Thomas Cole of the 10th Hussars

My great great great grandparents ELIZABETH LINDFIELD and THOMAS COLE, a widower, were married at St Nicholas Church, Brighton on the 31st December 1816. He was described in the Parish Register as belonging to the 10th Regiment Hussars. She had been baptised at Preston in 1792 and was about fourteen years his junior. The marriage seems to have been something of a formality as they already had a daughter JANE who was baptised in July 1813 and another child was on the way.

Thomas was born c.August/September 1778 in the parish of Binstead, Hampshire, and on 22nd September 1796 he enlisted in the 10th Dragoon Guards at Farnham, Surrey. At his Attestation the next day it was stated that he was 18 years old. He married his first wife SARAH POYNTER in 1804 but she died just under four years later. In 1812 he began a thirty-two year partnership with Elizabeth. Details of his twenty-five year service career both outline his army life and illustrate the lot of army wives during the Napoleonic wars.

The 10th Dragoons 1715 to 1808.

The 10th was one of the cavalry regiments raised in response to the Jacobite rebellion and had been first recruited in Hertfordshire in 1715. At the time these regiments were given the names of the men who raised them so the 10th was known as Gore’s Dragoons. Changes took place in cavalry requirements and in 1756 each Dragoon regiment was ordered to have one troop of light dragoons added to its strength. The horses of light dragoons were expected to cross any normal country whereas those of the heavy cavalry were not always trained to jump. The value of the more easily manoeuvred light dragoons was confirmed during the American War of Independence and in 1783 the 10th and some other regiments were transformed into Light Dragoons, the light troops of some of the other heavy regiments being transferred to them. It was at this time that the 10th Dragoons were given the distinction of being called the “10th or Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment of Light Dragoons”. Col. Liddell’s Memoirs of the Tenth Royal Hussars first refers to the regiment being in Sussex in 1791 when they were at Lewes and in 1792 when they were under canvas on Brighton Downs. In 1793 the Prince of Wales expressed a wish to be at the head of the regiment that bore his name and he was appointed Colonel Commandant. In 1796 he was appointed Colonel which involved active duties.

Troops in peacetime took part in regular drills and military manoeuvres and were used for riot control and assisting the customs service. When not on service abroad the Tenth was stationed in different parts of England and Scotland. From the start of the reign of George III in 1760 light dragoons also undertook travelling escort duties for the royal household.

In February 1793 France declared war on England and Holland. This war was to last on and off for over two decades and as it progressed troops received specialised training and were employed in recruitment as well as active service. Very few barracks existed in England at the start of the war and soldiers were normally quartered in ale-houses and places of a similar nature. Such arrangements had existed since the time of William III when he had ordered that only persons running victualling houses, inns and suchlike establishments should be liable to provide billets because billeting a large standing army was a great hardship to the ordinary people. Parliament had never consented to have men drawn permanently away from civil life and soldiers were sometimes required to work in trade, the horses of the cavalry being then turned out to grass. The opponents of a standing army had therefore prevented the erection of sufficient barracks. In 1792 the barracks of Great Britain housed 20,000 men of artillery and infantry and whenever the army increased its strength the additional men had to be billeted or put under canvas whatever the weather.

The Prime Minister William Pitt was obliged to order the erection of new barracks in Sussex in order to overcome an increasing problem as people refused to put up any longer with the quartering of troops in permanent billets. Once the new cavalry barracks outside Brighton were built in 1795/96 the Tenth were often stationed there and were employed on royal duties when the court was in residence at the Pavilion. They had similar duties at other times when the court was in London.

Muster rolls can be seen at the Public Record Office, Kew and these give a detailed picture of troop movement quarter by quarter. (PRO Kew Ref WO/12))

Thomas Cole remained a private from 1796 until Christmas 1798 when he was promoted to Corporal with an increase in pay from 1/3d to 1/7 per day and transferred to the Colonel’s Troop. In the autumn of 1799 his troop and seven others of the Tenth were ordered to Ramsgate to embark for foreign service but the order was countermanded and they returned to their depot. Thomas was returned to the ranks at the end of the year. At the time he was stationed at Guildford, not far from his home, and early in 1800 he deserted, only to be quickly apprehended and returned to his troop. His punishment is not recorded. Regimental routine returned and in May 1801 they were inspected by the Duke of Cumberland.

One year’s cessation of hostilities resulted from the `Peace of Amiens’ but in 1803 war broke out again between England and France and an act to levy an army of reserve was passed. Camps of instruction were established in Essex, Kent and Sussex while Napoleon was gathering his army for the invasion of England.

The Tenth spent the early part of 1804 on recruiting duties in the London area and in August, Thomas was detailed for some days to form part of an escort for King George III. On 1st November 1804 Thomas Cole “of the parish of Holy Trinity, Guildford” married Sarah Poynter (born c1779) at St Peter’s, Preston. Little or no provision for army wives was made in any of the barracks erected in the 1790’s and indeed some units discouraged men from marrying. The Rules and Regulations for the Cavalry (1795) stated “Marriage is to be discouraged as much as possible. Officers must explain to the men the many miseries that women are exposed to and by every sort of persuasion they must prevent them from marrying if possible.” The absence of married quarters meant that husbands had to provide for their wives and families as best they could. As Cole had periods when he was permitted to find his own lodgings, it may be supposed that he was sometimes able to join his wife Sarah in the village of Preston, just over the hill from Brighton barracks. They may have lived with her family or were perhaps, forced to find independent accommodation.

The Sussex Weekly Advertiser reported on the 12th Nov 1804 that the 10th Prince of Wales’ Own were to be reviewed by the Dukes of York and Cumberland on the Downs near Guildford and that a great display of military tactics from this highly disciplined regiment was expected. After the review the regiment marched to take up coast duty at Eastbourne and East Blatchington (Seaford) where barracks had also been erected. This was part of the build up of forces to repel the French if need arose and also entailed anti-smuggling patrols. Regiments played their own form of musical chairs. The 10th replaced the 11th who marched to Romney and Hythe to succeed the 14th who marched to Guildford to take the place of the 10th! On the 26th Nov. the SWA reported that the 10th had marched through Lewes on their way to take up their new duties and added that the Duke of York had been so pleased with their performance that on quitting the review he had ordered each man a pot of beer to drink his Majesty’s health.

Thomas was part of a detachment stationed at Rye by the 19th and 20th November 1804 while other members of his troop were stationed at Eastbourne. The muster roll2 for the month to 25th March 1805 is headed Eastbourne Barracks with Cole and most of his troop quartered there at the time. Extra defences in the form of Martello Towers had been designed to protect the exposed coast between Seaford and Folkestone and in April 1805 the SWA reported that work had begun. On the 9th Sept. there was a report that ” Mr Pitt and Lord Castlereagh were on Tuesday at Eastbourne on a visit to Lord Chatham … Mr Pitt during his short stay at Bourne viewed with attention the Martello Tower erecting there”.

The threat of invasion lasted until early September 1805 when Napoleon was forced to change his plans as he realised that the British Navy was preventing his fleet from sailing up the Channel to transport his army from Boulogne. He then transferred his army to Germany and defence measures in England were relaxed allowing troops to return to their various quarters. On the 23rd Sept 1805 the SWA reported that troops were to be reviewed by the Duke of York near Lewes that week and that the Tenth had received orders to march from Blatchington to Romford in Essex. On the 30th Sept the same paper reported that a grand military spectacle had taken place on the Downs between Brighthelmstone and Hove when 6,000 men had taken part in a sham fight at the conclusion of which the Prince had ordered a shilling to be given to each man, (equivalent to one day’s pay for a private soldier). A few weeks after this the French fleet were decisively defeated at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Tenth next had their Headquarters at Romford for a year and Cole was quartered at Brentwood some of that time. Then came some months on royal duties followed by a period in East Anglia from 1806 to 1807 undergoing specialised cavalry training under Lord Paget, Colonel of the 7th Hussars. The 7th were stationed at Ipswich and all the cavalry regiments in England were sent in rotation to be drilled there.

Between 1806-1807 the muster rolls show that after ten years service Cole’s pay increased by a penny a day to 1/4d. A portion of a cavalry soldier’s pay covered forage for his horse. Further stoppages for subsistence covered a soldier’s food and drink etc. so he was left with only a few pennies for himself at the end of the week with which to support a wife and family. When the period of training under Col Paget was completed the 10th returned in the summer of 1808 via Richmond and Kingston to Brighton and Lewes. On the 28th August 1808 Sarah Cole was buried at St Nicholas, Brighton aged twenty-nine. Thomas and Sarah had at least one child HENRY but as Sarah died less than four years after her marriage she may have died in childbirth or succumbed to the misery of deprivation that many another suffered who had little or no resources to eke out the meagre army pay. Motherless children had poor chances of surviving in these circumstances and many died from want of care.

The 10th Light Dragoons/Hussars 1808/1822.

In 1808 the 10th Light Dragoons became Hussars. The change was in dress only for their role in light cavalry remained the same, they were still officially described as light dragoons. The uniform of the 10th was of particular interest to the Prince of Wales and the officers affected a very elaborate costume. The rather exotic hussar dress consisted of jacket (or dolman), pelisse (or over-jacket normally worn slung from the shoulder) ‘barrel sash, overalls and busby. For troopers the uniform consisted of a dark blue jacket and shell (an under waistcoat) and leather breeches. Both jacket and shell were looped on the breast and edged with white cord. The facing of collar and cuffs of the 10th was yellow. Men of the 10th still arranged their hair in a queue and all dragoons wore a moustache. Thomas Cole must have cut quite a dashing figure!

The Tenth were ordered to be in immediate readiness for embarkation in Sept. 1808. In October they marched from Brighton and Lewes and on the 17th and 18th they embarked at Portsmouth on board transports in the presence of their Colonel HRH the Prince of Wales. Thomas Cole was among the 10,000 men sent as reinforcements to the Peninsular to be under the command of Sir John Moore.

When a regiment was sent on active service a small quota of six wives and families for every one hundred men were allowed to accompany them, the rest being given an allowance so they could return to their homes or place of settlement. They were authorised regardless of whether a woman was pregnant or of the number of children involved who would necessarily have to go too. All those who wished to be considered attended with their husbands in the pay-sergeant’s room. The women drew lots and were called forward in order of seniority to draw from a hat a ticket marked ‘to-go’ or ‘not-to-go’. Inevitably when the ‘lucky’ few were chosen many were disappointed. Those who were to go were allowed to draw half rations and each child one third of that of a man. Little other provision was made for the families and they had to endure bad conditions and lack of privacy aboard a troopship and all the hardships of a campaign. Some women were able to earn a pittance to supplement their husband’s pay by washing, cooking and sewing for the other men.

When the fleet of transports arrived at Corunna everyone was kept waiting in very cramped conditions at sea for fifteen days before landing. The men eventually disembarked swimming the horses ashore. The Tenth marched in Brigade with the 7th and the 15th Hussars under Gen. Slade to join the main army. Marches were made at night and the cold was very great. At times the Brigade was forced to bivouac in the open and as they passed through the mountainous region of north-west Spain the road was sometimes only a track with a precipice on one side. While the French army lay at Madrid, Gen. Sir John Moore moved to attack and cut their lines of communication to the north but was forced into a rapid retreat before 100,000 French who left Madrid and advanced towards him. Much snow and ice added to the generally appalling conditions of the retreat. Families became separated and many suffered from exhaustion and want of supplies. Those who were sick or with young babies and small children found it difficult to keep up once the army was on the march. Some were allowed to ride on the baggage wagons while some acquired donkeys but the needs of small babies meant women often fell behind and subsequently failed to catch up. These hardships combined with the results of enemy action caused great loss of life. The 10th Hussars were part of the rearguard action during this time and lost many of their horses en route. On Jan. 16th 1809 Sir John Moore turned at Corunna to defeat Marshall Soult but was killed during the battle. The remnants of the British Army however were able to embark for their journey home. The return sea trip took on average from two to three weeks and by the end of the second week of February survivors were being landed at various ports along the south coast.

The depot of the 10th during this period had remained at Brighton. News of the retreat had reached Sussex at the end of January and there were soon reports in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser that men of the 10th Hussars were beginning to return to Brighton. The 10th had set out with over 600 horses but returned with only thirty. All the horses which had survived the retreat except four in each troop had been slaughtered on the beach near Corunna to prevent them falling into the hands of the French. After enduring all the hardships of the campaign Thomas Cole returned to Brighton in the middle of February 1909. He had marched with his comrades from Portsmouth and for a period of thirty-four days he was paid 10d a day while he had no horse.

Routine for Thomas returned to the usual round of duties in the south-east throughout the remainder of 1809 and 1810 during which time he was permitted to find his own lodgings for considerable periods. In 1811 he was stationed back in Brighton and on March 2nd the burial took place of his motherless son Henry at St Peter’s, Preston. The troop remained in the town until the spring of 1812 then followed another period on the move. However Thomas was back in Brighton in the autumn and by this time had become closely a
quainted with ELIZABETH LINDFIELD! He then moved once more to Guildford.

Early in 1812 agitators in the Yorkshire woollen industry known as Luddites had started a campaign of violence including attacks on local mills, because they feared that unemployment would result from the introduction of new machines. Troops were used to defend property and to assist with arrests and on the 11th December two troops of the Tenth marched to York. They formed a depot for the regiment there while the other six troops of the regiment were again on active service abroad. During the early part of 1813 the troops at home were engaged in recruiting and the purchasing of horses. The muster rolls show that Cole was one of those camped at York who were helping to suppress the Luddite riots and keep the peace at the public executions which followed the trials. It seems unlikely that Elizabeth followed for by then she was pregnant. The hanging of the ringleaders caused considerable unrest and the army was greatly stretched as a result. It was claimed that more troops were engaged in controlling the unrest at home than Wellington had under his command in the Peninsular. In the summer the depot of the Tenth moved back to Brighton.

On 28th July 1813 the baptism took place at Brighton of JANE COLE, daughter of Thomas Cole and Elizabeth Lindfield of Carlton Row, Brighton. Elizabeth as an unmarried mother was probably in cheap lodgings in that very poor area of the town. Soon after, having completed seventeen years service, Cole’s pay was increased to 1/5d per day

Riots at the passing of the Corn Bill caused several troops of the Tenth to be sent to London to assist in keeping the peace in March 1815. Then news came that Napoleon had escaped from Elba. The strength of the Tenth was increased by two troops in April and three squadrons (six troops) were ordered to be ready for imminent embarkation. The regiment left their depot at Brighton. and sailed for the Continent in the middle of the month. When the campaign culminating in the battle of Waterloo in June 1815 was over the Tenth returned once more to Brighton. It was perhaps fortunate for Thomas and his family that he was stationed at home this time.

At the end of 1816 Elizabeth was pregnant again and on the 31st December Thomas Cole married Elizabeth Lindfield “spinster” by banns, at St Nicholas’ Church, Brighton, both of that parish.

Smuggling was on the increase as the war ended and in the first half of 1817, the 10th were engaged in patrolling the coast from Chichester to Rye in support of Customs Officers and the Preventive Water Guard, which was the forerunner of the Coast Guard. Although Thomas was in Hounslow again that summer the Coles had their son THOMAS baptised on 3rd August 1817 at St Nicholas. The Parish Register shows that their address was Marshalls Row, Brighton. The regiment took part in the funeral procession of HRH Princess Charlotte in November and early in 1818 they were transferred to Kent for more Coastal Duties supporting the Customs service and the newly formed Coast Blockade.

A second son HENRY was baptised 11th October 1818 at St Nicholas, Brighton but Thomas had now moved to the Radipole Barracks at Weymouth. From there he was employed with his troop on Revenue duty in Hampshire and Dorset. That autumn they moved to and fro between Portsmouth, Wales and parts of Kent. There next followed spells in Scotland where the Tenth was based at Piershill Barracks, Edinburgh. Troops at this time were being sent to Glasgow on account of the serious disturbances amongst the weavers in the city and detachments from the Tenth were employed there in 1819 and early 1820. Elizabeth and her three small children probably stayed in Brighton after the birth of Henry. Sadly little Thomas was buried at St Nicholas on the 2nd May 1819 aged 1 year 9 months and young Henry was to die the following year while his father was still in Scotland. Cole was absent from the muster there in March – the reason given was ‘furlo 1 – 24 to Brighton.’. On the 8th March 1820 baby Henry Cole was buried aged 17 months. Thomas seems to have travelled south by sea. He returned to Piershill, Edinburgh and Glasgow for a while before marching south again through East Anglia to Surrey. Thomas and his troop were still in the London area for the last quarter of 1820.

A reduction of the army and the disbanding of some light dragoon regiments took place in 1820. In January that year George III died and there were again royal escort duties for part of the Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment. The Prince had held the colonelcy for nearly twenty-four years and the vacancy for command that now arose was filled by Lieutenant-General Charles Vane, Lord Stewart, G.C.B. afterwards Marquis of Londonderry. The title of the regiment remained unchanged. In November 1820 the Tenth provided piquets at the Riding House, Pimlico during the investigation of the conduct of Queen Caroline by the House of Lords. Naturally the Regiment was on duty at the coronation of their former Colonel now King George IV on the 16th July 1821. Immediately after the coronation the Tenth returned to Sussex and by the middle of August seventeen detachments had been sent out and distributed among the villages along the coast to assist the revenue officers in the prevention of smuggling. On the 25th August an order was received reducing the establishment by two troops.

Thomas Cole was one of those discharged that month on account of the “Reduction and being subject to acute pain of the chest and asthmatic symptoms.”

The Discharge paper (PRO KEW ref. WO/97 31) concerning Thomas Cole gives his full description:-

HIS MAJESTY’S 10th ROYAL REGIMENT of HUSSARS whereof Lieut. Gen. C.W.Vane Lord Stewart G.C.B. is Colonel.

These are to certify that THOMAS COLE born in the Parish of Benstead in or near the Town of Benstead in the County of Hampshire was enlisted for the aforesaid Regiment at Farnham in the County of Surrey on the 23rd Day of September 1796 at the age of 18 for unlimited service.

Statement of Service
from 23rd Sept 1796 to 10th Oct. 1821
Private Royal Hussars, 25 years 31 days

That by Authority of H.R.H. The Commander in Chief dated Horse Guards 6th Aug. 1821 he is hereby discharged in consequence of Reduction and being subject to acute pain of the chest and asthmatic symptoms

(Signed) A.H.Kirnside M.D. Surgeon 10th Hussars

That he is not to my knowledge incapacitated by the Sentence of a Court Martial from receiving a Pension.

That his general Conduct as a Soldier has been good – that he served in the campaign with General Sir J. Moore in 1808 and 1809.

That he has received all just Demands for Pay, Clothing etc. from his Entry into the Service to the date of this Discharge as appears by his Receipt underneath

I Thomas Cole do hereby acknowledge that I have received all my Clothing, Pay Arrears of Pay and all just Demands whatsoever, from the time of my Entry into Service to the time of this Discharge.

Certified by E.Hodgson, Capt. 10th Hussars

Signature of Soldier Thos Cole

To prevent any improper use being made of this Discharge by its falling into other Hands the following Description of the said Thomas Cole

He is about 43 years of age is six feet – inches in height, Brown hair, Grey eyes, fresh complexion and by Trade or Occupation a Labourer.

Given under my Hand and Seal of the Regiment at Brighton Barracks this 16th Day of August 1821.

Signature of Commanding Officer H.C.Stapylton Major
Horse Guards 23 Oct. 1821 confirmed John Macdonald

Pensions of the 10th Dragoons, 1806-1838 can be seen at PRO KEW on Microfilm (ref. WO/120 piece 21)..

24 Oct. Thos Cole Age 43. Total Service 25 1/12 years.

Rate per day 1s 01/2d

1821 Reason for discharge – Reduction and subject to pains in the chest and asthma. Born Bensted, Hants. Occupation Labourer, Height 6ft. Hair brown, Eyes grey, Complexion fresh.


On leaving the army Thomas returned to his home in Marshall’s Row, Brighton (where other members of the LINDFIELD family also lived) and became a shoemaker. His address and occupation are given in the St Nicholas Parish Register at the baptisms of four more children. One of whom was buried at St Peter’s, Preston.

1822 29th Sept. Baptism of ELIZABETH LINDFIELD COLE,

1824 26th Sept. Baptism of LOUISA COLE .

1825 20th Nov. Burial of Louisa Cole at St Peter’s Preston. Aged 10 months

1826 17th Sept. Baptism of GEORGE FREDERICK COLE.

1829 3rd July Baptism of ALFRED JOHN COLE

Thomas Cole also appears in Baxter’s Brighton Directory for 1824-25 at Marshall’s Row – Boot and Shoemaker.

Sometime prior to 1840 the Cole family moved from Marshall’s Row, Brighton to the Schooner Inn, Albion St., Southwick. The Schooner is one of the two oldest pubs in Southwick and owes its curious position on the cliff to its having originally been built to face the old road by the waterside rather than the present one. In the winter of 1837 the snow was so deep that the Southampton coach was halted at the Schooner for many days. The Coles may have been there by that time.

Further evidence comes from:- The Marriage certificate of ELIZABETH LINDFIELD Cole (age 19) and JAMES JACKSON Engineer (of full age) dated 1st Nov. 1840 both of Southwick. Their fathers were THOMAS COLE and ELIAS JACKSON – occupation in both cases given as Publican

In the 1841 Census for Southwick, Albion Street, we find:

Thomas Cole 55 Publican? (Unreadable)
Elizabeth 45
George 14
Alfred 11
James Jackson Rly Lab? (Unreadable)
Elizabeth Jackson 20
William Jackson 6 mths

The death certificate of Thomas Cole shows him as aged 62 years, Pensioner of the 10th Light Dragoons. Cause of death: – Inflammation of the Lungs. Informant Elizabeth Cole, present at the death Schooner Inn, Southwick, dated 17th July 1844.

1851 census Southwick: 154,Albion Street

Elizabeth Cole Visitor Widow 59 born Preston, Sx

1861 census Brighton: 12, Marshall’s Row

Elizabeth Cole Head Widow 68 Lodging House-keeper Preston, Sx
Elizabeth Jackson daug Mar 38 Needlewoman Brighton, Sx
William Jackson gd son Unmar 19 Labourer Southwick, Sx

This is the last of my information concerning Elizabeth Cole nee Lindfield.- one time army wife. (date of death unknown,)


  • PRO Kew Refs. – WO/12 923 – 937, WO/97 31, WO/120 21)
  • Parish Registers, St Nicholas Brighton and St Peters, Preston.
  • The Memoirs of the Tenth Royal Hussars. – Col. R.S.Liddell (1891)
  • Land of Lost Content, The Luddite Revolt 1812. – Robert Reid.(1986)
  • Wellington’s Army. – Col. H.C.B. Rogers OBE.(1979)
  • Wellington’s Light Cavalry. – Bryan Fosten.(1982)
  • Following the Drum – Women in Wellington’s Wars. – Brig. F.C.G.Page (1986)
  • The British Cavalry. – Philip Warner.(1984)
  • Sussex Weekly Advertiser.
  • Census 1841, 51 and 61.
  • Family birth, marriage and death certificates.

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