Tag Archives: Beverley Buffs

An East York militia uniform of 1760

Out of period for the main focus of this blog, I know, but study of the county militias in the War against France leads back naturally to their reestablishment in the late 1750’s. There can’t be too many surviving militia uniforms from that period; in fact there can’t be too many surviving uniforms of anything from that period, and the splendid 1760 outfit of Captain Thomas Plumbe of the Lancashire Militia, in the KORR Museum, is hailed as “the oldest, most complete, British army uniform in the world.” I wouldn’t know, but in that state of completeness it may well be. (Lots of photos of it here.)

YORCM_L1950_32
All the more surprising then that a comparable officer’s suit of the East Yorkshire Militia for this period – coat, waistcoat, breeches – lies uncelebrated in the vaults of York Castle Museum. (The coat and waistcoat were sketched by C C P Lawson at Leeds Museum and Art Gallery, where they were once housed, for Volume II of his mega-study, which confirms the id.) The York online catalogue, such as it is, does not identify or group these items, and associates only the waistcoat and breeches. The three accession numbers are from widely different years, and the significance of this uniform may have been lost over the decades. I hope it is now recognised, for this is a remarkable and historically important uniform.

YORCM 2010.984
The scarlet coat is lined and faced buff, with ten buttons and silver laces on each lapel, four on each pocket and cuff, and one each side of the collar. The silver buttons are blank, with a striped pattern. Waistcoat and breeches are both buff. The waistcoat has twelve silver buttons and laces at the front and three on each pocket; the breeches have a tie and four buttons at each knee.

As sketched by Lawson

As sketched by Lawson

The waistcoat lace has not, as the online note suggests, faded from gold; silver lace and buff facings were the constant distinctions of the Beverley Buffs or Yorkshire Buffs, as the regiment was soon dubbed. (In fact a 1790’s silver gorget of the regiment in the National Army Museum is inscribed simply “The Buffs”.) R W S Norfolk, in his East Riding study, asserts that the men of the regiment were issued in 1760 with red coats faced buff with white lace, a white waistcoat and red breeches, but I’m not sure of his source for this; other ranks’ militia uniforms of this period are a bit of a mystery, to say the least.

Advertisements

Two mystery musicians

A pair of striking portraits of two young musicians, probably brothers, in reversed colour uniforms of the late 1790’s – buff single breasted jackets or coats faced blue, and buff waistcoats and breeches. I’m told that these were acquired in York, and brief inscriptions on the backs indicate “bandsman from York”. The younger musician holds a fife, while the elder is shown with cymbals and some kind of bearskin cap, apparently with a white feather.

f

d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the York attribution does present a problem: no York volunteers wore uniforms faced in buff. The only Yorkshiremen with buff facings known to me are the East Yorkshire Militia (“Beverley Buffs”), or the Halifax Volunteers of 1794, both in red, while another source suggests that Halifax musicians wore buff faced red, not blue. A foreign unit such as The York Rangers? It’s a mystery.

At any rate, these are still advertised for sale by Artware Fine Art of London at four and a half grand each, if you’re interested …