Patrol Jacket, 1858-1868

Although there are no records of who wore this patrol jacket it is possible to reconstruct the kind of experience its owner might have had whilst serving with the North York Militia 1858-1868. In 1852 an order changed militia recruitment by ballot to voluntary enlistment. Recruits attending training in Richmond were billeted with local people, who received financial compensation for the inconvenience. The officers mess was held in the King’s Head, a local hostelry.

The style of the patrol jacket is similar to that of the regular infantry of the 1860s. Following civilian fashions it has a lower waist-line with quilted padding on the chest panels. Although the majority of the jacket is machine stitched, the quilting is made by hundreds of hand-made stitches in a mesh pattern. The facings of the North York Militia are black velvet as can be seen on the cuffs and collar of the jacket. In this case the cuffs also display elaborate braid which is looped and knotted.

Two pieces of equipment are included with the jacket; a sword belt and a shoulder belt with ammunition pouch. All the decorations and clasps are silver which identifies the wearer as a member of the militia. The regular army wears gold coloured decorations instead. This distinction dates back to 1836. The sword belt clasp includes the letters ‘NYR’ for North York Rifles. Decorations on the shoulder belt include the Yorkshire Rose and a whistle. The whistle suggests that he was a member of the light infantry who acted as mounted infantry.

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