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The

Yeomen

of the Guard

Their History from 1485-1885
by
Thomas Preston
edited by


Yeoman William D Norton


(Typed by Mrs L Norton)


Index:






Page







Page

1485 – 1509 Henry VII

9




Introduction

2

1509 – 1547 Henry VIII

13




James I

27

1547 – 1553 Edward VI

20




James II

36

1553 – 1558 Mary I

21




King’s Majestie, The

31

1558 – 1603 Elizabeth I

22




Knighthoods

6

1603 – 1625 James I

27




Making the King’s Bed

10

1625 – 1649 Charles I

28




Marriage of the Prince of Wales

51

1649 – 1685 Charles II

30




Mary I

1

1685 – 1688 James II

36




Maundy

23

1689 – 1702 William III and Mary II

38




Mourning Uniform

38

1702 – 1714 Anne

39




Non-Commissioned Officers

7

1714 – 1727 George I

40




Notable Annual Inspections

53

1727 – 1760 George II

40




Officers, The Captain

4

1760 – 1820 George III

41




Officers, The Clerk of the Cheque and Adjutant

5

1820 – 1830 George IV

47




Officers, The Ensign

4

1830 – 1837 William IV

48




Officers, The Exons

5

1837 – 1901

50




Officers, The Lieutenant

4

Admittance Booke of Lincolnes Inne, The

34




Ordnances

28

All Night

31




Present Corp, The

8

Anne

39




Present Guard, The (1885)

55

Appointment of Officers

49




Privileges

35

Arquebus, The (Harquebus)

16




Privileges William III and Mary II

38

Attempted Assassination

45




Prize Shooting

17

Attempted Assassination, Another

45




Purchase of Appointments Abolished

48

Beefeater’s Boy, The

44




Quarrels Amongst the King’s Servants

10

Beefeaters, The

8




Queen’s Yeomen, The

13

Benevolent Fund, The

39




Roger Monk

47

Brave Yeoman, A

13




Royal Funerals

46

Certificate of Appointment - 1885

55




Searching for Guy Faux

54

Charles I

28




Sir Christopher Hatton

24

Charles II

30




Standard Height, The William IV

49

Charles II at Lincoln’s Inn

34




Standard Height, The Victoria

53

Coronation, The Victoria

50




State Entertainment

51

Death of a King - George III

46




State Visit to York

9

Edward VI

20




Stock Purse, The

43

Elizabeth I

22




Ter-Centenary, The

43

Extra Precautions

45




Uniform, New George III

42

Fee Fund, The

52




Uniform, The Charles II

36

Fire at St James’ Palace, The

44




Uniform, The – Henry VII

11

Formation of the Guard

9




Uniform, The Henry VIII

16

Funeral of George IV

48




Uniforms, New Victoria

50

George I

40




Victoria

50

George II

40




Victoria Cross, The

7

George III

41




William III and Mary II

38

George IV

46




William IV

48

Guard in France, The

13




Worthy Yeomen

26

Guard on Active Service, The

45




Yeomen Bed Goers, The

27

Henry VII

9




Yeomen Boxer, A

41

Henry VIII

13




Yeomen in the City, The

43

Inspection Parades

52




Yeomen, Definition of

2


The following pages contain edited text from a book written by Thomas Preston in 1885. In most cases the original text and spelling has been honoured and typed by Linda Norton.




16 April 2016

Introduction
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.
YEOMEN
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 preheminence, 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”.




OFFICERS – THE CAPTAIN
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. 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 LIEUTENANT
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 ENSIGN
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 CLERK OF THE CHEQUE
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 4th December, 1884.
THE EXONS
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 C.D.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 R.G.Ellison 4th December, 1884.
KNIGHTHOODS
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.
NAME RANK DATE

Henry Cipriani Senior Exon 18 Sept, 1831

Thomas Horsley Curteis Senior Exon 27 June 1833

George Houlton Ensign 20 June 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 June 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


NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS

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 Y.B.G’s-the Yeomen Bed Goers, concerning whose peculiar duties there are several examples in the following pages. Then come the six men distinguished by the initials Y.B.H. 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.
THE VICTORIA CROSS
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:-

Stephen Garvin Serjeant-Major 64th Foot. Died 1874

David Spence 9th Lancers Died 1877

Daniel Cambridge Gunner R.A. Died 1882

David Rush Serjeant-Major 9th Lancers Joined 1867

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.



THE BEEF-EATERS
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.
THE PRESENT CORPS
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
THE FORMATION OF THE GUARD
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.
STATE VISIT TO YORK
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.

QUARRELS AMONGST THE KING’S SERVANTS
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.
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 disposed 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 pecocke arrows bryght and shene

Under his belt he bare ful thrifteley

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.
THE UNIFORM


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:-
HERE LIES

HENRY THE SEVENTH KING OF ENGLAND
WHO BEING PROCLAIMED KING THE 22ND OF AUGUST

WAS CROWNED AT WESTMINSTER ON THE

30TH OF OCTOBER FOLLOWING, 1485
OFF ALL THE PRINCES OF HIS TIME THE MOST CELEBRATED,

WHOSE WISDOM AND GLORIOUS ACTIONS

RECEIVED ADDITIONAL DIGNITY FROM HIS MAJESTIC

STATURE, HIS AUGUST COURTENANCE AND MAY OTHER

NATURAL ADVANTAGES
THE GLORY OF MONARCHY; MILD, VIGILANT, BRAVE AND WISE

OF A MOST COMELY PERSONAGE;

DIED 21 APRIL 1509.
~~~~~~
THE QUEEN’S YEOMEN
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