Unknown to many is the existence of a regiment of Irish Guards under the reigns of Charles II and James II. This regiment has no relation to the modern day Irish Guards.
The Stuart regiment was raised on 24 April 1662 in England as a regiment of guards to be placed on the Irish Establishment. It was recruited in England, and composed of English, as it was thought these were loyal. The regiment consisted of twelve companies, including the King's Company. A grenadier company was added in 1684, and by 1688 the regiment was composed of two battalions. In late 1688 one battalion of the guards was shipped to England in anticipation of the invasion of the Prince of Orange. This battalion was disbanded early 1689.
The regiment in Ireland remained loyal to James II and his Jacobite cause. As such, the regiment participated in the battle of the Boyne. As the treaty of Limerick in 1691 the regiment joined James into exile in France. After the peace of Rijswijk in 1697, when the Jacobite army in exile had to be disbanded, the regiment went over into French service in the Brigade Irlandaise.
The colonels of the regiment until 1688 when it joined James II:
Richard Butler, 1st Earl of Arran, dated 24 April 1662
James Butler, Earl of Ossory (and later 2nd Duke of Ormonde), dated 29 January 1686
William Dorrington, late 1688 when the Earl of Ossory defected to the camp of the Prince of Orange.