Gustavus Hamilton Viscount Boyne's Foot

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Gustavus Hamilton Viscount Boyne's Foot

Origin and History

The regiment was raised at Exeter in Devonshire on 20 November 1688 by the adherents of the Prince of Orange (afterwards William III) while he was advancing from Torbay. It was designated as the “Sir Richard Peyton's Regiment of Foot”.

In February 1689, the regiment was reduced to six companies. However, when war broke out in Ireland in the same year, it was increased to thirteen companies. Sir Robert Peyton withdrew from active service, and was succeeded by Colonel Gustavus Hamilton, a zealous Protestant, who had quitted the service of King James in Ireland. The Regiment was recruited to its establishment in time to accompany the second division of the army, commanded by Marshal Duke Schomberg, to Ireland, where it arrived soon after the capture of Carrickfergus, and was placed in garrison at that fortress where it passed the winter. In the spring of 1690, the regiment joined the army commanded by King William III and took part, on July 11, in the Battle of the Boyne where it distinguished itself, its colonel, Gustavus Hamilton, being later honoured with the title of Viscount Boyne. The regiment then participated in the unsuccessful siege of Limerick. At the beginning of 1691, detachments of the regiment had frequent encounters with bands of armed Roman Catholic peasantry, called Rapparees. In June, the regiment joined the army commanded by General de Ginckell (afterwards created Earl of Athlone), under whom it served at the capture of Ballymore, which place surrendered after a short resistance. The regiment also served at the siege of Athlone; and at the capture of that place by storm, on 1 July, its commanding officer, Colonel Gustavus Hamilton, highly distinguished himself at the head of the grenadiers who led the assault. After the capture of Athlone, the army advanced against the French and Irish forces commanded by General St. Ruth. On 22 July, the regiment took part in the decisive battle of Aughrim. On this occasion the regiment attacked the enemy's left, and drove King James's soldiers from the first and second lines of hedges. Its progress was afterwards obstructed by gardens and fences but it pressed upon the enemy, and was subsequently removed to support the cavalry at the pass near the Castle of Aughrim. Eventually the opposing army was driven from the field with severe loss, including its commander, General St. Ruth, who was killed by a cannon-ball. In this battle, the regiment had six soldiers killed and nine wounded. From Aughrim the regiment marched with the army to Galway, which fortress surrendered after a short resistance. The wreck of King James's army took refuge in the city of Limerick, which was again besieged, and the regiment was employed in this service until the surrender of the place, in September, which event terminated the war in Ireland, and established the authority of King William in that country.

From 1692, the regiment remained on duty in Ireland until 1702.

By 1698, the regiment counted a single battalion of 10 companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive proprietors of the regiment were:

  • since 11 June 1689: Gustavus Hamilton Viscount Boyne
  • from 11 May 1706 to 14 October 1714: John Newton (formerly from the Foot Guards)

Service during the War

In June 1702, the regiment was appointed for sea-service and embarked from Ireland for the Isle of Wight. In August, it took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz embarking on board of four transports:

  • the Berwick
    • Colonel's Company (52 men)
    • Lieutenant-Colonel's Company (52 men)
  • James and Sarah
    • Major's Company (51 men)
    • Captain Ward's Company (51 men)
    • Captain Weighton's Company (51 men)
  • Friend's Adventure
    • Captain John Hamilton's Company (51 men)
    • Captain Ashe's Company (51 men)
    • Captain Frederick Hamilton's Company (49 men)
  • Nicholas
    • Captain Parker's Company (52 men)
    • Captain St. Clair's Company (49 men)
    • Captain Wightman's Company (51 men)
    • Captain Lord Lambert's Company (49 men)

After the failure of this expedition, the regiment was one of the units selected to proceed to the West Indies, and it sailed on this service on 4 October, with a division of the Royal Navy under Commodore Walker.

In 1703, as the regiment was stationed at Jamaica, extensive preparations were made for the attack of the French and Spanish settlements in the West Indies and the Earl of Peterborough was nominated to the command of the armament to be employed in this service but the design was soon abandoned.

In 1704, the regiment sustained some loss from the climate of Jamaica, where it was stationed a short time. It then returned to Ireland where, by June, it was stationed.

On 2 June 1707, four British regiments (including Newton's Foot) embarked from Cork. They landed at Lisbon and, when the enemy ceased to act offensively and retreated, they advanced up the country to join the army commanded by the Marquis of Montandre. The four regiments halted at Estremos, during the summer heats, and afterwards encamped in the valley of the Caya, near Elvas, having detached parties on the flanks to prevent the enemy making incursions into Portugal. In November, they went into quarters in the frontier towns.

In the spring of 1708, the regiment took the field and encamped between Elvas and Campo Mayor, where the British division was increased to six regiments by the arrival of two units from England. The Army of the Alentejo was commanded by the Marquis of Fronteira and the services of the troops were limited to defensive operations.

In the summer of 1709, the regiment served on the frontiers of Portugal, under the Earl of Galway. On 7 May, the French and Spaniards, under the Marquis of Bay, marched in the direction of Campo Mayor, when the Portuguese generals resolved, contrary to the advice of the British commander, to pass the Caya and attack the enemy. In the ensuing Battle of La Gudina, the Portuguese were soon routed and their guns captured. The British division arrived at the moment, repulsed the enemy, and recaptured the guns; hut the leading brigade pressed forward too far, was surrounded, and made prisoners. The second brigade, including the regiment, made a determined stand against the enemy's reiterated attacks, until the Portuguese infantry had retired, and then withdrew, fighting, from the field. In its retreat, the brigade lost 150 men killed and wounded. It passed the night at Arronches. The regiment was then employed in the Alentejo during the remainder of the campaign, and passed the winter in cantonments on that frontier.

In the spring of 1710, the regiment took the field but the army was too weak in numbers to undertake any significant action. In the autumn, it crossed the Guadiana River, and on 5 October, the regiment along with two other regiments, stormed the town of Xeres de los Cabaleros, under the orders of Brigadier-General Stanwix; but at the moment when the attack commenced by escalating the works near St. Catherine's Gate, the governor sent proposals to surrender with the garrison as prisoners of war.

During the campaign of 1711, the regiment formed part of the army which assembled at Olivenza, passed the Guadiana by a pontoon bridge at Jerumenha, and captured several small places in Spanish Extremadura. The discovery of a secret treaty in progress between the Court of Lisbon and the enemy occasioned some change to be made in the policy of the British Government.

In 1712, the regiment remained in Portugal. In the autumn, a suspension of hostilities was proclaimed, which was followed by a treaty of peace, concluded at Utrecht in the following year.

From July 1713, the regiment was stationed at Gibraltar where it remained until 1728.


There were still no regulation concerning uniforms and colonels were responsible for the clothing of their soldiers. Therefore, there were wide variations from one regiment to another.

Hairs were worn long in a “long bob”. They were sometimes tied at the back of the neck. The hair bag was also already in use.

Men as well as officers were clean-shaven. Officers sometimes wore small moustaches.


Uniform in 1706 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Fusilier black felt tricorne laced white
Grenadier cloth cap with a raised and stiffened front decorated with the embroidered crowned Royal cypher or the colonel's crest; and with an embroidered grenade at the back of the cap
Neck stock knotted white linen neck-cloth with ends hanging or tucked into the top of the coat
Coat red with white lining; pewter buttons along the full length of the right side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back

N.B.: the coats of grenadiers had tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes down to the waist

Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets placed low on the coat, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs white, each with 3 pewter buttons

N.B.: the cuffs of grenadiers had tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long red waistcoat with pewter buttons
Breeches red
Stockings during campaigns, a first pair of finer stockings was pulled up under the breeches at the knees while a coarser pair of white stockings was worn over them, pulled over the knees and fastened with a leather strap and buckle
Gaiters gaiters were gradually adopted during the campaigns in the Low Countries
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather strap with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather waistbelt with a brass buckle worn above the coat
Cartridge Box natural leather cartouche box hanged at the crossbelt

Grenadiers had a pouch on a shoulder belt to carry grenades

Bayonet Scabbard black leather with a brass tip
Scabbard black leather with a brass tip
Footwear shoes fastened with a strap and buckle

Musketeers were armed with a musket without sling, a bayonet and a sword. Grenadiers were armed with a firelock with a sling, a hatchet, a bayonet and grenades.


NCOs wore uniforms almost identical to those of privates with the following differences:

  • tricorne laced silver
  • silver braids on the seams of the coat

Sergeants initially carried a halberd and corporals a musket. Gradually, all NCOs were equipped with musket.


Officers wore beaver tricornes laced gold (probably reserved to superior officers) or silver (probably reserved to subaltern officers). They also wore the fashionable full flowing curled wigs. On service they usually plaited their wig.

A large gorget was worn around the neck tied with ribbons. The gorget was gilt for captains, black studded with gold for lieutenants and silver for ensigns.

Officers usually wore uniforms somewhat similar to those of privates (even though there were not yet any regulation compelling them to do so), made of finer material. Their coats were decorated with gold or silver braids down the seams and on the sleeves; and with gold or silver embroidered buttonholes. Cuffs were usually of the same colour as the coat instead of the distinctive colour of the regiment.

The waistcoats of officers were often decorated with gold or silver fringes.

A crimson sash (often interwoven with gold or silver and fringed similarly) was worn around the waist.

Breeches were tied with rosettes below the knee.

Officers wore gloves, often decorated with gold or silver fringes.

Officers carried a sword and a half pike or a spontoon.

The cartouche box of officers were often covered in velvet and decorated with gold or silver embroideries.


Drummers and hautboys usually wore coat of the facing colour of the regiment, decorated with lace on the seams of sleeves and back and on the buttonholes. Their coat was decorated with the crowned King's cypher or the Colonel's crest embroidered on the breast and back. Sometimes their coat had hanging sleeves.


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This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Twentieth or The East Devonshire Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1848
  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Marine Corps, p. 3

Farmer, John S.: The Regimental Records of the British Army, London: Grant Richards, 1901

Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army, Vol. 1 From the beginning to 1760, London: Kaye & Ward, pp. 12-54, 79

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

The Royal Sussex Regimental Society

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 78-79

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