4th Foot

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Origin and History

In 1661, Portugal ceded the city of Tangier on the coast of the Kingdom of Fez, in Africa, to King Charles II, as part of the marriage portion of the Infanta, Donna Catherina. It was much strengthened and improved by the English; detached forts were constructed, and large sums of money were granted by the parliament for improving the harbour and enlarging the defences.

In 1680, Tangier was besieged by a large Moorish force. The capture of this city by the Moors would have seriously compromised the Levant. Accordingly, King Charles II sent thither a battalion of Foot Guards and 16 companies of Dumbarton's Foot. Furthermore, on July 13, he issued a warrant for raising a regiment of foot, to augment the garrison. This regiment of foot was ordered to consist of 16 companies of 65 privates each (for a total of 1,040 privates), besides officers and NCOs. It was raised by Major Charles Trelawney in London (8 coys) and in the West Country (8 coys). The colonelcy was conferred on Charles Fitz-Charles, Earl of Plymouth, who had already distinguished himself against the Moors as volunteer at Tangier. This new regiment obtained the title of “The Second Tangier Regiment” or the “Earl of Plymouth's Regiment of Foot”. In less than four months, the regiment was ready to embark for foreign service. It sailed in November. When it arrived at Tangier, a truce was in operation. Officers and soldiers then learned that their colonel had died a few weeks previously of dysentery. He was succeeded in the colonelcy by Lieutenant-Colonel Piercy Kirke, who was also appointed commander-in-chief of the garrison. In 1681, a treaty of peace was concluded between England and the Moors. On 23 April 1682, Colonel Kirke having been removed to the colonelcy of the 1st Tangier, was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Trelawney. At the end of 1683, considering the maintenance of this counter too expensive, King Charles II sent Admiral Lord Dartmouth with a fleet, to destroy the fortifications of Tangier and bring back the garrison.

In February 1684, the regiment arrived in England from Tangier and was placed in garrison at Portsmouth, where it remained upwards of twelve months. Its establishment was reduced from 16 to 12 companies. In the Autumn, the king conferred upon the regiment the title of “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York and Albany's Regiment of Foot”. By October 1684, the uniform of the regiment had yellow facings.

On February 6 1685, King Charles II died, and was succeeded by his brother, James Duke of York and the Duchess of York having become Queen of England, this regiment was styled the “Queen's Regiment of Foot” while the regiment previously designated by this name became the Queen Dowager's Foot. At the beginning of Monmouth's Rebellion, in June, the regiment was ordered to recruit its numbers to 100 men per company. Soon afterwards five companies of the regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Churchill, were ordered to march in charge of a train of artillery, consisting of seven field pieces, to join the army under the command of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Feversham, which was assembling to oppose the rebels. On July 17, these companies fought in the Battle of Sedgemoor, where they took the left of the line. After the suppression of the rebellion, they returned to Portsmouth. During the summer ten companies of the regiment were ordered to proceed from Portsmouth to Taunton in Somersetshire, to attend the Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, who was appointed by King James II to try the prisoners taken at the battle of Sedgemoor, and a number of other persons who were charged either with being concerned in the rebellion, or with countenancing or aiding the ill-fated duke and his adherents. These ten companies guarded prisoners and preserved order at executions, which were so numerous that these were termed the bloody assizes. The regiment remained in extensive cantonments in the western counties until the spring of 1686, when it was ordered to march to Plymouth. In March 1687, it was withdrawn from Devonshire and stationed a short time at Salisbury and Wilton. In June, it took part in the training camp at Hounslow. On 5 August, it marched to Bristol, Bath, and Keynsham.

In the spring of 1688, the regiment proceeded to Portsmouth, and passed the summer months in that garrison. In September it was ordered to march to London. The Prince of Orange, who was the King's nephew and son-in-law, and a zealous advocate for the Protestant interest, was solicited to come to England with a body of troops to assist the nobility and gentry in opposing the proceedings of the court. Brigadier-General Charles Trelawney joined an association of superior officers who engaged not to fight in the cause of papacy and arbitrary power, but to further the objects of the Prince of Orange. When the Prince of Orange had landed at Torbay (November 5), the regiment proceeded by forced marches to Salisbury, and afterwards to Warminster, which was the most advanced post of the King's army, and was occupied by the 3rd Troop of Life Guards, the Queen's, and Major-General Werden's regiments of horse, the Queen's regiment of dragoons, with two battalions of the Royals, Queen Dowager's Foot and the present regiment. On November 20, King James II arrived at Salisbury. On November 21, he reviewed his forces stationed in and near that city; and a number of officers and soldiers having already deserted to the Prince of Orange, the king gave liberty to all who were unwilling to serve him, to depart without molestation. The number of desertions increasing, the king ordered the army to retire towards London, when orders were sent to Major-General Kirke to march with the infantry to Devizes, he refused and was placed in arrest and sent under a guard to London. Brigadier-General Trelawney, expecting a similar fate, withdrew, with his Lieutenant-Colonel, Charles Churchill, and about 30 NCOs and soldiers, and joined the Prince of Orange. The King sent Lieutenant-General the Earl of Dumbarton to Warminster with two squadrons of horse, and he brought off the remaining officers and men of the four battalions without interruption. After Brigadier-General Trelawney had joined the Prince of Orange, the king gave the colonelcy of the regiment to Sir Charles Orby. James II then fled from London and the Prince of Orange assumed the reins of government. The prince ordered the regiment to march to Hertford and Ware, and restored Brigadier-General Trelawney to the colonelcy. In 1689, after the accession of William III and Mary, the regiment continued to occupy quarters in the south of England, and passed the winter of 1689 at Exeter.

In 1690, during the Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691), the regiment was selected to form part of the army in Ireland. In mid-April, it embarked at Barnstaple, put to sea, but was driven by severe weather to Pembroke. Here the regiment remained about a week. On April 30, it again put to sea. On May 2, it landed at Belfast. On July 1 (July 11 New Style), the regiment took part in the Battle of the Boyne. On July 7 and 8, when the regiment was reviewed at Finglass, it mustered 553 privates, besides officers and NCOs. It was stationed in Dublin for several weeks. After the French naval victory at Beachy Head, the regiment was sent back to England. After its arrival in England, the regiment was encamped near Portsmouth. In the autumn, the danger of foreign invasion having passed away, it was selected to form part of an expedition to Ireland under the Earl of Marlborough. It embarked in mid-September and arrived in Cork roads on September 21. On September 23, it landed. It then took part in the sieges of Cork and Kinsale. After the capture of these fortresses, the regiment was placed in garrison in Cork, where it remained during the winter. At the beginning of the campaign of 1691, the regiment was left in reserve in the County of Cork, to secure the garrisons and to keep in check the bands of armed Roman Catholic peasantry. In July, after the overthrow of the Irish and French forces at Aughrim, the regiment was ordered to join the main army. It then took part in the siege and capture of Limerick. The regiment then returned to England.

In 1692, the regiment was ordered to hold itself in readiness to proceed to the Netherlands where the Nine Years' War (1688–97) was raging. On March 31, it sailed from Portsmouth. Contrary winds forced the transports to anchor in the Downs until mid-April, when they finally sailed to Ostend. On August 3, the regiment was at the Battle of Steenkerque but was not involved in fighting. It then took part in the repair of the fortifications of Furnes and later proceeded to Dixmude, and fortified and garrisoned the town. The regiment subsequently marched to Bruges. At the beginning of 1693, a detachment of the regiment took part in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Dixmude. On July 29, the regiment fought in the Battle of Landen. In the Autumn, it marched into garrison at Malines. In September 1694, it formed part of the covering army during the siege of Huy. The regiment then marched to its former station at Malines. In 1695, the regiment took part in the siege of Namur. After the capture of the place and the damage done to the works had been repaired, the regiment returned to its former quarters at Malines. In 1696, England being threatened by an invasion, the regiment was ordered to embark for England. It marched to Sas Van Ghent, where it went on board of transports, and sailed to Flushing, from whence a convoy of Dutch men-of-war accompanied the fleet to England. The regiment disembarked at Gravesend and remained on home service that year. In the Summer of 1697, the regiment again embarked for the Netherlands. After the Treaty of Ryswick, the regiment was ordered to return to England. It landed in the beginning of December at Woolwich; from whence it marched to Plymouth and Penryn, where its establishment was reduced from 925 to 572 officers and soldiers.

In 1699, the establishment of the regiment was decreased to 10 companies of 36 privates each. It continued to occupy Plymouth and Penryn, with one company detached to the Isle of Scilly.

In 1702, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13), the strength of the regiment was again increased to 12 companies. At the accession of Queen Anne, the regiment was designated as the “Queen Consort's Foot” to distinguish it from the former “Princess Anne of Denmark's Foot” which had now became the “Queen's Regiment of Foot”. From June, the regiment (834 men) took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz. As the fleet was sailing back for England, the commanders were informed that a Spanish fleet had recently arrived from the West Indies, escorted by French men-of-war. The fleet was located in the harbour of Vigo in Galicia. On October 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Vigo Bay. It then returned to Portsmouth. At the beginning of 1703, the regiment was stationed at Plymouth. A thirteenth company was added to its establishment. In May 1703, the regiment was transformed into a corps of Marines and renamed the “Queen's Own Regiment of Marines”. In 1704, it embarked on board the fleet who transported Archduke Charles of Austria to Portugal. The regiment did not land, remaining on board the fleet, which proceeded to the city of Barcelona but failed to capture the place. The regiment then took part in the capture of Gibraltar where it suffered heavy losses. It also participated in the defence of the place. In 1705, it took part in the siege and capture of Barcelona; in 1706, in the defence of Barcelona; on April 25 1707, in the Battle of Almansa; in 1708, in the capture of the island of Minorca. During the winter of 1709, six companies of the regiment, having landed from on board the fleet, were stationed in Devonshire. In March 1710, the six companies previously stationed in Devonshire were removed to garrison duty at Plymouth. In July, the other seven companies, having arrived at Spithead, landed on the Isle of Wight, where they encamped until September, and afterwards proceeded to Portsmouth. About this period the regiment was removed from the establishment of the navy, its title of Marines was discontinued, and it resumed its station among the regular regiments of infantry under the name of the “Queen's Own Regiment of Foot”. In 1711, the regiment took part in the disastrous expedition against Québec. As the fleet was proceeding up the Saint-Laurent River, it became enveloped in a thick fog, and encountered a severe gale of wind. Eight transports crowded with men were dashed upon the rocks, and a number of officers and soldiers were entombed in the deep. In this disaster, the regiment lost 11 officers, 10 sergeants, 18 corporals, 13 drummers and 167 privates. In the Autumn of 1712, the regiment assumed garrison duty at Portsmouth and Plymouth. In September 1713, the regiment proceeded from Portsmouth to the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, and Scilly, with two companies at the town of Pendennis. A treaty of peace having been concluded at Utrecht, its establishment was reduced to ten companies of 3 officers, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 36 privates each. However, after several of the newly-raised corps had been disbanded, its numbers were augmented to 40 privates per company.

In 1715, the regiment became the "King's Own Regiment of Foot".

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the "4th (King's Own) Regiment of Foot".

As per a resolution of September 20 1756, a second battalion was exceptionally added to the regiment. Two years later, on April 21 1758, this second battalion was made a distinct regiment as the 62nd Regiment of Foot.

During the Seven Years's War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • in 1756: Colonel Rich
  • from December 5 1756 to January 23 1765: Lieutenant-General Alexander Duroure

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was stationed in Minorca. After the capitulation of the British defending the fortress of Saint. Philip on June 28 1756, it was sent to Gibraltar.

In November 1758, the regiment was under orders for foreign service in the West Indies as part of Major-General Peregrine Hopson's force detailed to the expedition against Martinique and Guadeloupe. On November 12, it was aboard the convoy which sailed from Spithead for the Leeward Islands.

On January 3 1759, the convoy reached Carlisle Bay in Barbados. On January 13, the whole British force sailed for Martinique Island. On January 16, the British infantry landed near Fort Royal. On January 17, the grenadiers of the regiment joined those of the other units and together dislodged a French force entrenched near the British camp. Unable to make any significant progress, Hopson re-embarked. The expeditionary force then redirected its efforts against Guadeloupe Island. On January 23, the British fleet bombarded and almost completely destroyed the town of Basse-Terre. On January 24, the regiment was landed and occupied the town. From then on, it actively took part in the numerous actions of this campaign. On April 12 at Mahault Bay near Arnouville, the regiment, along with the II./42nd Royal Highland Foot, attacked the left of the French positions, driving them out of a redoubt at the point of the bayonet. The island finally capitulated on May 1. The campaign had been very difficult and the losses were heavy. Crump was installed as governor. The regiment along with the 63rd Foot and 65th Foot was left with him to garrison the island.

In mid May 1760, 200 men of the 68th Foot, which had been sent from Great Britain as reinforcements, landed at Petitbourg, opposite Grande-Terre. These men were drafted into the 4th Foot which was garrisoning Petitbourg. This regiment had lost nearly 300 men since the capitulation of the island. Before the arrival of reinforcements, the regiment had scarcely 50 men fit for duty. In June, the 4th Foot was relieved by the 63rd Foot arriving from Fort Royal.

In June 1761, a detachment of the regiment, which was garrisoning Guadeloupe Island, took part in the expedition against Dominica. The detachment then returned to Guadeloupe. In mid November, the garrison was once more ordered to send men to Barbados where they would wait for the arrival of an amphibious force destined to an expedition against the Martinique island. At about this time, the 100th Campbell's Highlanders arrived at Guadeloupe along with drafts of the 102nd Queen's Royal Volunteers and an independent company. All of which, along with the 4 independent companies previously arrived at the end of 1760, were ordered to be reduced and drafted into the 3 regiments of the garrison (4th Foot, 63rd Foot, and 65th Foot).

In January and February 1762, the regiment took part to the siege of Fort Royal and to the conquest of Martinique Island. Then from March to August, it participated to the siege and capture of Havanna suffering heavy losses from sickness during the following months.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier
4th Foot Grenadier Mitre Cap (as per Morier in 1751) - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
British mitre with: a dark blue front edged white embroidered with white floral twigs and with the regimental badge (a yellow "GR" on a red field within a dark blue Garter belt edged in yellow wearing the motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense" in yellow) surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small red front flap edged white with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent" in white and with a yellow on green bottom strip; red back; a dark blue headband edged white probably wearing the number 4 in the middle part behind; a white pompom with dark blue inner threads
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined blue and laced white (white braid with a blue zigzag) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel and brick red shoulder wing laced white (same lace as above)
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only) fastened with a pewter button
Lapels blue laced white (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white (same lace as above)
Cuffs blue slashed cuffs laced white (same lace as above) with 4 pewter buttons and 4 white buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks blue
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above)
Breeches blue
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a “Brown Bess” muskets, a bayonet and a sword.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences

  • silver gorget around the neck
  • a silver aiguilette on the rigt shoulder
  • silver lace instead of normal lace
  • a crimson sash

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.

Officers generally carried a spontoon, however, in battle some carried muskets instead.

Musicians

Drummers wore the standard uniform of the musicians of the Royal regiments.

The drum body was blue with the King's cypher surmounted by a crown and with the number of the regiment under the cypher.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the King's cypher on a red ground within a blue garter surmounted by a gold crown lined red, the whole pattern within a rose and thistle wreath. The regiment number "IV" in roman gold numerals in the upper left corner.

Regimental Colour: Blue field with its centre decorated with the King's cypher on a red ground within a blue garter surmounted by a gold crown lined red, the whole pattern within a rose and thistle wreath. The Union in the upper left corner with the regiment number "IV" in roman gold numerals in its centre. The gold crowned lions of England on a green mound in the three other corners. During the period when the regiment counted two battalions (September 1756 to 1758), the colours of first battalions had one flame and those of the second two flames descending from the upper left corner of the flag towards its centre.

King's Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Regimental Colour - Source: PMPdeL

References

This article is mainly a condensed and abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the British Army – The Fourth or The King's Own Regiment of Foot, London: William Clowes and son, 1839

Other sources

Anonymous: Particular description of the several descents on the coast of France last war; with an entertaining account of the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominique, etc., E. & C. Dilly, London, 1770, pp. 70-73

Aylor, Ron: British Regimental Drums and Colours

Ede-Barrett, Stephen: The Early Colours of the Regiment of Foot Numbered the 4th, 18th Century Military Notes & Queries No. 5

Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.