53rd Foot

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 53rd Foot

Origin and History

In the winter of 1755, King George II resolved to augment the strength of his regular army, and a letter of service was addressed to William Whitmore, major in the 3rd Foot Guards, authorising him to raise, form and discipline a regiment of foot, of ten companies. The colonelcy was conferred on Colonel William Whitmore; the lieutenant-colonelcy, to Major George Craufurd; and Captain William Arnot was nominated major.

The regiment was raised in Bridgnorth in the South of England on December 21 1755. It initially ranked as the "55th Regiment of Foot" but two colonial corps having soon afterwards been disbanded (Shirley’s 50th Foot and Pepperell’s 51st Foot), the "55th" officially became the "53rd Regiment of Foot".

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from December 21, 1755: Colonel William Whitmore (removed to the 9th Foot in October 1758)
  • April 5 1759 to February 5 1770: Colonel John Toovey

Service during the War

Early in 1756, the formation of the regiment was completed. In May 1756, it was transported to Gibraltar aboard the fleet sent to the relief of Fort St. Philip on the Island of Minorca.

The regiment remained in the Fortress of Gibraltar for the entire war assuming garrison duty. It would be stationed there until 1768.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756- Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier British mitre with: a red front embroidered with the King's cypher with a crown over it; a small red front flap with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent"; red back; a red headband probably wearing the number 53 in the middle part behind
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined red (lined yellow as per Cannon) and laced white (unknown lace pattern, yellow lace as per Cannon) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only)
Lapels brick red laced white (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white (same lace as above)
Cuffs brick red slashed cuffs laced white (same lace as above) with 4 pewter buttons and 4 white buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each the cuff
Turnbacks brick red
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above)
Breeches brick red
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a “Brown Bess” muskets, a bayonet and a sword.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences:

  • a silver gorget around the neck
  • a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder
  • silver lace instead of the normal white lace
  • a crimson sash

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command. However, officers of grenadiers wore a more decorated mitre than the privates.

Officers were usually armed with a spontoon. However, in action, some carried a musket rather than the usual spontoon.

Musicians

not yet available

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the regiment number "LIII" in gold Roman numerals within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.

Regimental Colour: White field with a red cross, Union in the upper left canton, centre decorated with the regiment number "LIII" in gold Roman numerals within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.

King's Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Regimental Colour - Source: PMPdeL

References

The section “Origin and History” of this article is essentially an abridged and adapted version of the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record Of The Fifty Third Regiment, or the Shropshire Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1849

Other sources

Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

Mills, T. F.: Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)