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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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There was no example for Henry Rodway to follow as he developed the Torquay Rifles. He stayed true to his aim which was to prepare the men, and himself, so that if required to defend their country, they could be called into immediate active service as trained and disciplined as any regular soldier. The route he took to achieve his overall aim was entirely the result of his own thinking and undoubted military flair.


He lost no opportunity to display the capability and turn-out of the Torquay corps and his undoubted pride in their achievements:


From The History of Torquay by J. T.  White

published 1878

"On the 26th of March 1857, after an electioneering visit to Tiverton, the Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston) came on to Torquay for a brief sojourn. His intended visit came to the knowledge of Captain Rodway, who determined that he should be received with military honours. The Rifles were called out, marched to Torre Station (for the line did not extend further at that time) and were drawn up on the platform. The express swept into the station, and as the Prime Minister stepped out from the carriage, the Volunteers presented arms, the band played the national Anthem and the spectators cheered lustily.


His lordship was astonished at such unexpected honours. "Who are these?" said he to the friends who had come to meet him. "Oh!" said they, "The Torquay Volunteers!" "Volunteers! Volunteers!" he slowly repeated, as he collected his thoughts together; "Oh! yes, I remember."


Then with an extremely gratified look, he walked down the line of Rifles, and entering his carriage, drove away amid the cheers of the crowd, whose enthusiasm knew no bounds. A few days afterwards, Captain Rodway was honoured with the following letter:

The Cove, 30th March 1857


I request you to accept for yourself, and to convey for me to the other members of your corps, my best thanks for the honour which you and your corps did me on Saturday afternoon on my arrival in Torquay.

I am, Sir,

Yours very faithfully,


To H. Barron Rodway Esq.



On the 26th of March 1861, Lord Palmerston, accompanied by his wife, again visited Torquay but much had changed since his previous visit. Volunteer Companies had been formalised in their supplementary defence role  in May 1859 and now existed officially throughout the country. In Devon, an Artillery Battery was formed under Edward Vivian, a Torquay banker, landowner and magistrate who was given the rank of major upon appointment; a troop of mounted guard was formed under Lord Seymour (MP for Totnes) and the government equipped the Artillery with two 24-pounders which were put into position to form a new battery on Corbyn's Head. Expansion was so rapid that the combined Volunteers held a rifle contest at Newton Abbot in October 1860 which lasted for several days and at which 650 infantry and 130 cavalry were present.


This time, when Palmerston's train drew in , it was to the new Torquay Station where the Riflemen were formally paraded on the platform. Major Vivian received the Prime Minister as the Riflemen presented arms. While all this was going on, the Volunteer Artillery fired a salute  from their battery on neighbouring Corbyn's Head.


The following year,1862,  Torquay's Volunteer Engineers were formed under the command of Captain Edward Apppleton, a local architect who became a great friend of Henry Rodway and, later, was one of the executors of his will. 

And the year that followed this one, 1863, crowned Henry Rodway's career with the Rifle Volunteers when, after 11 years of devoted service,  his rank was finally confirmed as Major, a title he kept and was known by for the remainder of his life.





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