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In 1682 the Royal Hospital was founded by King Charles II as a retreat for veteran soldiers. By 1689, with building still ongoing, pensions were introduced for all soldiers injured in service or who had served for more than 20 years. When the Royal Hospital was completed in 1692, many became in-pensioners. Other eligible ex-soldiers became out-pensioners, continuing to receive their pension from the Royal Hospital, but living elsewhere.
By 1815 there were 36,575 out-pensioners across the country, veterans of the Seven Years, Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The out-pensioners included those in the Western Isles, many of whom had been blinded in the Egyptian desert. Those who were blinded received £30 a year and an additional £12 for a guide.