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Forum Home > For King/Queen and Country. > Worcestershire Yeomanry.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

As the name implies, these Militia Units were usually made of the aspiring gentlemen of the County or Town. A sort of slightly upper class Cavalry if you like, commanded by the local big-wig, with his friends as Officers, and the lower gentry, including the Yeoman Farmers, as the cannon fodder. There was one thing though, that was common to all, they had to supply their own horse. Some units had Black horses, others Chestnut, but in our case, it was a uniform grey, and they didn't come cheap. The Uniforms, which were supplied from Government funds, varied enormously from County to County, being embellished with all manner of gold braid and fancy buttons. It just depended how well off its commander was, and in this case, very, for who would we have seen riding at the head of this fine body of men, non other than Lord Dudley. They must have presented a thrilling sight, gleaming in the sunlight on a fine day, and putting the fear of god into any who dared to break the Kings Peace. Many would have proved more than adequate, when faced with a bunch of starving rioting peasants, but in truth, when they were needed for service abroad, a good many made their excuses, and went back to the Farm.


This little story, was bought to me a couple of years ago, by a man who had worked for some years with my father, at The Midland Tar Distilleries Ltd, Oldbury. He was getting on a bit in years, and his health wasn't all that good, and it was a joke, whether his disabilty would get him first, or the rather fast way he drove his mobilty vehicle. In the end it was the former, but before he left, we sat down and transcribed a letter he had, written by a relative, many years ago, which details an episode in the life of a Trooper with the Worcestershire Yeomanry. He never claimed that this relative was an honest man, but of course, you can judge for yourselves.


January,1858.

Portway Farm, Oakham, Near Dudley.


Sir,

we right to you that we bought a gray mare, purpose to join the Dudley Troop, and we give £32 for her in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty six, and last year, was offered £45 for her before we we went to Worcester. And my brother bought a a gray horse pupose to join the troop on the account of renting land under the Lordship and give £50 for him. And the gray horse wa s taking the prize but the mare unfortunantly taking cold and we asked the Sargeant Major the day before the review for her to have a day of rest but he says come out tomorrow if you can for tomorrow is the review and we bought her out on the review day but it being a hard daym it overheated her made her very hill and the next day we bought her directly home and we sent for Mr Hunter the vetenary sergon to attend on her and he did attend on till her died. And we thought it was a very serous loss for her never did we a days work after her came back till her died and Mr Hunter was with her when her died.

Captan Emmott we must leave it to your honour and to Captan Bennett Home to lay it before the llordship for we are two poor working men and we shod both of us like it kept in the troop. And ufortunantly we have a loss with another brother which bought a great liabilty on we both.


Sir, we don't want you to take our own words but if you will right to Mr Hunter the vetenery he will give you every perticklys.

We are yours obeant servents,  Joseph Cooke and John Cooke.


Now I don't know what happened to the claim for the dead horse, but just like an insurance claim today it seems to have been exaggerated somewhat. First with claiming the horse was worth more than paid for, then backing this up with how much the other horse cost. I wonder just what kind of work they intended to put the horse to, perhaps he was half carthorse. Concidering they are claiming to be two poor working men, they seem to have found £82 from somewhere to buy into a fancy Yeomanry Troop. Whatever happened, one of them at least, appears to be still a member of the Yeomanry in 1880.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 18, 2013 at 3:34 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The old Kit Bag.


The brother still in the Worcestershire Yeomanry in 1880 was Joseph Cooke. In the intervening years, they seemed to have built up a solid reputation for paying their bills late, or at least until they had been taken to Court, whichever came first. This wasn't just one Farm either, for one brother farmed at the bottom of Portway Hill,  and the other at the top, near to a now vanished pub called the Wheatsheaf. It's by no means certain, that the letter Joseph recieved, refered to the year it was dated, I wouldn't be surprised if he had hung on to what was requested, for a number of years. The letter was dated 11th May, 1881, and was sent by a rather irate Captain J. Lee, demanding the return of the Government Kit that been issued to Mr Cooke. It's clear from the letter, that they had corresponded on the matter before, because Mr Cooke had claimed he had purchased most of the kit himself, which of course was untrue. The items listed were requested post haste.


A Bushy Plume and Case, A Forage Cap, A Tunic, A Blue Jacket, Two pairs of Trousers, A Cloak, A pair of Spurs, A Saddle with Pannals, A  par of Wallets of Holsters, A Girth Strap and Surcingle strap, A Crupper strap, A Breast Plate, A pair of Stirrup Leathers and Irons, A Head Coller and Chains, A Bridle and Bit, A Sheepskin under Blanket, A Carbine Bucket, A Sword and Belt, A Pouch and strap, and some Cloak straps. They had obviously not walked away with two Pistols, A Carbine, Powder flask, and ammunition. Joseph Cooke, Farmer, of Portway Farm, Rowley Regis, must have noticed the tone of the letter, for all the equipment was recieved at the depot in Dudley, on the 21st May, 1881. Perhaps they had refused to pay for his dead horse all those years ago, and he was just trying to get a bit back. Whatever he was trying, he failed, you don't mess with the Army, even if they were only Yeomanry.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 18, 2013 at 4:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The Yeomany gathered every year for an annual inspection, and to carry out, in front of the Commanding Officer, several drills with both Sabre and Rifle. In 1849, the 1st, 2nd,3rd, and 4th Troops, gathered in a field at Holy Cross, near Clent. It being late September,and the weather being most inclement, Lord Ward, ( Commanding ) only carried out the inspection of Men and Horses, and of course the ride past. He was well pleased with the turnout, but was not impressed with the new Carbines the men had been issued with. Half of them it seems, failed to work, owing to poor quality workmanship on the firing locks, ( mostly it was said, made in Wednesbury ) thus depriving his Lordship of a loud salute. Lets hope he had more luck a week later, when the 5th, 6th, and 7th Troops, assembled at Worcester for the other half of the Review. The Worcestershire Yeomanry had expanded from a few troops in 1794, when they were formed, and were stationed at different locations around the county, one being Dudley of course. To defend the Country had been the aim, when Napoleon was at his peak, but the main use after that, it seems, was to be in controlling the population in times of civil strife. A task in which, they earned the hatred of the hard pressed working man, seeking nothing more than a fair wage. The early gentleman of the Yeomanry, it would appear, were non to genltlemanly when wielding a sabre in the face of their own workers.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 23, 2014 at 3:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The regiment did go on though to give fantastic service in the First World War, as the commenative post card below shows all to well.



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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 3, 2014 at 3:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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