. 1815
  6. (pp. 41-70) campaign in Egypt, Mar.-Sept. 1807
  7. (pp. 74-80) French siege of Scylla in Calabria and evacuation of the garrison, Dec. 1807-Feb. 1808
  8. (pp. 130-40) a summary of General and Garrison Courts Martial, 22 Dec. 1806-31 Dec. 1808, with a note of the sentence in each case
  9. (pp. 169-80) the expedition to Ischia and Procida, June-July 1809
  10. (pp. 252-71) voyage back to England on leave, brief return to Scotland, and return voyage to Sicily, Dec. 1810 to Aug. 1811
  11. (pp. 399-407) ascent of Mount Vesuvius, and tour to Herculaneum and Pompeii, June 1815


  1. (pp. 455-63) 'A return of all the officers of the Field Train Department as they stood on the day of reduction [12 Feb. 1816] with obituaries and remarks since'
  2. (pp. 495-514) a general index to the journal
  3. (pp. 514-16) 'Index to passages of Scripture which I have seen partly illustrated in the manners and customs of those countries in which I have been'
  4. (pp. 516-17) 'Quarters occupied by me during my stay abroad'
  5. (pp. 517-22) List of 'children who were educating at the Parish School of Gartley with me, drawn up from memory twenty four years after when on a visit to the Revd. William Robertson of Carmylie, the last week of December 1822'. Included in the list of 173 names is John Ross himself and three younger brothers, Peter, George and William, all said to originate from Shanquhar, Gartly. A brief note of the current situation [1822] of each child is given where known.


  • Creation: 1805-16 1822-3


528 pages

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. hist. e. 31, fols. 1-2].

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MS. Eng. hist. e. 31

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 14885


Journal of John Ross, Assistant Commissary in the Field Train Department of the Ordnance, 1805-16, probably written 1822-3.

Biographical / Historical

John Ross was born in Gartly, Aberdeenshire, in 1785, the son of John Ross and Ann Gibb ( International Genealogical Index). He joined the Ordnance Department in 1805 as a Conductor of Stores in the Field Train Department, becoming Clerk of Stores, 20 Oct. 1809, and Assistant Commissary, Feb. 1814. Having left the army he married Ann Warrack in 1827 and lived in Aberdeen. He had ten children (sources: 1841 and 1851 censuses). He is listed as the manager of the Aberdeen Coach Manufacturing Co. in the 1837 Aberdeenshire Trade Directory, and is one of the co-partners mentioned in the Edinburgh Gazette, 13 October 1846 which announces the "dissolution of co-partnery" of this company. He died in 1858 aged 73 (biographical references supplied by a descendant of John Ross's brother, Peter).

Other Finding Aids

This is a recataloguing of the brief entry in Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series, vol. VI, part I, p. 4 (SC 31016) where the journal is wrongly described as relating to service in Spain during the Peninsular War. For further details see Michael Webb, 'An officer of the Field Train Department in England, Sicily and Egypt during the Napoleonic Wars: the journal of John Ross of Gartly, 1805-16', Bodleian Library Record, volume XXI, no. 1 (April 2008).

Custodial History

Armorial bookplate of Frederick William Cosens.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased 14 Oct. 1890, John Galwey, bookseller.

Physical Facet

Binding: half calf, marbled boards

Journal of John Ross, Assistant Commissary in the Field Train Department of the Ordnance
EAD version 2018
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom