Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteers

TOURING the troublous times of the seventeenth century, Mansfield saw something of the contending armies. At the latter end of 1664, the Parliament Committee sent down an order for all the horse of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to join with three regiments from Yorkshire, and proceed to Newark, to "straithen the garrison" there, so as to hold them in check from making their frequent incursions into the country adjacent to the town; or, if possible, to compel them to surrender. Agreeably with this order, the various detachments assembled at Mansfield, and from here marched to Thurgarton ; and, after assisting in storming the house of Sir Roger Cooper, proceeded to Southwell, where it was expected the force from Yorkshire would join them. Here, being extremely neglectful of all discipline, and wasting the country in a most shameful manner, their vigilant enemy at Newark made a sudden attack upon them, and took two troops of Captain Wright's regiment prisoners. These troops suffered other reverses, and altogether failed in their mission.

Towards the end of the Revolution, Mansfield witnessed a final visit of the soldiery connected with the Parliamentary forces. On the 18th of January, 1659, General Monk passed through Mansfield on his road to London, the conclusion of which journey was to result in the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne of England.

On the 5th of September, 1757, a great riot took place at Mansfield, in consequence of a meeting of the Deputy Lieutenants of the County at Mansfield to carry into effect the Act for embodying the Militia. When the gentlemen were assembled, a mob of about five hundred assaulted the place, broke into the room where they were seated, and demanded all their papers. These being refused, they possessed themselves of them by force, and carried them in triumph through the streets, at last consigning them to the flames. Several persons met by the populace in the street were shamefully maltreated by them, one of whom was Sir George Saville, Bart., a kind and humane gentleman, as evinced by the fact that, during the preceding winter of dear bread, he had distributed to the poor of his neighbourhood no less than £100 per month in flour and meal.

In 1759, another attempt was made to embody the Militia; but this again failed; the gentlemen of the county, as well as those of Mansfield, holding aloof from receiving the commissions tendered to them by the Lord Lieutenant of the County. They chose rather to pay the conditional fine imposed in such cases than to answer the summons to serve in a corps so intended to be raised. Nor was it until 1775 that the Nottinghamshire Militia was really and effectively raised.

This third attempt to raise the Militia was made on the 1st of August, 1775, when a meeting of the Deputy Lieutenants of the County was held at the Swan Hotel, Mansfield. The long pending dispute between the town of Nottingham and the gentlemen of the county as to the number of men which the county and town of Nottingham ought to furnish to the General County Militia was at this meeting amicably adjusted, and the corps was raised and officered.

On the 10th of June, 1794, following close upon the great victory gained by Lord Howe over the French fleet at Rochefort, at a general meeting of the gentlemen representing the county of Nottingham, held in the Moot Hall, Mansfield, to consider the several plans recommended by the Government for the internal defence of the kingdom, the following resolutions were proposed and unanimously agreed to:—

1. "That in the present crisis it is very desirable to increase the internal force of the country, under the sanction of Parliament, by a voluntary subscription."

2. "That the mode which appears most adapted to the situation and circumstances of this country is that of raising a Corps of Cavalry, composed of yeomen, agreeable to the plan suggested by Government to the Lords Lieutenant of the several counties."

3. "That a subscription be opened for the above-mentioned purposes, and that subscriptions be received at the different banking houses of the county."

Three other resolutions refer to the appointment of a committee, the paying in of instalments, &c. The amount of money subscribed on this occasion amounted to the extraordinary sum of £8,549 15s. When it is considered that the county was at that time, in point of population, little more than half its present number, and that in respect of wealth it was not a third so rich as at this time, the subscription must be considered as evincing the extraordinary enthusiasm which pervaded the public mind on the subject of the Revolutionary War. Four troops, limited to eighty men each (but since cut down to sixty), were raised in Nottinghamshire, one of which consisted of residents in Mansfield and district, which was commanded by William Boothby. It is to the credit of the town that the smartest troop in the regiment is that raised in Mansfield The equipment of the troops was but the work of a few days, and on the 14th of the following month the royal standard was presented, in the name of Mrs. Lumley Saville, by Charles Pierrepont, Esq., and the provincial standard by Thomas Edge Webb, Esq., in the name of Lady Warren. The presentation took place in front of the Nottingham Exchange Hall, and the colours were subsequently consecrated and given in charge of the cornets. Under the name of the "Sherwood Rangers" the regiment still exists. The commanding officer is Colonel Viscount Galway.

In the year 1798, "a respectable Volunteer Corps" was constituted, and they had the honour of being informed in person by the then Duke of Portland that his Majesty had accepted their patriotic offer. These ceased to exist; but in 1859 a regiment of Rifle Volunteers was formed in the county, and one of the companies is furnished by Mansfield.

In other respects Mansfield appears to have been patriotic. In 1806, the war between the combined armies of England and Russia against the army of France under Napoleon engrossed public attention, and the papers were full of it A "Patriotic Fund" was established for the benefit of the wounded and the relatives of the killed, contributions towards which were received at the bank of Messrs. Moore, Maltby's, Evans, and Middlemore, Mansfield. The amount collected in Mansfield was: at the parish church, £55 14s. 11d.; Unitarian Chapel, £9 9s.; New Methodist Society, £1 1s.; Independent Chapel, £3 0s. 3d.; Mansfield Woodhouse, £11.