Tuesday, 22 July 2014

3. A Boroughbridge boyhood in the 1850s: The Yorkshire Volunteers

Some of the young men belonged to the Territorial Army of the day, the Yorkshire Volunteers.  John’s father had been a Volunteer himself in his youth.  This letter survives, written by Thomas, then aged twenty nine, from Bradford.  The dry summer had closed mills across Yorkshire and the Volunteers had been sent to Bradford where the introduction of steam power to John Garnett Horsfall’s worsted mill had triggered unrest.  Thomas and Mary had been married eighteen months and Mary was heavily pregnant with her first child, Jane:
Bradford 3 May 1826
My Dear Mary,
I cannot at present say when I shall be able to be at home.  Lord Grantham arrived here last night, and has given orders for the whole Regiment to assemble here, I fancy to relieve those who have been on duty since Saturday.  It will please you to hear that we shall not go to York or elsewhere on permanent duty this year as our attendance here will make up for that, which makes me think that Lord Grantham will keep us the number of days we should have been at York, respecting the particulars of our marches &c I will give you by word of mouth.
Bradford is very still, and not a disorderly person to be seen in the streets, we have not had occasion to be on horseback since we arrived and if we stay some time longer it will be the case, there has not been the least disturbance but on Thursday night last, and that only the windows of Mr Horsfalls mill broken, the Inhabitants think nothing of it.
You cannot now find fault with me for not writing.  I wish I had something worth writing to you about, however I know this that a letter softens the pain of absence.
You will have seen Mr Stead before you receive this he will tell you the news and the battles we have fought.  I long to see you, if Stead returns I should like to hear from you, by him, I am now going to receive orders for our Troop, and by the time they are finished the post will have left which obliges me to conclude with best love to my dearest Mary, and all relations at Bbridge,
believe me to remain as before your loving Husbd T Stubbs

 In 1833 Thomas tendered his resignation.  A copy of his letter survives:
21st Decr 1833
To the Rt Honble Earl de Grey, Col of the Yorkshire Hussars
My Lord as I have been a member in the Volunteer Rgt now called the Yorkshire Hussars for 20 years, I hope your Lordship will accept this as my resignation.  I can assure your Lordship that I will endeavour as much as lays in my power to assist in getting recruits and one Horse I will find to mount a Soldier on permanent duty.
I remain
My Lord,
Your obdt Humble Servt
Thos Stubbs

He was thirty-seven years old and was now a father of two with another baby on the way.  He was probably no longer the junior partner in the business – his father was seventy-two and was to die five years later.  Perhaps there was no longer enough time to spare for the Volunteers.

John himself was never a member, unlike Henry Capes:
Friday September 28th 1860
Went to York by Rail   Annie Hood was going to Leamington  We travelled together to York.   I went to Miss Sutcliffes     Had lunch there        Aunt Redmayne & Mary  Aunt Bell   Mrs Stackhouse Miss Cragg & I took a Cab & saw a review by Genl Cathcart of the Yorkshire Volunteeers on Knavesmire & a very pretty sight it was         Hy Redmayne & Uncle [Redmayne?] & Capes were reviewed.         Mary Redmayne & I walked from the review to Miss Sutcliffes     Hy Redmayne & Mary set me to the train to come home
Annie Bower Hood, aged eighteen, ran a ladies’ boarding school in Boroughbridge with her mother.  The Redmayne family had come to York from Settle to see the Review.  Mrs Stackhouse was Mary Preston, not long married to John’s friend Thomas Stackhouse of Stainforth.

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