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In 1802 after the Treaty of Amiens, many of the volunteer forces were disbanded but both the Bunny and Holme Troops decided to continue, regularly sending in returns in the subsequent years. Peace lasted until 1803 when war with France was again declared and the Bunny Troop was placed on standby once more.
As well as the Bunny Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry, there was also a company of Loyal Bunny Volunteer Infantry and in both cases the men were recruited from Bunny and the surrounding district. One man who joined the Infantry on 3rd October 1803 was a Ruddington man, Joseph Woolie; his diaries still survive and give a vivid account of the lower ranks' experiences. He tells of,

"Mr Archer, Lieutenant in the Bunney Volunteers…. Come to Clifton to mark some waggons according to the orders of the Justices of the Peace… these waggons is marked to convey the Volunteers to any place in case of invasion".

He described the hullaballoo in Ruddington when orders to mobilise came on a Sunday in 1804. The men were assembled on church parade when the message arrived causing a "Fine bustle". The parson had a great sermon ready, and sent the sexton to bring the men to church, but no one had time to listen. "This was a great disappointment to him". As the news spread the wives began creating a disturbance, some not wanting their husbands to go and berating their menfolk for their foolishness in volunteering. Others were quite happy once they found out that they would receive an extra "…two shillings a week for every child and half a crown for themselves - and not a husband at home to spend it ". One can only imagine that the same mixture of emotions and reactions occurred in the households in Bunny.

When on the 25th September the Volunteers received their colours at Bunny Hall he records that "The common men had ale in the park and bread and cheese…. Some, apparently, were so eager to take advantage of the free drink that a guard had to be placed to keep them from over indulging. He continues the story that,

"The (Volunteers') band played before them from the hall and made a poor noise, for some gave over playing and some was out so they was obliged to make a new start and was laughed at by all who heard them and they fell out among one another about w(h)ere the fault was, so some bore the blame and some came clear. The officers dined at the hall and the band played while they got but one small copper of ale which made them very angery (sic)… and when they had done playing to the officers they went into the sarvents (sic) hall to dinner. There was some venison pasty and cold beef and some were afraid that they should never have a bellyfull for they loded their plates astonishing to see and some got three plates full or more and they had a large copper of ale or two. And when they had eaten or drank till they were almost busting the butler ordered them off and gave some of them the wink; some of them…. stopped that understood the wink and the butler treated them with 6 bottles of wine".

Quite a day by all accounts!

However, he writes of the day of 3rd October when the Bunny Volunteers marched off to Mansfield

"I thought they looked very well…. I never saw any regular regiment look better. They marched through Nottingham between 2.00 and 3.00 and got into Mansfield at 8.00 o'clock at night and very well received when they got there".

Annual Paylists and Returns, now held as part of the War Office Records at the Public Record Office at Kew, list the number of men, their names, rank held and details of the number of days they had attended for duty. No records of the Cavalry have yet been located, but from the 1804 return for the 'Loyal Bunny Volunteer Infantry', (Captain : William Boultbee, was this Joseph's brother?) it is learnt that the men were paid 1s for each of the 20 days served that year.

The names of local families can be recognised from these lists - Henson, Gunn, Cripwell, for example are all known to be local men. Some of the names noted are also represented in the local Marriage Records and on the gravestones in the Churchyard.

Another call to duty came in November 1811 when Luddite rioters massed in Sutton-in-Ashfield and began destroying knitting frames. Prisoners were taken and brought to gaol in Nottingham whilst patrols were mounted in the surrounding areas. The Troops were quartered locally to quell the night raids on the frames. They were relieved eventually by the Royal Bucks. Militia and once again the press, this time the Nottingham Journal, reports;

"The Bunny Troop of Volunteer Cavalry, Commanded by Captain Joseph Boultbee, has been stationed at Sutton-in-Ashfield the last eight days. A correspondent observes that no men ever conducted themselves with greater propriety as soldiers and gentlemen than they have done, and when their departure was announced, it was received with real regret by the major part of the inhabitant".

Trouble occurred again in January 1812 when a riot took place in New Radford, and at the same time twenty frames were destroyed during the night at Lenton. The Luddites then crossed the Trent and broke fourteen frames at Ruddington and twenty out of the twenty-two frames at Clifton. An urgent message was sent to Nottingham for a troop of Hussars, who sped off with as many of the Bunny Troop as could be collected. One party chasing the rioters, while other detachments of the Troop tried desperately to secure all the nearby bridges over the Trent hoping to intercept the troublemakers on their return to the town. But the Luddites had stolen a boat above Clifton, and 'on arriving at the opposite bank, discharged their firearms and made a good retreat'.

There is a report of another occasion when rioters took refuge in St Mary's Churchyard in Nottingham. This, being higher than the street and accessible only by a flight of steps, would have seemed an unassailable position. They made good this advantage by attacking the troopers with stones, inflicting some damage; this irritated the Volunteers and they were difficult to restrain. Captain Boultbee, in a dramatic turn of events, chose to assault the rioters' 'fortress' by spurring his charger up the steps, closely followed by a favourite orderly named Gunn. This must have caused some consternation and the mob scattered pretty quickly!

The Troop was kept together until the war was ended in 1815 and over the next few years the numbers in the Troop slowly declined. In 1817 they had one officer, and a reduced roll of 45. Despite the lower numbers they were once again required for duty, supporting the Civil Power against rioters at Ruddington.

The last returns recorded were given for May 1818 when there was one officer and forty men. There is no record of an official decommissioning but it seems that after twenty years of loyal service, the Bunny Volunteers quietly disbanded.

It is sad to note that Joseph Boultbee's devotion to the troop, whilst earning the gratitude of many in the community, did little to enhance his own fortune. After the peace in 1815 the agricultural decline took its toll and the commercial depression caused him to dispose of the remainder of the lease at Bunny. He moved several times, finally seeing out his years at Plas Newydd in Anglesey where he died in 1821 aged sixty-two. His wife was left in reduced circumstances and their son Thomas attempted to recoup some of the outstanding costs Joseph had due to him from his captaincy of the Bunny Troop, some of this being £200 he had expended during the Luddite riots in 1811 having been assured of reimbursement. His letters had no success and the matter lay unresolved until 1897 when a descendant's widow, also left in straightened circumstances, was granted an ex-gratia pension, in lieu of the old debt, on condition that no further claim on behalf of the Bunny Troop could ever be entertained. It thus took the Crown seventy-six years to recognise, and repay, its debt to Joseph Boultbee.


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