Scots Guards

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Scots Guards

Origin and History

The first companies were raised in January 1661 by King Charles II, immediately after the Restoration to garrison the Castle of Edinburgh and the Castle of Dumbarton. In 1662, new companies were raised and a regiment comprising six companies of 100 men each was created. In 1666, the regiment, now known as the “Scottish Regiment of Foot Guards” was increased to 13 companies under the command of the Earl of Linlithgow.

In 1666, during the Scottish Covenanters Wars, the regiment took part in the Battle of Rullion Green in the Pentland Hills. In 1679, it took part in the defence of Glasgow. On 22 June, at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, it was charged with the attack upon the bridge which they carried, thus deciding the result of the battle. The regiment then assumed garrison duties at the Bass Rock and guarded the coast of Fife against the Dutch.

In 1682, grenadiers were added to the regiment.

In 1686, the “Scottish Regiment of Foot Guards” was placed on to the establishment of the English Army. In April, seven companies of the regiment embarked at Leith and sailed to Gravesend . They then marched to the training camp on Hounslow Heath where they joined the [1st Foot Guards]] and the 2nd Foot Guards. At the end of the year, they sailed back to Scotland.

In 1688, as James II feared an invasion of England by the Prince of Orange (future King William III), he assembled in London the whole reliable forces of the kingdom. Accordingly, the “Scottish Regiment of Foot Guards”, under its colonel, Lieutenant-General Douglas, marched with the Scottish army southward. At the end of October, the regiment, then counting 1,251 men, arrived in London where it was quartered in the vicinity of Holborn. It then followed the Royal Army to Reading where a battalion deserted to the Prince of Orange. After the flight of the king and the establishment of the House of Orange under William and Mary. In 1687, the regiment was reunited under the name of “Scots Fusilier” or “3rd Regiment of Guards”. The regiment now consisted of 14 companies, including a grenadier company.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the first battalion of the regiment was sent to the Low Countries where it took part in the Battle of Walcourt. Meanwhile, in 1690, a battalion of the regiment took part in the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland. In 1691, the second battalion joined the first in the Spanish Netherlands where they took part in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, they fought in the Battle of Landen. In 1695, the first battalion took part in the siege and capture of Namur.

After the signature of the Treaty of Ryswick, the regiment returned to England.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted two battalions.

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

  • since 1 September 1691: Lieutenant-General Hon. George Ramsay
  • from 25 April 1707 until 10 October 1713: Lieutenant-General William Kerr, Marquess of Lothian

In 1715, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Portsmouth and Plymouth.

Service during the War

At the beginning of the war, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Scotland.

In 1704, the regiment was increased to 18 companies. One of these companies was appointed for the security of the Highlands. This Highland Company (disbanded in 1714) consisted of 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 piper and 50 men and was clothed as Highlanders and armed with broadswords, targets, guns, pistols and dirks.

In 1709, the first battalion was sent to Spain.

On 20 August 1710, the first battalion took part in the Battle of Saragossa. On 8 December, it fought in the Combat of Brihuega, where the entire British contingent was surrounded and forced to surrender.

In 1712, Queen Anne renamed the regiment as the “Third Regiment of Foot Guards” and attributed a badge to each of the 16 companies:

  1. The Royal Crest of Scotland, with the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit”
  2. A Bombshell, with the motto “Terrorem affero”
  3. A Lion erect, with the motto “Intrepidus”
  4. The Badge and Motto of the Order of the Thistle
  5. The Red Lion rampant of Scotland, with collar and chain of gold, and the motto “Timiere nescius”
  6. A Blue Griffin, with the motto “Belloque ferox”
  7. A Phœnix in flames, with the motto “Per funera vitam”
  8. A Thunderbolt, with the motto “Horror ubique”
  9. A Cannon firing, with the motto “Concussæ cadent urbes”
  10. A Salamander, with the motto “Pascua nota mihi”
  11. St. Andrew's Cross, with the motto “In hoc signo vinces”
  12. A Trophy, with the motto “Honores præfero”
  13. A Dog, with the motto “Intaminata fide”
  14. The Label of the Duke of Connaught, with the motto “Te duce vincimus”
  15. The Galley of Lorne, with the motto “Ne obliviscaris”
  16. The Rose and Thistle, with the motto “Fecit cos en gentem unam”

In February 17??, the second battalion was transferred from Edinburgh to London.


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 1669, Charles II decreed that the regiment should wear red coats lined white. In 1684, the battalion who took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath had red coats, white breeches and white stockings. In 1688, deserters of the regiment are described as as wearing red coats faced white.

In 1707, the regiment received new uniforms with blue instead of white as its distinctive colour. It now looked quite similar to the two other regiments of Foot Guards.


Uniform in 1707 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Fusilier black felt tricorne laced yellow
Grenadier cloth cap with a raised and stiffened front decorated with the embroidered crowned Royal cypher; 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 yellow buttons along the full length of the right side and 1 yellow 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 yellow buttons
Cuffs blue, each with 3 yellow buttons

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

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long blue waistcoat with yellow 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 pole-axe). Gradually, all NCOs were equipped with musket.


Officers wore a feathered 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 1678, the 20 drummers of the regiment had golden embroideries on their coat with the crowned king's cipher.


In 1662, colours were red with a saltire of St. Andrew's Cross silver on a blue field; centre device consisting of a crowned thistle with the motto “Nemo me impune laseccit”.

In 1664, the centre device was replaced by the coat of arms of King Charles II.

Later the colours were completely changed:

  • Colonel Colour: plain white
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Colour: blue field carrying a white cross of St. Andrew
  • Major Colour: blue field carrying a white cross of St. Andrew; a red pile wavy on the hoist upper arm of the cross
  • 1st Captain: blue field carrying a white cross of St. Andrew; the numeral “I” on the upper blue triangle.
Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Lieutenant-Colonel Colour- Copyright: Kronoskaf
Major Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
First Captain Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf


This article is mainly a condensed and abridged version of the following book which is the public domain:

  • Murray, Archibald K.: History of the Scottish Regiments in the British Army, Glasgow: Thomas Murray and Son, 1862, chap. V

Other sources

Scots Guards Association – History of the Regiment, retrieved on 24 May 2016

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, 61-63, 133-134

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

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