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Army (militia/volunteers/territorials)

In principle all volunteer (and later, territorial) regiments were based on historic counties, so recruiting in Peterborough would therefore have mainly been to various Northamptonshire units. By the end of the nineteenth century, Huntingdonshire had no proper county regiment, it usually being combined with Bedfordshire or Hertfordshire.

The Militia

The Militia are the oldest 'volunteer' force, but they usually trained once a year, and were intended to include all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 45. They were independent until 1881 when they were amalgamated with their appropriate county regiment, usually forming its Third and/or Fourth Battalions, but the militia ultimately went into 'suspended animation' in 1908. The following archives/secondary sources for local militias are known to exist:

Regiment name: Northamptonshire Militia 1763-1881

which then became the
Third and Fourth Battalions, Northamptonshire Regiment 1881-1908.
Examples of various printed forms, 1820-1825, in PMAG.

Printed sources:

The History of the Northamptonshire & Rutland Militia [etc] 1756-1919 by C A Markham (1924).

Northamptonshire Militia Lists 1777 ed by V A Hatley (1973).

'Militia Lists for Nassaburgh 1762' ed by V A Hatley & B G Statham, in, Northamptonshire Miscellany ed by E King (1983).

Napoleonic Period

The French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars (which, taken together, lasted from 1792 to 1815) were the incentive for the next volunteer military units to be formed for home defence. Again they were based on historic counties, and were either yeomanry/cavalry or infantry. The locally-raised units tended to emphasise the place-name in their title (rather than the county name) which made them sound more independent than they really were! They were stood down as soon as that threat passed. The following archives/secondary sources for local units are known to exist:

Unit name: Northamptonshire Volunteer Yeomanry or Yeomanry Cavalry.

(The Peterborough Company or Companies were in existence from 1794 to 1814).
Copy of Byelaws at Northamptonshire Record Office (Ref: YZ 7038).
Recruitment lists 1798 & 1803 in PMAG.

Printed sources:

Fenland Notes & Queries Vol 7 pp311-313.
Northamptonshire Notes & Queries Vol 2 pp246-248.

Unit name: Peterborough Cavalry and Volunteers

1803: list of subscriptions, notes of swearing in of officers (Ref: 72/1).
Held at Burghley House.

1745: correspondence, lists etc (Ref: 1956/77).
Held at Northamptonshire Record Office.

The Volunteers and Territorials

Further 'sabre-rattling' on the European continent in the mid-nineteenth century brought a further wave of volunteer units into being to defend the British Isles. These were most frequently battalions of riflemen, but could also be [civil] engineers or cavalrymen. Most of these volunteer regiments survived until new government legislation came into force in 1908, when they disbanded. The following archives/secondary sources for local units are known to exist:

Unit name: Sixth Northamptonshire Rifle Volunteers.

[NOTE: The first Peterborough Company ('Eighth Coy') was raised in 1867, and the second ('Ninth Coy') in 1872. When the Sixth became the First Volunteer Battalion., Northamptonshire Regiment, in 1881, the two Companies were re-designated 'G' and 'H'].
1860-78: Peterborough Coy: orders and circulars, nominal roll, letters.
Held at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery.

Printed sources:

The Rifle Volunteers 1859-1908 by Ray Westlake (1982); pp118-119.
History of the Northamptonshire Regiment 1742-1934 by Russell Gurney (1935); pp314-321, & 375.
A Short History of the Northants Battery (B/270 RFA) by FEC Stanley (1926) pp9-10
1860-1908: regimental history including successor units held at National Army Museum, Department of Archives Photographs Film and Sound.

Unit name: First Northamptonshire Royal Engineer Volunteers.

[NOTE: The "Royal" was added in 1896. The two Peterborough Companies were raised in 1867 and 1900, respectively].
1888-1908: Peterborough Coy: orders and circulars, nominal roll, letters.
Held at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery.

Printed source:

A Short History of the Northants Battery (B/270 RFA) by F E C Stanley (1926) pp9-10.
A volunteer battalion was raised in Huntingdonshire in 1900 and attached to the Bedfordshire Regiment, becoming their Fifth Battalion in 1908. These two battalions each had one Company based in Fletton.

Unit names:

Fourth (Hunts) VB, Bedfordshire Regt 1900-1908

Fifth Battalion, Bedfordshire Regt (TF) 1908+

In 1914 most of the Huntingdonshire contingent left the Bedfordshire Regiment and created their own independent battalion, the Hunts Cyclists, with two Companies based in Fletton, and one in Yaxley.

Hunts Cyclist Battalion 1914-c1919

Despite being a predominantly Huntingdonshire unit, the Hunts Cyclists had a large proportion of Peterborough officers and men. So after the War it was refounded as:

Fifth (Hunts) Battalion (T), Northants Regiment 1920-1946

Between 1926 and 1934 the Commanding Officers of this battalion were Peterborough men, so the battalion HQ was transferred from Huntingdon to Peterborough in 1927.

There are some photographs of the Cyclists Battalion dating around 1914 in Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery.

Printed sources:

The History of the Fifth Battalion, The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (TA) by FAM Webster. (Warne, 1930), pp24-44.

History of the Northamptonshire Regiment 1742-1934 by Russell Gurney (1935), pp337-338.

The legislation which came into force in 1908 created both the Territorial Force (re-named The Territorial Army in 1921) and also County Associations to support and administer them. Units of Field Artillery initially took the place of the rifle and engineer volunteers.

Unit name:

Fourth East Anglian Brigade, RFA, (TF) 1908-1916

which then became

270th Brigade, RFA, (TF) 1916-c1919

[NOTE: the above Brigades consisted of three Batteries, two raised in Hertfordshire and the other in Northamptonshire. In fact recruiting for this latter Battery took place almost solely in the Peterborough area. After the War the 'Peterborough element' then made up 336 Battery, one of four batteries in the following successive Brigades]

First East Anglian Brigade RFA (TF) 1920-21

Eighty-fourth (East Anglian) Brigade RFA (TA) 1921-1938

Printed source:

A Short History of the Northants Battery (B/270 RFA) by F E C Stanley (1926).

Typescript: "The 336 Battery Diary" transcribed by G D Austin (in Peterborough Central Library).

The Yeomanry

The Yeomanry Regiments often claimed continuity from the volunteer units formed in the Napoleonic period. The only part of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry to truly do this were the Squadrons based in Kettering. All the others disbanded during the nineteenth century, only to be re-founded in 1902. Unlike all the other volunteer units, the Yeomanry survived the 1908 legislation, being absorbed virtually unaltered into the Territorial Force/Army. After the 1914-18 War they were refounded, but mostly with vehicles, not horses.

Unit names: Northants Imperial Yeomanry 1902-1908

Which then became

Northants Yeomanry (TF) to c1919.

The Peterborough Squadron ('B' Squadron) was raised in 1902 from within Peterborough, Oundle, and Huntingdonshire.
Records held at Northamptonshire Record Office (Ref: Acc 1988/380).

Printed sources:

Northamptonshire Yeomany 1794-1964 by H de L Cazenove (1966) pp5-9.
200 years of Peace and War: A History of the Northants Yeomany by Lawrence & Hill.

The County Territorial Association

Northamptonshire (and Huntingdonshire) County Territorial Association.

Minute books.

Held at Northamptonshire Record Office (Ref: Acc 1968/129).

"Home Guard"

Unit titles:

Northamptonshire Home Guard: Peterborough Battalions 1940-1942.

Huntingdonshire Home Guard: Peterborough Battalions 1942-c1945.

Printed sources:

Stand Down: Orders of Battle for Units of the Home Guard of the UK, Nov 1944 by L B Whittaker (1990) pp66, 86,104,121,125.
The Northamptonshire Home Guard 1940-1945: A History edited by B G Holloway (1949).

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