We are ready Boney
At the beginning of the 19th century England feared an invasion by Napoleon’s army. The people of Sussex lived with the terrifying possibility that French troops might storm ashore somewhere on the county’s long, empty coastline. Defences went up at vulnerable points on the Sussex coast and troops from across the country, including volunteer forces, were deployed to resist a French invasion. During 1803 the government’s call for volunteers was met with a massive response and within a few weeks 280,000 men volunteered. The public rallied behind the British military to such an extent that the historian Linda Colley has argued that British identity was forged in these years. This pendant, circa 1803, depicts a farm labourer in his smock, brandishing a pitchfork, with French war ships ominously in the background. It is inscribed : We are ready Boney. [We are ready for you Bonaparte]. It is in a gilt metal pendant mount within a glazed compartment and measures 1 and 3/4 inches by 1.5 inches. It is only the second one I have seen in all the years I’ve been doing this. A fascinating piece of British social history.