Wells, Somerset. A rare officer’s silver shoulder belt plate of the Wells Volunteers, 1803


A rare and attractive George III officer’s silver shoulder belt plate of the Wells City Volunteers, fully hallmarked Birmingham 1803 by Thomas WillmoreThe oval plate, 80 x 62 mm [3¼ x 2½ ins], has the engraved design of the coat of arms of the ancient cathedral city in Somerset beneath a Georgian crown. The reverse, which has the standard hook and two stud fixing points, has the original owner’s name scratch engraved – Mr Geo Lax

Stockdale’s List of the Volunteer and Yeomanry Corps of the United Kingdom 1804. shows the unit as being commanded by Simon Davidge Witherell and having a strength of 220. The War Office List of the Officers of the Militia, the Gentlemen & Yeomanry cavalry and Volunteer Infantry  of the United Kingdom, 31st March 1807 lists George Lax as a lieutenant taking rank from 24th April 1804 in the Somerset (East) 2d Regt into which the Wells City Volunteers had been absorbed. He was an attorney, from a wealthy local land owning family. He was Mayor of Wells in 1792, 1802, & 1809.  It is unlikely that this very short lived unit of the volunteer forces, raised at little government expense at the time of fear of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, would have had more than a handful of officers. oct26/3

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