George III Snuff Box

Nominated by: Ian Beckett

Buckinghamshire has a proud and distinguished ‘amateur military tradition’, having formed auxiliary military units from the mid-16th Century onwards including the Militia, Yeomanry, Volunteers, Territorials and Home Guard.  The militia in particular long predates the creation of a regular standing army.  With that professional army small and invariably overseas, the auxiliaries played a significant role in home defence against the threat of invasion from the Spanish in the 16th Century, the Dutch in the 17th century, the French in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Germans in the 20th Century.  They also became a familiar part of the very fabric of county life, embracing a far wider section of society than the regular army.  In the case of the militia, service was subject to compulsory ballot between 1757 and 1831, while the remaining auxiliaries were all volunteers.

Such was the attachment to the Royal Bucks King’s Own Militia that, when it was abolished in 1908, county pressure led to the Oxfordshire Light Infantry being renamed the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in order to continue to associate the county with an infantry regiment.  The former Bucks Rifle Volunteers became the Buckinghamshire Battalion, OBLI in the new Territorial Force (later Army).  The county’s yeomanry also bore a Royal title as the Royal Bucks Yeomanry (later Royal Bucks Hussars) from 1845.   

As representative of the ‘amateur military tradition’, the Bucks Military Museum Trust nominates a unique silver snuff box presented to the Royal Bucks King’s Own Militia, commemorating the occasion on 26 September 1794 when King George III bestowed the titles of ‘Royal’ and ‘King’s Own’ on the regiment. Commanded by George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham, the regiment was responsible for guarding the King while he was at Weymouth.  4.5” x 3”, the snuff box has the Royal Arms and the regimental badge and is inscribed, ‘His Majesty George III 1794 To the Regiment upon serving as personal guard. On the visit to Weymouth 1794 in recognition of which he bestows upon them the Title of Royal Kings Own Regt.’ It was made by Charles Reily of London in 1811.  The King also presented four silver candelabra.

The George III Snuff Box was nominated by Professor Ian Beckett on behalf of the Bucks Military Museum Trust.