Queen Consort's Foot
Origin and History
In 1661, Portugal ceded the city of Tangier on the coast of the Kingdom of Fez, in Africa, to King Charles II, as part of the marriage portion of the Infanta, Donna Catherina. It was much strengthened and improved by the English; detached forts were constructed, and large sums of money were granted by the parliament for improving the harbour and enlarging the defences.
In 1680, Tangier was besieged by a large Moorish force. The capture of this city by the Moors would have seriously compromised the Levant. Accordingly, King Charles II sent thither a battalion of Foot Guards and 16 companies of Dumbarton's Foot. Furthermore, on 13 July, he issued a warrant for raising a regiment of foot, to augment the garrison. This regiment of foot was ordered to consist of 16 companies of 65 privates each (for a total of 1,040 privates), besides officers and NCOs. It was raised by Major Charles Trelawney in London (8 coys) and in the West Country (8 coys). The colonelcy was conferred on Charles Fitz-Charles, Earl of Plymouth, who had already distinguished himself against the Moors as volunteer at Tangier. This new regiment obtained the title of “The Second Tangier Regiment” or the “Earl of Plymouth's Regiment of Foot”. In less than four months, the regiment was ready to embark for foreign service. It sailed in November. When it arrived at Tangier, a truce was in operation. Officers and soldiers then learned that their colonel had died a few weeks previously of dysentery. He was succeeded in the colonelcy by Lieutenant-Colonel Piercy Kirke, who was also appointed commander-in-chief of the garrison. In 1681, a treaty of peace was concluded between England and the Moors. On 23 April 1682, Colonel Kirke having been removed to the colonelcy of the 1st Tangier, was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Trelawney. At the end of 1683, considering the maintenance of this counter too expensive, King Charles II sent Admiral Lord Dartmouth with a fleet, to destroy the fortifications of Tangier and bring back the garrison.
In February 1684, the regiment arrived in England from Tangier and was placed in garrison at Portsmouth, where it remained upwards of twelve months. Its establishment was reduced from 16 to 12 companies. In the Autumn, the king conferred upon the regiment the title of “Her Royal Highness the “Duchess of York and Albany's Regiment of Foot”. By October 1684, the uniform of the regiment had yellow facings.
On 6 February 1685, King Charles II died, and was succeeded by his brother, James Duke of York and the Duchess of York having become Queen of England, this regiment was styled the “Queen's Regiment of Foot” while the regiment previously designated by this name became the Queen Dowager's Foot. At the beginning of Monmouth's Rebellion, in June, the regiment was ordered to recruit its numbers to 100 men per company. Soon afterwards five companies of the regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Churchill, were ordered to march in charge of a train of artillery, consisting of seven field pieces, to join the army under the command of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Feversham, which was assembling to oppose the rebels. On 17 July, these companies fought in the Battle of Sedgemoor, where they took the left of the line. After the suppression of the rebellion, they returned to Portsmouth. During the summer ten companies of the regiment were ordered to proceed from Portsmouth to Taunton in Somersetshire, to attend the Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, who was appointed by King James II to try the prisoners taken at the battle of Sedgemoor, and a number of other persons who were charged either with being concerned in the rebellion, or with countenancing or aiding the ill-fated duke and his adherents. These ten companies guarded prisoners and preserved order at executions, which were so numerous that these were termed the bloody assizes. The regiment remained in extensive cantonments in the western counties until the spring of 1686, when it was ordered to march to Plymouth. In March 1687, it was withdrawn from Devonshire and stationed a short time at Salisbury and Wilton. In June, it took part in the training camp at Hounslow. On 5 August, it marched to Bristol, Bath, and Keynsham.
In the spring of 1688, the regiment proceeded to Portsmouth, and passed the summer months in that garrison. In September it was ordered to march to London. The Prince of Orange, who was the King's nephew and son-in-law, and a zealous advocate for the Protestant interest, was solicited to come to England with a body of troops to assist the nobility and gentry in opposing the proceedings of the court. Brigadier-General Charles Trelawney joined an association of superior officers who engaged not to fight in the cause of papacy and arbitrary power, but to further the objects of the Prince of Orange. When the Prince of Orange had landed at Torbay (5 November), the regiment proceeded by forced marches to Salisbury, and afterwards to Warminster, which was the most advanced post of the King's army, and was occupied by the 3rd Troop of Life Guards, the Queen's, and Major-General Werden's regiments of horse, the Queen's regiment of dragoons, with two battalions of the Royals, Queen Dowager's Foot and the present regiment. On 20 November, King James II arrived at Salisbury. On 21 November, he reviewed his forces stationed in and near that city; and a number of officers and soldiers having already deserted to the Prince of Orange, the king gave liberty to all who were unwilling to serve him, to depart without molestation. The number of desertions increasing, the king ordered the army to retire towards London, when orders were sent to Major-General Kirke to march with the infantry to Devizes, he refused and was placed in arrest and sent under a guard to London. Brigadier-General Trelawney, expecting a similar fate, withdrew, with his lieutenant-colonel, Charles Churchill, and about 30 NCOs and soldiers, and joined the Prince of Orange. The King sent Lieutenant-General the Earl of Dumbarton to Warminster with two squadrons of horse, and he brought off the remaining officers and men of the four battalions without interruption. After Brigadier-General Trelawney had joined the Prince of Orange, the king gave the colonelcy of the regiment to Sir Charles Orby. James II then fled from London and the Prince of Orange assumed the reins of government. The prince ordered the regiment to march to Hertford and Ware, and restored Brigadier-General Trelawney to the colonelcy. In 1689, after the accession of William III and Mary, the regiment continued to occupy quarters in the south of England, and passed the winter of 1689 at Exeter.
In 1690, during the Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691), the regiment was selected to form part of the army in Ireland. In mid-August, it embarked at Barnstaple, put to sea, but was driven by severe weather to Pembroke. Here the regiment remained about a week. On 30 April, it again put to sea. On 2 May, it landed at Belfast. On 1 July (11 July New Style), the regiment took part in the Battle of the Boyne. On 7 and 8 July, when the regiment was reviewed at Finglass, it mustered 553 privates, besides officers and NCOs. It was stationed in Dublin for several weeks. After the French naval victory at Beachy Head, the regiment was sent back to England. After its arrival in England, the regiment was encamped near Portsmouth. In the autumn, the danger of foreign invasion having passed away, it was selected to form part of an expedition to Ireland under the Earl of Marlborough. It embarked in mid-September and arrived in Cork roads on 21 September. On 23 September, it landed. It then took part in the sieges of Cork and Kinsale. After the capture of these fortresses, the regiment was placed in garrison in Cork, where it remained during the winter. At the beginning of the campaign of 1691, the regiment was left in reserve in the County of Cork, to secure the garrisons and to keep in check the bands of armed Roman Catholic peasantry. In July, after the overthrow of the Irish and French forces at Aughrim, the regiment was ordered to join the main army. It then took part in the siege and capture of Limerick. The regiment then returned to England.
In 1692, the regiment was ordered to hold itself in readiness to proceed to the Netherlands where the Nine Years' War (1688–97) was raging. On 31 March, it sailed from Portsmouth. Contrary winds forced the transports to anchor in the Downs until mid-April, when they finally sailed to Ostend. On 3 August, the regiment was at the Battle of Steenkerque but was not involved in fighting. It then took part in the repair of the fortifications of Furnes and later proceeded to Dixmude, and fortified and garrisoned the town. The regiment subsequently marched to Bruges. At the beginning of 1693, a detachment of the regiment took part in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Dixmude. On 29 July, the regiment fought in the Battle of Landen. In the Autumn, it marched into garrison at Malines. In September 1694, it formed part of the covering army during the siege of Huy. The regiment then marched to its former station at Malines. In 1695, the regiment took part in the siege of Namur. After the capture of the place and the damage done to the works had been repaired, the regiment returned to its former quarters at Malines. In 1696, England being threatened by an invasion, the regiment was ordered to embark for England. It marched to Sas Van Ghent, where it went on board of transports, and sailed to Flushing, from whence a convoy of Dutch men-of-war accompanied the fleet to England. The regiment disembarked at Gravesend and remained on home service that year. In the Summer of 1697, the regiment again embarked for the Netherlands. After the Treaty of Ryswick, the regiment was ordered to return to England. It landed in the beginning of December at Woolwich; from whence it marched to Plymouth and Penryn, where its establishment was reduced from 925 to 572 officers and soldiers.
In 1699, the establishment of the regiment was decreased to 10 companies of 36 privates each. It continued to occupy Plymouth and Penryn, with one company detached to the Isle of Scilly.
By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted one battalion.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonels of the regiment were:
- from February 1702: Brigadier-General William Seymour
In 1715, the regiment became the "King's Own Regiment of Foot".
Service during the War
In 1702, the strength of the regiment was again increased to 12 companies. In February, King William III conferred the colonelcy of the regiment on Brigadier-General William Seymour, former colonel of William Seymour's Foot. At the accession of Queen Anne, the regiment was designated as the “Queen Consort's Foot” to distinguish it from the former “Princess Anne of Denmark's Foot” which had now became the “Queen's Regiment of Foot”. In June, the regiment (834 men) sailed from Plymouth to take part in the expedition against Cádiz. In mid-August, it landed near Cádiz. After landing, the regiment took part in the operations by which the capture of the towns of Rota, Puerto de Santa Maria, and also Fort Santa Catharina, was effected. It also took part in the siege of the fort of Matagorda but the delay in landing had given the Spaniards time to recover from their first surprise, and Cadiz was found better prepared for resistance than was expected. The expedition proving too weak for the capture of this fortress, the troops retired to Rota, where they re-embarked, and afterwards sailed for England. On their way home, the commanders of the fleet were informed that a Spanish fleet had recently arrived from the West Indies, escorted by French men-of-war. The fleet was located in the harbour of Vigo in Gallicia. On October 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Vigo Bay where its colonel, William Seymour, was wounded. It then returned to Portsmouth.
At the beginning of 1703, the regiment was again stationed at Plymouth with four detached companies in village cantonments. A thirteenth company was added to its establishment. On 25 April, the regiment was transformed into a corps of Marines thus joining the six regiments of marines raised at the outbreak of the war. It was renamed the “Queen's Own Regiment of Marines.”The uniform of the regiment underwent some alteration on this occasion, and the tricornes, worn by the officers and men, were replaced by high-crowned leather caps, covered with cloth of the same colour as the facing of the regiment, and ornamented with devices, the same as the caps worn at this period by the grenadiers. The first service in which the regiment was called upon to engage after it was constituted a corps of Marines, was embarking on board the fleet commanded by Admiral Sir George Rooke, for the purpose of conducting to Portugal the Archduke Charles of Austria, who had been acknowledged by the British, Dutch, Imperial, and Portuguese governments as sovereign of Spain by the title of Charles III. On 26 December, Archduke Charles arrived at Portsmouth
On 12 February 1704, the fleet transporting Archduke Charles set sail. On 25 February, it arrived at Lisbon, followed by transports having a British and Dutch force on board under the command of the Duke Schomberg. The regiment did not land, remaining on board the fleet, which proceeded to the city of Barcelona. The Allies expected Catalonia to declare in favour of King Charles III as soon as they should be assured of protection and support. The governor of Barcelona was required to surrender but he refused to receive the summons. Although the fleet was not prepared to capture the place, yet a body of marines was landed, and the town was bombarded. The population exhibiting no marks of attachment to the House of Austria, the Marines were re-embarked. The British and Dutch admirals resolved to make a sudden attempt on Gibraltar and the “Queen's Own Regiment of Marines” took part in the capture of this stupendous fortress. On 21 July, the combined fleet arrived in the Bay of Gibraltar. A body of English and Dutch Marines were landed on the neck of land northward of the town under the orders of the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt, to cut off the communication of the garrison with the country, and the governor was summoned to surrender the fortress. This being refused, on 23 July, a heavy cannonade was opened by which the Spaniards were driven from their guns at the head of the south mole. The boats were manned, a body of men from the fleet, climbing up the difficult acclivity, with signal gallantry captured the fortifications on the mole, but had two lieutenants and 40 men killed, and 60 wounded, by the explosion of a mine. Another body of men landed, and captured a detached bastion between the mole and the town. The governor, having been again summoned, agreed to surrender on condition of being permitted to march out with all the honours of war. On taking possession of the fortress, the seamen and Marines were astonished at their own success; and they viewed, with a mixed feeling of wonder and delight, fortifications which a comparatively small number of men might have defended against a numerous army. Immediately, 8,000 men, under the Marquis de Villadarias, were detached from the Spanish army to retake the fortress; and the French admiral received orders to engage the fleet of the Allies, and to co-operate in the re-capture of Gibraltar. On 24 August, a French fleet was defeated in the Battle of Málaga. On 22 October, the Marquis de Villadarias, having been joined by 4,000 French from the fleet, commenced the siege of Gibraltar. Part of the regiment took part in the defence of Gibraltar. The arrival of 13 English and 6 Dutch men-of-war secured the defenders from an attack from the sea and gave them an opportunity to direct all their energies to the repulsing of the attacks from the land side. On the night of 11 November, a bold attack was driven back. The garrison was reinforced by 4 bns. On the night of 22 December, the defenders made a sortie.
At the beginning of 1705, the French and Spaniards were still besieging Gibraltar. In February a second and third daring attacks were undertaken and repulsed as the first one. Towards the end of March, the siege was finally raised. In the Autumn, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Barcelona.
In 1706, the regiment took part in the defence of Barcelona.
On 25 April 1707, the regiment took part in the Battle of Almansa.
In 1708, the regiment took part in the capture of the island of Minorca.
During the winter of 1709, six companies of the regiment, having landed from on board the fleet, were stationed in Devonshire.
In March 1710, the six companies previously stationed in Devonshire were removed to garrison duty at Plymouth. On 25 March, the regiment was removed from the establishment of the navy, its title of Marines was discontinued, and it resumed its station among the regular regiments of infantry under the name of the “Queen's Own Regiment of Foot”. In July, the other seven companies, having arrived at Spithead, landed on the Isle of Wight, where they encamped until September, and afterwards proceeded to Portsmouth.
In January,1711, the six companies at Plymouth having been relieved by Colonel Andrew Windsor's Foot, marched to Portsmouth. On 23 January, the regiment received orders to hold itself in readiness to proceed to Portugal; but its destination was soon afterwards changed. It then took part in the expedition against Québec, under the orders of Brigadier-General Hill, with a naval force under Commodore Sir Hovenden Walker. On arriving at North America, the fleet called at Boston for a supply of provisions, and the troops landed and encamped a short time on Rhode Island. On 20 July, troops re-embarked, and, having been joined by two regiments of provincial troops, sailed on the intended expedition. As the fleet was proceeding up the Saint-Laurent River, it became enveloped in a thick fog, and encountered a severe gale of wind. Eight transports crowded with men were dashed upon the rocks, and a number of officers and soldiers were entombed in the deep. In this disaster, the regiment lost Major Fisher, Brevet Major Walker; Captains Stringer and Bush, Captain-Lieutenant L'HulIe; Ensigns Hyde, Hawker, Richardson, and Loggan; Quartermaster Redix; and Surgeon Jones; with 10 sergeants, 18 corporals, 13 drummers and 167 privates. The expedition was cancelled and the fleet returned to England. On 10 October, the regiment landed at Portsmouth, marched into dispersed quarters in Hampshire, and commenced recruiting its diminished numbers.
In the Autumn of 1712, the regiment was removed from country quarters to garrison duty at Portsmouth and Plymouth, where it passed the succeeding year.
In September 1713, the regiment proceeded from Portsmouth to the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, and Scilly, with two companies at the town of Pendennis. A treaty of peace having been concluded at Utrecht, its establishment was reduced to ten companies of 3 officers, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 36 privates each. However, after several of the newly-raised corps had been disbanded, its numbers were augmented to 40 privates per company.
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.
|Neck stock||knotted white linen neck-cloth with ends hanging or tucked into the top of the coat|
|Coat||red with 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
|Waistcoat||long red waistcoat with pewter buttons|
|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|
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.
By October 1684, the colours of the regiment were of yellow silk, with the red cross of St. George bordered with white; the rays of the sun issuing from each angle of the cross; and Her Royal Highness's cypher in the centre.
As per the MS Colour Book at Windsor:
- Colonel Colour: plain white with the Queen's cypher MEBR (Maria Eleanor Beatrice Regina) in gold with a crown above
- Lieutenant-Colonel Colour: white with St. George's Cross; five black eagles beaked and legged gold and in each quarter
- Major Colour: white with St. George's Cross; five black eagles beaked and legged gold and in each quarter; a red pile wavy
- First Captain Colour: white with St. George's Cross; five black eagles beaked and legged gold and in each quarter; centre device consisting of the Queen's cypher with a crown above (in the centre of the cross)
This article is mainly a condensed and abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the British Army – The Fourth or The King's Own Regiment of Foot, London: William Clowes and son, 1839
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, 134
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth
Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 40-41, 854
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.