How could an officer retire from army service in Regency England?

Hello! I’ve been wondering this for a little while, and I would be very grateful to anyone who can help at all, haha! I’m curious about how an officer could retire from the army in Regency England.

So, I was wondering how an officer could retire/leave army service in Regency England. I recently read in this article ([https://reginajeffers.blog/2021/01/25/enlisting-in-the-british-army-during-the-regency-era/](https://reginajeffers.blog/2021/01/25/enlisting-in-the-british-army-during-the-regency-era/)) that that an officer could “sell out” his commission (if he had bought a commission) or “cry out” (if he did not buy it). I am a little confused about specific circumstances in which a man could do this.

Before 1809, an enlisted soldier would serve a life sentence in the army, and, after this, could serve for 7 or 20 years. Were the rules the same or similar for army officers, and does it differ if one rose from the ranks or purchased their commission? For instance, if a man enlisted as a soldier before 1809, and rose up to the role of an officer, would he be able to “cry out” if he wanted to, or would he still need to serve the full life sentence? Could a man “cry out” or “sell out” whenever he wanted?

The article also mentions that an officer could go on “half pay” when they were not in service, but could an officer do this anytime he wished, or only when he was not required to be in service? Because if he could do this whenever he wanted, isn’t that just full retirement with pay, and you get to keep your cool military title? (If you cried out or sold out, you would just be a civilian again).

Another example would potentially be Colonel Fitzwilliam in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. He purchased his commission (before 1809, as he had likely been in service for a long time before 1813, when the novel was published, and if we take this to be the year it is set), but what if he, for some reason, wanted to leave? He is not in active service when the novel is taking place, because he is able to live a civilian life and socialise, etc. in the book. Perhaps if his elder brother was the Earl (he was a second son) and died, he would therefore be the new Earl. If he wanted to retire from service, would he be able to “sell out”, for example, even though he entered pre-1809?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, haha! 🙂

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What do you think?

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