Lancashire: other volunteer infantry and artillery of 1803

On this page are preliminary notes on the organisational basics, dress and equipage of the infantry and artillery volunteer corps of Lancashire formed or re-formed in the second wave of volunteering from 1803, with the exception of the Liverpool and Manchester corps, which have their own pages here and here – purely for reasons of space. As it’s a bit tricky to define the Manchester “area” of this period,  a few smaller corps that could be said to fall within the boundaries of the city are actually listed on this page. The locations detailed below are Ashton, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bold, Bolton, Burton, Bury, Croxteth, Denton and Haughton, Hale, Haleswood and Garston, Heaton, Hulme, Knowsley, Lancaster, Medlock Vale, Newton and Failsworth, Oldham, Pendleton, Prescott, Preston, Radcliffe, St Helen’s, Swinton, Trafford, Ulverston, Warrington, Whiston, Wigan, Winwick. (Also cross-referenced are a few companies of pikemen associated with the Manchester Rifle Regiment, at Blakeley, Bury, Failsworth, Pendleton and Urmston.)

For many in this long list of corps, information is shamefully sparse, but more will be added whenever it comes long.

The majority of Lancashire volunteer infantry of the period adhered in their dress to the current essentials of their county militia regiments – dark blue facings, gold officers’ metal, buttons spaced either in pairs (1st Regiment) or singly (2nd and 3rd Regiments), though with some exceptions and variations. (Further details on the Local Militia page.)

The listing of corps and their commanding officers is compiled largely from the House of Commons return of December 1803, the War Office volunteer list of 1805, Willson’s chart of 1806, and reports in Lancashire newspapers.

Click to enlarge images.

[Volunteers of the United Kingdom1803, House of Commons, December 1803; 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. ]

*          *          *

Ashton Independent Infantry / Ashton-in-the-Willows Volunteers

Capt Comm John Peet. Two companies.

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

Colours were presented by Lady Gerard on 24 January 1804.

[Lancaster Gazette, 4, 11 February 1804.]

 

Ashton-under-Line (Lyne) Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm John Wood. Six companies. This corps was organised in September 1803 by the initiative of Otho Hulme, in conjunction with the Medlock Vale Riflemen.

The inspecting officer in October 1804 “spoke highly as to their cloathing”.

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

[Manchester Mercury, 20 September 1803, 30 October 1804.]

 

Blakeley Pikemen

See under Manchester (Hanson’s rifle corps) on this page.

 

Bold Volunteers

Capt Thomas Kidd. A single company.

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

 

Bolton Volunteers / Bolton le Moor Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Ralph Fletcher. A regiment of ten companies, by 1808 of ten companies. Transferred to the Local Militia in that year.

Willson’s chart gives no uniform details. A bill of March 27 1804 to an A S Stubbs from Messrs George Crompton of Bolton itemises what may be materials for a uniform, including scarlet broad cloth and fine blue cloth, which might indicate a scarlet coat with blue facings.

The regiment was re-clothed in early 1807, receiving new clothing on 2 March.

Scholes’s History mentions the “re-delivery” to this corps of the silk colours of the previous Bolton Volunteers of 1794-1802.

[Lancaster Gazette, 14 March 1807. Crompton papers, ZCR 8/1, British Online Archives. James Christopher Scholes, History of Bolton ..., Bolton, 1893. Col H C Wylly, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Vol 1 1741-1914, RUSI, London, 1933.]

 

Burton &c Volunteers

Listed in the 1803 return as a corps of three companies, but no commanding officer’s name given. Not in the 1805 List, nor in Willson’s chart. Presumably not completed.

 

Bury Rifle Volunteers, Bury Pikemen

See under Manchester (Hanson’s rifle corps) on this page.

 

Croxteth Volunteers

Major William, Earl of Sefton. Three companies.

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

 

Denton and Houghton (Haughton) Volunteers

Capt John Peacock. A single company.

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

 

Failsworth Pikemen

See under Manchester (Hanson’s rifle corps) on this page.

 

Hale, Haleswood (Halewood) and Garston Volunteers

Capt John J Blackburn (Blackburne), Capt Richard Weston. A single company.

Image Dixon Pickup

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

Percy W Reynolds, in a notebook at the V&A (thanks to Ben Townsend for an image), describes a gilt oval belt plate with the design of a crown over “HHG” in script, which may well be for this corps.

A button identified to this corps is slightly convex, silvered (so apparently a senior NCO’s example), 22 mm in diameter, and has the incised design of a crown over “H●H●G” over a scroll inscribed “LOYAL VOLUNTEERS”, all in Roman capitals.

[Dixon Pickup, “Excavated Buttons of Some Interest”, MHS Bulletin 237, August 2009.]

 

Heaton Norris Volunteers

Capt G E Dale, Capt Thomas Pownall, Capt Brown. A single company. At a review of January 1804, the corps was combined with the Stockport Volunteers, Stockport Rifles, and Poynton and Bullock Smithy Volunteers, all of Cheshire, to make a regiment of about 800 men, referred to as the Stockport and Poynton Independents, under the command of Viscount Bulkeley.

Willson’s chart gives, unusually, blue faced black, officer’s lace gold, blue pantaloons.

[Derby Mercury, 19 January 1804.]

 

Heaton Artillery / Heaton House Artillery / Heaton House Volunteers / Heaton Royal Artillery

Col Thomas, Earl of Wilton. Despite the rank of the commanding officer, this was raised as a single company and seems to have remained so. The corps originated at a meeting of inhabitants of Great Heaton, Little Heaton and Crumpsall on 16 August 1803, which approved:

the plan proposed by the Earl of Wilton, of raising a Company of Volunteer Artillery, to consist of 100 Men, to be trained both to Small Arms and Brass Field Pieces, 6 Pounders, which his Lordship proposes to provide at his own expence, with Clothing and Accoutrements, &c for the Men; also Horses and Drivers for the Field Pieces and Ammunition Waggons.

James Wheeler’s history of Manchester appears to mistake the number of guns involved:

… the late Earl Wilton’s levy and equipment, at his own expense, of one hundred Volunteer Infantry from among his tenantry, to be trained to the use of small arms: ten six-pounder field pieces, with ammunition-wagons, horses and drivers, were furnished by his Lordship. Otho Hulme, Esq, of Medlock Vale, supplied two twelve-pounder carronades with all the accompaniments.

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

[Manchester Mercury, 23 August 1803. James Wheeler, Manchester: its Political, Social and Commercial History, Ancient and Modern, London & Manchester, 1836.]

 

Hulme Volunteers

Major Comm John Pooley. Three companies.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, gold officer’s lace, white legwear. Aston’s states: “Their uniform is scarlet faced with blue and white pantaloons.”

On 2 April 1804 the corps received a pair of colours from Mrs Pooley, reported as “extremely beautiful and the devices very appropriate. They were described, a little loosely, thus:

The King’s Colour has the usual emblem of Union. — The Regimental Colour is on a crimson ground; the motto, “Our King and Country,” in a scroll, incircled with oak branches, at the top a Crown and G.R. – at the bottom, “Hulme Volunteers.”

The crimson field for a battalion faced in blue is unusual.

[Manchester Mercury, 10 April 1804. Aston’s Manchester Guide, 1804, excerpted in Collectanea Relating to Manchester and its Neighbourhood at Various Periods …, Published by the Chetham Society Vol LXXII, 1867.]

 

Knowsley Volunteers

Capt Harvey Wright. A single company.

Willson’s chart gives no uniform details.

 

Lancaster Volunteers

Lieut Col John Bradshaw. Six, subsequently nine, companies, including flank companies.

Arms were received on 7 October 1803. The corps was reported to have first appeared in its new clothing on 30 October 1803, and as “completely clothed, armed, and accoutred” at their inspection on 1 December.

The Lancaster Volunteers jacket as drawn by Reynolds. Photo by Ben Townsend

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, white legwear. A private’s jacket has been recorded as surviving at Lancaster City Museum, by which is meant, presumably, the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum housed there. It is recorded by Percy W Reynolds in a notebook at the V&A (thanks to Ben Townsend for an image), and photos of the front and rear are included in a Fosten Osprey title. (See also this post.) This has a dark blue collar, cuffs and shoulder straps, the buttons with pointed loops of white lace on the front (becoming slightly shorter towards the waist), and on the cuffs and pocket flaps. The collar, shoulder straps and turnbacks are edged in the same lace. (This white lacing does not indicate a sergeant, but was chosen by a number of volunteer corps to improve the appearance of their uniforms.) The eight buttons on the front are spaced in pairs, though the intervals within and between the pairs are so similar as to give an impression of single spacing, which is exactly what is shown by Reynolds; however, the pairs on the cuffs and flaps are perfectly distinct.

The rear waist has two buttons and a lace triangle. The shoulder straps are generously tufted, and the cross flaps are gently pointed. The white turnbacks extend very visibly to the front opening.

The white metal buttons show a lion passant guardant, as in the Lancaster arms, above script “LV”.

The actual jacket

A slight complication here is Cowper’s description of a jacket at the KORR Museum, attributed to the 1797 period, which is said to have ten buttons and white loops spaced singly, and a diamond of lace at the back, but which in all other respects resembles this jacket; for lack of information to the contrary, I’m assuming here that Cowper describes this actual jacket, but with those few inaccuracies. Cowper also gives the 1803 button as “silver, marked L.L.V. with a crown over the cypher”, i.e. the design of the 1797 button, but this must either be a decision that was superseded, or an error.

As with many other volunteer corps of this period, the regiment’s committee aimed to outfit the men during winter service in “Warm Cloathing”, consisting of “Flannel Under-dress, Cap, One Pair Woollen Stockings, And one Pair Strong Shoes”, at a total estimated cost of £1 4s per man, and in November 1803, with subscribed funds running low, solicited public donations. (A printed handbill of 16 November – KO 0093/01, shown at right here – is on display at the King’s Own Regimental Museum, Lancaster.) The Lancaster Gazette of 24 December lamented:

We are sorry to observe, that the subscription for furnishing the Lancaster Volunteers with Warm Cloathing, is not nearly adequate to the estimated expence; a circumstance which we hope need only to be known to the affluent, in order to their giving essential aid to our gallant defenders.

On 9 November 1803 the corps was presented with the pair of “elegant” colours given to their predecessors of 1797 by “the Unmarried Ladies of the town of Lancaster”, which since the disbandment of 1802 had been placed in the parish church of St Mary’s. For images and full details of these colours, see this page. The presentation was made by Charles Gibson, the commandant of the previous corps. At the later disbandment they were replaced in St Mary’s, but in the 1850’s their remains were taken down and passed into the keeping of Colonel Whalley, whose daughters presented to the KORR Museum a watercolour showing the complete flags, and the framed remnants – a spearhead and the two central embroidered designs. The watercolour shows the Union in both flags as that of before 1801, and – unless this represents a reconstruction of the original state – it is possible that the designs were not updated. The watercolour also dates the service of the colours as ending in 1816, but this may be a confusion with the succeeding Lonsdale Local Militia (for whom see this page) – unless the same colours were kept in service by the Local Militia.

[Lancaster Gazette, 8 October, 5 November, 3, 10, 24 December 1803. Col L I Cowper, The King’s Own. The Story of a Royal Regiment, Vol 1 1680-1814, printed for the Regiment at the University Press, Oxford, 1939. Bryan Fosten, Wellington’s Infantry (2), Osprey Men-at-Arms, 1982.]

 

Lancaster Military Association

On 29 September 1803 a meeting was held for the promotion of an armed association of 120 men of the second, third and fourth classes, not enrolled in the Lancaster Volunteers, for the maintenance of local order. Members were “to provide themselves, at their own expence, with clothing, arms, and accoutrements.”

However, a week later the Gazette regretted that:

owing to the unexpected lukewarmness of a few opulent men in this town, the number of persons who have as yet enrolled themselves int he Armed Association, for the protection of property and preservation of the peace, has been few indeed.

There is no record that this association was ever completed.

[Lancaster Gazette, 1, 8 October 1803.]

 

Medlock Vale Riflemen / Rifle Corps

Capt Joseph Wright Hulme. A single company. This corps was organised in September 1803 by the initiative of Otho Hulme, in conjunction with Ashton-under-Line Volunteers.

Willson’s chart gives green faced black, no officer’s lace, green pantaloons.

[Manchester Mercury, 20 September 1803.]

 

Loyal Newton Volunteers / Newton Associated Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Thomas Claughton. Five companies.

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

 

Newton and Failsworth (Failworth) Volunteers

Lieut Col Claughton. Lieut Col Comm Robert Keymer. Five companies.

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

 

Loyal Oldham Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm John Lees. Five companies. Some interesting historical background is readably provided in Iain Wilkinson’s account.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, silver officer’s lace, white legwear. The corps appeared for the first time in uniform on 19 February 1804.

An “elegant pair of colours” was presented on 6 May 1804.

[Manchester Mercury, 21 February 1804, 15 May 1804. Lancaster Gazette, 19 May 1804. Iain Wilkinson, History of Oldham Volunteer Corps 1798-1908, 2009.]

 

Pendleton Volunteers

Capt J D Ashworth, Capt Isaac Ablett (wrongly, Abbot). A single company.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, gold officer’s lace, white legwear. Aston’s states: “Their uniform is … scarlet faced with blue and white pantaloons.”

 

Pendleton Pikemen

See under Manchester (Hanson’s rifle corps) on this page.

 

Prescott Volunteers

Major Comm Peter Ashcroft. Three companies.

Willson’s chart gives no uniform details.

 

Loyal Preston Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm John Watson. Five companies.

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

The corps was reported to have paraded for the first time in full uniform, “which is remarkably neat”, on 29 January 1804, when their colours were presented.

A design of button has been attributed to this corps, for this or for the earlier period, but I’m not sure on what evidence. Examples are gilt, with the intaglio design of a crown over “LPV” in script.

 

Preston Volunteers / Royal Preston Volunteers

 

Lieut Col Comm Nicholas Grimshaw. Four companies. But see also “Preston Riflemen” below. Much column space was taken up in the local papers by a bitter and prolonged dispute and pamphlet war over rival claims to seniority between Grimshaw and Watson of the rival Loyal Preston (above).

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

The battalion was re-clothed in 1807, and was reported as “nearly all in new clothing” at their departure for permanent duty on 5 October 1807.

An officer’s belt plate attributed to this corps is gilt, oval, with an engraved design of the “GR” cypher between “PRESTON” and “VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals, with a small star top and bottom, all within a line around the edge.

[Lancaster Gazette, 10 October 1807. Manchester Mercury, 13 October 1807. Col H C Wylly, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Vol 1 1741-1914, RUSI, London, 1933. Philip J Haythornthwaite, “A Badge of the Preston Volunteers,
1803-08”, MHS Bulletin 166, November 1991.]

 

Preston Riflemen

This title seems to have been used by two separate companies. The first appears to have under the command of Grimshaw’s Preston Volunteers (see above), as a fifth company under Capt Thomas Ogle. Initially a single company, a second was added in 1805, which may have been the rival company, initially commanded by Capt J Ainsworth, and subsequently by Capt William Brade (Braid), which ceased to exist separately.

For the surviving, or combined, corps under Ogle, Willson’s chart gives green faced black, black officer’s lace, green pantaloons.

[Col H C Wylly, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Vol 1 1741-1914, RUSI, London, 1933. Philip J Haythornthwaite, “A Badge of the Preston Volunteers, 1803-08”, MHS Bulletin 166, November 1991.]

 

Radcliffe Volunteers

Capt Joseph Bealey. A single company.

Willson’s chart gives no uniform details.

[T H Hayhurst, A History and Some Records of the Volunteer Movement in Bury, Heywood, Rossendale, and Ramsbottom, 1887.]

 

St Helen’s Volunteers

image Dixon Pickup

Lieut Col Comm James Fraser. Eight companies.

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

An other ranks’ button is known for this corps, 20 mm in diameter, of pewter, with the raised design of a crown over “StHV” in script.

 

                                 Swinton Volunteers

Capt Stanley Bullock. A single company.

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

 

Trafford / Trafford House Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm James Cooke. Four companies.

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

A button of this corps has the raised design of a crowned garter inscribed “TRAFFORD VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals, enclosing the “GR” cypher.

A pair of colours were presented by Miss Trafford, whose work they were, on 6 February 1804. They were described – none too precisely – thus:

King’s Colour – In the centre, in a white medallion, the Imperial Crown, Rose, Shamrock and Thistle, encircled by Radii. Motto, Loyal Trafford Volunteers, may every Briton rally round the Crown to protect their King, Laws, Liberty and Property.

Regimental Colour. – Trafford Volunteers and Motto, with the Crest on a blue medallion in the centre surrounded by a wreath of Oak, Loyal Trafford Volunteers, to defend our Native Land. On the reverse, in the centre the Plough, Shuttle and Arms, emblems of the Wealth and strength of the Country.

The unit title and motto seem to be duplicated in this description of the obverse of the regimental colour. The “Crest” may have been that of the Trafford family. The nature of the “Arms” on the reverse is not clear. The field of the regimental colour would have been blue.

[Manchester Mercury, 14 February 1804.]

 

Ulverston Volunteers / Ulverston Volunteer Light Infantry

Lieut Col Thomas Sunderland. Four companies. Despite its positive reputation, the corps was disbanded prematurely in October 1806, for reasons that are not entirely clear. A newspaper report says merely:

This zealous and steady body of men … have had the mortification of being compelled to decline their services, from a want of necessary support.

The light infantry character of this corps seems have been adopted some time after their formation, perhaps in early 1804, though Cowper dates the official change to 1805, the ensigns then becoming second lieutenants. Sunderland’s 1804 printed manual for his corps described it as “a newly appointed LIGHT Battalion … we have a new exercise, and new duties to perform, which will require much additional application …” The corps was trained in light infantry tactics, and after their inspection in September 1804 “performed several light manoeuvres, adapted to real service, in an inclosed country.”

Willson’s chart gives scarlet or red faced blue, officer’s lace gold, blue pantaloons. This can be amplified by Cowper’s description of an officer’s light infantry outfit, apparently a captain’s, held at the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum at Lancaster, dated to 1804; I have not seen this. The scarlet jacket has a blue collar and cuffs and white cassimere turnbacks. The single breasted front has ten buttons in pairs, with gold lace loops showing a narrow blue light, tapering from 6½ to 4½ inches at the waist. Each side of the collar has a similar loop but without buttons. Each pocket flap has two pairs of buttons, each cuff four buttons (presumably in pairs), but Cowper mentions no loops for these. A button is placed at the top of each rear pleat, and the top of the rear central vent has a blue cloth diamond edged in gold lace. The turnback ornaments are a gilt bugle on a blue cloth ground. The two blue wings are edged in gold lace with six diagonal stripes of lace and a gold bullion fringe. The gilt buttons show a crown over “U.V.” (A version of this jacket appears in Cowper’s problematic illustration of a private, as discussed below.)

Cowper’s problematic reconstruction

The accompanying officer’s waistcoat is described as red with four cloth buttons, a number which seems questionable. Cowper also notes white buckskin breeches for field officers, again referencing a museum item, and Russia duck pantaloons for officers, in addition to the blue pantaloons given by Willson.

The duck pantaloons are listed in Cowper’s notes, which are based largely on the Minute and Letter Books of the corps in the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum at Lancaster; I have not seen the original books, so can’t say how full or accurate Cowper’s digest of them may be. From these sources he notes for the other ranks white gaiter-trousers and, puzzlingly, a leather peak added to the headwear (Minute Book, 1803). Accoutrements comprised black shoulder and “waist” belts, an “old pattern” cartridge box of black leather, holding 18 rounds, black slings, and haversacks marked “U.V.” above the owner’s initials (Letter Book, 1803).

One wonders if the black belts were a light infantry affectation, or simply what the Ordnance issued. Cowper’s illustration of a private takes literally the mention of a “waist” belt, though I wonder if the term might have been used archaically here for a bayonet belt worn over the shoulder in the normal manner. This image includes heavily tufted wings, and a cap with a green tuft and light infantry bugle, but I’m inclined to think that, even if accurate, these are speculative details, given likely errors in the reconstruction such as the officer’s laced jacket and the blue breeches with long gaiters.

In the KORR Museum is an other ranks’ brass belt plate, with the incised design of a crown above a garter inscribed “ULVERSTON VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals, enclosing a stylised eight rayed star.

Officers, appropriately, wore sabres, as shown by the presentation by the NCO’s to their commanding officer in 1805 of “an elegant Sabre and highly enriched scabbard”.

Cowper cites an order that hair was to be “cropped close”.

The battalion included a drum and fife band and a drum major, though Cowper states that a cymbal and triangle were added, and also mentions the use of buglers.

Colours were presented by Mrs Sunderland on 30 January 1804. On disbandment on 21 October 1806, they were deposited in the Braddyl Chapel of the parish church of St Mary’s, and the arms delivered up. The colours survived until 1873, when they were accidentally destroyed during a church restoration, only the pikes surviving; these were hung in the drill hall of the local Rifle Volunteers, and from there went to the appropriate TA Adjutant’s room, as reported by Cowper in 1939.

[Lancaster Gazette, 25 February 1804, 22 September 1804, 3 August 1805, 14 September 1805, 25 October 1806. (Col Thomas Sunderland), Exercise of Light Infantry … intended for the use of the Ulverston Volunteer Infantry, 1804. Col L I Cowper, The King’s Own. The Story of a Royal Regiment, Vol 1 1680-1814, printed for the Regiment at the University Press, Oxford, 1939. David A Rutter, “The Volunteer Movement in Ulverston”, MHS Bulletin 85, August 1971.]

 

Urmston Pikemen

See under Manchester (Hanson’s rifle corps) on this page.

 

Warrington Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Thomas Lyon. Eight companies.

Willson’s chart gives red faced blue, no officer’s lace, white breeches. An order book, once in Warrington Reference Library, includes an order during 14 days’ permanent service in 1804 for the men to have their hair cropped and to parade in trousers (presumably white) without their long gaiters.

Crompton and Venn note that the corps included a drum major and fife and drum corps, and pioneers.

[Walter Crompton & George Venn, Warrington Volunteers 1798-1898, Warrington, 1898. ]

 

Whiston Volunteers / Loyal Whiston Infantry

Capt Philip L Orde (Ord). A single company.

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

 

Loyal Wigan Volunteers 

Colonel Alex, Earl of Balcarres (Balcarras). Eight companies.

Colours were presented on 5 February 1804.

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

[Lancaster Gazette, 18 February 1804.]

 

Loyal Wigan Riflemen

Capt Astbury (Ashbury). Lieut Col Comm William Anderton. One, later four companies.

Willson’s chart gives green faced black, black officer’s lace, green pantaloons.

 

Winwick Volunteers

Capt Edward Thomas S Hornby. A single company.

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

 


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