Origin and History
The regiment was formed on July 28, 1685 as the "Earl of Arran's Regiment of Cuirassiers" from six troops raised to curb Monmouth's rebellion. It later became known as the "Duke of Hamilton's Regiment of Cuirassiers". At its creation in 1685, it ranked as 6th Horse.
In 1685, the regiment took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath before taking up its quarters at Winchester and Andover. In 1686, it once more took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath and then took up its quarters at Leicester, Ashby de la Zouch, Loughborough, and Melton Mowbray. In 1686, it once more took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath and then took up its quarters in London.
In May 1688, the regiment marched to Richmond. In July, it was at the camp on Hounslow Heath and then proceeded to Cambridge, Peterborough, and St. Ives, and afterwards to Ipswich. At the beginning of November, the king fearing an invasion led by the Prince Of Orange, the regiment was ordered to march to London. It was selected to remain as guard near the queen and the infant Prince of Wales. When the prince was sent to Portsmouth, the regiment was released of its duty and ordered to march to Salisbury. When the king fled to France, the Prince of Orange ordered the regiment to march to Stamford in Lincolnshire. In 1689, three troops proceeded to the Isle of Wight to guard Irish prisoners; the three troops of the regiment encamped on Hounslow Heath.
In 1690, the whole regiment was quartered at Oxford and Abingdon. It was then transferred to the vicinity of London; then to Portsmouth and Isle of Wight; and finally to Salisbury and Winchester. Early in 1691, when then old 5th Horse was disbanded, the present regiment took the rank of the disbanded unit. The same year, it proceeded to Hertford, Dartford, and Romford.
In November 1691, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment embarked for Flanders. In 1692, it took part in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the regiment fought in the Battle of Landen. In 1695, it formed part of the army covering the siege of Namur. In 1697, it took part in the relief of Bruxelles, before returning to England.
In 1698, the regiment was initially quartered at Northampton, Banbury, and Wellingborough but was later transferred to Dublin where it was placed on the Irish establishment.
During the entire War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment remained stationed in Ireland.
Around 1715, the distinctive colour, or facing, of the regiment was changed from white to light blue. In 1718, the establishment of the regiment was reduced to 24 privates per troop.
On September 27, 1739, the regiment formed part of a splendid cavalcade which attended the Duke of Devonshire on his arrival at Dublin as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, from the water-side to the castle.
In 1740, at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), 10 men and horses were added to each troop of the regiment. The same year, the regiment patrolled the streets of Dublin night and day during the riot. In 1741, a further augmentation of nine men per troop was made to the establishment. In 1745, when the Jacobite Uprising broke out in Scotland, the regiment was ordered to Dublin, and the army in Ireland was placed in dispersed cantonments near the coast to resist any descent which might be attempted upon the island. In 1746, when three Regiments of Horse were converted to Dragoon Guards, the "5th Regiment of Horse" (the present regiment) became the "1st Regiment of Horse". The regiment remained in Ireland for the rest of the war.
This regiment had 2 squadrons as usual for heavy cavalry regiments.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from April 1, 1743: Lieutenant-General John Browne
- from August 3, 1762 to April 27, 1775: James Johnston
Shortly after 1763, the ranks of the regiment were composed almost exclusively of Irishmen.
In 1768, the four last "Regiments of Horse" were converted into "Dragoon Guards". Thus, the "1st Regiment of Horse" became the "4th Dragoon Guards".
Service during the War
The regiment was not involved in any campaign during the war.
During the summer of 1756 detachments from the regiments of horse (including the present regiment) and dragoons in Ireland, with the whole of the 2nd Horse and 3rd Horse were encamped at Kilkenny, with the view of establishing a uniform system of drill and manoeuvre in the cavalry.
As of May 30, 1759, the regiment was still stationed in Ireland and counted 2 squadrons for a total of 120 men. In the early part of December, it was employed in suppressing riots in Dublin, occasioned by a supposition that an union with England was in contemplation. The rioters broke into the House of Lords, and committed other outrages, but were eventually suppressed.
In the spring of 1762, another draft of 22 men was ordered. The regiment was directed to recruit in Ireland, the cavalry corps having, previously to this period, usually procured recruits from England.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced silver with a black cockade|
|Coat||red with pale blue lining
|Waistcoat||pale blue with silver buttons and very narrow white buttonholes|
|Breeches||pale blue with white knee covers|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket.
As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:
- a narrow silver lace at the bindings and buttonholes
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and silver striped sword knot
- housings and holster caps laced gold and silver
Corporals were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the lapels, cuffs, pockets and shoulder straps; a pale blue worsted sash about their waist.
The kettle-drummers and the trumpeters wore pale blue coats lined and turned up with red and laced with a white braid with a red stripe. Hanging sleeves fastened at the waist. Red waistcoats and breeches.
The banners of the kettle drums were pale blue with the rank of the regiment (I. H.) in gold characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk in its centre . The banners of the trumpets were pale blue carrying the king's cypher and crown with the rank of the regiment (I. H.) underneath.
The standards were made of damask, fringed with gold and embroidered with gold and silver. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.
King's Standard: crimson field decorated with the rose and thistle conjoined surmounted by a crown. Underneath the central decoration: the king's motto “Dieu et mon Droit”. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment (I. H.) in silver characters on a pale blue ground.
Regimental Standard: pale blue field fringed gold and silver with its centre decorated with the crest of England within the Garter. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: rank of the regiment (I. H.) in silver characters on a red ground within a wreath of roses and thistles.
This article incorporates texts of the following source:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Fourth, or Royal Irish Regiment of Dragoon Guards, London: Longman, Orme, and Co, 1839
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II
Mills, T. F.: Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)
Digby Smith for additional info on the regiment.