With the renewal of the war with France in May 1803, Parliament passed the Army of
Reserve Acts for England & Wales in the July of that year. The Acts enabled an additional
military force to be raised for the “Defence & Security of the United Kingdom and
the more vigorous Prosecution of the War”. The Army of Reserve would provide the
men necessary to defend Britain from the invasion force Napoleon had began to gather
in the Pays de Calais of northern France. The Acts required the recruitment of tens
of thousands of men into either a new Army of Reserve battalion or the men could
elect to directly join a number of under-strength British Army regiments. Each of
these regiments was given an area of England to recruit within; Worcestershire was
included in the area given to the 39th (East Middlesex) Regiment of Foot.
During the summer and autumn of 1803 regimental records show the 1st and 2nd battalions
of the 39th regiment stationed somewhere in the city of Worcester; the camp of over
3,000 men must have been quite a sight and one can imagine caused quite a stir in
local society. Each county was given a quota of recruits, for Worcestershire it was
588 men. On the 26th September 1803 in the parish of Claines my Great-Great-Great
Grandfather, William Trott, was one of 10 men recruited into the 2nd battalion of
the 39th Regiment. Worcester itself provided some 150 further men.
Recruitment was carried out on a voluntary basis, with appropriate financial incentives.
If the full compliment of volunteers could not be raised a public ballot of parishioners
occurred. Only parishioners were included if a ballot was required. The rules for
the ballots were very particular and included the opportunity for any person balloted
to find a “substitute” to replace them; these men could potentially come from another
parish. The rules allowed for each balloted man to receive a bounty of 2 guineas
when they joined their regiment; each volunteer or substitute received 1 guinea.
There were also payments from the regiment they joined which amounted to over £7
in my Great-Great-Great Grandfathers case. In the Claines ballot for the 39th Regiment,
William and the other 9 men recruited, for which records exist, were all “substitutes”.
Who were they and what happened to them ?
The following men are named in War Office and Tax Records (see references for source)
as being recruited as substitutes, in the village of Claines, into the :
39th (East Middlesex) Regiment
James Siner (Talbot)
9th Battalion of The Army of Reserve
It is quite possible these men then went on to serve in active Regiments of the Line.
In October 1803 the 39th Regiment were ordered to leave the city of Worcester and
march south to Sussex. Once in Sussex the regiment was stationed in Bexhill and Battle
and the recruits were divided between the two battalions. After guarding the South
Coast for 2 years those in the 2nd Battalion were sent to Peninsular and subsequently
fought at the battle of in Spain. Those in the 1st Battalion were sent to the Mediterranean
in 1805 and then to the Peninsular and those that survived fought at the battles
of Vitoria, The Pyrenees, Nivelle, The Nive and Toulouse.
What I am looking for and what I can offer to anyone interested.
For the last year I have been tracing William Trott’s life in the 39th Regiment.
I am interested in any information relating to his time in the parish of Claines;
he lived in later life in Birmingham and his presence in the parish has come as a
surprise. I am also working with the 39th regimental museum to transcribe all the
records held by The National Archive for the regiment for the period 1803 to 1816.
From these transcriptions I am then documenting in detail the lives of the men and
officers of the regiment during the Napoleonic Wars. The regiment’s presence in Worcester
and surrounding area at this key moment in their history is therefore of great interest.
Any contemporary records of the regiment’s presence or the location of this material,
in particular local newspapers and early Nineteenth century local histories, would
be of great interest. It would be wonderful to demonstrate that the 39th used The
Mug House to carry out the ballot for the parish and locate where the Regiment was
stationed in Worcester.
Finally, if you are interested in this article, any of the named men or suspect that
you have someone who entered the army in this period I would be more than happy to
provide more information on how to trace them.