The Wensleydale Volunteers

The Loyal Dales Volunteers colours(standard) now in Wensley church








During the great war at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Askrigg and the district furnished a company of 1,500 volunteers for the defence of the country against invasion. In 1805 they were the first of six regiments of the Yorkshire North Riding Militia.

In the perilous times of ” Old Boney,” 1803 the Wensleydale Volunteers proved themselves to be made of the right stuff; for on the firing of Penhill Beacon by night, they turned out to a man, under the command of their Captain, Miles Robinson Parke Esq, and marching swiftly to Thirsk, the appointed rendezvous, they there learned to their mortification that they could not have the pleasure of giving the French Invaders a licking; the alarm having been falsely raised by the beacon-man on Roseberry Topping.

The Volunteers received, as they deserved, the cordial thanks of the Government for the alacrity with which they answered to the call of patriotism. The Yoredale Lads of the present day are no degenerate sons of their gallant sires. They delight in filling up their leisure time with manly out-of-door exercises, and in none do they more excel than in those of the Volunteer Rifle Corps.

It would be ” a caution” to our trustworthy ally across the channel, whose policy has made Englishmen – “a nation of soldiers,” to see how the stalwart men of Wensleydale tread the heather, and to hear how Captain Other’s corps makes the target ring at 500 or 1,000 yards, as needs maybe.
The Loyal Dales Volunteers disbanded in 1815.

Originally there was another licenced inn in Thoralby called The Loyal Dales Volunteers. It had an inscription over the door. J. and R.W. 1811.
1823 A Mr. John Heseltine is listed as victualler and his job specification is Volunteer.

1840 Whites directory

  • Volunteer Inn Vic. James Thwaite

1851 census

  • Volunteer Inn
  • WALLER Dorothy/Head/W/27/Innkeeper/Yks/Thoralby
  • WALLER Richard/son/3/Yks/Thoralby
  • WALLER James/son/1/Yks/Thoralby

In 1864 there was a poster in Thoralby, a “public” portrait of a “Dales Volunteer” some sixty years old. Tight little red coat, tight stiff stock, tight white nether integuments, old Brown Bess, and a volunteer as stiff as if he had accidentally swallowed the old girl’s ramrod.

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The Dales