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Captain William Thornton Picture?

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:33 am
by Tod
I'm trying to find the location of the potrait of the above gentleman. Any one know where the original is?
It is referred to in at least 2 books showing him in mid century militia Capt. uniform.

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 6:54 pm
by Mark P.
Knaresborough Museum might be worth a try, they seem more keen on Blind Jack Metcalf but William Thornton gets a mention as well.

Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:07 pm
by Mark P.
Found this:

A Project Gutenberg Etext of The Life of Thomas Telford by Samuel Smiles 1834? ... 7/data.txt

The book is about Thomas Telford but there is a section about Blind Jack Metcalf and his road building and Blind Jack Metcalf was in Thorntons volunteer company and so...


The news of the rout of the Royal army at Prestonpans, and the
intended march of the Highlanders southwards, put a stop to
business as well as pleasure, and caused a general consternation
throughout the northern counties. The great bulk of the people
were, however, comparatively indifferent to the measures of defence
which were adopted; and but for the energy displayed by the country
gentlemen in raising forces in support of the established
government, the Stuarts might again have been seated on the throne
of Britain. Among the county gentlemen of York who distinguished
themselves on the occasion was William Thornton, Esq., of
Thornville Royal. The county having voted ninety thousand pounds
for raising, clothing, and maintaining a body of four thousand men,
Mr. Thornton proposed, at a public meeting held at York, that they
should be embodied with the regulars and march with the King's
forces to meet the Pretender in the field. This proposal was,
however, overruled, the majority of the meeting resolving that the
men should be retained at home for purposes merely of local
defence. On this decision being come to, Mr. Thornton determined
to raise a company of volunteers at his own expense, and to join
the Royal army with such force as he could muster. He then went
abroad among his tenantry and servants, and endeavoured to induce
them to follow him, but without success.

Still determined on raising his company, Mr. Thornton next cast
about him for other means; and who should he think of in his
emergency but Blind Jack! Metcalf had often played to his family at
Christmas time, and the Squire knew him to be one of the most
popular men in the neighbourhood. He accordingly proceeded to
Knaresborough to confer with Metcalf on the subject. It was then
about the beginning of October, only a fortnight after the battle
of Prestonpans. Sending for Jack to his inn, Mr. Thornton told
him of the state of affairs--that the French were coming to join
the rebels--and that if the country were allowed to fall into their
hands, no man's wife, daughter, nor sister would be safe. Jack's
loyalty was at once kindled. If no one else would join the Squire,
he would! Thus enlisted--perhaps carried away by his love of
adventure not less than by his feeling of patriotism Metcalf
proceeded to enlist others, and in two days a hundred and forty men
were obtained, from whom Mr. Thornton drafted sixty-four, the
intended number of his company. The men were immediately drilled
and brought into a state of as much efficiency as was practicable
in the time; and when they marched off to join General Wade's army
at Boroughbridge, the Captain said to them on setting out,
"My lads! you are going to form part of a ring-fence to the finest
estate in the world!" Blind Jack played a march at the head of the
company, dressed in blue and buff, and in a gold-laced hat.
The Captain said he would willingly give a hundred guineas for only
one eye to put in Jack's head: he was such a useful, spirited, handy

On arriving at Newcastle, Captain Thornton's company was united to
Pulteney's regiment, one of the weakest. The army lay for a week
in tents on the Moor. Winter had set in, and the snow lay thick
on the ground; but intelligence arriving that Prince Charles, with
his Highlanders, was proceeding southwards by way of Carlisle,
General Wade gave orders for the immediate advance of the army on
Hexham, in the hope of intercepting them by that route. They set
out on their march amidst hail and snow; and in addition to the
obstruction caused by the weather, they had to overcome the
difficulties occasioned by the badness of the roads. The men were
often three or four-hours in marching a mile, the pioneers having
to fill up ditches and clear away many obstructions in making a
practicable passage for the artillery and baggage. The army was
only able to reach Ovingham, a distance of little more than ten
miles, after fifteen hours' marching. The night was bitter cold;
the ground was frozen so hard that but few of the tent-pins could
be driven; and the men lay down upon the earth amongst their straw.
Metcalf, to keep up the spirits of his company for sleep was next
to impossible --took out his fiddle and played lively tunes whilst
the men danced round the straw, which they set on fire.

Next day the army marched for Hexham; But the rebels having already
passed southward, General Wade retraced. his steps to Newcastle to
gain the high road leading to Yorkshire, whither he marched in all
haste; and for a time his army lay before Leeds on fields now
covered with streets, some of which still bear the names of
Wade-lane, Camp-road, and Camp-field, in consequence of the event.

On the retreat of Prince Charles from Derby, General Wade again
proceeded to Newcastle, while the Duke of Cumberland hung upon the
rear of the rebels along their line of retreat by Penrith and
Carlisle. Wade's army proceeded by forced marches into Scotland,
and at length came up with the Highlanders at Falkirk. Metcalf
continued with Captain Thornton and his company throughout all
these marchings and countermarchings, determined to be of service
to his master if he could, and at all events to see the end of the
campaign. At the battle of Falkirk he played his company to the
field; but it was a grossly-mismanaged battle on the part of the
Royalist General, and the result was a total defeat. Twenty of
Thornton's men were made prisoners, with the lieutenant and
ensign. The Captain himself only escaped by taking refuge in a
poor woman's house in the town of Falkirk, where he lay hidden for
many days; Metcalf returning to Edinburgh with the rest of the
defeated army.

Some of the Dragoon officers, hearing of Jack's escape, sent for
him to head-quarters at Holyrood, to question him about his
Captain. One of them took occasion to speak ironically of
Thornton's men, and asked Metcalf how he had contrived to escape.
"Oh!" said Jack, "I found it easy to follow the sound of the
Dragoons' horses-- they made such a clatter over the stones when
flying from the Highlandmen. Another asked him how he, a blind
man, durst venture upon such a service; to which Metcalf replied,
that had he possessed a pair of good eyes, perhaps he would not
have come there to risk the loss of them by gunpowder. No more
questions were asked, and Jack withdrew; but he was not satisfied
about the disappearance of Captain Thornton, and determined on
going back to Falkirk, within the enemy's lines, to get news of
him, and perhaps to rescue him, if that were still possible.

The rest of the company were very much disheartened at the loss of
their officers and so many of their comrades, and wished Metcalf to
furnish them with the means of returning home. But he would not
hear of such a thing, and strongly encouraged them to remain until,
at all events, he had got news of the Captain. He then set out for
Prince Charles's camp. On reaching the outposts of the English
army, he was urged by the officer in command to lay aside his
project, which would certainly cost him his life. But Metcalf was
not to be dissuaded, and he was permitted to proceed, which he did
in the company of one of the rebel spies, pretending that he wished
to be engaged as a musician in the Prince's army. A woman whom
they met returning to Edinburgh from the field of Falkirk, laden
with plunder, gave Metcalf a token to her husband, who was Lord
George Murray's cook, and this secured him an access to the
Prince's quarters; but, notwithstanding a most diligent search,
he could hear nothing of his master. Unfortunately for him, a person
who had seen him at Harrogate, pointed him out as a suspicions
character, and he was seized and put in confinement for three days,
after which he was tried by court martial; but as nothing could be
alleged against him, he was acquitted, and shortly after made his
escape from the rebel camp. On reaching Edinburgh, very much to his
delight he found Captain Thornton had arrived there before him.

On the 30th of January, 1746, the Duke of Cumberland reached
Edinburgh, and put himself at the head of the Royal army, which
proceeded northward in pursuit of the Highlanders. At Aberdeen,
where the Duke gave a ball, Metcalf was found to be the only
musician in camp who could play country dances, and he played to
the company, standing on a chair, for eight hours,--the Duke
several times, as he passed him, shouting out "Thornton, play up!"
Next morning the Duke sent him a present of two guineas; but as the
Captain would not allow him to receive such gifts while in his pay,
Metcalf spent the money, with his permission, in giving a treat to
the Duke's two body servants. The battle of Culloden, so
disastrous to the poor Highlanders; shortly followed; after which
Captain Thornton, Metcalf, and the Yorkshire Volunteer Company,
proceeded homewards. Metcalf's young wife had been in great fears
for the safety of her blind, fearless, and almost reckless partner;
but she received him with open arms, and his spirit of adventure
being now considerably allayed, he determined to settle quietly
down to the steady pursuit of business.


Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:30 pm
by Tod
So if I get the uniform I have to hang around with Pulteney's (again) :wink:

Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:45 pm
by Mark P.
You'll learn to love it :? .

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:06 pm
by Mark P.
A bit more info for the West Riding Association Companies including that of Captain Thornton.

Extract from the Life of John Metcalf pub 1795

The Captain drafted sixty four, (the number of the privates he wanted) and sent immediately to Leeds for cloth of a good quality for their cloathing. the coats were blue, trimmed and faced with buff; and buff waistcoats.

Extract from West Riding Account of money paid for raising subsisting and cloathing twenty four companies of Foot 24th Day of September 1745

The Charge of cloathing for a single Company lists:

Coats and Trimming, including Serjeants Coats and the Corporals Shoulder Knots.


Hats, Buttons and Lace

Silver Lace for Serjeants



Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:42 pm
by Mark P.
Another snippet about Capt Thornton from the Catalogue of the papers of Henry Pelham - online ... _6cat.html
( ... _6cat.html)

Ne C 1685 15.12.1745
Letter from General T[homas] Wentworth, Boroughbridge [Yorkshire], to Henry Pelham; 15 Dec. 1745
Says the Marshall [General Wade] has finally had to consider putting the troops under cover due to the extreme bad weather; says Major General Huske has marched with 1000 men for Newcastle to prepare against any sudden attempt by the rebels on their retreat; notes that others are to march within the next few days, giving details; refers to Mr Thornton of Yorkshire who has a company of 70 men all armed, clothed and paid at his own expense; suggests that some mark of distinction should be shown to him. 2 ff