A ‘reserve’ force of ‘Militia’ had for several centuries formed a part of Britain’s army, serving as a home defence force, especially in times of war. The Militia comprised civilians, volunteers or conscripts, serving for a time in regiments formed by and within counties.
This book, published just a week before the battle of Waterloo in 1815, listed the officers of the regiments of English (and Welsh), Irish and ‘Scotch’ Militia regiments. Less populous counties had one regiment of Militia, while growing urban counties had several each – London supported at least seven regiments. (The Royal Anglesea Militia (Light Infantry), however, had only seven officers, while little Rutland had only five – one of them the paymaster.)
Militia were locally raised and supported, and mainly served in their own county: the Berwick, Haddington, Linlithgow, and Peebles Militia, for example, was raised in the Scottish border country). Militia regiments were rarely mobilised to serve beyond their county, though they sent drafts to join regular regiments serving overseas during the long and costly war against Napoleonic France. This list reflects the Militia’s ultimate form in the war – the following year it was mostly ‘disembodied’, largely dormant until the 1850s.
In the absence of a police force, Militia regiments were often mobilised against political or social instability. The 38 Irish Militia regiments, for example, almost all composed of Protestants, served in the brutal repression of Irish rebellion, most recently during the 1798 rebellion.
A list such as this, when used with local sources (such as newspapers and county archives) would form the basis of a rich social history of the British Army’s complex relationship with British society at a time of both external threat and internal unrest.
Digital Collections | Library (20th May 2020). A list of the officers of the Militia of the United Kingdom. In Website Digital Collections | Library. Retrieved 19th Oct 2021 12:47, from https://unsw.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/3065