North Yorkshire: volunteer infantry and artillery of 1803

On this page are notes on what I have on the organisational basics, dress and equipage of the infantry, rifles and artillery volunteer corps of the North Riding formed or re-formed in the second wave of volunteering from 1803: Bedale, Castle Howard, Catterick & Richmond, Cleveland, Loyal Dales, Filing and Stainton Dales, Gilling, Helmsley, Malton, Masham, Mulgrave, Pickering Lyth, Scarborough, Stockton Forest, Teesdale, Whitby, Yarm, Yorkshire Foresters. Some entries are sparse, and more information will be added if and when it arrives; meanwhile, this is at least a framework of reference.

At the instigation of the Lord Lieutenant, the majority of North Yorkshire volunteer infantry of this period adhered in their dress to the current basics of their county militia regiment – scarlet or red, faced in black cloth or velvet, with silver officer’s metal and buttons regularly spaced. (Further information is on my North Yorks Local Militia page.)

The listing of corps and their commanding officers is largely from the House of Commons return of December 1803, the volunteer list of 1805, and Willson’s chart of 1806. M Y Ashcroft’s compilation on North Yorkshire in the war against France, drawn from archival sources, has also been invaluable for some organisational details. Thanks go to the Green Howards Museum and Trust, and to Zoe Utley, for information on items in their collection, and to Eamonn O’Keeffe and Jonathan Rogers for their invaluable input.

[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; M Y Ashcroft, To Escape the Monster’s Clutches, North Yorkshire County Record Office Publications No 15, 1977.]


Bedale Volunteers

Capt Henry Gale (wrongly, N Gale), Capt George Morton (Norton).  One company.  This corps does not appear in the 1805 List and was certainly disbanded by May 1806.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with silver officer’s lace and white legwear.

An officer’s shoulder belt plate was sold by Bosley’s in 2002, described as oval, silver, and hallmarked for 1805. The incised design showed a crowned “GR” cypher at the centre, with “Bedale” on a ribbon around the top and “Volunteers” likewise around the base. I do not have an image of this.

Buttons are known in two sizes, one of 20 mm diameter. They are silvered, with the raised design of a circular garter inscribed “BEDALE.VOLS” enclosing the cross of St George, all on an eight rayed star.


Castle Howard Riflemen / North York Riflemen Volunteers

Capt Comm Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle, Capt Comm George, Viscount Morpeth.  One company. Carlisle had commanded the predecessor rifle company of 1798, and assumed the command of the revived company of 1803, but resigned in September that year. The corps was disbanded in 1808.

Details of the uniform are not given in Wilson’s chart, but they would clearly have been of rifle green, as those of the previous corps had been. Carlisle provided uniforms, had them lined with flannel, and also purchased black Barcelona handkerchiefs (as stocks), belt plates, cartridge boxes, powder horns, haversacks and 100 blankets from Leeds. Pistols and ammunition were also bought, perhaps for the officers or perhaps for buglers.

Though the 60 rifles of the 1798 company had been provided by government, Carlisle had retained them on disbandment in 1801, and these were issued to the new corps, which had expanded to over 100 men. Forty extra stand of arms were now obtained from government, but these were probably smoothbore muskets.

[Andrew I. M. Duncan, “A Study of the Life and Public Career of Frederick Howard, Fifth Earl of Carlisle, 1748-1825”, University College, Oxford, D. Phil. Thesis, 1981.]


Catterick and Richmond Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Sir John Lawson (wrongly I Lawson).  Six, later nine companies: Catterick, Easby, Hipswell, Kirby Fleetham, 1st, 2nd & 3rd Richmond, Scorton. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with no officer’s lace and white legwear.


Cleveland Volunteers

Photo Chris Tilney

Lieut Col Comm Hon Lawrence Dundas. A regiment of eleven companies: Marske, Marton, Carlton, Normanby, Loftus, Stokesley, Guisborough, Skelton, Ayton, Acklam, Kirkleatham. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Details of the uniform are not given in Wilson’s chart.

A silvered button found in the surrounding area may perhaps be for this corps (though it also might be for the Catterick Volunteers of 1798); it is flat, with a design in relief of a crown over “CV” in script.


Loyal Dales Volunteers

Col Marwood Turner Straubenzee (Strawbenzie, Straubenzie, van Straubenzie). An oversized regiment of fifteen companies. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Photo Green Howards Trust

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with no officer’s lace and white legwear.

An officer’s belt plate is held at the Green Howards Museum. It is oval, silver, the centre with an applied gilt crown over “GR” cipher, between “LOYAL DALES” and “VOLUNTEERS” engraved around the top and base. Another, presumably similar, is listed as being held at the National Army Museum. (Spink’s Numismatic Circular for 1910 lists such a plate hallmarked for 1800, indicating that the blanks were existing stock and engraved later.)

Buttons of the regiment are known, and appear silvered. The raised design is a large crown enclosed by “LOYAL DALES VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals.

The Green Howards Museum has a drum of the Reeth company. The front is painted in a light colour, probably originally white. The handsomely painted design shows a crowned circular garter in dark blue, edged and buckled in white and lettered in Roman capitals “LOYAL ● DALES ● VOLUNTEERS”; the gold letters have white edges to the top and left, and black edges below and right. The garter encloses a red ground with the “GR” cypher apparently in white. This is all surrounded by a wreath of white roses (or possibly a Union wreath) in natural colours. Below is a three part ribbon in white, the left and right sections lettered “REETH / COMPANY(?)” in black Roman capitals. The hoops are white, edged in red, with a wavy dark blue line.

Remarkably, the regimental colour is still well preserved at Holy Trinity, Wensley, though the staff, with a spearhead, has been re-attached to the upper edge to allow the flag to hang upright. It has a Union canton, and judging purely by photos available online, the field is overall black, without the red cross for black faced regiments required by the 1768 regulations. The design, which appears to be painted, consists of a large crowned eight rayed star in gold bearing a circle containing the Royal(?) arms on a dark ground, within a narrow dark border, edged in gold, which may bear an inscription. The star is set between two sprays, at the left oak and at the right laurel, and above a three part ribbon on a dark colour, edged and lettered in white; the inscription on the first part is not visible in photos I’ve seen, while that on the third seems to read “LOYALTY”. In the corners are elliptical cartouches, edged in white on a black ground; that in the lower right encloses “LDV” in script in white, but that in the upper right (and possibly lower left) is not clearly visible in photos. (It could be the Straubenzee family crest of an ostrich holding a horseshoe in its beak, but I may be completely wrong on this!)


The regiment seems to have included at some point an artillery company or section; two complete six pounder field pieces with limbers, inscribed to this corps and dated 1808, have been kept at Bolton Castle, one of which is still on display. The guns have been described as screw elevated, with a bore of 3½ inches, with iron-tyred wheels of 45 inches diameter, and the limbers “of the shafted type enabling horse or oxen to be used in tandem”, with wheels like those of the guns, but 36 inches wide.

[T Braun, Correspondence: “The Loyal Dales Volunteers”, MHS Bulletin 87, February 1972.]


Filing and Stainton Dales Volunteers / Fyling & Staintondale Sharpshooters / Stainton & Filing Dales Volunteers

Capt John Cooke. One company. Continued until 1812.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as all green, with no officer’s lace, so presumably in rifles style.


Gilling Volunteers / East & West Gilling Volunteers / Gilling East & West Volunteers

Capt Sir R D’Arcy (Darcey) Hildyard (wrongly, Hilyard).  One company. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with silver officer’s lace and white legwear.


Helmsley Volunteers

Capt Slingsby Duncombe. Captaincy vacant in 1805 list: Lieuts John Sotheron (Sootheron), Thomas Whitehead. One company. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced yellow with silver officer’s lace and blue pantaloons.


Loyal Malton Volunteers

Lieut Col Leatham. Mentioned in Chaytor’s lists, as given in Ashcroft. Raised in late 1807 or 1808, after a previous offer of service had not been accepted. Five undersized companies. Discontinued or transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Not included in Willson’s chart.


Masham Volunteers / Mashamshire Volunteers

Capt William Danby. One oversized company. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with silver officer’s lace and white legwear.

Photo Green Howards Trust

Danby’s coat, sword belt, sword and gorget are kept at the Green Howards Museum. The scarlet coat has a collar, cuffs and lapels of black velvet. The front has two rows of eight large buttons, spaced singly, with one large button each side of the collar, four on each cuff and on each straight pocket flap; all edges of the collar, the jacket edges, tops of cuffs, and sides and lower edges of the flaps are narrowly piped in white. The white turnbacks are not edged, and I have not seen the rear view. There is a single silver bullion epaulette on the right shoulder. The coat has been displayed in the past (on a Mr Darcy-esque dummy) with a sash, breeches and boots, but I do not know which, if any, of [these are properly associated with it.

The white shoulder sword belt carries an impressive oval silver plate, with a heavily embossed crowned rose applied in gilt metal. Danby’s gorget, with black rosettes and ribbons, is of the regulation pattern.

A glimpse of the corps is provided in the handsome painting of 1805 The Mashamshire Volunteers (also Town of Masham, with Mashamshire Volunteers or Masham Market Place at the Fair) by the Masham artist Julius Caesar Ibbetson, once owned by William Danby, and reproduced in James Mitchell’s monograph on the artist. (Many thanks to Eamonn O’Keeffe for bringing this to my attention, and also for kindly sharing his notes on the drummers and fifers from the Danby papers.)

The colouration is now rather dark, and the figures quite small, but at the left is clearly a group of officers: Danby (mounted), Lieutenants Timothy Hutton and Henry Bolland, and Ensign Samuel Wrather. The figure at the right of the group, in white legwear, may be the senior sergeant. Each officer wears a hat with silver lace, button and tassels, and with a large, straight, white over red plume. Coats are as known from the Danby coat, the rear showing two buttons at the back of the hip and four on each straight pocket flap. Turnback ornaments are visible but not distinct, and a silver epaulette is worn on the right shoulder. White shoulder sword belts, crimson sashes and dark blue pantaloons with short boots are also worn. Captain Danby wears white breeches and boots, his coat covered by a long, single breasted, dark blue great coat with a large, falling scarlet collar and possibly silver buttons, the white lining showing along the front edges.

The senior sergeant may be wearing a cap with a white metal plate and white over red plume, with a jacket, apparently with some sort of epaulette or fringed strap and some form of turnback ornament; he also wears a white sword belt and a crimson sash, possibly with a central black stripe, white breeches and black gaiters. If he is a sergeant, he wears no chevrons. (The cap is not clear, and could perhaps be a hat, making this figure an officer in a jacket, but in the context this seems  less likely.) In the background an isolated private is shown in a black cap with a long white over red plume and a white metal cap plate, a red or scarlet jacket faced black with black shoulder straps, white breeches with gaiters, white accoutrement belts and a plain black cartridge box.

Fisher’s local history states that “each man not only provided at his own cost his own uniform, but also his accoutrements (a fact which ought to put the present generation to the blush).” Sergeants’ pikes were ordered by late October 1803. By 1804, slightly less than half the men had been provided by government with muskets, the remainder being armed with those of the corps of 1798 plus eight newly purchased. The company also purchased 125 knapsacks at 6s each.

Drummer’s swords, drums and drumsticks were ordered by late October 1803. In that year the company included a drummer and two fifers, apparently increased to two of each by mid 1804, and five in total by 1807, with the addition of a tambourine and, by late 1806 if not earlier, a bass drum. It seems that a bugle or bugle horn was also used, as vouchers for 1804 included music for a bugle and “binding for horn”.

In 1803 expenses included “Sundry Green Trimmings for Musick”, and in July 1805 two drummer’s caps with green feathers were purchased from William France of Leeds. New drummer’s caps and swords were bought in 1805, and, apparently that year, “3 suits of clothes for Musick Boys”. The choice of dark green as a distinction for drums and fifes in a corps with black facings seems unusual, but is borne out by the Ibbetson painting. At the centre right stands a group of two drummers and two fifers (image above right). Their caps, again with white metal plates, have long dark green plumes, appearing virtually black; the collars and cuffs of their unlaced jackets are dark green, and the shoulders appear to have dark green wings. The cap plates seem to be formed as an elongated oval surmounted by a small shape, presumably a crown. The sword and drum belts are white, and the drum hoops may be intended as red.

[Papers of William Danby, in ZS Swinton and Middleham Estate Records, North Yorkshire Archives. John Fisher, The History and Antiquities of Masham and Mashamshire, London, 1865. James Mitchell, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, London, 1999.]


Mulgrave Volunteers

Lieut Thomas Yeoman, Capt Francis Gibson, Capt John Pitts. One company. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced green with silver officer’s lace and blue pantaloons.


Pickering Lyth (Lythe) Volunteers

Lieut Col Sir George Cayley.  Seven companies, 420 strong: Aislaby, Hutton Buscel, Brompton, Gristhorpe, 1st & 2nd Hackness, Thornton. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1809.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with no officer’s lace and white legwear.

Though later a constituent part of this battalion, the two Hackness companies, under the senior Captain John Bielby (Beilby), were presented by Lady Johnstone, wife of their patron Sir Richard Johnstone, with a “very elegant banner” on 26 May 1804.

On 18 February 1805 the entire corps was presented by Colonel Cayley with their colours.

[Leeds Intelligencer, 4 June 1804. York Herald, 2 March 1805.]


Scarborough Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm James Tindall (Tyndall, Tindale). Three companies, later four.

No uniform details are given in Willson’s chart.

An officer’s coat of Scarborough Volunteers is held at the Green Howards Museum, but seems to be of the previous formation of 1795-1802, or of the volunteer association of 1798. The flat silver buttons appear to show a crown over “SV” but this design may not have been retained in 1803.


Stockton Forest Riflemen

Capt Revd John Ware.  One company. At inspection on 10 December 1803, 67 strong. Discontinued or transferred to Local Militia in 1808.

At their inspection on 26 January 1804 the corps demonstrated “various skirmishings with great accuracy and precision. The novelty of the scene was heightened by a party retiring, being concealed behind the ridge of a land, … firing as they lay on the ground, turning on their backs to load, and firing on their bellies.” On the arrival of their inspecting officer on 19 April 1804 the corps greeted him by firing “concealed among the bushes”. For Ware’s experiment in transporting his men expeditiously to York and back in June that year by “Machine”, see this post.

The company was clothed and armed at the expense of Captain Ware. Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as green faced black, with black officer’s lace and green pantaloons. This is confirmed by a remarkable pastel portrait of 1808 of Captain Ware by John Raphael Smith, documented here (page 12). This is not reproducible here on a larger scale, so my sketches based on it will have to do.

Officer & rear view of cap

Ware wears a dark green jacket with black collar, with four pairs of small black buttons on the front; from each button extends a line of narrow black lace, angled slightly upwards, though the outer edges of the lines are not visible. Over this is a dark green pelisse, lined in dark green, the collar lined in black, and edged with a narrow line of brown fur. The same fur strip decorates each cuff in a point, and runs down the rear cuff opening. Each front of the pelisse is decorated with more closely spaced lines of tape or cord that appear dark green, perhaps 18 or so each side; it is not clear how these rows interlace at the outer end, and there seems to be no sign of buttons. A black silk stock or cravat is visible at the neck.

A silver whistle hangs on a chain from the second button of the jacket, which is worn under a red or crimson sash and a narrow black waist sabre belt with a gilt snake buckle. The pantaloons are plain dark green, without any visible ornamentation, with black Hessian boots, the notched tops edged and tasselled in black. Pale yellow leather gloves are worn.


The front of the cap is not visible, but would have borne (judging by the other figure in the image) a silver strung bugle below a black cockade. The back view shows the dark green feather plume, and the ends of the black cords that run diagonally down from the cockade; another cord appears to run round the base of the cap, and all these are held at the lower rear by what looks to be a small silver bugle. The cords may end in tassels at the rear, but the exact arrangement is not clear. The peak is curved.

The second figure, of a bugler, also wears a dark green jacket with a black collar, closed with four pairs of black buttons. These are laced with black braid, possibly doubled in a loop in the manner of infantry jackets but, if so, with no lights showing; there may well be two more rows of buttons at the outer ends, but it’s hard to be sure. The higher pairs of lacings appear longer, the length diminishing towards the waist. The cuffs are not clearly visible but could be presumed to be black. The black leather waist belt fastens with a white metal snake buckle, and carries a small pistol in a black leather holster. The cap has a white metal strung bugle on the front, below a black cockade (and black button?) supporting a short dark green feather hackle or plume. The cap lines, arranged as on Ware’s cap, appear black. The bugle cords and tassels appear dark green. (Though some elements of this image appear to be blue rather than green, my assumption is that this is because of changes over time in the pigment of the pastel.)

In 1809 the rifles and accoutrements of the late corps, purchased by Ware and “about 100” in  number, were advertised for sale in the Yorkshire press by a Mr Wood, described as a “Cutler”, of York. They were said to be “of modern construction” and “in excellent repair”.

[York Herald, 17 December 1803, 21 April, 9, 16 June 1804, 6 May 1809. Leeds Intelligencer, 30 January 1804. Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette, 29 April 1809.]


Teesdale Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm J Bacon Sawrey Morritt.  A regiment of eleven companies, reported in August 1803 to cover the townships of Rokeby, Barningham, Starforth, Romaldkirk, Cotherstone, Lastington, Mickleton, Hunderthwaite, Holwick, Lunedale, Ovington, Newsham, Brignall, Scargill and Wycliff, with Bowes and Hutton expected also to join, to make a strength of nearly 1000 men, though actual strength in November was reckoned at 700. A rifle company, 60 strong, within the regiment was raised at Barnard Castle.

Though this was considered a North Riding corps, personnel transferred in 1809 to the First Durham Local Militia.

No uniform details are given in Willson’s chart, but the uniform was evidently with black facings and gilt metal, as shown by the coat of Capt John Hugginson or Huggisson, at the Durham Light Infantry Museum. Particular thanks to Jonathan Rogers for the use of his photos and observations here.

The scarlet coat has a black velvet collar, lapels and cuffs, without any edging, and apparently without twist holes, the button holes on the lapels being short and functional. The front has two rows of ten large buttons, singly spaced, with four on each cuff and pocket flap. The collar has a small button at each side. The cuffs have no holes to their four buttons, but close behind at the wrist with a small black velvet covered button. The cross pocket flaps are cut straight at the lower edges, with four scarlet twist holes and four buttons underneath; the rear waist has two buttons and four twist holes. The turnbacks are white and not edged, while the turnback ornaments are a large button (see below) set on scarlet cloth pointed rays on a black cloth disc. On the right shoulder is a gilt epaulette with a plain strap and bullion fringe, the strap apparently edged on gilt and black mixed wires.

There are three hooks and eyes to close the front, but the coat seems designed to open at the waist in an unusually conservative style for this date; however, it does not seem to be an older coat that has been re-purposed.

The flat gilt buttons have the design in relief of an eight rayed star enclosing a circle, with a beaded border, inscribed “T / V ● I” in Roman capitals.

With the coat is a white leather shoulder belt (see above) which is actually black leather but turned to the reverse, and the buff surface heavily whitened. This indicates that the regiment would have been issued black accoutrement belts by the Ordnance, also whitened after receipt.

The belt plate is oval, gilt, with a beaded rim and matt surface carrying a silver eight rayed star; on this is a silver oval with a gilt beaded edge with the letters “T / V • I” in gilt Roman capitals.

Colours were presented on 11 November 1803.

[Leeds Intelligencer, 15 August 1803, 23 April 1804. Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette, 19 November 1803.]


Whitby Volunteers

Capt, Major Comm Henry Simpson, Major Comm John Holt. Two, later apparently three companies. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

No uniform details are given in Willson’s chart.

Young notes that “The colours belonging to the … volunteers are still preserved by the officers, ready to be again unfurled by the people of Whitby, if ever their country should require their services.”

[Rev George Young, A History of Whitby and Streoneshalh Abbey, Whitby, 1817.]


Whitby Artillery Volunteers

Capt, Major Comm Thomas Broderick (Brodrick). In 1804 one company, in 1805 expanded to three. Transferred to the Local Militia in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as blue faced red with gold officer’s lace and blue legwear.


Whitby Sea Fencibles

A regiment of Sea Fencibles was mustered at Whitby on 31 July 1803, 600 strong in ten companies, and officers appointed. On 5 August, 600 pikes and a quota of drums were delivered.

[Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette, 9 August 1803.]


Yarm / Yarum Volunteers

Major Comm Thomas Meynell.  Three companies. Continued until 1813.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced black with no officer’s lace and white legwear.

Many thanks to Eamonn O’Keeffe for sharing his fascinating research on the afterlife of the Yarm Volunteers’ band. Major Meynell, a local Catholic squire, continued to maintain the band long after the corps had been disbanded, for his own political and personal objectives, having them play in support of Whig MP John George Lambton’s 1820 re-election campaign for County Durham and the 1820 Yarm celebrations in support of Queen Caroline’s “acquittal”. Meynell was also the chairman of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first public steam-powered railway, and brought his ex-volunteer band to the ceremonies marking the laying of the first track in 1822 and the official opening three years later. The band was noted as wearing “blue jackets and white trowsers” and playing “French horns, clarionets, and trumpets” on 8 March 1820 on the return to Yarm after playing for Lambton’s canvassing.

The ex-Yarm Volunteers band at the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1825 (Science Museum image)


Yorkshire Foresters / Yorkshire Volunteer Foresters / York Forresters

Capt Charles Hoar (or Hoare, wrongly Hore) Harland.  One company. Discontinued in 1808.

Willson’s chart of 1806 gives the uniform as red faced green with no officer’s lace and light blue pantaloons.

At their inspection on 4 October 1804, the company was fully equipped with knapsacks, canteens and haversacks.

[York Herald, 13 October 1804.]

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