William Selwyn's Foot

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

Origin and History

A regiment of pikemen and musketeers, with a grenadier company was raised in 1689 by Henry Duke of Norfolk to assist King William III in his campaign against the Stuart in Ireland. In early August, the completed, equipped and disciplined new regiment was encamped near Chester. It then embarked for Ireland where it took part in the capture of Carrickfergus. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of the Boyne. It was then detached against Athlone but the place was well defended and the regiment rejoined the main army. It then took part in the unsuccessful siege of Limerick. In 1691, it took part in the capture of the Fortress of Ballymore, in the siege and capture of Athlone, in the Battle of Aghrim, in the capture of Galway and Limerick.

In 1692, the regiment returned to England where it was employed in garrison and other duties of home-service until 1695.

In 1695, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was sent to the Spanish Netherlands. In 1696, it was recalled to England.

In 1698, the regiment (1 battalion of 10 companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men) was sent to Ireland where it was stationed until 1701.

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

  • from 28 June 1701: Brigadier-General William Selwyn
  • from 20 June 1702: Thomas Handasyd also spelled Handasyde (promoted to brigadier-general in January 1710, retired in 1712)
  • from 1712 to 1730: Roger Handasyd

Service during the War

On 10 June 1702, the colonel of the regiment, Brigadier-General William Selwyn was nominated Governor of Jamaica. His regiment was ordered to proceed to Jamaica, and several other corps also embarked for stations in the West Indies. The British planned a general attack on the possessions of France and Spain in South America. Major-General Selwyn died at Jamaica, and was succeeded in the colonelcy of the regiment by the Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Handasyd

In 1703, a considerable body of British troops arrived in the West but they were afterwards recalled to take part in the war in Europe. The regiment was left at the island of Jamaica and, until 1714, it was employed in protecting Jamaica and the other British settlements in the West Indies.

In 1704, the regiment received drafts from several other corps.

In 1705, the regiment received two additional companies.


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.

Fusiliers were armed with a fusil without sling, a bayonet and a sword. Grenadiers were armed with a firelock with a sling, a hatchet, a bayonet and grenades.


Scarlet uniform with buff facings.


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.


In 1692, the uniform of the officers of the regiment is depicted as crimson coat lined crimson, gold lace and gold fringe; silver or gold laced hat; grey waistcoat; grey breeches.

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.


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This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Twenty-Second or The Cheshire Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1849

Other sources

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, p. 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, 79

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, , pp. 78-79