35010 "The King’s Shilling" British Recruiting Sergeant and Drummer, 1812-16

W. Britains

The expression “to take the King’s shilling” meant to enlist in the British army. Recruiting parties would wear their smartest uniforms, festooned with colored ribbons, while accompanied with stirring martial music. Recruiting sergeants eagerly attested to the benefits and adventures of wearing the King’s red coat. If visual enticements alone did not work new recruits were often promised a substantial bounty to join (most of which disappeared to pay for his “necessaries” such as uniform and equipment). If all else failed the time-honored method of plying the plebe with strong drink then slipping a shilling into his pocket was an expedient recourse.

Related Items