Thomas Erle's Foot

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

Origin and History

Independent companies of infantry were raised in Devonshire in November 1688 by the adherents of the Prince of Orange (afterwards William III) while he was advancing from Torbay. In November 1689, these companies were assembled in a regiment designated as the “Francis Lutterell's Regiment of Foot”. Nevertheless, the regiment seniority was calculated from November 1688. From then on, it was then named as per its successive colonels until 1751.

In the Summer of 1689, the regiment marched to Portsmouth and was after wards stationed in the Isle of Wight. In September, it embarked on board the fleet to serve as marines but landed at Plymouth in the winter.

In March 1690, during the Williamite War in Ireland, the regiment received orders to embark 520 men for Ireland. Meanwhile, another detachment was sent to the West Indies where nearly all men died. On 11 July, the regiment took part in the Battle of the Boyne. In mid-July, when reviewed by King William III outside Dublin, it counted 693 privates. In August, it formed part of the vanguard when the army marched on Limerick. In the Spring of 1691, detachments of the regiment took part in several small raids. In June, it was at the capture of Ballymore and Athlone. On 22 July, it fought in the Battle of Aughrim where it lost 4 officers and 87 men killed, and 9 officers (including Colonel Erle) and 70 men wounded. From 4 September, the regiment took part in the second siege of Limerick. Early in 1692, the regiment returned to England where it was brought back to full strength.

During the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in the Spring of 1692, the regiment was sent to Flanders. On 3 August, it took part in the Battle of Steenkerque. In May 1693, it joined a corps assembled near Louvain. On 29 July, the regiment fought in the Battle of Landen and later took its winter-quarters at Malines. At the beginning of May, 1694, the regiment quitted its quarters, and pitched its tents near the cloister of Terbanck ; it took part in the operations of the campaign, and performed many long marches in Flanders and Brabant. In the autumn, it returned to Malines where it passed another winter in garrison. Early in the spring of 1695, the regiment marched to the vicinity of Ghent and was encamped near Marykirk until the army took the field. King William undertook the siege of the strong fortress of Namur and the regiment formed part of the covering army under the Prince of Vaudémont. After Vaudémont's retreat, the regiment was employed in several operations for the protection of the maritime and other towns of Flanders, and to cover the troops carrying on the siege of Namur which was finally captured. The regiment passed the winter at Dendermonde. In 1696, the regiment was recalled to England to protect the island against the planned French invasion. In March, it embarked from Sas-van-Ghent and sailed to Gravesend, where it landed. However, five companies had been captured by French privateers while at sea. The regiment remained in England until the summer 1697 when it again proceeded to Flanders. On 14 July, it joined the army encamped near Bruxelles. After the signature of peace in September, the regiment returned to England in November.

In 1698, the regiment was stationed in Ireland, where it remained until 1702. By this time, the regiment counted a single battalion of 10 companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.

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

  • since 20 November 1689: Francis Lutterell
  • from 1 January 1691: Thomas Erle
  • from 22 January 1712: George Freke
  • from 3 April 1712 until 5 August 1715: Richard Sutton

Service during the War

In June 1702, the regiment was recalled from Ireland and appointed for sea-service. It proceeded to the Isle of Wight to take part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz. It embarked on board the following ships of the lines where its soldiers served as marines:

  • Bedford (70)
    • Grenadiers (51 men)
  • Expedition (70)
    • Major-General Erle's Company (51 men)
    • Colonel Freke's Company (50 men)
  • Burford (70)
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Hawley's Company (50 men)
    • Captain Dejocophan's Company (52 men)
    • Captain Morgan's Company (50 men)
  • Eagle (70)
    • Captain Edgworth's Company (51 men)
    • Captain Craddock's Company (51 men)
  • Plymouth (52)
    • Captain Symmons' Company (48 men)
    • Captain Prater's Company (51 men)
  • Kent (70)
    • Captain Carey's Company (52 men)
    • Captain Norman's Company (51 men)

After the failure of this expedition, the regiment was one of the units selected to proceed to Jamaica, and it sailed on this service on 4 October, with a division of the Royal Navy under Commodore Walker.

In 1703, the regiment served as marines in the West Indies where a powerful armament was prepared for the attack of the French and Spanish settlements. In March, the regiment took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Guadeloupe. In this expedition, it lost 3 officers and 68 men killed or wounded. The regiment was then redirected towards Newfoundland in an ill planned expedition against the French settlement of Placentia. Bad weather made landing impossible and illness spread aboard the transports. The regiment was almost entirely annihilated.

In 1704, the regiment returned to Ireland.

In 1705, the regiment embarked for England and, in October, landed near Chester.

From 1706 to 1708, the regiment was employed on home service.

In 1708, the regiment was sent to Flanders to join the Allied army in that country under the the Duke of Marlborough. On 11 July, it probably took part in the Battle of Oudenarde.

On 11 September 1709, the regiment was present at the Battle of Malplaquet, probably in the Reserve.

Early in the spring of 1710, the regiment advanced up the country to the vicinity of Tournai. Afterwards, it took part in the movements by which the French lines were forced at Pont-à-Vendin. When the siege of Douai was undertaken, the regiment was one of the corps selected to take part in this service. Some severe fighting took place in carrying on the attacks, and in storming the outworks, in which the regiment was engaged, and sustained severe loss. On 25 June, the garrison beat a parley, and afterwards surrendered the fortress. In this action, the regiment suffered very heavy losses (3 sergeants and 91 men killed; and 1 major, 2 captains, 8 subalterns, 10 sergeants and 197 wounded). During the siege of Béthune, the regiment formed part of the covering army. On 29 August, Béthune finally surrendered. Aire and Saint-Venant were afterwards invested and taken and the regiment marched to Ghent, where it passed the winter.

In the Spring of 1711, the regiment advanced up the country and encamped a short time at Warde, where it was joined by a fine body of recruits from England. On 5 August, it took part in the operations by which the enemy's fortified lines were passed at Arleux and was afterwards engaged in the siege of Bouchain, which proved a difficult service. This fortress was surrendered on 13 September.

In the Spring of 1712, the regiment quitted its winter-quarters. Before the army was assembled, Colonel Freke was succeeded in the colonelcy of the regiment by Major-General Richard Sutton. The Army in Flanders, under the command of the Duke of Ormond, advanced to the frontiers of France; but negotiations for a treaty of peace having commenced, a suspension of hostilities was proclaimed, and the British troops retired to the vicinity of Ghent.

In 1713, the regiment was stationed in Flanders.

In August 1714, the regiment was ordered to return to England where it was placed in garrison at Tilbury fort, Landguard fort, and Hull, with a detachment at Sheerness.


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.

We have found few sources describing the uniform of this regiment during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1710, yellow was still its distinctive colour (became grass green somewhere during the next thirty years). We assume that button were made of pewter.


Conjectural uniform in 1702 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
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 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 red (maybe yellow) waistcoat with pewter buttons
Breeches red
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
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.


no information found yet


This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Nineteenth or The First Yorkshire North Riding Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1848
  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Marine Corps, p. 3
  • Wikipedia 19th Foot

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

The friends of the Green Howards Home Page]

Her Majesty's 19th Regiment of Foot (1st Yorks. North Riding) The Green Howards

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

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)

Powell, Geoffrey and John Powell: The History of the Green Howards - Three Hundred Years of Service, 2002

The Royal Sussex Regimental Society

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 79, 216, 854

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