1759 to 1881
This is intended only to give the reader a brief introduction to the history of the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry Miltia for the period prior to the regiment becoming the 3rd Battalion, The Welch Regiment under the Cardwell Reform of the Army in 1881.
From a family history perspective it may prove useful in that the Militia served in various parts of the UK over the period concerned. Men of the Militia will, therefore, have married girls from the areas where they served and the details contained in this article may be a lead to where a missing marriage might be looked for. Similarly, soldiers' children may have been born in various parts of the UK during the Militia service of their fathers, either as a result of the marriage of a Glamorgan soldier to a local girl and the subsequent birth of children in the area concerned, or where the wife (and children) of a Militiaman serving away from home was allowed to accompany her husband as often happened.
I have tried to describe, with some idea of the dates, the places where Glamorgan Militiamen served in the period, as well as a view of the general history of the Regiment.
For a detailed account of the Royal Glamorgan Militia try:-
THE HISTORY OF THE WELSH MILITIA AND VOLUNTEER CORPS: VOLUME 2: THE GLAMORGAN REGIMENTS OF MILITIA by BRYN OWEN
RECORD OF THE SERVICES OF THE ROYAL GLAMORGAN MILITIA by CAPTAIN A.H.TINDAL, THE WELCH REGIMENT
For information on the records of Militia Regiments in general try:-
RECORDS OF THE MILITIA & VOLUNTEER FORCES 1757 to 1945 by WILLIAM SPENCER - PRO READERS' GUIDE NO.3
An index to soldiers named in the baptism records of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Parishes can be seen on my General Family History Website at http://ourworld.compuserve.com /homepages/JACKIE_SANDERS
See also the PRO Website at http://www.PRO.Gov.UK
Glamorgan Family History Society has published the Militia Lists for the various Glamorgan Hundreds for the period 1819 - 1821 extracted from the Bute Estate Papers. These can be purchased from the Society at a moderate cost.
The Society Website is at http://website.lineone.net/~glamfhsoc/
Doug Porter has put on the web a history of the Derbyshire Volunteers - click here to visit
On 5 June 1759 the Lord Lieutenant of Glamorgan was instructed to raise Militia, by ballot in the Hundreds and Parishes of Glamorgan. The Regiment assembled for training in January 1760 in two sections, one at Cardiff and the other at Swansea. The Regiment consisted of 6 Companies of 50 men each and one Grenadier Company of 60 men.
On 4 January 1761 the Regiment assembled in Cardiff under Lord Talbot to await orders. When the orders came they were to march to Bideford, North Devon, but on arrival at Bristol these orders were amended, and the Regiment then marched to Topsham, South Devon, near Exeter, where they were stationed until May 1762. They then returned to South Wales, where 4 Companies were stationed at Swansea and 3 at Cardiff. In June 1762 the whole Regiment went to Bristol by boat. There they remained until December 1762.when they returned to Cardiff and were disbanded.
During these years both in Exeter and Bristol the Glamorgan Militia had a reputation for bad behaviour, including various affrays with the inhabitants, taking bribes from prisoners, drunkenness and turning the towns into brothels. William Thomas of Michaelston-super-Ely, Glam. in his diary, and reports in the Gentleman's Magazine at the time give details.
The Peace Treaty of 1763 resulted in the reduction in the need for the Militia and apart from occasional training exercises little was seen of them until 1778.
In 1778 France declared War on Britain in support of the American Revolutionaries, and assembled forces in Brittany for an invasion. This resulted in the second embodiement of the Militia, including that for Glamorgan. On 26 March 1778 the Regiment assembled and shortly marched off to Warley, Essex, where it was to undertake training, returning to Cardiff for the Winter of that year.
Early in 1780 the Glamorgan Militia was ordered to Bristol for Garrison duties, but in May of that year was sent to Lancashire where it remained until about July 1782. Whilst in Lancashire the Militia was commended for its work during riots at Preston and Lancaster.
Shortly after returning from Lancashire in July 1782 the Glamorgan Militia was ordered to march to Falmouth in Cornwall , which it did, via Bristol, Bridgwater, Exeter, Tavistock & Truro.
In 1783 the Treaty of Paris ended hostilities and the Militia returned to South Wales and was disembodied at Cardiff.
As between 1763 and 1778 little is heard of the Militia in this period except for occasional training exercises and ballots to ensure that the Regiment was kept up to strength. William Thomas of Michaelston-super-Ely in his diary for this period refers occasionally to the ballots, sometimes listing the men "chosen" by the various parishes in the Vale of Glamorgan.
On 1 December 1793 the Government, foreseeing that trouble was brewing in France, took initial steps to reconstitute the dormant Militia, requiring the Lords Lieutenant of the Counties to comply with the Militia Act, and in February 1793, as a result of the outbreak of the French Revolution, the Militia was called out Nationally, including the Glamorgan Regiment. Viscount Mountstuart was in command of the Regiment and under his command they marched to Plymouth to take up Garrison duties.
On 3 March 1793 the Lords Lieutenant of the various counties of England and Wales met at the St.Albans Tavern in London to determine, by Lot, the order of precedence of the Militia Regiments. Glamorgan being drawn 5th Nationally.
On 21 April 1794 Lt.Col.Richard Awbrey of Ash Hall, Ystradowen, near Cowbridge, took active command of the Militia which continued to form the Garrison at Plymouth.
By 1796 the War with France was creating an additional need for soldiers and the Government decided to raise a Supplementary Militia also called the New Militia. About 4500 additional Militiamen were planned to be raised in Wales and nearly 60,000 in England. The Ballot in Glamorgan envisaged the raising of an additional 622 Militiamen. Substitution - the system which allowed for those chosen by Ballot to legally buy exemption by payment of a sum of money to the Lord Lieutenant who would then find someone to substitute for them in the Militia - continued to be allowed. Thr raising of this New Militia was difficult since the Regular Army and the Royal Navy were also actively recruiting, and many men were already serving in the Volunteer Corps and were exempt from the Ballot for the Militia.
In early May 1796 the main pert of the Glamorgan Militia Regiment was at Wells, Somerset, with a detachment, also, at Frome, Somerset.but by June they had marched to Dover, Kent to form part of the Garrison there., and subsequently, in October to Canterbury.
In 1797, whilst the main part of the Regiment remained in Kent, a Field Officer, two Captains, four Subalterns and a party of NCOs and drummers, returned to Cardiff under orders to take charge of and train the New (Supplementary ) Militia.
Up to 103 members of the New (or Supplementary) Militia had the option of remaining with the Militia or joining the 44th Regiment of Foot (East Essex Regiment) and men were encouraged to take up the latter offer on the basis that they would be paid seven guineas Bounty, would only serve for the duration of the War plus an additional six months and that they would not be required to serve outside Europe.
In January 1798 the main body of Glamorgan Militia were still in Kent (Dover) but the New (or Supplementary) Militia remained in Cardiff.
Later in January 1798 the main body of the Regiment and the New Militia totalling 9 companies in all finally joined together at Ashford, Kent
In May 1799, the Irish Rebellion resulted in the Glamorgan Militia, five other Welsh Militia Regiments and seven English ones, were sent to Ireland, the Glamorgan Militia marching from Kent to Portsmouth where they took ship on the Transport Ships "Hebe" and "Dictator", for Cork.
(You can read a contemporary account of the Glamorgan Militia's movements 1798 to 1800 by an ordinary Militiaman, John Williams of Cardiff, in the Appendix to this history.)
Their first posting in Ireland was at Fermoy where they remained until December 1799, earning a letter of appreciation from some of the townspeople for the "honesty, sobriety and fair dealing" of the Private soldiers and naming their Officers as "Gentlemen and Christians". The Glamorgan Militia had obviously improved considerably since the 1760s (mentioned above) !
From Fermoy the Regiment marched, in December, to Dublin where they remained until May 1800, forming part of the Guard on the Parliament Buildings when the Act of Union was passed.
In May 1800 the Regiment embarked at Dublin for Liverpool and from there marched via Chester & Hereford to Cardiff., their band being praised as "excellent" by the Hereford Journal.
In 1799 the Government had allowed for up to a quarter of Militiamen from each Regiment to volunteer for the Regular Army, and it would seem that of the 1000 plus men who had gone to Ireland with the Militia, only 400 remained to march back from Liverpool to Cardiff, the remainder having joined Regiments of the Regular Army.
From Cardiff the Militia moved to Swansea and then to Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, where they remained throughout 1801.
On 27 March 1802 the Peace of Amiens was signed and the regiment returned to Cardiff and was stood down.
A new Militia Act was passed in 1802 . The Ballot system was retained but, in addition, those not selected by Ballot could volunteer for five years' Militia service. The substitute system continued to be allowed (see above). Amongst other provisions of the Act, Parishes were made responsible for the payment of a fine if they did not fulfill their quota of Militiamen. In 1803, with the resumption of War, various amendments were made to the Act, including the increase in the fine payable by a parish which did not provide its quota to £40 - a very substantial sum in those days.
In May 1803 Britain declared War on France and , in preparation, the Militia was called out in April of that year. By June the Glamorgan Regiment was stationed at Winchester and then moved to Gosport, Hants, where it was one of the Regiments inspected by H.R.H.The Duke of York. In November they were sent to Haslar, Hants. Where they mounted guard over the guns at the Fort, guarded the the boats etc. In March 1804 the Regiment moved on via Southbourne and Eastbourne, to Pevensey where it as closely involved in anti-invasion duties.
It was in 1804 that the Regiment, along with other Welsh Militia Regiments, was granted the prefix "Royal".
The Regiment remained in Pevensey area until November 1805 when it moved to Hailsham Barracks and by May 1806 were at Horsham, Sussex when they were posted to Bristol, the invasion threat having been largely removed by the Victory of the British Fleet at Trafalgar. At Bristol the Royal Glamorgan Militia acted as Garrison and provided for the manning of the guns at the Forts of Avonmouth and Shirehampton, and guards for the Prisoners of War at the Gaol at Stapleton.
As in earlier years, men of the Regiment were, in 1807, allowed to volunteer for transfer to Regular Line Infantry Regiments - at this time the 43rd (Monmouthshire Light Infantry), the 76th (2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment), 90th (Perthshire Regiment) or 96th (2nd Manchester Regiment).
On 10 January 1808 the Regiment marched to Taunton and in March to Exeter., being inspected at Broad Clyst Common near Exeter in June 1808 by Major General Thewles and parading in Exeter in honour of the King's birthday.
During the same year the Peninsular Campaign started and many men of the Royal Glamorgan and other Welsh Militia Regiments volunteered for the Line, taking part in Wellington's successful campaign.
In the early part of 1809 the Regiment was stationed at Tiverton, Devon with detachments at Exeter, Crediton, Pensington etc. In May the Regiment transferred to Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall
with a detachment at Penrhyn, Cornwall.
By July 1810 the Regiment had replaced the Lancashire Militia in Garrison duties at Bristol and a detachment had also been sent to Milford Haven.(until November when they returned to join the main part of the Regiment at Bristol).
Throughout this period Militiamen had continued to be encouraged to enlist in the regular Line Regiments leaving the Militia below strength. As a result in July 1811 the Regiment was allowed to recruit "by beating the drum" .ie it was allowed to recruit volunteers, even including boys from 14 years of age upward. Indeed the need to maintain the strength of the Royal Glamorgans was such that they undoubtedly recruited boys below the age of 14 as drummers and fifers.
In March 1812, whilst still at Bristol, the Regiment was converted to Light Infantry. On 29 June the Regiment was ordered to the East Coast and marched via Bath, Wiltshire & Berkshire to Woodbridge Barracks, Yarmouth. However they were not there long before being sent to Ramsgate, Kent in September.of the same year.
During all this period the Regiment, both oficers and men, earned high praise from the local inhabitants of the towns where they were stationed.
On the last day of 1812 the Regiment moved its headquarters to Canterbury., with a detachment at Ashford, Kent.
It should be remembered that a large number of the Glamorgan Militiamen did not speak English. It is easy to forget, in these days when English is commonly the first language of Glamorgan people that this was not the case in the 19th century. Orders were issued in English but NCOs were expected to translate these into Welsh to be passed on to the men.
Again the Regiment had to sens Recruiting Parties back to Glamorgan to obtain volunteers to replace men who had enlisted in the Regiments of the Line.
In November 1813 the Regiment moved to Hythe with a detachment at Folkstone, and then in April 1814 to Ramsgate, and in May to Bristol, and then "home" to Cardiff on 13th June. where it was disembodied, with the re-establishment of peace on 25th June.
1815 - 1816
The peace did not last long. NapoleonBonaparte tired quickly of his exile on Elba and escaped, landing with 1100 men in France, which he rapidly built into a substantial army.
Britain was in a difficult position, with most of its experienced troops committed to the War in America, it had only a small number of experienced soldiers in the UK and a large number of inexperienced troops to commit to Europe, leaving the home country unprotected. As a result some Militia Regiments were again called out, including the Royal Glamorgan. Recruiting Parties were sent out to obtain volunteers, but these were insufficient and the Militia Ballot had to be resorted to.
On 7th July 1814 the Regiment assembled in Cardiff in the form of six companies. On 12th August they marched to Cowbridge en route to Swansea, but were there ordred to go to Bristol instead. They remained at Bristol until September when they took ship for Waterford, Ireland, from whence they marched to Youghal, Co.Cork. There they remained until the latter part of January 1816 when they went to Clonmel, staying there until 29th April 1816 when they embarked for Bristol., and on 9th May arrived back in Cardiff where the Regiment was disembodied on 17th May.
During the period following disembodiement all that remained of the Regiment was a small number of NCOs and Drummers under an Adjutant.
In October 1816 the South Wales Strike led to an expectation of violence in the Merthyr area. The Cardiff and Swansea Troops of Yeomanry Cavalry were called out, and the Adjutant of the Glamorgan Miltia (Captain Ray) with 24 sergeants and buglers travelled by coach to Merthyr, where they found that the town was fairl quiet. They set about organising the defence of the Castle Inn where the Magistrates were assembled, and were later joined by 120 Officers and men of the 55th Regiment and the Swansea Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry. Later that day the Cavalry were told to disperse the crowd of around 8000 strikers, which they did without bloodshed.
1817 - 1854
On 16 March 1818 the permanent staff of the Royal Glamorgan Militia was called upon to guard the cargo of a wrecked ship at Aberthaw, and on 4 May 1818 members of the staff assisted the Magistrates of Cardiff in preventing a riot in the town (in recognition of which action ten members were made Burgesses of Cardiff in September of that year).
During the period the main duties of the Militia consisted of ceremonials, training and providing musical entertainment at Cardiff and County functions. In 1829 the permanent staff was reduced in numbers and the provision for a band was removed, although the Marquis of Bute stepped in and financed fro his own funds the maintenance of a Regimental band of six musicians. In exchange the band performed for the Marquis' private functions and once a week in public on the Castle Green.
The Civil unrest of 1830 and 1831 resulted in the enforcement of the Militia Ballot in March 1831. The Regiment assembled in Cardff on 12 May 1831 for training. On 12 June disturbances at Aberdare spread to Merthyr and with the prospect of serious rioting the authorities called on the Lord Lieutenant for Military assistance, which was provided by the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders sent from Brecon, the Adjutant and permanent staff of the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry (Militia), a detachment of the militiamen in training at Cardiff , and the Cardiff Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry. The events which followed are detailed in my page on the Merthyr Rising. Suffice to say that the riot was quelled and the Royal Glamorgans acquitted themselves well in a difficult situation.
After peace had been restored in the area the interest of the authorities in the Militia subsided once more and by 1836 even the permanent staf had been reduced and the Regiment's weapons had been ordered back into store. The Chartist uprising did not directly involve the Royal Glamorgans, although the permanent staff did train Special Constables in case of need, and were on standby in Cardiff if needed.
The Militia Act of 1852 resulted in the resumption of recruitment to the Regiment and on 20 May 1853 the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry was assembled at Cardiff for training. To assist in the training small detachments of the 73rd and 85th Regiments of the Line were made available. Some of the Militia were housed at Longcross Barracks in Cardiff but most were housed at Inns and Lodgings.The training area was Cardiff Arms Field, later to become the renowned Cardiff Arms Park Rugby Ground. In general the 900 recruits to the Regiment behaved in a manner befitting to the excellent name that it had obtained over past years, despite a small element who made a nuisance of themselves, getting drunk and being unruly. In total the Regiment numbered over 100 Officers & NCOs and well over 1000 men. After completion of their training the men were dismissed to their homes until called on the following April for another period of training during which , whilst they continued to improve militarily, their behaviour in the evenings left something to be desired, causing some bad press.
1855 - 1856
The onset of the Crimean War resulted in the Regiment being called out in January 1855 and a round of recruitment took place in Cardiff and other towns of the County. It is interesting to note that the Regiment was presented with a "handsome white Goat" and that on St.David's Day the men wore leaks in their caps.
During this period there was, again, some serious indiscipline by soldiers in off-duty hours, drunkeness leading to fighting and clashes with the police, and the death from over-indulgence in drink of one militiaman. Many of the more experienced men had left the Regiment having served their allotted time, and the problems now occurring may have been caused by the more recent and less disciplined recruits. The lodging of militiamen in Inns and Taverns, of course, did not help matters, and there were calls in the press for the provision of proper Barracks. Longcross Barracks was used, as mentioned above, but the numbers accommodated there were quite small. To make matters worse the War Office began to actively encourage men of the Militia to volunteer for the Regular Army , paying them a Bounty for doing so. Prior to leaving to join their new Regiments many of those who had volunteered used their Bounty money to get drunk and intimidate the local population with swearing, fighting in the streets of Cardiff and generally making a nuisance of themselves to the locals. This misbehaviour even extended on one occasion to the arrest of an Officer Lieutenant Adams) for assaulting a policeman.(PC Basham)
In August 1855 a new numbering scheme for Militia Regiments was decided and the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry became number 44 in the National order of precedence..
In October 1855 Lieutenant Adams was again before Cardiff Magistrates, along with Lieutenant O'Grady, for assaulting a police officer. Adams seemed to be making a habit of it ! On this occasion the Town Clerk wrote to the Colonel of the Regiment (Kemeys-Tynte) asking him to ensure that there was no repeat of this indiscipline. The Colonel's reply was not conciliatory but he does seem to have taken the matter up within the Regiment and there was no more trouble.
In December 1855 the Regiment volunteered for service abroad and was ordered to travel to the West Indies in the following Spring to relieve a Line Regiment which was to go to the Crimea. Fortunately for those serving in the Royal Glamorgans the Crimean War ended before their posting became effective and they were stood down on 27 May 1856.
1857 - 1881
From 1858 onward the Militia trained each year during the Spring. For the most part without incident. At times they were housed at Longcross Barracks, at other times in Inns or hotels and from August 1873 were often accommodated under canvas at Maindy Field, Cardiff.
In 1873 the UK was divided into 70 sub-districts with sub-district-brigades. In South Wales the 41st (The Welch) Regiment and the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiments were established at Fort Hubberstone, Pembrokeshire, and the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry together with the Rifle Volunteer Corps of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan and South Cardiganshire were were Brigaded with them but with their Headquarters at Cardiff. In 1876 reforms were proposed which would tie the Militia Regiments more closely to the Line Regiments with which they were brigaded. These reforms were to come into effect in 1881 and formed part of the Cardwell Reform of the Army.
In 1881 the 41st Regiment of Foot became the 1st Battalion, The Welsh Regiment, the 69th Regiment of Foot became the 2nd Battalion and the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry Militia ceased to exist as an independent force, becoming, with the Rifle Volunteer Corps mentioned above,the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment. The Regimental Depot of the new Regiment was at Maindy Barracks which had been built on part of the Royal Glamorgan's training ground at Maindy Field., Cardiff.
A personal note: in the 1980s I worked in a large office block which overlooked the Maindy Barracks and enjoyed, at times of ceremonial, the sight of the Territorial Battalion of the Welsh Regiment undertaking training for their part in forthcoming events, with Band in Full Dress Uniform and the Regimental Goat!!
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