The Yeomanry

The South Nottingham Hussars Yeomanry

In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Raising of the Nottinghamshire Troops
The various Troops that eventually became the South Notts Yeomanry Cavalry and the Sherwood Rangers were raised in the 1790s. The first four were the Nottingham, Newark, Retford and Mansfield Troops, raised in 1794 and operated independently of each other. This was the consequence of a general meeting of the county held at the Moot Hall, Mansfield on 10th June 1794, at which the huge sum of 8,549 pounds, and one shilling, was pledged. The Nottingham Town Troop can be said to be the first Troop of the South Notts Yeomanry.
Nottingham Town Troop
Ichabod Wright
On August 15th 1794 Ichabod Wright of Mapperly was gazetted as captain of the Nottingham Troop and on the same date William Richard Middlemore became its Lieutenant. Another officer, Alexander Hadden became a cornet on 28th Aug. The Troop paraded for the first time on 17th Sep 1794 wearing scarlet coats cut short, with buff facings. They were 57 in number when they held a 'grand field day in the Forest' on 26th Sep followed by a dinner, and a week later held a further field day (3rd Oct) but they were drilling on a daily basis.
The Nottingham Bread Riots 1795
Probably the first occasion on which the services of the Yeomanry were called out in aid of the Civil Power was during the Nottingham Bread Riots of April 1795. The Nottingham Town Troop assisted a troop of the Inniskilling Dragoons in quelling a serious disturbance. During these riots a daring feat was performed by Cornet Alexander Hadden. After the Dragoons and Yeomanry had partly dispersed the mob, some of the rioters retreated behind the iron railings in the market place. From here they pelted the yeomen with stones. To the consternation of the mob, Hadden then rode his horse at the railings and leapt into the middle of them, scattering them with the flat of his sword.

The riots were caused by a lack of food brought about by the scarcity of labour. Most fit men had been used up in military duty during the French Revolutionary Wars. There were more riots during that year and in 1796 a Troop of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry was employed alongside a troop of the 12th Light Dragoons to deal with yet another riot. They were ordered to fire on the mob by the chief magistrate but the casualties were few. In 1800 two more bread riots occurred in Nottingham, the first in April, was quickly subdued by one troop of yeomanry, but the second, in August, was a much more serious incident. For three days shops and graneries were attacked and looted. The rioters were eventually subdued by 3 troops of the Blues and 3 troops of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry. They were finally dispersed when a terrific thunderstorm broke.

Rear Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren
The Nottingham Troop offered an honorary commission to Rear-Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren in April 1799 in honour of his distinguished service, most recently foiling a French invasion of Ireland in 1798. But although he had been enrolled as an honorary sergeant in the Nottingham Infantry Volunteers, he declined membership of the Yeomanry on the grounds that he 'would prefer to ride the spanker-boom of a ship of war, in a gale of wind, than trust himself on a military charger, in a rapid evolution'.
Disbandment 1802
1802 Medal
In 1797 two more Troops appeared, the Bunny Troop and the Holme Pierrepont Troop, which were later to be re-raised and incorporated into the regiment. But after the Peace of Amiens in 1801 the Yeomanry had to be disbanded. So in May 1802 the Troops were disembodied. The men were presented with a medal to reward them for their good service, silver for the men and gold for the officers.
Re-embodiment 1803
A year later the War against Napoleonic France was resumed and the Yeomanry re-formed once again.

In May 1803 the Nottingham Troops (now a squadron), 130 strong, were re-raised with (now Major) Ichabod Wright in command once more, and a Rifle Company attached. The Bunny Troop under Captain J Boultbee was also re-raised. They consisted of 76 men and wore a blue uniform with red facings, gold lace and buff breeches. There is no mention of the Holme Pierrepont Troop at this stage but they were re-embodied later. The other local troops were the Mansfield, Newark, Radford, Rufford and Nottingham Rangers who were all later to become the Sherwood Rangers.

The Luddite Riots 1811- 1818
The Riots which commenced in 1811 and lasted intermittently for about 7 years, were caused by bands of workmen known as Luddites who went about the Midlands destroying machinery. They named themselves after Ned Ludd a Leicestershire youth who had destroyed stocking frames in a fit of temper 30 years before. The machinery in question in 1811 was used for the manufacture of hosiery and was blamed for causing unemployment. On 10th March 1811 the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, the Duke of Newcastle, called on the services of the 2nd Dragoon Guards and 5 Troops of the Notts Yeomanry; the Bunny, Holme Pierrepont, Newark, Clumber and Mansfield Troops. This followed the destruction of 63 frames in Arnold and many more in Bulwell where one of the owners was killed. The Troops patrolled the neighbourhood for two weeks and took many prisoners. They prevented the assembly of dangerous mobs, particularly at night, when crowds of Luddites carried out raids on the frames.

The Riots Spread

For about a month there was peace but by January 1812 rioting recommenced and the position became so serious in Nottinghamshire that Yeomanry and Militia from other counties had to be brought in. The constant patrolling by day and night gave the appearance that the North Midlands was at war, and the trouble soon spread to more northern counties. The rioters assembled and dispersed quickly to avoid being caught so that in one month they succeeded in breaking 900 frames.

Ruddington and Clifton 1812

After riots at New Radford and Lenton where many frames were destroyed, the Luddites crossed the Trent and caused further damage at Ruddington and Clifton. When news of this reached the authorities the Bunny Troop and a troop of regular Hussars were ordered to go there. Captain Boultbee's Troop were first on the scene and divided into two parties, one crossing the river to pursue the rioters, while the other galloped furiously to secure all the bridges for 4 miles. By doing this they hoped to intercept the rioters when they returned to the town. But some of the Luddites seized two boats above Clifton and opened fire on the Yeomen from the opposite bank.

There was another period of calm at the end of April and the Notts Yeomanry were congratulated on their hard work, although the government refused to give them any extra money to cover their additional expenses. However, the Troops assembled in May, as usual, for their 14-day annual training.

The Brandreth Riots 1817
During the year 1817 a political agitation which was responsible for the notorious Brandeth Riots caused the Government concern. Jeremiah Brandreth headed these uprisings in the Midlands and exploited the dissatisfaction amongst operatives, due to low wages, the high price of food and a rotten franchise, following the Napoleonic War. Many impassioned speeches were delivered, secret arming and drilling took place and open rebellion followed. Pikes were manufactured on a large scale, firearms were purchased, and if the rebels had not been confronted with a resolute Yeomanry from the commencement, the country might have been plunged into the horrors of civil war.

The first of these riots occurred during March 1817 in Nottingham, but it was soon subdued by the Nottingham Troop after two days activity, but in June a battle took place near Hill Top. The rebels of Derbyshire marched to Nottingham to join forces, so the Nottingham Troop were attached to the 95th Foot to form a defence for the city. The Derby rebels were armed and had already killed a man for refusing to join them. The 15th Hussars were employed to intercept the marchers and they met the advance guard of 100 men near Hill Top. The rebels were put to flight but were cut off by the Derbyshire Yeomanry. The ringleaders were arrested and a large number of weapons seized. Brandreth, himself, was captured a few days later and executed at Derby on 7th Nov.

Formation of the Regiment 1826
On 17th July 1826 the Duke of Newcastle made a formal application to unite the 5 southern Troops into a regiment, and Robert Peel gave permission in a letter dated 21st July. The five Troops were 1st Holme (70 men), Watnall (70 men), Nottingham (52 men) Bingham (52 men) and Wollaton (70 men). This made a total of 314 privates to which total were added the NCOs and officers. The formal title of the regiment was: The Southern Regiment of Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Cavalry. The commander was Henry Willoughby who had commanded the Wollaton Troop, and second in command was the Viscount Newark who had commanded the 1st Holme Troop.
Disbandment 1828
The long years of war against France had crippled the nations' finances, and cuts in the armed forces were deemed necessary. The Yeomanry was the first to suffer and early in the autumn of 1827 it was decided to disband all the Yeomanry regiments which had not been called out in support of the Civil Power within the past ten years. They ordered the disbandment of 24 regiments as from the early part of the following year. This decision was not as unpopular as it might have been because of the Peterloo Incident in Manchester in 1819. The Yeomanry had been blamed for the high casualty figures in that confrontation.

Because the South Notts Yeomanry had been so successful in keeping the peace in their region, and built up a reputation that deterred potential rioters, they fell victim to the cuts. They had not been in action since the riots of 1817 even though their very presence had been of enormous value.

Re-embodiment 1831
There was further unrest in southwest England in 1830, referred to as the Machine Riots, and the Wiltshire Yeomanry had been in action to keep order. Early in 1831 it became apparent to the Government that it would be necessary to re-raise the disbanded Yeomanry regiments. Robert Peel's new police force only operated in London so the provinces need to be protected. The officers and men of the disbanded units were still available and merely had to carry on as before, but the government were not generous with funds so the local landowners had to supply arms and equipment from their own pockets. Unfortunately the re-raised regiments, including the South Notts, had lost their place in the order of precedence so that regiments that had been originally raised since 1794 were now senior to the South Notts. This was particularly unfair for the regiment because they were victims of their own success.
The Reform Bill Riots 1831
On the 24th June 1831 the Reform Bill was carried in the House of Commons by a majority of 136, but on 7th Oct the Lords finally rejected it by a majority of 41. This was followed by the Reform Bill Riots in many of the large towns which led to the worst outbreaks of violence that Britain had seen for many years. The first outbreak was in Derby on 8th Oct. This was dealt with by the 15th Hussars but got worse the next day, and reinforcements from the Yeomanry were called upon.

The Nottingham Riot, 10th - 16th Oct

Nottingham Castle
The trouble soon spread to Nottingham but the Mayor, even though he was roughly handled by the mob, refused to call out the South Notts Yeomanry. There was, however, a 75-strong Troop of 15th Hussars to deal with the trouble. On 10th Oct they were able to prevent the destruction of the jail and the gas works but were not strong enough to save the castle, which was burned to the ground by the mob. On 11th the South Notts were ready to take part, after having ridden through the night in stormy weather from their various Troop centres. Many of the Yeomen supported the Reform Bill and so had sympathy for the motives of the rioters but they still performed their duty.

Wollaton Hall

The Yeomanry were operating partly in the city and partly in the surrounding countryside. After burning down a silk mill at Beeston some rioters attacked Wollaton Hall which was garrisoned by a group of loyal miners and the Wollaton Troop who had 'several pieces of cannon'. The mob forced the gates open but were met by a charge of Yeomen. They captured many prisoners after a short battle.

A large part of the mob was returning to Nottingham but were met by the 15th Hussars and Yeomen, all commanded by Colonel Joseph Thackwell of the 15th. The South Notts had suffered casualties from rocks being thrown at them so they were not in a mood for gentle persuasion. They opened fire with their pistols and some rioters were injured while many more prisoners were taken off to the jail. There was more trouble at Plumtree and Mansfield but these were subdued by the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. The damage caused by the riots was estimated at 60,000 pounds. The South Notts Yeomanry had mustered 21 officers and 274 men, and had remained on continuous duty for 6 days. The regiment, it seems had been re-embodied just in time. Trouble continued in other parts of the country but Nottinghamshire remained relatively quiet.

The Chartist Riots 1839
These riots started in early 1839 after parliament refused to consider a petition which laid out the 5 Points of the New Charter put to them by the National Convention, a group of delegates representing the working class in London. The trouble first occurred in the West Country but in May the Sherwood Rangers were ordered to Mansfield as soon as they had finished their annual training. The local Chartists had their stronghold there and the Yeomanry were ordered to maintain the peace. Four days later the South Notts relieved them and remained on duty for 12 days. The prompt action prevented riots which would have caused great damage and loss of life.
Issue of Carbines 1844
On 13th May 1844 the government informed the CO, Lt-Col Moore, that it was not only their intention to arm Yeomanry regiments with carbines instead of pistols, but that percussion lock carbines, not the antiquated flintlock carbines, would be supplied. Ten pistols, however, would be retained for the 5 Troop sergeant-majors and 5 trumpeters. The regiment was ordered to carry out this procedure straight away, and return their pistols to the Tower of London.

The regimental history states that in 1856; 'the whole regiment was now armed with carbines instead of only the skirmishers...' This implies either, that before 1844 there were carbines used but only by the skirmishers, or, that up until 1856 the carbines had still not been issued to all ranks, except for the skirmishers.

The Chartists of 1848
The South Notts Yeomanry was called out in aid of the Civil Power for the last time in April 1848. The government became alarmed at the renewed activity of the Chartists who aimed at establishing an English republic. They were actively supported by Feargus O'Connor who was at that time MP for Nottingham. The Chartists fixed the 12th April as 'the Great Day' on which meetings were to be held around the country. The Yeomanry and the 4th Dragoon Guards were told to hold themselves in readiness. The meeting was held in the market place but it remained relatively peaceful due to the presence of the cavalry and the South Notts Yeomanry.
The five Troops of the South Notts Yeomanry were named after regions within the county but in 1846 they were designated by letters as follows:

A (Holmepierrepont) Troop
B (Watnall) Troop
C (Rushcliffe) Troop
D (Bingham) Troop
E (Wollaton) Troop

In that year the strength of the regiment 397 officers and men. By the end of the 19th century the regiment was organised into 4 squadrons with a strength of 374 officers and men:

A (Holme and Bingham) Squadron
B (Watnall) Squadron
C (Nottingham) Lancer Squadron
D (Wollaton) Squadron

South Africa 1900
Boer War
The regiment was keen to send men to South Africa after Black Week in December 1899. Selected men were reorganised as Mounted Infantry and formed the 12th Company of the 3rd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. They sailed to South Africa in 1900 and were present at the Relief of Mafeking which they entered on 17th Aug 1900. During their time in South Africa they suffered 120 casualties of which one officer and 20 other ranks lost their lives. The Yeomanry had proved themselves on active service abroad and as a result the whole attitude to part-time soldiering changed and was the basis of the new Territorial Force that was formed in 1908.
World War 1
During the Great War they were brigaded with the Sherwood Rangers and sent to Egypt. From there they went to Gallipoli and fought as infantry. They remained in the Middle East, serving in the Egyptian, Macedonian and Palestine campaigns. In 1918 they had their horses taken from them and were sent to the Western Front where they converted to the 100th Battalion the Machine Gun Corps with the Warwickshire Yeomanry.

The Leasowe Castle Tragedy, 27th May 1918

The regiment were shipped across the Mediterranean in May 1918 on the HMT Leasowe Castle, but 100 miles out of Alexandria it was torpedoed by U-Boat 51 at 12.25am on 27th, resulting in the deaths of 8 officers and 44 men. The ship also contained The Warwickshire Yeomanry and other machine gunners. 92 men in all were killed out of 3,000.

World War 2
In 1922 the regiment converted to artillery and became A and B Batteries 107th (South Notts Hussars Yeomanry) Brigade RFA. As 107th Field Regiment it became RHA in 1938 and a 'duplicate' regiment, 105th Field Regiment, was formed in 1939. The 107th Field Regiment served in Palestine and then Tobruk, where, at the Battle of Knightsbridge, in June 1942, it sustained overwhelming casualties. Nine officers and 68 other ranks were killed and most of the others captured. Those who escaped re-formed into a Medium Battery and took part in the Battle of El Alamein. It then fought at the assault landings in Sicily before being re-constituted as a full regiment. In July 1944 they landed at Normandy and fought to the end of the War in northwest Europe. The 105th Regiment served first in the UK and landed in Normandy on D-Day plus 2 and was in support of 6th Airborne Division. In Nov 1944 the 105th were disbanded. The South Notts earned 34 gallantry medals in the War, and 26 mentions in despatches. The total killed from the two regiments was 213.
In 1947 the two regiments were re-formed as 307th (South Notts Hussars Yeomanry) Field Regiment and 305th (SNHY) Heavy Regiment RA. The RHA title was restored later. The successor unit was 307 (South Notts Hussars Yeomanry RHA) Battery, RA(V) and the band. They trained to provide observation posts in support of 3 and 4 Armoured Divisions as part of BAOR. In 1967 they were amalgamated with other Territorial units to form 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) and converted to become a normal field battery equipped with light guns, and later with six FH70 guns. They keep the regiment's traditions alive by having their own mess kit for officers and senior NCOs.
1794 - 1916
Commanding Officers
1794 - 1916
1794 - 1916
1794 - 1916
Standards and Guidons
Standards 1795
Wollaton Troop Guidons
1794 - 1916
1794 - 1916
Further Reading
Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research Vol XIX nos. 74 and 75.
Article by Major O Teichman The Yeomanry as an Aid to Civil Power
(Published in summer of 1940)

Historical Records of the South Nottinghamshire Hussars Yeomanry
By George Fellows and Benson Fletcher M Freeman (1928)

Army Units | Yeomanry


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames |

by Stephen Luscombe