Coloured drawing of an Officer in Captain’s Uniform of the Oxfordshire Militia
Object name: Coloured drawing of an Officer in Captain’s Uniform of the Oxfordshire Militia
Object number: CHWJA:JAH398
Description: Coloured drawing by Miss Joan Corder of an Officer in Captain’s Uniform of the Oxfordshire Militia circa 1800.
Context: Militia were reserve military forces intended primarily to provide national home defence when the regular army was engaged in campaigns abroad. In addition to the threat of foreign invasion, the British Governments of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were deeply concerned that the French Revolution could inspire uprisings at home and the Militia were also charged with quelling any civil unrest.
Each English county was expected to raise its own militia, with officers appointed from the property-owning classes (although as in Henry Austen’s case, this was overlooked in times of national crisis), and lower ranks recruited from the working class.
Jane’s fourth brother Henry was originally destined to become a clergyman like his father and elder brother James. However when France declared war on Britain in February 1793, he signed up to join the Oxfordshire Militia as a lieutenant.
In December 1798, Henry was promoted to the rank of Captain and would have sported regimentals like those in this drawing, including the red coat that set so many hearts aflutter in Meryton.
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