Volunteer and Territorial Forces

Hertfordshire's Yeomanry, Volunteers and Local Militia

Carol Futers

The Royal Review of the Hertfordshire Militia, Hatfield Park, 1800, painted by R. Livesay. This painting is a remarkable record of the uniforms of the Yeomanry Cavalry, Volunteer Cavalry and Volunteer Infantry of Hertfordshire
Reproduced by kind permission of the Marquis of Salisbury
Etching by A W Henley of the encampment of the 1st Herts Light Horse Volunteers at Silver Leys, Bishops Stortford c.1875
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: DE/Yo/2/6
Photographs of officers from the regimental album of 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment (Herts Militia) c.1900- 1915
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: DE/Yo/1/53
List of men objected against for acceptance into the militia in Broadwater Hundred, with age, short stature and ill health being the most common reasons, but religion and place of origin were also taken into account
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: QS/Mil/18
Parish return of persons enrolled to serve as volunteers in HM Navy for the Hundred of Broadwater, 1795
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: QS/MIL/19/12
Photograph officers and men from the Herts Imperial Yeomanry who sailed to South Africa to fight in the Boer War, 1900
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: De/Yo/2/92
This list of names of officers and men who were sent to the front was printed in the programme of the Watford Town 'send-off' dinner, 3 Feb 1900
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: DE/Yo/2/9
Watercolour sketches by C F Lock, which give a vivid insight into the conditions that were endured during active service in the First World War. C Lock served with the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, 1st/1st Regiment in the Western Desert, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and Palestine, 1915-1919
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: DE/Yo/2/13-16
An extract from the overseas service diary of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment (Territorial Army) when they were stationed in Italy, June 1944. As well as giving a daily account of the Unit, war news from around the world was reported
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies Ref: DE/Yo/1/20
Nominal roll of other ranks at Gibraltar, July 1944
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Ref: DE/Yo1/27

The militia was not the only local force to be formed during the 18th century. The French wars of 1793-1815 caused considerable alarm and other auxiliary troops known as the Yeomanry (cavalry) and the Volunteers were introduced. In 1808 a further force, the Local Militia, was formed. In some cases these forces were short-lived. By 1816, after the French wars, the Local Militia and the Volunteers were disbanded.  

The Volunteer Force was revived in 1859 and an invasion scare caused many men to volunteer for local defence. In 1860 the Rifle Volunteers were formed. Yeomanry regiments remained in existence throughout the 19th century and the army reforms at that time created the structure that has persisted to the present day, evolving into regiments which served in the world wars of the 20th century. In 1907, the Yeomanry and the Volunteers combined as the Territorial Force, and in 1908 the Militia was revived as the Special Reserve.

A brief summary of the evolution of the various Hertfordshire corps and regiments up to the time of the Second World War is outlined below. A more detailed account of their evolution can be found in Hertfordshire’s Soldiers from 1757 (HALS reference 355.3) by J Sainsbury, as well as in other books by this author, copies of which can be found in the Local Studies library at HALS.

  • Hertfordshire Militia: raised 1757 and embodied intermittently; 1881 became 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (Herts Militia); demobilised 1919
  • Hertfordshire Volunteer units (local defence corps): raised 1794; 1808 many volunteers transferred to the new Hertfordshire Local Militia; by 1813 all such units had been disbanded
  • Hertfordshire Yeomanry and Volunteer Cavalry: several Troops raised in the county 1794-1831, most existing for only a short period. In 1870 the South Hertfordshire Troop became the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry, incorporating the Northern Troop in 1871. In 1901 this became the Hertfordshire Imperial Yeomanry. Demobilised in 1919, reformed 1920 and amalgamated with the 1st and 2nd Hertfordshire Batteries, 4th East Anglian Brigade, RFA (* below) as 3rd East Anglian Brigade, RFA, soon the 86th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Brigade, RFA. Reclassified as a Regiment in 1938. Two cadres formed the 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA 1938-45 and the 135th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, RA, 1939-45
  • 1st Hertfordshire Light horse volunteers: 1862-79
  • 42nd (Hertfordshire) Company, Imperial Yeomanry: 1899-1901, raised from the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry, with additional volunteers
  • Hertfordshire Rifle Volunteers: raised 1859. In 1887 became the 1st and 2nd (Hertfordshire) Voluntary Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, and in 1908 was amalgamated into the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, plus formed 1st and 2nd Hertfordshire Batteries, 4th East Anglian Brigade, RFA (*). The 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment was demobilised 1919, reformed 1920

There are relatively few records held locally for these forces, and of the limited quantity that has been deposited at HALS there is little in the way of direct genealogical information. However, the records can provide useful background information and help to provide an insight into the lives of our military ancestors. The regimental collection of the Hertfordshire Regiment (Territorial Army) is held at Hertford Museum, Bull Plain Hertford.  

DE/Yo is a collection of regimental and other papers that relate to the volunteer, territorial, auxiliary and reserve military units raised in Hertfordshire between 1663 and 1994. QS/MIL 9 includes records of the militia and volunteer corps.

Records of particular interest include:

  • Hertfordshire Militia (the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (Herts Militia) from 1881): names of officers 1764 (ref. QS/MIL9/13); lists of officers 1800-1914 (ref. DE/Yo/1/2); photograph albums 1850s-1915 (ref. DE/Yo/1/5, 51-53)

  • 2nd (Hertfordshire) Volunteer Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (was 2nd Hertfordshire rifle Volunteer corps to 1887): muster book 1881-1908 (ref. DE/Yo/1/7)
  • Dacorum troop of Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry: attendance rolls April/May 1833 (ref. DE/Yo/2/1)
  • Hertford Volunteer Infantry: muster rolls 1804 (ref. DE/Hx/Z270)
  • County Volunteer Corps: muster rolls 1808-1822 (ref. QS/MIL9/51-146)
  • Volunteer Corps: muster roll extracts re Hertfordshire men serving in neighbouring County Volunteer Corps (Buckinghamshire, Essex and Middlesex) (ref. QS/MIL9/29-50)
  • Hitchin Volunteer Corps 1798-1816
  • HM Navy: parish returns of persons enrolled to serve as volunteers for the Hundred of Broadwater 1795 (ref. QS/MIL9/18-28)

This page was added on 23/10/2010.

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