Friday, 4 December 2009

Precedence - the 1694 rules set by William III

In 1694 a new set of rules was laid down, by Royal Warrant of 10 June 1694, for determining the precedence of regiments serving in the Low Countries. Regiments from the English, Scots and Irish Establishments serving together, in combination with Huguenot regiments and regiments that had been in service of the Dutch Republic, should give rise to debates on each others relative ranking. Hence, several rules were made to overcome this problem. These rules would be used well into the 20th century to settle and seniority of regiments.

The new rules discarded the old which states that a regiment would rank from the day of its raising, and stipulated:

1. An English regiment shall take precedence before all others;
2. An Irish regiment shall have rank from the day is comes upon the English Establishment, and it would not lose it when being returned to Ireland or placed on the Irish Establishment;
3. A Scots regiment entering the English Establishment shall have rank from that time;
4. Any other regiment, regardless of nationality, being raised in England shall have rank from time of raising;
5. This settled the rank for the three English regiment previously part of the Anglo-Dutch Brigade: the three regiments shall rank immediately after the Queen's Regiment of Foot, the future King's Own Royal Regiment.

So, this explains why the future Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment ranked as 5th and 6th, respectively.

Also, though the Royal Scots Fusiliers date from 1678, they did not enter the English Establishment until late 1688 and were thus ranked after the regiments raised much later. Likewise, the Royal Scots Greys were ranked as 4th(!) until the close of the War of Spanish Succession for the same reason. Reference has been made to the influence of colonels on the board determining precedence in an earlier article, and this is how the Royal Scots Greys became ranked as 2nd, and kept that rank.

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