Invading Wensleydale

Reading about England in the early 19th century it’s incredible to see the level of preparedness for what they believed to be an imminent invasion by the French. Some accounts feel like they were lifted out of ‘Dad’s Army’ but it was all deadly serious. This is from the Lancaster Gazette of April 1805:

@On the night of Friday the 15th ult. the inhabitants of Wensleydale were gretly alarmed by the burnng of heath on Hamilton, which was mistaken for the beacon on the top of Roseberry; the alarm was immediately given to Colonel Straubenzee of he Wensleydale Volunteers, who ordered the drums to beat to arms and such was their alertness and activity that they were all under arms by 4 o’clock in the morning. The intelligence was communicated to Timothy Hutton, Esq (the commander of he Masham volunteers in the absence of William Danby, esq) before 9 o’clock, who instantly dispatched his servant to Masham, when men were sent to all the villages with orders for all carts and waggons to be got in readiness, and although some of the men were 5 or 6 miles distant they all assembled in the market-place by 2 o’clock the waggons and cars loaded with baggage, blankets &c. and marched immediately in excellent spirits on their way to Malton, according to their orders. They arrived at Thirsk that evening, when, finding the cause of the alarm, they remained there that night, and returned to Masham the next morning, when they were met by the greatest part of the inhabitants to welcome their return. A few days later, they received a letter from general Newgill, complimenting them upon the great activity and intrepidity they shewed on the occasion; a certain proof that should the enemy attempt to invade our shore, the Wensleydale and Masham volunteers will not be the last i coming forward to give the a warm reception. “

2 thoughts on “Invading Wensleydale

  1. I love the “Wensleydale volunteers”, it does sound so Dad’s Army. This period was amazing – remember the women of Fishguard who reputedly marched around in national dress pretending to be soldiers, and frightened away the French.


    • I think the volunteers were a bit more able bodied than Dad’s army, and back then most men went hunting or at least knew which end of a gun to point at the enemy. As for the Fishguard women -I think they’d frighten me.


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