William Stewart's Foot

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

Origin and History

The regiment was raised as per a royal warrants dated 22 June 1685 in Gloucestershire by King James II to quench the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion. Henry Cornwall, appointed on 19 June 1685, was the first colonel of the regiment which was accordingly designated as the “Henry Cornwall's Regiment of Foot” and consisted of 11 companies of pikemen and musketeers, each of 3 officers, 3 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers, and 100 privates.

Before the regiment was complete and prepared to take the field, the rebel army was overthrown at Sedgemoor, and the Duke of Monmouth was captured and executed. The rebellion was thus suppressed, but the King resolved to retain many of the newly raised corps in his service, and Colonel Cornwall was directed to reduce his regiment to 10 companies of 60 men each, and assemble the whole at the city of Gloucester, from whence he marched to the vicinity of London. Towards the end of August, the regiment was encamped on Hounslow-heath, where it was reviewed by the King. In September, the regiment marched to the north of England and passed the winter at Berwick.

In May 1686, the regiment returned to Hounslow-heath in the south of England. In June, the regiment marched to Portsmouth where it was stationed. In the summer of 1687, it marched from Portsmouth to the camp of Hounslow-heath where it received a company of grenadiers. In August, it was ordered to march to York.

In November 1688, when the Prince of Orange landed in England, the regiment was recalled from York. Colonel Cornwall was removed from the colonelcy, and succeeded by Oliver Nicholas, formerly Lieutenant-Colonel of the Prince George of Denmark's Regiment of Foot. When King James II fled to France, the Prince of Orange, assuming the reins of government, ordered the regiment to march to Worcester. Colonel Nicholas refused to take the prescribed oath, was replaced by John Cunningham as colonel of the regiment.

On 3 April 1689, during the Williamite War, the regiment along with Richards' Regiment of Foot embarked at Liverpool and sailed for Londonderry, under convoy of the Swallow frigate. They were driven by contrary winds to Highlake. On 10 April, they again put to sea. On 15 April, they arrived in sight of the besieged fortress of Londonderry. After a council of war hold in Londonderry, it was decided that it would be imprudent to land the two regiments who were sent back to England. King William III was so displeased with Colonel Cunningham that he deprived him of his commission and conferred the colonelcy of the regiment to William Stewart. Towards the end of May the regiment embarked at Highlake with two other regiments of foot under Major-General Kirke, to make a second attempt for the relief of Londonderry. On 31 May, the expeditionary force sailed from Highlake. On 15 June, after having experienced severe weather, it finally arrived in the Lough. Both banks of the river were found entrenched by the enemy, with batteries of 24-pdrs at the narrowest part, and a boom of cables, chains, and timber was stretched across. Colonel Stewart landed with 600 men on the island of Inch, which communicated with the main land by a ford. On 18 July, the Duke of Berwick advanced against Stewart's positions but was repulsed after a two hours fight. The provisions in Londonderry being exhausted, preparations were made to throw a relief into the town by water, and a detachment of musketeers of the regiment was put or board the vessels designed for this service. On 28 July, this relief force managed to reach Londonderry. Soon afterwards, the siege was raised. The regiment remained a short time at Londonderry, and afterwards marched to Dundalk. On 8 September, it joined the army at Dundalk. Being encamped on low wet ground, the regiment lost many men from disease. In the beginning of November, it marched into quarters at Newry.

In January 1690, a detachment of the regiment was engaged in an excursion into the cantonments of King James's forces and captured much cattle. In February, another party of the regiment was employed in an enterprise to Dundalk. In June, King William arrived in Ireland and assumed command of the army. On 12 July, the regiment took part in the Battle of the Boyne. From there, the regiment advanced with the army to the vicinity of Dublin. In August, the regiment participated in the unsuccessful siege of Limerick. It then escorted to train to Cullen and from thence to Tipperary. On 7 September, the regiment marched for the north of Ireland where it passed the winter.

In April, 1691, the regiment was stationed at Belturbet On 9 April 50 musketeers, accompanied by 20 dragoons, advanced to scour the county of Leitrim, fighting an engagement near Mollhill. In May, the regiment left its quarter. On 6 June, it joined the army under Lieutenant-General De Ginkell and then took part in the capture of Ballymore and in the siege and storming of Athlone. On July 23, the regiment fought at the Battle of Aughrim. Then, from August to September, it took part in the second siege of Limerick.

At the end of the Williamite War, the regiment was left to assume garrison duty in Ireland.

By 1698, a few years before the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted one battalion (10 companies) for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the proprietor of the regiment was:

  • since 1689 until 1715: William Stewart

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was one of the first corps selected to proceed on foreign service. On 15 June, it embarked at Cork with eight other corps; but when the fleet arrived off Portsmouth, orders were received for the regiment to land at that fortress. However, the regiment was not detained long in England and on its arrival on the continent, it was placed in one of the frontier garrisons of Holland.

In the spring of 1702, the British troops assembled from their quarters and encamped at Rosendael, where they received information of the death of King William III and of the accession of Queen Anne. They subsequently traversed the country to the Duchy of Cleves, and encamped at Cranenburg, to cover the siege of Kayserswerth on the Lower Rhine. On 11 June, when the French army passed the forest of Cleves to cut off the communications with Holland, the British and Dutch fell back upon Nijmegen, near which fortress some sharp skirmishing occurred, on which occasion the British soldiers behaved with great gallantry. Queen Anne declared war against France and Spain, and sent additional troops to the Netherlands, where the Earl of Marlborough commanded the British, Dutch, and auxiliary forces. On 10 July, the regiment joined the camp at Duckenburg and then took part in the movements by which the French forces were driven from the frontiers of Holland; it also formed part of the covering army during the sieges of Venlo. Roermond and Stevensweert. On 10 October, the army advanced towards the city of Liège, which was delivered up, but the citadel held out, and the regiment was engaged in the siege. On 23 October, the grenadiers of the regiment highly distinguished themselves at the capture of this fortress by storm. The Chartreuse surrendered a few days afterwards. The regiment then marched back to Holland, where it passed the winter in garrison.

In the Spring of 1703, the regiment was withdrawn from its winter cantonments and was afterwards quartered in villages near the Meuse. When Maréchal Boufflers and Maréchal Villeroy endeavoured to surprise the British in their quarters, the regiment made a forced march to Maastricht where it was subsequently brigaded with five other British regiments under Brigadier-General Withers. The Allied army being assembled, advanced and the French retired behind their fortified lines. The regiment then took part in the sieges and capture of Huy and Limbourg. The regiment was then selected to accompany the Archduke Charles of Austria to Portugal and to take part in the attempt to place him on the throne of Spain. In November, the regiment embarked from Holland. About Christmas, it arrived at Spithead.

In March 1704, the regiment finally arrived at Lisbon after much delay from contrary winds. The Duke of Schomberg, who commanded the British contingent in Portugal, was desirous of keeping his units together, but the King of Portugal was afraid to trust the defence of his frontier towns to his own inexperienced troops, and the British were placed in garrison. The regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Hussey, was posted at Castelo de Vide, a frontier town and castle in the Alentejo, situate on a hill about 15 km from Portalegre. The dilatory conduct of the Portuguese retarded the preparations for taking the field, and Portugal was invaded by the French and Spaniards under the Duke of Berwick before the allies were prepared to commence operations. A large Franco-Spanish corps appeared before Castelo de Vide; the town was not strong; but the Portuguese refused to open the gates. The Marquis das Minas advanced to relieve the place with 15,000 men. Nevertheless, the Franco-Spanish force prosecuted the siege. Their batteries having damaged the wall, the governor desired to surrender; the regiment demanded permission to retire into the castle, and to defend it to the last extremity; but the Duke of Berwick declared that, if they entered the castle, he would destroy the town, and the governor refused them permission. Lieutenant-Colonel Hussey, being determined to do his duty, marched the regiment up to the castle, and demanded admittance, but the governor persisted in his refusal, and ordered the gunpowder to be thrown into a well. Some altercation ensued; the Portuguese opened the gates of the town to the besieging army, and the regiment was thus treacherously delivered into the power of the enemy and made prisoners of war. Two Portuguese battalions were also delivered up and made prisoners.

In 1705, the regiment was exchanged. It received a body of recruits and new clothing from England. In the spring, it took the field. The capture of Gibraltar had produced a favourable change in the affairs in the Peninsula, and the regiment formed part of the army of 24,000 men and 50 guns which invaded Spanish Extremadura; the British being commanded by the Earl of Galway. Having penetrated Spain, the regiment was employed in the siege of Valencia de Alcántara, a small but strong town. On 8 May, the town was captured by storm. The regiment afterwards took part in the siege of the town and castle of Albuquerque, which surrendered on 22 May. After these conquests, the weather becoming very hot, the regiment marched to Beja, a town situated on the side of a hill in the Alentejo. At this city the regiment remained several weeks, and afterwards crossed the Guadiana River and took part in the siege of Badajoz, the capital of Spanish Extremadura, where the Earl of Galway lost his right hand by a cannon ball. In mid-October, the army not being of sufficient numbers to invest the place, the enemy relieved the garrison and the siege was afterwards raised. The regiment was then quartered on the frontiers of Portugal.

In February 1706, several incursions were made into the Spanish territory. In March, the army took the field. The regiment was engaged in the siege of Alcántara, a town built on a rock near the bank of the Tagus in Spanish Extremadura. In mid-April, Alcántara surrendered. The regiment was next employed in the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, and this celebrated fortress was captured in May. At this period the brilliant success of the troops under the Earl of Peterborough in Catalonia and Valencia, with the raising of the siege of Barcelona, held out the prospect of Spain being speedily delivered from the power of King Philip V. On 3 June, the army left Ciudad Rodrigo. On 27 June, it arrived at Madrid and Archduke Charles was proclaimed king of Spain with great solemnity. Thus the tide of success flowed rapidly onward; but the King made unnecessary delays in his journey to the capital; his friends were discouraged; the partisans of King Philip took arms, and the Duke of Berwick was soon at the head of so numerous a body of troops, that the Allies were forced to evacuate Madrid. The regiment retired with the army to Chinchón in the Province of Toledo, and afterwards fell back to the mountains of Valencia, where it passed the winter in quarters more than 650 km distant from those it occupied in the preceding year.

In the early part of April 1707, the regiment was again in the field, and took part in driving back several of the enemy's detachments; it subsequently proceeded towards Villena, a considerable town, situated at the foot of a mountain in a beautiful, and rich plain on the borders of Valencia. As the army approached, the gates of the town were thrown open, but the citadel refused to submit, and the regiment was employed in the siege of this strong post, in which service it had Lieutenant Robert Stewart, junior. Ensign Bussiere, and about 20 soldiers killed. On 25 April, the regiment was suddenly called from the siege of the castle of Villena and, about noon after marching several hours along the rugged tracts of Murcia under a burning sun, the soldiers arrived in the presence of the army under the Duke of Berwick. At 3:00 p.m., the Battle of Almansa commenced. The regiment was brigaded with three other British foot regiments and had Mino's Portuguese dragoons posted in the centre of the brigade. This brigade was stationed in the second line; but nine of the enemy's battalions having attacked Major-General Wade's Brigade, the regiment moved forward to its support and was sharply engaged. Seven French battalions attacked frontally the five British battalions while two others advanced, one against each flank. The British were thus invested with a girdle of fire, and they fell back, fighting, to extricate themselves but superior numbers came upon them from all quarters. They were finally forced from their ground and their ranks were broken. During this fight, 8 officers, and about 100 men of the regiment were killed; 15 officers and nearly 200 men were wounded, and, although Harvey's Horse charged the flanking battalions with great gallantry, yet the flight of the Portuguese squadrons had left the British and Dutch exposed to the weight and power of the enemy's superior numbers, and no hope of victory remained. The Earl of Galway effected his retreat with the dragoons. Several general officers collected the broken remains of the British infantry, which fought in the centre, into a body, and uniting them with some Dutch and Portuguese, formed a column of nearly 4,000 men, which retreated 10 km, repulsing the pursuing enemy from time to time. On arriving at the woody hills of Caudete, the men were so exhausted with fatigue that they were unable to proceed further. They passed the night in the wood without food. On the morning of 26 April, they were surrounded by the enemy. Being without ammunition, ignorant of the country, and having no prospect of obtaining food, they surrendered prisoners of war. Thus ended a battle in which the regiment behaved with signal gallantry but was nearly annihilated. According to the official returns, the regiment took 467 soldiers into action and only about 100 escaped being killed or made prisoners. Captains Campbell, Wallace, White, Philips, Gregory; Lieutenants Wilcox, Robert Stewart senior; and Ensign Casey were killed; Captains Dansey, William Stewart, Hill, Carleton; Lieutenants Hussey, Bell, Johnston. James Stewart, Carr, Constable; Ensigns Adams, Smith, James Stewart, Montgomery, and Irwin, were wounded and taken prisoners; Lieutenant Ash was also taken prisoner, but was not wounded. The commanding officer of the regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel William Stewart, and three or four other officers and a few men, escaped from the field of battle and proceeded to Alcira, a strong town on the Xucar River, where they joined the cavalry with which the Earl of Galway had made good his retreat. The approach to Alcira being by almost inaccessible mountains, the Earl of Galway halted there a few days to reorganise the army. He afterwards retired from this place, leaving Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart of the regiment there with a few men. In May, Major-General Count Mahoni besieged Alcira with a body of French and Spanish troops, and Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart having provision for only five or six days, was soon obliged to surrender. The conditions were, that the officers and soldiers should march out with the honours of war, and be conducted in safety to the Allied army in Catalonia. The words by the shortest and most convenient route" were accidentally omitted, and the enemy caused the troops to march by long and circuitous routes among the mountains, until their strength was exhausted. Several men died of fatigue, and others joined the migueletes, or guerilla bands, in the mountains. The march from Alcira to the Allied army in Catalonia might have been performed in a few days, but the garrison was detained nearly three months, and was much reduced in numbers. At length, the regiment arrived at Tarragona; many of the wounded men had recovered, and they joined the regiment at this place; other joined from prisoners of war. At the beginning of November, according to the official returns, 380 officers and soldiers were present at headquarters. Many men were, however, unfit for active service, and, during the winter, the regiment was ordered to transfer its service men to other corps and to return to England to recruit.

In the Summer of 1708, the regiment arrived at Portsmouth and was stationed at Worcester and Hereford.

In February 1709, the regiment marched to Manchester and Stockport. In June, it proceeded to Chester and embarked for Ireland soon afterwards.

The regiment was stationed in Ireland during the remainder of the war and at the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, its numbers was reduced to a peace establishment.


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.

By 1687, according to Lawson, the uniform of the regiment was a red coat lined orange with grey breeches and white stockings. However, Farmer mentions “Scarlet with Blue facings (from 1685 to well on in the 18th Century) … In Irish Army Lists, (circa_ 1718-46), it is set down as with orange facings...”

Hereafter, we propose a tentative reconstruction of a uniform with a red coat lined orange.


Uniform in 1702 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Lawson and Farmer
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 orange lining; 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 orange, each with 3 pewter buttons

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

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long orange waistcoat with pewter buttons (we assume the waistcoats to be orange because they were often made by reverting and cutting older coats)
Breeches red or grey
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.

By 1692, the officers of the regiment wore blue coats lined blue with gold loops.

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 was covered in crimson velvet and, for captains and for grenadier lieutenants, 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.


Colonel's Colour: plain orange field

Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour: orange field; centre device consisting of the red cross of St. George on a white square

Major's Colour: orange field; centre device consisting of the red cross of St. George on a white square; a white pile wavy;

1st Captain's Colours: orange field; centre device consisting of the red cross of St. George on a white square with a white roundel over top of the red cross.

Tentative Reconstruction
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


This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical record of the Ninth, or The East Norfolk Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1848

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

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.