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Title: The British volunteer movement, 1793-1807
Author: Gee, Austin
ISNI:       0000 0001 1562 1289
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1989
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This thesis deals with the political, military and social aspects of the volunteer movement in Great Britain during the wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France. It explores the nature and purpose of the volunteer infantry, yeomanry cavalry, and armed associations: their organisation, administration, membership, and political adherences. Several questions concerning the political nature of volunteering are addressed, and it is shown that both the volunteers' motivation and the government's reasons for raising a voluntary force were more closely related to military than to political considerations. The occupational structure and political allegiances of several corps are analysed, revealing a broad range of political allegiance. The conclusion is drawn that the volunteers were more a 'constitutional' force than a partisan one. This thesis also investigates the ways in which the volunteer movement posed a challenge to the established social and political order, particularly in its autonomy and 'democratic' organisation. The central government and local authorities were, however, well aware of the potential threat, and precautions were taken against its development. The workings of the volunteer 'system' are explored in order to judge the validity of contemporary criticism of volunteer autonomy, and it is concluded that fears of apparently democratic organisation were exaggerated. The question of volunteer loyalty is investigated by examining the means of selection, individuals' motives, and the response of corps to peace-keeping duties. Finally, an assessment of the position of the movement in contemporary society shows it to have been closely related to the ambivalent concept of the 'citizen-soldier'. Extensive use is made of manuscript sources, particularly the papers of the Home and War Offices held in the Public Record Office, and official and private correspondence in the British Library and several county record offices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Military history/Napoleonic wars