North Yorkshire Yeomanry 1794-1802

This page – necessarily brief in my current state of knowledge – sets out the little I know of the dress and equipage of the troops of North Riding Yeomanry established in 1794. (It does not cover the independent and association troops formed later in the Riding, which might at some point become a topic for a different page.)

The initial role of the Lieutenancy and gentry is well documented in Ashcroft. Names and commission dates have been taken from the War Office list of 1799, and David Knight’s Directory has also been checked.

[A List of the … Officers of the Militia; of the Corps and Troops of Gentlemen and Yeomanry … , War Office, 6th Edition, April 1799. Robert Bell Turton, The History of the North York Militia, 1907, reprint 1973. M Y Ashcroft, To Escape the Monster’s Clutches, North Yorkshire County Record Office Publications No 15, 1977. David J Knight, Directory of Yeomanry Cavalry 1794-1828, The Military Historical Society, Special Number, 2013.]

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At a meeting of 12 June 1794, chaired by Lord Fauconberg, the Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding, it was resolved to raise an unspecified number of troops of volunteer cavalry, “to consist of the Gentlemen and Yeomen”, the government to provide arms and accoutrements.

The following meeting, on 18 July, chaired by Lord Morpeth, resolved that four troops should be formed. These were commanded by Captains Henry, Lord Morpeth; Charles Duncombe; Thomas Core (Coore); and John Wharton. Their commissions were all dated 18 July, the day of the meeting on which their appointments were proposed. Though these troops were technically independent and do not appear to have been constituted as a regiment, they shared (along with the yeomanries of the East and West Ridings) the same, well known agent, Mr Croasdaile of Pulteney Street, subsequently Silver Street, London. All four troops stood down in 1802 and were not re-formed the following year.

The meeting of 18 July also resolved that a maximum of £14 10s should be allowed from the subscription towards the “Clothing, Accoutrements, and Furniture” of each man:

                                                                                                                              £  s  d
A Coat and Waistcoat, agreeable to the Uniform herein agreed to        3  3  0
A Pair of Boots, with Hussar Tops                                                                 1  4  0
A Hat with Feather, Bear Skin, and Cockade                                              1  1  0
Military Bridle, Saddle and Furniture complete, and uniform Spurs    5 13 0
A Pair of Leather or Plush Breeches                                                             1  7  0
A Cloak                                                                                                                2  2  0

The uniform was further specified as:

Uniform Coats of dark Green, with a Button marked N. Y. V.  Waistcoats, Boots, Hats, with Bear Skin, Feather and Cockade, and Leather or Plush Breeches, according to the Patterns to be produced … Accoutrements with Military Bridles, Uniform Saddles and Furniture, complete, as used by Regular Regiments of Light Horse …

Cavalry round hat with bearskin, cockade and feather

These details are none too full, but a little more can perhaps be teased out. The “coat”, at this period, would have been a tailed garment, perhaps (as the troops were identified as “light horse”) of jacket length, possibly single breasted, and open above the waist to show the waistcoat. As the coat alone is described as green, we can assume that the waistcoat would have been white, just as the breeches would have been white or whitened.

One guinea seems distinctly cheap at the time for a Tarleton helmet with complete fittings, and I’d suggest that the “Hat” here adopted was a round hat with a bearskin crest, with cockade and feather at the side – not unknown among volunteer cavalry of this early period, for example the Dorset Rangers, as shown here.

Photo Derek Greenwell

A button exactly fitting the description is known, an example found in the adjacent area of the Wolds. It is flat, silvered, and 22 mm in diameter, the raised design showing simply “N.Y.V” in Roman capitals.

During the eight year period of service, several re-clothings would have been required, which would undoubtedly have seen the fashions updated; a Tarleton helmet and short light dragoon jacket would seem inevitable.

At the meeting of 12 June 1794 , it was resolved that twelve carbines with accoutrements should be issued per troop.

(A better known button, showing a crowned rose over “N.Y.C”, was worn by the North Yorkshire Yeomanry of 1831. A kettle drum showing the Royal arms of 1801-16, inscribed “North York Yeomanry Cavalry” and sold by Bosley’s in 1998, perhaps more likely belonged to the North Regiment of West Riding Yeomanry.)


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