The French Threat and a New Uniform: 1800-1836

The beginning of the nineteenth century saw further reorganisation within the Company and an increase in the number of members, encouraged by the threat of a French invasion.

The Rifle (or Yager) Company was established at the end of 1803. In the same year, the Matross Division was doubled in strength to man two new guns (now displayed at the entrance to Armoury House) donated by Alderman Sir William Curtis Bt MP, a past Lord Mayor of London and President of the HAC 1795-1828. The Veteran Company was introduced in 1804.

Following the cessation of hostilities with France in 1815, the Company continued its role of policing the City, providing guards as required. The Duke of Sussex was appointed the Company’s Colonel in 1817.

Soon after his accession in August 1830, William IV appointed himself as the HAC’s Captain-General and, probably under the influence of the Duke of Sussex (his younger brother), ordered that the whole Regiment’s uniform should be similar to that worn by the Grenadier Guards, but with silver buttons and lace substituted for the Guards’ gold.

A Victorian Volunteer Force: 1837-1898

On her accession in 1837, Queen Victoria appointed her uncle, the Duke of Sussex, as the Company’s “Captain-General and Colonel”, combining these two positions for the first time.

In 1848, during a period of revolution in Europe and the Chartist riots in England, concern in government circles about the allegiance of the Regiment and the security of its guns led to the issue of a royal warrant in 1849. This ordered that all of the Company’s officers were to be appointed by the Crown. In 1888, a dispute over the control of the military element of the Company resulted in the more significant royal warrant of 12 March 1889. This transferred responsibility for the military side to the War Office, whilst safeguarding the Company’s civil privileges.

Meanwhile, the Regiment itself saw a number of changes. In 1853, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony (Captain-General and Colonel) presented new carriages and limbers for the guns of the Artillery Division, which became the Field Battery. The Horse Artillery Troop (Jay’s Troop) was active between 1860 and 1869, and a squadron of Light Cavalry was formed in 1861 and converted into the Horse Artillery Battery in 1890. Finally, an artillery reorganisation in 1899 created A Battery and B Battery from the old horse and field artillery batteries.

The courtesy prefix “Honourable”, first used in 1685, was officially confirmed by Queen Victoria in 1860.

The South African War: 1899-1902

Around 200 members of the Company fought in the South African War with various units. The majority of these members served with the artillery, infantry or mounted infantry sub-units of the City Imperial Volunteers (CIV) between January and October 1900. The CIV was formed under the auspices of the Lord Mayor of London. The HAC’s Colonel and Commanding Officer, the Earl of Denbigh and Desmond, was instrumental in raising and equipping the CIV Battery, which was officered and, for the most part, manned by members of the HAC. This was the first occasion that the Company’s membership saw active service overseas and six members died whilst serving during this war.

The Honourable Artillery Company Act: 1903-1912

In 1907, Parliament passed the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act creating a new scheme for national defence. The HAC was due to become part of the Territorial Force but agreed to do so only once its property and privileges had been safeguarded. This was accomplished by the passing of the Honourable Artillery Company Act in 1908.

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Research our Archives for further information and for details of HAC publications available for purchase.

The Infantry Battalion on parade at Armoury House, c1890
Artillery Division, HAC, 1804 (from an engraving by Hill and Hopwood, after James Green)
The Duke of Sussex Reviewing the HAC, 1828, by R Havell Junior