Shropshire: independent yeomanry and association cavalry

With the exceptions of the Drayton Cavalry and the earliest troops titled as county yeomanry, no Shropshire volunteer units, cavalry or infantry, were formed in immediate response to the legislation of 1794. All other Shropshire cavalry volunteers raised in the 1790’s, even those that served as yeomanry, were formed at the time of the armed association enthusiasm of 1798. On this page are notes on the organisational basics, and the dress and equipage where known, of the armed association and volunteer or yeomanry cavalry of Shifnal and Apley (Brimstree Loyal Legion), Drayton, Ludlow and Bishop’s Castle, Oswestry and Pimhill. In several cases these troops belonged to armed associations that also included companies of infantry, which are examined on a separate page. The Hales Owen troop was raised later, in 1803, with that year’s wave of volunteering.

The Pimhill Light Horse were listed officially as the 4th Troop of the county yeomanry, but given their distinctive identity I have chosen to include them here. The Shropshire Yeomanry as a corps, including the three earliest troops, will be looked at here eventually on a separate page.

Earliest dates of commissions, as best known to me, are taken from the War Office list of 1799 (sixth edition) or from the London Gazette. In some cases, information on dress and equipment is embarrassingly sparse. If new information arrives it will be added. Click all images to enlarge.

 

Brimstree Loyal Legion / Brimstree Loyal Legion Volunteer Association

Two troops, Shifnal and Apley. Though linked to the infantry of the Legion, the Shifnal troop is listed (under “Brenstree”) as yeomanry in the War Office list of 1799, while the Apley troop is listed as an association. (The infantry component is listed as volunteers, not an association.) Established (as infantry and Shifnal troop) by May 1798. Earliest commissions (Shifnal troop) on 20 June 1798 and (Apley Troop) on August 22 1798. Major Commandant Robert Slaney. Captain Joshua Williams (Shifnal). Captain William Yelverton Davenport (Apley). The Apley troop, while considered from the first a component of the Legion, seems to have had more of a semi-detached status, perhaps because of its differing terms of service. Legion disbanded in June 1802.

Shifnal Troop

UNIFORM.
EVERY volunteer serving in the cavalry, is to provide himself with a horse, to be approved by the commanding officer; also with a scarlet jacket with blue collar and cuffs, white buttons bearing the cypher B.L.L. with a crown at the top, white waistcoat, white leather breeches, long black top’t regimental boots, plated spurs, black stock or handkerchief and helmet.

THE officers to be distinguished by red and white feathers.

ARMS & ACCOUTREMENTS.
… They will consist for the cavalry, of a goatskin and regimental bridle, sword, sword belt and knot, horse collar, pistol, holster on one side and cartouches on the other.

Notes: jackets may have been of the older style, without lace on the front, opening to show the waistcoat. No details of the trim of the Tarleton helmet are given in this text.

A Coalport jug inscribed for the Legion is kept at the Potteries Museum, Hanley, and shows a stylised Tarleton helmet with a red turban and white plume; this might be a generic image, or might be intended to show the other ranks’ helmet.

A Coalport vase made in 1799 for Major Parker of the Legion is kept at the Castle Museum, Shrewsbury. The design includes a stylised Tarleton helmet [shown at right,here], with a white over red full feather plume, bright red turban, five gold chains and a gold edge to the peak. The plume colours may indicate that this is intended to show an officer’s helmet.

A plated button, crown over “BLL” [below left], is shown at janealisonsmithdaily.wordpress.com.

Two archive sources refer to a single standard with gold fringe. This is shown in the Coalport vase design [below centre and right], and is swallow-tailed, with a gold open spearhead and a crimson and gold mixed cord, tassel & fringe. The field is a bright mid blue. At the centre a gold wreath encloses a red ground; the details are partly hidden, but if this guidon was in a common design to that of the Apley troop [see further below] this would have been a crown over “BLL” in gold script. The cartouche at lower left (and by implication at upper right) shows a white horse on a red field within a gold surround. The cartouche at lower right (and upper left) is unclear, but may be intended to show a spray of national flowers as on that of the Apley troop.

In August 1800, a reference to a blue silk camp colour, presumably for this troop, painted with script “BLL”.

[Regulating Code of Laws, for the Brimstree Loyal Legion, passed at a general meeting of the Corps, May the 4th, 1798, in Shropshire Archives, Leighton / Sweeney 1060/186-8. Newspaper cuttings, 1802, Sweeney 1060/218. Legion committee’s Minute Book, Sweeney 1060/214. “Cavalry Orders BLL” (Shifnal Troop, 1799), manuscript book in Shropshire Archives 6005/SHYYM/0006. S P Tamplin, “The Brimstree Loyal Legion”, at www.loyalvolunteers.org.]

Apley Troop

The guidon of the Apley Troop [below], presented in September 1799, is kept at the Castle Museum, Shrewsbury. The colour of the field suggests that the jacket facings were yellow (or possibly buff).

The broad sleeve is the colour of the flag. The upper and lower edges are horizontal, curving slightly towards the points. The field was probably originally yellow, though it now appears more buff. Gold fringe, gold double cord and tassels. The five panels appear to be painted on black cloth and applied, and are all edged in black. The central design contains “BLL” in gold script on a red ground within a symmetrical gold wreathed frame, beneath a gold crown with a white ermine rim. The cartouches at upper left and lower right show a white horse over green grass on a red background, with a gold edge. Those at upper right and lower left have a red ground bearing a spray of a rose and thistle; details are not easy to make out, but if the third sprig of the spray is a shamrock, this must have been amended following Union in 1800. The design may be the same as that of of the standard of the Shifnal Troop, discussed above, and should be compared with it.

 

Drayton Fencible Cavalry / Market Drayton Cavalry

Raised by the Drayton Association in August 1794, but served as yeomanry. (“Fencible” here does not imply the terms of service of a fencible corps but is used broadly as a title for volunteers.) One troop. Captain Richard Whitworth, Captain Henry Jervis. Earliest commissions January 11 1795. Became a troop of the Shropshire Yeomanry in December 1803.

Their uniform is blue, edged with red, red cuffs and collar, helmet, cross buff-belts, sabre, and pistols … they are also to have a small train of artillery of field brass three pounders, and two light swivels attached to the corps.

Accounts for 1795-7 include references to pattern jackets from Plowman; 60 “breast plates” (shoulder belt plates) and 90 “epaulets” (scale wings?) from Collier and from Tankard; helmets, including a trumpeter’s, from Hawkes of London; 44 cloaks from various makers; 14 carbines, 12 “cross belts” (carbine slings?) and 10 pistols from Thomas Ketland of Birmingham; painting and fringe for the standard. A reference to “guilding” for the standard suggests gold metal and fringe.

Notes: jackets would have been edged in red but without lapels, opening at the front to show the waistcoat. “Buff-belts” would have been whitened. No details are given for the Tarleton helmet.

[“An Account of the Expenditure and engagements of Articles for the Drayton Cavalry … in the Year 95-96-97 by Mr Whitworth” in Shropshire Archives, Powis 552/21/1/43. Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, August 18 1794. Shrewsbury Chronicle, April 3 1795, June 15 1798. J Robert Williams, “The Drayton Fencible Cavalry, 1795”, Crown Imperial, March 1979. Colonel [Charles George] Wingfield, Historical Record of the Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry, Shrewsbury, 1888.]

 

Hales Owen Cavalry

Linked to the infantry of the Hales Owen Loyal Volunteer Association. Enrolments on 5 June 1798 are recorded but organisation seems not to have been successful until a new effort was made in 1803. One troop. Captain Joseph Carruthers. A standard presented 28 August 1803. Became a troop of the South Shropshire Yeomanry in 1814.

Uniform described as “bearskin helmet”, gold lace, “epaulettes of graduated scales”, white breeches. Willson’s chart shows by 1806 red jacket, gold officer’s lace, black cuffs and collar, white breeches, so possibly by then uniformed similarly to the Shropshire Yeomanry.

Note: “Bearskin helmet”: Tarleton. “Epaulettes”: scale wings.

[J Robert Williams, “The Halesowen Cavalry”, The Blackcountryman, Vol 6, No 4, Autumn 1973. James Willson, “A View of the Volunteer Army of Great Britain …”, 1806.]

 

Ludlow Cavalry / Ludlow Gentlemen and Yeomanry / Ludlow and Bishop’s Castle Corps of Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry

Though listed as yeomanry, possibly originally linked to the infantry of the Ludlow Loyal Association. Earliest commissions 29 August 1798. One original troop at Ludlow, Captain William Walcot. Standard presented to Ludlow troop 21 May 1801. Troop continued its service through 1802. Bishop’s Castle troop probably formed 1803, Captain James Bayley Toldervey. Second Ludlow troop, Captain Willliam Adams, formed 1804. Standards presented to Bishop’s Castle and Second Ludlow troops 5 October 1804. One Ludlow troop disbanded, and the two remaining troops incorporated into the South Shropshire Yeomanry in 1814.

Willson’s chart shows by 1806 red jacket, gold officer’s lace, black cuffs and collar, white breeches, so possibly by then uniformed similarly to the Shropshire Yeomanry.

[Colonel [Charles George] Wingfield, Historical Record of the Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry, Shrewsbury, 1888. James Willson, “A View of the Volunteer Army of Great Britain …”, 1806.]

 

Oswestry Rangers

Served as yeomanry. Formed by March 1797. Originally one troop, in 1799 two. Captain John Mytton, Captain George Henry Warrington, Major Commandant Owen Ormsby, Major Commandant William Owen. Earliest commissions 6 April 1797. Standard presented 12 October 1797. Service continued through 1802. Became part of North Shropshire Yeomanry in 1814.

Uniform described in July 1797 as Hussar, scarlet faced with green the same as the Shropshire Militia, with helmets, sabres, and pistols. By 1806 Willson’s chart shows scarlet/red faced green, silver officer’s lace, white breeches.

Notes: “Hussar” indicates a closed jacket, at that date cut longer in the waist than later, with three rows of buttons laced across. The green facings of the Militia were of a dark shade.


Helmet in collection of A R Cattley described as: black polished leather with black bearskin crest, dark green cloth turban, terminating in a large bow at the back. White feather plume. Traces of silver plating on the copper fittings (the badge, title band, band on left side, binding to peak and turban chains). Title strips above peak: “OSWESTRY” and “RANGERS” in silver-plated copper. Badge with motto “PRO LEGE PATRIA ET REGE” on an unusual kind of crowned garter, crossing at the base of the circle, cipher “OR” at the centre of the badge on a red enamelled background.

[Shrewsbury Chronicle March 17 1797, Oct 20 1797, Jan 19 1798, October 26 1798. London Gazette 10 November 1798. A R Cattley, “Oswestry Rangers, 1797-1814”, JSAHR Vol 30. G Archer Parfitt, The Shropshire Yeomanry (6th Dragoons) RAC (TA): Some Historical Notes on Regimental Organisation and Dress. Colonel [Charles George] Wingfield, Historical Record of the Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry, Shrewsbury, 1888. James Willson, “A View of the Volunteer Army of Great Britain …”, 1806.]

 

Pimhill Light Horse Volunteers

First organisation attempted in 1793, but successive offers of service not accepted. Formed 1798. One troop. Captain Rowland Hunt, Captain J Edwards. Standard presented on June 4 1799. Continued its service through 1802. Incorporated in the North Shropshire Yeomanry in 1814.

In 1804, outfit and orders of dress listed as:

Jacket and black stock, helmet and spurs, cloak, case and straps, sabre and belt, pistol, holster and flounce, stable jacket and overalls, stable cap, haversack.

Dress for Marching Order.
Jacket, Helmet &c. Overalls, Haversack and Cloak buckled on the Holsters with three Straps, leaving the Pistol at Liberty to be drawn.

Dress for Drill Exercise.
Stable Jacket, Overalls, Helmet, Arms & Accoutrements, Cloak and Furniture.

Dress for Review and Field Days.
Jacket, Helmet &c. Leather Breeches, Military Boots &c. Cloak in Case, Arms, Accoutrements and Horse Furniture.

A commemorative beaker (of 1803?) at the Castle Museum, Shrewsbury, shows a stylised Tarleton helmet with a red over white plume, black turban and white metal. This may be a generic design, though the black turban suggests it could be intended as unit specific.

By 1806 Willson’s chart shows scarlet/red jacket faced black, silver officer’s lace, white breeches.

Standard kept at Castle Museum, Shrewsbury: guidon, black field. Substantial fringe (two inches deep?) apparently of gold, apparently extending under the white sleeve at bottom, but not at top. Central motif on black ground: embroidered crown on green wreath of white roses, light blue thistles. In gold serifed capitals: “PIMHILL / L . H / VOLUNTEERS”. Gold ribbon with black letters “VIS / UNITA / FORTIOR”. Embroidered cartouches at upper right and lower left bear a white horse on a red background above a pale (green?) ground. Cartouches at upper left and lower right bear in gold serifed letters “P / L H / V” on a red ground. Each cartouche is bordered by narrow sewn-on bars of gold in a ray formation.

[Shrewsbury Archives, 6005/SHYYM/0402: General Regulations and Orders for the Pimhill Light Horse Volunteers, County of Salop, P Sandford printer, nd [1804]. Colonel [Charles George] Wingfield, Historical Record of the Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry, Shrewsbury, 1888. James Willson, “A View of the Volunteer Army of Great Britain …”, 1806.]

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