Mudford Troop of Yeomanry cavalry

Mudford Troop of Yeomanry cavalry

Raised to defend Yeovil from Rioters


During the late 1820s there was ever-increasing discontent among the working-class population across the country, as demands for social, economic and political reform were being put down by reactionary governments and especially, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a hostile House of Lords. This was chiefly due to the electoral system which was corrupt and unrepresentative. At this time Members of Parliament tended to be from Britain's richest families and represented towns and boroughs where they had major control. In 1830 most of the British population was still excluded from voting, so they had no influence over the law-making process that affected their lives and consequently the poor had to endure low pay combined with harsh working conditions. Voting took place publicly so coercion became rife and, of course, the working-class people often worked for and/or lived in property owned by their MP.

In 1825 William Huskisson, President of the Board of Trade, removed all restrictions on imported gloves and exposed Yeovil glove manufacturers to unlimited competition from France. Since glove making employed something like 80% of Yeovilians, a widespread depression hit the town.  The resulting depression underlies the political unrest of the time and, perhaps, the activity of a nascent radical Yeovil Political Union. This combination of political and economic factors would stimulate and encourage popular collective action in Yeovil.

The revolutions taking place in Europe and the growth of radical ideas in England caused such anxiety in Yeovil, as elsewhere throughout the country, that in November 1830 two hundred and fifty Special Constables were sworn in at Yeovil.

In December 1830, the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry was formed - also as a precautionary measure. Why it was called the Mudford Troop is something of a mystery since only three of its members hailed from that village, while Yeovil supplied seventeen members of the force.

The Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry was established with a muster of some seventy troopers commanded by Captain George Harbin of Newton Surmaville. Second in command was Lieutenant George T Williams. Rev James Halls was Chaplain to the Troop and William Shorland was the Troop's Surgeon.

John Slade, whose house was attacked in the Yeovil Reform Riot of 21 October 1831, was commissioned Cornet of the Troop (Cornet was originally the lowest grade of commissioned officer in a British cavalry troop, the modern equivalent being a second lieutenant. The Cornet was the bearer of the Troop's flag, or Cornet).


The Mudford Troop of Yeomanry, under the command of Captain George Harbin, assembled on the morning of Saturday, 22 October 1831. Bearing in mind  the distances between the homes of the Mudford Troop's members (see map below) I hypothesise that (and, of course, other than logic, I have nothing to back this up), the fact that the Mudford Troop was called out by the Yeovil magistrates during the early hours of Saturday morning 22 October and they were patrolling the streets of Yeovil later that same day, indicates to me that trouble had been expected and the troop had already been mustered in anticipation of disorder. There could be no other way of mustering the troop from their widespread homes in such a short timescale.

The Mudford Troop were later joined by the Martock Troop of Yeomanry under the command of Captain Tatchell. During Saturday the Yeomanry patrolled the streets and brought a small measure of calm to the town.

Towards evening, the rioters were threatening to sack the town and pelted the Yeomanry with stones and other missiles. The Yeomanry arrested two of the mob and took them to the Mermaid Inn where the Magistrates were gathered. The Mermaid Inn was attacked, windows broken, and the rioters attempted to rescue those that had been arrested. It was reported by the Western Flying Post that the Mudford Troop "left the town under the idea that their presence might be the means of bringing together a crowd."

The crowd finally dispersed, although the Yeomanry had to provide constant patrols through the night to keep the streets clear and maintain order. On the Sunday morning, a detachment of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, a troop of regular cavalry normally stationed in Taunton, arrived from Sherborne, where they had been keeping the peace, and order was finally restored in Yeovil.

To show their appreciation of the good conduct of the troops, the townspeople of Yeovil subscribed £225 (roughly £18,000 at today's value) and presented every member of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry with an inscribed 'Riot Jug' (see photograph and description below). Since the Mudford Troop "left the town" during the Saturday night riot, leaving the Martock Troop to quell the rioters, it seems a little unfair that the officers and men of the Martock Troop were not similarly rewarded.

George Harbin was Captain Commandant of the unit from its enrolment in December 1830 until it was disbanded on 25 March 1838.


Muster Roll of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry cavalry


Mudford Independent Corps of Yeomanry Cavalry receiving Riot Jugs
Muster Roll return for 5 April 1832 to 5 April 1833
  Parish Name Age Occupation Date enrolled Jug Location  
  Yeovil George Harbin, Captain 31 Gentleman 3 Feb 1831  
  Limington George T Williams, Lieut 34 Barrister 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil John Slade, Cornet 32 Solicitor 3 Feb 1831 Wareham  
  Marston Magna Rev James Halls Vicar 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil William Shorland, Surgeon 30 Surgeon 3 Feb 1831  
  Rimpton Edward Genge, Q'master 47 3 Feb 1831 Exists - Note 1  
  Yeovil John Rooking 3 Feb 1831  
  Marston Magna Samuel Guppy, Sergeant 3 Feb 1831  
  Limington William Longman, Sergeant 3 Feb 1831  
  Marston Magna Henry Stacey, Corporal 35 3 Feb 1831 Exists - Note 2  
  Yeovilton John Farnwell, Corporal 11 Feb 1831  
  Preston Plucknett William Trask, Corporal 35 Farmer 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil George R Lov (?) 11 Feb 1831  
  Draycott Joseph Barnett 3 Feb 1831 Mudford  
  Babcary William Bartlett 45 Independent 3 Feb 1831  
  Rimpton James Bewsey 35 Farmer 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil Henry Bracker 20 Butcher 11 Feb 1831  
  Podimore Henry Brooks 3 Feb 1831 Exists - Note 3  
  Yeovil John Brook 24 Farmer 10 Nov 1831  
  Yeovil Joseph Brook 32 Farmer 11 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil John Cary 3 Feb 1831  
  Marston Magna John Caines 3 Feb 1831 Exists - Note 4  
  West Camel John Gistock Caines 3 Feb 1831  
  Charlton John Coles 20 Farmer 23 Nov 1831  
  Sparkford Job Cox 30 Farmer 11 Feb 1831 Exists - Note 5  
  Sandford Orcas William Down 11 Feb 1831  
  Compton Pauncefoot William Dodd 17 Nov 1831  
  Preston Plucknett Samuel Dunn 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil George Edwards 35 Painter 16 May 1831 CHAC  
  Corton Denham John French 20 Farmer 3 Feb 1831 Sold at Bath  
  Mudford Samuel French 3 Feb 1831 Exists  
  Chilton Cantello George Genge 3 Feb 1831    
  Limington Henry Genge 3 Feb 1831 Rimpton  
  Limington John Genge 12 Feb 1831  
  Northover Charles Harris 30 Civil Engineer 3 Feb 1831  
  Mudford George Hayward 3 Feb 1831  
  Preston Plucknett John Noake Highmore 22 Wool Stapler 17 Nov 1831  
  Queen Camel William M Ley 3 Feb 1831  
  Odcombe Isaac Kiddle 20 Farmer 11 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil John Longman 21 Farmer 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil Thomas Lukins 40 Inn Keeper 3 Feb 1831  
  Chilton Cantello William Marden 41 Baker 3 Feb 1831  
  Trent Samuel Marsh 26 Farmer 3 Feb 1831  
  Trent Henry F Masters 3 Feb 1831  
  Sparkford John Masters 11 Feb 1831 CHAC  
  West Camel George Midlane 3 Feb 1831  
  West Camel John Midlane 3 Feb 1831 CHAC  
  Yeovil Francis Morrish 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovilton Charles Old 45 Flax Spinner 11 Feb 1831 N Yorks  
  Ilchester Robert Payne 54 Butcher 3 Feb 1831  
  Mudford John Palmer 16 Farmer 3 Feb 1831  
  Compton Pauncefoot Mathew Paul 38 Farmer 17 Nov 1831  
  Yeovil Thomas Plowman 59 Saddler 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil Robert Raymond 19 Saddler 3 Feb 1831 CHAC  
  Limington James Sealy 3 Feb 1831 Exists  
  West Camel William Sealy 3 Feb 1831  
  Barwick Edward Symes 35 Farmer 11 Feb 1831  
  Sparkford Henry Symes 3 Feb 1831  
  Marston Magna James Taylor 40 Farmer 3 Feb 1831 Chippenham  
  Yeovilton James Trent 42 Farmer 3 Feb 1831  
  Yeovilton Samuel Trent 38 3 Feb 1831 Exists - Note 6  
  Yeovil William Tucker 28 Leather Dresser 3 Feb 1831 Wareham  
  Queen Camel John Vincent 37 Ag Lab 3 Feb 1831 Queen Camel  
  Marston Magna Edward Willis 14 Jun 1832  
  Odcombe Samuel Young 17 21 Feb 1831  
  Yeovil Richard May 25 Surveyor 23 May 1832  
  Queen Camel Charles Ley 3 Feb 1831  
  Non Effectives  
  West Lydford Antony Goldney 20 Sep 183?  
  Sparkford Francis Symes 23 Oct 183?  
  Limington Robert Sealy 45 Yeoman 25 Mar 183?  
  Limington James Mills 25 10 Aug 183?  
  Retired since Last Roll Date Retired  
  Charlton Mackrell Joseph Hallett 26 Nov 1832  
  Marston Magna James Jolliff 55 Independent 20 Oct 1832  
  Tintinhull Thomas Look 45 Farmer 30 May 1832  
  Corton Denham Thomas Barrett 20   28 Sep 1832    

I have managed to trace details of 42 members of the troop. Their ages ranged from 16 to 59, with the average age being 33. I have also managed to trace the trades or professions of 37 of these. Of these 37 men, 18 (50%) were farmers which at first I found surprising, before I realised that the farming community were the most likely people to own horses - a prerequisite if you're going to join volunteer cavalry.

Note 1 - Sold at auction, 19 September 2020 for £350
Note 2 - Broken and glued. This is currently (2022) in a shop in Texas, USA
Note 3 - Sold at UK auction, March 2022 for £95
Note 5 - Auctioned 6 October 2016. Estimate £200 to £300. Unsold
Note 6 - Sold at UK auction, 13 November 2014
Note 7 - Auctioned in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA on 30 September 2021. Exceeded $800




This map shows, with blue dots, the locations of the homes of members of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry. The red dot is Newton Surmaville, the home of George Harbin who commanded the troop.




The announcement of the formation of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry, raised by John Goodford of Chilton Cantelo and under the command of George Harbin of Newton Surmaville in the 8 January 1831 edition of the Berkshire Chronicle.


The notice of the Commissions of officers of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry from the 26 February 1831 edition of the Sun (London).


A report from the 28 May 1832 edition of the Bristol Mirror describing the presentation of a silver-mounted to the Mudford Troop, and especially George Ryall Corry who volunteered to be the troop's trumpeter.



In 1831, troopers of the Mudford Troop were dressed as heavy dragoons with black japanned Romanesque helmet with brass fittings and a black crest. The coatee was scarlet with single row of brass buttons down the front. The collar and pointed cuffs were blue and the tunic was piped in blue. Officers wore a gilt loop with button on the collars, but whether other ranks wore loops is unknown. Trousers were dark blue with scarlet stripe. The Mudford Troop was disbanded in 1838.


This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'.

A Yeomanry Cavalry helmet of steel and brass construction with a black plume and a Royal Coat of Arms on a sunburst plate. Worn by the Mudford Independent Yeomanry Cavalry. This was auctioned in 2007.


A Sergeant's tunic of the Mudford Yeomanry Cavalry, complete with brass epaulettes and gloves of c1830. The troop was raised by Capt. Harbin of Newton Surmaville. This tunic was auctioned in 2007. 

At left is a photograph of the style of button used on the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry's tunic as above but from the example held at the Community Heritage Access Centre. There were nine buttons of this design on the tunic with a further two at the bottom - these would have been covered with a sash and were plain so that the sash material didn't snag.

The top half of the button contains 'MUDFORD' in a decorative banner and a leafy swag to the bottom half. The initials 'YC' in the centre stand for 'Yeomanry Cavalry'. 


An officer's waistcoat of the Mudford Yeomanry Cavalry, complete with brass buttons. This was worn without a sash (and therefore didn't have plain bottom buttons as the red jacket above). This waistcoat was auctioned in 2007.


Courtesy of Stephen Bartlett

Captain George Harbin's leather campaign knapsack. The campaign knapsack carried a knife, fork and spoon, a cup and tin plate, shaving kit, hoof pick and horse brush. The blanket was rolled up and placed on top with leather straps. Only the Captain had his name on his knapsack (see below), the troopers' knapsacks were simply numbered 1 to 65.


Courtesy of Stephen Bartlett

This is the second brass nameplate on Captain George Harbin's campaign knapsack. The nameplate is engraved 'Captn Harbin'.


Courtesy of Stephen Bartlett

This is the second brass nameplate on Captain George Harbin's campaign knapsack. The nameplate is engraved 'Mudford Troop'.



The Riot Jugs


Every member of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry was presented with a commemorative salt-glazed stoneware 'Riot Jug' made by Doulton & Watts at their Lambeth works. The jugs were 9¾" (247mm) high and decorated in relief with the Royal Arms on one side, a sheaf of corn, farming implements, vine and grape decoration on the other side and with a silver presentation plaque on the face opposite the handle.

The first three photographs below are of an almost unique undecorated 'proof' jug with a space for the silver plaque on the front. This 'proof' jug was auctioned in 2018.


The farming implements surrounded by a vine with grapes.


The 'front' of the jug. The area where the silver presentation plaque will be affixed has been cross-hatched to ensure a good adhesion for the plaque.



With the jug's pouring lip facing towards you, this is the decoration on the left side. It is the royal coat of arms, surmounted by a Yeomanry Cavalry trooper's helmet (see above) flanked by a pair of cornets or pennants.


With the jug's pouring lip facing towards you, this is the decoration on the right side. Around the central sheaf of wheat are (from bottom left and proceeding clockwise) farming implements - a wheelbarrow, a scythe, a rake, a pitchfork, a spade, a bow-saw (?), a basket (of fruit ?) a barrel and a sickle.



This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'.

This is a decorated salt glaze stoneware Yeovil 'Riot Jug' as presented. It is 9¾" (247mm) high and decorated in relief and with silver presentation plaque inscribed, in this instance, "Presented by the Inhabitants of Yeovil and its vicinity in testimony of their approval of the conduct of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry during the riots in that town in 1831. To Mr J A S Sealy". This particular jug was put up for auction in April 2011 but was unsold.


Courtesy of South Somerset Heritage Collection

The five 'Riot Jugs' held in the Community Heritage Access Centre, Yeovil. These are the jugs presented to John Midlane, George Edwards, John Masters, Robert Raymond and Samuel Young - all members of the Mudford Troop. It would appear that the Martock troop were not presented with jugs.

Although unmarked, it is known that the 'Riot Jugs' were made by Doulton & Watts at their Lambeth works.


Courtesy of South Somerset Heritage Collection

A typical silver presentation plaque from a riot jug. All inscriptions are identical apart from the name of the recipient. For clarity, the inscription reads "PRESENTED BY THE Inhabitants of Yeovil & its vicinity in testimony of their approval of the conduct of the MUDFORD TROOP OF YEOMANTY CAVALRY during the Riots in that Town in 1831" followed by the name of the recipient, in this case "TO Mr Robt RAYMOND".

At the time of the riot, Robert Raymond (1812-1880) was 19-years-old and was the son of Edward Raymond (1775-1856) and Martha née Feaver (1781-1858) of Kingston. Robert would later become a saddler.



A report from the 29 October 1835 edition of the Dorset County Chronicle describing a field day held by the Mudford Troop featuring the first appearance of the troop's brass band.


A report of a review of the Mudford Troop from the 19 June 1837 edition of the Western Flying Post.


A report in the 19 March 1838 edition of the Western Flying Post, announcing the disbanding of several troops of Yeomanry Cavalry, including both the Mudford and Martock troops.


The report from the 2 April 1838 edition of the Western Flying Post in which Captain Harbin announced to the Mudford Troop of the decision to disband it.


A report from the 27 September 1838 edition of the Dorset County Chronicle and Somerset Gazette, on the dinner held following the disbanding of the Mudford Yeomanry. I've omitted all the speeches, etc.


The inscription on the plate presented to George Harbin from the 20 September 1838 edition of the Dorset County Chronicle.


A report from the 27 September 1838 edition of the Dorset County Chronicle and Somerset Gazette, decrying the disbanding of the Mudford Yeomanry.