The Queen's Body Guard
of the Yeomen of the Guar

Detailed History 1485-1885
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Detailed History 1485-1885

of the Guard
Their History from 1485-1885

Thomas Preston
edited by
Yeoman William D Norton
Print with page numbering and images

1485 – 1509  Henry VII

Edward VI

Present Corp, The

1509 – 1547  Henry VIII

Elizabeth I

Present Guard, The   (1885)

1547 – 1553  Edward VI

Extra Precautions

Privileges Charles II

1553 – 1558  Mary I

Fee Fund, The

Privileges  William III and Mary II

1558 – 1603  Elizabeth I

Fire at St James’ Palace, The

Prize Shooting

1603 – 1625  James I

Formation of the Guard

Purchase of Appointments Abolished

1625 – 1649  Charles I

Funeral of George IV

Quarrels Amongst the King’s Servants

1649 – 1685  Charles II

George I

Queen’s Yeomen, The

1685 – 1688  James II

George II

Roger Monk

1689 – 1702  William III and Mary II

George III

Royal Funerals

1702 – 1714  Anne

George IV

Searching for Guy Faux

1714 – 1727  George I

Guard in France, The

Sir Christopher Hatton

1727 – 1760  George II

Guard on Active Service, The

Standard Height, The   William IV

1760 – 1820  George III

Henry VII

Standard Height, The  Victoria

1820 – 1830  George IV

Henry VIII

State Entertainment

1830 – 1837  William IV

 Inspection Parades

State Visit to York

1837 – 1901 Victoria


Stock Purse, The

Admittance Booke of Lincolnes Inne,

James I

Ter-Centenary, The

All Night

James II

Uniform, New  George III


King’s Majestie, The

Uniform, The  Charles II

Appointment of Officers


Uniform, The – Henry VII

Arquebus, The (Harquebus)

Making the King’s Bed

Uniform, The Henry VIII

Attempted Assassination

Marriage of the Prince of Wales

Uniforms, New  Victoria

Attempted Assassination, Another

Mary I


Beefeater’s Boy, The


Victoria Cross, The

Beefeaters, The

Mourning Uniform

William III and Mary II

Benevolent Fund, The

Non-Commissioned Officers

William IV

Brave Yeoman, A

Notable Annual Inspections

Worthy Yeomen

Certificate of Appointment  - 1885

Officers, The Captain

Yeomen Bed Goers, The

Charles I

Officers, The Clerk of the Cheque

Yeomen Boxer, A

Charles II

Officers, The Ensign

Yeomen in the City, The

Charles II at Lincoln’s Inn

Officers, The Exons

 Yeomen, Definition of

Coronation, The  Victoria

Officers, The Lieutenant


Death of a King  -  George III




There are very few institutions in this country which can boast of a history of four centuries, but the Yeomen of the Guard can now do so, for this famous Body Guard of the Sovereign was formed by Henry VII, and made its first appearance in public at His Majesty’s coronation on the 30 October 1485. Since that remote time there has been no royal pageant or ceremonial in which the Yeomen of the Guard have not taken a more or less conspicuous part. Their portly appearance, picturesque costume and ancient weapons, have made them famous, but it is more than a century since any attempt was made to write a history of the Corps. Then Samuel Pegge, who was sometime a Groom of the Royal Chamber, wrote an extremely interesting paper on the subject for the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was a Fellow. Taking Pegge’s paper as a starting point, the compiler of the following pages, with the courteous assistance of Lord Lathom, a past Captain of the Guard, and now the Lord Chamberlain; Lord Barrington, the present Captain; Lieut-General Milman, Major of the Tower; Lieutenant-Colonel Baring, the Clerk of the Cheque; Sir Albert Woods, Garter and other gentlemen, has gone over the same ground and discovered many interesting incidents in documents which a century ago were not know to be in existence of could not be found. Careful search has also been made in several directions not reversed by Pegge, and some original documents from the archives of the Lord Chamberlain’s office have furnished what has proved to be most entertaining reading. These old customs, set before as in such a charming way, give an endless variety of interesting particulars, and convey to us a better idea of the old-time doings than would be obtainable without them and this is the author’s excuse for occasionally wandering somewhat from the subject matter of this history.

The ceremonies described are only given once as examples, to illustrate the duties of the Guard, and as a role, only the part of the pageant or ceremonial in which the Corps itself or some of its members figure is given. The history, deficient as it is, will be found to contain particulars of the formation of the Corps, its constitution, its strength in each successive reign, its weapons, uniform, duties, and privileges. Also a complete list of all it several Captains, with biographical notices of its prominent members. There are very few memorials of the old Guard now left, the Present Order Book only goes back to the beginning of the present century, and it is conjectured that the earlier books and other properties belonging to the Guard were destroyed in the fire which did so much damage to St James’s Palace in the year 1809. This loss had rendered necessary a search through the Council Registers, and it will no doubt surprise many readers of the extracts gleamed there from to find that the Lords of the Privy Council, for so many years and as late as the reign of George III, had so much to do with the arrangements of the Royal Household.

The illustrations have been made expressly for this history, and have been taken either from originals kindly placed at the disposal of the compiler, or from well authenticated copies where originals were inaccessible. A glance at the successive uniforms of 1520, 1585, 1685, 1785, and 1885, shows that the supposition that the present costume is the same as that worn in the time of Henry VIII is erroneous. In the chapter relating to the Tower Wardens the origin of a recent scare concerning a supposed change of uniform is dealt with, and the groundlessness of the alarm made clear which could not conveniently be allotted as belonging exclusively to any particular reign, and the subject of the Officers has a chapter to itself.


There is some uncertainty as to the derivation and precise meaning of the word Yeoman, and there can be no doubt that it has undergone some changes of signification since its introduction into the language. Dr. Johnson only gives a speculative derivation, of the word in his dictionary, and there seems to be considerable doubt as to its birthplace. From many examples of its use it would seem to have designated a servant of the higher grade, as we hear of the Yeoman of the Guard, Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, Yeoman of the Chamber, Yeoman of the Pantry, Yeoman of the Robes, Yeoman of the Crown, Yeoman of the Mouth, and so forth. In the Gentleman’s magazine, Vol XXIX p.408 is the following instructive information:-"The title Yeoman is generally in no esteem, because its worth is not known. A yeoman that is authentically such is by his title on a level with an esquire the title yeoman is of military origin, as well as that of esquire and other titles of honour. Esquires were so called because in combat they carried for defence an acu or shield: and yeomen were so styled because, besides the weapons fit for close engagement, they fought with arrows and the bow, which was made of yew, a tree that hath more repelling force and elasticity than any other.

"After the Conquest, the name of Yeomen as to their original office in war was changed to that of archers. Yeomen of the Crown had formerly considerable grants bestowed on them, in the fifth century, (fifteenth?) John Forde, yeoman of the crowne, had the moytie of all rents to the town and hundred of Shafesbury, and Nicholas Wortley, yeoman of the chamber, was made ballieffe of the lordships of Scaresdale and Chesterfeild, with the county of Derby all which prove that the title of yeoman was accounted honourable, not only in remote antiquity but in later ages. "Yeomen, at least those that frequent palaces, should have their education in some academy, college, or university, in the army or at court, or a private education that would be equivalent. Then our Latin writers would be no longer so grossly mistaken as to their notion in this respect. In Littleton’s Dictionary, and I believe in all our Latin dictionaries, yeomanry is Latinised plebs* and yeoman rusticu, paganus, colonus. The expressions of ‘Yeomen of the Crown,’ Yeomen of the Chamber,’ ‘Yeomen of the Guard, ‘Yeoman Usher,’ show the impropriety of this translation, for thereby it is plain that yeomen originally frequented courts and followed the profession of arms. Yeomen of the Crown were so called, either because they were obliged to attend the King’s person at court and in the field, or because they held lands from the crown, or both." Dr Johnson thought that Yeoman in one sense was a ceremonious title given to soldiers, and quotes Spencer

Tall Yeomen seemed they, and of great might. And were arranged ready still for fight.

Shakespeare puts the word into the mouth of Henry V:

You, good Yeomen whose limbs were made in England show us here the mettle of your pasture

Spencer wrote about "A jolly yeoman marshal of the hall, whose name was Appetite." So that the beef-eating propensities of the yeomen must have been patient as early as Spencer’s time. Harrison, in his introduction to Holinshed’s History of Great Britain gives the following definition of a Yeoman, as the title was understood about half a century after the formation of the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard. It gives us an insight into the "manner of men" who were then considered to be desirable protectors of the person of the Sovereign:-

"This sort of people have a certain pre-eminence, and more estimation, than labourers and the common sort of artificers, and those commonlie live wealthile, keep good houses, and travel to get riches. They are also for the most part farmers to gentlemen, or at the leastwise artificers, and with grazing, frequenting of markets and keeping of servants (not idle servants as the gentlemen do, but such as get both their own and part of their master’s living), do come to great welth, that manie of them are able and doo buie the lands of unthriftie gentlemen, and often setting their sonnes to Schooles, to the Universities, and to the Inns of Court, or otherwise leaving them sufficient lands where upon they may live without labour, doo make them by those means to become a gentlemen. "These were they that in times past made all France afraid, and albeit they be not called Master, as gentlemen are, or Sir, as to Knights appertaineth but onlie John and Thomas etc, yet have they beene found to have done verie good service, and the Kings of England in foughten battles were woont to remaine among them (who were their footmen) as the French Kings did amongst their horsemen, the Prince thereby showing where his cheefe strength did consist".


The Captaincy of the Royal Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard has always been regarded as an honourable post to fill, and for nearly 200 years the service was purely honorary, the only recognition on the part of the sovereign being the occasional present of "a gown." The Household Books of James I show that this was the custom during the reign of that monarch and the cost of the gown given to the Captain was £14. But it often happened that the Captain of the Guard held some salaried office in the Household. Sir Walter Raleigh was, at the same time, Captain of the Guard and Gentleman of the Chamber, but the post of Vice-Chamberlain appears to have been the office most frequently associated with the Captaincy. A peer of the realm has filled the office of Captain for many generations, indeed (as may be seen by the Table of Officers) with only one exception since the appointment of Sir Henry Rich in 1617. The precedency of the Captain in State processions was considered and decided as recently as 1843. On the 11th of April in that year an order states that the place of the Captain is to be on one side of Gold Stick, the other side being occupied by the Captain of the Corps of Gentlemen at Arms. This was the place assigned to these officers at the coronation of James II, and, with but one or two exceptions; it has been their position in all State processions since that time.  The Captain is distinguished by a richly-chased gold top and a gold lace knot and acorn. This emblem of office is presented by the Sovereign to the Captain on his appointment. The colour of the uniform coat is scarlet, trimmed with gold lace, and the trousers are a dark blue, with gold lace stripes at the side. The cord of the aiguillettes is looped on the top Dexter button. There has been some uncertainty as to the proper position of the bullion sash-tassels. In the sketch they are placed before the sword-hilt as they have been generally worn: but recent authorities say the bullion should be behind the sword. There is very little to admire in the officer’s uniform. By virtue of his office the Captain of the Guard is usually made a Privy Councillor (webmaster note - no longer). He goes out of office with the Ministry. Lord Barrington, the present Captain, was appointed in succession to Lord Monson on 29 June 1885. The salary is £1,200 per annum, and in the reign of William III, Lord Grandision was granted a pension of £1,000 a year. At one time there were also some valuable privileges connected with the office: but the only ancient custom which survives is the annual present of venison from the Royal forests. The order respecting this privilege states that the Captain is entitled annually to two bucks and two does: and application for the warrant for same are to be made at the office of Her Majesty’s Woods and Forests, Whitehall, for the bucks about the middle of the month of July, the buck season ending 25 September, for the does at the end of the month of October, and doe season ending the 17 January. The fees payable at the office for the warrants are for the bucks £1 6s and for the does 13s


The second officer is the Lieutenant. He must have been a colonel or lieutenant-colonel in the army or marines or in the Indian army. At the time of the abolition of sale and purchase of commissions the value of the Lieutenant’s commission was £8,000: the salary is £500 a year. The office dates back to the year 1668, and the first of the Lieutenants was the Hon. Thomas Howard, second son of the Earl of Suffolk. The present Lieutenant, Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Need, was appointed 11tFebruary 1870.


The third officer, the Ensign, was added by Charles II, and it may fairly be assumed that when appointed he had to do an ensign’s duty, namely, to carry the Banner or Standard of the Corps. Diligent search has more than once been made for this Standard, but it is not forthcoming. Thom, in his Book of the court when speaking of the duties of the Ensign of the Guards says: - "But, though such an appointment was then (1668) made and has, continued ever since, there does not exist the smallest evidence that the Corps ever possessed either Banner or Standard." The late learned antiquary could not, at the time he wrote his, have seen the Order Book of the Guard at St James’s Palace, for one of the first entries therein is as follows:- "In consequence of the death of Mr Jno Glover, late Secretary of the Earl of Macclesfield, his lordship ordered that the Standard, Books, belonging to the Corps and kept by him be now given up, and that they be considered in future the property of the Corps, and kept as such by the Secretary for the time being." The Earl of Macclesfield was appointed Captain in 1804, and the great fire in St. James’s Palace occurred 21 January 1809: it reasonable, therefore, to suppose that the Standard was amongst the property destroyed. According to Chamberlayne’s Anglice Notitia for 1672 the Standard of the Guard was "a Cross of St. George and likewise four bends", but the colours of the field and the charge are not given. By the regulations now in force the Ensign before appointment must have held a commission as a lieutenant-colonel or major in the army or marines or in the Indian army. The salary is £300 a year. The present Ensign is Colonel the Hon. W. J. Colville, who has held the appointment since 11 February 1870.


The officer next in rank is the Clerk of the Cheque and Adjutant. This is the oldest paid officer in the Corps and the post is extremely ancient. Long before the formation of the Guard the office of Clerk of the Cheque was usual in the royal households and also in the establishments of the highest of the nobility. His duty was to keep the checkroll or "checker-roll", which was a book containing the names of the household servants. In an old dictionary he is described as "an officer who has the check and controlment of the Yeomen of the Guard and all the Ushers belonging to the Royal family". He never was the paymaster of the Corps and had nothing do with "cheques" in the modern meaning of that word. He was and is to all interest and purpose the Adjutant and secretary of the Guard, residing in the Palace, keeping the Order Book, attending all parades, and preparing the quarterly statements. It was customary at coronations to Knight the Clerk of the Cheque. Sir Francis Clarke, who filled the office in 1712, was knighted on the coronation of George I, on 20th October, 1714. Several subsequent Clerks of the Cheque were also similarly honoured, but Coles Child, who held the appointment in the reigns of George III, and George IV, was several times offered the distinction, but, on account of his retiring habits he could not be prevailed upon to accept it.

The silver-topped ebony baton was not carried by the Clerk of the Cheque till 1787, when one was given to Francis Barker, Esquire, on of the Exons, on his promotion, by order dated 5th July 1787. The present regulations require that before appointment the Clerk of the Cheque must have held a commission as a lieutenant-colonel or major in the regular army or in the marines or Indian army. Till Charles II, re-organised the Guard in 1660, the salary of the Clerk of the Cheque was 2s 6d per day, with fees, residence, and table-money: but the new regulations raised it to £150 per annum. Lieut-Colonel Francis Baring, who now fills the post, was promoted from an Exoncy on 4 December 1884.


The next officers in rank are four Exons. The first mention of Exon is in the ceremony of All Nights, which is fully described in the chapter relating to Charles II. They were added to the staff of officers in 1668 just about the time when Marsham’s account of All Night was written. The derivation and meaning of the word exon has been and is a puzzle to many, but it is undoubtedly the French pronunciation of the word exempt. An exempt was an officer in the old French Garde Du Corps. "Exempts des Guedes du Corps" are described in a military dictionary as "Exons belonging to the Body Guards," There was in France till quite recently an officer of police called "Un Exempt (exon) de Police." When Charles II formed his Horse Guards he created a commissioned officer who was styled indiscriminately the exempt or the exon, and in each of the two troops this officer ranked with the captain. There is further confusion connected with the title of exon, for in his commission he is styled corporal. But it appears that in Elizabeth’s reign "corporal" was a commissioned officer, and the term was synonymous with captain. Down to the time of the coronation of George III, which took place on 22nd September, 1761, corporal was only another word for exon, as may be seen on referring to the official programme of the coronation, wherein mention is made of "the Corporals or Exons of the Yeomen of the Guard." The exempt in the French Garde du corps always had charge of the Night Watch, and the exon is the English Body Guard was especially appointed for that service.

Curiously enough the word Exempt is also used in the orders of the Yeomen of the Guard with its English meaning. On the present Muster Roll there are still two "Exempts," that is, men who are exempt or excused from duty, and the term "Exempt Yeoman" is used in the same sense in an order dated 12th March, 1790.

The Exon’s duty as defined in 1881 was to occupy the Exon’s quarters at St James’s Palace, to attend the calling of "the Bill" at mid-day at the Yeomen of the Guard’s Office, and to ascertain from the Lord Chamberlain’s Department what other orders there might be for the day. The present rules require that a candidate for the appointment of Exon must have been a captain in the army or marines or Indian army. The value of an exon’s commission in 1881 was £3,500 the uniform is similar to that of the other officers, except that the Exons do not wear the aiguillettes. The present senior Exon is Honorary Lieut-Colonel CD Patterson, whose appointment dates from 12th February 1862. The next is Captain F. Brockman Morley, 23rd January 1869; then Colonel Henry Hume, C.B., 23rd November, 1873; and Major RG Ellison 4th December, 1884.


It was customary for an officer of the Corps, other than the Clerk of the Cheque, to be knighted on the occasion of a coronation; and the following list includes all who have been so honoured during the half century now last past.

Henry Cipriani  Senior Exon 18 Sep 1831
Thomas Horsley Curteis Senior Exon 27 Jun 1833
George Houlton Ensign 20 Jun 1838
Samuel Hanock Senior Exon 19 May 1841
Philip Lee Lieutenant 18 May 1843
William Bellairs Senior Exon 17 May 1848
Thomas Seymour Sadler Senior Exon 28 Feb 1849
Captain J Kincaid  Senior Exon 30 Jun 1852
Major-General Benjamin T Phillips Lieutenant   18 Feb 1858
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Cooke Lieutenant   11 Dec 1867
Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Need Lieutenant   25 Feb 1881

It was publicly announced in 1858 that knighthood was not to be looked upon by the officers of the corps as a right, and this intimation was repeated in February, 1881.

The following order related to the abolition of purchase of officers commission, and it gives some directions as to filling future vacancies for the date of the order:- "My Lord I am commanded by the Queen to inform you that is Her Majesty’s pleasure that the purchase of the officers commission in the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard should cease at the earliest possible moment, and that it is ordered by Her Majesty that the future vacancies in the Corps should be filled up by officers of the army of long and good service, to be selected from a list kept at the Horse Guards by the General Commanding-in-Chief, the recommendation being made to Her Majesty in each case, as now, by the Captain of the Corps. "Any of the officers who acquired their commission by purchase, and are desirous of retiring from the Corps, upon communicating with the Captain, will receive, - the Lieutenant, £8,000, the three Exons £3,500 each (that being the regulation price), for the sale of their commissions, from the Secretary of State for War, and a successor will be appointed to the vacancy, who. however, it must be clearly understood, will not be allowed to sell his commission. "The Lieutenant in future to be appointed must have been a colonel or lieutenant-colonel in the army or marines or in the Indian army. "The Ensign and the Clerk of the Cheque, a lieutenant-colonel or major in the army or marines or in the Indian army. "The Exons, captains in the army or marines or in the Indian army, according to the present regulations of the Corps. "It is further Her Majesty’s pleasure that no officers should be appointed to the Corps above the age of fifty. "Whenever an Exon becomes in the opinion of the Captain permanently incapacitated to perform the duties of the appointment, he will be required to resign it, or half his salary will be paid to a substitute, selected as already described, and who will succeed to the next vacancy of the Corps. "This order is not to be retrospective, or to apply to those officers of the army now in the Corps who have been appointed on the recommendation of the General Commanding-in-Chief." It is to be clearly understood that all officers who may be appointed for the future under the above regulations will be, as heretofore, entirely under the command of the Captain of the Corps. For many years previous to 1883 there was a Deputy Clerk of the Cheque who acted as Secretary to the Adjutant. The last deputy was Mr Davis, who had been in the Corps sixty-four years when he died. A re-arrangement of the office duties has done away with the necessity for appointing a successor to Mr Davis. Her Majesty has graciously granted his widow an annuity of £40 a year


The Messengers, of whom there are now two, rank first amongst the non-commissioned officers of the Guard, and receive £75 per annum. They, like the rest of the Yeomen, are army pensioners, and are at liberty to employ their spare time in any way consistent with their duties. The serjeant-majors rank next, they receive £60 per annum, besides their badge of four chevrons and a crown on the right arm, and they may be distinguished by their batons, which they carry instead of the partisan. Ranking next the serjeants as non-commissioned officers are the Yeomen Bed Goers (YBG), concerning whose peculiar duties there are several examples in the following pages. Then come the six men distinguished by the initials YBH these are the Yeomen Bed Hangers, and it was their special employment to hang the **** and tapestry in the bed-chamber of the sovereign. George III took his Yeomen Bed Goers and Yeomen Bed Hangers with him when he went to Hanover in 1783. The only other official is the Wardrobe Keeper who finds plenty to do as custodian of the uniforms and arms at St James’s Palace, and in superintending their removal to Windsor and other places to which the Guard may be sent. He is not a Yeoman of the Guard (in 2005....he is now)


Since the first admission of army non-commissioned officers to the ranks of the Corps, fifty years ago, there have been five of them entered on the roll who wore or wear on their breasts the Victoria Cross. They are:-

VC Stephen Garvin Serjeant-Major 64th Foot Died 1874
VC David Spence Regimental Serjeant Major 9th Lancers Died 1877
VC Daniel Cambridge Gunner RA Died 1882
VC David Rush Serjeant-Major 9th Lancers Joined 1867
VC Robert Kells Trumpet-Major 19th Hussars Joined 1880

Another Yeoman of the Guard has been rendered some what famous through having sat as a model for the "Beefeater," which was one of the gems at the exhibition of the Royal Academy about 10 years ago. This was Serjeant-Major John Charles Montague, formerly Serjeant in the 16th Lancers; he died 16th May, 1878. By the kind permission of Sir John E Millais I am able to give a copy of the picture.


Regarding the sobriquet of "Beef-eater," which has long been the popular name of the Yeomen Guard; it does not seem to be necessary to go very deeply into the question of the origin of it. There is a story attributed to Fuller the historian, which will be found in the chapter relating to Henry VIII, which gives a very probable origin, but there are other not less likely derivations. When we remember that the Corps itself was copied from a similar Guard which attended the French King, who were nicknamed the Becs du Corbin, from a fancied resemblance of the hooks of their halberds to the beak of a crow, why should not the English Guard have got their sobriquet from the resemblance of their partizans to the bill or beak of the bird called the Beef-eater? Buffon describes the beak of this bird as a "strong thick bill, with which it pecks through the hides of oxen." This derivation may be far-fetched, but it should be remembered that the English Yeomen were often referred to as bill-men, because they carried a weapon with a hook resembling the beak or bill of a bird. Doubtful the derivation may be, but it seems to be quite as probable as the generally accepted one of the name being derived from buffetier, in as much as the Yeomen never had charge of the buffets at the Royal banquets.


Although the men who now form this famous Guard are not Yeomen in the original sense of the word, they are, it must be admitted, better men for the Body Guard of the Sovereign than those so employed in the last century. What could be a better recommendation for a place in such a corps than the fact that the applicant had spent the best years of his life in the service of his country, and that he had won the medals on his breast for bravery in face of the enemy or for long service?. These medals, which all the Guard wear, show that they have done "Yeomen’s Service" for the Crown already, and if there be more of such service to be done, though of a less arduous and dangerous kind, surely none could do it better than brave soldiers such as those who now comprise the Corps. It will be well to remember that these grand Yeomen or their predecessors have taken part in and added to the brightness and picturesqueness of every Royal pageant or State ceremonial that England has seen during the past four centuries, and they have done this and at the same time guarded their Sovereign without once bringing discredit to their Corps. On the contrary, there is evidence enough in these pages to show that many of them lived the lives of good servants and loyal citizens, and died leaving behind them substantial proofs of their benevolent dispositions. All honour, then to the grand old Guard on this the four hundredth anniversary of its formation, may it continue to be recruited from soldiers such as those who now so nobly fill its ranks and, may it last for ever.

HENRY VII 1485 TO 1509


A dread of personal violence undoubtedly prompted Henry VII, to form a Body Guard, who would be available to protect him day and night, he had on 22nd August, 1485 won the Crown of England at the battle of Bosworth, and there is evidence in his Ordinances as he came to the throne that both the King and his Council greatly feared treachery, therefore by the day of his coronation 30th of October 1485 he had formed his Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard and they made their first appearance at the coronation.

Hall says; "Wherefore for the safeguard and preservation of his own body he constituted and ordained a certain number, as well of good archers as of divers other persons, being hardy strong, and of agility, to give daily attendance on his person whom he named Yeomen of his Garde, which precedent men thought that he learned of the French King when he was in France, for men remember not any King of England before that time which used such a furniture of daily soldiers." Bacon in his life of Henry VII, says he instituted for the security of his person, a band of fifty archers under a captain to attend him, by the name of Yeomen of his Guard, it is thought that Henry followed the precedent of Louis XI, King of France who ten years previously had established himself a Grand Guard of 100 knights and 200 attendants, the latter were armed as archers when in the battlefield, but at State ceremonials they carried a halberd of a peculiar shape, the hook at the back resembling the beak of a crow.


Henry lost no time in letting his subjects see that he was well guarded. In March, 1486 he paid a State visit to York, and went by way of Waltham, Cambridge, Huntington, to Lincoln, where he kept the Feast of Easter, and on Holy Thursday he washed the feet of twenty-nine poor men and gave them alms. The number corresponded to the years of his age, the King then attended service "in the Cathedral Church and in no Private Chapel, the principallest residencers there being present did divine observance."

The next resting place was Nottingham, and thence he journeyed onward to York, on the road the King was met by the Earl of Northumberland with a grand retinue. At Pomfret the King was accompanied by "great Noblesse, Esquires, Gentilmen and Yeomen in defensible array; for in that tyme ther wer certayne rebells about Rypon and Midlem, which understanding the King’s might and were approaching, within two dayes disperse." Leland (from whose account of Henry’s progress these extracts are made) goes on to say that "at Tadcastell the King, richly besene to a gowne of cloth of gold, furred with ermine, take his esquire, his henchmen and followers also in goldsmythe’s work, were richly besene." The Mayor of York met the cavalcade three miles outside the city and there "was ordained a pajaunt." There was also another "again at hider ende of House Brigge another garnyshed with shippes."

The Earl of Oxford, who was the first Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, is frequently mentioned as taking an active part in the proceedings, diligent but unsuccessful search has been made for a portrait of the First Captain, and the Curator of the National Portrait Gallery says that there is no known portrait of this Earl of Oxford.


One of the earliest Acts of Parliament issued in the English language is 3 Henry VII, cap.14, and it is worth calling attention to as it relates to the origin of the Body Guard. A slight alteration from the original spelling has been found necessary to make the extract intelligible. It runs as follows:-

"For smooch as by quarelles, made to suche as hath been in greate auctortie office and of Councell with Kynge of this roialme, hath ensued the Destrucccon of Kynge and the neer undoying of this Realme, so as yt hath appeared evedently when compassyng of the deth of such as were of the Kynge’s true subjiettis was hadd, the destruction of the prynce was ymagyned thereby; and for the most part yt hath growen and ben occasioned by envy and malice of the King’s owne housold servantes as nowe late lyke thyng was lykely to have ensued."

It is then enacted that the Steward, of the King’s Household may enquire, by Twelve Persons of the Cheque Roll of Conspiracies, by the King’s Servants to murder the King or his Counsellors or Great Officers.

There had evidently been something amiss in the Royal Household, for we find amongst the Acts of Parliament for the fourth year of the King (chapter 7) an enactment to the effect that all Letters Patent made to Yeomen of the Crown and Grooms of the King’s Chamber should be void if there were any lack in their attendance.

Sir William Stanley Knight was Lord Chamberlain to Henry VII, when the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard was formed, but he was unfortunate enough to offend the King and was condemned to the block in 1495. But the best evidence of the extraordinary case taken against treachery is to be found in the following amusing extract from the Household Ordinances as the manner of making the King’s bed.


After bringing in "the stuff for the bed Then the Esquire of Gentleman Usher shall command them what they shall do. So first, one of them to fetch the straw with a dagger or otherwise (that there be no untruth therein), and then the Yeoman to take the straw and lay it plain and draw down the canvas over it straight, then shall they lay on the bed of down and one of the Yeomen to tumble up and down upon the same for the search thereof, to beat it and lay it even and smooth. Then the Yeoman taking the Assay to deliver them a blanket of fustian on which all the Yeomen must lay hands at once, that it touch not nor ruffle out the bed, then the bolster likewise tried and laid on without touching the bed, then to lay on the nether sheet, likewise to take assay and that it touch not the bed, until it be laid where it should be; then take both the sheet and the fustian and truss the same back together under the feather bed on both sides and at the feet and under the bolster, then the Esquire for the Body to take the other sheet and roll it in his arm or stripe it through his hands, and then go the bed’s head and stripe over the bed twice, or thrice down to the feet. Then all the said Yeomen to lay hands on the sheet and lay it plain on the bed; then the other fustian or two and such a covering as shall best content the King. Then take a pane of ermine and lay it above, then a pane or two of marterns, then to roll or fold down the uppermost of the bed sheet and all, the space of an ell. Then the Yeoman takes the pillows and beat and raise them well, and deliver them to the Esquires of the Body, who shall lay them on as shall best please the King. Then take the head sheet of raynes and lay one side thereof under each end of the bolster and the other side to lie still, then take a head sheet of ermine and lay it above and over, and then the other side of the head sheet raynes and cover the bed over and over on every side, first taking an assay of all those that have touched any part thereof, making a cross and kissing there where their hands last were, and then to stick up the angels about the same bed, and an usher to let down the sparver or curtain and knit them; and an Esquire for the Body to cast holy water on the same bed."

An Esquire for the Body ought then forthwith to charge a secret groom or page to take a light and have the keeping of the same until the time that the King be dispose to go to it.

A Groom or Page ought to take a torch while the bed is making, and fetch a loaf of bread, a pot of ale, and another of wine, and bring it without the traverse, where all they which were at the making of the bed shall go and drink together."

Regarding this quaint description, it should be remarked that it is very similar to a reprint made by I.C. Brooke, Rouge Croix, 15th January, 1776. He says that the account is extracted from an original manuscript which belonged to the Earl Marshal of England, containing the whole duty of the Lord Chamberlain, and was copied for the instruction of Henry FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, who was Lord Chamberlain to Henry VIII in 1526. With regard to these details it may be desirable to mention that assay was a "tryal or proof", the word fetch then meant to test or try; pane was a covering, probably like the counterpane of modern times; marterns is intended for marten, a kind of fur, there is doubt about raynes, but it most likely was a kind of striped velvet; and the sparver was a canopy set up over the bed.

Some of the Guard were called Bed Hangers and some Bed Goers, and the titles are still continued, though their elaborate duties as detailed in the above ordinance have long been obsolete. It may be interesting to observe that at this period a bed of downe with a bolster cost £5, the teaster of tynsell and black velvet with arms, having curtains of silk with fringes, was worth £20. Fifty of the Guard were accountred as bowmen and the other fifty were armed with the halberd, the King himself a famous archer and a contemporary poet say of him

See where he shoteth at the butts,
And with him are lords three;
He weareth a gowne of velvette blacke,
And it is coted above the knee

Amongst his expenses are such items as "Lost to my lord Morging at buttes, 6s 8d; "Payed to Sir Edward Boroughe, 13s 4d, which the King lost at buttes with his crosse-bowe."

Both the King’s sons were likewise expert archers, especially Arthur, the elder one; and it came to be customary to call the champion archer "Prince Arthur," and other good bowmen were called his knights; but the pleasantry seems only to have lasted till the next reign, when, as will be seen, the champion Barlow was dubbed Duke of Shoreditch, On the death of Prince Arthur his brother Henry became patron of the art, and Hall, the chronicler, in his Life of Henry VIII, says that when he came to the throne "he shotte as strong and as greate a lengthe as any of his Garde."

In the Canterbury Tales Chaucer describes the Yeoman bowman as follows:-

                                                                                And he was clad in cote and hode of grene,
                                                                                A shefe of peacocke arrowes bryght and shone
                                                                                Under his belt he bare ful thriftely;
                                                                                Well coude he dresse his tackle yeomanly;
                                                                                His arrowes drouped not with fethers lowe,
                                                                                And in hand he bare a myghty bowe.

The "pecocke arrowes" are no fiction, for in a Cottonian MS is an item of 12 arrows for the King, plumed with peacock’s feathers, 12d.

An improvement in fire-arms which took place in this reign induced the King to arm some of his Yeomen with the new weapon, which was called the arquebuss. The word is derived from arc-a-bouche, or are-a-bousa, it being a weapon combining the old handgun with cross-bow.


There does not appear to be any complete description of the uniform worn by the Yeomen of the Guard when they made their first appearance at the coronation. The colour of the Royal livery was then, and always has been, scarlet. The shoulders and arms as far as the elbows were protected with scale armour, and they wore knee-breeches and stockings of various colours.

The engraving gives a fair idea of what the Yeomen of the Guard looked like towards the end of the fifteenth century.

Mr Henry Shaw, in his Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages, says that the extravagance in dress of the fifteenth century appears at no period more remarkable than during the reign of Henry VII. Shoes in the previous reign had been worn of inordinate length, so long, indeed, as to require the point to be supported by a cord attached to the garter. Now the fashion turned to broad toes or "duck’s bills", and it is in shoes of this kind that the pictures of the period would show the Yeomen of the Guard. Also, referring to the costume worn at this period, Strutt says that "the dress of the English was exceedingly fantastical and absurd, insomuch that it was even difficult to distinguish one sex from the other." This must have referred exclusively to civilian costume, it could hardly have applied to the Yeomen of the Guard. But there was then a perplexing similarity in the names of articles of male and female wearing apparel which may very well account for the mistakes made. We read of a gentleman on getting up in the morning requiring "a clene Sherte and breche, a pettycote, a doublet, a long cotte, a stomacher, hys hozen, his socks and his schoen." A gentleman of to-day dressed in these garments might well be mistaken for one the gentler sex.

Henry VII died in 1509, and at his funeral twelve Yeomen of this Guard bore his body to the tomb in Westminster Abbey. In the programme of the ceremonial it is recorded that "then followed the Lord Darcy, being Captayn of the Garde, after whom came the Garde and many other gentlemen." At the west "dore of St. Powles the saide Corps," which had been thus "brought through the cittie with torches innumerable," was received by the Bishop of London, and after it had been "encensed" it was taken out of the chariot "and borne by xij p’sons of the Garde, because of the weight thereof," into the choir, where it remained till the morrow, when the Yeomen again attended, carried the body to the chariot, and accompanied the procession to Westminster Abbey, at the door of which the body was lifted out of the chariot by the Yeomen of the Guard and carried to the choir,"

Parts of the inscription on his tomb in Westminster Abbey are as follows:-

DIED 21 APRIL 1509.



Part of the Guard was told off to attend on the Queen, and in 1502 they were paid at the rate of one shilling per day. One of them, named Griffiths, was buried at the Queen’s expense in the churchyard of St. Margaret, Westminster, at the cost of xiijs. iiijd.


The following "anecdote of an English Yeoman, in the 4th of Henry VII," is taken from an old Chronicle reprinted in 1771:-

"On this season the Flemmyings holding Freshe partie, and on especial those of Brugges, with the assistance of the Lord Guardis, had besieged Dixemve on Flaundres. The Lord Dawbency, the Kinge’s Lieutenant of Calais, and the Lord Morley, with divers oudir noble Knightes and Esquires of the garnyson, and of the crew of Calais, and of the Englishe marche in thoos parties, rescued Dixemvie, and brake the sege. And their ware slayne the substance of al servaunts, as the garnyson of Scottes, which lay at Ostenguen, with the substance of the Bruggelingis.

Of the Englishe partie, there was slayn that gentill young Knight the Lorde Morley, and many noblemen hurt; as Sir James Tyrell sore wounded in the legge with a Quarell; and a gentill and a courageous Esquier called Robert Bellyngham, the whiche foughte in his cotte of armes foot gerded with his swerd upon his harnois. And their was wonnen moche Artillerye, whereof moche was brent with the Gounne Pouldre, also it is not to be forgotten, but to by had in remembrance, the goode courage of an Englishe Yeoman (of the Guarde) called John Person, afte that a gounne had borne away his foote by the small of the legge, yet that notwithstanding, what setting and what kneling, shotte after, many of his arrows, and when the Frenchemen fledde, and his felowes were in the chase, he cried to one of his felowes, and saide, "Have thow these vi arowes that I have lefte and follow thow the chase for I may not,". The whiche John Person died within a few days after; on whose soulle God have mercy."

HENRY VIII 1509 to 1547


During the reign of Henry VIII, the Corps became famous. The King was proud of his Guard, and in the year 1510 he doubled its strength and also added 100 mounted men, who acted as a cavalry escort in all processions. Fifty of them were armed, with a new kind of arquebuss; and when the King led his army into France in 1513 the Guard was increased to 600 men, most of them archers. They took part in the siege of Turenne, when Hall says - they wore white gaberdines and caps. The picture in Hampton Court Palace of the meeting of Henry VIII, and Maximillian does not however show the Yeomen, or, if it does, they do not appear to be clad as Hall describes them. - They were present at "The Battle of the Spurs", and helped capture Tournay; and 400 of them were told off to garrison the town under their commander Lord Moutjoy, who undoubtedly owed his life to their fidelity; for all the other troops mutinied, and the 400 English Yeomen won great renown for their faithfulness and valour, being styled "The Constables of Tournay," and received a money reward from the King and his thanks on their return to England.

The year 1520 was famous for the grand meeting of Henry VIII, and Francis I, King of France, on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The Guard played a very prominent part in this famous pageant, and fortunately there is a picture extant which enables us to see exactly how they appeared and what were their duties at this period. The picture was at the beginning of this century at Windsor Castle; but when Hampton Court Palace was restored and thrown open for the public inspection the picture and several others illustrating the history of the reign of Henry VIII, who built the palace, were appropriately added to the collection. It is now hung in Queen Anne’s Audience Chamber, and numbered 342 in the catalogue of pictures. The following description of the picture is an abridgment of that given in the Archaelogia, omitting the parts not in any way connected with the history of the Yeomen of the Guard, but retaining enough particulars to show how extremely interesting the picture is.

In a French picture of the Field of the Cloth of Gold one of the English Yeomen of the Guard is represented on horseback and carrying a bow.

The interview between the two monarchs took place on the open plain, named from the magnificence of the pageant, "Le Camp de Drap D’Or" – the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The proceedings began on the 4th of June 1520, and lasted 28 days.

In the foreground of the picture on the right-hand side of the picture, is the very numerous English cavalcade, marching out of the town of Guines and entering the castle-gate by a bridge thrown over the ditch. Its farther progress is not here represented; but it may be supposed to have passed from the castle, through the sally-port, to the place of interview, along the valley and by the side of the rivulet there described. The guns of the castle are represented as firing while the King passed. The advanced guard consisted of his guard of bill-men with their officers. Then follow three ranks of men on foot, five in a rank, and all unarmed. After them are five of Wolsey’s domestics on horseback. The Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King-at-Arms, bareheaded and in the tabard of his order, mounted on a piebald horse richly trapped and caparisoned, supported on his left hand by a serjeant-at arms mounted on a black horse, and followed by Sir Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset, bareheaded, carrying in its heath the sword of state, upright, dressed in a gown of clothe of gold, over which hangs the Order of the Garter, and mounted on a beautiful dun horse, richly trapped and caparisoned. The Marquis is followed by his Yeomen of the Guard, on foot, their partizans on their shoulders, in scarlet habits, guarded and laced with dark-blue velvet, and on their breasts and backs the union-rose, and over it the royal crown embroidered in gold.

The King’s Majesty, mounted on a stately white courser, most richly caparisoned, the trappings, reins, stirrups, etc says Hall, being covered with wrought gold highly embossed. The King has on his head a black velvet hat, with a white feather on the upper side of the brim, and under it a broad lacing of rubies, emeralds intermixed with pearl. His garment is cloth of gold, plaited, over a jacket of rose-colored velvet. His collar is composed of rubies and pearls set alternately; and on his breast is a rich jewel of St. George suspended by a ribbon of the order. His boots are of yellow leather and in his right hand is small whip. Parallel with the King on his left, rides Cardinal Wolsey. On each side of the King are two pages with nine Yeomen of the Guard, on the right and left-three in a rank bearing their partizans shouldered. The King is immediately followed by four of his principal nobles, riding abreast. On their right hand march six more ranks of Yeomen of the Guard.

Between the tents and temporary palace stands a large pavilion, consisting of one long and two round tents, all covered with cloth of gold, flowered with black. On the front of each of the round tents are the arms of France and England. In this pavilion Henry and Catharine frequently entertained at dinner the French King and Queen and their principal nobility. At a small distance from it is a view of the culinary offices set up on the plain, consisting of a large group of ovens, at which several bakers are busied; and two spacious tents, whose fronts, being thrown open, discover the one to be intended for boiling and the other for roasting, in which offices several cooks are employed. From these kitchens fourteen Yeomen of the Guard, each carrying a covered dish, are going towards the royal pavilions, preceded by the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Steward, bearing his white staff, and attended by a gentleman wearing a sash. In the background, and at the extremity on the left-hand side, appear the lists or camp set apart for the justs and tournaments. French soldiers – in a blue and yellow uniform, with a salamander, the badge of Francis I, embroidered on it keep the entrance on one hand, and the English Yeomen with their halberds on the other.

The picture here described, which is five feet six inches high by eleven feet three inches in breadth, has been generally ascribed to Hans Hobein, but without foundations, as he did not arrive in England till near six years, after the interview; and, besides, his style, colouring, are widely different. It is observable that the head of King Henry appears to have been cut out of the picture and afterwards restored. This was a contrivance of Philip Earl of Pembroke, after the death of King Charles I, to prevent a French agent from purchasing it; for finding it thus mutilated, the Frenchman declined the purchase. By this means it was preserved in the palace till the Restorations, when the Earl of Pembroke delivered the mutilated piece to King Charles II, who immediately ordered it to be restored to its place.

The accompanying sketches of three of the Yeomen of the Guard are taken from this picture.

Five years later, that is in 1525, Henry found it necessary to put an end to some of his extravagances, and so set about retrenching his household expenses. Cardinal Wolsey assisted the King, and the result of their deliberations was the issue at Lady Day 1526 of what are known in history as the Statutes of Eltham. They were so called because they were made and promulgated at the Palace at Eltham. The preamble recited the reasons which had prompted the King to increase the Guard, mainly in consequence of the wars, which now being ended his Majesty decreed a diminution of the number of the Guard, and its re-establishment on an improved basis.

The ordinances went on to state that "the number of Yeomen is now so great, and they occupy the greatest part of the lodgings, and entertain, every of them, one or two lads or simple servants, whom they cannot afford to keep." It was then ordered that Yeomen Ushers have 12d per day and allowances, to keep no servants in the Court or suffer them to come there.

If any of the Guard offended they were to lose three day’s wages the first time; the second time a week, the third time a month, and for the fourth time they were to be expelled out of their rooms. As to the rest of those discharged, the King made them Yeomen of the Crown. "Any not having 2d per day wages to have an allowance of 6d per day unchequed; and those that have offices of 2d per day shall have besides 4d, per day unchequed. To be allowed to repair to their dwellings, but to be ready to attend the King when he required them, and as they die no new ones to be appointed." The Yeomen Waiters, upon their waiting-day, were to "*** the haute place at the King’s chamber door of all manner of servants, rascals, boys, and others, so as the same place be not pestered with any great number of persons and that they see that the same haute place be clean kept, so that no waste water, broken-meat, or other thing be cast or remain there to the annoyance and filthiness of the same."

The principal result of the revised statutes and ordinances was that the Guard was reduced from 600 to 200, and their several duties and privileges were accurately defined. On this subject Hall says; - "Alas! What sorrow and what lamentation was made when all these persons should depart the Court. Some said that the poor servants were undone and must steal; some said they were found of the reversions (remains) of the other service, so that for them was nothing more set out at the dresser, and it was great charity to find them. Others said how they would polle (cheat) in their countreys, and oppress the poor people."


The picturesquely handsome uniform which the Yeomen of the Guard now wear is not like that which they wore in 1520. This may be seen from an inspection of the accompanying sketches. Indeed, there was obviously a good deal of diversity in the cut and colour of the dress worn by the Guard previously to 1527. In that year the King gave an order for a livery of red; that is, scarlet cloth for his Guard, and the coats were ordered to be embroidered front and back, with the crowned rose for badges. The coats were to be made to reach down to the knees. The caps to be of black velvet, round, and broad crowned, with ribbons of the King’s colours. The breeches were to be scarlet, and to reach to the knee, and to be guarded with velvet. They also wore grey stockings and broad-toed shoes with knee-bows, that is, roses made up of bows of ribbon, and shoe-bows to match. The cross-belt for the arquebuss went over the left shoulder, and there was a waist-belt with a frog on the left side for the sword. From an entry in the Household Books dated 29th March, 1532, we find that the shooters’ livery coats cost £1 2s 6d each, the charge for two being "xlvs."

A MS at Heralds’ College contains the following copy of a Payment by Warrant, dated 1543:-

"Item, to Simond FitzRichards and Robert Perry, Yeomen of the Guarde, for their costs in going to London for the riche cotes of the Guard against Whitsuntide by the space of iiij days every of them, and for ij carts for carriage of the said riche coates from London to Kingston-upon-Thames, and for ij carts to carry the said cotes from Kingston to London again by the King’s highness commandmte, as appeareth by a byll signed with Chamberlayne’s hand, xiiijs, viiid."


Being so much employed in the wars it was only natural that Henry should arm his favourite Guard with the very best weapons obtainable, and of the newest kind. Fire-arms had begun to attract considerable attention, so much, indeed, that Acts of Parliament were passed to prevent the bow being entirely discarded. Nevertheless, Henry armed part of this Body Guard with the new arquebuss, and the accompanying sketch is made from one of these weapons still preserved in the Tower of London. This arquebuss had seen some rough usage in its time, and may have been hidden in the ground, for all the metal work is eaten with rust and the mahogany stock is black. But apart from its probable connection with the Yeomen of the Guard, this weapon is remarkable as being a breech-loader and as having a solid cartridge-case, another illustration of the adage that "there is nothing new under the sun". The breech is opened by a hinged flange very similar to the breech arrangement of the rifles of the present day, except that it opened from right to left, whereas the snider rifle and carbine open from left to right.

The cartridge-case is of iron, and when charged with powder and ball was inserted in the breech, so that the touch-hole should come opposite a similar hole connected with the priming-pan. The flange was then turned over, and the breech being closed the cartridge-case became fixed in the required position. The weapon was fired by pulling the trigger, which brought down the smouldering match to the priming-pan, and set light to the powder. To re-load it was only necessary to open the breech, take out the empty cartridge-case, fill it again or insert another case already filled. Whether there were any complaints by the Yeomen of "jammed cartridges" is not recorded, but the principle of solid cartridge-cases which is now being reverted to in the army is evidently as old as the hills.

The arquebuss is undoubtedly of the period ascribed to it, for it bears on the band on the barrel the letters H.R. deeply embossed, and on the flange (but partly on the barrel) is the date 1537. On the flange itself is the crowned rose; and the arms of Henry VIII can be traced, as well as the letters W.H., which are supposed to be the initials of the gunsmith who made the weapon. On the brass leaf ornament, on the stock in the rear of the breech, there is a faint outline of an engraving of an arquebussier on horseback.

The remarkable weapon is complete, with the exception of the cleaning road (for which there is a receptacle), and the lid of the cavity in the stock is missing. The barrel is twenty-three inches long.


Shooting in fanciful positions seems to have been practised by archers centuries ago as it is now by the riflemen at the Wimbledon Prize Meetings. Hall in his Life of Henry VIII, relates that:-

"There came to his Grace King Henry the Eighth a certain man, with a bowe and arrowe, and he desired his Grace to take the muster of him, and to see him shoote; from that tyme hys Grace was contented; the man put hys one fote in his bosome, and so dyd shoote, and shote a very good shote, and well towards his marke; whereof not only his Grace, but all others, greatly merveyled; so the King gave him a reward." The man was afterwards known by the sobriquet of "Fote-in-bosome."

The title of "The Duke of Shoreditch" originated under the following circumstances:-

"The King having appointed a great archery meeting at Windsor, there came amongst the competitors a famous archer from Shoreditch named Barlow, and he shot so well that he surpassed all the others, which, so much pleased the King, who being in a merry mood, jocosely dubbed the champion The Duke of Shoreditch and this title was long afterwards retained by the captain for the time being of the English archers."

The following narrative taken from Hall introduces the Yeomen of the Guard in an entirely new uniform; the Captain Sir Henry Guildford, appearing as Robin Hood and the Guard as foresters:-

"The King and Queen, accompanied with many lords and ladies, rode to the high ground of Shooter’s Hill to take the open air, and as they passed by the way they espied a company of tall Yeomen, clothed all in green, with green hoods and bows and arrows, to the number of two hundred. Then one of them, which called himself Robin Hood, came to the King, desiring him to see his men shoot, and the King was content. Then he whistled and all the two hundred archers shot and loosed at once; and then he whistled again and they likewise shot again; their arrows whistled by craft of the head, so that the noise was strange and great, and much pleased the King, the Queen, and all the company.

All these archers were of the King’s Guard, and had thus apparelled themselves to make solace to the King. Then Robin Hood desired the King and Queen to come into the green wood, and to see how the outlaws live. The King demanded of the Queen and her ladies if they durst adventure to go into the woods with so many outlaws. Then the horns blew till they came to the wood under Shooter’s Hill, and there was an arbour made with boughs, with a hall and a great chamber, and inner chamber, very well made, and covered with flowers and sweet herbs, which the King very much praised. Then, said Robin Hood, sir, outlaws’ breakfast is venison, and therefore you must be content with such fare as we use. Then the King departed and his company, and Robin Hood and his men then conducted."

In the Household Books there are many entries relating to the making and repairing the butts and targets, but the mark for the best shots was a hazel rod or wand. The prize was usually an arrow of silver or gold. This appears from on old poem entitled "The Mery Gest of Robyn Hood," in which we read:-

He that Shoteth al of the best
Furthest, fayre, and lowe.
At a payre of goodly buttes
Under the greenwood show,
A right good arrowe he shal have
The shaft of silver whyte
The head and fethers of riche red gold,
In England none is lyke.
Thrise Robin shot about
And away he cleft the wand.

Amongst other items of interest in this reign the following relate to the Yeomen of the Guard:-

1519 – The King sent 100 of his Guard with the Earl of Surrey to Ireland on his appointment to the post of Viceroy or Deputy, as the Lord Lieutenant was then called.

1521 – Part of the Guard were selected by the King to accompany Cardinal Wosley to France on the occasion of his going there to act as mediator between Francis 1. and the Emperor Charles V.

By the King’s command Sir Henry Morney (Captain of the Guard from 1521 to 1523), with 100 of the Guard, attached the Duke of Buckingham and conveyed him a prisoner to the Tower of London; Sir William Kingston, Knight, who was Captain from 1523 to 1536, was sent by the King to Sheffield to take Cardinal Wolsey to the tower as a prisoner.

This next entry is somewhat obscure "26th August 1531 – Paid by the King’s command, to the Garde for to eat a buck at Woodstock," Whether the King was in a merry mood and made a bet that the members of the Guard then at Woodstock could not eat a buck, or whether the forty shillings was to buy a buck, is uncertain. Sir H. Nicholas, in his notes on the Household books, says "it is not easily explained."

1544 – The Yeomen were present at the siege of Boulogne, and this appears to have been the last occasion on which they acted with the army.

Ashmole states that in his time there was in the churchyard of Shottesbrooke, in Berkshire, a marble gravestone whereon are inserted brasses with the following epitaph:-


Noke was a native of Bray in Berkshire. This chapter may appropriately, be concluded with the following anecdote of Henry VIII. The King was fond of disguising himself, and in this manner going about among his subjects. An escapade of this kind is said by Fuller to have given to the Yeomen of the Guard the sobriquet of Beefeaters:-

Once, while on a hunting expedition at Reading Abbey, he dressed himself in the uniform of one of his Yeomen of the Guard, and so disguised paid a visit to the Abbot about dinner-time. Being apparently one of the King’s retinue he received welcome form the Abbot, and was invited to dine at his own table. The principal dish was a large joint of beef, and the King, being "hungry as a hunter," ate heartily, yes voraciously of the meat. The Abbot, observing his evident enjoyment, addressed him, saying, "Well fare thy Heart! And here in a cup of sack I remember the health of His Grace your master. I would an hundred pounds if I could eat as heartily of beef as you. Alas! my weak and squeamish stomach will only digest a piece of a small rabbit or a chicken." After courteous thanks the guest departed.

In a few weeks after the Abbot was committed, he knew not, why, a close prisoner to the Tower, and his food was limited to the usual prison fare – bread and water, and with this he had to be content for some time. At least, to his surprise and delight, a joint of beef was put before the prisoner and he attacked it with gusto. While so employed the Abbot was astonished to see the King enter the room and demand a hundred pounds of him for having restored to him his lost appetite for roast beef. The money was ultimately paid, and the prisoner released, and ever thereafter whenever the Abbot saw a Yeoman of the Guard he thought of the Beefeater, and the King in disguise as a Yeoman of the Guard. The tale is told by some other historians with some slight variations, and it is just possible that the jocular name of Beefeater was given to the Guard when this bit of waggery came to be told and repeated, as it would be with great glee.

EDWARD VI 1547 to 1553

EDWARD VI , or rather perhaps his Council, soon set aside the Statues of Eltham. The strength of the Corps was again fixed at 200, of whom 66 ranked as Yeomen in Ordinary and the rest as Yeomen Extraordinary. There were also 15 sent to Tower to do duty as Warders.

Young as he was, Edward seems to have taken great care in the selection of his Guard, and Sir John Hayward in his Life and Reigns of Edward VI, says that "Generally none might be of his Guarde but (besides of tall and comely stature) such as were either good archers or wrestlers or casters of the barre or leapers or runners or of some other man-like quality." But the Guard appears to have been under the direct control of the Lords of the Council. According to Stove, they sent Sir Anthony Wingfield, the Captain of the Guard, to the King at Windsor, and severed the Lord Protector from his person, and caused the Guard to watch him till the Lords coming.

The following items are from the Council Register:-

"At Westminster, 16th October, 1550, a warrant was issued to deliver £77 7s to 24 Yeomen of the guarde for waiting 17 days, after the rate of xiid, by the day, to be paid to John Peers, Clerk of the Cheque." This is the first occasion that the Clerk of the Cheque is mentioned. The office is further noticed in the chapter on Officers: but the following extracts show that, though the Clerk was granted a pension, he continued to fulfil at least some part of the duties of his office:-

Westminster 28 June1550. That John Peers, Clerke of the Checke of the Garde, in consideration of his long and painfull (painstaking) service, shall have a pension of £20 a year.

At Oatlands, the 28th Sept 1550. "A warrant to Sir Edmond Peckham to deliver unto Sir William Cavendish, the Treasurer of the Chamber, £204. 12s to be paid to John Peers, Clerk of the Checke, for the wages of the Garde for the month of September, 1550."

At Westminster on the 25th November, 1550. "A warrant in parchment to the Treasurer of the Xths (Tenths) to pay £156 for the watch liveries of the garde."

At Westminster, the 7th December, 1550. " A warrant to pay £305 to John Pyeres (Peers), Clerk of the Checque, for the payment of one hundreth Yeomen Extraordinaire attending aboute the King’s Majesty’s person the months of October and November, being in number 56 daies at xiid euerie of the day."

At Westminster, xth, December 1551. "A warrant to the Chancellor and Treasurer of the Augmentations Court, to deliver unto John Peers, Clerk of the Cheque, the sum of £300 to be by him defrayed about payment of wages due to the Garde."

Regarding uniform there is little or nothing to be said, except that in a coloured drawing of the procession of Edward VI, from the Tower the trunk-hosen are of different colours, An order for clothing mentions red caps and red coats, but the colour of the rest of the uniform is not specified.

Regarding weapons, the copy of the King’s diary (published in the Archaeologia) shows that he was a patron of the art of archery, and could use the bow with some skill. His guard were partly armed with halberds, cross-bows, and hand-guns: but the use of these weapons by the people generally was forbidden by law, under a penalty of ten pounds,

The King writes; "There mustered before me 100 archers, two arrows apiece, all of the Guarde, who afterwards shot together, they shot at an inch board, which some pierced quite and stuck in the other board. Divers pierced the target, quite through with the heads of their arrows, the board being very well seasoned timber."

On the occasion of an archery fete given to entertain the French Ambassador, M.le Marechal St. Andre the King says, "He saw me shoot, and saw all my Guarde shoot together."

As the Guarde became used to the new weapon, called the carabine, with which some of them were now armed, the bowmen were less numerous, and their number was again lessened by the introduction of a handsome weapon of the bill type, called a partizan, with which about half of the Corps were armed,. This is the same weapon which is still carried by the Guard. The original partizans were however about ten feet long, whereas those in present use are only seven feet eight inches. The royal arms and initials "E.R." were engraved on the head. There are several of these old partizans in the Tower, but their exact age cannot be traced, as the rust of centuries, combined with the systematic polishing of latter times, have left but the semblance of the original enrichments. The name partizan was derived from a French bill or pike carried by the Garde de la Manche called " la pertusane." Sir Thomas More, writing about the Guard, calls them billmen, and such they really were, for all the pikes, except those having axe-heads, were varieties of the bill. Leland in his account of the procession of the King from the Tower to Westminster, taken from a manuscript formerly belonging to William le Neve, Norroy King-at-Arms, quotes as follows, "On 9th February, 1547, the Pensioners and Men of Arms with their halberds in their hands."

The "pole-axes" still carried by the Gentlemen-at Arms are called halberds. The Guard at this period always brought up the rear of the royal processions.

MARY 1553 to 1558

In the Household Book of Queen Mary, under date 1553, is recorded that there were then on the salaried establishment of the Yeomen of the Guard:-

1 Clerk of the Cheque £20 per annum
4 Ushers £4   11s   3d per annum
200 Yeomen of the Guard in Ordinary 1s    4d per day
207 Yeomen Extraordinary 66 at  6d per day
141 at 4d per day

And there were also 30 Yeomen of the Crown whose pay was at the rate of 6d a day. The subjoined items indicate very clearly what gorgeous uniforms the Guard wore in Mary’s reign:-

"At the Coronation, 1st October, 1553 then came the Captain of the Guard and the Guard following him in their rich coats."

"1553- Copy of a warrant for payment to Peter Richardson, maker of spangles for the rich coats of the Queen’s Highness’s Guard, the sum of £1,000."

By another warrant of the same year there is authority "to pay to the above-mentioned Peter Richardson, gold-smith for 7175 oz of spangles gilt, delivered to the Queen’s embroiderers for embroidering the coats of Her Majesty’s Guard.

At the Court of St. James’s the 17th November, 1555, there was an order made for "A warrant to the Treasurer and Chamberlain of the Exchequer to pay, to Mr. Walgrave, Mr (Master) of the Great Wardrobe, £275, to be by him paid over for the watch and liveries due to the Yeomen of the Garde at Michaelmas 1554."

"At Eltham, 6th August, 1556. "This day, my Lords of the Council, upon considering of the state of things at this time, resolved, for the preventing of all inconvenience that might happen and safeguard of the King and Queen’s Majesty’s persons, if need should require, that Mr. Comptroller, in the absence of the Lord Steward, and Mr. Treasure and Mr. Underchamberlain, in the absence of the Chamberlain, should to-morrow in the morning call before them the Officers of the Household and the Yeomen of the Guard, and other servant under their charge, and to inquire what armour and weapons each of them hath".

It is very much to be feared that the large increase in the number of the Yeomen Extraordinary was due to the terrible work allotted to them of attending the punishment and execution of the unfortunate people who were condemned to be burned or tortured as heretics. They appear to have been especially selected for their horrible vocation for we read only too often of the needles torture inflicted by the Guard, and many revolting acts of cruelty are also laid to there charge. They were indeed Yeomen "Extraordinary."

ELIZABETH 1558 to 1603

Contemporary records show that the Corps was kept up to its strength of 200 in Elizabeth’s reign; the number of the Yeomen Extraordinary, however, was altered to the somewhat curious total of 107. The thirty Yeomen of the Crown were retained, and four Ushers were appointed.

From a volume in Sir Hans Sloane’s library, now in the British Museum, the salaries in this reign appear to have been as follows:-

Clerk of the Cheque, fee £20; ordinary Yeomen (200), fee to each, 16d per day; extra Yeomen (107) 41 had 8d and 66 4d; Yeomen of the Crown (30), 5d each. In another undated list (probably 1592) it is stated that the pay of the ordinary Yeomen was 20d per day.

No very material changes in regard to uniform appear to have been introduced during this reign. On a monument (dated 1568) at East Wickham Church (Kent) there is an effigy of a Yeoman of the Guard named William Payn, who died in this year. He is clad in his uniform, on which is to be traced the embroidery of a rose, surmounted by a crown. He wears a beard and ruff with trunk-breeches, and has a sword by his side.

On his visit to the Tower, Hentzner saw, amongst other things "a great many rich halberds, commonly called partizans with which the Guards defend the Royal person in battle."

During this reign letters to several counties were sent "for the putting in readiness a certain number of men to serve for the Guard of Her Majesty’s person, whereof, of every 100, twenty were appointed to be armed with pikes, for the shot, and the rest bows and bills, according to a minute remaining in the Council chest."

Paul Hentzner, in his valuable work, A Journey into England, dated 1598, states that he saw Queen Elizabeth dine in public in that year, when the Yeomen attended and served the dinner bareheaded. They wore scarlet with a golden rose on their backs. The statement respecting their being bareheaded is, how-ever, of doubtful accuracy, as the custom was and is to wear the hat in the presence of Royalty, and not to doff it even if addressed by the Sovereign.

Paul Hentzner, during his before-mentioned visit to England in 1598, had the opportunity of attending at the Royal Palace at Greenwich, and there saw the Queen in all the magnificence of royal ceremonial. Queen Elizabeth was fond of Greenwich. It was her birthplace, and she kept her Court there in great splendour.

Hentzner’s visit was on a Sunday. He tells us that he saw the Queen go to chapel attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London and a grand suite of noblemen. The guard consisted of the Gentlemen Pensioners, fifty in number, carrying gilt battle-axes. The service scarcely exceeded half-an-hour, and then Her Majesty returned in the same state and order to dinner. His narrative is continued as follows:-

"We saw her table set out with the following solemnity; A gentlemen entered the room bearing a rod, and along with him another who had a table-cloth, which, after they had both kneeled three times, with the utmost veneration, he spread upon the table, and after kneeling again they both retired. Then came two others, one with the rod again, the other with the salt-cellar, a plate and bread; when they had kneeled, as the others had done, and placed what was brought upon the table, they two retired with the same ceremonies performed by the first. At last came an unmarried lady (we were told she was a countess), and along with her a married one, bearing a tasting-knife; the former was dressed in white silk, who, when she had prostrated herself three times, in the most grateful manner, approached the table, rubbing the plates with bread and salt, with a as much awe as if the Queen had been present; when they had waited there a little while the Yeomen of the guard entered bareheaded, clothed in scarlet, with golden roses upon their backs, bringing in at each turn a course of twenty-four dishes, served in plate, most of them gilt; these dishes were received by gentlemen in the same order they were brought, and placed upon the table, while the lady-taster gave to each of the Guard a mouthful to eat of the particular dish he had brought, for fear of poison. During the time that this guard, which consist of the tallest and stoutest men that can be found in all England, being carefully selected for this service, were bringing dinner, twelve trumpets and two kettle-drums made the hall ring for half-an-hour together. At the end of all this ceremonial a number of unmarried ladies appeared, who with particular solemnity lifted the meat off the table and conveyed it into the Queen’s inner and more private chamber, where, after she had chosen for herself, the rest goes to the ladies of the Court."

The Queen visited Archbishop Parker at Canterbury in 1573, when to custom the Gentlemen Pensioners, and not the Yeomen of the Guard, carried up the Royal dinner.


The following quaint and interesting description of the Order of the Maundy made at Greenwich, 19th March, 1572, by William Lambarde, was read before the Society of Antiquaries, 16th March 1749:

"First, the hall was prepared with a long table on each side and forms set by them; on the edges of which tables, and under those forms, were layed carpets and cushions for her Majesty to kneel when she would wash them (the poor). There was also another table laid across the upper end of the hall, somewhat above the foot pace for the chappelan to stand at. A little beneath the midst whereof, and beneath the foot pace, a stool and cushion of estate was pitched for her Majesty to kneel at during service-time. This done, the holy water, bason, alms, and other things being brought into the hall, and the chappelan and poor folk having taken their said place, the Yeoman of the Laundry, armed with a fair towel, and taking a silver bason, filled with warm water and sweet flowers, washed their feet, all. One after another, wiped the same with his towel. And so, making a cross a little above the toes kissed them. After him within a while followed the sub-almoner, doing likewise, and after him the almoner himself also; then lastly her Majesty came into the hall, and after some singing and prayers made, and the Gospel of Christ’s washing his disciples’ feet read, thirty-nine ladies and gentlemen, for so many were the poor folk (according to the number of years complete of her Majesty’s age), addressed themselves with aprons and towel to wait upon her Majesty; and she kneeling down upon the cushions, and carpets under the feet of the poor women, first washed one foot of every of them in so many several basons of warm water and sweet flowers, brought to her severally by the said ladies and gentlewomen, when wiped, crossed, and kissed them, as the almoner and other had done before.

When her Majesty had thus gone through the whole number of thirty-nine, of which twenty sat on the one side of the hall and nineteen on the other, she resorted to the first again, and gave to each one certain yards of broad-cloth to make a gown. Thirdly, she began at the first, and gave to each of them a pair of shoes. Fourthly, to each of them a wooden platter, wherein was half a side of salmon, as much lyng, sic red herring, and two cheat (wheaten) loaves of bread. Fifthly, she began with the first again, and gave to each of them a white wooden dish with claret wine. Sixthly, she received of each waiting-lady and gentlewoman, their towel and apron, and gave to each poor woman one of the same. And after this the ladies and gentlewomen waited no longer, nor served as they had done throughout the courses before; but the treasurer of the chamber (Mr Henneage) came to her Majesty with thirty-nine small white purses wherein were also thirty-nine pence (as they say), after the number of years of her Majesty’s age; and of him she received and distributed them severally; which done she received of him so many several red leather purses each containing twenty shillings, for the redemption of her Majesty’s gown, which (as men say) by ancient order she ought to give to some one of them at her pleasure; but she, to avoid the trouble of suit which accustomably was made for that preferment, had changed that reward into money to be equally divided amongst them all, namely, twenty shillings a piece, and those she also delivered particularly to each one of the whole company; and so taking her case upon the cushion of state, and hearing the choir a little while, her Majesty withdrew herself, and the company departed; for it was by the time the sun-setting


By far the most prominent and distinguished officer of the Guard in Queen Elizabeth’s reign was Sir Christopher Hatton; according to all accounts a very remarkable man and a great favourite of the Sovereign. The story of his introduction to the Queen and his subsequent rapid promotion is very interesting. Elizabeth was present in the year 1568 at a Masque in the Temple, the Master of the Games being a certain young student named Christopher Hatton, who distinguished himself very considerably as the part author of a tragedy called "Tancred and Gismond," given before the Queen on this occasion by the students. So struck was the impressionable Sovereign by the good looks and noble bearing of the youthful student, that she at one gave him an appointment, in her household- probably as Keeper of Eltham Palace.

Other honours soon followed. The lucky law-student was next promoted to the post of a Gentleman Pensioner and then to that of Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Soon after he was appointed Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, and lastly was created Lord Chancellor, having already been knighted and appointed Vice-Chamberlain to the Queen.

Hatton, knowing his power, set his heart upon having part of Ely Place for a residence and easily induced the Queen to ask the Bishop of Ely to let her have the property. But the Bishop was obstinate, urging that he must not scatter what his predecessors had gathered. Whereupon the Queen wrote the famous epistle:-

"PROUD PRELATE, You know what you were before I made you what you are now; if you do not immediately comply with my request, by G-D! I will unfrock you".

In the Lives of the Chancellors (1708) is the following eulogistic account of Hatton’s career:-

"Sir Christopher Hatton, Knight, was the next person the Queen was pleased to pitch upon for the Great Seal of England, which was delivered to him on the 29th of April, 1587, in the 29th of her reign, with the title of Lord Chancellor; some were of opinion that this was not so much the Queen’s own choice as that she was persuaded to it by some that wished Sir Christopher ill, that thereby he might be absent from the Court, and in expectation that such a sedentary life for a corpulent means, that had been used to exercise, would be a means to shorten his life, wherein were not much mistaken.

"This gentleman was born at Holdenby, in Northamptonshire, but descended from an ancient family in Cheshire, deriving its pedigree from Nigel, Baron of Hatton, in that country. He was bred up to the Law in the Inns of Court, but more like a gentleman than one that pretended to raise himself by that profession. He was first taken notice of by the Queen for the comeliness of his person and his graceful dancing in a mask at court, but more afterwards for his great abilities. He came first to be one of the Queen’s Gentlemen Pensioners, then Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and next Captain of the Guard, from which office he stept to be Vice-Chamberlain and one of the Privy Council. And at last Lord Chancellor, with the addition of the Garter. He was one of those, when Vice-Chamberlain, that was delegated to try the Queen of Scots for her conspiracies against Queen Elizabeth.

"This gentleman had a large share of gifts and natural endowments; his features, his gait, his carriage, his parts and prudence, strove how to set him out. But as his abilities were much above his experience, so was this above his learning, and his learning above his education.

What he did was so exactly just and discreet, and what he spoke so weighty, that he was chosen to keep the Queen’s conscience as her Chancellor and to express her sense as speaker. The courtiers that envy all the last capacity, were by his power necessitated to confess their errors; and the serjeants that refused to plead before him at first could not but own his abilities.

His place was above his law, but not above his parts, which were so very pregnant and comprehensive that he could command other men’s knowledge to as good purpose as his own. And whereas ‘tis said the civil law is sufficient to dictate equity, he made use of Sir Richard Swale, Doctor of the Civil Law, as a servant and friend, who’s advice he followed in all matters of moment. His station was great, his despatches were quick and weighty, his order many, yet all consistent, being very seldom reversed in Chancery and his advice opposed more seldom in Council. He was so just that his sentence was a law to the subject, and so wise that his opinion was an oracle to the Queen.

"However, Queen Elizabeth, who never forgave debts, calling upon him for an old one and rigorously insisting upon prompt payment, he was startled at it, because he could not do it at that time, and that backstroak went so close to his heart that it threw him into a mortal disease. The Queen, being indeed sorry for what she had done, endeavoured all she could to recover him, and brought him cordials with her own hands; but all would not do. And so he died a bachelor in the year 1591, and was buried under a stately monument, under the choir of St. Paul’s.

"This gentleman had adopted Sir William Newport, his sister’s son, to be his heir, who whereupon changed his name to Sir William Hatton; but in default of issue male by him he settled the greatest part of his estate upon his godson, Christopher Hatton, son and heir of John Hatton, his nearest kinsman of the male line, which Christopher, upon the death of Sir William Newport, without issue male, did accordingly enjoy it, and was made Knight of the Bath at the coronation of King James I., from whom is descended the present Lord Viscount Hatton.."

The inscription on Hatton’s monument which stands on the right side of the choir in St Paul’s Cathedral, and is ornamented with pyramids of marble and alabaster, runs thus:-

20TH OF NOVEMBER, A.D. 1591.

Stowe says that "four score Yeomen attended the funeral."


A Somewhat celebrated Yeoman of this reign was Cornelius van Dun, to whose memory a marble tablet is erected in St. Margaret’s church, by Westminster Abbey. He was a native of Breds, and died in the year 1577. He had been Yeoman Usher to Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, and died at the ripe old age of 94 years. He was the founder of some almshouses in York Street, Westminster, in which provision was made for twenty poor widows. The houses were pulled down in 1850. He also bequeathed to the poor of St. Margaret’s, Westminster £20.

Records of other Yeomen worthies of this reign are rather scarce. Here is one item of interest, however. In St George’s Chapel, Windsor, near the north door, lie the remains of George Brook, who died 24th October, 1593. A mural brass informs us that he was "a Yeoman of the Guard unto Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth." It appears from an inscription on the brass that "out of a respect to the memory of the deceased and also to the honour and antiquity of the said guard, this plate was repaired, enlarged, and engraved, at the sole charge of Edward Phillips, Citizen and Merchant Taylor, of London: and one of the 100 Yeomen of the guard to King William III, and Queen Mary II, of blessed memory, and now to Her Majesty Queen Anne; in the sixth year of her reign, and the 52nd of his age, 1707.

The following is worth of notice, inasmuch as certain Yeomen of the guard figure in the affair in question:-

"At the Council Chamber, Westminster, 11th June, 1565."

"This day the quarrel and fray between the Earl of Ormond and Mr. Butler, his brother, and the Yeomen of the Guard, yesterday night at Westminster, was heard by the Lords of the Queen’s Majesty’s Privy Council. And thereafter their lordships upon the full understanding of the whole disorder it was ordered that the said Earl and his brother should be sent to the Fleet (prison). Edward Knight, Richard Jones, and Robert Gatton, three Yeomen of Guard, were this day committed t the prison of Marchelsea as principal offenders in the fray yesterday night."

It is recorded that all were discharged next morning, and here is a final item from the Registers of this reign:-

"At Richmond, the 25th Feb, 1574.

"A son of Edward Ap Rees was murdered; he was one of the Queen’s Guard."

JAMES I 1603 to 1625

On the accession of James I., the number of the Guard was again fixed at 200. Their pay was, on the intercession of the Captain, Sir Thomas Erskine, increased from 2s to 2s 4d per day for the summer, and from 20d to 2s for the rest of the year. And he also got the year divided equally between summer and winter, instead of there being three months summer and the rest winter as formerly.

Prince Henry had twenty of the Yeomen told off to attend to him and act as his Body-guard at St.James’s Palace. The King held his Court at Whitehall, and had six score of the guard with him, three score belonged to the Queen and one score as above mentioned.

In the orders for the household, of the Prince of Wales, dated at Richmond, 16th October, 1610, the following paragraphs relate to the Yeomen of the Guard:-

"That hereafter this may be observed in election of my Guard as place do fall, that such men be recommended unto me for that service as are well known to be of honest conversation, and withall able and active men qualified with some perfection, as wrestling, tossing the pike, shooting in a musket, or skill on his weapons, and such-like activity, more than to be able onely to wayte with a halberd in my great chamber, for I hold it fitting for the Court for a manly young Prince to have such a select Guard of able bodyes as may match any other men for their number, in all manly exercises whatsoever, wherein I respect not so much the greatness of their stature as these other habilities aforenamed, so that withal they will be well shapt and comely personages, and amongst them to have some that have been either Lieutenants, Ancients, or Sargeants, in the warres, I specially allowe of. "And that these places of my Guard be not traffickt or sould, but freely disposed of for merit and sufficiency, for them impoverished by purchasing their places in a mercenary manner, unworthy of a prince’s court that would be truly and worthily served."


The special occupation of the Yeomen Bed Goers and the appropriateness of their name is seen in the subjoined extract from the Council Register:-

"At the Star Chamber, ult, on Nov, 1617."

"A warrant to the Lord Stanhope for payment to be made unto Wm Hawkins, George Turner, and John Copping, 3 of the ordinary Yeomen of His Majesty’s Chamber, for the charges of themselves and their horses in attending on his Majesty’s bed, in his progress into Scotland and back, from the 10th of March, last past until the 22nd of September following, being 198 days after, the rate of 2s 6d per diem to each of them."

"At the Court of Whitehall, Sunday, 16th March, 1616.

"A warrant to the Lord Stanhope to pay unto Thomas Symcock and William Wannerton, two Yeomen Ushers of his Majesty’s Chamber, sent to view such houses as should be fit to entertain his Majesty, and also such towns and villages as should be convenient to lodge his Majesty’s train in his progress into Scotland and return from thence, the sum of four score pounds for their charge, pains, expenses."

The first search for Guy Faux was made at midnight, 4th November, 1605. The ceremony is fully described in the chapter relating to the reign of Queen Victoria.

The Household Books of James I, show that the Captain of the Guard had a gown which cost £14 but no fee. The Clerk of the Cheque was paid 2s 6d per day.

CHARLES 1 1625 to 1649

I cannot better begin this chapter than by transcribing the extract I have made from the Household Book of King Charles I, preserved in the Record Office.

It is a handsome book of vellum, both leaves and cover; the latter ornamented with a gilt line all round, and the royal arms and initials as above. It is beautifully written in the "Italian hand," and the top of the first page is signed CHARLES R. The first letter is a German-text T with a shield (bearing the royal arms) in the centre. The letter is prettily illuminated in scarlet and gold.


"To establish government and order in Our Court, which from whence may spread with more honour through all parts of our Kingdoms. We have collected theise Articles conformable to the ancient ordinances of Our house, and command them to be duly observed in every point. Above stairs the Yeomen of Our Guard are to attend in Our Great Chamber as hath been accustomed. And because their service importeth not only the safety of Our person, but the honour of Our Court. We ordain that none hereafter be sworn and enrolled of that band that is not of tall personage, strong, active, and of manlie presence. And that such, according the Our prerogative, be chosen out of the servants of Our nobilities, or where els they may be found. And that they be freelie placed and enjoyned to execute their service in person not be excused by the attendance of extraordinary hired men as sometimes hath been done.

"The Yeomen Ushers and the Yeomen Waiters for the day shall be in the Great Chamber by six or seven of the clock in the morning to discharge the watch. The Usher to command a Yeoman to keep the doore and not to depart from the doore till the next waiter come to relieve him. And he that cometh last to keep it till Our board be taken downe after supper."

"The Yeomen Ushers are to see that the Chamber be kept cleane & sweet; and that they cause the dore to be carefullie kept, not suffering any footmen or other meane persons to enter."

"If there shall happen to disorder or quarrel among anie of Our servants in the Great Chamber, the Clarke of the Cheque or the Yeomen Ushers in his absence are to discharge them of theire attendance till the cause be heard and punished by the Lord Chamberlain."

"At Meals. The Yeomen of the Guard having brought up Our meate and performed theire other services shall presentlie retire themselves into the Greate Chamber."

"The Captain of the Guard to be allowed to attend the Chapel in the Stalles."

The ordinances were concluded by directing that they should be read twice a year at Michaelmas and Shrovetide in the several rooms of the Court.

There are a few alterations in the manuscript, and these are verified in the margin by the King, who has initialled them with the letters, C.R.

From the Council Register of 3rd June, 1626, I extract the following:-

"A warrant to Sir William Undale, Knight, Treasurer of his Majesty’s Chamber, to pay John Hoord, one of the Yeomen of His Majesty’s Chamber, for himself and eight others of his fellows Yeomen of the said Chamber, the somme of thirty-five pounds for their attendance upon the Duchesse de Chivereux, at Whitehall and Richmond twenty-four days, vizt, from the 16th of June until the 9th of July, 1625." During the time that the King was staying at Oxford the Privy Council ordered:-

"That as often as His Majesty did ride abroad the Captain of His Majesty’ s Guard of Yeomen and the Lieutenant with four of the Gentlemen Pensioners should ride continually near His Majesty’s person and suffer no one of men condition or unknown to them to come near him."

In the third year of the reign of Charles I, the efficiency of the Guard was inquired into, and thirty of them, who, by reason of their age or ill-heath, were considered unfit for service, were relieved of their personal attendance, but they were to receive their wages during their lives without deduction.

On the 26th November, 1637, the King was present at a Council at Whitehall, when his Majesty expressed his pleasure that several former orders for government of the Royal household., especially the orders made in the reign of Henry VIII, should be considered, and he appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, the Lord High Treasurer, the Lord Privy Seal, and other to meet every Tuesday, beginning the 5th of December, 1637, and report thereon.

On the 29th March, 1639, it was ordered "that Maundy be kept at York, where the King will be;" and, to prevent the poor resorting to Whitehall, the Lord Mayor of London was required to get notices to this effect given out in all the City churches. The Yeomen of the guard performed their part of the ceremony as usual.

Under the date of 4th January, 1642, a contemporary chronicler records the unsuccessful attempt of Charles I, to arrest the Five Members at the House of Commons, on which occasion he was accompanied by his Guard of Pensioners and halberdiers. The next day the House resolved that "whereas His Majesty did the day before come to the House, attended with a great multitude of men armed in warlike manner with halberds, sword, and pistols, who came up to the very door of the House and placed themselves there in other places and passages near to the House, to the great terror and disturbance of the members then sitting and that the same was a high breach of the right and privileges of Parliament." The House also determined to have a Guard of their own, in whom they could confide.

This is the last record of the appearance of the Body-Guard of Charles I; but they are known to have accompanied him to Hampton Court and York.

The following is the only extract that I can find that related to arms or drill of the Guard during the reign, but it is significant of the desire of the King to maintain the efficiency of the Corps.

At Whitehall, 18th January. 1627. His Majesty being present in person to preside over his Council. It was ordered to the effect that whereas "the Gentlemen Pensioners were anciently expert and ready horsemen," but, by reason of "the want of use through a long security," it was doubted if they would be found as skilful and fit as they should be, they were therefore to be drilled in horsemanship and in sword and pistol exercises."

Furthermore it was ordered that the Yeomen of the Guard should be armed with crosslets, pikes and muskets, and frequently exercised to the use of the same; which the Captain of the Guard was to see put in practice every week.

An entry like the following is a rarity:-

"Whitehall 12th July, 1640.

"The King and Board dismissed one of His Majesty’s Yeomen of the Guard in Ordinary on the information of the Deputy-Lieutenant of Berks for misbehaving, to the great prejudice and scandal of His Majesty’s service; and the Earl of Morton, Captain of the Guard, was directed to dismiss the man and swear another in the place."

Later on it is recorded that the disgraced Yeoman was sent to the Star Chamber for trial.

The only Yeoman of any note in this reign is mentioned in the following extract and epitaph:-

"At Wingfield, in the county of Berks, a Yeoman of the Guard lies buried, and Ashmole says; "In the east wall of the south aisle is set a plate of brass, whereon is engraved the figure of one of the Yeomen of the Guard in his coat, holding his halberd in his left hand, and his right giving a loafe of bread to two poore men." Underneath is the following inscription:-

31 MARCH 1630

CHARLES 11 1649 TO 1685

After the death of Charles I, the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard became all but extinct. A few were attached to Charles II, in his exile, but when the Restoration became probable, the hopes of the Royalists revived, and when the King returned to England the glory of royalty was resumed with increased splendour. He had been preceded by the Earl of Norwich, Captain of the Guard, who got together the remnant of the old Guard, and had it in readiness to take part in the reception of the King. The Captain’s name is included in the list of the noblemen who attended the King "in his low and wandering condition."

During the interregnum, that is, from 1649 to 1660, there is, of course, nothing to record respecting the Yeomen of the Guard; we read, however, that one of them, George Richardson, who was "loyal and faithful in the late evil times, was plundered, imprisoned and quite ruined."

On the return of his Majesty to England the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard was resuscitated, and was included in "the Order of his Majesty’s Royal Proceeding through London on 29th May, 1660." Their lace in the procession is indicated in the following extracts from the Official Programme:-

THE GENTLEMEN PENTIONERS, With their Poll-Axes, all afoote.
THE DUKE OF ALBEMARLE, Master of the Horse.
SIR GEORGE CARTERET, Vice-Chamberlain.
THE EARL OF CLEVELAND, Captain of the Pentioners,
THE EARL OF NORWICH, Captain of the Guard
LORD VISCOUNT GRANDISON, Lieutenant of pentioners.
THE GUARD, all on foote, with Halberds.

And the same order of precedence was followed on the coronation day. 23 April, 1661.

The Yeomen Usher, under date of 22 April, 1661, makes note:-

"Monday, 22nd. The King rode from the tower through the City to Whitehall in order to coronation."

"Tuesday, 23rd. Crowned in the Abbey, and dined in Westminster Hall. At night left to my charge the Globe and two Sceptres, rich with jewels, which I delivered to the Dean of Westminster, Doctor Earle."

"4th March, 1660. At Whitehall.

"The Lords of the Council having made representations to His Majesty that there was a rumour spread abroad that divers persons in the King’s service had not taken the usual oath, it was ordered that the Lord Steward and the Lord Chamberlain, do see that the Royal servants under the respective jurisdictions do take anew the oath of allegiance or be dismissed."

The Guard were accordingly all resworn. Further precautions appear to have been necessary, for we find under date 18th July, 1660. "Present, His Majesty in person. The Council ordered that the Lord Steward and the Lord Chamberlain should inform themselves, if any, who had formerly served Oliver Cromwell, and were now disaffected to His Majesty, should be turned out. The Earl of Berkshire engaged to give the information,"


The elaborate ceremonial for making the King’s bed adopted in the reign of Henry VII, was again in practice, and in connection therewith the following equally quaint ceremony was gone through daily. It was called "The Service of All Night" and the following account of what was done thereat is taken from a record of the proceedings made by Ferdinand Marsham, who was an Esquire of the Body to King Charles II;-

"The Gentleman Usher Daily Waiter having the charge of constant attendance upon his Majesty until nine o’clock at night, called to the Yeoman Usher attending at the Guard Chamber Door for the Yeoman to attend him for All Night for the King. The Gentleman Usher went bareheaded, and the Yeoman to the pantry for bread, to the buttery for two flagons of beer, to the spicery for sugar, nutmeg, to the wine-cellar for two great flagons of wine, and drank the King’s health in both cellars, causing all to be uncovered, going back, and having a Groom of the Chamber carrying a lighted torch before the Gentleman Usher until he returned into the Presence Chamber, and lay all the service upon the cupboard there, and so deliver all to the Esquire of the Body and takes his leave.

"The Esquire then takes the inner keys and charge of All Night, call to the Yeoman Usher or Clerk of the Cheque for the Roll of the Watch, and the Page of the Presence with a silver bason with a wax mortar and sizes attend the Esquire into the Privy Gallery. Then he takes the bason, and carries it to the King’s bed-chamber and stays until His Majesty goes to bed, and then goes himself to bed under the state in the Presence Chamber in a pallet-bed sent up from the wardrobe.

"At eight o’clock in the morning there was the Esquire’s breakfast usually brought up to the Waiter’s Chamber, where the Gentleman Usher attended with a Quarter Waiter to relieve and discharge him, and to take care of the daily waiting, and to see the Presence and other chambers sweet and clean. The breakfast was a good piece of boiled beef of fourteen pounds weight, with bread, beer, and wine and sundries, a boiled capon, and a piece of veal or mutton."

There was a silk traverse hung up and drawn by the Page, and the chair turned and the Page lay on a pallet-bed without the traverse. The pallet-bed was a kind of truckle-bed on running castors, so that it could be moved about easily, and, if necessary, could be pushed under the King’s bed.

In later days it was customary for the Exon in Waiting who had charge of the Guard to sleep on a bed of this kind before the door of the King’s bed-chamber, so that no one could enter without moving the bed and so waking him.

"After the Esquire of the Body had carried the mortar into the bed-chamber and received the word (watchword) of the King, with his treble (triple) key which the Esquire in Waiting always had, he locked the outward doors leading into the privy lodgings, and then went into the Guard Chamber and set the watch. He then returned to the Presence Chamber, where he lodged under the canopy, being the chief officer of the night."

The Bed-chamber Orders for 1685 direct that the Esquire is to bring the mortar and receive the watchword.

The Statues of Eltham (epitomised under the reign of Henry VIII.) provided that after All Night was served, no one was to be permitted to come into the Presence Chamber except the two gentlemen who slept in the Privy Chamber. It is to be observed that according to the New Book of the Household of Edward IV. (1478) All night was served in a very similar manner in the reign of that monarch. From Candlemas to Michaelmas the ceremony (according to the Ordinances of 1478) took place "by day-light; and from Michaelmas to Candlemas by eight o’clock at farthest"

Before leaving this subject of All Night it will be well to explain that the mortar mentioned in the ceremony is a night lamp, and was thus prepared;-"The Esquire takes from the cupboard a silver bason, and therein pours a little water, and then sets a round cake of virgin wax, in the middle of which is a nick of bombast cotton, which being lighted burns as a match light at the King’s bedside."

"For by that mortar which I see brenne, Know I ful well that day is not far hennie".  Trovil & iv line 1245.

At the regal State dinners in the reign of Charles II, it was the custom of one part of the Yeomen to bring in the dishes and retire as soon as dinner was served, and another party took post in the Presence Chamber.

In order to enable the King to live, with his revenues the Council decreed on 31 Jan. 1667, that there should be a reduction of half the wages paid to all the Officers and Servants of the Royal Household. But this reduction was not a matter of very serious importance when it was impossible to get any pay at all.

Ways and Means were important matters in the reign of the "Merry Monarch," and the references in the Council Registers and the records of the time to the question of pay are numerous. The following are sufficient to indicate that the many attempts at retrenchment in the household expenses were certainly needed. Still, in the face of these financial troubles we find the salary of the Captain of the Guard increased from a nominal honorarium to £1,000 a year and the Clerk of the Cheque received an increase from £20 to £150 per annum. A Lieutenant was appointed with a stipend of £500 a year, and Esquire with £300, and four Exempts with £150. The number of the Guard was fixed at 100, with 6 Yeomen Hangers and 2 Yeomen Bed Goers.

Retrenchment being the order of the day in the King’s Household, his Majesty in Council on 8th July, 1668, approved the scheme for reducing the number of Gentlemen Pensioners, but the numerical strength of the Yeomen of the Guard was not altered.

But the poor Yeomen could get no pay, and, on the 4th January, 1668, it is recorded that they lodges a petition in the council Chamber, upon which it was reported that "His Majesty, taking into consideration the great wants and necessities whereunto most of the petitioners are reduced, recommended to the Lords of the Treasury to take an effectual course that the petitioners may have some present supply, according to their respective arrears."

At his time there had been no salaries paid for nearly four year, and they royal servants offered £12 per cent, for immediate payment of their arrears of pay, but without any result, for the treasury was empty.

But to get rid of some of the complainants it was ordered, on 15th February, 1668, that Viscount Grandison the Captain of the Guard, should, at the end of March, muster the whole of the Guard, and select from amongst them one hundred of the most likely "to give their continual attendance upon His Majesty’s person; these to form a new establishment and the remainder to be employed as His Majesty’s servants in other capacities."

The result of these recommendations was the new establishment referred to in the following extracts from the Council Register:-

"20th October, 1669, at Whitehall.

"Whereas the Right Honorable, the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury did this day humbly offer to His Majesty in Council the ensuring establishment of the Yeomen of the Guard of His Majesty’s Body as to their Officers, number, and respective pay, as followeth (vizt) that there by:

"There that be A Captain of the said Guard at the yearly pay of £1,000.

"A Lieutenant of £500 per ann.

"A Clerk of the Cheque at £150.

"Four Corporals, each at £150 per ann.

"One Hundred Yeomen in daily waiting, each at £30 per ann.

"Seventy Yeomen not in waiting, each at £15 per ann. Which said several sums amount in the whole unto £6,600 yearly.

"And when any of the said number on one hundred die that their places be filled up out of the seventy not in waiting, and that if any of the seventy die that no more be admitted in their rooms.

"Which establishment the King accepted, and directed the Captain of the Guard to remodel the Band accordingly. The names of the Officers of the Yeomen of the Guard of his Majesty’s body:-

George Lord Viscount Grandison Captain
Colonel Thomas Howard  Lieutenant
Edward Sackville, Esq Ensign
Richard Smith Clerk of the Cheque
Hugh Houghton Corporal
Roger Gardner Corporal
Edmund Ashton Corporal
Richard Sadlington Corporal

Then follow the names of 100 Yeomen and 70 - not in daily waiting"     


The "Merry Monarch" was undoubtedly in a merry mood after dining with the Lincoln’s Inn lawyers, on the 29th February, 1671, as witness the following account, taken from the books of the Inn. It will be observed that the students usurped the functions of the Guard by serving at the King’s table.

It is rather significant that amongst the then elected barristers is the name of Andrew Killegrew, the King’s jester.


"Whearin his most excellent Majestie, his Royal Highness the Duke of Yorke, his Highness Prince Rupert, and many lords and honourable person, have entred theire names with theire owne hands the nine and twentieth day of February, Anno Domini, 1671.

"A narrative of the King’s Majesties reception and enterteynment att Lincolne’s Inn the nyne and twentieth day of February, one thousand, six hundred and seventy-one.

"Sir Francis Goodericke, Knight, one of his Majesties learned Councell-att-law, and Solicitor-Generall to his Royal Hignesse the Duke of Yorke, being Reader of this Society of Lincolnes Inn for the Lent reading in the year, 1671, having invited the King, his Royal Hignesse, and Prince Rupert, and diverse of the nobilite, to dine in Lincolnes Inne Hall. On such day of his reading as his Majestie should make choice off, his Majestie was pleased to appoint Thursday, and nine and twentieth of February, 1671; and accordingly that day his Majestie, together with his said Royal Highnesse and his Highnesse Prince Rupert, being also attended by the Duke of Monmouth, the Duke of Richmond, the Earles of Manchester, Bath, and Anglesea, the Lord Viscount Halifax, Lord Bishop of Ely, Lord Newport, Lord Henry Howard, and divers others of great qualitie, came to Lincolnes Inne. His Majestie made his entrance thro’ the garden, at the great gate opening into Chancery Lane, next to Holborne, where Mr Reader and the rest of the benchers and associates waited his coming, and attended his Majestie up to the Tarras Walke, next the field, and soe through the garden, the trumpets and kettle-drums, from the leads over the highest bay-window, in the middle of the garden building, sounding all the while. And from the garden his Majestie went to the new councell chamber, the barristers and students, in their gownes, standing in a rowe on each side, between the garden and the councell chamber. After a little rest his Majestie viewed the chapell, returning agayne to the councell chamber; from thence as soon as his table (being placed upon the ascent at the upper end of the hall and railed in) was furnished, his Majestie was brought into the hall, where his Majestie sat under his canopy of state, being served by the Reader as sewer upon his knee with the towel before he did eat, his Royal Highnesse sitting at the end of the table, on his right hand, and Prince Rupert at the other end.

"The Dukes and Lords and other his Majesties attendants of qualitie, after some short tyme of waiting, had leave from his Majestic to sit downe to dinner, at tables prepared from them on each side of the hall. The Reader and some of the benchers, to witt, Sir Thomas Beverley, Master of Requests to him Majesties Sir Robert Adkins, Knight of the Bath, all the time of his Majesties dining waiting neere his Majesties chairs, and four, other of the benchers, Mr Day, Mr Pedley, Mr Stote, and Mr Manby, with white staffes, waited as controllers of the hall to keep good order; and about fifty of the barristers and students, the most part of them attending as waiters and carrying up his Majesties meat, which was served upon the knee, the rest of the barristers and students waiting upon the lords at their table. The three courses, wherein were exceeding great plenty and variety of dishes, and after them a most liberal banquet, was served up by the said barristers and students, and delivered by them upon their knees at the King’s table, the music, consisting of his Majesties violins, playing all the tyme of dinnar in the gallery at the lower end of the hall. Towards the end of dinnar, his Majestie, to doe a transcendant honour and grace to this Society, and to expresse his most gracious acceptance of their humble duty and affection towards him, was pleased to command the booke of admittances to be brought to him, and with his owne hand entered his royal name therein, most gratiously condescending to make himself a member therof, which high and extraordinary favour was instantly acknowledged by all the members of this Society then attending on his Majestie with all possible joy, and received with the greatest and most humble expressions of gratitude, it being an example not precedented by any former King of this realme; his Royal Highnesse and Prince Rupert followed this great and highest example, as also the Dukes and other gownes of the students and put them on, and in those gownes waited on his Majestie, with which his Majestie was much delighted, And his Majestie, thro’ his owne most obliging favour, vouchsafed to it, having made himselfe more nearly and intimately concerned for the good of this Society, was pleased himselfe to begin a health to the welfare thereof, and to cause it to be pledged in his owne presence, immediately gave the Reader leave to drink his Majesties heath, and to begin to his Royal Highnesse. Then, rising from dinnar, he was agayne attended to the new councell chamber, where he conferred the honour of knighthood on Mr Nicholas Pedley and Mr Richard Stote, two of the benchers who had in their turns beene Readers of this house, as also upon Mr James Butler, one of the barristers, and Mr Francis Dayrell, one of the students, that soe each degree and order of the Society might have a signall testimony of his Majesties high favour, His Majestie upon his departure mad large expressions of his most gracious acceptance of the enterteynment, and returned his thanks to the Reader, and was pleased to signify the great respect and esteem he should ever have for the Society.

"The Gentlemen of the Horse Guards, Yeomen of the Guard, and other inferior attendants, were bountifully enterteyned at the costs and charges also of the Reader. The Gentlemen of the Horse Guards dined in the old councell chamber; the Yeomen of the Guards in Mr Day’s chamber; and the coachmen and lacquies in the gardener’s house, to all their contentment.

"On Saturday, following, Mr Reader, Sir Robert Atkins, Sir Nicholas Pedley, and Sir Richard Stote, Benchers and Readers of Lincolne’s Inn, waited on his Majestie at Whitehall, being conducted to his Majesties presence by the Earle of Bath, and gave most humble thanks for that high and transcendant honour he had beene pleased to vouchsafe to this Society, which was graciously received by his Majestie, and he did the said Benchers the honour to kiss his hand."

In 1675 the Guard were in a poor plight. They could not get their pay, and in order to reduce expenses the Lord Steward cut off their allowance of diet. Whereupon they petitioned the King’s in Council. And explained, that although they had recently had £10 a year struck off their wages they were now required to give up their daily rations, and by reason of the reduction in number had to work longer. The King said it was never his intention to strike off the diet, and it was referred to the Duke or Ormond to set the matter right in accordance with his Majesty’s wishes.

On the 18th, June 1675 – a Petition was presented to the King, which is interesting as indicting the treatment accorded t the old Guard of Charles I, during the interregnum which followed the death of that monarch.

"18 June, 1675 – Petition of Mary Richardson, widow of late George Richardson, one of the Yeomen of the Guard, setting fourth that there was due to her late husband £107 9s 8d for salary, and £85 for liveries in all £192 9s 8d That her said husband was always loyal, faithful, and serviceable to his late Majesty, for which he was plundered, imprisoned, and quite ruined in the late evil times, and could leave his widow and children nothing but the above £192 9s 8d. The Petition was referred to the Treasury for favourable consideration.


Amongst the privileges claimed by the servants of the King, that of exemption from performing any parochial offices seems to have been a prominent one. Repeated applications were made to the Council for protection from arrest for neglecting to perform "watch and ward." On 8th May, 1663, in regard to one of these petitions, the King said that he "doth not take it well that his servants should be so required to serve in parochial matters, and ordered their exemption." The royal mandate, however, does not appear to have been acted upon, for on the 4 February 1680, we find that James Trumbull and others of the Yeomen of the Guard were indicted in the Crown Office and at Westminster. Sessions for not serving as watches, thereby being prevented from attending to their duties in his Majesty’s household.

The King considered that in "respect of their painful and continual attendance" on him both day and night they should be exempted from parochial watching, and directed the Attorney-General to put a stop to the proceedings.

On 22 October 1680, a draft Order was read at the Council Board for preserving the ancient privileges of the Yeomen of the Guard. Considerable importance was attached to the matter, for it appears that it was referred to the Law Officers to call in the assistance of His Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law to consider the draft Order and examine into privileges and report thereon. Exemption was claimed from all public and parish offices and duties, from serving on juries or in the militia, and from working on the highways.


The uniform during this reign is thus described:-

"The coat or tunic reaches below the knee, and has a capacious sleeve descending to the wrist. Buskins or short boots were worn, and afterwards shoes and scarlet stockings." The stockings appear to have varied in colour, being blue, red, grey or white.

The hats were made of black fluted velvet, low crowned, flat brim, ornamented with a band of coloured ribbons, red, white, and dark blue, tied up in bows and fastened on a plaited cord.

In the last year of the reign of King Charles II, - 1st October, 1684, His Majesty held a review on Putney Heath, to which the "State Guards" took part. They numbered 100 with 15 Ushers.

This custom of carrying the body of the King to the grave was resumed at the funeral of Charles II. Heretofore, since the death of Henry VII, the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber had performed the office, but the coffin of Charles II, was found to be too heavy for the Gentlemen, and required men of more robust habit. The Yeomen of the Guard were therefore called in to perform the mournful service; and they have carried the coffin at the subsequent royal funerals down to the time of the funeral of Princess Charlotte, on which occasion it is recorded that one of the Yeomen stumbled and hurt himself, and the custom was afterwards discontinued.

JAMES II 1685 to 1688

At the coronation of James II, and his Queen, which took place at the Abbey on 23rd April, 1685, the whole of the Yeomen of the Guard were on duty, and 100 of them with their Officers were in the procession. Fortunately the details of this grand coronation are preserved in the pages of Standford’s fine account of the proceedings: and as the whole of the procession has been accurately engraved we are able to get a very good idea of the appearance of the Guard at that time. Turning to the part that interests us most Standford tells us that:-

The Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, George Villiers, Viscount Grandison (an Irish Peer), marched immediately in rear of the King’s train-bearers. Near him on the right hand was the Duke of Northumberland, Captain of His Majesty’s troops of Horse Guards, who had on his right hand, the Earl of Huntingdon, Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners. Then came the Gentlemen of the Bed Chamber, and next:-

The Lieutenant of the Yeomen of the Guard, Thomas Howard, Esquire: and on his left the Ensign of the Yeomen of the Guard, Henry Dutton Colt, Esquire. Then followed the four Corporals or Exons namely, Robert Sayers, Esquire, William Haughton, Esquire, William Barlow, Esquire, Thomas Orme, Esquire leading the Yeomen of his Majesties Guard of his Body, being in number 100. They marched four abreast with partizans on their shoulders (for none of them carried carabines that day). Their coats were of red broad cloth with large sleeves gathered at the shoulder and wrists, full deep skirts, also gathered at the shoulder and wrists, full deep skirts, also gathered at the waste, with large breeches of the same, guarded with thick black velvet an inch in breadth. Upon their breasts and backs was embroidered, embossed, and enriched with silver plate gilt, the rose and crown, with His Majesty’s cipher, J.R., and underneath on a scroll of gold the King’s motto, Dieu et Mon Droit in black letters.

"Their bonnets were of black velvet, banded with white, crimson and blue ribbon, interwoven with large knots of the same; with grey worsted stockings and waste-belts of buff. (See accompanying engraving).

"Charles Villiers Esquire, a younger son of the Viscount Grandison, being absent, Mr Thomas Coleman, Deputy Clerk of the Cheque, was ordered to march in the rear, and closed the procession."

27 November, 1685 – The Petition of John King, who had been dismissed from his attendance as a Yeoman of the Guard, petitioned the King in Council to be restored, and the matter was referred to the Board of Green Cloth for consideration and report. The Corps was somewhat disorganised about this time, and there were several men dismissed. As there was a difficulty in getting money to pay the Guard it was ordered on 15th January, 1686, that the 70 Yeomen on half-pay should be continued and paid quarterly like the Yeomen in waiting from the commencement of his Majesty’s reign.

The following remarkable note is added: - "Arrears to be paid out of impositions on tobacco sugar imported between 24th June, 1685 and 24th June, 1693."

The 30th of October. 1685, was the bicentenary of the formation of the Guard, but there does not appear to have been any special celebration of the day. Perhaps as the men could not get their pay there was little cause for rejoicing.

The Ordinances of the previous reign were re-issued with scarcely any alteration except that it was thereby ordered that forty of the Yeomen of the Guard should be constantly in attendance to the King when he went abroad as well as when he was at home, and the officers of the Household and Yeomen of the Guard were to be sworn to obey all orders coming from the Lord Chamberlain or Vice Chamberlain.

The King left the country on 11th December, 1688, and in the February following the Prince of Orange ascended the throne.

WILLIAM III and MARY II  1689 to 1702

William the Third had only been on the throne a few weeks when it was found to be necessary to weed out some of the aged and infirm members of the guard and to fill their places with younger men. As usual. This gave rise to a good deal of discontent, especially as no provision had been made for pensioning the men whom the Captain of the Guard thought it necessary to dismiss. Consequently, on the 27th June, 1689, a petition to the King was lodged by three members on behalf of themselves and many other members of the guard whom the Earl of Manchester, the Captain, had divested of their liveries and removed from their places. The petition alleged "that they as well as their predecessors were admitted to their places for life, and that none (till then) were ever turned out of their said places at the will of their Captain, That only in the third year of the reign of King Charles I, thirty of the Yeomen of his then Guard, being found unfit for service by reason of their age and indisposition of heath, were put by of their personal attendance, yet nevertheless were allowed their wages, without check, during their lives, as by Privy Seal appears." The petitioners further alleged that "forasmuch as they had purchased their said places with the expense of their whole fortunes, and were depending on the same as an estate for life, and it being also the only support for themselves and families, petitioners must inevitably perish through want unless remedied therein by the accustomed princely care and goodness of his Majesty."

The Earl reported to the Council that the office of Yeoman of the Guard was not a freehold for life, but only to be held during the King’s pleasure. And with regard to the allegation that the petitioners would perish through want unless relieved, the Captain stated that the dismissed men had competent estates, trades, or other good employments. There was nothing more heard of the petition.

On 18th April, 1689, an Order of Council was made directing that £1000 should be added to the cost of the establishment of the Yeomen of the Guard, to provide a pension for Lord Grandison, late Captain of the Guard.


The right of exemption from public and parish duties was constantly contested by the parochial authorities, and to bring the matter to an issue some members of the Guard were indicted in the Crown Office and at the Sessions for refusing to take their turn at "watching and warding." On this being reported to the Privy Council on 13th May, 1692, their lordships directed a stop to be put to the proceedings, and ordered that in future on complaint to the Attorney-General of similar indictments he should stop all proceedings against His Majesty’s servants in accordance with the Orders in Council of 8th May. 1663, and 22nd October, 1675, wherein the privileges of servants of the Royal Household are set forth. This seems to have settled the matter for a few years, but on 14th May, 1669, the officers of the Guard found it necessary to memorialize the Board against being compelled to serve in parochial offices, and the Attorney-General had again to interfere.

The principal alteration in the Ordinances in this reign was that the Guard had their table abolished and they were put upon "board wages."


By the Order of Council, dated 4th January, 1694, it was directed that the Yeomen of the guard and Yeomen Warders of the Tower should have livery-coats of mourning to attend the funeral of Queen Mary. It was also directed that "the badges now worn upon their coats be taken off and put upon their mourning-coats, and that the coats which they now wear be carefully laid up till the time of mourning be past, and that the Captain do take particular care herein." The Earl of Dorset, the Lord Chamberlain, was authorized to issue his warrant for the liveries accordingly.

ANNE 1702 to 1714

Queen Anne was crowned on the 23rd of April, 1702. The Yeomen and their

Officers occupied their customary places in the processions, and the usual festivities were held.

Amongst the first petitions presented to Her Majesty was one from the Yeomen of the Guard praying that they might have the benefit of their ancient privilege of exemption from parochial duties, and that the actions which had been brought against some of them might be put a stop to. The prayer of the petition was granted, and the Attorney-General was directed to get the actions stayed.


In the year 1704, during the captaincy of the Marquis of Hartington, the Guard, with his Lordship’s cordial approbation, established a Benevolent Fund by subscribing ten shillings each and they agreed to renew the subscription on the death of any member of the Corps. The money so subscribed was given to the widow, children, or representative of the deceased member. Each successive Captain being equally pleased with the appropriation of the Fund, the custom has continued to the present time.

On the 3rd September, 1711, at a Council at which the Queen was present, it was declared that the selling of offices and places in Her Majesty’s Household (which was then said to be prevalent) was highly dishonourable to Her Majesty, prejudicial to her service, introductive of corruption and extortion, and a discouragement to virtue and true merit. The Queen expressed her intention of preventing the practice in future. The collection of the customary fees allowed by order of Edward VI, was sanctioned, and the guard were enabled to receive their fees as theretofore.

"Good Queen Anne" as the people affectionately called her, was constantly taking part in public proceedings, and the Yeomen of the Guard became quite a familiar sight in the streets of London. Seven times Her Majesty went in procession to St. Paul’s Cathedral to return thanks for victories over her enemies, and her brief but eventful reign was a great contrast to those immediately succeeding.

The council which was summoned on the demise of the Queen, 5th August, 1714, ordered "that Lord Paget, the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, do give directions for putting one hundred of the Guard into mourning." And the badges on their clothes were to be removed and put on the mourning garments.

The Guard was ordered to attend the removal of Her Majesty’s body from Kensington the West Gate of the Abbey of Westminster.

During this reign, it was customary at the banquet after the installation of the Knights of the Garter that the table of the Sovereign should be served by the Gentlemen Pensioners, while the Yeomen attended to the Knight’s table.

GEORGE I 1714 to 1727

On the accession of George I, on the 1st August, 1714, the Council directed the Board of Green Cloth to continue the expenditure for the Royal household as before, and the Yeomen of the Guard were to be maintained on the old footing. A few months after, that is, 6th December, 1714, an order was issued by the Council notifying that the household servants were to be exempt from parochial duties, and have all ancient privileges confirmed; and, to prevent the commencement of law proceedings against any of the said servants who should decline to perform parochial duties if required, it was directed that copies of the order should be kept by Clerks of the Peace, "to the intent that due obedience may be given thereunto. And His Majesty’s servants may not be vexed with unreasonable prosecutions." The King was in his fifty-fourth year when he ascended the throne, and the Court, rendered dull by dissensions and estrangement in the royal family, began to lose much of its former brilliancy. Pageants and spectacles were few and far between, and beyond acting as household. Servants there was little or nothing for the Guard to do; they were seldom seen, and the appointments to the corps were bestowed with less regard to appearance and character than formerly.

GEORGE II 1727 to 1760

In 1740 an Exon who did not turn up at the appointed time to relieve his brother officer was fined 10s per day by order of the Earl of Essex, the Captain.

When the King went to Hanover in 1743 to take command of the army there, he took with him six Yeomen Bed Hangers and the two Yeomen Bed Goers, the former to look after the camp equipage and the latter to take care of the beds and bedding. Pegge, in his Curialia, Part III, says, on the authority of one of the said Yeomen that they were prepared to erect the tents, to have fixed the hangings, and to have placed the bed, but the pavilion was not erected. They however set up the King’s bed at all the places where he stopped for the night during his progress. They also performed their ordinary duties as Guards, and carried their partizans, though when performing their other duties they carried the carbine.

The daily allowance of food for the thirty men who mounted guard every day at St. James’s was:-

24llbs Beef, 18llbs Mutton, 16llbs of Veal. In all, 58llbs of meat weighed out before the Yeomen’s Messenger.

2llbs of Butter, 36 Loaves (2llbs each?), 37 Gallons of Beer – an extra gallon being allowed in summer time. Sufficient Vegetables of the best in season, Salt & Pepper, Oil, Vinegar, and Mustard, and Three Plum Puddings every Sunday.

The dinner was served in the royal kitchen, in two servings, one for each Guard. There was an extra allowance of Venison twice a year, and five Geese and crockery.

When all the Guard were on duty together, which always happened on the birthdays of the King and Queen, the allowance was 216llbs of Meat, (beef, mutton and veal). 6llbs of Butter, 144 Loaves. 104 Gallons of Beer, and 20 Dozen Quarts of Wine.

On the birthdays of members of the Royal Family, and on other occasions when the guns were fired in celebration there was a double allowance of bread, 18 Gallons of Beer extra, and 5 Dozen Quarts of Wine. These were called Pitcher Days.

When the Sovereign opened Parliament, and on Accession Day and on Coronation Day, the extras were 28 Loaves of bread, 18 Gallons of Beef, and 5 Dozen of Wine. All these allowances are now discontinued, and the Yeomen are on board wages of 3s 9d per day.

9th Nov, 1760 – At seven o’clock this night six of the Yeomen of the Guard carried the bowels of his late Majesty George II from Kensington Palace to the body coach. Six other Yeomen who were on duty at Westminster Abbey received and carried the bowels for burial in the Royal vault of Henry VII’s Chapel. The following night twelve of the Yeomen carried the body of the late King from Kensington Palace to the hearse. At Westminster thirty-nine of the Guard were present to receive the coffin, and twelve of them carried it into the Prince’s’ Chamber.

On Tuesday, 11th Nov, fifteen of the Guard carried the body form the Prince’s Chamber to the vault in Henry VII’s Chapel.


In the tomb with Roger Monk, in the western walk of the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey (further referred to in the reign of George IV), there is also buried John Broughton, another celebrated Yeoman of the Guard, who died 8th January, 1789.

Though there is no indication of the fact on the marble tablet or on the gravestone, it is nevertheless true that this is the final resting-place of the First Champion Boxer "Jack" Broughton. Historians describe him as "the father of the noble art of self-defence," and he was at the height of his fame in this reign. An anecdote is told of him that his Royal patron, the Duke of Cumberland, took him to Berlin, amongst other places, and, showing him the much-vannted Grenadier Guards, asked him what he thought of "a set-to" with some of them, Broughton is said to have replied that he would have no objection to take the whole regiment if he were only allowed a breakfast between each two battles.

His biographers invariably speak of him as having been a man of sense and ability, and he certainly appears to have been a great favourite with the King, the Royal Princes, and the nobility.

He was 86 years old when he died, and had for a long time been one of the Ushers of the Yeomen of the guard. The Yeoman Boxer was an exceptionally well-built man, with such an extraordinary development of muscle that the celebrated Belgian sculptor, Michael Rysbrack, got him to sit as a model for the arms of his statue of Hercules.

GEORGE III 1760 to 1820

New uniforms and partizans were issued to the whole of the Guard and also to the Tower Wardens for the coronation of George III, as appears from the following warrant:-

"29th May, 1761 – Warrant for Apparel and Partizans for Yeomen of the Guard."

A copy of an extraordinary Warrant, to the Master of the Great Wardrobe, to provide Apparel and Partizans for the Yeomen of the Guard and Warders of the Tower, delivered at the Wardrobe, 2nd of June, 1761.

"Right Trusty and Right Well-beloved Cousin and Councillor, - We greet you well, and will and command you forthwith to deliver or cause to be delivered unto our right trusty and right well-beloved Cousin and Councillor Hugh Lord Viscount Falmouth, Captain of the Yeomen of our Guard and Warders of our Tower of London, or unto Savile Cockayne Cust Esq., Clerk of the Cheque to the same, these parcels following, that is to say, one hundred and forty coats of fine crimson in grain cloth, lined with blue serge and guarded with blue velvet, edged and lined with gold lace, with rose, thistle, and crown, mottoes and scrowles, with our letters G. R. embroidered on back and breast of each coat, with silver spangles gilt, for one hundred Yeomen of our Guard, and forty Warders of our Tower of London, and one hundred and forty pair of like crimson cloth breeches guarded with velvet and laced with gold lace; one hundred and forty black velvet bonnets, with crimson, white, and blue ribbands; one hundred and forty pair of grey worsted rowling stockings; one hundred and forty basket-hilted swords with brass hilts and silver handles, double gilt; one hundred and forty partizans chased and gilt, with cowls of crimson, skye colour, and white silk; and sixteen more partizans chased and ornamented as aforesaid, of a shorter and less size, being more commodious to be used by our aforesaid Guard when they attend the Royal chairs; one hundred and forty waist-belts, and one hundred carbine belts, guarded with blue velvet and gold lace; one hundred and forty pairs of buck gloves, and £140 sterling, to be also delivered to the said Savile Cockayne Cust for watch gowns for them; with two large cart canvas wrappers, and a large Bible bound in rough leather for the use of our Warders in the Tower of London.

“The said apparel to be put on and wore, on the day of Our Coronation, and for so doing this shall be your warrant and discharge. Given under our signet at the Palace of St. James’s this 29th day of May, 1761, in the first year of Our Reign. By His Majesty’s command  BUTE.”

"To our Right Trusty and Right Well-beloved Cousin and Councillor, Granville Leveson, Earl Gower, Master of our Great Wardrobe, or his Deputy."

"August 25, 1761 – Received the Yeomen’s Clothes, with one hundred shoulder-belts, from the Great Wardrobe, and delivered them the same day to the Yeomen at St. James’s, who wore them on His Majesty’s Wedding Day, the 8th of September, 1761."


The Officers formerly renewed their uniforms every third year and those for the men were issued annually on the birthday of the Sovereign.

The alterations in the uniform were very slight. The shamrock was added to the badge on the union of Ireland with Great Britain on 1st January, 1801.

White stockings were ordered on 26th July, 1763, and there is an order on the books requiring the men invariably to wear a wig with one curl when on duty.

The Earl of Aylesford ordered rosettes of red leather, to be worn on the shoes of the Officers, instead of buckles, and they wore them till the introduction of the modern uniform, after the accession of George IV.


His Lordship, who was Captain of the Guard on the occasion of the ter-centenary of the foundation of the Guard 30th October, 1785, gave three prizes to be shot for with the bow and arrow. The first prize was 20 guineas, the second 10 guineas, and the third 5 guineas. The contest took place on 3rd September; but as might have been expected, there was not much skill displayed, as archery had become quite obsolete; still the contest gave the men an opportunity of meeting and celebrating the occasion.

A Prince was born at St. James’s Palace, 21st August, 1765; and in anticipation of the event the Guard were on duty in increased strength, and they were present at the christening, which took place on 18th September following.

The trial of the Duchess of Kingston, took place in Westminster Hall on the 13th of April, 1776, and following days. It is recorded that "the Yeomen were thus disposed: 12 in the court of Requests, 12 between the throne and passage, 4 in the Court, 2 at the door behind the prisoner, 2 at Lord’s entrance-door, and 2 at the head of stairs. The Board of Green Cloth declined to allow more than 2s 6d per day, and the Captain directed that each man should have an extra 1s 6d per day out of the stock-purse. The Officer’s bill for five days amounted to £34 1s 7d"

10th April, 1810 – The Metropolis was in great state of excitement consequent upon the Sir Francis Burdett riots. The Yeomen on duty at St. James's were supplemented by a detachment of the Foot Guards, and they occupied the Queen’s Guard-room. "The Yeomen had a fire in the Privy Chamber and carried their beds into that room."


Lord Mayor’s Day, 1761 – All the Yeomen of the Guard and twenty-four of the Tower Warders attended the King and Royal Party to the Guildhall, where they were entertained by the Lord Major and Corporation of the City of London. The Officers of the Guard were on horseback, "then followed the Ensign, 2 Exons, the 3 Ushers; after them the tallest Yeomen, 4 and 4; then the shorter ones, 4 and 4. The Tower Warders were similarly sized and arranged. Then came 2 Exons on horseback, and there were 2 tall Yeomen on each side of the King’s coach, and 4 Yeomen by the side of the Princess Dowager’s coach, The Lieutenant being in charge of Prince William and Prince Henry did not attend. Five Yeomen were on guard, at St. James’s Palace and 2 at Leicester House." Their Majesties left St. James’s at noon and returned at two o’clock the next morning.

On Royal birthdays it was customary at this time to summon the whole of the Guard. The assembly was fixed for eleven o’clock and late comers were fined half-a-crown and absentee’s one guinea.


Fines of all kinds were put into the Stock-purse, the contents of which were drawn upon to pay the By-waits and to make up proper allowances when otherwise deficient. The fines must have been numerous for we constantly find instances where the Board of Green Cloth would only allow the men part of what was considered by the Captain to be a fair-allowance.

The benevolent patriotism of the Corps is testified by the fact that on 24th April, 1798, when there was a threat of an invasion by the French, they contributed £162 15s to the public subscription which was started by the Governors of the Bank of England towards the defence of the country.

The current Order Book of the Corps commences, with a number of orders, without date, and apparently copied into the book at the same period of time. The first signed order bears the name of Lord Torrington, the Captain in 1746. There is no reference to any earlier Order Book, and it is conjectured that it must have been destroyed in the fire referred to in the next paragraph.


A fire broke out at St. James’s Palace, on 21st January, 1809, which raged with great fury and did serious damage. It was a long time before it was mastered. The Guard worked well, and were able to alarm the Duke of Cambridge in time to enable him to escape; but his apartments were entirely destroyed. They also managed to save many valuable relics, books, pictures, and furniture, and ably assisted the firemen; but it was known that many objects of interest were destroyed, and amongst them much curious armour, old weapons, and in all probability, the Order Book and the ancient Standard of the Guard. The interior of the Palace from Marlborough House to the first southern turret, including the armoury were entirely destroyed. The flames must have been immense; for it is recorded that they were seen from Staines, "and it was fancied there that all London was on fire."

The Guard received the thanks of the Lord Chamberlain for their alacrity on the occasion, and the circumstance is recorded in the Order Book.

A characteristic anecdote is told of His Majesty, which will especially interest Yeomen of the guard:-


On the return of the King and Queen from Windsor in October, 1785 (just a century ago), their post-chaise stopped at the door of St. James’s Palace, where a crowd soon assembled to see their Majesties alight, and amongst them was a fine little boy, who had been newly breeched that day. The King, noticing the happy look on the boy’s face stopped and said to him, "And whose boy are You?" To which the lad replied "My father is the King’s Beef-eater," "Then," said the King, "down on your knees, and you shall have the honour of kissing the Queen’s hand," "Oh, no! Said the boy, "I won’t kneel down, for I shall dirt my new breeches." The reply so pleased the King and Queen that they gave the boy five guineas.

4th June, 1808. – Captain Earl Macclesfield announced that as the Yeomen had been deemed not to be included in the exemption of other Guards from hair-powder duty, they should be reimbursed at the Lord Chamberlain’s Office any sum paid therefore.

On the occasion of the Jubilee in 1809 the Yeomen joined the rest of the Household servants in the celebration, part of them being at Windsor and the rest at St. James’s.

The custom of the Guard dining at the Palace was abolished by a treasury Order in 1813. The Lord Chamberlain, Lord Cholmondeley, addressing the Earl of Macclesfield, the Captain, said that "The Lords of the Treasury having directed his attention to the expense of the establishment of the Board of green Cloth, and to the Table at St. James’s suggested that a pecuniary compensation might with propriety and justice be made to the Yeomen of the Guard, in lieu of their food." The result was that the Ushers thereafter received 5s 3d per day and the men 3s 9d, table money. The Yeomen of the Guard discontinued carrying the dishes to the royal table in this reign.

At an installation of Six Knights for the Garter in 1805 the fees paid to the Guard, numbering 23, amounted to £37 10s which was equal to £1 11s 3d each in the 1st Division of 12 men and £1 14s each in the 2nd Division of 11 men.

28th May, 1813 – The Duke of Newcastle and Earl of Lonsdale paid 12 guineas as fees; and in 1814 the Earl of Liverpool and Viscount Castleragh paid 6 guineas each to the Guard; this seems to have been the usual feed paid by a Knight of the Garter or the Bath on installation to the Yeomen of the Guard.


2nd August, 1786. – Extract from the Gazette:-

"This morning as His Majesty was alighting from his carriage, at the gate of St. James’s Palace, a woman who was waiting there, under pretence of presenting a petition, struck at His Majesty with a knife, but providentially his majesty received no injury. The woman was immediately taken into custody, and upon examination appears to be insane."

The circumstances attending this alarming event are thus related; As the King was alighting from his post-chariot. At the garden-entrance of St. James’s’ Palace, the woman, who was very decently dressed, in the act of presenting a paper to His Majesty, which he was receiving with great condescension, struck a concealed knife at his breast, which His Majesty happily avoided by drawing back. As she was making a second thrust one for the Yeomen of the guard caught her arm and at the same instant another Guard wrenched the knife from her hand. The King, with great temper and fortitude, exclaimed, "I am not hurt! Take care of the poor woman; do not hurt her! At the judicial examination of the prisoner it was found that her name was Margaret Nicholson. She was declared to be insane, and was conveyed on 9th August to Bethlehem Hospital.


On the 15th May, 1800, the metropolis was in a state of great excitement in consequence of what was at first thought to be a double attempt to assassinate the King. The first incident occurred at a review in Hyde Park, when during one of the volleys a shot was fired from one of the guns and struck a spectator who was standing about twenty feet from the King. Fortunately the wound was not serious, and by direction of His majesty the sufferer was attended to by the army surgeons on the spot. All the cartouch-boxers of the troops on parade were examined, but no more ball cartridges were found, and it was concluded that the shot was accidental.


In the evening, however, a circumstance occurred which coming so soon after the affair in Hyde Park, created a great sensation. The King and Queen went, with the royal princesses, to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the Yeomen of the Guard, who as usual were on duty, had hardly taken their accustomed places when a shot was fired at the royal box, but fortunately without injuring any one. The man who had fired was seized and made prisoner by the Guard. The King them came to the front of the box and bowed his acknowledgements to the excited audience, who called for "God Save the King," which was sung with the greatest enthusiasm. After the people had been assured that the culprit was safe the play proceeded It subsequently transpired that the unfortunate culprit was ex-Sergeant James Hadfield, who had for some years been insane chiefly owing to wounds on the head which he had received while with the 15th Light Dragoons in Holland. He was acquitted of the charge of high treason, but retained in custody.


It was in consequence of this attempt on the life of the King – a personage whose safety was so dear and important to the State – that additional clauses were added to the Insanity Bill, which at the time happened to be before the House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor in moving the clause which had special reference to the personal safety of the Sovereign, said; "It was well known that person labouring under this deplorable calamity had an unaccountable propensity to intrude themselves into the royal residences. No less than four instances of this kind, more or less alarming had occurred since Hadfield has shot at his Majesty."

The Body Guard were specially warned to be always on the look out for intruders of all kinds. During this long reign the number of the Guard was not altered. The staff of officers consisted of the Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, and Clerk of the Cheque, Four Exempts, and an Adjutant or Secretary. The eight Ushers received a salary of £49 11s 3d each; 100 Yeomen £39 11s 3d; six Yeomen Bed Hangers and two Yeomen Bed Goers had the same salary as the Ushers, and there were two Messengers. Four of the guard were superannuated at £26 a year each. As a rule forty of the Guard were on duty in the daytime, and twenty by night. They occupied the Guard Chamber which was on the first floor of the Palace. From the following entry in the Order Book it would appear to have been customary for the Guard to attend the meetings of the Council: - "5th February, 1811 The usual Guard ordered to attend the Privy Council at Carlton House." It is worth remarking as indicating the manner and customs at the latter end of the last century that in the Order of 29th May, 1761, already quoted, twenty partizans were ordered of a lesser size than usual for the use of the Yeomen of the Guard attending the royal chairs. Of these new weapons sixteen were to be kept at St. James’s and four at Leicester House. The sedan chairs were carried by the royal footmen, and two Yeomen walked before, two behind, and one on each side of the chair.


"8th November, 1765. – On Friday night, the 8th of November, 1765 the body and urn of his late Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland were conveyed from Grosvenor Square to the Princes’ Chamber in the House of Lords, in a hearse drawn by six white horses adorned with white feathers. The next evening at ten o’clock a sky rocket was fired from Westminster Bridge as a signal that the funeral had begun, and being answered by a similar signal from London Bridge the minute-guns began to be fired and were continued till another rocket proclaimed the end of the ceremony. The body was carried to the Abbey by fourteen of the Yeomen of the Guard."

At the funeral of Princess Amelia, 13th November, 1810, the board and lodging for nine Yeomen for one night at the White Hart, Windsor, was allowed for at £6 8s, and the Lord Chamberlain paid coach hire to and from Windsor, £7 14s and gave each man a gratuity of two guineas.

31st March, 1813 – At the funeral of the Duchess of Brunswick twelve Yeomen attended. They got to Windsor at one o’clock attended the ceremony in the evening, and returned at nine the next morning. Their bill at the Swan was £10 16s 6d, Coach hire, £8 17s 6d, luncheon on road, £2 1s 6d, gratuity to coachman, two guineas. When the men were paid each of the ten bearers had a white napkin presented to him.

On the death of the Duke of Kent, which took place on 23rd January, 1820, the funeral was conducted with all the formalities usual at a royal funeral, the procession being closed by the Yeomen of the Guard in mourning and carrying their partizans reversed.


The health of the King began to decline with the close of the year 1819, and on New Year’s Day, 1820, the Yeomen had to mount guard over a bulletin which was evidently intended to prepare the people for a change for the worse. This change came, and the King died on 29th January. 1820. The Yeomen were on duty at the lying in state, which took place at Windsor during two days.

At the funeral the body was placed on a "mechanical bier" which was covered with a rich pall, which also entirely concealed the six Yeomen of the Guard who propelled the bier. In the official programme of the ceremony it is stated that ten Yeomen of the Guard carried the coffin from the door of the chapel to the vault, and the rest of them marching with partizans reversed brought up the rear of the procession.

GEORGE IV 1820 to 1830

George the Fourth’s reign will always be memorable in the annals of the Yeomen of the Guard, for they are reminded of it at least once-a-year, on the occasion of the birthday of the reigning sovereign, when they dine together through the liberality of Roger Monk, Esquire, who was an Exon of the Guard in the Reign of George IV.


Roger Monk was in 1826 Master of the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers in the City of London concerning whom Stowe tells us that "they were a society of great antiquity, living in good formality among men and loving agreement with themselves, and so came to be incorporated in the reign of Edward IV," Monk was as benevolent as he was rich, for beside founding several charities for the comfort of deserving members of his Company he left an annuity of £20 a year to the Yeomen of the Guard.

Respecting this bequest the Order Book at St. James’s Palace, under the date 19th September, 1837, has this entry:-

"Roger Monk Esquire, formerly an Exon of the Yeomen of the Guard, and who died in the month of October, 1831, by his will dated 10th April, 1828, gave the residue of his estate and effects to the Tallow Chandler’s Company of the City of London, subject to the payment by them and their successors of (amongst other things) an annuity of £20 per annum, to be paid to the two senior Ushers of the Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard for ever, towards the expense of a dinner annually in honour of His Majesty’s birthday."

The will was proved on the 8th November, 1831, and the annuity has been regularly paid by the Company to the two Senior Ushers of the Guard for the time being, and it has been duly applied by them as directed by the testator. The direction that the dinner shall be on "His Majesty’s birthday" has been interpreted as meaning the birthday of the reigning sovereign.

Occasionally the Captain has supplemented the twenty pounds by a contribution of his own, which has made the dinner much more enjoyable. It need hardly be added that the "Memory of Roger Monk, late Exon of the Guard," is a standing toast on these occasions.

In the Guard-room at St. James’s Palace there is a lithograph portrait of Roger Monk in the uniform of an Exon of the Yeomen of the Guard. This magnificent uniform was made for and worn by him at the Coronation of George IV. Unfortunately the picture has been carelessly coloured, a glaring fault being that the uniform is painted crimson instead of scarlet. I have been able to prove that this is a blunder, for I have discovered the original picture, painted by W. Pickersgill, R.A. it hangs in the hall of the Tallow Chandlers’ Company, and by the courtesy of the officers of the Company I have been able to obtain the accompanying sketch. The original is a splendid picture, and does not suffer by comparison with the two fine portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller of William III, and Queen Mary, which hang by the side of Roger Monk. On a tablet beneath the portrait in the Guard-room at St James’s Palace is the following inscription:-


Tradition says that the uniform cost over £300. It was the last one made of that pattern for the officers, it being much too costly and the occasions for wearing it were so few and far between. The abandonment of this handsome and most picturesque uniform is much to be regretted, for the present substitute has nothing to recommend it, not even antiquity.

Roger Monk is buried in the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey, where a marble tablet on the wall and a grave-stone on the pathway mark his resting-place.


On the death of George IV, at Windsor the body lay in state in the great Drawing Room in Windsor Castle, attended by one of the Lords of His Majesty’s Bedchamber, two Grooms, two Officers of Arms, four Gentlemen Ushers, six Gentlemen Pensioners, and eight of the Yeomen of the Guard. They were in attendance from ten o’clock on the 14th July, 1830 till nine o’clock of the evening of the next day when the funeral took place. The State Apartment, the guard Chamber, the Presence Chamber, and great staircase, were hung with black cloth and lined by Gentlemen Pensioners and Yeomen of the Guard.

At the funeral the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard attended, walking by the side of the Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners, and immediately before the Groom of the Stole. After the coffin, and next to the Royal Princes, came the Gentlemen Pensioners with their axes reversed and then the Yeomen of the Guard with their partizans reversed, the official programme says nothing about the Guards carrying the body to the grave.

WILLIAM IV 1830 to 1837

From this reign dates the present constitution of the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard. An order, dated 4th April, 1835, abolished the old system of sale and purchase of nominations and re-arranged the salaries of the officers and men. It is noteworthy that the old adage as to longevity of annuitants is verified by the fact that there are now in the Corps two Yeomen who purchased their appointments more than fifty years ago for about £360, and they have been receiving their salary all these years, but of course paying for a deputy when they were on the rota for duty. Till this time it had been customary for the Captain of the Guard to keep a list of eligible applicants, and as vacancies arose they were appointed on payment of certain fees, namely: to the Captain 300 guineas, the Clerk of the Cheque 10 guineas, Deputy Clerk of the Cheque 1 guinea, Captain 10 guineas, Captains secretary 5 guineas, Captain’s Servant 16 shillings; treat to Guard 5 guineas, Clerks £5, Messengers 2 guineas, Sword 2s, Quilt 2s 6d, Parliament 1s 6d, Servant 2s, Warrant and Stamps £1 5s. Total £346 12s. He also paid 10s to the widow or representatives of his predecessor.


The letter to the Captain was as follows: - 4 April, 1835. - "I am commanded by the Lord Chamberlain to acquaint your Lordship that, in consequence of His Majesty’s directions that the sale and purchase of the various situation under the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard should cease at the earliest moment, and all fees heretofore paid on appointments to the Captain, the Clerk of the Cheque, and the Captain’s Secretary, be put an end to:- "The Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury have directed that the following arrangement shall commence and take effect from the 1st of January last, as it regards the salaries and allowances paid in this department of the Corps of the Yeomen of the Guard. "The salary of the Captain is fixed at £1,200 per annum, the salary of the Clerk of the Cheque at £120 per annum, and any fee which may have been received since the 1 January last by the Captain or Clerk of the Cheque is to be returned to the parties. The salaries of the several Yeomen who may have been appointed without purchase under the arrangement now in force, by which such appointments are made without payment of any fee to the Captain, are to reduced from the 1st of January last to £31 per annum, and none of such persons are to receive the annual allowance of £8 in lieu of old clothing, the Lords Commissioners considering that the persons alluded to being appointed with out payment of any fee, have no claim whatever to such allowance.


The King also decreed that in future "the Officers shall be named by the King, who will reserve to himself exclusively the selection of the most proper persons as vacancies occur from lists kept by the Commander-in-Chief, who will be responsible to the King for the past conduct and merit of those who may be recommended."

Another order states that no officer on full pay shall be eligible to hold a commission in his Majesty’s Yeomen of the Guard.

An entry in the Order Book shows that in the reign of William IV. (1835) the price of a Commission as Exon was £3,500.

On 1st May, 1837, an order relating to Drawing Rooms directs that the Officers to attend shall be the Captain, the Lieutenant, the Ensign, and an Exon.

In March, 1831, an order was given for scarlet breeches for the Yeomen, and in April, 1834, the

Officers were ordered to wear white trousers.


On 9th December, 1835 an order was issued directing that the height of 5 feet 10 inches (which was the lowest standard for applicants for admission to the Corps) was to be dispensed with, it being stated that the chief object of the King was to obtain non-commissioned officers of good character and meritorious services, but too short stature was to be avoided.

On 30th April, 1837, King William IV, had all the Yeomen of the Guard who had been non-commissioned officers in the army and appointed under the new regulations paraded in full dress at St. James’s Palace, and after inspecting them expressed his entire satisfaction.

Very soon after his Majesty was taken ill with a mortal sickens, and the Yeomen were on special duty at the Palace, while the anxious populace march through the room in which the bulletins of the state of the King’s heath were posted from time to time.

Amongst the notable Yeomen of this reign must be included John Wilkinson, who died on 6th August, 1833, aged 82. He had been in the Guard over forty-five years, during the latter part of the time he was Deputy Clerk of the Cheque. By his abstemiousness and thrift he was able to bequeath legacies of the value of £30,000, and left the residue, amounting to about £40,000, to trustees to be given away annually in sums of £10 or £15 to poor people of good character.


The first appearance of the Yeomen of the Guard during the present long and glorious reign was at the proclamation of Her Majesty at the bay window of the Tapestry Room in St. James’ Palace on 21st June, 1837. Very few of the officials are now alive who were present on that occasion, but the simple ceremonial of presenting the young Queen, then only eighteen, to the people, (represented by the crowd assembled in the court-yard below,) is still spoken of as being impressive in the extreme. The combination of grief and joy which was everywhere observable brought forth tears from the stoutest-hearted, amidst the shouts of "The

King is dead!" "Long live the Queen!"

One of the first acts of the young Queen was to order new uniforms for the Guard, it being officially reported that there were wanted "ninety-two uniforms complete, ninety-two swords (the preset ones being inferior, and bearing, more-over, an emblem of the Hanoverian horse), eight dozen pairs of red stocking and eight dozen of grey, ninety-two ruffs, ninety-two rosettes for shoes, and ninety-two knee-bows. The initials W R on the partizans to be altered to V R

All the above articles were supplied, as well as new batons of office, gold-topped for the Captain and silver for the other Officers.

The first Levee after the accession was held by Her Majesty at St. James’s Palace on Wednesday, 19th, July, 1837, and the first Drawing Room on the day following, on both of which occasions the Guard were on duty.


The Coronation took place on 28th June, 1838, and the Yeomen of the Guard, Ordinary and Extraordinary, assembled at St. James’s Palace, at seven o’clock in the morning. At eight o’clock eighteen of them, under the command of two Ushers, marched to the western entrance of Westminster Abbey. At half-past eight the remainder of the Corps were sized and marched under the command of the Lieutenant and Clerk of the Cheque to Buckingham Palace, to be ready for the Royal procession at nine o’clock. At ten o’clock Her Majesty and procession left for the Abbey.

The Yeomen of the Guard were represented as follows:-

The Captain, his coronet borne by a page. The Four Exons on horseback. One Hundred of the Yeomen of the Guard, four and four. The Lieutenant, the Ensign, and Clerk of the Cheque on horseback. The official orders for the day, issued by the Earl Marshal. Directed that in the Abbey:

"The officers of the Yeomen of the Guard and the Exons will stand within and near the choir door. The Yeomen of the Guard will stand in the nave on the outside of the entrance to the choir." The Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard will pass to his seat as a peer.

20th June, 1838 – It being customary at coronations to knight one of the officers of the Yeomen of the Guard, George Houlton, Esquire, Exon was knighted on this occasion.

Amongst the Corps property is a beautifully engraved cornelian sea set in gold, and having an ivory handle, on which the following inscription is engraved:-

28TH JUNE, 1838

The legend on the outer rim runs thus - The Seal of the Yeomen of the Guard

And in the centre is a shield with the Royal Arms surmounted by the Crown, with the date 1485, the whole being encircled by the Garter with the motto, "Honi soit (qui) mal y pense"

By an order of the Queen in Council, dated 19th July, 1837, the ancient liberties, right, privileges, and exemptions were confirmed to the servants of the Royal Household, the Yeomen of the Guard being included in the denomination of "servants in ordinary with fee," and as being under the command of the Lord Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household. as "servants above stairs."

Besides the occasions before mentioned and the Drawing Rooms and Levees, there have been numerous memorable ceremonials connected with the royal family at which it has been customary for the Guard to be on duty, such a births, christenings, confirmations, marriages, and funerals, about which there has been nothing specially noticeable, except perhaps the marriage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.


Concerning this happy event it appears from the official programme, published in the Gazette,

18th March, 1863, that "at the wedding of the Prince of Wales the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, the Lord Foley, walked on the right, and the Earl of Ducie, Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, on the left of the Gold Stick. Field-Marshal the Viscount Combermere, in the procession of the royal family and the Queen’s Household. The procession was brought up by six Yeomen of the Guard, under the command of their Officers, the Lieutenant, the Ensign, the Clerk of the Cheque, and the Exon-in-Waiting."

A guard of ten men of the Yeomen of the Guard was also stationed at Windsor Castle. It may be mentioned that the Countess of Ducie, the wife of the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, attended the wedding, as did, indeed, all "Her Majesty’s Household, with their husbands and wives respectively."


12th May, 1842 – The Queen gave a Bal Masque at Buckingham Palace, when fifty-five of the Guard and the usual Officers attended. The Yeomen were dispersed over the public rooms, and by command of the Queen the Captain appeared in the costume of and represented his lordship’s ancestor, Lord Percy, Lord Warden of the Marches who in 1346 commanded at the battle of Nevill’s Cross when David, King of Scotland, was made prisoner. The costume consisted of chain armour, over which was a surcoat with the family arms of Brabant and Percy emblazoned thereon, and a baton and cap of honour. The other Officers wore their usual uniforms.

At the Bal Costume at Buckingham Palace on 13th June, 1851, the Captain and other Officers appeared in the Costume of the Officers of the Corps in the reign of Charles II.

10th December, 1850 – Her Majesty receive addresses on the Throne at Windsor Castle this day from the City of London and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Thirty of the Guard were on duty under the command of the Exon in waiting. They lined the little Guard Chamber the Grand Staircase, and Vestibule. The Lieutenant and Adjutant were also on duty. After the Addresses were presented the Yeomen dined at the New Inn, and then returned to London.

Whenever the Guard go to Windsor their partizans and uniforms are taken down under the charge of the Wardrobe Keeper, who takes them to the New Inn, where the proprietor sets apart the dressing-room and other necessary rooms for the exclusive use of the Yeomen.

Pegge, writing in 1783, says that "the Yeomen of the Guard receive Christmas boxes from the nobility, Foreign Ministers for giving them the honours of the Guard Chamber, commonly called ‘Stand-by’ as they pass up the stairs to the Presence Chamber."

9th August, 1845. – Under this date the Corps Order Book has an entry stating that the Yeomen of the Guard, attending an Investiture or Installation of a Knight of the Garter, were entitled to a fee of £6 6s but by an oversight it had not been claimed for many years past, the Clerk of the Cheque, therefore, applied on behalf of the Corps to Garter King at Arms and recovered £88 4s and divided the same amongst the Yeomen of the Guard.


These and all personal fees theretofore received by members of Her Majesty’s Household were abolished by an Order under the Royal sign manual as from 5th April, 1851. And by Order of 28th May, 1851, a Fee Fund was established to which all fees were added, and at stated periods, usually at Christmas time, they were equitably divided.

10th March, 1848 – In anticipation of the Chartist riots there was an order made to divide the Corps into eight sections, and the Usher and Sergeant-Major of each division was ordered to drill the men in the use of firearms until they are reported fit for duty.

The Chartist demonstrations took place on 10th April and 12th June, 1848, when the Guard were all on duty and were armed like the Line regiments with muskets fitted with bayonets.

The Captain, the Marquis of Donegal, had a minute made in the Orderly Book notifying that the Secretary of state, Sir George Grey, had thanked the Captain for the alacrity with which the Corps had been armed and prepared to do good service had such necessary.


The order for the annual inspection in the year 1840 was as follows:-

"Officers and men assembled at St. James’s Palace at noon, and after being formed into Divisions, headed by their respective Ushers, they were marched by the Clerk of the Cheque into the Presence Chamber, the King’s guard Chamber, the Queen’s Guard Chamber, and the Outree Gallery, where, after the Cheque Roll had been called over, they received their Captain, the Earl of Ilchester, and were then inspected by this lordship and dismissed."

Now the Annual Inspection takes place in June on the lawn in the garden of St. James’s Palace. The Captain is generally the Inspecting Officer, but there have been some notable exceptions during the past twenty years, as will be seen from the following table:-


HRH The Prince of Wales 29 June 1869
HRH The Duke of Cambridge 28 June 1870
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh 9 June 1874
HRH The Prince of Wales 22 June 1875
HRH The Duke of Connaught  20 June 1876
HRH The Crown Prince of Sweden 17 June 1879
Sir Garnet Wolseley 15 June 1880

This year (1885) the annual inspection took place on Tuesday 23rd June and being the four hundredth anniversary year would have been made more of than usual. But it unfortunately happened that there was a change of Ministry in progress, and it was doubtful whether there would be any Captain at the inspection. However, the Corps assembled in the Guard Room at St. James’s Palace, and at one o’clock marched to the lawn, the men were in full dress and carrying their partizans. They were formed up in two lines with the Sergeant-Majors on the flanks carrying their batons or walking-sticks. The Officers – all of whom were present took post in front, the ranks were opened, and the Captain, Lord Monson, having been saluted, made a close inspection of each man. The ranks were then closed up, and the flanks wheeled inwards so as to form three sides of a square, with the Officers in the centre, The Captain then addressed a very few words to the men. Line was re-formed; the men were faced to the right and dismissed. Ensign the Hon. W. J. Colville then selected some men to be photographed, and the spectators were afforded the usual privilege of inspecting the State Apartments.

The Court Newman furnished the daily newspapers with the following official accountant:-

"The annual inspection of Her Majesty’s Body Guard of Yeomen of the Guard took place yesterday in the garden of St. James’s Palace. The inspection was made by Lord Monson, the Captain, and the following Officers were present with the Corps:- Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Arthur Need (the Lieutenant), Colonel the Hon, W,.J. Colville (the Ensign), Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, Captain Morley, Colonel H. Hume, C.B., and Major Ellison (the Exons), and Lieutenant-Colonel F. Baring (the Adjutant and Clerk of the Cheque)."

On 24th June, 1861, an important order was issued by direction of her Majesty by which the purchase of Officer’s commissions was stopped, and certain other arrangements relating solely to the Officers were made. They are given at length in the Introduction to this history in the chapter on Officers.


In 1849 there was an order issued directing that in future every man in the Corps must be at least 5 feet 10 inches in height and under fifty years of age, but three years later (1852) this order as regards height was dispensed with where there was record of "distinguished service before the enemy." So that shortness of stature is now a special mark of merit.

There is a story told (names being omitted) that great influence was on one occasion brought to bear upon the Sovereign to get a nomination for a certain non-commissioned officer who had served his country well, and his name was accordingly sent to the Horse Guards. On being measured however the applicant was found to be only 5 feet 9 ½ inches in height, and the Commander-in-Chief declined to break the regulation which required a standard height of at least 5 feet 10 inches. It was not till the rule had been altered that the Duke of Wellington would recommend the man as being qualified to fill the post of Yeoman of the Guard.

2nd February, 1883 – The Royal Bounty in the shape of a pension of £40 per annum, was granted to the widow of the late Thomas Davis, late Assistant Adjutant of the Yeomen of the Guard.

There is very little to be said on the subject of uniform during this reign. The admiration for the picturesque old dress has certainly not diminished, as may be judged by the universal indignation which was expressed on the erroneous announcement that the old uniform was to be discarded. This is treated of fully in the account of the Tower Wardens.

It only remains necessary to record here that on 31st January. 1843, a General Order was made that "Ruffs and Rosettes be worn by the Yeomen of the Guard when on duty."

5th November, 1862 – An application was made by an ex-sergeant of the 49th Foot, who purchased his discharge after seven year’s service in the army, including the Crimean War, to be placed on the list of candidates for appointment as Yeoman of the Guard. Hereupon the question arose whether the man, not being a pensioner, was eligible. After considering the matter, the Lord Chamberlain informed H.R.H. the Commander-in-Chief that there is no record of any rule which disqualifies from appointment as Yeoman of the Guard any deserving man who has been a non-commissioned officer in the army and (having purchased his discharge) is no longer a pensioner.


At the opening of Parliament an Exon an Usher and ten Yeomen, attend the Deputy Great Chamberlain, and about two hours before the opening they examined the vaults. It is stated in a book of anecdotes that upon one occasion the Yeomen found

25 barrels of gunpowder in the vaults, and the Lord Chamberlain reported to the House that "he had removed 10 of the barrels and hoped the other 15 would do no harm."

The Guard always go without their partizans. Before beginning their search they are supplied with lanterns, and they go through the vaults with drawn swords. There are numerous ladders to get up and down, and it is rather risky work for some of the more aged Yeomen. They are accompanied by certain of the resident officials and the police; as many as thirty persons being occupied by the search, which usually takes about two hours.

In connection with these proceedings there is a pleasant usage which enables the Guard to drink "the Sovereign’s heath" in a glass of good wine at Bellamy’s in Parliament Street. The origin of the practice arose out of the circumstance that Bellamy’s wine-cellars, which were first stocked in 1760, were partly under the old House of Commons; and at the periodical searches for Guy Faux the proceedings terminated appropriately, if not purposely, in one of the wine-cellars. Here the Yeomen were met by old Bellamy, and it was natural enough that the jolly old Boniface should invite the searchers to drink "the King’s heath," in some of the famous wines by which they were surrounded. The wags amongst the company no doubt suggested that the butts looked as if they contained some body in them. "I believe you, my boy! "Would cry old Bellamy; "All my tipple down here is full-bodied; taste and try." So the royal toast was drunk, and was properly followed by that of "the host".

When the Houses of Parliament were burned down in 1834 Messrs. Bellamy’s business was removed to vaults beneath the Sessions House and thence to Parliament Street. The removal, however, did not stop the hospitality of the firm, and the Yeomen of the Guard still have their cake and wine at Bellamy’s after they have finished their search under the Houses of Parliament.

Lieut-Colonel W. Griffin Sutton, the Adjutant died on 26th November, 1884, and was succeeded by Lieut-Colonel Francis Baring.


The salaries of the Guard now are – Messengers, £75 per annum; Serjeant-Majors, £60; and Private, £50

As will be seen from the Muster Roll printed on a previous page, there are now only two men in the Corps who joined before 1835, and they were never in the army. They have for a long time been exempt from duty and are superannuated.

This chapter may be appropriately closed with the following copy of a Certificate of Appointment, which has been in use in the Corps for many years. Its quaint phraseology is amusing, especially the part that suggests that Church-Warden is a servile officer. It is printed on foolscap paper, with blanks for the names:-


"THESE ARE TO CERTIFY to all to whom it may concern that the Bearer hereof {     (A.B.)     }, late Sergeant-Major of         {                 }, is this day sworn one of the Yeomen in Ordinary of Her Majesty’s Guard of her Body, by virtue of a Warrant to me directed, from the Right Honorable, {                 }, Captain of the said Guard, bearing date the [                 ], by virtue of which Place the said {A.B.} is to enjoy all such Benefits, Perquisites, and Advantages as to all others of Her Majesty’s said Guard do now belong (that is to say); His Person not to be arrested nor detained, without Leave from the Lord Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household, or the Captain of the said Guard, first had and obtained; he is not to bear any servile Office, as Churchwarden, Constable, or the like; nor to serve on Juries or Inquests, nor to Watch or Ward, with divers other Privileges thereunto belonging.

"IN THE TESTIMONY WHEREOF I, [                       ], Adjutant of the said Guard, have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this{                        }, in the Forty-ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland queen, Defender of the Faith, etc, etc; and in the Year of or Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty-Five.

Lieutenant-Colonel and Adjutant

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