HERE'S the story behind a button found at a metal detecting rally in the village of Loders near Bridport.

This ball shaped button, dug out of the ground by keen metal detectorist Lisa Gravett, had the letters DYV - short for Dorset Yeomanry Volunteers, identified by the website British Military Buttons.

This rare button, it was discovered, dated from the period 1794 to 1800 when the Dorset Yeomanry was first raised as a response to the threat of a French invasion by Napoleon.

Further research uncovered that one of the troops raised in the founding year of the Dorset Yeomanry in 1794 was the Bridport troop, led by Captain Richard Travers, who lived at Uploders close to where the button was found.

Richard Travers was born in April 1748 in the parish of Loders, the son of William Travers and Sarah Burt. His family possessed a large amount of land and property both in Loders and the surrounding parishes. He was one of seven landed gentry of the time, each of whom commanded their own troop within Dorset.

His contemporaries in the early years of the Dorset Yeomanry were Lieutenant Colonel Lionel Damer (Dorchester troop), Major Frampton (Moreton troop), Captain Churchill (Wimborne troop), Captain Grosvenor (Wareham and Charborough troop), Captain Weld (Lulworth troop) and Captain Browne (Maiden Newton troop). More troops were added in the following years and by 1798 Captains Meggs, Tregonwell, Clavell and Bower were in command at Blackmore Vale, Cranborne, Purbeck and Shaftesbury. It was interesting to note that Captain Weld’s troop had to be broken up in 1795 as King George III was unable to sign his commission due to him being a Catholic.

The names of the captains and their men are recorded in a book written in 1799 entitled Instructions for the Corps of Dorset Yeomanry or Volunteer Dorset Rangers. As well as illustrating in detail the many manoeuvres and formations required for the troops to make on horseback, it also lists the 600 names of those serving in the 10 troops. Captain Richard Travers drew the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates who made up his troop from many of the villages surrounding his home in Uploders. Amongst the 62 men enlisted in the Bridport troop are Ezekias Baker from Symondsbury, Barnard Cox from Eggerdon, John Horred from Chideock, Fitzwilliam Bullen from Laverstock and George Warr from Bridport.

The yeomanry volunteers were expected to perform to the highest standards. The book of Instructions for the Corps states that, ‘every man should be perfectly acquainted with the duty requested of him in the field,’ and that, ‘each man is required to appear properly dressed and accoutred.’

One of the most fascinating documents left to us from the Dorset Yeomanry is Captain Travers' order book, 1794-1803, which describes the various orders and instructions issued to both his Bridport and the other west Dorset troops. The order book contains many dated orders for troop meetings given by Captain Travers and Lord Milton, lieutenant colonel of the Dorset Yeomanry. On the 28th July 1795, the troops were ordered to 'assemble at Longbredy Down at 10 o'clock and to be provided with three rounds of exercising cartridges each man, good flints to be provided accordingly.’

An article written in ‘The Sphere’ newspaper in 1901 looked back upon the early years of the Dorset Yeomanry and those ‘stout-hearted men of Dorset who, in those troubled times standing by those beacon fires never destined to be lighted, waited for the Napoleonic invasion from Poole to Lyme Regis.’ Captain Richard Travers is himself described in the reminiscence as ‘a yeoman soldier to the very core,’ whose ‘troopers were day and night on the alert along the cliffs of Swyre, Burton and Bridport, although the ‘’gallant major’’ (Travers) was well over fifty.’

Richard Travers, Esq., died on the 28th July 1813. He left his extensive lands, dwellings and fortune to various family, friends, servants and to the poor of the parishes of Uploders, Loders and Netherbury. In his will he gave ten pounds for a sermon to be held on the Sunday after his burial. At his funeral, for himself, he 'desired that no Comments or praise be given of the deceased' and that 'my wish is to be buried under the North side of our Family Tomb next the Chancel where my dear, good Mother was buried.'

Captain Richard Travers, Esq., had his final wish fulfilled. He rests on the north side of an impressive family chest tomb in the pretty and peaceful surroundings of the village church of St Mary Magdalene, Loders. He left a freehold estate of £40,000 and personal property of £6,000, the equivalent today of over three million pounds.

Thanks to Lisa Gravett for the research she has done into the life to Captain Travers after finding the button.

She said: "It is interesting to surmise how the Dorset Yeomanry Volunteer ball button may have been lost. Perhaps Captain Travers and his troops were practising manoeuvres in the open fields which lie behind Loders main street where the button was found. It may have come loose from a rider's uniform or perhaps was dislodged by a fall from a horse. It will never be known, but being the first person to lift it from the soil after over 200 years was indeed a great privilege."