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"Militia, Fencible & Volunteer Uniforms" Topic

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Jemima Fawr Inactive Member07 Feb 2011 12:21 p.m. PST

I'm looking for information on the uniforms of a few regiments circa 1797:

Royal Buckinghamshire (The King's Own) Militia:

In 1793 the Buckinghamshire Militia had yellow facings with silver officers' metal. However, as they became 'Royal' between 1793 and 1797, I'm guessing that they changed to the usual Royal format of dark blue facings with gold officers' metal?

Brecknock Volunteer Infantry:

I've got nothing at all on this company-sized unit.

New Romney (Duke of York's Own) Fencible Cavalry:

I've nothing at all on this regiment.

Suffolk Provisional Cavalry:

Again, I've nothing at all on these. Note that they are sometimes referred to as Suffolk 'Fencibles',as they became Fencibles in 1800 when the Provisional Cavalry Regiments (which were a mounted version of the Militia) were disbanded.

Any assistance gratefully received.

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2011 1:15 p.m. PST

re: The R Bucks – the Hamilton Smith uniform charts in Lawson's uniform book shows them with blue facings by 1815 if that is any help?

I'm not much good at reading the charts but I think it is showing silver Officers' lace…

Hope that helps a little

Gavin000 Inactive Member07 Feb 2011 3:10 p.m. PST

The Fencible Cavalry (Or Fencible Light Dragoons) were formed in 1794. The uniforms were "red with white lining, and white waistcoat with different facings; the saddle cloth to be of the like colour with the facings". I have not found any reference which gives the individual facing colours for these regiments.

In 1794 The Sussex Light Dragoons comprised one troop of "four Sergts, four Corpls, one Trumpeter, and forty six private men, besides Comd. and Staff Officers".

I believe all the English Fencibles Regiments were disbanded around 1800. Those regiments which volunteered to serve in Ireland during the 1798 Rebellion appear to have been given permission to wear the blue uniforms of the regular light cavalry.

(Source: Secretary of War Out Letters Class WO/4 National Archives)

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member07 Feb 2011 5:30 p.m. PST

Thanks Whirlwind. It's certainly possible – Militia did often make up their own rules re uniforms.

Thanks Gavin. The Fencibles in Great Britain were disbanded following the Peace of Amiens in 1802. Consequently, the Suffolk Provisional Cavalry became Fencibles in 1800, but that only lasted until 1802. However, Fencibles were re-raised when things kicked off again.

Jeroen72 Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 4:00 a.m. PST

Here perhaps??


Jemima Fawr Inactive Member08 Feb 2011 5:25 a.m. PST

Thanks Jeroen, but no, I've already looked there. Those plates are only concerned with London (but I did check, just in case Romney was considered to be close enough!).

Personal logo Cheriton Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2011 2:59 p.m. PST

Do you have access to CCP Lawson's "A History of the British Army"? Volume V has about 100 pages such uniforms. Sorry, unable to check for your specifics at this time.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member09 Feb 2011 4:09 p.m. PST

Unfortunately not :o(

Camcleod09 Feb 2011 9:33 p.m. PST

Most volumes of Lawson's books are available and some quite cheap.

desmondo27 Jul 2011 2:48 a.m. PST

I am building a force for the Egyptian campaign and the Ancient Irish Fencibles area unit I would like to have.

Does anyone have any uniform information on this unit, and also whether they carried regimental colours ?

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member27 Jul 2011 3:49 a.m. PST

Sadly, Cecil Lawson, in his History of British Uniforms, states that the uniform of the Ancient Irish Fencible Infantry is unknown, along with the uniforms of a number of other Irish Fencible regiments. Lawson does list uniforms taken from Hamilton-Smith's Illustrated List of Fencible uniforms, so I can only assume that the Ancient Irish Fencibles were not included in Hamilton-Smith's Illustrated List.

However, most known Fencible regimental uniforms conformed to the regulations, so I'd simply use whatever line figures take your fancy. There was a wide array of variations in Egypt, from long coatees to short, tropical jackets of the type worn in the West Indies. There was also a wide array of headgear, from early stovepipe shakos to large 1796 Pattern hats to tropical round-hats, as well as tarletons and bearskins being worn by some light and grenadier companies. As the uniform is simply not known, you do have carte blanche to make up your own uniform!

Fencible regiments carried the usual stand of King's & Regimental Colours. Of the known Fencible colours, the most common format was to have the regimental title in the centre of each colour, surrounded by the Union Wreath.

desmondo27 Jul 2011 4:57 a.m. PST

Many thanks for this information. I think I may "go to town" on this unit and have a mix of headgear for the different companies. I prefer the round hats (Minifigs do a great 15mm figure).

I am very interested in this unit as it seems to be very unusual and served outside the UK for a number of years.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member27 Jul 2011 6:12 a.m. PST

Yes, I think it's unique in that regard, though at least one other (Irish) Fencible regiment was sent to Jersey, which is 'nearly' overseas.

If it were me, I'd stick to one type of headgear for the Centre companies (round hats are also my favourite), but as you say, you could go nuts on Light and Grenadier companies. Crested round hats were popular for elite companies in India at the time, though I don't know about Egypt.

For facing colour, if you've got to make it up, I'd say that it HAS to be emerald green! I'd make officers' lace gold. I think I'd also add Irish harps as corner-devices on the Regimental Colour (rather like the colours of the Irish Legion in French service). :o)

I've been stuck with a similar dilemma, having to paint regiments for whom uniform and flag details are either unknown or fragmentary. Here's one I made up earlier:


desmondo27 Jul 2011 1:25 p.m. PST

Very nice!! Your suggestions are also good, but I may stay away from the harp this time……….

AICUSV29 Jul 2011 8:24 a.m. PST

Not sure if this is of any use or interest as it is 30 years earlier.

But would make for an interesting contrast to all the red coats.

The volunteer militia uniforms from this period are really interesting, although I'm more into those of the US. Please keep posting info on this period.

I have been kicking around with the idea of doing a campaign based upon the US not being able to purchase Louisiana from Nappy and then trying to take it by force. Forces would be France and US, but with Britain and Spain with the potential to get involved, as well as the Native Americans and "Freelanders" (white men who wish to have their own free state).

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member01 Aug 2011 2:39 a.m. PST

That's interesting. However, given the white cartouche, my guess is that he's Invalid Artillery. We did a little research on the Invalid Artillery for our Fishguard project, as there were three 'Invalid Woolwich Gunners' attached to the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry, who maintained the guns at Fishguard Fort, with the help of thirty volunteers from the F&NVI. Their uniform was exactly as that shown – essentially Royal Artillery uniform without the lace.

All the Militia and Fencible regiments recorded by Lawson & Hamilton-Smith show red coats until 1812 when three such regiments (Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire and one other) converted to Rifles. However, some regiments did have small Rifle or Light detachments with uniforms provided by the Commanding Officer at his own expense – the 2nd West Riding of Yorkshire Militia had a green-jacketed Rifle detachment from 1795, while the Merionethshire Militia and Westmorland Militia had Light detachments equipped with short blue jackets, faced red (in the case of the Merionethshires, this was the worn by entire 'regiment' as they were only one company strong at the time – they were also issued with red coats).

However, the Volunteer regiments had a myriad of coat colours and styles. The New York Library online collection has a large collection of London Volunteer and Yeomanry uniform plates here: link

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member01 Aug 2011 2:45 a.m. PST

If you're interested, this is Lawson's list of Militia facing colours (drawn from Hamilton-Smith), though sadly the corresponding lace details are incomplete. The dates are the years upon which a particular uniform was recorded (usually during a periodic inspection) they may therefore have worn the listed uniform earlier than the date listed:

Anglesea 1779 blue, light infantry caps.
Bedfordshire 1778 green
Berkshire 1778 light blue
Brecknockshire 1779 green, 1793 yellow with silver lace
Buckinghamshire 1760 black, 1793 yellow with lace edging & silver officers' lace. 1796(?) became Royal with blue facings and buttonhole lace in pairs & silver officers' lace.
Cambridgeshire 1760 green
Cardiganshire 1779 green. 1778 garter blue with silver officers' lace. 1804 became 'Royal' with dark blue and gold officers' lace. 1810 became Light Infantry. 1812 became Rifles with green jackets, red facings and silver officers' lace.
Carmarthenshire 1779 blue, with white lace worn in pairs & gold officers' lace. 1804 became 'Royal Carmarthen Fuzileers' and wore fusilier caps (red-over-blue mitres with brown fur front and PoW feathers in metal).
Carnarvoshire 1779 blue
Cheshire 1778 blue with silver officers' lace.
Cornwall 1760 black. 1778 deep blue.
'Cornwall & Devon Miners' 1778 blue with gold officers' lace.
Cumberland 1760 red. 1778 blue with gold officers' lace.
Denbighshire 1778 blue with gold officers' lace.
Derbyshire 1778 green with silver officers' lace.
1st (East) Devonshire 1770 yellow. 1780 wearing light infantry caps.
2nd (North) Devonshire 1760 green. 1780 yellow with light infantry uniforms. 1788 green (possible return to conventional line infantry style?)
3rd (South) Devonshire 1778 green. 1781 yellow.
Dorsetshire 1763 Green with gold officers' lace.
Durham 1760 Green. 1778 purple with silver officers' lace. 1782 Light Company described as 'still in blue' (?)
East Essex 1759 green
West Essex 1778 green with silver officers' lace.
Glamorganshire 1779 black with silver officers' lace. 1781 blue with gold officers' lace and plain hats.
1st (South) Gloucestershire 1778 blue
2nd (North) Gloucestershire 1778 blue
1st (North) Hampshire black with silver officers' lace
2nd (South) Hampshire black with silver officers' lace. 1780 yellow
Herefordshire Apple green
Hertfordshire Buff
Huntingdonshire Black facings. 1779 & 1780 listed as light infantry, wearing short jackets with leather helmets bearing red horsehair manes.
East Kent 1780 Kentish grey
West Kent 1778 Grey with silver officers' lace
1st Royal Lancashire blue with gold officers' lace
2nd Royal Lancashire blue with gold officers' lace
3rd Royal Lancashire blue with gold officers' lace
Leicestershire not recorded
Royal North Lincolnshire 1759 red. 1778 blue (probably changed to blue on becoming 'Royal' in 1760).
Royal South Lincolnshire 1778 blue
Merionethshire 1779 blue facings. 1781 recorded as being 'in the service of the artillery' and having short jackets with tarleton helmets. The Captain (this was only a company) had also purchased blue jackets with red facings presumably to keep red coats clean when working guns?
East Middlesex 1760 white. 1778 blue with gold officers' lace.
West Middlesex 1778 blue
Monmouthshire Fuzileers 1779 blue. 1782 converted to light infantry
Montgomeryshire 1778 blue with silver officers' lace.
1st (West) Norfolk 1778 black with silver officers' lace
2nd (East) Norfolk 1778 black with silver officers' lace
Northamptonshire 1781 black with gold officers' lace. All wearing helmets.
Northumberland 1778 light buff
Nottinghamshire 1775 black with gold officers' lace. 1780 white.
Oxfordshire 1778 green with gold officers' lace. 1779 black with gold officers' lace. 1780 all wearing tarletons.
Pembrokeshire bright blue with gold officers' lace. 1804 became 'Royal' and changed to dark blue. 1812 became Rifles and changed to green jackets, faced black with silver officers' lace.
Radnorshire Blue
Rutland 1759 pale buff. 1778 yellow. 1782 short jackets and caps.
Shropshire Green with silver officers' lace.
1st Somersetshire Black. 1787 yellow.
2nd Somersetshire Black. 1787 yellow.
Staffordshire Yellow with silver officers' metal. Unlaced coats.
1st (West) Suffolk Yellow
2nd (East) Suffolk 'Plain' (might this mean unlaced coats?) red with silver officers' metal.
1st Surrey White
2nd (West) Surrey White
Sussex Red
Warwickshire Green with silver officers' lace.
Westminster Blue
Westmorland 1759 red. 1781 blue with gold officers' lace and Light Company in blue jackets, faced red, with caps.
Isle of Wight Independent company dressed as light infantry.
Wiltshire Yellow with silver officers' lace.
Worcestershire Green
East Riding of Yorkshire Buff with silver officers' lace
North Riding of Yorkshire 1759 blue. 1778 black with silver officers' lace.
1st West Riding of Yorkshire green
2nd West Riding of Yorkshire green. 1795 two companies of marksmen added; armed with 'fuzees', dressed in green with black buttons.
3rd West Riding of Yorkshire green

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member01 Aug 2011 2:50 a.m. PST

Re-enactors for the East Norfolk Militia contradict the above list. I don't know exactly which year this is for, but their uniform is the single-breasted 1799 Pattern coat and stovepipe shako, exactly as for the line Regiments of Foot. Collars, cuffs and shoulder-straps were black and contrary to the list above, officers' metal was gold.

Most unusually, the rank-and-file had yellow lace rather than the usual white. Collars and shoulder-straps were edged with lace and there were five pairs of square-ended lace loops on the chest, as well as two pairs of lace loops on each cuff.

Drummers had a white coat, faced black with yellow lace as for the rank-and-file, as well as upward-pointing lace chevrons on each sleeve.

The Gray Ghost01 Aug 2011 4:54 p.m. PST

I did not know that the British had some foot units in blue coats.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member03 Aug 2011 1:53 a.m. PST

Yes, but only in the Volunteers.

AICUSV05 Aug 2011 7:03 a.m. PST

Great stuff – thanks. Surprising how similar some of the uniforms are to those of US Militia of the same period. Shows how poor US / Franco relations were.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member05 Aug 2011 7:18 a.m. PST

Really? I suppose it all goes back to the AWI, where both sides adopted very similar styles of dress particularly in the Legions and 'Light Bobs'. Those styles became very fashionable for the late 1780s and 1790s; short jackets, Tarleton helmets and helmets with falling manes were soon de rigeur in armies everywhere. I suppose that in Volunteer and Militia units, the commanding officers (who were often paying for the uniforms) had far more ability to adopt the very latest military fashions than the regular Army, who were tied strictly to the national dress regulations (although the British Militia were far more regulated than most).

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