Leather Bound Soldier’s Paybook

A leather bound paybook owned by Corporal Alexander Brodie of the Corps of Royal Engineers during the New Zealand Wars.

Brodie enlisted with the Royal Engineers in Edinburgh and was stationed in the United Kingdom before embarking overseas to New Zealand in 1863. He served as a Telegraphist throughout the Waikato campaign (1863-1864) often operating in an extremely hostile environment.

He married Eliza Davidson in Auckland in August 1865 and then served as an Inspector of the Military Electric Telegraph Department in Auckland and Kerikeri, before taking his discharge from the army in 1869.

His paybook includes his personal and embarkation details, his marriage record and names of his children, parents and other immediate family members. A paybook also provided details of a soldier’s responsibilities and expectations. For example details of the provision of pensions for those wounded in action, details of how under the ‘Good Conduct Warrant’ of 1864 gratuities could be granted for exceptional service after 18 years, particulars on clothing requirements, details of how distinguishing marks could be obtained through good service or in Brodie’s case a list of various offences for which he could have expected punishment.

Brodie later spent time in the Thames goldfields (10 years) where he started raising a family. He eventually settled in Auckland where he later died in 1894 aged 54. His military paybook is currently on display in the New Zealand Wars section at the National Army Museum.