Formation of The Regiment.
In 1803 a regiment of volunteers was embodied by Mr J.C. Curwen Esq. M.P. of Workington Hall
who himself assumed the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant. The Company known as The Workington Volunteer Infantry, was raised in the country at Branthwaite, Cumberland to meet the threat of a possible Napoleonic invasion.
From Anglo-Saxon times, men aged between 15 and 60 were obliged to serve in local defence forces, later known as militias, as and when the need occurred. Local militias ceased to be summoned after the Civil War but were revived in 1757, when the Militia Act established militia regiments, made up of volunteers, in all counties of England and Wales. Additional volunteer forces, the Yeomanry, the Volunteers and the Local Militia were introduced later. Source: National Archives Guide, Militia: Further Research
Below is given the names and ranks of the volunteers shortly after the formation of the regiment in 1803.
Workington Volunteer Infantry, November 1803.
John Hetherington, Gent, to be Lieutenant, vice John Hodgson.
Robert Bowes, Gent, to be Lieutenant, vice John Beek.
Anthony Wood, Gent, to be Ensign, vice Joseph Thompson.
Philip Parsons, Gent, to be Ditto, vice John Hudson.
Adam Wood, Gent, to be Ditto, vice H. Salkeld.
Richard Watts, Esq, to be Paymaster.
William Dawson, Gent, to be Adjutant.
Source: The London Gazette, 8th November 1803, issue 15641, page 1551.
Workington Volunteer Infantry, December 1803.
Lieutenant William Swinburn to be Captain, vice Harriman resigned.
Lieutenant John Hetherington to be Captain, vice Dawson, Adjutant.
To be Lieutenants,
Ensign Robert Russell, vice Swinburn.
Ensign John Watson.
William Hayhead, Gent, vice Hetherington.
To be Ensigns,
Henry Salkeld, Gent, vice Russell.
John Falcon, Gent, vice Parson, resigned.
John Fearson, Gent, vice Wood, resigned.
To be Surgeon,
William Dickenson, Gent,
Source: The London Gazette, 10th December 1803, issue 15655, page 1747.
"When, seventy years ago, England was threatened with invasion by the French, the Cumberland volunteers, under the command of J. C. Curwen, Esq., were assembled at Workington for drill. The drillground was then on the fine green level of threescore acres between St. Michael's Tower and the sea, which, since that time, has carried about fifty acres of it away. After two or three weeks' training, Adjutant Dawson came to inspect and test the efficiency of the volunteers. Captain John Hetherington's Branthwaite company were put through the ordinary exercise and passed with approbation. They were then examined as to the order of their arms and accoutrements, when Brown Bess with her flint locks was found sadly awanting.
The adjutant was so incensed that he drilled them and ordered them to the " right about," facing the sea at high water. The company was formed of farmers' sons and farm servants: tall, strapping, well-looking fellows with their sergeant, Will Pearson, a noble looking man, known to and liked by all. The next order was " march," and they stumped to the water's edge
without a recall. Not knowing what was to follow, the men eyed the Serjeant, who liked sport and saw the dilemma, and he in an undertone said, "Gang in, lads, he'll not drown ye."
In they slowly marched; some much amused, others not relishing the bath, but all ready to obey orders. Until over knee-deep they got on pretty well; but as the slope continued and the slippery stones increased in number and bulk they found greater difficulty, and many got ducked. Some few dropped their guns in the deep water and many a dive took place for recovery; but the water being clear, all were eventually found. The sergeant, a tall grenadier, kept quietly encouraging his men. The adjutant on shore, enjoying a hearty laugh at their discipline and determination, when he saw them nearly up to their necks called a " halt " to " right about." Welcome was the command, and a scramble was made for the shore; but before it was reached Pearson had them formed in regular order, and the adjutant with all due solemnity complimented the men as they stood in the water, and said that although they had hitherto been known as the dirty company, he hoped they were now perfectly clean and would remain so; and as to their courage, they were fit to face the French or the devil with Pearson at their head".
Excerpt taken from: Cumbriana; or, Fragments of Cumbrian life', by William Dickinson.
Local Militia Bill 1808.
Following the passing into law by the parliament of Great Britain of the Local Militia Bill 1808 for establishing a permanent local militia, the regiment became known as the Workington Regiment of Local Militia. The names and ranks of the men serving in the regiment in 1809 are listed below.
Workington Regiment of Local Militia, March 1809.
John Christian Curwen, Esq; to be Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant. Dated March 24, 1809.
John Christian, Esq; to be Lieutenant-Colonel. Dated as above.
Henry Curwen, Esq; to be Major. Dated as above.
Michael Falcon, Esq; to be Captain. Dated as above.
Benjamin Thompson, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
Thomas Craig, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
Maitland Falcon, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
John Askew, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
John Hetherington, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
John Thompson, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
Joseph Huddleston, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
William Dickinson, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
Henry Russell, Esq; to be ditto. Dated as above.
Matthew Russell, Gent. to be Lieutenant. Dated as above.
Robert Bowes, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Robert Russell, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
William Hayhead, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Henry Salkeld, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Allinson Crosthwaite, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
John Falcon, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Edward Henry Hare, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Matthew Adcock, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Collin Miller, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
William Hetherington, Gent. to be Ensign. Dated as above.
John Parkin, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Thomas Adcock, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
John Atkinson, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
William Smith, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
John Christian Wilson, Gent. to be ditto. Dated as above.
Thomas Gaff, Gent, to be Quarter-Master. Dated March 24, 1809.
William Lindow Dickinson, Gent. to be Surgeon. Dated as above.
Source: The London Gazette, 21st October 1809, issue 16308, page 1671
Honouring Their Leader.
The officers and men of the regiment presented their leader Mr. J. C. Curwen, Esq. with a very fine 1796 pattern infantry officer's sword, the 32" blade with extensive blueing and gilding on both sides, the presentation panel extends some 36cm and reads as follows:
"28 May 1810 Presented to Lieut Col'l Commandant. JOHN C. CURWEN by the Officers, non-commissioned Officers and Privates of the Workington Regt. of Local Militia serving under his command, in testimony of their Gratitude for his undeviating Attention to the Corps not only during its present Establishment but from its first Enrollment as a Volunteer Regiment in 1803".
Workington Local Militia, 1811.
J. C. Curwen, Esq. Lieutenant-Col. Commandant
Major-Henry Curwen, Esq.
Captain & Adjutant-William Dawson
Captains-Michael Falcon, Ben. Thompson, Thos. Craig, John Thompson, Maitland Falcon, John Hetherington, Henry Russell, Wm. Dickinson
Lieutenants-Robert Bowes, Allinson Crosthwaite, Robert Russell, Wm. Hayhead, Edward Hair, Matthew Adcock, Collins Miller, Henry Salkeld, John Falcon, Matthew Russell
Ensigns-Wm. Hetherington, John Atkinson, Thomas Adcock, J. C. Wilson, J. Smith, Joseph Thompson
Surgeon-Wm. Dickinson Jr.
Quarter Master-Thomas Gaff
Serjeant Major-William Cannall
Source: Jollies Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811, page 77.
"We hear that the Workington Regiment of Local Militia is ordered to assemble on Monday, the 25th inst. and the recruits, ballotted this present Year, on Monday the 18th inst. at Workington; then and there to be trained and exercised; the former for 14 and the latter for the space of twenty-one days". Source: The "Cumberland Pacquet" newspaper, Tuesday May 5, 1812
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