Winslow Volunteer Cavalry (1790s-1800s)

by Ed Grimsdale

This arose in response to the national campaign to create internal defence forces to resist any assault by Napoleonic forces. The main element of these volunteers - a national movement organised on a local basis - were the Yeomanry. These were supplemented by the Provisional Cavalry, essentially a temporary force organised with an element of compulsion by private individuals (service in the Yeomanry acted as exemption for call-up to the more costly cavalry). "Captain" William Lowndes (or Selby-Lowndes, or Selby) of Whaddon Hall, of the family that built Winslow Hall, was the instigator and Commanding Officer of Winslow’s Volunteer Cavalry Troops (or Squadrons). Because such bodies were “private” armies, records of their activities are slim.

William Lowndes was part of the All-Bucks Committee that issued advertisements on 19 June 1794 detailing the support from a Subscription Fund that would be available to those prepared to don uniform and volunteer for what became the Yeomanry. The advertisement indicates their appearance in some detail. Here are some of its directions:


The Provisional Cavalry Act of 1797 required every person owning 10 or more horses to provide a fully equipped horseman. The Bucks muster roll lists three such men from Winslow, who were assigned to the Marquis of Buckingham's troop:

Name of volunteer Owner of horses
George Webb William Selby esq.
Richard Sharp himself
Isaac Wigg Joseph Turner

In 1798 the Provisional Cavalry became the Fencible Cavalry (from "defensible", i.e. only used for defence, which included suppressing the Irish rebellion). Lowndes denoted "his" troops as the Winslow Volunteer Cavalry, which later became part of the Mid Bucks Yeomanry.

The Star, 3 Sep 1798:

Winslow Volunteer Cavalry.
William Lowndes, Esq. to be Captain.
Launcellot Wyatt, Gent. to be Lieutenant.
John Tookey, Gent. to be Lieutenant.

On 28 Oct 1798 the cavalry and yeomanry were at church in Winslow in their uniforms. The ostensible reason for such church, and other, parades across the Kingdom, was to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the Accession of King George III who had succeeded to the throne when his father, King George II, died suddenly on 25 Oct 1760. Underpinning that was the need “to show the flag” to maintain national morale - there had been a major rebellion in Ireland earlier in 1798 which had included 1,000 French troops landing to support the rebels in County Mayo.  The rebellion had been put down forcefully, leading to the Act of Union at the start of the 19th century.

Northampton Mercury, 29 Sep 1804:

Wednesday se’nnight the two troops of Winslow Volunteer Cavalry, raised and commanded by William Lowndes, Esq, were inspected by General Pawlett [a.k.a General Vere Paulett of Addington House] in Stowe Park; and the celerity and precision of their movements did great honour to their Officers; and were highly commended by the General. On the Friday morning following they had a field day; at the conclusion of which they were led to Whaddon-Hall, the hospitable mansion of their much esteemed Captain, where a dinner was prepared for them, consisting of an abundance of venison, and other good things which the season produced; and as soon as the cloth was drawn, a superfluity of wine and punch covered the tables, many loyal and constitutional toasts were given, and the evening spent in great hilarity and good humour - the retreat from such a charge was as regular as could be expected.

In 1812 there were at least 11 men from Winslow serving in the Bucks yeomanry, and more in the Militia.

Northampton Mercury, 26 Oct 1816:

BUCKINGHAM, Oct 21, 1816.
IT is requested that the GENTLEMEN of the SECOND REGIMENT of the BUCKS YEOMANRY CAVALRY will assemble for Exercise, by Squadrons, at BUCKINGHAM, AYLESBURY, and WINSLOW, on the 30th of the present Month, and following Days, according to the Lord Lieutenant’s Orders of the 19th of July last.
     Signed,  JOHN FELLOWES, Adjutant.
The Winslow squadron of the "Buckinghamshire Huzzar Yeomanry" took part in a field day and review at Stowe on 21 June 1829 along with squadrons from Aylesbury, Wootton and Buckingham, according to the Oxford Journal.


At a Meeting to form the Bucks Territorial Force held at the Bell Hotel, Winslow in 1909, Frank Higgens said:

What were the old Volunteer Forces are now called the Territorial Forces… So far as the County of Bucks was concerned they had an efficient regiment of cavalry, and it was found that there was very little, if any, difficulty in getting mounted troops…

Mr Higgens proceeded to look back to golden times for recruitment whilst fear of Napoleonic Invasion wracked England: the period covered in Winslow by Lowndes’ Volunteer Cavalry.

Some 100 years ago, when the population of the country was only 12 or 13 millions, and it was threatened with an invasion by Napoleon, there were about two millions of soldiers ready to protect the shores against invasion. Now the population numbered about 40 million there surely ought to be no difficulty in procuring sufficient men to do the same, and he did not think that the appeal to be made that night to the young men of Winslow would be in vain (applause).

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Copyright 30 July, 2015