Local Militia: Staffordshire

This page sets out what information I have on the dress and equipage, generally and individually, of the five regiments of Local Militia formed in Staffordshire in 1808-10, the Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern and Central Regiments. In some cases useful archival evidence survives; in one case, the Western Regiment, I have come across no records or surviving items. If new information arrives, it will be added.

Reference is made at several points to “Ripley and Moodie”, meaning Howard Ripley and Bob Moodie, Local Militia Buttons, 1994 and 2002. Click all images to enlarge.

 

General remarks

In 1803 the Staffordshire Lieutenancy had proposed that the volunteer infantry being raised should adhere to the colours of their county militia:

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.

Uniform for Volunteers Corps of Infantry in the County to be Red jacket, yellow facings …

The volunteers largely followed this, with some minor variations, but in 1808 the dress of the new Local Militia regiments was intended by government to conform completely:

The clothing of the Local Militia is to be the same in every respect as that worn by the regular militia of the county.

Hawkes (The collar markings are later alterations) Photo Ben Townsend

Interestingly, this was not to be quite the case in Staffordshire. The pattern for the Local Militia would naturally have been that of the single existing regiment of Staffordshire Militia. (A Second Militia had been disbanded in 1805.) However, during a spell of duty at Windsor this regiment had been re-titled in 1805 as The King’s Own Staffordshire Militia and awarded dark blue “Royal” facings. In other counties with “Royal” regiments of militia (see Gloucestershire, for example), the new Local Militia regiments cheerfully followed suit, but in Staffordshire the Local Militia adopted the dress of their “regular” county regiment as it had been three years earlier, before being given Royal status.

Staffordshire Militia grenadiers, 1804, from the painting by Arthur Devis, National Army Museum

At that point the “regular” uniform had yellow facings, buttons spaced in pairs, and gold metal for officers. Buttons, belt plates and some cap plates all featured the Staffordshire knot. Evidence for the coats of the “regular” officers includes two period images, and a drawing and description in the copy of the Hawkes tailor’s book at the National Army Museum. These show lapels with ten buttons in pairs, four in pairs on the cuff and under the pointed pocket flap, all with twist holes. A small button and twist hole is on each side of the collar, with two buttons and four holes at the rear waist. There is no use of gold lace here, and no edging to the facings or turnbacks. This pattern was followed by the Local Militia officers, as shown by the description of the coat of the Northern Regiment, below.

The officer’s “Belgic” cap plate with Staffordshire knot, shown below for the Southern Regiment, may have been a type also used other Local Militia regiments, and possibly also by the “regular” Militia. At least one other example is known.

Period evidence shows that the men’s yellow-faced jackets of the Staffordshire Militia had ten buttons and lace loops in pairs, the loops square ended. No clothier’s notes survive for these jackets and the pattern of the looping lace is uncertain, since the Hamilton Smith chart of 1815 shows that of the later “Royal” uniform. A note of 1805 by Captain John Fletcher of the Betley, Audley & Batley Volunteers (Stafford Record Office) on the dress of his company, stated to be as that of the Militia, appears to show a lace with yellow and black lines, the black to the outside of the loop, though this is not entirely clear. Fletcher also notes the sergeant’s cap as “with the Staffordshire Knot of white metal in front of it”, but the private’s as with a “plate”, so possibly not with the knot badge. (For the knot badge, see also this post.) This uniform would have been worn by the men of the Local Militia.

There is more than one indication below that the limited periods of training for these regiments made the provision of undress jackets unnecessary, the men’s waistcoats being worn for undress, in at least one case with forage caps and white duck trousers. (See Northern and Central Regiments, below.)

As explained further on this page, the volunteers of 1803 of several counties, Staffordshire included, were issued accoutrements with black leather belts, which in some cases were still in use when these corps transferred to the Local Militia. If a new Local Militia regiment found itself with a majority of black accoutrements, it was permitted to keep all its belts black. In at least one case (see the Northern regiment, below) this seems to have been done, at least initially.

 

Eastern Regiment, Staffordshire Local Militia (Cheadle)

Lieut Col Comm Thomas Wilson, commissioned 24 September 1808.

At the Staffordshire Regimental Museum near Lichfield is an officer’s shoulder belt plate; this is gilt, rectangular with rounded corners, showing, all in relief, “Staffordshire” in Old English capitals over a crowned garter with palm leaves, inscribed “Honi Soit” etc, and enclosing a Staffordshire knot, above “E ● L ● M” in serifed capitals. The plate is unattributed, but clearly of this regiment.

Two basic patterns of button are known, both based on that of the “regular” militia. An example of the first is in the Gaunt Collection at Birmingham Museum; it is gilt, convex, showing “ES / LM” in serifed capitals within a border of eight stylised leaves. Ripley and Moodie show a drawing of this with twelve leaves. The second type perhaps imitates the button of the “Royal” county militia, showing a crown between “E S” above a knot and “L ● M”, the letters all serifed capitals, within the same border; an example sold by Bonham’s has twelve leaves, as also shown by Ripley and Moodie, who give a diameter of 21 mm.

Western Regiment, Staffordshire Local Militia (Wolverhampton)

Lieut Col Comm Sir John Wrottesley, commissioned 1 March 1809.

Howard Ripley and Denis Darmanin, in a MHS Bulletin, illustrate an officer’s button, described simply as gilt and convex. The design shows a crown over the Staffordshire knot, between “Stafford” and “Westn ● L ● M ● Regt”.

 

Northern Regiment, Staffordshire Local Militia (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Lieut Col Comm Walter Sneyd, commissioned 1 March 1809.

The Buckmaster tailor’s book at the National Army Museum contains an entry for an officer’s coat (thanks to Ben Townsend for an image), which specifies yellow facings, ten [twist button] holes by pairs on the lapels, four in the pocket flaps, four on each cuff and four at the “back”, meaning presumably two at the rear waist and one in each pleat. There is a button (size not specified) and hole at each side of the collar, but no edgings. This follows in most respects the tailor’s drawing above for the coat of the “regular” militia.

A bundle of the Adjutant’s letters at Stafford Record Office provides much incidental detail covering the period (mid 1813) when the regiment adopted the new regulation uniform of the “Belgic” cap, grey legwear and officers’ jackets. The regiment’s re-clothing was due after four years, in the Spring of 1813. (Orders to all Local Militia covering this change can be found on this page.)

In April and May of 1813 officers were notified of their new “regulation dress”:

The uniform [for dismounted officers] will now be – cap, jacket, grey pantaloons, Hessian boots & grey great coat. The mounted officers the same, excepting that they will wear leather breeches & long boots.

The [officers’] regtl. Great Coat is of grey cloth with an upright collar & one large cape over the shoulders. Double-breasted, skirt linings white shalloon.

A letter of April 1813 from the Adjutant of the King’s Own Staffordshire Militia provided guidance for the Northern Regiment on legwear in the various orders of dress as worn by the “regular” regiment’s officers – grey overalls and pantaloons, white pantaloons and breeches – and enclosed a sample of the grey cloth generally worn for overalls, a medium dark grey, with a slightly mottled appearance. It seems reasonable to assume that these orders were adopted by the Northern Regiment:

Mounted officers

Morning – Grey overalls without buttons down to the calf, but a flap one inch wide all the way down – loose below the knee, buttons from the calf, & black varnish leather bottoms, with chains & straps. Afternoon – Grey pantaloons & hessian boots. Review Order – White leather breeches & long boots. Sundays – White leather breeches & long boots in the morning, white kerseymere pantaloons & Hessian boots in the afternoon.

Dismounted officers

Grey overalls as above, but without leather bottoms, in the mornings, grey pantaloons & hessian boots in the afternoon. Sunday – White kerseymere pantaloons & hessian boots. On Guard, & Review Order – White kerseymere breeches & long gaiters.

On 17 June the officers were reported to be looking “well” in their new caps and jackets.

A reference is made in 1810 to mounted officers’ horse furniture including holsters with bearskin covers and a “plain white cover” with any saddle.

Trousers and short gaiters for other ranks, to replace breeches and long gaiters, were contracted for in April 1813, and were ready in June. Those of the sergeants were of superior quality. Returns show that the men had not worn pantaloons in the preceding period.

The sergeants and drummers permanently retained at headquarters were re-clothed every two years, and these had received “new clothes made last year [1812] in proper form” – apparently meaning caps and jackets – but were re-clothed anyway in 1813.

Returns of 1816, following the disembodiment of the regiment and return of its clothing to the Storekeeper General, show that NCO’s and men had not been provided with “forage jackets”, their waistcoats presumably serving for undress during their limited periods of training.

The senior sergeants, sergeant-major and drum-major, had from 1809 to 1813 worn cocked hats and “long coats” patterned after those of the officers. With their new jackets they were to have caps; both silver and gold “chains” were proposed for these, the Colonel finally deciding on silver and scarlet “regulation” chains for both, “scarlet” here possibly meaning crimson. The Drum-major was to be re-clothed in “something similar to the dress of the drum-major of the regular Stafford allowing for the difference of facings & not going to any great expence.”

A return of April 1813 shows the sergeant-major and sergeants, drum-major and drummers as armed with swords and sword belts with plates. Of the 45 sergeants, 37 have “spears” (spontoons or half pikes) but eight (presumably the sergeants of the flank companies) carry shorter “carbines” (fusils) with bayonets and slings.

At this time the regimental band appears to have been expanded. The bass drummer and cymbal beater, who may have been dressed exotically, wore white pantaloons.

As noted above, the accoutrement belts and musket slings of the volunteer units that amalgamated and transferred into this regiment were all of black leather. In such a case, a Local Militia regiment was permitted to keep its accoutrements uniformly black, rather than the whitened buff leather prescribed. It appears that this was done initially in the Northern, though it’s not clear to me whether the black belts were later replaced by white. Officers would have worn black belts to match.

 

Southern Regiment, Staffordshire Local Militia (Tamworth, Lichfield)

Lieut Col Comm Sir Robert Lawley, commissioned 1 March 1809. Lieut Col Comm Sir John Fenton Boughey. Headquarters moved to Lichfield in 1810.

A copy of the printed booklet The Standing Orders for the Southern Regiment of Staffordshire Local Militia, 1813 (Lichfield, 1813), in the William Salt Library at Stafford, provides useful details for the revised dress, and orders of dress, of officers:

                                                                 Officers’ Dress.
EACH officer will wear the Regulation Cap and Feather, – the Cap is to be worn very forward on the head.
Regulation Jacket and Epaulette; the Lappel is to be buttoned over to the top.
The Officers of the Flank Companies are to wear Wings instead of Epaulettes.
Cloth Pantaloons of the Regulation Colour made close, and plain, to be worn under Hessian Half Boots.
The Mounted Officers to wear Overalls of the same colour.
White Kerseymere Pantaloons are to be worn for the Evening Dress.
Regulation Sword and Buff leather Belt, with the sash to be tied before the lift[sic] hip.
The Officers of the Flank Companies are to wear Sabres.
The Gorget is to be worn on duty, and at Reviews, only.
Black Silk Handkerchiefs, or Stocks, are to be worn, but no knot is to appear in front.
White Leather Gloves to be worn on Duty, and at all Parades.

“Regulation Colour” here for the pantaloons means grey.

The “Belgic” cap worn by Lieut Col Sir John Fenton Boughey is kept at the Staffordshire Regimental Museum. It is of black felt, bound with black tape, with a gilt plate of regulation form, white over red feather, black cockade, and gold cords and tassels; no crimson is visible in the cords to my eye, but I may be mistaken about that. The plate shows the Royal cipher over the Staffordshire knot; the ground is finely hatched, so dull in appearance, while the elements of the design, in relief, are bright.

Surviving officer’s buttons are gilt, convex, one given as 18.5 mm in diameter, the design based on that of the “regular” Militia, showing a crown over the Staffordshire knot between “S / L M / S” in serifed capitals, within a border of twelve leaves.

Regarding the dress and equipment of the men, the Standing Orders required that:

…the Arms, Accoutrements, and Knapsacks, are to be marked with a letter for each Company, and numbered …

and that the men’s grey trousers and gaiters were both to be cleaned with fuller’s earth. The reference above to officers’ belts of buff leather indicates that this regiment wore white accoutrement belts.

An unusual item in the Staffordshire Regimental Museum is a tailed coat said to have been worn by Lady Boughey, wife of the commanding officer, in her “daughter of the regiment” role. This is scarlet, the body cut full, with collar, cuffs and lapels in a strong yellow. The collar and front edges close with hooks and eyes, and the lapels are cut in a broad, plastron style, all in the officer’s pattern of 1822-9. Each lapel has five pairs of twist buttonholes with large buttons, with two pairs of buttons and holes on each cuff. Each side of the collar has a small button and twist hole. The shoulders are plain, apparently without any trace of epaulettes. The body is cut with a waist seam, from which the lower front edge drops away slightly, the white turnbacks, without edging, falling away sharply from this. The skirts are lined in white. The buttons are the pattern shown above, and most of those on the lapels are now missing. As the regiment was disembodied in 1816 and remained so until the reduction of 1829, this can only have been worn on social occasions. Presumably the outfit also included a scarlet skirt.

 

Central Regiment, Staffordshire Local Militia (Lichfield)

Lieut Col Comm George Chetwynd, commissioned 9 April 1810. Formed in 1810.

In the Staffordshire Regimental Museum is an officer’s belt plate, oval, gilt, the design, applied in silver, showing a crowned garter inscribed “Honi Soit” etc in serifed capitals, enclosing a complex script cipher “SCRI”, presumably for “Staffordshire Central Regiment of Infantry”. All the details are cut out to reveal the gilt ground, including the edges and lettering of the garter. The image here of a second example is from a photo by Philip Haythornthwaite, possibly from an auction catalogue.

The Order Book of Lieut Col George Chetwynd, kept at the William Salt Library in Stafford, provides this outline of orders of dress for officers, dated 11 August 1810:

Field Officers
Full Dress  White cassimere breeches, with gilt buttons, boots & spurs.
Drill Dress  White leather breeches, boots & spurs.
Mess Dress  White pantaloons, with white lace, hessian boots, & dress’d spurs.

Captains & Subalterns
Full Dress  White cassimere breeches, gilt buttons, long black gaiters, shoes.
Drill Dress  Blue pantaloons, braid, with short black gaiters & shoes.
Mess Dress  White cassimere pantaloons, white lace, hessian boots.

Waistcoats   White cassimere, gilt buttons.

An order of 1 July 1811 required:

Forage caps & trousers of Russia duck to be provided for other ranks.

With the men’s waistcoats, these items comprised an undress uniform.

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