Sir John Hanmer's Foot

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Sir John Hanmer's Foot

Origin and History

The regiment was created on 20 June 1685 by Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort. It was one of the nine new regiments of foot, raised to meet the Monmouth rebellion. It was raised in the disturbed districts of Devonshire, Somersetshire and Dorsetshire where defection to Monmouth prevailed. It assembled at Bristol and initially consisted of 10 companies. Soon after the overthrow of the rebel army at Sedgemoor, the regiment was ordered to march to the training camp on Hounslow Heath where it encamped in the beginning of August. It then marched into cantonments at Yarmouth and other towns in Norfolk, and the Duke of Beaufort, being advanced in years, resigned the colonelcy in favour of his son Charles, Marquis of Worcester, whose appointment was dated the 26 October, 1685.

By 1 January 1686, the regiment consisted of:

  • staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
    • 1 assistant-surgeon
    • 1 adjutant
    • 1 quarter-master
    • 1 marshal
  • 9 companies, each of:
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 2 sergeants
    • 3 corporals
    • 1 drummer
    • 50 soldiers

Its uniform consisted of a hat with tawny-coloured ribands, a scarlet coat lined with tawny-coloured shalloon, tawny-coloured breeches and stockings, and, for pikemen only, a tawny-coloured sashes round the waist.

In April 1686, the regiment marched from Yarmouth for London. In May, it once more took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath. It then marched to Chester.

In February 1687, the regiment proceeded to Scotland. The Marquis of Worcester relinquished his military duties and the King, having resolved to attempt the introduction of papacy and arbitrary government, took this opportunity of placing at the head of the regiment an officer devoted to the interests of the court, William, Viscount Montgomery, whose commission of colonel was dated 8 May. Soon after this event, the regiment had an independent company of grenadiers attached to it from the garrison of Hull.

In 1688, the regiment left Scotland, and in the autumn it was stationed in garrison at Hull. At this period the Prince of Orange was preparing an armament for England to aid the Protestants in their resistance to the measures of the court. Many of the officers and soldiers of the regiment being staunch Protestants, they viewed the arbitrary proceedings of their sovereign and his predilections for papacy with alarm. On 5 November, the Prince of Orange landed and marched to Exeter. King James assembled his army at Salisbury, but found his soldiers unwilling to fight in the cause of papacy and arbitrary government, and he ordered the troops to retreat towards London, at the same time many noblemen, officers, and soldiers joined the Prince of Orange. All was, however, quiet at Hull; the Governor and Viscount Montgomery were known to be in the Roman Catholic interest, and they were supported by several Roman Catholic gentlemen, who took up their residence in Hull as a safe retreat during the commotion. However, the Lieutenant-Governor Colonel Copeley and Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Hanmer, of the regiment, were both warm advocates for the Protestant cause. They put into custody Marmaduke Lord Langdale, Viscount and the Roman Catholic officers and gentlemen; and declared for the Prince of Orange. Similar events occurred in other parts of the country and King James fled to France. The Prince of Orange promoted Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Hanmer, Baronet, to the colonelcy of the regiment, by commission dated 31 December.

In May 1689, during the Williamite War, the regiment to Chester and embarking on board of transports at Highlake. On 30 May, it sailed for Ireland, together with the Queen Dowager's Foot and William Stewart's Foot, under Major-General Kirke, for the relief of Londonderry. On 15 June, after suffering much from severe weather and contrary winds at sea, the fleet arrived in the Lough of Derry but the banks of the river were found guarded by troops with entrenchments and batteries, sunken boats filled with stones obstructed the passage, which was rendered more difficult by a boom of chains, cables, and timber stretched across the river, and the cannon of the castle were manned and prepared to open upon any vessel. which should attempt to sail towards the town. A body of men landed and fortified themselves on the island of Inch. They were joined by many Protestants from the adjacent country, who were armed and formed into companies, and five companies were incorporated in the present regiment. The garrison of Londonderry becoming distressed for provisions, preparations were made to send them a supply and a detachment of the regiment was put on board of the vessels to be employed in this enterprise. On 28 July, the wind becoming favourable, the Dartmouth frigate sailed up the river and opened a heavy cannonade on the castle. Under the cover of this fire the ship Mountjoy sailed up to the boom and broke it. The garrison being thus relieved. King James's army raised the siege and retired .From Londonderry the regiment traversed the country to Dundalk. On 8 September, it joined the army which had arrived from England under the veteran Duke of Schomberg. Being encamped in low marshy ground in wet weather, the soldiers contracted diseases which occasioned much loss of life. In November the regiment marched towards Armagh, and it occupied one of the frontier garrisons during the winter.

In January 1690, the losses sustained by the regiment were replaced by armed tenants and labourers of the estates of Sir Thomas Newcomb in the County of Longford. In June King William arrived in Ireland and the regiment served in his army. On 1 July (O.S.), it took part in the Battle of the Boyne where it was posted on the left wing. The regiment was afterwards detached under Lieutenant-General Douglass against Athlone, but that fortress proving too strong and too well provided to be taken by so small a force, the troops rejoined the main army on the march to besiege Limerick. The regiment was engaged in this siege, and after King William withdrew his army from before the place, it took part in driving a body of Irish troops from Birr, where it was quartered during the winter. In December a small detachment of the regiment joined a corps commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Bristow, of the regiment, marched from Birr to co-operate in driving a body of King James's troops from Lanesborough and clashed with the enemy on the march. After a fight of five hours' duration the British forced their way through their numerous enemies, and continued their march to Mountmellick.

In the spring of 1691, when the army took the field field, the regiment was left in the County of Cork. When the main army moved towards Limerick, the regiment was withdrawn from its quarters to engage in the siege of that fortress. On 16 August, the regiment joined the army and took its turn of duty before Limerick, until the capitulation of that place, which terminated the war in Ireland.

In 1692, after taking part in delivering Ireland from the power of King James, the regiment was stationed in that country several years.

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

In 1699, the regiment was placed on the peace establishment.

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

  • since 31 December 1688 to the winter of 1701: Sir John Hanmer
  • from 12 February 1702: James Stanhope (afterwards Earl Stanhope)
  • from 8 May 1705 until 13 July 1715: John Hill

Service during the War

In 1701, the accession of the Duc d'Anjou (grandson of Louis XIV) to the throne of Spain rekindled the flame of war on the Continent. In the winter, Major-General Sir John Hanmer, colonel of the regiment, died.

On 12 February 1702, the colonelcy of the regiment was conferred on Colonel James Stanhope.

In the early part of 1703, the regiment was directed to hold itself in readiness to proceed on foreign service. In April, it embarked from Ireland. In May, it landed at Willemstad and joined the army commanded by the Duke of Marlborough, at Maastricht. Marlborough then advanced against the French forces in position at Tongres, but they avoided a general engagement and took post behind their fortified lines. In August, Marlborough's Army (including the regiment) besieged the fortress of Huy situate on the Meuse above the city of Liège. After the capture of Huy, the city of Limbourg, situate on the river Vesdre, in the Spanish Netherlands, was invested, and towards the end of September the Governor, with a garrison of 1,400 men, surrendered at discretion. At the end of the campaign, the regiment was selected to accompany Archduke Charles of Austria to Portugal, for the purpose of engaging in an attempt to place him on the throne of Spain by force of arms; the Archduke having been acknowledged as King of Spain by England, the Dutch Republic and several principalities of Germany. The regiment sailed from the Dutch Republic to Portsmouth, where it was detained by contrary winds, and after putting to sea, was forced to return to port.

In 1704, the regiment set sail a second time. In the early part of March, it arrived in the Tagus. On 16 March, it landed at Lisbon. From that place, the regiment marched to the Alentejo; the King of Portugal being afraid to trust the protection of his frontier towns to his own troops alone, several British corps were placed in garrison, and the regiment, commanded by Colonel Stanhope, proceeded to the fortified town of Portalegre, situate upon the crest of a steep hill. Soon after his arrival at this place, Colonel Stanhope was seized with a severe illness and was removed in a litter to Lisbon. The designs of Mainhard, Duke Schomberg, commanding the British troops in Portugal, were frustrated by the tardy measures of the Portuguese, who found their country invaded by a numerous body of French and Spanish troops, under King Philip of Spain and the Duke of Berwick, before they were prepared to bring an army into the field. After capturing several towns, King Philip invested Portalegre, where the regiment, two Portuguese battalions, and some militia, were in garrison, under General Don Pedro de Figuetedo. The enemy dragged some cannon up an eminence, which was deemed impracticable, and which commanded the town. The inhabitants assembled in crowds insisting upon the immediate surrender of the place, and the governor yielded to their clamorous interference, delivering up his garrison prisoners of war.

In 1705, after remaining a short time in captivity, the regiment was exchanged. In the Spring, it arrived in England. On 8 May, Colonel James Stanhope was succeeded in the colonelcy by Colonel John Hill. The regiment was speedily brought into a state of discipline and efficiency.

In 1706, the regiment was selected to form part of an expedition against the coast of France, under General the Earl Rivers. The armament was, however, so long delayed by contrary winds and other causes, that the enterprise was abandoned, and the troops sailed for Portugal. The regiment landed at Lisbon.

At the beginning of 1707, the regiment re-embarked and sailed for the province of Valencia in Spain. It landed at Alicante and joined the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch forces commanded by the Marquis das Minas and the Earl of Galway. In the early part of April, these commanders commenced offensive operations. After driving back several French and Spanish detachments, the Allied army captured the town of Villena, situate on a beautiful plain at the foot of a mountain on the confines of Valencia, and commenced the siege of the castle. While this was in progress, the French and Spanish forces, under the Duke of Berwick, advanced to Almansa, and the Allied army, although much inferior to the enemy in numbers, advanced to give battle. About noon on Easter Monday, 25 April, having marched many miles along the rugged district of Murcia, under a hot sun, the soldiers arrived, fatigued with toil and faint from the excessive heat, in presence of their more numerous opponents and immediately formed for battle. The regiment was part of Hill's Brigade posted in the left wing of the second line, having Minio's Portuguese dragoons in the centre of the brigade. About 3:00 p.m., the Battle of Almansa commenced, and for a short time Colonel Hill's brigade was not engaged. When the main body of the British and Dutch infantry was attacked by a number of fresh Spanish and French brigades and forced back in confusion, Colonel Hill led the regiment and Lord Mark Kerr's Foot forward at a running pace, to stem the torrent of battle, and enable the broken brigades to effect their retreat. However, assailed by musketry, charged by cavalry, and attacked on both flanks, in front, and rear, at the same moment, the regiment was overpowered and cut down with a dreadful slaughter. Nevertheless, the gallant efforts of the regiment and Lord Mark Kerr's Foot had enabled a few corps to rally, and the surviving officers and soldiers of the two regiments extricated themselves from the crowds of opponents and joined the retreating column which finally reached the woody hills of Candete, where it was surrounded and forced to surrender prisoners of war. In this battle, the regiment had Major Collingwood, Captains Swift, Carvell and Cramer, Lieutenants Fowke and Dowland killed; Captains Mortimer, Erwine, Woolsly and Hanmer, and Lieutenant Edwards wounded and taken prisoners; Colonel Hill, Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel Milburn, Captain Yarbrough, Lieutenants Edwards, junior, Gwinn, Phipps, Burditts, Barnadine, Pain, Browne and Humphreys, Ensigns Mountjoy, Wakefield, Merchant and Knox taken prisoners. The number of non-commissioned officers and soldiers killed and wounded has not been ascertained. A few officers and men of the regiment escaped from the field of battle and joined the cavalry with which the Earl of Galway had made good his retreat at Alzira, and on the advance of the French and Spaniards under the Duc d'Orléans, they retired to Tortosa, encamping on the banks of the river Ebro about 3 km above the city. When the enemy passed the Ebro the remnants of the regiment were removed to Tarragona, and afterwards to Las Borges. Several men had joined from sick, absent, and command — others had escaped from the enemy, and towards the close of the campaign the regiment brought 400 officers and soldiers into the field under Lieutenant-Colonel Jasper Clayton. It formed part of the force assembled to attempt the relief of Lerida, but a sufficient number of troops could not be collected for this service, and it marched back to Tarragona.

In the early part of 1708, the regiment was ordered to transfer its serviceable men to other corps and to return to England to recruit. In the Spring, it arrived at Portsmouth and was joined by many officers and soldiers from prisoners of war. Extraordinary efforts were made to recruit the regiment and to bring it into a state of efficiency, which were attended with so much success, that in the summer it was reported fit for service. It was then selected to proceed to the Netherlands, to reinforce Marlborough's Army. On 16 October, the regiment landed at Ostend and, when the Elector of Bavaria menaced the towns of Brabant, it proceeded by sea to Antwerp.

During the early part of the campaign of 1709, the regiment was in garrison. In mid-September, a few days after the Battle of Malplaquet, it was relieved by one of the regiments which had suffered severely in that action, and it joined the army in time to take part in the siege of Mons. On 26 September, being the eldest British regiment employed in the siege, it was appointed to break ground within 100 m. of the enemy's palisades and suffered much from the fire of the garrison. Before the soldiers had completed their work, 500 of the enemy sallied from the town, and attacking the grenadiers, who protected the workmen, put them into some confusion; but the soldiers threw down their spades and pickaxes, drew their swords, and fell upon their assailants with such gallantry, that the French were driven over their own palisades with severe loss; some of the soldiers of the regiment following the enemy over the palisades, were made prisoners. The regiment was supported on this occasion by Prince Albert's Germans; it had Major Mortimer and Lieutenant Browne killed; Colonel Hill, Lieutenant-Colonel Clayton, Captain Edwards, Lieutenants Franks and Humphreys, Ensigns Merchant, Berkeley, and Knox wounded ; and one hundred and fifty soldiers killed, wounded or missing. The siege was prosecuted with vigour and the garrison surrendered on 21 October. The regiment took up its winter-quarters in Ghent.

In April 1710, the regiment took the field and it was engaged in the operations by which the enemy's lines were forced at Pont-à-Vendin. It was also with the covering army during the siege of Douai and shared in the manoeuvres by which the relief of this fortress was prevented. Douai having surrendered on 27 June, the regiment afterwards marched in the direction of Aubigny and was encamped with the army at Villers-Brulin, during the siege of Béthune, which surrendered on 29 August. The French forces keeping behind a series of entrenchments, to avoid a general engagement, the Allied army undertook the siege of Aire and of Saint-Venant, at the same time, and both these fortresses were captured before the troops went into winter-quarters at Bruges.

In the Spring of 1711, the regiment formed part of the garrison of Bruges. It was then withdrawn from Flanders to take part in the expedition against Québec, the capital of the French possessions in North America. The land forces destined for this expedition were placed under the command of the colonel of the regiment, Brigadier-General Hill. At the beginning of April, the regiment embarked at Ostend and sailed to Portsmouth, where it remained on board the transports until 28 April when the fleet put to sea. On arriving in North America, the fleet called at Boston, and the soldiers were encamped a short time on Rhode Island. They were joined by two regiments of provincial troops. On 20 July, they re-embarked and sailed on the projected enterprise. As the fleet was proceeding up the river Saint-Laurent, it became enveloped in a thick fog, and encountered a severe gale of wind, when the soldiers found themselves in the dangerous navigation of this immense river, in a dark and stormy night, with inexperienced men, collected on a sudden, acting as pilots. Eight transports crowded with troops were dashed upon the rocks, and nearly all the officers and soldiers on board perished. The regiment did not, however, sustain any loss. After this lamentable disaster, all thoughts of prosecuting the enterprise were laid aside; the regiment returned to England, and landed at Portsmouth in October.

In 1712, the conditions of a treaty of peace having been agreed upon between Queen Anne and King Louis XIV, Dunkerque was delivered up to the British as a security for the performance of the stipulations. The regiment was were selected to form part of the force, commanded by its colonel, Brigadier-General Hill, sent to take possession of that fortress. On 7 July, the regiment sailed from the Downs with the fleet under Admiral Sir John Leake. On 8 July, the troops landed at Dunkerque, relieving the French guards at the citadel.

In 1713, the regiment was stationed at Dunkerque.

In the Spring of 1714, the regiment returned to England. The regiment proceeded to Ireland and was placed upon the establishment of that country.

Uniform

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.

Privates

Uniform Details as per
Lawson, Vilalta
Headgear
Fusilier black felt tricorne laced yellow
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 lined yellow 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

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

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

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long yellow waistcoat with pewter buttons
Breeches yellow
Stockings during campaigns, a first pair of finer stockings was pulled up under the breeches at the knees while a coarser pair of yellow 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

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

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.

Musicians

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.

Colours

Colonel's Colour: plain crimson field;

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

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

1st Captain's Colours: crimson field with the red cross of St. George bordered white; centre device consisting of a Portcullis and chains in gold 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

References

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 Eleventh, or The North Devon Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1845

Other sources

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, 77, 136

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

Vilalta, Lluís: “Catalonia Stands Alone - 1713-1714: The Catalans' War”, p. 21

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

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