Defence of the Kingdom – 1798

1798-05-02 Peter de Salis declaration Click on image to enlarge

3rd Count Peter’s Declaration of May 2nd 1798:

The government of France during the penultimate stage of the French Revolution was administered by the Directory, a collective leadership of five directors.

In October 1797 the Directory created the Armée d’Angleterre, with Napoleon as commander, which gathered by the French Channel ports in preparation for an invasion of Britain.

However, Napoleon’s conclusion in Februrary 1898 was that without naval supremacy any action by France would be bound to fail and that the Directory should “be satisfied with keeping up the pretence of it”.

So, while Napoleon turned his attention to disrupting British trade routes and the conquest of Egypt, in Britain, detailed plans were drawn up for defence.  Local militias were formed (including, in Middlesex, the Uxbridge Volunteer Cavalry), and provisions were made to communicate the news of a landing.  A telegraph station was erected on one of the towers of Westminster Abbey, another was set up at the Admiralty.

Another measure was “A Plan for the Association of the Nobility, Gentry, and Yeomanry, residing in the several Counties, to supply such a number of Waggons, Carts, and Horses, in Aid of the Provisions made by the Mutiny Act as may be necessary for carrying on his Majesty’s Service; as also to contribute to the Supply of his Majesty’s Forces, with Flour, Wheat, Oats, Hay, Straw, and Fuel, in case of an Invasion”.[1]

It was in response to these initiatives for the defence of the Realm, that Count Peter made his Declaration:

Hayes May 2nd 1798

Peter De Salis at present a Householder in the Parish of Hayes is extremely solicitous that every possible exertion should be made for the defence of the Kingdom against the threatened invasion of the enemy. He will therefore with the greatest readiness enter into an association with the Householders of his Parish and (of the neighbouring one of Hillingdon (into which he will probably shortly remove) or even of the whole district of Uxbridge should that be thought more advisable (for the common advantage of all) by the majority of the Householders and other reputable inhabitants, for the mutual defence of their lives and property as well as of their country, under such regulation and controul as may be deemed by the said Householders and Inhabitants the most adequate for the purposes intended and is calculated to obviate all cause of disquietude or suspicion or particularism.

The said Peter De Salis moreover declares that from age and infirmities he is disabled from taking up arms himself, but will think it his duty to do everything in his power for the common defence should the enemy make a good landing in this Kingdom, and in that case all the horses which he may have at that time as well as everything else useful to Government shall be at its disposition without any compensation whatever.

The said Peter De Salis has called upon such of his servants and labourers as are of an age fit to bear arms and they have most readily agreed to learn the military exercise and to enter into any association which by true consent of the Householders and inhabitants may be formed in the Parishes of Hayes and Hillingdon or in the whole district of Uxbridge, for the purposes before mentioned and under the condition however that they are not to be drawn under any pretence whatever out of the said Parishes or districts.

sub: P de Salis

Here following are their names


Thomas Eustace
James Clarke
John West
Benjamin Gouvern


Henry Jacket

Henry Mickacking
Robert Wright
Wm Salthill
Wm Dowden
Timothy Laughton

[1] A Plan for an Association of the NOBILITY, GENTRY, and YEOMANRY, residing in … (pp. 14 – 19) in: A Plan for driving the live stock of such parts of the country as may become exposed to the inroads of the Enemy in case of an Invasion; as also … for rendering the body of the people instrumental in the General Defence (1798), The British Library, Digitized 26 June 2013, 28 pages. (accessed: 21 January 2016).

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