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Old Sarum Volunteers - set up 1798, disbanded 1802


Britain went to war with Revolutionary France in 1793. Weather thwarted a French invasion of Ireland in 1796. The French tried to invade Ireland again in 1798. An invasion of England seemed a real threat even before Napoleon’s coup to become First Consul of the Republic in 1799.

“Stratford under the Castle of Old Sarum Volunteers,

Thomas Ogden, Esq. to be Captain.

John Massey, Gent. to be Lieutenant.

Bennesss Scard, Gent. to be Ensign.”

The Hampshire Chronicle July 14th, 1798†

"We hear that Captain Ogden of the Old Sarum Volunteers, has been particularly attentive to the Poor of his Parish, during this inclement season. He has distributed cloth jackets and petticoats to thirty children, Flannel Petticoats to as many Women, and Waistcoats to the Old Men, and a Quantity of Potatoes to the necessitous of Stratford under the Castle. An example highly deserving imitation during the rigours of so severe a season.”

The Salisbury and Winchester Journal, February 11th1799†

“The Old Sarum Volunteers met in the evening under the Castle, where they fired three rounds at a target with great exactness, and afterwards three very excellent vollies; concluding with the ceremony of presenting arms, drums beating, and fifes playing “God save the King”. They then marched to Old Castle House, where they drank the King’s health with many other loyal toasts.”   


The Salisbury and Winchester Journal, June 10th 1799†

“The Old Sarum Volunteers were disbanded on Friday, with the most honourable testimonies of their excellent state of discipline, and also of their good conduct during the whole time they had been enrolled.”

The Salisbury and Winchester Journal, May 3rd 1802†

In February 1802 with the Treaty of Amiens, Britain was at peace with Napoleon and France. It didn’t last long. In 1803 Napoleon had an invasion fleet and Army poised at Calais and the risk of invasion didn’t really pass until the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Buttons and badges of the Old Sarum Volunteers were put on display in the Salisbury Museum in 1895. ††

Old sarum Volunteers resized.jpg

Kerry O’Connor

April 2022

Picture: Portrait de Napoléon 1er en petite tenue d'officier des grenadiers à pied. Isabey Jean-Baptiste. Inventory number RF 3847, Recto. © Musée du Louvre

† Newspaper excerpts; All four from The British Newspaper Archive (the ©British Library Board).


†† RHW Willoughby. 1960. The Salisbury and South Wilts Museum Founded 1860. The Wiltshire (Archaeological and Natural History) Magazine 57 page 313

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