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Regimental History

The Volunteer Movement

Loyal Lancaster Volunteers

Owing to the threat of invasion by the French revolutionaries at the end of the eighteenth century, an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the formation of bands of Volunteers to defend the County in case of invasion.


In Lancaster a Corps of Volunteers was raised in 1797, which was called the Loyal Lancaster Volunteer Infantry. At a meeting called together by the Mayor on 27th February, a committee was formed to draw up regulations for the corps, and collect subscriptions. Well over £1,000 was collected.

Company officers were elected by their companies and Battalion Headquarter Staff by the whole Corps.

On 23rd March a meeting of the whole Corps was convened and about 150 men were enrolled. The Corps was divided into three companies, a Grenadier Company, a Light Infantry Company, and a Battalion Company.

On 11th May Charles Gibson, Esquire, of Quernmore Park, received his commission from George III as Major Commandant of the Loyal Lancaster Volunteer Infantry.


Jacket: Scarlet, faced with blue and edged with white Cassimere, yellow buttons with LLV and a Crown over the Cypher.
Waistcoat and Breeches: White Cassimere with same button as for the
Stockings: White cotton, or thread.
Half-gaiters: Black cloth.
Stocks: Black velvet
Helmet Cap: Grenadier Company – with white feather
Battalion Company – with red feather
Light Infantry Company – with green feather
Swords: Worn by Officers
Epaulets: Commanding Officer and Captains wore two, and Lieutenants one.
Sergeants – two worsted epaulets
Corporals – one worsted epaulet.
Hair: Dressed with powder when in uniform.

Shortly afterwards the Undress Uniform for “Common Exercise” was found necessary. This consisted of a dark blue coat and blue cape, double-breasted and edged with scarlet. Yellow buttons marked LLV and pantaloons of woollen cloth or cashmere pepper and salt mixture, edged with scarlet.

Volunteers paraded twice a week at 6 p.m.

A Band was formed in 1798.

Conditions of Service in Corps.

1. No pay or other emoluments, and Corps not to be taken more than a moderate day’s march from the Town Hall of Lancaster.
2. Parade in uniform every Tuesday and Friday (except on Field Days); Roll Call at 6 p.m.
3. Fines levied according to rank, for absence from or lateness on parade, misconduct and disorderly behaviour, arms and accoutrements not cleaned and in good order.
4. General Field Day on second Tuesday in every month, double fines imposed for non-attendance.
5. Disobedience or orders or improper language to incur liability of fine not exceeding 5/-s.
6. Court Martial, ordered by the Commanding Officer and Committee could inflict a fine of one guinea, censure or expansion from the Corps.
7. All fines to be applied to the General Fund of the Corps.

Later it was decided unnecessary to parade twice a week during the winter, and the Corps was allowed to parade once a fortnight in the morning.

At first experienced soldiers had to be engaged to train the Volunteers, and the Corps paid an Adjutant and five Sergeants out of their funds, but in September 1797, only on drill sergeant was retained, and the Adjutant elected by the Corps in the same manner as the other Unit officers.

Rules and Regulations of the Royal (or Loyal) Lancaster Volunteers, 1797


In April 1798 two Field Pieces were added to the Corps, which were presented by Dr Wilson, Esquire of Dallam Tower. The Train of Artillery consisted of One Captain, One Lieutenant, Two Sergeants, Two Corporals and Twelve Men.
In consequence of the addition to the Corps of the Company of Artillery the Corps became entitled to a Lieutenant Colonel, a Quartermaster and a Surgeon. Major Gibson became a Lieutenant Colonel and Captain Bradshaw a Major in his place.


On news being received of the Peace of Amiens, the Volunteers assembled into the evening, the artillery firing a Royal Salute, and the infantry several vollies and feu-de-joies in different parts of the town.

A letter was received from the Lord Lieutenant of the County containing intimation of the disembodiment and the appreciation of the King of their service and loyalty.

On Wednesday afternoon, 12th May, 1802, the Loyal Lancaster Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, paraded in the Market Place. They fired three vollies and then proceeded to Castle Hill where a Royal Salute was fired by the artillery. The Corps then fired several founds by wings and divisions. After being marched into the Church Yard, their Colours were deposited in the Church. They then proceeded to the Town Hall where they deposited their arms and accoutrements, and were disembodied. The whole Corps, with the Mayor, and several other gentlemen, were then entertained by the Colonel at the Town Hall.


Owing to war breaking out again in May 1803, the Loyal Lancaster Volunteers were re-formed, and Charles Gibson Esquire, on 1st August of that year, was made responsible for carrying this into effect. By 21st August, nearly £2,000 had been raised and 500 volunteers enrolled. Officers of the Battalion were elected in September. The Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel Bradshaw, who had been second-in-command to Colonel Gibson. The second-in-command was a Major Houseman, who had not previously served with the Volunteers. The Battalion consisted entirely of infantry, and there were six companies, each with a Captain, Lieutenant and Ensign.

Uniform: Scarlet, as for the Regular Army
Buttons – Silver and marked LLV with a Crown over the Cypher.

An allowance of One Pound was made for other ranks for this uniform.
In addition each Volunteer was equipped with:-
Flannel Under Dress
One pair woollen stockings
One paid strong shoes.

Conditions of Service

1. Officers were unpaid, But £1 a head was allowed for other ranks to be spent on payment for drills.
2. Parades twice a week from Lady-day to Michaelmas, and one muster parade a week during the winter.
3. Three voluntary parades were held on Sundays during the winter of 1803-04.
4. Attendance at five parades, afterwards increased to eight, was necessary in order to be exempted from liability to the Militia Ballot.
5. Fines were imposed for non-attendance at parades, and the Corps was empowered to distrain on a man’s goods in case of default.
6. A special handbook on training was prepared, and wagons were provided to enable the Corps to move swiftly to the scene of action.

On 12th November, 1803, the Colours were taken from the Church and presented to the new Corps in Dalton Square.

On 3rd December the Battalion was inspected by the Inspecting Officer, and subsequently every quarter.

Three Field Days were held in 1803, Consisting of marching “above sixteen miles”, firing twelve rounds, going through the manual and platoon exercises, and several military manoeuvres.


Another Field Day was held this year, and the Corps went through similar exercises.

1804 & 1805

The Corps carried out “Permanent Duty”, that is training away from their homes, at Orsmkirk and Preston respectively, for 14 days.


In the summer of this year the Local Militia Bill passed through Parliament. Under this Act a Local Militia force was raised which included all effective Volunteers, and was equal to six times the number required for the Regular Militia. There were no exemptions, except physical unfitness, and no substitutes were allowed. The force was raised by ballot. Effective Volunteers were exempted from service. A bounty was paid to each person who was enrolled. The Local Militia did three continuous week’s training during the year. During the remainder of the year a Permanent Staff was maintained, consisting of an Adjutant, a Sergeant Major, a Sergeant for each company and a drummer for every two companies, for each infantry unit.

During Embodiment the Militia was under Military Law, and pay was 1/- s a day, 1d a day Beer Allowance, 1/2d a day Stationary Allowance and other allowances for those living at a distance from Headquarters.

In the divisions of Lonsdale North and Lonsdale South the Lonsdale Regiment of Local Militia was raised, and in August 1808 between two hundred and three hundred of the Loyal Lancaster Volunteers joined this Regiment under the command of Colonel Bradshaw. A bounty of 2 guineas was paid to each man sworn into the Local Militia.

The Local Militia was liable to be embodied in case of invasion, to keep the peace, and for training.


Embodied for 28 days training. 1200 Strong.


Embodied for training for 20 days, 900 strong.
Non Commissioned Officers and Drummers met a week earlier and had 8 days’ extra training.


Embodied for training, 1100 strong, for 14 days’ training. Recruits went out a week early.


Four companies called out on account of disturbed state of country, but the following week joined by the remainder for Annual Training. Recruits and Non Commissioned Officers trained for 21 days, trained men for 14.


Embodied for training, 700 strong, for 14 days.

Clothing was issued on first morning during training and handed in on the last day. Necessaries were issued on the second day to recruits.

One guinea was allowed for fitting each Recruit and for this two good shirts, two pairs of strong shoes, as well as stocks, brushes and blacking balls had to be provided. Any change from the guinea was paid to the recruit at the end of the training.

Arms were given out a week after training began.

The day before disembodiment the Regiment was inspected.

Failure to attend Annual Training was punishable by imprisonment. No substitutes or fines were accepted instead of service.

The Local Militia was not called out again after the last training of 1813.


A Parade State of Captain Gibson’s Company of the Lonsdale Local Militia, dated 24th February 1816, shows that the strength of his Company was two officers and fifty-five other ranks.




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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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