Richard Brewer's Foot

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Richard Brewer's Foot

Origin and History

After the Restoration in 1660, when King Charles II had disbanded the army of the Commonwealth, a number of non-regimented companies of foot were embodied for garrisoning the fortified towns, and one company was constantly stationed at Windsor, to furnish a guard at the castle. This company sent a detachment to Virginia in 1676. It was commanded by Henry Duke of Norfolk, Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle.

In the Summer of 1685, during the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth, this company was united to several newly raised companies (from Norfolk, Suffolk, and the adjoining counties) to constitute a regiment, of which the Duke of Norfolk was appointed colonel on 20 June 1685. The general rendezvous of the regiment was at Norwich, and as the several companies were formed, they were quartered at Norwich, Yarmouth, and Lynn. The formation of the regiment was not completed when the rebel army was defeated at Sedgemoor, and the Duke of Monmouth was captured soon afterwards, and beheaded; but King James resolved to retain the newly raised regiment in his service. The regiment was sent to London and then encamped on Hounslow-heath, where it was reviewed by the King. At the beginning of September, the regiment marched into garrison at Portsmouth.

By 1 January 1686, the regiment consisted of:

  • staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
    • 1 adjutant
    • 1 quarter-master and marshal
  • 10 companies, each of:
    • 1 captain (the colonel being captain of the first company)
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 ensign
    • 2 sergeants
    • 3 corporals
    • 1 drummer
    • 50 soldiers

In May 1686, the regiment left Portsmouth and proceeded to the training camp of Hounslow. On 14 June, Edward Earl of Lichfield became colonel of the regiment. On 10 August, 2 companies proceeded to Windsor, 3 to Tilbury-Fort, and the remainder to Jersey and Guernsey. In the Summer of 1687, the regiment once more took part in the training camp on Hounslow-heath where it received a grenadier company.

In the Summer of 1688, soon after its arrival at Hounslow, the regiment was formed on parade in presence of the king who made a short speech to induce officers and soldiers to give an unreserved pledge, and the major was directed to call upon all who would not support the repeal of the test and penal laws, to lay down their muskets. The king was surprised and disappointed at seeing the whole ground their arms, excepting two officers and a very few soldiers, who were Catholics. After some pause, the king commanded them to take up their arms, telling them that for the future he would not do them the honour of asking their opinions. The conduct of the king occasioned the nobility and gentry to solicit the Prince of Orange to come to England with a Dutch army. Soon after the Prince of Orange had landed, the Earl of Lichfield was removed to the 1st Foot Guards and, on 30 November, was succeeded in the colonelcy by Robert Lord Hunsdon. After the flight of King James to France, Lord Hunsdon refused to take the required oath to the Prince of Orange who conferred the colonelcy of the regiment on Henry Wharton.

At the beginning of 1689, during the Williamite War, the regiment was stationed in Oxfordshire; it afterwards proceeded to Hull where it was inspected at the end of May. In the early part of August, the regiment embarked from England. In mid-August, it arrived in Ireland, landing near Bangor, in the county of Down. It then took part in the siege and capture of the Fortress of Carrickfergus which surrendered on 27 August. Afterwards, the regiment advanced with the army to Dundalk, and the Duke Schomberg, believing King James's forces were more than double his own in numbers, formed an entrenched camp. The situation of this camp was particularly unfavourable; the ground was low, and the weather proving wet, the infantry regiments lost many men from disease. The regiment sustained a very serious loss in non-commissioned officers and soldiers; and on 28 October, its colonel, Henry Wharton, died. On 1 November, King William promoted the lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, Richard Brewer, to the colonelcy. On 7 November, the regiment marched towards Armagh; and it was employed on various services during the winter. In February 1690, it was stationed at Belturbet, with the Inniskilling Horse and Dragoons, and the Queen Dowager's Foot. On the night of 10 February, a detachment of the regiment took part in a surprise attack against Cavan and returned to Belturbet. A numerous body of recruits from England then replaced the losses of the regiment. By June, it counted 500 musketeers, 160 pikemen and 60 grenadiers. The regiment then campaigned under the command of King William. On 1 July (11 July N.S.), it took part in the Battle of the Boyne where it formed part of the main body. After the victory, the regiment accompanied King William to Dublin; it afterwards proceeded to Limerick, but on arriving at Carrick-on-Suir, it was detached, under Major General Kirke, to besiege Waterford: the garrison of this place surrendered without waiting for an attack. It then took part in the unsuccessful siege of Limerick. At the end of December, the regiment captured the town of Lanesborough. At the beginning of January 1691, the regiment marched from Lanesborough to Mullingar, of which place its commanding officer, Colonel Brewer, was appointed governor. On 28 April, Brewer advanced with 600 foot and 20 dragoons, towards the Castle of Donore, beyond which place 2,000 rapparees (armed Catholic peasants) had taken post and occupied a number of huts. On 29 April at daybreak, Brewer attacked and put the rapparees to flight. Towards the end of May, one division of the army encamped at Mullingar, where General De Ginkell arrived and assumed the command. From Mullingar the army advanced to the fort of Ballymore which was besieged and surrendered on 8 June. The regiment then took part in the siege of Athlone, which surrendered on 30 June; and in the Battle of Aughrim on 12 July (22 July N.S.). The regiment afterwards marched with the army to Galway, and formed part of the force employed in the siege of that place, which surrendered on 21 July, and was delivered up on 26 July. Major-General. The regiment was then selected to form part of the garrison of Galway. On 23 November, the regiment marched from Galway. Towards the end of November, it embarked at Kinsale and sailed to Plymouth. At the beginning of December, it landed at Plymouth.

During the summer of 1692, England became more and more involved in the Nine Years' War (1688–97). The regiment was selected to form part of an expedition against the coast of France, under the command of the Duke of Leinster. It embarked at Southampton and the expedition menaced the French coast at several places but did not land. Troops afterwards sailed to Ostend, where they landed, and being joined by a detachment from the confederate army under King William III., they took possession of the towns of Furnes and Dixmude, which they fortified. The regiment then returned to England. During the year 1693, the regiment remained in Great Britain; but the loss of the Battle of Landen, by King William, rendered it necessary for the confederate army in Flanders to be augmented, and the regiment was one of those selected to proceed on service. In the Spring of 1694, it embarked for Flanders. It was stationed at Malines a short time, and afterwards formed part of the escort which accompanied the train of artillery to the army at Tirlemont, where it arrived on 6 June. It was attached to Brigadier-General Erle's Brigade. The regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Huy and, after the capture of this fortress, it was stationed at Bruges. In May 1695, the regiment marched to Dixmude. In June, it took part in the attack on the Fort of Kenoque in Leslie's Brigade. When King William laid siege to Namur, operations against Fort Kenoque were discontinued and the regiment marched into garrison at Dixmude. On 15 July, a large French army laid siege to Dixmude. The regiments in garrison were all made prisoners of war, and were marched into the territory subject to France. They were soon exchanged after the capture of Namur by King William. The regiment was afterwards placed in garrison at Malines. In the Spring of 1696, the regiment was recalled to England which was threatened by a French invasion. However, when the French abandoned their design, the regiment was ordered to remain in Flanders. On 28 May, it joined the troops encamped between Ghent and Bruges where it was allocated to the brigade of Brigadier-General the Earl of Orkney. It was encamped behind the Bruges canal nearly all the summer to cover Ghent, Bruges, and the maritime towns of Flanders. In the Autumn, the regiment was ordered to occupy quarters in the town of Bruges. In the Spring of 1697, it joined King William's Army assembling in Brabant. The regiment was encamped before Bruxelles when the war was terminated by the treaty of Ryswick.

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

In 1699, the regiment was ordered to proceed to Ireland.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted one battalion.

The successive colonel-commanders during the War of the Spanish Succession were:

  • since 1 November 1689: Richard Brewer
  • from 28 September 1702: John Livesay
  • from 16 March 1712: Richard Phillips

Service during the War

At the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was augmented and held in readiness to proceed on foreign service.

On 28 September 1702, Colonel Brewer was succeeded in the colonelcy of the regiment by Lieutenant-Colonel Livesay. Soon afterwards, the regiment was ordered to form part of a powerful armament, designed to be sent to the West Indies, under Charles Earl of Peterborough who was promoted to the local rank of General, and a Dutch naval and land force arrived at Spithead to accompany the British fleet; but this joint expedition was laid aside.

In the Winter of 1703, the regiment embarked for the West Indies. In the early part of March, it took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Guadeloupe. The regiment was then sent to the island of Jamaica.

In 1704, the regiment was stationed in Jamaica where it sustained very serious losses from the effects of the climate.

In 1705, NCOs and soldiers of the regiment who were fit for service were transferred to Thomas Handasyde's Foot; and the officers and a few of the sergeants returned to England to recruit.

During the years 1706 and 1707, the regiment was employed in recruiting, training, and disciplining its ranks and, having attained a state of efficiency, it was reported fit for service.

In the spring of 1708, the regiment was held in readiness to serve on board the fleet as marines. At the beginning of the Summer, the regiment was encamped in the Isle of Wight. In July, it embarked on an expedition against the coast of France. The fleet was under the orders of Admiral Sir George Byng, and the land forces under Major-General Erle. On 27 July, the fleet sailed from Spithead and menaced the coast of Picardie with a descent, creating considerable alarm and consternation. A landing was afterwards effected a few miles from Boulogne, but nothing of importance was accomplished. The expedition was then redirected towards Ostend which was blocked by a French force under La Mothe, this preventing supplies to be sent to the Allied forces besieging Lille. On 21 September the expedition arrived at Ostend. The regiment was among those who landed. The French general retired; first cutting the dykes, to lay the country between Ostend and Nieuport under water, and to prevent the troops, under Major-General Erle, communicating with the grand army under the Duke of Marlborough. A strong detachment from the regiment, and two other regiments, seized on Leffinghen, constructed some works, and established a post at that village. At this period, the army before Lille was deficient in ammunition for carrying on the siege, and Marlborough, having heard of the arrival of the troops at Ostend, and of their having established a post at Leffinghen, sent 700 wagons thither, under a strong guard, for supplies. The soldiers of the regiment and other corps at Ostend, were employed in draining the inundations; they built a bridge over the canal of Leffinghen, opened a communication with the grand army, and assisted in loading the 700 wagons with ammunition and other necessaries. On 27 September, the wagons left Ostend. On 28 September, the troops employed to guard the convoy, under Major-General Webb, were attacked in Engagement of Wijnendale, by 22,000 French and Spaniards, under Count de la Mothe, who was repulsed, and the convoy arrived in safety at the headquarters of the army. Major-General Webb received the thanks of Parliament for his conduct on this occasion. The Duc de Vendôme was so chagrined at this success, that he advanced with a numerous army to Oudenburg, posted his men along the canal between Plassendael and Nieuport, and caused the dykes to be cut in several places, in order to let in the sea, and lay a great extent of country under water. The regiment and other corps under Major-General Erle, were encamped on the high grounds of Raversein, and watched the enemy's movements; at length, Marlborough put the covering army in motion, to attack the enemy, when Vendôme made a precipitate retreat. The regiment was afterwards employed in conveying another supply of ammunition and other necessaries, for the besieging army, across the inundations in boats, which enabled the generals of the allied army to continue the siege of Lille, and insured the reduction of that fortress. The Duke of Vendôme sent a body of troops to besiege Leffinghen, which was captured after a short resistance; the enemy also menaced the camp at Raversein, when the regiment, and other regiments under Major-General Erle, retired into the outworks of Ostend. The supplies furnished to the army, however, proved sufficient, and, on 9 December, the citadel of Lille surrendered.

In the early part of 1709, the service for which the regiment had been sent to Flanders having been accomplished, it returned to England and was stationed in garrison at Portsmouth.

In 1710, the regiment was initially detained on home service. Being in an efficient state, the regiment was embarked for Spain to reinforce the Allied army in that country.

On 16 March 1712, Colonel Livesay was succeeded in the colonelcy of the regiment by Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Phillips. By the end of March, the regiment was stationed in Catalonia. In the summer, preliminary articles for a treaty of peace were agreed upon, which was followed by a cessation of hostilities, and the regiment proceeded to the Island of Minorca, which ceded to Great Britain by the treaty of Utrecht.


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.

In 1686, the soldiers wore broad-brimmed hats, with the brim turned up on one side, and ornamented with white ribands; scarlet coats lined with white; blue breeches, blue stockings, and high shoes with square toes; and the pikemen, of whom there were 12 in each company, wore white sashes round their waists.

The following plate and table are a tentative reconstruction based on the brief description of the uniform in 1686.


Uniform in 1702 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Cannon and Lawson
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 or white waistcoat with pewter buttons
Breeches blue
Stockings during campaigns, a first pair of finer stockings was pulled up under the breeches at the knees while a coarser pair of blue 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.

In 1708, the Duke of Marlborough ordered all officers serving in Flanders to have, in sign of mourning, red coats with black buttons and black buttonholes for that year.


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: red field; centre design consisting of a crowned Lion stantant guardant on the Cap of Maintenance

Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour: red field with the red cross of St. George bordered white;

Major's Colour: red field with the red cross of St. George bordered white; a pile wavy;

1st Captain's Colours: red field with the red cross of St. George bordered white; centre device consisting of a cross crosslet or fitché argent in the centre of the cross.

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Lieutenant-Colonel Colour- Copyright: Kronoskaf
Major Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
First Captain Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf

Later during the war:

no information found


This article is essentially and abridged and adapted version of the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical record of the Twelfth, or The East Suffolk Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1848

Atkinson C.T.: Queen Anne's War in the West Indies: Part I. Jamaica, in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 24, No.99 (Autumn 1946), pp. 100-109

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

Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 303, 398

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, 77, 136-137

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

Tunath, Andrew: The British army in Catalonia after the battle of Brihuega, 1710-1712, in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 91, No. 367 (Autumn 2013), pp. 182-205

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 45, 78, 145, 854

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