William Seymour's Foot
Origin and History
The regiment was created on 8 March 1689 and raised in Shropshire from 28 March 1689 and was originally known as the "Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot". It initially wore a blue uniform.
In August 1689, the regiment embarked for Ireland where it campaigned until 1691. By December 1691, it was stationed in Bridgwater, Glastonbury and Wells; by May 1692, in Guildford. From August 1692, the regiment was involved in the Nine Years' War (1688–97). From September 1694 to March 1695, it was stationed in Maidstone, Essex, Suffolk and London. From March 1695, it served in the Mediterranean. In March 1696, it returned to London, then went to Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. From 1 June 1697, it campaigned in the Spanish Netherlands.
In November 1697, the regiment was sent to Ireland where it remained until May 1700.
By 1698, the regiment counted 1 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 1 March 1701: William Seymour
- from 12 February 1702: John Churchill, Earl then Duke of Marlborough
- from 25 August 1704: William Tatton
- from 9 March 1708 to 10 September 1717: Gilbert Primrose
At the end of the war, in August 1713, the regiment was sent back to Ireland where it was stationed until September 1719.
Service during the War
In February 1702, William Seymour transferred to the Queen's Foot and John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough took command of the regiment. The same year, it was sent to the continent.
On 13 August 1704, the regiment then known as "Marlborough's Regiment" took part in the Battle of Blenheim where it was attached to Rowe's Brigade. At 12:30 p.m., the brigade advanced against Blenheim without firing a single shot until it reached the breastworks. It then fired and tried to storm the position. It was initially repulsed and came back to the attack two times before making itself master of the position.
On 23 May 1706, the regiment took part in the Battle of Ramillies.
On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde. It was also present at the siege of Lille.
On 11 September 1709, the regiment took part in the Battle of Malplaquet.
In 1710, it took part in the siege of Douai.
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.
|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 white tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes down to the waist
|Waistcoat||long grass green waistcoat with pewter buttons|
|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|
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.
We found no contemporary source describing the colours of the regiment. Hereafter, we describe the colours illustrated by the War Office Professional Painting Service.
Colonel's Colour: white field with the red Cross of St. George
Other Colours: grass green field with the red Cross of St. George on a white background in the first canton
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
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)
Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 78-79
War Office Professional Painting Service - Battle of Blenheim
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.