Formation of the North and South Hampshire Militia, 1757
The roots of the militia go back to Anglo Saxon days when all able-bodied freemen were required to take part in the defence of the country – defence of the realm.
A convenient marker point to positively identify the county’s (Southampton) Militia was the Militia Act of Charles II in 1661 which acknowledged emphatically the King’s sole right to control the Militia – this act provided for the levying of the Militia by the Lords Lieutenant and for its organisation by Companies and Regiments.
During the Monmouth Rebellion the Hampshire Militia actually took to the field. During the 7 Years War in August 1757 a bill for the re-organisation of the Militia received Royal Assent for the raising of 60,000 men by ballot for service within Great Britain only. Hampshire’s contingent was to be two Regiments: North Hants and the South Hants: Headquarters and embodiment taking place at Winchester and Southampton respectively. A Major Gibbon and his son Captain Gibbon were appointed in 1759 to the South Hants Militia – Captain Gibbon later becoming the famous Roman historian of ‘The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire’. For a Sergeants clothing £2 4s 7d was allocated per annum, for other men £1 0s 5d, fresh clothing being issued every three years in peace. In war time the Militia were liable to permanent embodiment, in peace they were called out annually for one month’s training. During the 7 Years war both Regiments were embodied for the period 1759-1762.
During the Napoleonic Wars the Hampshire Militia were again embodied, this time for nearly 11 years – 1792-1802.
In June 1811 the South Hants became Light Infantry. In 1853 the North and South Hants Militia amalgamated – Winchester becoming their focal point for annual training.
In 1881 the Hampshire Militia was re-designated the 3rd (Militia Battalion the Hampshire Regiment.