Thursday, July 8, 2010

John Harvey, Musician, 22nd Regiment of Foot

About three weeks ago I gave a talk at the commemoration of the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778. The talk concerned the 60 men who were in the grenadier company of the 22nd Regiment of Foot at the time of the battle. Included was an overview of known trades practiced by men before they joined the army (and in some cases, continued during their military service). Out of 1005 men known to have served in the 22nd Regiment in America for some time between 1775 and 1783, at the time of the talk I was able to learn the trades of 311. Another post later on will present this information; for now, suffice it to say that the trades consist of a variety of occupations including weavers, tailors, shoemakers, laborers, carpenters and a wide assortment of others.

A person in the audience asked an interesting question: why were there no artists (including musicians, actors and such) on the list. While I don't have a certain answer and don't pretend to have background in the sociology of the era, I can make several guesses:

  • Professional artists are only a small portion of any population. Our data sample of only 311 out of 1005 is too small to draw any conclusions either about the 22nd Regiment (there could have been some artists who aren't among the 311 whose trades we know) or the army as a whole (an estimated 50,000 British regular soldiers served in America; there could've been a few artists in some regiments but not in others).

  • The army was a volunteer force, and many of the men who joined it were men who could not find work in their trades or were not interested in their trades. While not composed primarily of the 'dregs of society', the army was composed largely of working class people. It may be that artists who could not find work simply were not inclined to join the army as an alternative.

  • Most of our information on trades comes from army discharge documents and deserter descriptions. Possibly the army did not recognize artistic disciplines as trades, and used the more common catchall of 'labourer' for people who had not been apprenticed in a recognized trade.
These are just guesses, of course. If we look outside the scope of the 22nd Regiment, we do fine some interesting characters. A deserter from the South Fencible Regiment, a corps raised during the American war for service only in Scotland, was advertised in Edinburgh in 1780:

Deserted from his Majesty's South Fencible Regiment, quartered at Dumfries, on Friday Feb. 25, 1780, Hector M'Lean, private soldier, born in Glasgow, 25 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches high, fair complexion, fair hair, grey eyes, and a little long chin'd, stout made, and walks very upright, by trade a comb maker; had on when he deserted the regimentals of the light company of the above regiment. He was formerly employed as a tumbler to a company of Stirling players, and is well known about Edinburgh and Kendal in Westmoreland: and it is supposed when he left the regiment he took the English road.
Whoever can secure the said deserter in any jail shall be entitled to Two Guineas reward, over and above what is allowed by act of parliament for apprehending deserters, and that immediately on giving notice to the commanding officer at Dumfries.
[Edinburgh Advertiser, 7 March 1780]

This man was known to have worked as a performer, but also had a more common trade. Similar were performers in the regimental bands of the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Foot, each of whom had trades in addition to their musical abilities:

Deserted from the Second Battalion of His Majesty’s First (or Royal) Regiment of Foot, commanded by his Grace the Duke of Argyle, Lieutenant-general, quartered at Fort George in the County of Inverness, William Sutherland, Five feet 10 inches high, aged 25 years, fresh complexion, dark brown hair, black eyes, had on a scarlet frock, white waistcoat and breeches, by trade a Shoemaker, was one of the Band of Music, born in the town and county of Wicklow, inlisted at Fort Augustus, in the county of Inverness, the 16th of July, 1767. Deserted from Fort George, in said county, the 18th of March, 1777.
Whoever secures the said Deserter, so that he may be brought to justice, as a perjured Defrauder of the Public, of his Colonel, any of his Officers, and given notice to the Commanding Officer of th esaid Regiment at Fort George, or to Messrs. Ross and Gray, Agents to the said Regiment, in London, shall receive Five Guineas over and above the Twenty Shillings allowed by Act of Parliament.
N. B. It is supposed the above Deserter is lurking about London or St. Albans.
[London Chronicle, April 14, 1777]

Deserted from the Queen’s Royal Regiment of Foot, at Coxheath Camp, Samuel Pollard, Musician, aged 22, five feet six inches high, of a fresh Complexion, full faced, red Hair, Haxle Eyes, well made, born in Birstal, in the County of York, by Occupation a Labourer, and had on when he deserted, a white Coat, looped with Blue and Silver, white Waistcoat and Breeches, and a Silver laced Hat. Whoever secures the above Deserter, so as he may be brought to Justice, shall have two Guineas over and above the Reward allowed by Act of Parliament.
[The Daily Advertiser (London), 26 October 1778]

Other musicians were described as such:

Deserted from his Majesty’s 17th regiment of foot, quartered in Perth, John Humphreys musician, aged twenty years, size five feet six inches one-half, very swarthy complexion and jet black hair, black eyes, hollow cheeks, has a stoop in his shoulders, slender bandy limbed, has a very hoarse voice, talks thick, plays well on the French horn and fife; had on when he deserted the musician’s uniform of the regiment, viz. a scarlet frock, with white cap [sic - cape] and cuffs laced with silver, with white buttons having the number of the regiment, white cloth waistcoat and breeches, silver laced hat. He was apprehended (but escaped) on Wednesday the 7th in the Canongate; had on a bonnet, black coat, and wore a long staff in his hand.
Whoever apprehends the said deserter, sends him to the regiment, or secures him in any of his Majesty’s gaols, shall, upon giving information thereof to the commanding officer of the regiment at Perth, receive One Guinea reward over and above twenty shillings allowed by act of parliament; to be paid by Col. Darby commanding at Perth, Capt. Lyons at Aberdeen, Capt. Wallace at Montrose, Ensign Sir Alexander Murray at Banf, Ensign Browne at Dundee, or Capt. Aylmer at Edinburgh.
[Edinburgh Advertiser, 9 October 1772]

Yet another musician with the interesting trade of Horse Jockey can be seen in one of our earlier posts.

The week after the talk I was in the London at the National Archives, hoping to find more demographic data about soldiers in the 22nd Regiment. A recently-indexed collection of discharge documents promised to provide information on several soldiers who had previously been identifiable only by their names on muster rolls. Among them was James Harvey, a man born in 1753 in the parish of Crediton near the middle of Devonshire. He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment at the slightly young age of 16 and served for 25 years in the regiment, followed by additional time in the Tipperary Militia in Ireland. While the regiment was serving in the New York area in 1782 Harvey was Master of Masonic Lodge No. 133, a lodge formed in 1767 consisting of members of the regiment. He spent most of his time as a private soldier but also spent a few years as a corporal (the muster rolls show him in this post for three years, but his discharge records only two) and three years as a drummer. He signed his own name on his discharge, suggesting that he was literate, and a note on the document refers to his "good character." Most significant to our understanding of trades in the 22nd Regiment, however, was the trade listed on James Harvey's discharge: Musician.


  1. Very interesting; thank you for sharing.

  2. The Hector McLean notice is interesting as Dumfries is my home town. I'll have to investigate the South Fencible Regts service in Dumfries. Cheers.