Trained Band Regiments

The Trained Bands of England and Wales were a militia of part-time soldiers, organised by County. In theory they were to drill regularly and be well-provided with arms. In practice this was rarely the case. The basis of this list is the pre-war muster of February 1638 (SP 16/381/66).

A County Trained Band might be strong enough to form a number of foot regiments, the Yorkshire Trained Bands mustered more than 12,000 men in 1638. Others likely formed individual regiments or companies.

During the Civil Wars some Trained Bands continued and fought as temporary additions to the field armies, and were expanded by the addition of Auxiliary and Volunteer regiments. The London Trained Bands are the best examples, and have been extensively studied. Other Trained Bands were combed for volunteers, that were re-organised into field army regiments, such as the Cornish Trained Bands. Still others were disarmed or slipped into obscurity.

In some cases it is easy to distinguish Trained Band from 'Volunteer' units; Alexander Popham paraded the Bath Trained Band in early 1643 and ordered them to lay down their arms, subsequently recruiting a 'Volunteer' regiment on his own terms. In other cases the distinction is not so clear, so some 'Volunteer' regiments may appear here and some Trained Bands may appear in the Royalist or Parliamentarian lists.

The Trained Bands of horse, also known as Freehold Bands, have left relatively little evidence, most likely dissolving as men volunteered for the Royalist or Parliamentarian horse regiments.

After the Parliamentarian victory in the First Civil War the Trained Bands continued, but were now more often called the Militia. During the Third Civil War the Militias were activated across England and Wales, with some fighting at the Battle of Worcester. The Militia continued in existence after the Restoration up until Victorian times, when they were incorporated into the County Regiments of the Army.

Table of Contents