Author Topic: THE MANCHESTER MARINES. 1793.  (Read 4469 times)

Offline wombat

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« on: July 04, 2012, 09:40:57 AM »
On the 1st February 1793, France declared war on England, and once again Manchester proved it’s loyalty in raising soldiers for Service of the State. A meeting  held on the 19th February by James Akers Esquire, presiding over local merchants and gentry of the town, unanimously passed several resolutions, two of which were as follows:
1.   An additional bounty to be offered for the recruiting of the Marine Service over and above the King’s Bounty.
2.   That an additional three guineas be given to each of the first five hundred men, entering the Marine Service at the “Bulls Head” Manchester.

A letter was sent from the committee to the Earl of Chatham, First Lord of the Admiralty, so that he could inform the King of the intentions of the committee, and a recruitment poster was also ordered, to be sent to various addresses for prominent display.  The poster was headed “Manchester Marine Corps” and “Six Guineas”, in red letters on a yellow background.

At the same time, very tempting advertisements for recruits began appearing, the first one reading: “Those loyal and spirited young men who, desirous to serve their King and country by enlisting into the Manchester Marine corps, are desired to observe that the Marine Service is the most eligible, comfortable, and profitable that a young man can enter into.  He receives the same pay as the rest of His Majesty’s forces in the foot service, and at the same time is at no expense of any kind, provisions being furnished while on ship-board at Government expense, besides the very great prospect of sharing prize money, which may enable him to live in comfort and independence for the remainder of his life”.  By the end of June 815 men had been raised.

A Drummer and fifer could be found on Market day’s in Stockport attracting recruits, and some men came from Liverpool, Chester, Holywell and Wrexham, the only conditions being that recruits had to enlist at the “Bulls Head” Manchester.

The last recruitment advertisement to appear encouraged young men to be speedy in their application, as the intended compliment of one thousand men was almost complete, and reminding them that each recruit would receive double bounty and a new suit of clothes.

The first Captain of the Manchester Marines was John Lees of Church Lane, who was also a local man coming from Oldham, so it’s not surprising that the colours were presented to him by his daughter, during a special service held in Oldham Church. On receipt of the Manchester Marines Colours John Lees is recorded as giving the following speech:
“We recieven these flags wi’ gratitude. Wén defend ém wi’ fortitude, an’ if th’French shooten th’rags away we’n bring th’pows back”.

There is no record of the colours ever seeing action, as the Manchester Marines were all embarked in various Men-of-War. Recruits wore cockades of “red, blue and white” and in March Mr Roger Farrand presented the corps with Cap Ribbands, of blue Oxford silk, bearing the legend. “The Noble, Free and Spirited Manchester Corps of Marines” in gold lettering. Two of which are still known to exist today.

It was never clear if the Manchester Marines joined the Regular Marine Corps, or retained their own individuality, but they were marched down to Chatham, to join the 1st Marine Division, where they were drafted for service afloat, and in less than a month, some of the Manchester Marines were in action off New York, which took place on the 31st July between L’Embuscade and H.M.S. Boston.  Both ships took heavy casualties before withdrawing, and the Manchester Marines on board HMS Boston were reported to have conducted themselves with courage and discipline.  Lieutenant James Edward Butler, officer in Command, and Captain Courtney RN who was in Command of HMS Boston, were both killed by the same canon shot, while standing side by side on the quarter-deck singing “God Save The King”  to encourage the crew.

About this same time, the “Manchester Mercury” reported the capture of a treasure ship, where the crew, which included Manchester Marines, each received £200 as their share of the Prize Money.

Not counting Boy Drummers, 1,027 men were recruited for Service, and the two flags that were presented by Miss Lees to her father in the Oldham Church Service were placed in the Collegiate Church, under the Colours of the 72nd Regiment (Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders), - now the 1st Bat. Seaforth Highlanders; sadly there is no trace of the flags today; they have just disappeared over time.

There is an old Public House in the Arndale Centre, Manchester, called “The Shambles”, which was still in existence in 1985, and that had a plaque on the outside wall to commemorate recruitment of men in the Manchester Marines, but I have only found mention of “The Bulls Head” in my reference books, so I am not sure if this is one and the same Public House that had a name change many years ago, or if it was just another recruitment point.  I seem to think that “The Bulls Head” was on Deansgate, so perhaps someone who still lives in the area may be able to shed some light on this.

There was a great enthusiasm in Manchester in connection with the local Marine Corps, and I have attached a copy of a very popular ballad at that time.

Information from: “Britain’s Sea Soldiers” By Colonel Field.
WANTED: Any information or photographs of members of the Oldham Corps, SJAB Boer War.