Saturday, 25 June 2011

Irish troop of horse grenadiers

Following the succession of James II the English throne in February 1685, the army in Ireland was to see some very drastic reforms and reorganisations. One of these reforms was the purge of Protestants from the Irish army, and filling the places with Catholics. Another was the disbandment of troop of life guards on the Irish Establishment, probably related to the aforementioned purge of Protestants.

This troop of life guards was raised in 1662 and contained a troop of horse grenadiers in 1685. As said, this troop of life guards was disbanded (in July 1685), but from the Calendar of State Papers Domestic : James II it becomes clear that the horse grenadiers were retained.

Initially it was without a captain, but on 4 November 1685 Laurence Dempsey was appointed as captain of this troop of horse grenadiers. He was succeeded on 1 March 1686 by John Salkeld. Salkeld was replaced on 30 June 1686 by Pierce (Butler), 2nd Viscount Ikerrin.

It is, however, not sure if the correct Viscount Ikerrin is considered. Though the CSPD : James II explicitly mention Pierce, Viscount Ikerrin as captain there are some caveats. First, this 2nd Viscount Ikerrin seem to have adhered to the established church, which seems to contradict the purge of Protestants in favour of Catholics. Secondly, some sources indicate that the 2nd Viscount had deceased already by 1680!

Thus, it may very well be that James (Butler), 3rd Viscount Ikerrin became the captain of the troop of grenadiers in 1686.

The fate of the troop after 1688 is unsure. In James' Irish army of 1689 we find a troop of horse grenadiers, attached to the two troops of life guards. This troop was commanded by a Colonel Butler, of which no more information could be established. Because of this Butler, there might be some continuity between the pre-1688 and post-1688 troop of horse grenadiers.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Irish Guards ~~ some corrections and additions

In an earlier post on the Irish Guards of the Stuarts, I wrote that the regiment consisted in 1688 of two battalions. This is, probably, not correct.

The Calendar of State Papers Domestic : James II, 1687-89 state for 25 September 1688 that
The King to the Earl of Tyrconnell, Lord Deputy of Ireland. Warrant to give orders to one battalion of the regiment of guards, Col. Butler's Regiment of Dragoons, Lord Forbes's Regiment of Foot and one other regiment of foot to march immediately to the seaside and embark for Chester or Liverpool; and to provide ships and other vessels necessary to transport them with all diligence and speed possible.

seems to indicate the strength of the Irish foot guards allowed the formation of more than one battalion from the regiment. However, those same Calendar of State Papers give information regarding commissions, and raising of new units, as well. And looking at those, how scanty they are, no evidence can be found that the foot guards in Ireland ever consisted of more than 13 companies (one King's company, 11 other companies and a company of grenadiers).

Finally the list of officers in the regiment on 7 March 1685, when they received fresh commissions from James II:
Capt. Oliver Long, captain of the King's company; Francis Jordan, lieutenant; Arthur Ussher, ensign;
Earl of Arran, colonel and captain; Sir John Dillon, captain lieutenant; Thomas Stanley, ensign;
Sir Charles Feilding, lieut.colonel and captain; William Gilbert, lieutenant; Roger Feilding, ensign;
Major Rupert Billingsley, major and captain; George Stockton, lieutenant; Charles Povey, ensign;
Capt. Rich. Farley, captain; John Farley, lieutenant; John Caulfield, ensign;
Capt. John Baskervile, captain; Joseph Stopford, lieutenant; Robert Margettson, ensign;
Capt. John Margettson, captain; John Bucknall, lieutenant; Edward Wybrantz, ensign;
Capt. Richard Morris, captain; Thomas Kitson, lieutenant; William Moore, ensign;
Capt. Edward Forth, captain; Henry Pagett, lieutenant; William Flower, ensign;
Capt. Nicholas Sankey, captain; Edward Wolfe, lieutenant; Gustavus Fleetwood, ensign;
Capt. Thomas Flower, captain; Charles Beverly, lieutenant; George Withers, ensign;
Capt. Robert Forbes, captain; Robert Poyntz, lieutenant; James Buck, ensign.
Company of grenadiers: Capt. Francis Chantrell, captain; William Norwood, Bernhard Tessin, lieutenants.

A list of the regiment in the second half of 1688 will be posted in the near future.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Scots Guards: early history

The more famous and prestigious regiments of any army are often those belonging to the household of the sovereign. In France we find the Maison militaire du roi de France, and in the British isles we have the troops of Life Guards and regiments of Foot Guards. Of the latter, our focus will be on the Scots Guards, and in particular to its early origins.

According to the regimental history by major general Sir Frederick Maurice (History of the Scots Guards) the regiment originates from a regiment founded in 1642 for the Scottish expedition to Ireland. This regiment, raised by the Archibald, 1st Marquis of Argyll (the 8th Earl of Argyll and father of the 9th Earl; the latter became known for his revolt against James II in 1685. Both shared the unfortunate fate of being executed.), would be formed into a regiment of foot guards after its return from Ireland in 1649. As such it served Charles II at Worcester.

However, a nice article titled The Myth of the Founding of the Scots Guards in 1642 by David Stevenson (appeared in The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 161, Part 1 (April 1977)) puts this old origin into perspective.

One main error made by Maurice, according to Stevenson, is that Argyll (i.e. the Campbells) was in fact hostile to Charles I and the Scots privy council. Thus it seems unlikely that Charles I would commission Argyll to raised a regiment of guards for his protection! That Argyll received a commission is beyond doubt, but his regiment was just as any other of the Scottish regiments intended for Ireland.

The second misunderstanding relates to the supposed transformation of the 1642 regiment into a lifeguard of foot in 1650 (after its return from Ireland). As Stevenson argues, this lifeguard was indeed formed in 1649 as Irish companies and designed to be a lifeguard of foot in 1650. However, this new regiment did not descend from the Argyll regiment of 1642. Though few men may have served in both regiments, the 1649 Irish Companies were formed from the many Scots that had fled from Ireland in 1648 and 1649.

Furthermore, Stevenson states that
the guard was intended to be formed not of men loyal to the king but of men the suspicious kirk party could trust not to sympathise with Charles II

Thus, this 1650 lifeguard of foot had everything to do with internal Scots politics, and much less with loyalty to and love for the person of Charles II. It is unlikely that the foot guards raised in the early 1660s are to be considered successor to the lifeguard of foot of 1650.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Book: Bloodline. the origins and development of the regular formations of the British Army

Due to the summer season yet another book review. This time Bloodline, on the origins of the regular regiments and corps of the British Army. It was written by Iain Gordon, founder of Method Publishing and author of several other books on the British armed forces.

At first sight, and compared to the books by Goff Lumley and Gerry Murphy, this book looks not bad at all and may stand the test of trial.

This is partly due to the fact that the book's title does not pretend the books covers anything from the origin of the (modern) of the British Army in 1661 until present day. As such, it is pretty obvious to the reader that this book is intended for those interested in tracing, within limits, the forebears of the present day regiments and corps of the British Army. Nothing more, nothing less.

The regiments and corps are presented in the almost obligatory order of precedence. For each regiment and corps the author give basic lineage information (no full dates nor colonels (except present day)), battle honours, badges and overview of alliances, regimental marches. A nice addition is the inclusion of contact details of the regiments and corps, and regimental museums. So anyone interested in contacting a regiment directly has ample means.

The presentation and layout of the book's content is compact and clear, and the short narratives provide sufficient information to give the reader a basic understanding. A chronological list of battle honours gives this book some additional value.

No good news without bad news, but fortunately I can be brief on this. A very bad first it that this book has no list of references (except for the contact details of the regiments and corps). For me this means this book is not suited very much as a start for further reading into the subject of British regimental lineages. Simply because the author does not guide me into any direction. Secondly, the post-Restoration period is treated too briefly in the narratives in my opinion. This seems to be a recurring thing with many authors. Thirdly, Gordon gives sometimes wrong and strange bits of information in the already short notes on regiments. For example, under the Grenadier Guards, he mentions a Cromwellion invasion of the Netherlands. Elsewhere he states the Scots, or Green Brigade was in Dutch service (later he places them correctly in Swedish service).

Gives the books (limited) scope to present day regiments and their ancestors, it would be unfair of me to make a remark on the neglect of disbanded regiments of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The final verdict for this book will be a 7/7.5 out of 10.
Positive: not pretentious regarding the scope of the work, clear and compact information, address/internet details of regiments and corps added value.
Negative: no references given, sloppiness regarding information in notes and narratives resulting in strange and wrong details.