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The Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry – The Beginning


The Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry – The Beginning


The Revolution in France having given rise to principles subversive to all order and Good Government, and clubs and societies being formed in London and provincial towns throughout the land for the purposes of disseminating such principle of Liberty and Equality, as they were called, and it was believed that plots were actually formed by disaffected persons, after promoting secret discontent, to proceed to open violence and endeavour to overthrow the Constitution of this Country.  In November 1792 the Militia was called out throughout the land and Parliament called together in November 1792


Early in this year an idea was hinted to Lord Milton, son of the Early of Dorchester and who had served in the Army in America under Lord Cornwallis and was present at Lord Rodney’s victory over the French in April 1782 off Prince Rupert’s Bay, West Indies, had gained great credit, that in times of danger Corps of Volunteers had often been raised which had been very serviceable, not only in showing the Spirit of the Country, but in repelling any insurrections at home, or in case of invasion of exploring the advances of the enemy, or acting in any way in aid of the Regular Troops.  A number of the principle land owners in Dorset heard of the idea that Lord Milton might be seeking authorisation from the Government to support the Militia by raising a Troop of Light Horse in the Shire.  The plan was indeed submitted to London but was not readily accepted for some time for a variety of reasons that said the plan was also not cast aside without recognition either.


In March of this year Lord Milton wrote to those Gentlemen who had expressed an interest of support the previous year outlining his plans having received notification from the Secretary of State for War that the plan originally submitted was to be put to Parliament at their earliest opportunity and was likely to gain assent.  Further more preparations were to be made in advance of any call to arms.  The plan was for 18 to 20 Gentlemen each to bring two persons, a farmer and a servant, their arms, a Sabre and brace of Pistols with accoutrements would be provided by Lord Milton but Horses, saddles and uniform was to be provided for their men by the Gentlemen.  A communiqué followed from Government to the Lord Lieutenant of the County to present their pleasure to the Grand Jury at their Lent Assizes in respect of raising a Volunteer Troops of Fencible Cavalry consisting of not less than fifty nor more than eighty per Troop to only serve during the war, and within the Kingdom.  The full detail of the letters and subsequent instructions including the formal Articles of Enrolment can be viewed at the Military Museum of Devon and Dorset in Dorchester.  The Regiment of Light Horse soon became known as the “Dorset Volunteer Rangers”.  “The Commissions’ of the first five Volunteer Regiments being raised were signed in the following order:  Cinque Ports 230394, Kent 190494, Rutland 250494, Dorset 090594 and Wiltshire 210694”.

The history of the County of Dorsets Militia and Yeomanry is varied and diverse, titles and roles changed throughout the decades that followed.  The Regular Army was to found almost in all corners of the world, guarding, protecting, colonising, and fighting in conflicts and wars across the Globe.  The County’s Yeomanry Regiment maintaining its presence at home and trained hard so as to be at a peak of readiness to support the Regular Army when required.  The first call came in 1898 to provide troops for the Imperial Yeomanry to fight in South Africa; this was followed by the Great War 1914 – 1918 and then the Second World War and subsequent conflicts since.