Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!
THE GLAMORGAN YEOMANRY

This is intended to be a brief history of the Glamorgan Yeomanry and covers the period from the raising of the first volunteer forces in 1797 to the establishment of the Territorial Force in March 1908. A much more deailed history of these and later years is contained in the book "Glamorgan - Its Gentlemen & Yeomanry 1797 - 1980" by Bryn Owen,; published by Starling Press in 1983 which I would commend to anyone wishing to know more about this subject.

Known Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan members of the Yeomanry are included in my index to soldiers.

Part 1 - The Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry

The Volunteer Act of 1794 encouraged the establishment of "Corps and Companies of Men as shall voluntarily enrol themselves for the defence of their Counties, Towns, Coasts, or for the general Defence of the Kingdom"

Although offers were made around this time for the raising of Volunteer Corps in Glamorgan it was not until 1797 that action was taken, probably as a result of the abortive landing of French troops in Pembrokeshire.

Four Troops were raised in Glamorgan in 1797 & 1798 :-

The Swansea Cavalry (John Llewelyn - Captain)

The Neath Gentlemen and Yeomanry (John Nathaniel Miers - Captain)

The Fairwood Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry (Sir Gabriel Powell - Captain)

The Cardiff Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry ( William Vaughan - Captain)

It seems that the Swansea Cavalry may have been disbanded and then re-raised in 1798 under Thomas Morgan. In 1800 the Swansea Troop (under Captain Edward Hughes) joined with three volunteer infantry companies to form the Swansea Legion. (with Thomas Morgan as Lieutenant Colonel commanding). When the war ended the Swansea Legion was disbanded but the Swansea Cavalry was retained (with Thomas Morgan back as Captain), along with a number of other cavalry units across the country. Permission was granted by the King and the passing of an Act of Parliament. Indeed the compliment was increased from the original 50 to 60 and then to 80.by the end of 1802.

Renewal of hostilities in 1803 led to the re-forming of the Swansea Legion, consisting of the two troops of Swansea Cavalry and three companies of infantry. (again under the command of Thomas Morgan).

In 1808 the infantry companies of the Swansea Legion were absorbed into the West Glamorgan Local Militia whilst the Swansea Cavalry reverted to independant status as the Swansea Yeomanry Cavalry.

The Neath Gentlemen and Yeomanry lasted only until 1802 when the troop was disbanded with the cessation of hostilities.

The Fairwood Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry, raised in 1798 by Sir Gabriel Powell, like the Swansea Cavalry, was allowed to remain in being despite the end of the war in 1802 and continued as in being as an independant force under the command of Sir Gabriel Powell.throughout the period 1802 - 1813.

The Cardiff Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry had been raised by John Wood of Cardiff in 1798, although he did not then take command, William Vaughan being gazetted Captain with John Wood as 1st Lieutenant.

The troop had the services of a sergeant of the 18th Light Dragoons to provide their training, and he was reputedly a hard task master; their hard training being remarked upon in contemporary newspaper accounts. They played an active part in restoring order during the riots in Merthyr Tydfil in 1800, assisting in the arrest of some 50 rioters, with no loss of life on either side.

In company with the Swansea & Fairwood Troops the Cardiff Yeomanry were retained after the peace of 1802 to assist in the maintenance of civil order, now with John Wood as Captain. At times they were required to provide assistance in coastal protection (mainly against smuggling). As with the Swansea & Fairwood troops the Cardiff Yeomanry were retained as an independant force until 1813.

In 1813 as a result of a Government directive that no Corps was to consist of less than three Troops the four troops of Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry (ie the two troops of Swansea Yeomanry Cavalry, the Fairwood Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry and the Cardiff Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry) combined under the command of Thomas Morgan to form the four troops of the Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry, although they retained a great deal of independance.

Although the Battle of Waterloo brought about peace and the disbandment of many volunteer forces, the Yeomanry was again retained to assist in civil matters.

In October 1816 there was a strike of ironworkers in Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding areas which led to riots and considerable civil unrest in that area. The Cardiff Troop of the Glamorgan Yeomanry and a detachment of the Swansea Troop, along with 120 officers and men of the 55th Regiment were used to disperse the crowds, which they accomplished without loss of life on either side, arresting about 30 of the demonstrators and escorting them to Cardiff for trial. Further disturbances threatened in North Monmouthshire within the next few days and the Swansea Troop, with the Monmouthshire Yeomanry, were able to prevent things getting out of hand. They then moved down to Newport again preserving the peace. Over the next year violence continued to threaten in South Wales and the Glamorgan Yeomanry were used on a number of occasions to keep the peace. The Home Secretary was very supportive of the role of the Yeomanry in South Wales and requested the Marquis of Bute to increase their strength. As a result in 1819 the Lord Lieutenant announced that further Troops would be raised - The Central Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry and the Llantrisant Troop.

Two troops of Central Glamorgan Cavalry was raised in 1820 by the efforts of John Nicholl of Merthyr Mawr and others. Most of the officers and men were from the areas around Bridgend, and Cowbridge, training was carried out on the Ogmore & Newton Downs and drill at Bridgend where the Headquarters was situated.

The Llantrisant Troop was raised in 1820 by Richard Fowler Rickards of Llantrisant and consisted of officers and men from the Llantrisant area.

In 1824 John Nicholl proposed that the Central & Llantrisant Troops be merged under the command of Richard Fowler Rickards, who retained the captaincy of the Llantrisant Troop of the new organisation, whilst John Nicholl and Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot captained the other two troops.

In 1825, then, the organisation of the Glamorgan Yeomanry was:-

The Swansea & Fairwood Yeomanry Cavalry - 3 troops under Major Edward Hughes

The Central Glamorgan & Llantrisant Yeomanry Cavalry - 3 troops under Major Richard Fowler Rickards of Llantrisant

The Cardiff Cavalry - 1 troop under Captain Whitlock Nicholl of Adamsdown

Over the next few years there was a substantial difference of opinion over the accounts of the Central Glamorgan & Llantrisant Yeomanry, between John Nicholl and Richard Fowler Rickards, which seems to have resulted, at least in part, from a clash of personalities and eventually resulted, in 1827, in the withdrawal of the Llantrisant Troop from that body and its re-establishment as a separate troop still under the command of Rickards, and the resignation of John Nicholl from his captaincy of the Central Glamorgan Yeomanry, although he continued in command of the troop until 1830 when he was replaced by Charles Morgan of Ruperra, Mon.

In 1828 the Llantrisant Troop combined with the Cardiff Troop to form the Eastern Corps of the Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry. Richard Fowler Rickards was commissioned Major in command of the new Corps.

The organisation in 1828 was, therefore:-

The Swansea & Fairwood Yeomanry Cavalry - 3troops under Major Edward Hughes

The Central Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry - 2 troops under Captain John Nicholl

The Eastern Corps of the Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry - 3 troops under Major Richard Fowler Rickards

On 3 June 1831 the Eastern Corps was posted to Merthyr Tydfil, along with members of the Glamorgan Militia to support detachments of the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry and the 93rd Highlanders who had been involved in breaking up the first day of the Merthyr Riots.

On 4 June the Central Glamorgan Yeomanry arrived at Merthyr to provide further reinforcement, followed on 6 June by the Swansea & Fairwood Yeomanry (after a disasterous incident in which a detachment of the troop was disarmed by the rioters). Thankfully, on the brink of military action, the rioters gave way; the arrival of Regular Cavalry later that day finally resulting in the return of normality, the arrest of the ringleaders and their escort to Cardiff for trial.

On 8 June the Swansea & Fairwood Yeomanry left Merthyr for Swansea where unrest was expected in the Clydach & Cwm Tawe Valleys resulting from strike action by miners, and remained on standby until 10 June when they were stood down.

A Court of Enquiry was held at Merthyr Tydfil on 25 July 1831 regarding the incident referred to briefly above when a detachment of Yeomanry were disarmed. The findings exonerated the volunteers from blame.

In order to economise, later in 1831, the Government issued orders to disband the Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry and this was put into effect in September of that year.

Part 2 - 4th Glamorgan Company - 1st Bn.Imperial Yeomanry

As a result of the difficulties being encountered by the British Army in the Boer War in 1899, the Government decided to recruit the Imperial Yeomanry to fulfill the role of Mounted Infantry.

In Glamorgan Major W.H.Wyndham-Quin, heir to the Earl of Dunraven, supported by many of the County Gentry and the by the Western Mail newspaper, raised the Glamorgan Company.

Volunteers were expected to provide their own horse, clothing and saddlery, whilst arms and ammunition would be provided by the Government or by public support. The support provided by the editor of the Western Mail was crucial to the raising of the force, in publishing an appeal for financial or practical support for volunteers, and in directly financing and fully equipping six volunteers. People who could do so were requested to provide horses, saddlery, harness, uniforms and other items. The average cost of providing one mounted volunteer was estimated to be 70 - 80.

Although some 300 persons volunteered for service they had to undertake a selection test either at Cardiff or Bridgend. The volunteers were of all "classes" and backgrounds, including Gentlemen, Ex-soldiers or yeomen, policemen, artisans and farmers' sons, and, although well over half of those eventually accepted were from Glamorgan, there were also many from the Borders & the Midlands and even further afield.

Sergeant Major Hayward (ex- 12th Hussars & then Staff Instructor to the Gloucestershire Hussars) supervised mounted training of the Company, whilst Sergeant Bennet, Drill Instructor of the Glamorgan Constabulary, undertook the dismounted drill.

Uniforms for the Company were made by Jotham & Sons of Cardiff. Where horses were not provided by the volunteers themselves, they were bought locally, in South Wales (at an average price of 29 5s each).

On 10 February 1900 a Civic Reception and Banquet in honour of the Glamorgan Company was held at the Park Hall, Cardiff.

On 15 February 1900 the Company went to Raglan Barracks, Mon. for further training and on 28 February they left Newport, Mon., by train, for Liverpool, whence they sailed on the SS Cymric for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. On 23 March 1900 the Company disembarked at Cape Town. At Maitland,, just outside the town, the Company joined the other companies of the 1st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry. Major Wyndham-Quin, was commander of the Glamorgan Company under the Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. R.C.W.Challoner.

The Battalion then joined General Rundle's Column at Bloemfontein and as part of the 16th Brigade of the 8th Division served mainly in the North Eastern areas of the Orange Free State. At the end of the Boer War many of the yeomen from theis force joined the Glamorganshire Imperial Yeomanry Regiment (see part 3)

"A Yeoman's Diary of South Africa" by P.W.Bevan-Vaughan gives a full account of his service with the Company in 1900 - 1901.

Part 3 - The Glamorganshire Imperial Yeomanry Regiment

Under an Act of Parliament of 1901 Yeomanry ceased to be considered as Volunteers, and they became subject to the provisions of the Militia Act.

As a result of these changes a new Regiment of Yeomanry was raised in Glamorgan in 1901, additional to the 4th Glamorgan Company, 1st Imperial Yeomanry referred to in Part 2 above

The Glamorganshire Imperial Yeomanry Regiment had a compliment of 596 men organised in three squadrons - A based at Swansea, B based at Bridgend and C based at Cardiff. It was commanded by Lt.Col. Charles Venables-Llewelyn. Not only did the Regiment quickly reach its' full strength but a lengthy waiting list of men wanting to join.

The officers of the Regiment were mainly from the County Gentry, whilst other ranks were mostly farmers' sons, tradesmen and businessmen. Most of the officers and men of each squadron knew each other socially, as did the officers across the squadrons. This led to a much less formal relationship than in the Regular army, although discipline was not generally sacrificed as a result.

In 1902 a fourth squadron was raised at Pontypridd. Also in that year a small number of officers and men of the Regiment took part in the Adershot Tattoo and at the Coronation of King Edward VII.

In March 1904 the compliment of all Yeomanry Regiments was reduced to 476 and in March 1908 the Yeomanry Regiments were subsumed within the new Territorial Force established by Army Council Order.