12th January 2022

On pages 24-26 of Cossum’s book there are examples of Tasmanian Volunteer uniform buttons. Some are quite rare and desirable! The first is of the Hobart City Guards 1860-67

Hobart was originally called Hobart Town or Hobarton. It became a city in 1842, with the name altered simply to Hobart from the 1st January, 1881.

Early days of Hobart policing.

In 1804 “night watches” were instituted using convicts, but were unsurprisingly ineffective and so were replaced by military patrols in 1806. However, despite martial law being declared in 1815 and with increased numbers of  district constables, there was still an increasing problem with bushrangers and other crime.

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart), 25th November 1825 page 3. Town folk were helping  as ‘special constables’ during a time when the military were engaged chasing down bushrangers.

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart), 23rd December 1825 page 1.

Lt-Governor Arthur centralised the police force, and in 1828 established nine police districts under control of police magistrates, with a chief- magistrate located in Hobart Town. Although there was now a greater police presence, there was some corruption and abuse of powers, as most of the police were convicts. By 1866 there existed 21 municipal council controlled forces as well as nine police districts under the oversight of the Inspector of Police. This decentralised system lead to uneven policing, poor pay and council interference, culminating in an inadequate response to riots in Launceston and Hobart during 1870. The 1898 Police Regulation saw the formation of a state-wide force.

See http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/9th-november-2020/

City Guards: 1860-67

In the meantime, unhappy with the state of crime and policing in there town, around 140 men petitioned the Hon. James Milne Wilson, Esq.,MLC. to form a Volunteer City Guard. Although this was but one volunteer rifle brigade amongst others, I cannot but suspect this was a reaction to local crime rather than a desire for colonial defence, by the statement that it was for “the defence and protection of this city only

This was followed by a list of volunteers, then this reply:

The Hobart Town Advertiser, 17th September 1860 page 3.

The inaugural meeting was held on 26th September, where the Government offered £4000 towards uniforms etc. Over two hundred men offered to serve. Uniforms were decided on, but it took until June the following year for the men to be supplied. Unfortunately, by late 1867 the volunteer movement in the colony was in decline. The presence of regular troops, a peaceful international climate, and the sacking of some popular leaders, had reduced the popularity of the movement. The City Guards, also the 2nd Rifles, were disbanded. Only one artillery corps in each of Hobart and Launceston remained by late 1869.

In “Walch’s Tasmanian Almanack and guide to Tasmania for 1863”, the uniform is described as blue with red facings and silver lace. The button has a reversed letter ‘C’ linked through a letter ‘G’ (for City Guards) surmounted by a QV crown, back marked Stokes Marker, Melbourne. The numbers in 1863 were 203 rank and file. By 1867 they had dropped to 91 rank and file.

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