Queen Dowager's Foot
Origin and History
This regiment has its origin in the four regiments of foot that formed the original garrison of Tangier in 1661, after that city had become an English possession as part of the marriage treaty between Charles II of England and Catherine of Braganza of Portugal. Two regiments were English (“The Earl of Peterborough’s Regiment” and “Sir Robert Harley’s Regiment”) consisted each of 1,000 men in ten companies. The two other regiments (“John Fitzgerald’s Regiment” and “Lewis Farrell’s Regiment”) were Irish and consisted each of 500 men, also in ten companies.
- “The Earl of Peterborough’s Regiment” was raised in and around London in September and October 1661 by Henry Mordaunt, second Earl of Peterborough, the English governor and captain-general in Tangier. It held its first muster on 14 October 1661. The regiment consisted of 1,000 men in ten companies, and was chiefly formed with disbanded soldiers of the Protectorate Army. The regiment arrived in Tangier in January 1662.
- “Sir Robert Harley’s Regiment” was raised during the Protectorate in April and May 1657 for service in Flanders alongside the French Army. The regiment was in Dunkirk at the Restoration, and was retained as part of the (now) Royal garrison. In October 1661 the regiment was established with 1,000 men in ten companies, and was shipped to Tangier in January 1662.
- “John Fitzgerald’s Regiment” was an Irish regiment that had its origins in the Royalist Army in exile in the Spanish Netherlands. It was part of the Mardyck garrison in March 1661, and sailed for Tangier in November 1661. The regiment was established with 500 men in ten companies.
- “Lewis Farrell’s Regiment” can probably be traced back to 1585, when it was raised by Sir William Stanley for service against the Spaniards. In the Low Countries, the regiment defected to the Spanish. In 1653 the regiment, now serving in France, defected again and in 1657 joined the Royalist Army in exile and was considered an Irish regiment. In 1661 it was part of the Dunkirk garrison. By the end of the year the regiment was established with 500 men in ten companies, and was shipped to Tangier.
In April 1663 the two English regiments were merged as the “English or Governor’s Regiment” (15 companies) and later evolved into the Tangier Regiment. Elements from two regiments (Lord Rutherford’s and Roger Alsop’s) hitherto part of the Dunkirk garrison were also absorbed. For their part, the two Irish regiments were merged as the “Irish Regiment” (5 companies), also known as the Deputy-Governor’s or Lieutenant Governor’s Regiment.
After the great ambuscade of May 1664, the English and Irish distinction were abolished. The “Governor’s Regiment” was reorganised in nine companies and the “Lieutenant-Governor’s Regiment,” in eight companies.
In early 1668, the “Governor’s Regiment” and the “Lieutenant-Governor’s Regiment” were merged into a single regiment of twelve companies. Each company had three sergeants, three corporals, two drummers and 120 men, besides officers. In September 1668 400 men from the English regiments in Portugal were absorbed.
By 1680, the regiment still garrisoned Tangier and counted 12 companies for a total of 600 men. During the year, the establishment was increased to sixteen companies, and the regiment organised in two battalions – each company was established with fifty men. In February 1684, when Tangier was evacuated, the regiment returned to England. On its return in April, it was renamed “Our Most Dear Consort the Queen's Regiment of Foot” and was placed on the English Establishment where it took rank as 2nd Foot. On 1 May 1684 the regiment was redesignated as the Queen’s Regiment (named after Queen Catherine, consort of Charles II), and the designation Tangier Regiment dates from 1684 as well. The regiment was also re-organised into a single battalion of eleven companies, each of fifty men, whereof one were grenadiers (of the five remaining companies, four were transferred to the Irish Establishment, and one was reduced).
In 1685, the regiment was renamed the "Queen Dowager's Regiment of Foot," in honour of Queen Catherine, the widow of Charles II. It retained its crest of a Paschal Lamb, a national emblem of Portugal (Queen Catherine was of the Portuguese House of Braganza).
During the Monmouth Rebellion, in July 1685, five companies of the regiment took part in the Battle of Sedgemoor where they executed captured rebels. Kirke, the colonel of the regiment, then allowed his men to hang 20 rebel prisoners and to plunder Taunton.
In November 1687 the regiment was established with thirteen companies.
At the outbreak of the Williamite War in Ireland in 1689, the regiment was sent there. It took part in the relief of Londonderry. On 11 July 1690, it fought in the Battle of the Boyne. In June 1691, it was present at the Siege of Athlone. Then, from August to October, it took part in the Siege of Limerick. At the beginning of 1692, the regiment returned to England where it guarded Portsmouth. On 22 August 1692, England being engaged in the Nine Years' War (1688–97) on the continent, the regiment disembarked at Ostend in Flanders and proceeded to fortify Furnes and Dixmude. On July 29 1693, it took part in the Battle of Landen. In July and August 1695, it was present at the Siege of Namur. In 1696, it temporarily returned to England and remained on the English Establishment.
In 1699, the regiment was established with 10 companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.
In February 1701 one company was detached to garrison Bermuda. Though this company was replaced during 1702, the company at Bermuda was considered part of the regiment for some time until it appeared as an independent company from 1703 on.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was under the effective command of:
- from 28 June 1701: Sir Henry Bellasis
- from 27 February 1703: Sir David Colyear, 1st Earl of Portmore
- from 19 September 1710 to2 August 1741: Piercy Kirke (jr)
In 1703, a new company was added to the regiment.
In 1712, the regiment was reduced to 12 companies.
In 1713, the regiment was reduced to 10 companies.
After 1713, the regiment remained on the English (now British) Establishment, with ten companies. In August 1714, it was made a Royal regiment for its services during the War of the Spanish Succession, and was redesignated as “Princess of Wales's Own Regiment of Foot” (after the future Queen Caroline, consort of the future King George II).
Service during the War
|Contrary to a number of histories, the regiment was not captured at Tongeren in May 1703, nor did it defend that town. The regiment at Tongeren was a Scottish regiment in Dutch service, whereof Lord Portmore was colonel until June 1703. This (Scottish) regiment was released from French captivity only in October 1703, when Portmore’s other (English) regiment was already detailed for the expedition to Portugal.
Acknowledgement: Wienand Drenth
In April 1703, the regiment was sent to Flanders to serve under the command of the Duke of Marlborough and sailed for Portugal by the end of that year. The same year, it was renamed the "Queen's Royal Regiment of Foot," in honour of Queen Anne.
In early 1704, the regiment arrived in Portugal.
On April 25 1707, the regiment took part in the Battle of Almansa where it suffered very heavy casualties and had a large part of his soldiers taken prisoners. By October, the regiment was re-formed in Spain from survivors of the battle, but was drafted nevertheless soon after.
On 13 August 1708, the regiment itself was re-formed in England, where it remained for several years.
In 1711 the regiment was part of the amphibious expedition sent to Canada.
In 1712, the regiment returned to Great Britain.
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.
|knotted white linen neck-cloth with ends hanging or tucked into the top of the coat
|red with sea-green 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
|long red waistcoat with pewter buttons
|sea-green (in 1686)
|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 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.
Colonel's Colour: sea green field; center device consisting of the crowned cypher of Queen Catherine of Braganza (two golden interlaced C's)
Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour: sea green field with the red cross of St. George bordered with white; center device consisting of the crowned cypher of Queen Catherine of Braganza (two golden interlaced C's); corner devices each consisting of a gold ray
Major's Colour: sea green field with the red cross of St. George bordered with white; white pile wavy; center device consisting of the crowned cypher of Queen Catherine of Braganza (two golden interlaced C's); corner devices each consisting of a gold ray
First Captain's Colour: sea green field with the red cross of St. George bordered with white; center device consisting of the crowned cypher of Queen Catherine of Braganza (two golden interlaced C's) with a gold numeral I above the crown; corner devices each consisting of a gold ray
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
Public Record Office Lists and Indexes, Vol. 53, Reprint New York 1963, p. 371
Queen's Royal Surrey Regimental Association: History of The Queen’s Royal Regiment 2nd Foot (West Surrey)
Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894
Wikipedia Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Wienand Drenth for additional information on the lineage and history of the regiment