Yeomanry Regiments 1783-1911

Yeomanry regiments have a history probably unique in the world. They were raised for duty at home. For over 100 years, with one minor exception, saw no service at all except for the suppression of rioting. During that century they remained enthusiastic, smart and efficient, so that when suddenly they were called upon to serve in South Africa in 1900 they produced fighting men whose worth is attested by the decorations for gallantry awarded them. Since then, of course, they have fought in two other major wars, and earned a long roll of battle honours. The yeomanry came into being at the end of the 18th century when the country was drained of troops by the wars in America and threatened by invasion from the continent. To combat invasion local armed associations were raised and there was keen competition to enrol in them. They were, of course, officially recognised, but were paid for largely by local subscription, the government producing only arms. The threat was increased the French Revolution in 1793. In 1794, Pitt issued regulations for the creation of bodies of troops for home service. The mounted troops raised in accordance with these regulations were called yeomanry cavalry and came into being without delay amid considerable enthusiasm. The members of each troop were gentlemen and yeoman farmers, and they elected their officers. The control of the troops of yeomanry in each county was vested in the Lord Lieutenant, and they could be called out by him or by the High Sheriff for the suppression of riot in the county. In the case of invasion, or for duty in another county, they were to be called out by royal warrant. While they were under arms they were paid as cavalry and subject to military law. In some troops it was customary for all the pay thus received to be pooled and distributed equally to all members.

The prints measure 24 cm wide x 37 cm high (9 ½ ″ x 14 ½ ″). Minor variation in size is possible based on the actual guillotine cut made by the printer over 50 years ago. Shown here are photographs which have been carefully corrected to remove most distortion. Published in 1967 by © Hugh Evelyn Limited, London; drawn by Colonel P.H. Smitherman.

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