I've been asked this question before and at best I can speculate.
The 1802 regs that I've quoted are only for Infantry Regiments (and
Foot Guards). It would suggest, therefore, that other branches of the
service have different rank badges. For example, I've been told that
the Royal Artillery had a bombardier rank that wore one stripe, though
I would ask any RA experts on this list to confirm that. The reason,
therefore, would be to esure that a sergeant in the infantry wears the
same number of stripes as a sergeant in the artillery, cavalry, etc.
In addition, I believe other countries used the single stripe to
denote rank in their armies. This could be a way to make the ranks
easier to compare across allied armies, but I think the first reason
is more compelling.
Incidentally, I believe that Lance Corporals did exist, but they did
not have any distinguishing badges, as you say.
> Ok, let me add this, possibly silly, observation or question.
> If a Lance Corporal did not exist or did not have any distinguishing
> badges or stripes, why then does a Corporal have 2? Sergeant has 3
> SM has 4. If they didn't use one stripe, why then did they start at2?
> Where did the 1 go? I know I'm just a Corporal and am lucky I can
> count to 4 but..
> .. Just asking. :>) (RSM Monohan, note the smiley face)
> Little old 2 stripe, Corporal Westhouse.