Staffordshire: volunteer infantry of 1803

On this page are notes on the organisational basics, dress and equipage of the infantry volunteer corps of Staffordshire in the second wave of volunteering from 1803. It’s a a bit of a monster, but it makes sense to keep the topic together in one place.

In 1803 the Staffordshire Lieutenancy made serious efforts to enforce a conformity of dress, following the basics of the county’s Militia uniform. As these efforts are documented in fair detail, I’ve set them out in a separate introductory section, before the alphabetical listing of corps: Batchacre; Berkswich; Betley, Audley & Balterley; Bilston; Burslem; Burton; Caverswall; Clough Hall; Cobridge; Eccleshall; Etruria; Hanley & Shelton; Lane End; Leek; Lichfield; Longport; Moorland (Cheadle); Newcastle; Rugeley; Sandon; Shenstone; Stafford; Stoke, Penkhull & Fenton; Stone; Tamworth; Tipton, Tunstall; Uttoxeter; Wolverhampton.

A surprising number of these were formed but not accepted, or amalgamated, or disbanded prematurely. It seems odd that the Wolverhampton corps was not accepted, and that no effort was made in Walsall. At the other end of the process, despite the successful formation in 1808-09 of five full Local Militia regiments (see this page), several volunteer corps did not transfer to them, but kept going doggedly for a year or two longer.

The listing of corps and their commanding officers is compiled largely from the House of Commons Returns of December 1803 and March 1806, the War Office volunteer list of 1805, Willson’s chart of 1806, and newspaper reports. Paul Anderton’s 2016 study of selected Cheshire and Staffordshire volunteers is sourced essentially from WO papers, but helps with organisational details on a few Staffordshire corps, with much biographical and historical background.

[Volunteers of the United Kingdom1803, House of Commons, December 1803. Returns … of the Volunteer Corps, House of Commons, March 1806. 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. Paul Anderton, Called to Arms 1803-12 in the Staffordshire-Cheshire Border Region, Audley & District Family History Society, 2016.]

 

The proposed uniform

A printed circular of 6 August 1803 to prospective commanders, from W Keen, Clerk to the Lieutenancy of the county, politely gave the Lieutenancy’s decision as to what the new volunteers should wear, the emphases being on uniformity and economy:

With respect to the clothing to be provided for the Volunteers Corps, it is certainly desirable that it should be uniform throughout the County. That of the Staffordshire regiments, both of the Regulars, Militia, and Yeomanry (which is the same) would, perhaps, be preferred. For two guineas a man they may be clothed in a soldierly manner …

“The same” here meant red or scarlet faced yellow, the colours of the county regulars – 38th and 80th Foot – the Staffordshire Yeomanry and Militia, the latter originally with silver officer’s lace, apparently changed to gold in 1802, and their buttons in pairs. (For more on the militia, see the Staffordshire Local Militia page.)

A good number of the initial meetings of proposed corps, as documented below, resolved to clothe their men “the same as the undress Uniform of the County Militia”, a phrase that must surely have been taken from some initial advice from the Lieutenancy. What appears to be a first draft of the preferred uniform with estimated costs, dated three days before Keen’s circular, survives in the Bradford/Bridgeman papers at Stafford Archive:

Estimate for clothing a Volunteer   Stafford 3rd Augt 1803

Pantaloons
Russian duck 2½ yds best quality                                             5  –       }
Canvas thread 4d Buttons & string at the such[?]                  –  9       }  –  7  3
Making                                                                                              1  6       }

Jacket
Scarlet Cloth 1 3/8 yds at 11s per yd: Yellow Collar & Cuffs        15  2    }
Lining for body and sleeves                                                                 3  –     }  1  3  5
12 Round yellow Buttons 6d – thread                             }
twist and silk 9d – Jacket canvas                                     }             2  3
buckram & tape 1s/-                                                           }
Making                                                                                                  3  –

Gaiters
Black Cloth 1s 3d Buttons, thread                                   }
twist and canvas 9d making 1s 6d                                     }             3  6

Black stock & Buckle                                                                            1  2
Black felt cap and tuft                                                                         4  8                                                                                                                                                                                                        £2  “   “

The scarlet jacket with yellow collar and cuffs is worn here with white pantaloons and short gaiters. Twelve buttons has to be an error, unless some sort of undress jacket is indeed intended, though the total cost of the jacket, £1 3s 5d, does not suggest this. By the time of Keen’s circular of 6 August the details and costs had been amended, as his “annexed estimate” shows:

FOR WHITE BREECHES

White Cloth ¾ of a Yard                                    4   6      £  s  d
Canvas, Thread, & buttons at each                  1   0
knee and other Buttons
Making                                                                   1   2      0  6  8

FOR JACKET, CUT THE SAME AS THE STAFFORDSHIRE MILITIA

Scarlet Cloth, 1 Yard and 3-8ths, at 11s per Yard             15   2
Lining for Body and Sleevs[sic]                                           3   0
22 Buttons the same as the Militia 10d. Thread              2   7
Twist and Silk 9d. Pockets, Canvas, Buckram
and Tape 1s.
Making                                                                                        3   0 / 1    3    9

FOR LONG GAITERS

Black Cloth 2s 5d. Buttons, Twist, Thread
and Canvas 9d. Making 1s 6d.                                        0  4  8

Black Stock                                                                         0  1  2
Black felt Cap, Tuft, Cockade, and Plate complete          0  5

                                                                                               £2  1  3

The significant change here is the substitution of breeches and long gaiters for pantaloons. The scarlet jacket (at only 4d more than the previous costing) is clearly not an undress version, though 22 buttons still seems too few, 30 being the usual minimum. A fortnight or so later on 22 August, after patterns had been produced, another meeting of the Lieutenancy rubber stamped the proposal:

That the uniform proposed for Volunteer Corps of Infantry in this county, consisting of a red Jacket with yellow facings, white cloth Breeches and long Gaiters, black stock and regulation Cap and Feather, now produced, be approved, and that a pattern dress be sent to the Clerks of the Subdivisions for the inspection of the persons enrolled therein.

The uniform may be seen by applying to Mr Jackson, Lichfield; Mr Curtis, Walsall; Mr Willis[?], Bilston; Mr Breck, Keele; Mr Longford, Ashborne; Mr Smith, Belmont; and Mr Bott, Stafford.

As was the way with volunteers, even this thoroughness did not make for absolute conformity; some corps adopted breeches, others pantaloons, occasionally blue rather than white. Officer’s lace and metal was variously silver or gold or without lace, and one surviving other ranks’ jacket (see under Leek, below) seems distinctly unorthodox. We should note that the Staffordshire Militia wore its buttons in pairs, making that the default arrangement for the volunteers.

Finally, according to a letter of June 1817 from the Adjutant of the North Regiment of Local Militia, all belts and slings supplied in 1803-04 to the corps that later transferred to that regiment, were of black leather, and there is good reason to suppose that this was generally the case across the county.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 27 August, 3 September 1803. Stafford Archive D(W)1788 p1 B7, D 1287/10/1 (O/148). Birmingham Archives, Boulton papers, MS 3782/18/6.]

*          *          *

 

Batchacre Infantry

Capt Richard Whitworth (wrongly, Whiteworth). One company, initially reported as 120 men. Very much the personal project of Whitworth at Batchacre Park, this corps is oddly elusive in the records. It is listed in the 1803 Return, and reported as active in March 1804, with its assembly point at Stone, but does not appear in the 1805 List, nor in Willson’s chart of 1806. In the 1806 return its name appears but without any numbers or details, noted as “not inspected, being in no state of discipline”. In September 1808 it was recorded as still in existence, and supposedly still at the original establishment strength, but this may have been a bit theoretical. At some point Whitworth appears to have attached a troop of cavalry, but at the King’s Jubilee in October 1809 the resulting “Batchacre Legion” consisted of cavalry only. (In 1795-7 he had commanded the Drayton Cavalry of Shropshire – see this page.) Whitworth’s time as an officer of the county militia was long past, and over several years the Batchacre infantry seems to have pursued a kind of shadow existence, in a state of detached inefficiency politely tolerated by officialdom.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 10 March 1804, 17 September 1808.]

 

Berkswich Volunteers / Berkswich and Walton Volunteers / Loyal Berkswitch Volunteers

Capt Comm George Chetwynd. Date of earliest commission 7 October 1803. One company.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, gold officer’s lace, white legwear. At inspection in March 1806, arms and clothing were reported as “good”.

In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 83 strong. In July 1809, still serving as volunteers and not having transferred to the Local Militia, the corps resolved to provide its own clothing, the allowance having been discontinued.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808, 22 July 1809.]

 

Betley, Audley and Balterley Volunteers

Capt Comm John Fenton Boughey Fletcher. Date of earliest commission 22 August 1803. Two companies, initially of 201 privates. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 225 strong. It was disbanded in October 1809.

Willson’s 1806 chart gives the uniform as red faced yellow, gold officer’s lace, white legwear. Of all the commanding officers, Fletcher seems to have taken most literally the advice that his corps should dress as the county’s militia, even down to the button lace, and a considerable amount of detail is provided by his very full response of 29 December 1805 to John and Henry Richler’s enquiry for Willson’s chart, now at Stafford Archives, which is worth quoting extensively:

Jacket scarlet
Collar & cuffs yellow
Pantaloons [“breeches” crossed through] white
Lace & Epaulets of officers gold.

The Uniform is the same as w[ha]t the Staffordshire Militia Officers wore before it was made a Royal Regt. Scarlet faced with yellow, gold lace, Cocked Hats, Wh[ite] Breeches & whole military boots. The Sergts have scarlet jackets, round all the Button holes, Collar & Cuffs White Worsted Lace, White buttons, white pantaloons & ½ Gaters, Regulation Sergts Cap & feather with the Staffordshire Knot of white metal in front of it in this form.

The Privates have scarlet jackets faced with yellow & lined with white, Buttons white, Buttonholes bordered & trimmed with a lace as below – W[hi]te pantaloons, ½ Gaters, Regulation Cap, plate & tuft. The belts & accoutrements are of Black Leather. The Drummers Jackets are yellow as in the regulars. The make of the Officers coats & Privates jackets are perfectly similar to those of the regular army. The Officers Sword Belts are White.

Several points are worth emphasising here: all ranks are in scarlet and in pantaloons. The sergeants’ caps are distinguished not only by feathers in place of tufts, but also by the white metal Staffordshire knot. (Fletcher adds a minimal sketch of this in its recognised form.) The plate on privates’ caps is presumably of the army regulation pattern in yellow metal. Other ranks’ belts and accoutrements are black, but those of officers white. Drummers wear reversed colours. (The Staffordshire Militia, as Fletcher notes in passing, had become a “Royal” regiment with blue facings in 1805.)

Fletcher adds two further small sketches, one being the “Pattern of the Button which the Officers have Gilt but the rest of the Corps of white metal”; this is the pre-1805 Staffordshire Militia button, though only six leaves are shown around the knot, where eight would be correct. The other sketch is of the privates’ lace. This is problematic, as it clearly shows a broad yellow central stripe edged by black and scarlet with no white ground at all, as in my copy here. As far as I know, no Militia lace survives to check this against. (Fletcher’s account is also useful evidence for the pre-1805 dress of the county militia; for a bit more on this, see my Staffordshire Local Militia page.)

The Fletcher hat – a very rough sketch

The Staffordshire Regimental Museum has a cocked hat worn by Fletcher. It is bound in black, with a black cockade, gold lace loop, a small plain gilt button and gilt bullion tassels. The plume of long, drooping feathers is white over red.

At inspection in March 1806, arms were reported as “excellent” and clothing as “tolerable”. A return of 12 October 1809 details the arms delivered on disbandment to the Ordnance depot at Shrewsbury, which include 63 “Old Pattern Musquets”, 144 “Dutch” muskets and one fusil (for the sergeant major?), as well as sergeants’ spears, drummers’ swords, drums with carriages and cases, fifes, and 206 sets of accoutrements and belts in black leather. Both the privates’ belts and drummers’ sword belts have brass plates. (Anderton interprets this list as evidence that the corps was only partly armed for the whole of its career, but this is a simple mis-reading of the numbers.)

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808. Stafford Record Office D(W) 1788 p.1 B6.]

 

Loyal Bilston Volunteers

Major Comm Samuel Proud. Date of earliest commission 2 November 1803. Three companies.

In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 242 strong.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, gold officer’s lace, white legwear. At inspection in March 1806, arms were reported as “good” and clothing as “indifferent”.

The corps is said to have included “a regular band of fifers and drummers”.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808. George T Lawley, A History of Bilston, Bilston, 1893.]

 

Brockton Volunteers

See under Stone, below.

 

Burslem Volunteers

A meeting of 28 July 1803 resolved that a corps should be formed, with John Wood as proposed captain commandant, and:

That such Corps be supplied with Arms and Accoutrements, by Government; but that each Individual furnish his Uniform at his own expence; such Uniform to be the same as the undress Uniform of the County Militia.

The following day, the committee appointed concluded that “there are very many Persons, who would enrol themselves as Volunteers, if Clothes were found for them”, and accordingly subscribed £500 “towards purchasing proper clothing.”

By October the corps was reported to be “in a forward state of discipline” and over 300 strong, but on 9 October the Deputy Lieutenant was obliged to inform them that their offer of service had been rejected by government as surplus to the quota required.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 6, 27 August, 15 October 1803.]

 

Burton Volunteers / Burton upon Trent Volunteers / Burton on Trent Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm John Peel. Date of earliest commission 12 August 1803. Eight companies.

In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 442 strong.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, no officer’s lace, white legwear. At inspection in March 1806, arms and clothing were reported as “good”.

On 4 June 1804 the corps was presented with a pair of “beautiful” colours by their commander.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808. Derby Mercury, 14 June 1804.]

 

Caverswall Volunteers / Caverswall Moorland Volunteers / Caverswall Morland Volunteers

Capt(?) Revd St George Bowles, Capt Comm William Ball. Date of earliest commission 24 September 1804. Two companies, subsequently one, perhaps when separated from the Moorland Volunteers. At inspection in March 1806 the corps was judged “deficient in discipline”. It is no longer listed separately in 1808 but as part of the Lane End corps (see below).

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, no officer’s lace, white legwear. At inspection in March 1806, the arms were reported as “bad”, and clothing as “indifferent”.

A letter of 1817 from the Adjutant of the Northern Local Militia (Staffordshire Archives) points out that the sergeants’ swords of this corps were their own purchase, and not received from Ordnance.

[Stafford Record Office D(W) 1788 p.1 B7.]

 

Cheadle Volunteers

See Moorland Volunteers, below.

 

Clough Hall Volunteers

(Wrongly, Cloughall.) Capt Comm John Gilbert. Date of earliest commission 20 August 1803. Two companies, in 1805 possibly reduced to one. At inspection in March 1806, arms were reported as “good”, but clothing as “indifferent”. The corps is not listed in 1808, and Anderton notes that pay claims exist only to December 1806, the corps being disbanded prematurely in early 1807.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, silver officer’s lace, blue pantaloons. At their inspection in October 1804, the corps reportedly:

… came upon the ground with large blue top coats on, which with the rest of their uniform, are provided at the expence of their patriotic commander, Captain Gilbert.

The wearing of blue greatcoats (officers’ by regulation) by all ranks is a fine example of volunteer affectation.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 27 October 1804.]

 

Cobridge Volunteers

At Cobridge in Burslem, a meeting of 1 August 1803 resolved to form two companies of infantry under Captains John Warburton and Thomas Adams, and four named lieutenants. I can trace no further mention of this corps or of its proposed officers, though a Thomas Adams was commissioned Captain of the Tipton Volunteers (see below – a locality distant to Cobridge) in December.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 6, 27 August 1803.]

 

Eccleshall Volunteers

Edward Drakeford. Reported as forming at a meeting of 21 August 1803, but never officially listed. The proposed corps of 120 was envisaged as two companies. The meeting also resolved:

That every person … shall be provided with a military dress, consisting of a Jacket of the militia uniform, white Breeches, black gaiters, black Stock, regulation Cap and Feather, out of a fund to be raised for all necessary expences …

This corps does not appear to have been realised or accepted.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 27 August 1803.]

 

Etruria Volunteers

Capt John Wedgwood (wrongly, Wedgewood). Date of earliest commission 22 August 1803. One company.

Originally proposed as one with the Hanley and Shelton Volunteers, but subsequently separate. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 111 strong. It was disbanded in early 1810.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, no officer’s lace, blue pantaloons. At inspection in March 1806, arms and clothing were reported as “good”.

John Wedgwood’s papers in the V&A/Wedgwood Collection are occasionally cited by Anderton. They include bills for Wedgwood’s personal outfit between September 1803 and April 1804 from military outfitter John Prosser of Charing Cross, including a “superior” sword and belt and gold epaulettes.

In November 1803, Wedgwood purchased a superfine scarlet jacket, pantaloons, gaiters and fustian overalls for a total of £4 18s from military clothier Richard Percy of Newcastle-under-Lyme. These would have been sample patterns for other ranks, rather than for Wedgwood’s personal wear. In which case, the use of scarlet is significant. The gaiters, if worn with the pantaloons, would have been short. “Fustian” here means a heavy cotton cloth, while “overalls” indicates simple loose trousers for undress, possibly buttoning down the outside edges, possibly not. Percy also supplied sergeants’ and corporals’ jackets, cloth for the sergeant major’s jacket, and possibly drummers’ clothing. A newspaper advertisement of September 1806 for his “Volunteer Cloathing System” offers “pattern Uniforms in variety” from £1 to £1 13s per outfit, and promises “to Cloath any Regiment in a given time”.

Hawkes of Piccadilly supplied accoutrements and sergeants’ swords.

While a return of December 1803 lists two fifers, Wedgwood also purchased two copper drums in September 1803 from a music supplier in Bristol.

On disbandment in 1810 the corps’s arms were delivered to the Longport Volunteers.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 20 September, 1806. 17 September 1808. Paul Anderton, Called to Arms 1803-12 in the Staffordshire-Cheshire Border Region, Audley & District Family History Society, 2016.]

 

Hanley and Shelton Volunteers / Hanley, Shelton and Etruria Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm James Whitehead. Date of earliest commission 1 June 1804. Four, later six companies. Originally proposed as one with the Etruria Volunteers, but subsequently separate. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 442 strong. Reports of mid-1804 that the corps included a company of riflemen were in error, that company belonging to the Lane End corps (see below).

Minutes of a meeting dated 30 July (Stafford Archives) include a resolution that the uniform be  the “same as the undress uniform of the County Militia”. Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, no officer’s lace, white legwear. At inspection in March 1806, arms and accoutrements were reported as “tolerable”, clothing as “indifferent”.

A return of equipment (Stafford Archives) notes that two of the corps’ drums had originally been used by the Loyal Pottery Volunteers of 1798 (for whom see this page).

A letter of 1817 from the Adjutant of the Northern Local Militia (Staffordshire Archives) points out that the sergeants’ swords of this corps had been their own purchase, and not received from Ordnance. It also notes that some “gentlemen potters” of the “Pottery” corps, which can be identified with Hanley, provided their own superior accoutrements and belts, including belt plates cast “in superior mettle to brass” at their own expense. (These 693 plates are more than the strength of this corps, but may also have included some for the Lane End corps. It is not clear whether the privately purchased sets were of black leather, to match those supplied by Ordnance, or of whitened buff.)

The battalion received its colours in (probably) December 1805. Judging by a comment in the address given on that occasion, one or both may have borne the motto “Pro Aris et Focis”.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 30 June, 14 July 1804, 21 December 1805, 17 September 1808. Stafford Record Office D 593 L/1/15/6, D(W)1788 p1 B5, D(W) 1788 p.1 B7.]

 

Lane End Volunteers / Lane End and Caverswall

Major Comm William Turner. Date of earliest commission 7 October 1803. Three, then four companies. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 396 strong, amalgamated with the Caverswall corps (see above).

In July 1804 the corps was reported as including a rifle company.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace gold, white legwear. At inspection in March 1806, arms and accoutrements were reported as “tolerable”, clothing as “indifferent”.

As noted above for the Hanley corps, a letter of 1817 from the Adjutant of the Northern Local Militia (Staffordshire Archives) points out that the sergeants’ swords of some “Pottery” volunteers had been their own purchase, and not received from Ordnance and that some “gentlemen potters” provided their own superior accoutrements and belts, including belt plates cast “in superior mettle to brass” at their own expense. (As these 693 plates are more than the strength of the Hanley corps alone, these purchases may also have included the Lane End corps. It is not clear whether the privately purchased sets were of black leather, as supplied by Ordnance, or of whitened buff.)

The corps apparently re-used the regimental colour of the Loyal Pottery Volunteers of 1798; this is discussed in the entry for that corps on this page, but I reproduce that material here, below. Surprisingly, the Union canton was not updated to include the St Patrick’s cross, but it seems clear that a ribbon inscribed “LANE END VOLUNTEERS” was indeed added in 1803.

The restored colour is kept by the Staffordshire Regimental Museum, and is described and illustrated in Vol LII of the JSAHR (1974), from which this image is taken. The dark tones of the flag, and the reflective glass that presently houses it, do not allow for easy photography today.

It appears that the same colours were subsequently borne by the Lane End Volunteers of 1803, but that the scrolls carrying the two unit titles had worked loose before restoration, those reading “Loyal” and “Infantry” having disintegrated. The renovated colour now reads “Lane End Pottery Volunteers”; this would originally have read “Loyal Pottery Infantry”, with two scrolls reading “Lane End Volunteers” added below the central design in 1803.

The original colour of the field is said to have been “dark red”, but it now appears entirely blackish. The 1768 Warrant required the second colour of a regiment with black facings (such as the Pottery Volunteers) to be the red cross of St George, with the three non-Union cantons in black; given the present dark tone of the field, I find it impossible to say whether this was originally the case here. The colour is said to have been originally six feet square, though the Warrant prescribes six feet on the pike and six feet six inches on the fly, which is more likely. No fringe is visible today, and areas of the design are missing. The Union canton is that of before 1801. The central design is painted.

The scrolls now appear whitish, but may have been buff for gold, shaded in brown, with black shadows beneath and lettering in tall, slender black capitals with serifs. The rather tall crown, largely in buff/gold, rests on a dark blue oval edged in buff/gold. Behind this, at each side are whitish trophy flags with spear heads. On the blue oval is a lidded urn in buff/gold, with two upright handles, the lid surmounted by the small figure of a man in robes, possibly a toga. The face of the urn bears a blue circle with the cyphered script letters “LPAI” in gold. The central design is surrounded by the remains of a wreath of oak; large areas of this are now missing, but the design appears broadly symmetrical.

Towards the lower left corner is a Staffordshire knot, said to be of “deep bronze”, on a disc said to be in gold, though these now appear as black on white; the disc is edged with a laurel wreath, and it’s noticeable that the knot is inverted, compared to how it is generally shown in modern times. Conceivably, there may have been other devices in the two outer corners.

My rough sketch aims to represent approximately the colour in its earlier state.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808. Derby Mercury, 12 July 1804. Stafford Record Office D(W) 1788 p.1 B7. H C B Cook, “Colour of the Loyal Potteries Infantry”, JSAHR Vol 52 No 212, Winter 1974.]

 

Leek Volunteers

Major William Badnall, Major Comm Edward Powys Jnr. Date of earliest commission 22 August 1803. Three companies. The corps originated at a meeting held apparently in early August 1803, at which a “very liberal” subscription towards costs was opened. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 231 strong, but by 1810 numbered only about 150. It was not disbanded until 1812.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace gold, white legwear. A rather luxurious private’s jacket is kept at the Staffordshire Regimental Museum (many thanks to Jonathan Rogers for permission to use here his excellent photos), though the design of a crown over script “LLV” on the belt plates of the Lichfield corps (see below) suggests to me that the jacket might equally well be from Lichfield, unless there is provenance to confirm the Leek identification.

The style, surprisingly, is that of the late 1790’s, the slightly longer skirts having double turnbacks, rather than the familiar “tommy” back with a lace triangle. The cloth is perhaps scarlet rather than red, the facings a soft lemon yellow. The front has ten large buttons in pairs, the cuffs and pocket flaps two pairs each, all with square ended buttonholes in plain white tape – a style not unknown among “unlaced” volunteer and supplementary militia units (see also this post). The shoulder straps, held by small buttons, are on a yellow cloth base that shows narrowly at the edges; they are developed into a padded spoon shape, the ends generously edged with white tufts.

The collar, tops of cuffs, shoulder straps, turnbacks and pocket flaps are all edged in white tape; the pointed cross pocket flaps are not applied, but formed entirely in white tape on the cloth of the coat. (The single real pocket is in the lining of the right tail.) The tape button holes of the false flaps are connected by a second line of tape above the lower edge. The upper pocket flap tape extends into small lozenges that frame each large button at the rear waist, below which are two pairs of tape button holes, between which the tape edges of the turnbacks extend into a vertical kite shape. At the turnback joins, an ornament is made up by a large button framed by a lozenge of white tape on a yellow cloth patch, the yellow edge narrowly showing. In short, this is a quality garment of a conservative style, so perhaps belonging to the earlier end of the corps’ service.

The gilt buttons have the raised design of a crown over “LLV” in script; this design was also identified to Leek in a Bonhams sale of 2012.

At inspection in March 1806, arms and clothing were both reported as “good”, though a newspaper obituary of 1878 recalled that the corps had been popularly known as “The Pikemen”, suggesting that a significant proportion had been armed thus in 1803, for want of proper arms from government.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 6 August 1803, 17 September 1808. Leek Times, 8 November 1878.]

 

Lichfield Volunteers / Litchfield Volunteers / Loyal Lichfield Volunteers

Col James Susannah Patten, Lieut Col Moresby. Date of earliest commission 17 August 1803. Six companies. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 391 strong.

The corps contributed significantly to its own costs through its subscription fund, disbursements for August 1803 including £972 2s 4d for clothing in addition to the government allowance, and £1020 18s 8d for “accoutrements”, suggesting that all members were furnished with better quality cartridge boxes and belts, the latter probably whitened buff rather than the black issued by Ordnance. At inspection in March 1806, arms were reported as “good”, clothing as “tolerable”.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, no officer’s lace, white legwear. As noted above, the jacket with crown over “LLV” buttons in the Staffordshire Regimental Museum, while identified to Leek, might conceivably be from Lichfield.

The Museum also holds an other ranks’ belt plate, oval or brass, the incised design showing a crown over “LLV” in script, over a Staffordshire knot of rope.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808. Howard Clayton, Coaching City, Dragon Books, n.d. (1971?).]

 

Longport Volunteers

Major Comm John Davenport. Date of earliest commission 22 August 1803. At a meeting of 25 July 1803 it was resolved to form four companies. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 328 strong. At inspection in March 1806, arms were reported as “tolerable” and clothing as “indifferent”. The corps was still in existence in 1810.

A manuscript resolution from an early meeting notes “upwards of 300 workmen proposing to provide themselves with a cheap uniform at their own expense.” The July 1803 meeting resolved:

That each Individual composing this Corps shall at his own expence, provide himself with the following Uniform, viz a jacket corresponding to the uniform of the County Militia, white linen pantaloons, black half gaiters, black stock, regulation cap and feather.

That application be made to Government for  a supply of Arms, Ammunition, and Accoutrements …

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace silver, white legwear.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 30 July, 6, 27 August 1803, 17 September 1808. Stafford Record Office D 1460.]

 

Moorland Volunteers / Cheadle Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Thomas Wilson. Date of earliest commission 13 December 1803. The corps originated at a meeting on 25 July 1803. Four companies, 300 strong. It was reported as active in March 1804, with its assembly point at Cheadle, as for the Caverswall and Leek corps.  At its inspection in March 1806, arms and clothing were both reported as “good”. In September 1808 it was reported as serving, and 243 strong.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 10 March, 17 September 1808.]

 

Newcastle Volunteers / Newcastle-under-Lyme Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Dr Francis Hickin Northen (wrongly, Hichin, and J H Northern). Date of earliest commission 12 August 1803. The corps originated at a meeting of 22 July 1803, which resolved to raise companies of infantry to an initial strength of 400, and a rifle corps consisting of a single company of 40 to 60 men, both under the same commander. By late 1803 seven companies had been formed: five battalion companies, a grenadier company and the rifle company as the second flank company, though the March 1806 inspection return gives six companies, also rating the arms and accoutrements as “good”, the clothing as “indifferent”.

In June 1806 Robert Clownam is referred to as Captain of the Newcastle “Volunteer Rifle Corps”, though this company appears always to have been contained within the battalion. Clownam died in late 1807, and the captaincy was assumed by John Robison (wrongly, Robinson). In September 1808 the full corps was reported as still serving, and 523 strong. By October 1809 it had disbanded.

The July 1803 meeting resolved:

Such Infantry to be supplied with arms and accoutrements by Government, but each individual at his own expence furnishing his uniform, to consist of a scarlet jacket faced with yellow, white linen pantaloons, black half gaiters, black stock, regulation cap and feather.

However, the yellow facings of the first uniform were later altered, perhaps in light of the change of the facing colour of the Staffordshire Militia to a “Royal” dark blue in 1805, so that Willson in 1806 gives the Newcastle uniform as red faced blue, officer’s lace silver, white legwear.

The July 1803 meeting also resolved, a little vaguely:

That [the] Rifle Corps … be composed of persons engaging to furnish arms, clothes, and accoutrements, similar to those used in rifle corps, at their individual expence.

A “rifle corps” volunteer uniform of the period tended to follow that of the 95th, though sometimes with additional volunteer flourishes.

A photo (thanks for this to Philip Haythornthwaite) from a source I’ve failed to note shows a poor image of a belt plate tentatively identified as bearing the arms of Newcastle-under-Lyme, a turreted castle over water; though I’ve noted this on the page for the previous corps, it might be relevant to this period.

A pair of “very elegant”colours, the gift of the corporation of Newcastle, was presented by Thomas Fenton, Mayor John Swinnerton and members of the corporation, on 2 October 1804.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 23 July 1803, 29 September, 20 October 1804, 7 June 1806, 17 September 1808, 7 October 1809. Stafford Record Office D(W) 1788 p.56 B.18.]

 

Rugeley Volunteers / Rugley Volunteers

Capt William Charles Madan (wrongly, W H Madan, Madden), Capt Hon Robert Curzon. Date of earliest commission 6 September 1803. One company. A meeting on 17 August 1803 proposed the formation of a company of 120 men under Madan. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 119 strong. In 1809 its members declined to transfer to the Local Militia, and the corps appears to have disbanded shorty after the end of May 1810. Modern accounts listed below all appear to draw on the day book of Lieut John Hickin.

The August 1803 meeting proposed:

That the uniform of the company shall be the same as recommended at a general meeting of the Lieutenancy held at Stafford, on Friday, the 12th of August inst.

That an application be made to Government for a supply of arms, ammunition, and accoutrements.

That the clothing be paid for out of the subscription, and delivered to such of the privates as do not clothe themselves.

(For the text of the Lieutenancy’s uniform proposal, see above, at the top of the page.) Willson gives the company’s uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace gold, white breeches. Clothing was ordered on 1 October 1803 from clothier George Watson of Rugeley, and the corps uniformed by 28 November.

Smith illustrates a belt plate, though no details are given, and the image, from a newspaper article of 1971,  does not reveal whether the plate is oval or rectangular, though oval seems a fair assumption. The raised design shows a crowned garter inscribed “RUGELEY ● LOYAL ● VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals, enclosing a Staffordshire knot of rope. Smith identifies the plate as made by Matthew Linwood of Birmingham.

In August 1805 “knee caps” were purchased in preparation for a period of permanent duty, presumably as protection for legwear. At inspection in March 1806, both arms and clothing were reported as “tolerable”. In January 1807 new clothing was ordered. A subscription for a band was opened in 1808.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808. E C Toye, “History of Rugeley”, typescripts, Rugeley Library. Rugeley Times, 13 May 1971. Walter N Landor, “Rugeley’s Volunteer Corps. Historical Account of its Activities”, Rugeley Mercury, 7 April 1939. P G [Peter] Smith, “The Rugeley Loyal Volunteers 1803-1814”, MHS Bulletin 95, February 1974.]

 

Sandon Volunteers

Given in the 1803 return as one company of 120 men, without any commanding officer’s name, and recorded as active in March 1804, with its assembly point at Stone, but not in the 1805 List. The company appears to have amalgamated with the Stone corps (below) by April 1804.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 10 March 1804.]

 

Shenstone Volunteers / Shenstone, Weeford and Hints Volunteers

Capt William Humphrey C Floyer. Date of earliest commission 22 August 1803. One company. Not in Willson’s chart of 1806, and not listed in 1806 or 1808, so presumably disbanded by that point.

 

Stafford Volunteers

Lieut Col(?) Hon H (John?) Talbot, Lieut Col William Horton. Date of earliest commission 6 September 1803. Four companies. At inspection in March 1806 arms and accoutrements were rated as “good”, and clothing as “tolerable”. In September 1808 the corps was reported as still serving, and 325 strong.

No uniform colours are given in Willson’s chart of 1806, but at a meeting of 4 August 1803 it was resolved:

That each individual composing this Corps, be provided at his own expence, or that of a Committee appointed to manage a fund for that purpose, with the following Uniform, viz. a Jacket corresponding with the uniform of the County Militia, White Pantaloons, Black half Gaiters, Black Stock, regulation Cap and Feather.

That an application be made to Government to furnish the said Corps with Arms and Accoutrements.

Colours were presented by Earl Talbot on 7 June 1804.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 6, 27 August 1803, 9 June 1804, 17 September 1808.]

 

Stoke, Penkhull and Fenton Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Daniel Whalley Jnr. Date of earliest commission 20 August 1803. Four companies. At inspection in March 1806 arms and accoutrements were rated as “tolerable”, and clothing as “indifferent”. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 300 strong.

Willson gives the company’s uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace gold, white breeches. Subscriptions to a “Fund for Cloathing, &c” were advertised in July 1808, indicating a recent or current re-clothing.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 16 July, 17 September 1808.]

 

Stone Volunteers / Stone and Sandon Volunteers / Stone, Sandon and Brockton (Brocton) Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm William Sneyd. Date of earliest commission 6 September 1803. Four, then five companies. The Stone corps appears to have amalgamated with the Sandon (see above) and Brockton companies by late April 1804. At inspection in March 1806 arms and accoutrements were rated as “good”, and clothing as “tolerable”. In September 1808 the corps was reported as serving, and 423 strong. It was still in existence as a volunteer corps, not having transferred to the Local Militia, in July 1809, when its members volunteered to contribute from their pay to the cost of their clothing, the allowance having been discontinued.

An undated newspaper cutting collected by Bowers states that “Their uniforms are the same as our Militia.” Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace gold, white legwear.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 10 March 1804, 17 September 1808, 22 July 1809. W H Bowers, material on the volunteer movement in Stone, William Salt Library, Stafford, 34/19-30/68.]

 

Tamworth Volunteers / Tamworth Light Infantry Volunteers

Lieut Col Comm Sir Robert Lawley. Date of earliest commission 6 September 1803. Five companies, reported in September 1804 as 350 strong. At inspection in March 1806 arms, accoutrements and clothing were all rated as “good”. In September 1808 the corps was reported as still serving, and 309 strong.

By the time of their inspection of 11 October 1804 the corps was styled as light infantry. How this was reflected in their uniform, and from what date, I can’t say. No uniform details are given in Willson’s chart of 1806.

In the Staffordshire Regimental Museum is an oval brass belt plate, the design in relief showing a Staffordshire knot in rope between “TAMWORTH” and “VOLUNTEERS” in Roman capitals.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 22 September, 13 October 1804, 17 September 1808. Derby Mercury, 20 September 1804.]

 

Tipton Volunteers

Capt Comm Thomas Adams. Date of earliest commission 13 December 1803. One company. At inspection in March 1806 arms and accoutrements were rated as “good”, and clothing as “indifferent”. In September 1808 the corps was reported as still serving, and 90 strong.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, officer’s lace silver, white legwear.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1808.]

 

Tunstall Volunteers / Tunstall &c Volunteers

Capts Samuel Cartlitch (Carlitch, Cartlich, Cartleich), Charles (wrongly, James) Simpson. Two companies, initially about 200 strong. The corps originated at a meeting held on 8 August 1803. Simpson resigned in February 1804, and by March other resignations had followed, comprising “several” officers and 83 privates. The subscription for clothing had fallen so short of the expected amount that the Deputy Lieutenant was obliged to inform the War Office that “Captain Cartlich has declared to me his inability to clothe the men”. The corps was disbanded soon after, being entered in the 1803 Return, but no longer listed in 1805, 1806 or 1808.

[Printed notice, 8 August 1803, Enoch Wood scrapbook, Stoke-on-Trent Museum. Paul Anderton, Called to Arms 1803-12 in the Staffordshire-Cheshire Border Region, Audley & District Family History Society, 2016.]

 

Uttoxeter Volunteers

Capt Comm Thomas Sneyd. Date of earliest commission 12 August 1803. Two companies, subsequently one. At inspection in March 1806 arms and accoutrements were rated as “good”, and clothing as “tolerable”. In September 1808 the corps was reported as still serving, and 128 strong.

Willson gives the uniform as red faced yellow, no officer’s lace, blue pantaloons.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 July 1808.]

 

Wolverhampton Volunteers

A local newspaper recounts that on 19 August 1803 600 men volunteered in the market place at Wolverhampton, taking an oath of allegiance. On the 21st they assembled a second time, with cockades in their hats, and marched to Tettenhall Wood, where they chose their officers, Sir John Wrottesley being selected as Captain Commandant.

Though the town formed military associations in 1798, I can find no further mention of this corps, which cannot have been accepted.

[Staffordshire Advertiser, 27 August 1803.]

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