4th Horse

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Origin and History

In 1688, King James II assembled an army of some 30,000 men, fearing the intervention of the Dutch Prince of Orange (the future William III) in British domestic affairs. On 5 November, the Prince of Orange landed on the western coast. As soon as William Lord Cavendish, Earl of Devonshire was apprised of this event, he proceeded with a small armed retinue to the town of Derby, where he invited the neighbouring gentry and yeomen to join the cause of the Prince of Orange. The Earl of Devonshire then proceeded to Nottingham, where he was joined by additional troops. On 25 November, he escorted Princess Anne to Oxford. When the Prince of Orange assumed the reins of government, he commissioned the Earl of Devonshire to raise a regiment of horse from his unit and from Protestant soldiers previously belonging to the five regiments of horse raised by James II and recently disbanded. The new regiment was style3d the “Devonshire’s Regiment of Horse”.

In 1689, the regiment was sent to Scotland. In August, its destination was changed to Ireland where it took part in the capture of Carrickfergus.

In 1690, the regiment ranked as 9th Horse. In April, the Earl of Devonshire was succeeded in the colonelcy by Meynhardt Count de Schomberg and the regiment became known as the “Schmomberg’s Horse”. In July, it took part in the Battle of the Boyne. Soon afterwards, it was ordered to embark for England because William III feared a landing of the French Army. In October, the regiment was sent back to Ireland.

In the spring of 1691, the Duke of Leinster became colonel of the regiment which obtained the appellation of “Leinster’s Horse”. The regiment was then sent back to England.

In 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was sent to the Netherlands where it joined the confederate army. In 1693, it took part in the attack of the Lines of the Scheldt. The same year, after the death of his brother, the Duke of Leinster became Duke of Schomberg and the regiment was once more designated as the “Schmomberg’s Horse”. By 1694, it ranked as 8th Horse, a rank that it would retain until 1746. In 1695, the regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Namur.

From 1698 to 1701, the regiment was stationed, generally, in the south of England. Its establishment was fixed at 21 officers, 6 quarter-masters, 12 corporals, 1 kettle-drummer, 6 trumpeters and 204 men.

On February 12, 1702, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was ordered to be augmented to a war establishment of 3 corporals, 2 trumpeters and 57 troopers per troop. There were 6 troops organised in two squadrons. The regiment was then sent to the Dutch Republic. It later covered the sieges of Venloo, Roermond and Stevensweert. In 1703, it was employed in covering the sieges of Huy and Limbourg. In 1704, it took part in the battles of Schellenberg and Blenheim; in 1705, in the forcing of the French lines at Neer-Hespen and Helixem; in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies, in the capture of Antwerp and the blockade of Dendermond; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde, in the covering army during the siege of Lille, in the passage of the Scheldt and in the relief of Bruxelles; in 1709, in the siege of Tournai, in the Battle of Malplaquet, and in the covering of the siege of Mons; in 1710, in the covering the sieges of Douai, Béthune, Saint-Venant and Aire; and in 1711, in the passage of the lines at Arleux and in the siege of Bouchain.

In June 1713, the regiment was placed upon the Irish establishment. In August 1714, it was ordered home from Flanders. It then proceeded to Ireland. Its establishment was reduced to 2 corporals, 1 trumpeter and 24 privates per troop.

In 1721, the regiment became known as the “Ligonier’s Horse”.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was transferred from the Irish to the English establishment and augmented to war strength. It was then sent to the Netherlands. In 1743, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen; in 1745, in the Battle of Fontenoy. In October 1745, the regiment was ordered to return to Great Britain to quench a new Jacobite uprising. In November, the two remaining troops returned to England but remained at Barnet. The four troops sent to Scotland took part in the capture of Carlisle before returning to England. In 1746, when three regiments of Horse were converted to Dragoon Guards, the "8th Regiment of Horse" became the "4th Regiment of Horse" also known as "Black Horse". In 1747, the entire regiment returned to Ireland.

In 1748, the establishment of the regiment was reduced to 21 privates per troop.

In 1760, the troopers of the regiment received a breastplate and an iron skull-cap.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from July 8, 1754: Major-General Henry Seymour Conway (removed to the Royal Dragoons in April 1759)
  • from April 5, 1759 to June 7, 1782: Major-General Philip Honeywood

In 1768, the four last "Regiments of Horse" were converted into "Dragoon Guards". Thus, the "4th Regiment of Horse" became the "7th Dragoon Guards".

Service during the War

As of May 30, 1759, the regiment was stationed in Ireland and counted 2 squadrons for a total of 120 men.

Early in 1760, the establishment of the regiment was increased to 49 privates per troop. Towards the end of March, the regiment embarked at Dublin. In the summer, it was among the British contingent sent to reinforce the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. The troops were shipped to Bremen on the Weser instead of, as heretofore, to Emden. It joined the Allied Army on July 18. It was brigaded with the Royal Horse Guards and the 3rd Horse under Major-General Honeywood. On July 25, a piquet of the regiment took part in an engagement near Wolfshagen. On July 31, the entire regiment took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was in the first line of Granby's cavalry. Granby charged and broke the French cavalry right wing then wheeled and hit the French infantry in the flank, winning the day for the Allies. In this battle, the regiment lost 20 men and 51 horses killed and missing; and Captain Gore, Cornet Colebrougb, 3 men, and 2 horses wounded. The regiment bivouacked that night on the heights of Wilda, 6.5 km in advance of the main body of the army. On August 3, it quitted the heights of Wilda, repassed the Diemel, and joined the main army encamped near Warburg. The regiment was stationed along the banks of the Diemel for five months, and several sharp actions occurred between the piquets and patrols of both armies. The weather becoming severe, and provision and forage difficult to procure, the men suffered severe hardships. On October 10, the troopers received orders to build huts for themselves, and temporary sheds for their horses. In December, the regiment went into quarters in the neighbouring villages, which had been plundered by the French, and finding the inhabitants in a state of destitution, the British troops, though suffering extreme hardships and privations themselves, subscribed a sum of money for the relief of the perishing peasantry.

In February 1761, the regiment was engaged in the Allied campaign in Hesse, when the French were surprised in their winter-quarters, and several towns containing extensive magazines of provision and forage were captured. After returning from this expedition, it was quartered in villages near the banks of the river Lippe, where it was joined by a remount from England. In June the regiment marched to Hamm where it was once more brigaded with the Royal Horse Guards and the 3rd Horse under Major-General the Earl of Pembroke. From Hamm, the brigade advanced along the course of the Asse. On June 24, it joined the army commanded by the Duke of Brunswick at Soest, in Westphalia. On June 28, the brigade quitted Soest and encamped near Werl. On June 29, it advanced against a French corps posted behind Werl; but the French made a precipitate retreat towards the main body of their army; some skirmishing took place, and at night the brigade encamped between the Unna and the Roer. By July, the regiment was with Conway's Corps. On July 16, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it took post near the Asse river to support the infantry. The day was passed in hard fighting, and ended in the defeat of the French with considerable loss but owing to the nature of the ground the heavy cavalry could not act. After the retreat of the French, the regiment returned to its camp at Hans-Hohenover. On July 28, it marched in the direction of Paderborn. On August 5, it was engaged in the action near Stadtberg (present-day Marsberg). On August 24, the regiment proceeded towards the Diemel, and was employed in forcing the enemy’s posts in that quarter. On August 30, it repassed the Diemel and encamped at Buhne until September 17 when it crossed the river a second time at Warburg. On September 18, it took part in the engagement of Immenhausen. It was subsequently encamped near Wilhelmsthal. In October, it was involved in several skirmishes in the Electorate of Hanover. On December 4, it proceeded to its quarters in East Friesland.

In 1762, the regiment remained in its quarters until June. On June 18, it joined the camp at Brakel, where it was brigaded with the 3rd Horse under the orders of Brigadier-General Napier. On June 20, the brigade advanced from Brakel in the direction of the Diemel. On June 21, it encamped with the army between Corbeke and the heights of Tissel. At daybreak on June 24, the regiment advanced towards the Diemel, crossed the river at Libenau, and took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. The regiment then pursued the enemy in the direction of Cassel, and bivouacked at night on the heights near Weimar. In November, it went into quarters in the Bishopric of Münster.

On January 25, 1763, the regiment commenced its march through the Dutch Republic to Williamstadt where it embarked for England. After its arrival, it was quartered at St. Alban’s and the neighbouring towns and its establishment was reduced to 2 corporals, 1 trumpeter and 20 privates per troop. In mid-May, it was ordered to proceed to Ireland and it landed at Dublin on May 28.



Uniform in 1758 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1758
Headgear black tricorne laced gold with a yellow metal loop and a black cockade
Neck stock white
Coat red lined buff
Collar none
Shoulder strap left shoulder: red fastened with a small yellow button
Lapels long black lapels extending from the collar down to the bottom of the coat with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes grouped 2 by 2
Pockets long vertical pockets with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes
Cuffs black small square cuffs, each with 4 yellow buttons and 4 very narrow yellow buttonholes
Turnbacks buff
Waistcoat buff with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes
Breeches buff with white knee covers
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt n/a
Cartridge Box natural leather
Scabbard n/a
Bayonet scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Housings buff with rounded corners decorated with the rank of the regiment (IV. H.) on a red ground within a wreath of roses and thistles; bordered with a white braid with a black stripe
Holster caps buff with pointed corners decorated with the golden crowned king's cipher and the rank of the regiment (IV. H.) underneath; bordered with a white braid with a black stripe
Blanket roll red and black

Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket.


As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • a narrow gold lace at the bindings and buttonholes
  • a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
  • crimson and gold striped sword knot
  • housings and holster caps laced gold


Corporals were distinguished by a narrow gold lace on the lapels, cuffs, pockets and shoulder straps; a black worsted sash about their waist.


Trumpeters rode grey horses. They wore buff coats lined and turned up with red and laced with a white braid with a black stripe. Hanging sleeves fastened at the waist. Red waistcoats and breeches.

The banners of the kettle drums were black with the rank of the regiment (IV. H.) in its centre. The banners of the trumpets were black carrying the king's cypher and crown with the rank of the regiment (IV. H.) underneath.


The standards were made of damask, fringed with gold and silver and embroidered with gold. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.

King's Standard: crimson field decorated with the rose and thistle conjoined surmounted by a crown. Underneath the central decoration: the king's motto “Dieu et mon Droit”. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment (IV. H.) in gold characters on a black ground.

Regimental Standard: black field fringed gold with its centre decorated with the rank of the regiment (IV. H.) in gold characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the rose and thistle conjoined upon a red ground.

King's Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf


This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Seventh or Princess Royal’s Regiment of Dragoon Guards, London: William Clowes and Sons

Other sources

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

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

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.