Gloucestershire: volunteer infantry and artillery of 1803 (other than Bristol)

On this page are notes on the organisational basics, dress and equipage of the infantry volunteer corps of Gloucestershire formed or re-formed in the second wave of volunteering from 1803, with one important exception – the infantry and artillery of Bristol. This is simply for reasons of space; this page is lengthy enough, and the quantity of material surviving for the Bristol Volunteers of 1803 would fill a large page in itself. Similar information on the Gloucester volunteers of 1797-1802 (Bristol included) can be found on this page.

The Gloucestershire situation exemplifies the complexities and inefficiencies of the volunteer system in some counties. What follows is a lengthy list of corps, many being single companies which, despite a few amalgamations or composite battalions, remained single companies. For the majority, I can find little to report beyond the basic colours provided by Willson’s chart of 1806, but new information will be added if and when it comes along.

A meeting of the Lieutenancy on 27 August 1803 resolved “that the Uniform of the Infantry be in all corps the same; and in each case as simple and economical as possible”. This sensible recommendation was not always have been followed to the letter. In the main, Gloucestershire volunteer infantry of this period adhered in their dress to the current essentials of their two county militia regiments, the North and South – dark blue facings and gold metal, buttons spaced singly. (Despite this, two coats shown below, for Berkeley and Tetbury, have buttons spaced in pairs.) Further details can be found on the Gloucestershire Local Militia page.

Simply listing the corps and their commanders has proved challenging enough, thanks to frequent variations in the names of units, places and officers. The list below is based largely on the House of Commons return of December 1803, Stockdale’s list of 1804 copied from that return, the War Office volunteer list of 1805, Willson’s chart of 1806, and the modern compilation by Brigadier Bullock. Mick Kippin’s compilation has provided a few items not seen elsewhere, while Daniel Brinson’s crisp drawings of insignia have proved a valuable reference.

For Badminton, Dirham, Dodington, Grumbalds Ash, Hawkesbury, Sodbury, Tortworth, see Gloucester. For Barnsley / Bibury, Fairford, Lechlade, Southrop (Southrope), see Britwells Barrow Hundred. For Coln St Aldwin’s, Haythorp and Quininton, see Britwell’s Barrow Hundred.

Click to enlarge images.

[Volunteers of the United Kingdom1803, House of Commons, December 1803; List of the Volunteer and Yeomanry Corps of the United Kingdom … , John Stockdale, London, 1804; A List of the Officers of the Militia, Gentlemen & Yeomanry Cavalry and Volunteer Infantry of the United Kingdom, 11th Edition, War Office, October 1805; James Willson, A View of the Volunteer Army of Great Britain in the Year 1806. Brigadier H Bullock, “Gloucestershire Volunteers, 1795-1815,” JSAHR 154, June 1960. Mick Kippin, “Volunteer Corps in Gloucestershire During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars,” MHS Bulletin 217, August 2004. Daniel Brinson, Military Insignia of Gloucestershire, Bodmin, 2009.]

 

Berkeley Volunteer Infantry

Apparently initially two companies under Capts Dr Henry Jenner and J Symonds. By 1805 one company under Capt and John Cornock. (See also Berkeley Artillery, below.)

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, blue pantaloons. At the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum are Cornock’s dress coat (above), and his jacket (below) styled in the light infantry manner of the South Gloucestershire Militia. The coat is not currently on display. The double breasted front has two rows of eight large buttons set in pairs, with two pairs on each cuff and under each pointed pocket flap, two in each pleat, and two at the rear waist. The collar has one small button at each side. The collar and cuffs have dark blue twist holes, and are narrowly edged in white, as are the front edges / lapels, and the pocket flaps, which have scarlet twist holes. The turnbacks are narrowly edged in dark blue and the ornament is a button (see below) on a white “scalloped” cloth rosette on a dark blue cloth disc.

The jacket is of particular interest and is also discussed in this post. The front has two rows of 17 small buttons, spaced singly, with four more on each cuff, also spaced singly. Each side of the collar has one button, with one on the strap of each wing. The slash pocket flaps each have four small buttons, set in pairs, with two buttons at the rear waist, a pair in each pleat, and one at the lower end of each pleat. The collar buttons have dark blue twist holes and the inside lapels (not shown in these photos) have the upper nine button holes worked in blue twist and the lower eight in scarlet, indicating that the jacket was worn with the upper lapels showing. The collar, tops of cuffs, jacket edges, pocket flaps and pleats are all edged in narrow white cord.

The lower front edge of the jacket, below the white cord, is faced in dark blue, which extends into dark blue turnbacks; these have no ornaments but at each point the white cord forms a small loop.

The straps and wings are edged and decorated with lace and fringe that now clearly appear silver but may perhaps have been originally gold, judging by the button colour. The gilt buttons on both garments are slightly convex, with the raised design of “ByV” in script.

In early October 1803, shortly after the formation of the corps, the three companies were reported as parading behind a band of music, with “their hats decorated with sprigs of oak and laurel-girded, which had a pretty effect”.

[Gloucester Journal, 10 October 1803. R M Grazebrook, “Old Gloucestershire & Bristol Volunteer Uniforms, 1797 to 1814,” JSAHR Vol 39 No 159, September 1961.]

 

Berkeley Volunteer Artillery

Capt Daniel Marklove, Capt Henry Marklove. One company.

Willson’s chart gives blue faced red, no officer’s lace, blue legwear.

Reported in March 1805 as having two field pieces.

[Gloucester Journal, 1 April 1805.]

 

Britwells Barrow Hundred Volunteers / Britwell Barrow and Bradley Hundreds Volunteers

Five companies, originally independent but amalgamated by 1805. Lieut Col Comm Thomas Raymond Barker.

Barnsley / Bibury: Capt William Hale
Coln St Aldwin’s (Col) (St Aldwyn), Haythorp (Hatherop) and Quininton (Quenington): Capt Michael Hicks Beach, Capt William Hicks Beach (wrongly, Peach).
Fairford: Capt Thomas Raymond Barker
Lechlade: Capt Thomas Powell
Southrop (Southrope): Capt William Nash

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

 

Caldicot (Caldecott) Pikemen / Caldicot Light Infantry

Capt James Charles Lewis. Not listed in 1803. Actually in Monmouth, but invariably listed under this county.

Willson’s chart gives blue faced red, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

 

Cheltenham Volunteers / Loyal Cheltenham Volunteers / Royal Cheltenham Volunteers

Lieut Col Sir William Hicks. Four companies. The corps originated at a meeting of 15 August 1803. It was still in existence in May 1809, not having transferred to the Local Militia.

Willson’s chart gives red, faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

[Gloucester Journal, 22 August 1803.]

 

Cirencester Volunteers

Lieut Col Joseph Cripps. Initially three, later four companies. The corps was still active in November 1809, not having transferred to the Local Militia.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

On 10 November 1803 a subscription was opened to provide the corps with “warm Woollen Under-dresses … essentially necessary to the preservation of the Health of the Volunteers, when called out at this season of the year.” Elsewhere this clothing is described as “flannel waistcoats”.

[Gloucester Journal, 21 November 1803. Cheltenham Chronicle, 9 November 1809.]

 

Clifton Volunteers

Capt[?] R B Deverell. Two companies, amalgamated in early 1804 with Westbury on Trim as the Westbury & Clifton Volunteers (see below), of which Deverell was commissioned Major.

 

Loyal Cotswold Volunteers

Capt John Hanks.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, blue pantaloons.

 

Dudbridge Volunteers

Capt Richard Fowler Richards. Not listed in 1803.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

 

Dursely (Dursley) Volunteers / Dursely, Stinchcomb and Cam Volunteers 

Capts John Vizard, Edward Willington (Wallington). Listed as one company in 1803, but two in 1805.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear. The corps was reported as appearing in its new uniform first on 26 December 1803.

[Gloucester Journal, 2 January 1804.]

Farmington Volunteers

Capt Edward Duke.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

 

Gloucester Volunteers / Royal Gloucester Volunteers / Gloucestershire Loyal Volunteer Infantry

Six originally independent companies, amalgamated by 1805, though still listed as officered by captains only.

Badminton (Badmington): Capt Henry, Duke of Beaufort.
Dirham (Dyrham): Capt George William Blaythwayt.
Dodington: Capt Christopher Codrington. Capt Thomas Partridge or Capt Nicholas Isaac? Organised, clothed and armed by September 1803.
Grumbalds Ash: Ensign W Hignam (Highnam), Capt Thomas Partridge or Capt Nicholas Isaac?
Sodbury: Capt Thomas Hitling (Helling.)
Tortworth (Hawkesbury?): Capt Francis, Lord Ducie.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, blue pantaloons. Silvered buttons and a silver belt plate have been attributed to the City of Gloucester Volunteers (see below), but on the basis of the silver lace given by Willson might well be a fit here. Both show a crown over a French circle, enclosing the shield of the arms of the city; the button (below left), slightly convex, is recorded in a diameter of 21.5 mm. The plate, sold at Christie’s in 2006 and listed by Brinson, is rectangular with clipped corners with a heavily raised design, and is said to be hallmarked 1812, which would indicate service beyond the formation of the Local Militia.

A flat “copper” button (above right), showing a raised crown over script “GLVI”, 16 mm in diameter, has also been attributed to this corps.

[Gloucester Journal, 12 September 1803. Dixon Pickup, “Excavated Buttons of Some Interest”, MHS Bulletin 237, August 2009.]

 

City of Gloucester / Gloster Volunteers / Glocester Volunteers / Royal Glocester Volunteers / Royal Gloucester Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm John Parker. Four companies. The corps originated at a meeting on 26 July 1803, at which a subscription to provide clothing was opened.

The clothing was reported as delivered to the men on 10 January 1804, and their first appearance in uniform as at parade on the 12th. Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear. For the silver button and belt plate attributed to this corps, despite the gold lace noted by Willson, see under the Gloucester Volunteers, above.

Delivery of a “further supply of arms” was reported on 24 November 1803, and that “very few are now wanting to complete the equipment of the corps.”

The corps disbanded in November 1808.

[Gloucester Journal, 25 July, 1, 8 August, 28 November 1803, 9 January 1804, 12 June 1809.]

 

Loyal Henbury Volunteers

Capt Samuel Webb, Capt W C Stephens. In August 1804 it was reported that “it is in agitation” to join the company to the Westbury and Clifton Volunteers – see below – but this does not appear to have been carried through.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, white legwear. A button is attributed to this corps, silvered, slightly convex, 15 mm in diameter, showing a crown over “HV / L” in Roman capitals.

[Gloucester Journal, 20 August 1804.]

 

Horsley Volunteers  / Horseley and Nailsworth Volunteers

Capt Edward Wilbraham.  Two companies, amalgamated in late 1803 with Tetbury (see below).

 

Iron Acton Volunteers

Capt Comm — Little, Capt Thomas Shepherd (Sheppard).

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, blue pantaloons.

 

King Stanley (Stanley) Riflemen / Loyal King Stanley Riflemen 

Capt Nathaniel Peach Wathen (wrongly, Warren). One company.

Willson’s chart gives green faced black, officer’s lace black, green pantaloons. The uniform is said by Paul Hawkins Fisher to have “very much resembled” that of the neighbouring Severn Riflemen (see below), namely: “… a bottle-green jacket and pantaloons, with black velvet cuffs and collar, a black velvet stock, a helmeted cap with upright blue feather, black leather cross belts and pouch, with horn powder-flask, a short rifle, and sword.” However, the Severn Riflemen had previously been formed in 1798, and this description might refer to that period; the “helmeted cap” or Tarleton may be suspect for 1803.

A button is known that might be attributable to this corps, which is silvered, slightly convex, 18.5 mm in diameter, showing a raised design of a crown over script “LKSV”, conceivably for “Loyal King Stanley Volunteers” rather than “Riflemen”.

(An account of the 1804 dispute between this corps and Severn Riflemen, and the ensuing court case, is given in this post.)

[Paul Hawkins Fisher, Notes and Recollections of Stroud, Gloucestershire, London, 1871.]

 

Marshfield Volunteers

Listed by Bullock on the basis of a report (in “unidentified contemporary newspapers”) of a review of February 1804 with Dodington and Sodbury, but not in any other source.

 

Minchinhampton Rifles

Noted by Bullock as “doubtful” on the basis of a single reference in 1947, but not in any other source.

 

Northleach  (North Leach) Volunteers

Capt John Eccles.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, white legwear.

 

Rodborough Volunteers / Woodchester Volunteers

Capt George Hawker. “Rodborough” seems to have been the usual title.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, blue pantaloons.

 

Severn Riflemen / Severn Volunteer Riflemen / Severn Rifle Volunteers

Capt Comm, later Major Samuel Wathen. Two companies, augmented to three by April 1805. Based at Stroud. The corps was re-formed at a meeting on 26 July 1803.

Drawing by Daniel Brinson

Willson’s chart gives green faced green, officer’s lace black, green pantaloons. Paul Hawkins Fisher provides this description: “… a bottle-green jacket and pantaloons, with black velvet cuffs and collar, a black velvet stock, a helmeted cap with upright blue feather, black leather cross belts and pouch, with horn powder-flask, a short rifle, and sword.” However, this corps (under this title and as the “Stroud Riflemen”) had been previously formed in 1798, so this description might refer to that period; the “helmeted cap” or Tarleton is maybe suspect for 1803. Moreover, Fisher states that at a shooting match in 1804 the Severn Riflemen lay down, “resting their rifles on their caps,” which seems to eliminate the wearing of helmets.

Brinson illustrates a shoulder belt plate, from the 1803 period judging by the unit title; no details are given. The oval plate shows “SEVERN ● VOLUNTEER ● RIFLEMEN” in Roman capitals above a ribbon inscribed “AD ● SCOPUM ●” (At the target), enclosing a crown.

A report of May 1804 noted the “novelty” of their exercise, and its attraction to large numbers of spectators at Gloucester, where they were on duty at the time.

(An account of the 1804 dispute between this corps and the King Stanley Riflemen – see above – and the ensuing court case, is given in this post.)

[Gloucester Journal, 25 July 1803, 28 May 1804, 6 May 1805. Paul Hawkins Fisher, Notes and Recollections of Stroud, Gloucestershire, London, 1871.]

 

Stone House (Stonehouse) Volunteers 

First company, Capt Henry Eycott (Ecott). Second company, Capt Nathaniel Dymock (Dimock).

Willson’s chart gives both as red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, white legwear.

 

Stow Volunteers

Capt William Bricknell.

Willson’s chart gives red faced black, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

 

Stroudwater Volunteers

This corps was raised at Stroudwater, with Paul Wathen chosen as commanding officer, and 13 other officers nominated. In late October 1803 it was reported that Government had “postponed” its offer of service, while an announcement by the intended officers in the Gloucester press in November lamented the “want of the necessary recommendation to Government”. Meanwhile, the members resolved unanimously to “hold themselves in readiness for such a call as circumstances might render necessary, or Government think proper to make”. Despite this, the corps appears to have disbanded in November.

[Gloucester Journal, 24 October, 28 November 1803.]

 

Tetbury Volunteers / Tetbury Loyal Volunteers / Tetbury and Horseley (Horsley) (Longtree Hundred) Volunteers / Longtree Volunteers

Tetbury, Major Henry Hall Sloper. Three companies, amalgamated in late 1803 with the two companies of Horseley (see above), under Lieut Col Thomas Saunders. Reported as six companies in March 1805. New colours were presented by the Countess of Berkeley on 26 March 1805, replacing those of the separate Tetbury and Horseley corps. (Sources state that only a single, regimental, colour was presented, but this seems to be in error.)

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, white legwear. Kippin illustrates an officer’s scarlet coat, but gives no location; the collar is not visible in the photograph used. The front, which  appears – very unusually – to be single breasted, has ten buttons spaced in pairs, two pairs to each cuff, two in each pleat, apparently two pairs under each straight pocket flap and two at the rear waist; all appear to be the same, large size. The front and flaps show scarlet twist holes, extended on the front, and it seems fair to presume that the cuffs have dark blue twist holes. The lower coat edge, tops of cuffs, the side and lower edges of the flaps, and possibly the front (and top?) edge of the collar, are all piped in white. The white turnbacks are edged in narrow dark blue tape, and the turnback ornament appears to be the Prince of Wales’s feathers over some form of ribbon, presumably in silver wire, judging by known buttons.

Silvered buttons are identified to the Tetbury corps, apparently in four sizes – 20, 18 and 14 mm. The slightly convex raised design shows the two dolphins of the arms of Tetbury between “T L / V” in Roman capitals, apparently for “Tetbury Loyal Volunteers”, unless the “L” is for “Longtree”.

The 1805 regimental colour was inscribed on one side “Longtree Hundred”, and on the other “United in Defence of Our King and Country”. The KIng’s colour was reported as “ornamented in the usual manner”, presumably meaning a Union flag.

[Gloucester Journal, 18 March, 1 April 1805.]

 

Tewkesbury (Tewksbury) Volunteers / Royal Tewkesbury Volunteers

Initially, apparently three captains: Samuel Trueman, T Vernon, R Bennett. By January 1805 Capts Thomas Vernon, John Pitt Nind, James Gorle. Then Capt Comm Samuel Trueman (Truman), Major Comm John Pitt Nind. Disbanded and transferred to the Local Militia in 1808. A pair of colours was presented in May 1805, of which one was laid up in Tewkesbury Abbey, where it is said by Kippin (in 2004) to remain, though “now entirely faded and threadbare”.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, blue pantaloons. Kippin specifies “half-boots” and, confusingly, “a shako-type helmet with the regimental badge on the front”, but no source is given.

A gilt button has been identified to this corps; the design shows a crowned circle with the seal image of Tewkesbury Castle, surrounded by the “GR” cipher in a foliate form above “TEWKESBURY” in Roman capitals.

[James Bennett, History of Tewkesbury, 1830. Philip Haythornthwaite & Denis Darmanin, “The Tewkesbury Volunteers”, MHS Bulletin 248, May 2012.]

 

                                       Tockington Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Samuel Peach Peach (apparently wrongly, J P or S S Peach). Four companies.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

Kippin illustrates what is captioned as an officer’s shoulder-belt plate, c 1795, but its form, and the holes for fastening, suggest that this is a cap plate of 1803. Rectangular, with clipped corners, the design shows a crowned garter inscribed “TOCKINGTON ● REGIMENT ●” in Roman capitals, enclosing the “GR” cypher, all within a wreath of laurel. No source is given.

 

Uley Volunteers 

Capt Josiah Jackson, Lieut Jacob Hayward (Hayword).

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

 

Westbury on Severn Volunteers

                                                             Capt John Windle (Wintle).

Drawing by Daniel Brinson

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, white legwear.

A button is known for this corps; it is said to be gilt, slightly convex, 19 mm in diameter, showing “WESTBURY ON SEVERN VOLUNTEERS” enclosing a crown. (The “gilt” contradicts both Willson’s listing of silver lace, and the plate below.)

Brinson illustrates the shoulder belt plate of Lieut John Bennett, held in a private collection; the oval silver plate shows “WESTBURY ON SEVERN” in Roman capitals above a crown over the “GR” cypher. (Though Bennet was commissioned in 1809, the plate is hallmarked 1803-04, but could have been worn originally by Lieut Daniel Bennett, commissioned in November 1803, whom I assume to have been John Bennett’s relation.)

Colours were presented on 20 December 1803.

[Gloucester Journal, 19 December 1803.]

 

Loyal Westbury on Trim (Trym) Volunteers 

Capts Thomas Coke and Thomas Hill. Two companies, that in early 1804 amalgamated (see below) with the two companies of Clifton (see above).

The uniform of the original companies is described as “Scarlet jacket, skirts faced yellow, pantaloons of dark mixture cloth, yellow buttons with crown and w.v. engraved; field caps with a tuft, brass plate in front. Officers’ scarlet jackets with gold epaulet; caps and scymeters and brass plate.” The wearing of caps, jackets and “scymeters” (scimitars) by officers indicates that the corps was dressed as light infantry. (Though yellow facings might seem to be implied, I wonder if “skirts faced yellow” could actually refer to gold or yellow edging on the turnbacks?)

[H J Wilkins, History of the Loyal Westbury Volunteer Corps, 1804-1814, Bristol, 1918.]

 

Loyal United Westbury (on Trim) & Clifton (Clifton Edge) Volunteers

Lieut Col Thomas Coke. This corps was the amalgamation, in early 1804, of the Clifton and Westbury on Trim companies (see above). In August 1804 it was reported that “it is in agitation” to join the independent Henbury company – see above – to the corps, but this does not appear to have been carried through.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, light blue pantaloons.

[Gloucester Journal, 20 August 1804.]

 

Winchcombe (Winchcomb) Volunteers

Bullock and Kippin state that an attempt was made in 1803 to revive the Winchcombe corps of 1798, but this appears to have been abortive. (Bullock describes what he suggests was a proposed uniform, but this seems more likely to have been that of the Royal Gloucester Volunteers of 1798.)

 

Withington Volunteers

Capt Benjamin Grisdale, Lieut John Brown.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, white legwear.

 

Wotton Underedge (under Edge) Volunteers / Wotton under Edge and Wortley Volunteers

Capts Henry Winchcombe Dyer and S Osborne Yeates (or Yeats. Wrongly, just Osborne. Wrongly, Yates). Two companies.

Rather unusually, Captain Dyer, at a parade on 2 June 1807, announced that all the officers would resign their commissions immediately, in reaction to the government initiative by which volunteer sergeants were encouraged to recruit members into the regular army. The other ranks immediately withdrew their names also from the roll, and the corps was effectively disbanded.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear. The corps was reported to have first appeared in full uniform on 26 December 1803.

An officer’s shoulder belt plate is kept at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, and is listed by Brinson. It is oval, described as of copper but presumably originally gilt, with an applied design in silver of a crowned garter inscribed “WOTTON ● VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals, enclosing a Union flag incised on the gilt ground.

[Gloucester Journal, 2 January 1804 8 June 1807.]

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