The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2Allen, Thomas
Though the origin of the military government of London cannot be ascertained, it nevertheless must be of great antiquity; for in the year , the London auxiliaries, having joined Alfred, marched to dislodge the Danes from a place in Hertfordshire, supposed to have been the town of Hertford. Therefore it is highly probable, that if a military government was not at settled in this city by that great prince, yet that the same was established by him after the reduction thereof from the Danes, in the year , we think, may reasonably be presumed; since which time, by the many gallant actions performed by the citizens, in the most dangerous enterprizes, we may reasonably conclude, that they have always had the greatest regard to the support of the military art, seeing their lives and fortunes so often depended thereon.
In the reign of Ethelred, the Londoners bravely resisted attacks by the Danes; and thrice also was Canute repulsed when he laid siege to the city, nor did he ultimately gain possession of it, until, by a compromise with his rival, a division of territory was agreed upon. With equal spirit did the citizens refuse to admit William the Conqueror, when his arms had been victorious over Harold's army, until the clergy and the men of rank set the example of submission. It is true that Domesday-book, the oldest record of military service extant, does not mention the Londoners, but the reason of this is to be found in the peculiar nature of their civic privileges. The citizens did not, like other persons under the feudal system, hold their possessions by the tenure of military service; London was the
where all were free, and all service was spontaneous. But though not bound to furnish any particular quota of fighting men, the Londoners always mustered in great force, when an enemy was in the field; indeed it would seem from their numerous arrays, and the indiscriminate manner in which they turned out at every call to arms, that in early times every citizen was a soldier. It appears that playing at bucklers, and practising feats of arms, was of the most ancient and favorite amusements of the London apprentices.
He adds, that young noblemen from the king's court, and from the houses of the barons, often joined the citizens in the trial
|of their skill in arms. Numerous exploits are recorded, which attest the spirit and promptness with which the skill thus acquired, was, in maturer life, exerted in the defence of the city and kingdom. During what are called the barons' wars, in the reigns of Stephen, John, and Henry III., Fitzstephen says, that there went out of the city to a general muster no less than horsemen and foot; and though unquestionably there must have been included in these numbers many vassals of the noblemen, who had then castles and inns within the city, and of others who had sought the protection of its walls, yet it is clear, from the preponderance which the Londoners invariably gave to the party, whose cause they espoused at this period, that they must have constituted a very considerable portion of the force.|
Often did the citizens contend in arms against the power that sought to oppress them in the reign of Henry III., and on occasion, Stowe relates, they
The manufacture of armour must, at this period, have been very considerable, for when Louis the Dauphin contended for the crown of England against Henry III, in the year , the city of London sent him knights and coats of mail. In the time of Edward II. the queen having been refused admittance into Leeds castle, in Kent, the king called to him
by whose assistance it was speedily reduced; but that this demand on the Londoners for military service might not be construed into an admission of their ordinary liability to such requisitions, the king, by his letters patent, declared
In , when the queen had taken part with the barons, the king demanded from the citizens a supply of men and money. The answer they made was, that
During the French wars in the reign of Edward III., the quota of troops contributed by London was comparatively small. In , they furnished only men at arms, and foot soldiers, and in , men at arms and archers. Probably more were not required, for these wars were popular; and on the triumphal entry of the Black Prince into London with the king of France, we are told that the citizens displayed with peculiar exultation from their windows and balconies, the implements and ornaments of war.
During the contest between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, the military defence of the capital became an object of great importance, and appears to have been duly appreciated. When the leaders of each party met in London in , attended by a
|great number of their followers, in order to attempt a reconciliation, sir Godfrey Boleyn, the lord mayor, kept watch daily with a guard of citizens completely armed; while aldermen, with another body of , continued the watch during the night.|
Henry VII. having been very partial to archery in his youth, gave it every encouragement when he ascended the throne, in preference to the cross bow, although he sometimes amused himself with it, as we find by the following memoranda, in an account of his expenditure preserved in the remembrancer's office.
From these entries it would appear that the king was not so skilful a bowman as his sons, particularly the eldest, prince Arthur, who frequently exercised with the society of London bowmen at Mile End, and was so expert, that the captain, and every expert shooter, was called by his name.
The military art still continued to be cultivated. At a general muster of
which took place twice by order of Henry VIII. in , and again on the , when there appeared no less than ,
The king expressed himself highly pleased with their martial appearance.
From this period, archery fell into disuse, principally, no doubt, from the introduction of muskets. Hollinshed bewails, that in his time, we had
the long bow, in which in times past, the chief force of England consisted; and bishop Latimer equally laments the change that had taken place. In his sermon, he says,
He then points out the necessity of calling upon the justices, and charging them
That it had been practised, and that successfully, we learn by a fact recorded in the journal of Edward VI., which shows the force with which arrows were discharged. A archers belonging to the guard of this king shot at an inch board, singly, arrows each, when some of the arrows pierced through the board, and entered another placed behind it, although the wood was extremely hard. At what distance the arrows were discharged, does not appear, but Pere Daniel says, an ancient bow could carry yards, or nearly a quarter of a mile.
A strong instance of the military character of the British in this reign is furnished by Etienne de Perlin, who, in a narrative of his tour through England in the year , speaking of the quarter sessions, says,
In the year of Elizabeth's reign, there was a muster of the citizens before her majesty, and the French and imperial ambassadors in Greenwich park; but it seems from the comparatively small number assembled, to have consisted of some select companies only. There were men, whereof were pikemen, all in fine corselets, harquebuts in shirts of mail with merins, and halberdiers in almayne rivets; they had to every , whifflers
ensigns' here mentioned, seem to denote that the city had thus early made that sextuple division of its forces into the regiments of the blue, green, yellow, orange, white, and red, which subsisted till the recent introduction of the militia system.
When in the year , Elizabeth began to be disturbed in her government by machinations, foreign and domestic, she sent an order to the lord mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen, recommending to them renewed diligence in training up the young citizens to the use of arms for the defence of the capital; and particularly to the use of musketry, which was now beginning to supersede the bow and arrow. The order was obeyed with so much alacrity, that, within months after, a choice body of pikemen and gunners, completely armed and disciplined, mustered before the queen in Greenwich park; and these were independently of the city archers who were estimated to amount to more.
The preparation in the ports of Spain of the boasted Armada, which was to effect the conquest of England and the re-establishment of the catholic religion called for still greater exertions on the part of the loyal citizens of London. From a report of the arrangements made for the defence of the kingdom on that occasion, recently compiled from the records in the Tower, it appears, that London then contained able householders within the wards, besides strangers fit for service; and that of this number, no less than were actually embodied.
In the year , the storm which had so long threatened the entire destruction of this kingdom assumed a formidable aspect;
|divers citizens of London, of great experience in military affairs, were by order of the government taken out of the artillery company, and, to their great honour, were appointed officers in several parts of the kingdom; by whose care and indefatigable application, the militia in most parts were put into a good state of defence.|
The citizens of London the more effectually to prevent all sudden attempts that might be made by the enemies of government in favour of the Spaniards, in the year , drew up the following regulations, intituled,
The lords of the council ordered Edmund York, a brave officer who had served in the Low Countries, to point out the best means of putting the city in a good state of defence; he recommended that it should be divided into sections, containing men,
Every night, at o'clock, companies of different regiments were to assemble in the Exchange,
After the countersign was given to every officer, says York,
billets were next to be put into a hat, which the captains were to draw, to determine their respective stations for the night.
The queen placed so much reliance on the courage and attachment of the citizens, that she selected of them to be her body guard. The remaining were sent to the grand camp at Tilbury Fort.
The usual place of training the city bands at this period, was the old Artillery garden or ground, the site of which is commemorated by the names of several streets and lanes on the east side of , as , , , &c. of the most expert, who had
were selected to drill the rest, and we are told, that
These masters of the art
| military formed a company by themselves, of which |
Some of these were sent to the camp at Tilbury, to assist in drilling the new levies, and were then known by the name of the captains of the Artillery garden.
The military ardour which the Spanish Armada called forth, was succeeded by a long period of inglorious ease. The whole of the city corps were disembodied, and the exercises in the Artillery garden entirely discontinued; so that, when the queen wanted an aid of men from the city, to send to the relief of Calais in , she was obliged to resort to the mode of impressment, and that in a way not attempted perhaps either before or since. On the forenoon of Easter Monday, the lord mayor and aldermen received orders to provide instantly, for the queen's service, a able bodied men. The day and hour were conveniently chosen; the churches, as is usual on this festival, were filled ; and thither the magistrates immediately repaired with their proper officers, made fast all the doors, and in a few minutes executed the required levy on the assembled congregations.
and marched off to Dover before night. This system of pressing, though not in the same indecorous manner, was afterwards repeatedly resorted to during the reign of Elizabeth.
A material change in the military exercises of the London citizens took place at the close of Elizabeth's reign, with which the use of the sword and buckler seems to have ended. Stowe relates that in his time,
and that the young Londoners, after the evening prayer on holidays, were permitted to exercise themselves with their wafters and bucklers before their masters' doors. The wafters here mentioned, were swords with the flat part placed in the direction of the edge. Shakspeare and all the writers of his time mention schools for teaching the use of weapons as common in London; but when the alarm of outward danger had been dissipated, and the pusillanimous reign of James had commenced, military exercises were naturally discountenanced by a king, who had an instinctive horror at the sight of a naked sword; and who praised armour, rather because, as he said, it prevented the wearer from hurting others, than for the protection it gave him.
The danger which might arise from such an habitual neglect of military exercises, at length roused some patriotic individuals to exert themselves, to revive the ancient trainings in the Artillery garden. In , Philip Hudson, lieutenant of the artillery company, and divers other gentlemen and citizens of London, considering the inconveniences which had been suffered by many
and for their better ease and more convenience,
years after, James I. commanded a general muster of all the horse and foot soldiers throughout England; and such was the progress which the citizens of London had by that time made in their military re-organization, that no less than of them assembled on the occasion. They were commanded by captains selected of the most active and forward citizens, and unto every of them were allotted shot and pikes, being, for the most part, all householders bravely furnished; and such of them as were not formerly of the Martial society, and practice of the Artillery garden, became then admitted of that warlike company.
During the disputes between the king and the parliament, in the time of Charles I. the regular forces of the city, which were, at that period, distinguished by the appellation of the Trained Bands, were embodied, or, as the phrase was,
on the side of the monarch; yet in the subsequent war, the citizens supported the popular cause, and it was principally by their aid that the house of commons obtained its decided preponderancy. So early as , within months after Charles had erected his standard at Nottingham, the trained bands were marched out to join the earl of Essex, on
In the further progress of the war, several auxiliary regiments, both of foot and horse, were raised by the city; and, to a part of these forces, joined to regiments of the trained bands,
remarks the historian just quoted,
the parliament army was indebted for its preservation in the battle of Newbury,
that prince Rupert himself, who charged them at the head of the choice royal horse,
The same noble historian designates London, as
of the commons, and their
In the subsequent affair at Cheriton Downs, the citizens acquired fresh laurels. of their strongest auxiliary regiments fought under sir William Waller, on that occasion, and, as Whitelock tells us,
The city shortly after increased the number of troops they had in the field against the king to ; regiments were under the earl of Essex, and under sir William Waller.
The Londoners continued foremost in the struggle between the crown and the people, till the success of the latter was complete; but when the parliament and the army quarrelled, and Cromwell rose on the bucklers of the latter to supreme power, they fell into the back ground, and suffered but too many affronts and hardships at the hands of those, whom they had been the principal means of placing in the seat of royalty. The works about the city were ordered to be demolished ; the trained bands were discharged; the treasuries of different city companies were robbed, in order to pay arrears due to Cromwell's soldiers; particularly that of the Weaver's company, from which were carried off; and when these were found insufficient for the purpose, bands of these satellites were quartered on the city, not only in the inns, but in private houses, till the deficiency was made up.
During the quarrel between the army and the parliament, the services of the London trained bands were frequently called on to suppress those tumults which are common to a state of anarchy; nor were those of a political nature the most dangerous to the existing government. In , a riot was begun in , on account of the infraction of the parliamentary ordinance against tippling and gaming on the Sabbath, which required all the energy of Fairfax to suppress. The party of the trained bands sent to quell the tumult were overpowered by the rioters, who seized their arms, drums, and colours, and daringly beat up for recruits. The prisons of Newgate and Ludgate were surprised during the night; and next day they attempted to seize , but were repelled by the soldiers. They, however, were more successful in the city, where they attacked the Mansion-house, and carried off a piece of artillery, called a drake. Ammunition was obtained from the magazine, in , where they made a stand against the only regiments then in London, nor did they give way until several of them were wounded, and others taken prisoners.
In , about weeks before the restoration of Charles the , and when the artful management of general Monk had disposed the citizens to countenance the measures he was pursuing in favour of royalty, a muster of the city forces was held in , and the number of men then assembled amounted to about ; viz. regiments of trained bands, auxiliary regiments, and regiment of horse: the foot regiments were composed of companies of men each, and the regiments of cavalry of troops, each of men. The assembling of this force was judged to have been highly instrumental to the success of the plan for restoring the monarchy.
Within a few months afterwards, the king granted a commission of lieutenancy for the city of London, which invested the commissioners with similar powers to those possessed by the lords lieutenants of counties; and by them the trained bands were new-modelled, and increased to men; the cavalry was also increased to , and divided into regiments of troops, with men in each. The whole of this force was, in the same year, reviewed by the king in .
After the state of public affairs had become more composed, and the better stability of the government ensured, the auxiliary regiments, and the regiments of horse, were reduced, and the permanent military force of the city was settled in the trained bands. These regiments consisted of citizens and freemen, and each was composed of companies: their entire effective strength, in , as given by Maitland from the muster rolls, was as follows :
By adding this number to the trained bands of the Tower Hamlets, of , and of Middlesex within the bills of mortality, as they stood in , together with the artillery company, &c. we shall find that the entire force of the metropolis, about that time, was as follows:--
The trained bands of , including officers and drums, in , when the last return, prior to , was made, amounted to .
The rebellion of again roused the military spirit of the metropolis: the trained bands were kept in readiness, and the militia embodied; regiments were raised at the expence of the merchants, and corps of volunteers incorporated. The lawyers exchanged their briefs for muskets, and the judges their wigs for helmets; the weavers of Spitalfields laid aside their shuttle and distaff for the pike and the bayonet; and even the managers of the theatres offered to form a corps of
ready to quit the mimic combats of the stage for the tented field. Large subscriptions were raised for supplying the troops with the necessary clothing and the munitions of war, towards which the corporation of the city gave and several of the city companies contributed liberally. Even the Quakers so far overcame their religious scruples, as to raise a considerable sum for the purchase of woollen waistcoats for the soldiers; and had the danger been more imminent, it is probable they might have been induced to go farther, and, like the Quakers of America at the commencement of the revolution, have subscribed for gunpowder, under the equivocal denomination of grain, or for muskets, under the name of fire irons.
of the rebels to Derby increased preparations in the metropolis: the city gates were guarded; and a large train of artillery was sent from the Tower to a camp formed on Finchley-common.
The continued tranquillity of the capital in the times subsequent to the above period, having rendered any call on the military power of the city unnecessary, excepting for mere holiday
|purposes, the trained bands were gradually disorganized, though they were still nominally kept up, and the commissions filled by the chief citizens; each regiment having an alderman for its colonel, who also was usually a knight. After the breaking out of the revolution in France, however, and the strong demonstrations made by that country to invade England, the extreme insufficiency of such a force for any adequate resistance became so apparent, that a new system was resorted to, and in the year , an act of parliament was passed for raising regiments of militia for the defence of the city, to be trained and exercised under the superintendance of the commissioners of lieutenancy. By that act the men were proposed to be raised by ballot, in the following manner: that every person or corporation within the city, possessed of a tenement of the annual value of and less than and under to find men as substitutes; and if it exceeded the latter sum to supply substitutes.|
This mode of raising the men by ballot having been found on trial to be attended with many inconveniences, another act was passed in , by which it was enacted that men (exclusive of officers) should be raised within the city and its liberties, to be formed into regiments, each consisting of companies, besides a grenadier and a light infantry company; the expences to be defrayed by an equal assessment upon the different wards.
Under the above act, the numbers raised and maintained by the respective wards are as follow: for the East regiment, Algate ward, ; Bassishaw, ; , ; Bishopsgate-within, ; Bishopsgate-without, ; Bridge, ; , ; Candlewick, ; , ; , ; Dowgate, ; Langbourn, ; , ; Portsoken, ; Tower, ; total . For the West regiment, Aldersgate-within, and , ; Aldersgate-without, , ; Castle Baynard, ; Cheap, ; Cordwainer, ; Cripplegate-within, ; Cripplegate-without, ; Farringdon-within, ; Farringdon-without, ; , ; Vintry, ; , ; total . Each regiment is commanded by a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, a major, captains, lieutenants, ensigns, &c. all of whom are appointed by the commissioners of lieutenancy, who are, the lord mayor, aldermen, and their deputies, the recorder, chamberlain, and common serjeant for the time being, and of the principal citizens appointed by his majesty. courts of lieutenancy are required to be held every year; namely, on the Wednesdays in January and June; but the commissioners are also empowered to hold a court as often as may be requisite: their usual place of meeting is at Barber's hall. All
| the officers above the rank of lieutenants must be freemen; but the sons of freemen are eligible to the offices of lieutenant and ensign. When embodied for service, his majesty is authorized to put regiment under the command of such general officer as he may appoint, and to direct it to march to any place not exceeding miles from the city, or to the nearest encampment beyond that distance; but the other is to remain within the city or its liberties, to defend the same. By an express enactment it is also declared, |
The volunteer regiments had their origin during the late destructive war; and were chiefly formed in the year and , when the repeated threats of invasion from France, conjoined with other circumstances, rendered it expedient to increase the military force in every part of the kingdom. The primary associations consisted of inhabitant householders of each ward, acting under the general superintendence of local committees, and eventually liable to be united into body, and placed under the direction of the lord mayor and court of aldermen. In the subsequent arrangements made in , other persons, not citizens, nor inhabitants, but residing contiguous to the city, were permitted to associate; and the whole of the infantry was then distributed into regiments, having authority to elect their own officers, and generally speaking, defraying all the expences of arms, accoutrements, &c. out of their own subscriptions, aided by some inconsiderable funds collected in the different wards. The city volunteer cavalry, which never exceeded , was formed into regiment.
Whilst the alarm of invasion continued to exist, the volunteers exhibited a most commendable activity in assembling at their respective quarters, and they very quickly attained an advanced degree of discipline; but when the course of continental affairs had assumed another direction, the attendance of individuals was gradually lessened, and, with little exception, the city volunteers are at present in a dormant state, so far as regards military concerns. The returns of late, have not been regular; yet should the presumed necessity again arrive, there cannot be a doubt but that these regiments will attain as great a degree of effective strength as at any former period. In the returns laid before the house of commons in , after the general inspection of the volunteer force of Great Britain made in the preceding month, the numbers of each regiment are stated thus:
In addition to the above forces, there were several other volunteer regiments of infantry, raised for the purpose of protecting the immense property of different corporate bodies within the city; as well under circumstances of internal commotion, as in case of invasion.
 Percy Histories-London, vol. ii. p. 189.
 Hist. of the Reb. Vol. ii. p, 75.
 Ibid. p. 347.
 Ibid. p. 348.
 Percy Histories-London, ii. p. 199.
 Strype's Stow, ii. p. 572.
 Percy Histories-London, vol. ii. p. 202.
 This circumstance gave rise to Hogarth's admirable picture, The March to Finchley, for which he sought the royal patronage; but the king, who saw nothing in the picture but that his soldiers were ridiculed, expressed great displeasure; and the print was dedicated to the king of Prussia.
 Brayley's Hist. of London, ii. 178.