Origin and History
In July 1698, a new establishment of the marine forces was ordered. There were four regiments in this new establishment: one was formed from the original two regiments raised in 1690, and three regiments were formed by the reassignment of three regiments of foot. In May 1699, these four regiments were all disbanded.
In February 1702, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), it was decided to raise six regiments of Marines. On March 14, a Royal Warrant was issued, authorising Colonel George Villiers to raise a regiment of marines consisting of 12 companies of 59 men each. The regiment was known as the "George Villiers's Regiment of Marines" and consisted of 40 officers and 793 other ranks.
Throughout the war, detachments of the regiment were used in several actions. In 1702, five companies too part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz and in the victorious Battle of Vigo Bay where they served on board the fleet. In 1703, four companies were on board the fleet which operated on the coast of Spain. On 7 December, two companies were lost in the Great Storm. On 25 December 1703, each company of marines was increased to 100 men. In 1704, a detachment took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Barcelona and in the capture and defence of the Fortress of Gibraltar. In 1705, part of the regiment was at the siege and capture of Barcelona. In 1706, detachments took part in the capture of Carthagena, Alicante, Ibiza and Majorca; in 1707, in the unsuccessful siege of Toulon; in 1708, in the capture of the islands of Sardinia and Minorca. In 1709, a detachment participated in the expedition against the French settlement of Port Royal in Acadie; while another detachment took part in the unsuccessful defence of Alicante. In 1710, part of the regiment took part in the expedition in Languedoc. The same year, a detachment of the regiment formed part of the Marine Battalion of 400 men, which took part in the capture of Port Royal in Acadia. In 1711, a detachment of the regiment took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Québec.
After the war, most marine regiments were disbanded. However, this regiment was retained and, on March 25, 1713, it was converted to a line infantry unit designated as the “Sir Henry Goring's Regiment of Foot” and transferred to the Irish Establishment. Until 1751, the regiment would be known by the names of its successive colonels.
During the Jacobite Uprising, in 1715, the regiment was sent to Scotland but was not directly involved in any engagement.
From 1716 to 1739, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Ireland.
In 1739, the regiment returned to England.
In 1740, at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was encamped at Windsor and on Lexden Heath, near Colchester. On May 17, 1742, it embarked at Deptford for Flanders. On June 27, 1743, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen where it received its nickname of “Young Buffs”. In 1744, it campaigned in France in the region of Lille. On May 11, 1745, the regiment fought in the battle of Fontenoy where it suffered heavy losses. On July 9, it was also involved in an action near Ghent in a vain attempt to relieve the city. In October, the regiment was recalled to Great Britain after the victory of the Pretender at Prestonpans. However the regiment did not proceed to Scotland but remained in the vicinity of London. In 1746, once the uprising quenched, many British regiments returned to Flanders, but the present regiment remained in Great Britain.
In 1749, the regiment embarked for Minorca where it remained for the three following years.
On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the “31st Regiment of Foot”.
In 1752, the regiment returned to Great Britain where it was initially stationed in England.
In 1755, the regiment proceeded to Scotland, in which country it remained for seven years, mostly in Glasgow.
As per a resolution dated September 20 1756, a second battalion was exceptionally added to the regiment. In 1758, this second battalion became the 70th Regiment of Foot.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from May 8, 1749: Colonel Henry Holmes (died as lieutenant-general in 1762)
- from August 20, 1762: Colonel James Adolphus Oughton
In 1765, the regiment was sent to North America where it assumed garrison duty in Pensacola in Florida.
Service during the War
As of May 30, 1759, the regiment was stationed in Scotland and counted 1 battalion for a total of 900 men. The same year, it returned to England.
The regiment did not take part in any campaign during the war.
In June 1762, the regiment proceeded from Scotland to England, where it was stationed during the two following years.
|Coat||brick red lined buff and laced white (white braid with a green central stripe) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel; a red swallow nest laced white (same lace as above) on each shoulder
|Waistcoat||brick red edged white (same lace as above)|
|Gaiters||white with black buttons|
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Troopers were armed with a “Brown Bess” muskets, a bayonet and a sword.
Officers of the regiment wore the same coat as the private soldiers but with the following differences:
- silver gorget around the neck
- a silver aiguilette on the right shoulder
- silver lace instead of the 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 a musket instead.
The drummers of the regiment were clothed in buff, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with red, and laced in such manner as the colonel shall think fit for distinction sake, the lace, however, was of the colours of that on the soldiers' coats.
The front or fore part of the drums was painted buff, with the king's cypher and crown, and the number “XXXI” under it. The rims were red.
King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "XXXI" in gold Roman numerals.
Regimental Colour: buff field with the Union in the upper left corner. In the centre of the colour was painted, or embroidered, in gold Roman characters, the number "XXXI" within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.
N.B.: since this regiment exceptionally counted 2 battalions, the colours of the 2nd Battalion were distinguished by a flaming ray superposed to the upper left branch of the saltire.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Thirty-First or The Huntingdonshire Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1850
Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Holmes, Richard: Redcoat, Harper Collins, London, 2001
Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth through the Way Back Machine
Roll of Honour: 31st (Huntingdonshire) Regiment of Foot], retrieved Nov. 7 2012
Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989
Wikipedia – 31st Foot
Wienand Drenth for additional information on the lineage and history of the regiment