Origin and History
The regiment existed many years, as independent companies of pikemen and musketeers on the establishment of Ireland, previous to the formation of the regiment in 1684; several of these companies having been in the service of the Commonwealth in the time of Oliver Cromwell. At the formation of the regiment, on April 1 1684, its colonelcy was conferred on Arthur Earl of Granard.
In June 1685, James Duke of Monmouth erected the standard of rebellion in the west of England, and asserted his pretensions to the throne. The regiment was immediately ordered to proceed to England. A few days after its arrival, the rebel army was overthrown at Sedgemoor, and the Duke of Monmouth was subsequently captured and beheaded. The regiment then returned to Ireland.
In 1686 and, the greater part of the Protestant officers and soldiers were dismissed and replaced by Catholics.
In the summer of 1688, the regiment was again encamped on the Curragh of Kildare. It was ordered to proceed to England to defend it against threat posed by Prince William of Orange (the future William III). It landed at Chester, marched to London and was redirected to Salisbury, where it joined King James's army a few days after the Prince had landed at Torbay. When a large part of the army defected to the Prince of Orange, the regiment withdrew towards London. When King James attempted to escape to France, the Prince of Orange directed the colonel of the regiment to disband the Roman Catholic officers and soldiers, and to keep the Protestants. More than 500 men were dismissed, leaving a force of only 200 Protestants. Soon afterwards the regiment marched to Hertfordshire. The Prince of Orange conferred the colonelcy of the regiment on Major Sir John Edgeworth.
At the beginning of April, 1689, the regiment marched to Chester. On 1 May, the colonelcy was conferred on Edward Earl of Meath. Early in May the regiment marched into Wales. During the summer, at the outbreak of the Williamite War in Ireland (1689-91), it embarked for Ireland, landing near Belfast on August 22. It then took part in the siege and capture of Carrickfergus. In 1690, it took part in the decisive Battle of the Boyne, in the capture of Castle-Connell, in the unsuccessful siege and capture of Limerick and in the relief of Birr. In 1691, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Ballymore, in the siege and storming of Athlone, in the Battle of Aghrim, in the capture of Galway and in the siege of Limerick. The regiment was the only one of the eleven Irish corps embodied by King Charles II which remained in the service of the English crown.
In 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiments embarked for England which was threatened by a French invasion. Meanwhile the British and Dutch fleets had nearly annihilated the French Navy in a decisive action off La Hogue. The regiment then took part in the fruitless expedition against the coasts of France and was finally redirected towards Ostend in Flanders and captured the towns of Furnes and Dixmude. The regiment then returned to England. Frederick Hamilton was appointed colonel of the regiment. In 1693, the regiment served as marines on board the fleet before being sent to Flanders. In 1694, it formed part of the covering army during the siege of Huy. In 1695, the regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Namur. After the surrender of the city, it took part in storming the Citadel of Namur, suffering heavy losses. For its conduct during the assault, the regiment was renamed "The Royal Regiment of Foot of Ireland". The title was afterwards changed to "Royal Irish Regiment" and received the privilege to display the king's arms on its colours along with the harp and crown. In 1696, it was charged with the protection of Ghent, Bruges and the maritime towns of Flanders. At the end of 1697, after the Treaty of Ryswick, the regiment was sent to Ireland.
From 1698 to 1700, the regiment was stationed in Ireland.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was placed upon a war establishment, and embarked for the Dutch Republic. In 1702, the regiment took part in the covering of the siege of Kaiserswerth, in an action near Nijmegen, in the sieges of Venlo and Roermond and in the storming of the Citadel of Liège; in 1703, in the siege and capture of Huy, in the covering of the siege of Limbourg; in 1704, in Marlborough's march to the Danube, in the Battle of the Schellenberg and in the Battle of Blenheim. In September, it formed part of the army covering the siege of Landau. When the siege drew towards a close, the regiment was sent back to Flanders. In 1705, it took part in the passage of the French lines near Helixem and Neer-Hespen; and in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies, in the siege of Menin and Ath. In 1708, the regiment was momentarily sent back to England, threatened by an invasion, but soon returned to Flanders where it fought in the Battle of Oudenarde and participated in the siege and capture of Lille. In 1709, it took part in the siege of Tournai and in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet; in 1710, in the passage of the French lines at at Pont-à-Vendin in the covering of the sieges of Douai and Béthune, and in the siege of Aire; in 1711, in the passage of the lines at Arleux, in the siege of Bouchain. After the conclusion of the Treaty of Utrecht, the regiment was appointed to garrison the Citadel of Ghent until the barrier treaty was signed.
In the autumn of 1715, the regiment was ordered to proceed to England to break the rebellion of the Earl of Mar, leaving the lieutenant-colonel and 100 in the Castle of Ghent. In February 1716, the detachment left at Ghent joined the rest of the regiment at Gloucester. In March 1717, it marched to Portsmouth.
From 1718 to 1742, the regiment garrisoned the Island of Minorca. In 1727, a detachment of the regiment was sent to reinforce Gibraltar, besieged by a Spanish Army.
In 1742, the regiment returned to Great Britain and passed the winter at Taunton. In 1743, it marched to Exeter and Plymouth. In 1744, it went to Portchester Castle to mount guard over French and Spanish prisoners.
In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was ordered to join the British army in Flanders where it took part in the unsuccessful defence of Ostend. Soon afterwards, it was sent back to Great Britain to quench the Jacobite rising. However, it was still on the march towards Edinburgh when the British won the decisive Battle of Culloden on April 16 1746. It then took quarters at Nairn and Elgin. In 1747, it was sent to Fort Augustus but returned to Edinburgh and Stirling in October.
In the spring of 1748, the regiment returned to England and was stationed at Berwick, Newcastle and Carlisle. After the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, it marched to Glasgow. On February 18 1749, it embarked for Ireland where it was stationed at Ennisskillen and Ballyshannon. In 1750, it was removed to Kinsale, and in 1751, to Cork.
On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the "18th (or Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot".
In 1752, the regiment marched from Cork to Waterford. In 1753, it proceeded to Dublin and in 1754 to Londonderry and Ballyshannon.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from December 1747: John Folliott
- from January 1762 to 1794: Major-General Sir John Sebright (from the 83rd Foot)
Service during the War
In the spring of 1755, the regiment was ordered to England. It landed at Liverpool on Easter Sunday, April 3, and marched to Berwick, where the establishment was augmented to 78 men per company, and two companies were afterwards added. In October the regiment marched to Edinburgh, where it was stationed during the winter.
In February 1756, the two additional companies were incorporated in the 54th Foot, then newly raised and designated as 56th Foot. In May, the 18th Foot was reviewed by Lieutenant-General Bland, commanding the forces in North Britain, and afterwards marched to Fort William, with numerous detachments at various posts in the Highlands.
In February 1757, orders were received for the regiment to proceed to Ireland, and it was stationed in that part of the United Kingdom during the remainder of the Seven Years' War. As of May 30 1759, it counted 1 battalion for a total of 700 men.
|Coat||brick red lined blue and laced white (white braid decorated with an intricate wavy blue line) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel and brick red shoulder wing laced white (same lace as above)
|Waistcoat||brick red laced white (same lace as above)|
|Gaiters||white with black buttons|
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Troopers were armed with with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a sword. They also carried a dark brown haversack with a metal canteen on the left hip.
Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences
- silver gorget around the neck
- an aiguilette on the right shoulder
- silver lace instead of normal lace
- a crimson sash
Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.
Officers generally carried a spontoon, however, in battle some carried muskets instead.
According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:
- The drummers of the regiment wore the royal livery. They were clothed in red, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with blue, and laced with the royal lace (golden braid with two thin purple central stripes).
- The front or forepart of the drums was painted blue, with a yellow harp surmounted by a crown, and the number “XVIII” under it. The rims were red.
According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:
- King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the Harp on a blue field surmounted by a crown. The regiment number "XVIII" in roman gold numerals in the upper left corner.
- Regimental Colour: blue field with its centre decorated with the Harp on a blue field surmounted by a crown (the whole possibly surmounted by a white scroll carrying the motto "VIRTUTIS NAMUR CENSIS PRAEMIUM"). The Union in the upper left corner; the regiment number "XVIII" in roman gold numerals superposed to the Union in the upper left corner. The Lion of Nassau in the three corners.
This article incorporates texts of the following source:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Eighteenth or The Royal Irish Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1848
- Wikipedia Royal Irish Regiment (1684–1922)
Aylor, Ron, British Regimental Drums and Colours
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Lawson, Cecil C. P., A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II, p. 90-103
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)
Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989