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The Lancashire Militia, based in Lancashire, England, was one of a number of county-based irregular military units designed to provide, during times of international tension, homeland security, relief of regular troops from routine garrison duties, and a source of trained officers and men for the regular Army.


The Lancashire Militia was formed when King William III ordered the Earl of Derby, then the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, to assemble and train the Militia as required under Charles II’s Act of 1662. After training on Fulwood Moor near Preston, the Militia embarked in 1690 for Ireland, where they fought at the Battle of the Boyne and the sieges of Carrickfergus and Athlone.

The Militia was again called upon, this time under the command of Sir Henry Houghton, to help suppress the Jacobite rising of 1715. They took part in the Battle of Preston on 12 November where they suffered heavy losses (11 officers and 105 men) attacking the rebel barricades in Church Street. They were again 'embodied' (called up) during the Jacobite rising of 1745 when the Young Pretender marched through Lancashire.

During the Seven Years' War (1754–63), when the Regular Army was fighting in Europe and there was a risk of French invasion, the Militia were reorganised under the Militia Act of 1757. From this date, proper uniforms and better weapons were provided, and the force was embodied from time to time for training sessions. Better records were kept and the men were selected by ballot to serve for longer periods. The existing Lancashire Militia was disembodied (broken up) in January 1746 and then re-raised in 1759, becoming the Royal Regiment of Lancashire Militia in 1761.

War with Revolutionary France in 1793 brought about an increase in the national strength of the Militia to 105,000 men. The Lancashire Militia was re-organised into three regiments, which provided a supply of trained officers and men for the Regular Army throughout the subsequent Napoleonic Wars of 1803–15. After the war the regiments were disembodied, although the 3rd Regiment, which had volunteered to stay on in Ireland, was renamed the Royal Lancashire Militia (The Duke of Lancaster’s Own) in 1831.

The Crimean War (1853–56) required the regiments to be brought up to strength and new regiments to be raised. In 1833 the 4th Royal Lancashire Militia (The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Light Infantry) was raised at Warrington and the 5th Royal Lancashire Militia at Burnley. In June 1855 the Preston-based 3rd Regiment sailed to Gibraltar where they carried out garrison duties for 12 months whilst the 4th Regiment served at Berwick, Dublin and Newry until May 1856. The same year two further regiments, the 6th and 7th, were raised.

Successor units

In 1881, reorganisation of the Army as part of the Childers Reforms meant that militia regiments generally became the third battalions in local line regiments. The 1st Regiment became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of The King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and the 2nd Regiment the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of The King's (Liverpool Regiment). The 3rd Regiment became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, the 4th Regiment became the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment and the 5th the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. The 6th Regiment became the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and the 7th Regiment the 3rd Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers.

At the outbreak of the Boer War the 3rd Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment sailed to Malta and later to South Africa, the 3rd Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment sailed directly to the Cape and the 3rd Battalion East Lancashires transferred to Dublin.

After the Haldane Reforms of 1907 the Militia was wound up and its men transferred to the new 'Special Reserve'. All three Special Reserve battalions were active on home soil during World War I, as well as providing a source of recruits for the regiments fighting in France. After the war they spent a short time in Ireland before being disembodied. The Special Reserve was not activated in World War II and was formally dissolved in 1953.

Commanding officers


  • William ffarington, 1642.

Militia reformed, 1689

  • William Stanley, 9th Earl of Derby, 1689.
  • Sir Henry Hoghton, Bt, 1 June 1715.
  • Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby, 25 October 1745.
  • James Smith-Stanley, Lord Strange, 15 July 1760.
  • Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, 14 February 1772.
  • Thomas Stanley, 28 October 1783.
  • Peter Patten-Bold, 18 January 1817.
  • John Plumbe-Tempest, 4 November 1819.
  • John Talbot Clifton, 8 October 1852.
  • William Assheton Cross, 8 December 1870.
  • Robert Whitle, 31 May 1872.
  • Hon. Frederick Arthur Stanley, 23 June 23, 1874. A.D.C. to the Queen.
  • Thomas Dawson Sheppard, 26 September 1877, commanding 2nd Battalion.
  • George Blucher Heneage Marton, 20 March 1886, Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant, commanding 3rd Battalion.
  • Joseph Lawson Whalley, 26 November 1887, commanding 4th Battalion



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