The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Books > Book of archery > Section VII: Societies of Modern Archers
Section VII
Societies of Modern Archers
Part 4 of 6


Archers of Archinfield.

This society was formerly distinguished by the splendid character of its public archery breakfasts, given at Archinfield House, near Hereford, invitation cards being sometimes issued to between two and three hundred individuals.

The Herefordshire bowmen occasionally hold their meetings at Moccas Court, near Bradwardine, the seat of Sir George Cornewall, Bart. It is worthy of remark, that an ancestor of this gentleman led a band of ninety archers, his own tenants, to the field of Agincourt,[44] obeying the King's summons, in company with his friend Sir Roger Vaughan of Bradwardine; who, with David Gam and Watkin Llwyd, were knighted by Henry in death.[45] When Henry was preparing to force the passage of the Somme, he first sent over this Knight and Gilbert Homphreyville, with a strong detachment of bowmen, to take possession of the opposite bank. Sir J. Cornewall had the good fortune on that memorable day to make the Count of Vendosme his prisoner[46]; but as he appeared unable to command the necessary ransom, his captor nobly set him at liberty on parole. The memory and date of the Count's arrival in England has been handed down by vulgar tradition, associated with other remarkable events of the period, in the following quaint lines:--

The third of November, the Duke of Vendosrne passed the water;
The fourth of November, the queen had a daughter;
The fifth of November, we escaped a great slaughter;
And the sixth of November was the day after![47]

Another ancestor died by an arrow shot at the siege of Berwick. "Edward got to Berwick. At this place was Sir John Cornewall, a noble Englishman, slain by one George Fleming, shooting a quarrel out of the Red Haill."[48]

Lady Cornewall was a recent patroness of this society. Sir George Cornewall, Canon Russel, Mr. Arthur Clive, and the Rev. J. Hill Lowe, are adroit bowmen.


Have selected for their target-ground a beautiful spot on the banks of the Swale, opposite the venerable ruins of St. Agatha's Abbey. The silver arrow, and captaincy of the target recently became the prize of a gentleman bearing the congenial appellation of "Bowman." Lieutenant of the target, J. Fisher, Esq. C. Croft, Esq. obtained the captaincy of numbers, after winning more prizes than ever fell to the lot of the same individual at Richmond. Silver cup, and lieutenantcy of numbers, G. Croft, Esq[49].


E. C. Pole, Esq., President.
C. Arkwright, Esq.


Thomas Hastings, Esq.; Captain Campbell;--Hastings, junior, Esq.


William Gibbons, T. Danson, Henry Goldwyer, John Norton, Henry Vizer, and--Harford, Esqs.


Colonel Nicholson, &c. &c.


Captain Phillips; D. Somerville, Esq.


Lord Gage; Sir G. Shiffner, Bart.,--Farlie,--Warburton, --Davies, Esqs.


Walter Ray, and Christopher Bennet, Esqs.


On the 29th of October, 1834, a fine display of Archery took place between this society and the Royal Toxophilites, for two valuable pieces of plate. The first prize, a claret vase and stand, was won by Edwin Meyrick, Esq., who scored 203 for fifty-five hits. The second prize, a silver inkstand, became the property of the Rev. E. Scott, for the best arrow in the gold.


W. W. Pelham Claye, and Bennet Martin, Esqs., recent presidents, Colonel Wildman; and J. B. Warwick, Esq.


H. Mereweather, and--Estcott, Esqs.


E. Hobhouse, and C. Plunket, Esqs.


Established by--Carew, Esq. of Crowcombe Court.


Evans, Guibard, and Langton, Esqs. Prizes,--medals, foreign bows, &c. &c.





ARCHERY AT BEULAH SPA[52], Norwood, near London.

There are continual exhibitions of shooting within these pleasant grounds during the summer season. In one of recent date, got up under the superintendence of Mr. Betty, who shoots extremely well, they scored as follows, with the disadvantages of a high wind:--

Watts	-	-	-	-	253
Forsyth	-	-	- 	-	182
Betty	-	-	- 	-	154
Calvert  -	-	-	-	104
Edgington-	-	- 	-	 92



The Douglas drew a bow of might,
His first shaft entered in the white;
And when in turn he shot again,
The second split the first in twain.
Lady of the Lake.

So an arrow with a golden head,
And shaft of silver white,
Each man that day did bear away,
For his own proper right.
Old Ballad.
The Highlanders, or red shanked men of Scotland, be exceeding good archers.--Taylor, the Water Poet.

Among the bowmen of Great Britain, none have displayed more taste in the selection of the appellations by which they choose to be distinguished, than tile Woodmen of the Forest of Arden, and the Royal Edinburgh Archers, the King's body guard for Scotland.[53]

The latter company which I am now about to describe, existed as early as the reign of James I.; and in 1677, during the reign of his grandson, was recognised by an act of the Privy Council, when they obtained a piece of plate to be shot for at their weapon shawings; all which rights and privileges were held by feudal tenure, in fee, by the annual service of presenting to the sovereign a pair of barbed arrows. During the early portion of the last century, the archers took a prominent and distinguished part in the stormy politics of a disputed succession, and devotedly attached to the exiled family, they omitted no opportunity of its public manifestation. The approaching death of Queen Anne, in 1714, infusing new vigour into their party, then it was that the laws were first splendidly engrossed upon vellum, adorned with thistles in festoons, and subscribed by the members. "This subscription," says Maitland, in his "History of Edinburgh," is divided into five columns of names, filled up to the length of fourteen feet and a half; and they did not hesitate to enter upon their minute-book, in terms which could not be misunderstood, that they remembered on his birthday the health of an exiled prince. On the 14th of June following, the Earl of Cromartie, their Captain General, although then upwards of eighty years of age, and the Earl of Wemyss, as Lieutenant General, marched at the head of above fifty noblemen and gentlemen,, clothed in uniform, equipped in military array, and distinguished by their proper standards, from the Parliament Square to the palace of Holyrood House, thence to Leith, and shot for the silver arrow given by the city of Edinburgh. They returned in similar parade, having received from the different guards which they passed the same military honours which are paid to the King's forces."

After the rebellion, in 1715, the archers made no display for nine years; but the Duke of Hamilton being chosen their Captain General, they marched through Musselborough, A. D. 1714, and met occasionally the nine succeeding years. But after the second rising, in 1748, the English ministry looked upon this society with so jealous an eye, that they actually appointed spies to watch their conduct and frequent their assemblies.

The archer guard consists, at present, of upwards of a thousand members, among whom they reckon some of the principal nobility, gentry, and chief professional men of Scotland. Their affairs are managed by a president, secretary, and six councillors, who meet weekly for the despatch of business. His Grace the Duke of Buccleugh is their present Captain-General, an appointment previously held by the late venerable Earl of Hopetoun, who died in 1823. An ancestor of his grace of Hamilton held the same honourable office upwards of a century ago; whose installation was celebrated in a poem, from which the following is an extract:--

Again the year returns, the day
That's dedicate to joy and play,
  To bonnets, bows, and wine.
Let all who wear a sullen face
This day, meet with a due disgrace,
  And in their sourness pine:

Be shunn'd like serpents, that would stang
  The hand that gies them food.
Sic we debar from lasting sang,
  And all their grumbling brood.

While to gain sport and halesome air,
The blithesome spirit craps dull care,
  And starts from business free.
Now to the fields the archers bend,
With friendly mind the day to spend,
  In manly game and glee.

First striving who shall win the bowl,
  And then gar't flow with wine.
Sic manly sport refresh'd the soul
  Of stalwort men lang syne.
*    *    *    *    *
Come view the men thou lik'st to ruse;
  To Bruntsfield Links let 's hie,
And see the Royal Bowmen strive,
  Who far the feather'd arrows drive,
All soughing through the sky;

Ilk etting with his utmost skill,
  With artful draft and stark,
Extending newes with hearty skill,
  In hopes to hit the mark.

See Hamilton, who moves with grace,
Chief of the Caledonian race
  Of peers; to whom is due
All honours and a fair renown;
Who lays aside his ducal crown
  Sometimes, to shade his brow
Beneath St. Andrew's bonnet blue,
  And joins to gain the prize;
Which shows the merit match'd by few,
  Great, affable, and wise.

This day, with universal voice,
The archers him their chieftain chose:
  Consenting powers divine
Have blest the day with general joy,
By giving him a princely boy,
  To beautify his line.--&c. &c.

The same collection contains another short poem, addressed to the Duke, on the remarkable occasion of his having shot an arrow through the neck of an eel whilst swimming:--

As from his bow, a fatal flame,
Train'd by Apollo from the plain,
  In water pierced an eel:
So may the patriot's powers and art
Sic fate to souple rogues impart,
  That crumble much the common weal;
Though they as any eels are slid,
  And through what's vile can scud,
A bolt may reach them, though deep hid
  They sculk beneath the mud.

The Edinburgh Archers lay claim by Royal charter to the curious and honourable privilege of acting as the King's body guard, whenever he approaches within five miles of their metropolis. Accordingly, when George IV. visited his Scottish dominions, they immediately put in their claim, and his Majesty's well-known predilection for every thing connected with the usages of chivalry and romance, added to his having been himself a member of the Royal Kentish Bowmen whilst Prince of Wales, renders it scarcely necessary to state, that their application was good-humouredly acceded to. The occasion, the season of the year, the state of the weather, combined to render the whole spectacle one of the most splendid and imposing in its kind seen in this island for a considerable period. On the occasion just referred to, and for ages before, their costume was a modification of the "garb of old Gaul," at once manly and elegant. It consisted of tartan, lined with white, and trimmed with white and green fringes; white sash, with green tassels; and blue bonnet, ornamented with St. Andrew's cross and fathers.[54] Their chief place of public rendezvous is the Meadows, or Hope Park, a spot deriving its name from Sir Thomas Hope, who drained and converted it into what it now is, an elegant and well frequented promenade.

In their public progresses through Edinburgh, to shoot for their numerous and valuable prizes, an officer precedes them, bearing --instead of a mace, the ordinary badge of corporate bodies-- a bow of vast dimensions, from which is suspended his Majesty's purse, &c. &c.

The following may be considered as a list of the chief prizes annually shot for by the Royal Edinburgh Archers:--

Prize I. A SILVER ARROW, presented by the town of Musselburg, A. D. 1603. In 1793, this curious antique relic was encircled with 116 medals, and ten years afterwards, when they amounted to 118, varying in size and shape, one or two being also of gold, its weight was 160 ounces.

Medal 1. is that of Johnstone of Elphinstone, 1603. It bears his arms, and also his motto, "Guide there." Reverse, a man drawing an arrow, surmounted by initials between two roses; besides which there are those of,--

Medal 63. Sir Alexander Macdonald; 1st August, 1733. Motto,--Nec tempore nec fato. On the reverse, an archer in the dress of the Royal Company, wearing the St. Andrew's cross in his bonnet; a bent bow in his left hand, and four barbed arrows in his right; surrounded by a tablet, inscribed,--Nul se s'y frotte.

The Musselburgh arrow was also won three times successively by George Drummond, merchant, Edinburgh. On the shield bearing his arms and motto there are also, I believe, the following quaint lines:--

When Androse was a man,
He could not be pealed;
At the old sport he wan,
When Androse was a man.
But now he neither may nor can;
Alas, he's fall 'd.
When Androse was a man,
He could not be peal'd.