BRITISH INFANTRY COLORS
 


 

LATE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
 

Images Added June 2016

1st Foot Guards (James II)    Company Colours, 1st Foot Guards (William III)    Royal Regiment of Fuzileers    Marquess of Worcester's Regiment of Foot
 

Notes
 

By the close of the seventeenth century, the British Army had settled into the form that would become familiar on the European battlefields of the next one hundred years. The foot regiments were dressed in red coats and had for the most part laid aside their pikes in favor of flintlock muskets. Regiments were still raised on the authority of royal warrants granted to prospective colonels; this document, which came with a fixed sum of money, authorized them to recruit, clothe, equip and arm the necessary soldiers. Legally the regiment was the property of the colonel and it was accepted that any money left over after the needs of the regiment had been met could be pocketed by him. This naturally led to abuses. Some colonels treated their regiments as cash cows, spending as little as possible so as to maximize their profits. Others, especially great magnates like the Duke of Norfolk, regarded their regiments as showpieces and spent lavishly out of their own purses on fancy uniforms and superior equipment. There was no single regulation governing the uniforms of the Army, so colonels who cared to spend the money were free to dress their men as they pleased.

Since England and Scotland were still two distinct kingdoms united under a single crown, no British Army, as such, legally existed; the English and Scottish military establishments were entirely separate. During King William III's reign, there were also a number of Dutch regiments stationed in England, including the Blue Guards at Whitehall.

The colors of the English foot regiments were mostly based on the Cross of St. George, the patron saint of England, with a field in the distinguishing or facing color of the regiment. Each company was still provided with its own color but most regiments took the field with just three or four: those of the colonel's, the lieutenant-colonel's, the major's  and (sometimes) the first captain's companies. The colors were disposed to mark the center and wings of the regiment when it was deployed in line. Company colors usually resembled the lieutenant colonel's color with a Roman numeral to identify the company. The company colors of the English foot guards bore the special devices granted by the sovereign. James II, however, decreed that the foot guards' company colors should all bear his crowned royal cypher, the number of which on the color corresponded to the number of the company. When William III ascended the throne he restored the traditional company badges. Both systems are depicted below. The Royal Standard of the 1st Foot Guards was paraded only in the presence of the sovereign.

For most foot regiments, the colonel's color was plain, though sometimes it bore the colonel's heraldic badge or a royal device. The lieutenant-colonel's color bore the Cross of St. George, and the major's color was the same with the addition of a "stream blazant" issuing from the upper hoist. The system was not completely standardized, however. Some regiments had a colonel's color with the Cross of St. George, and occasionally different devices were used for the major's color. Many of these late seventeenth-century colors remained in service until 1707 when the Union Flag replaced the Cross of St. George.

The colors of Scottish foot regiments followed the same basic pattern, but the Cross of Sr. Andrew (blue field, white diagonal cross) replaced the Cross of St. George. Colors were about six feet square, made of silk, with the insignia painted on.

Note on the Illustrations: For each regiment, the Colonel's Lieutenant-Colonel's and Major's Colours are depicted (left to right).

See also Marlborough's Army.
 


 

FOOT GUARDS IN THE REIGN OF JAMES II

 

1st FOOT GUARDS
Royal Standard    Colonel's Colour    Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour  Major's Colour    1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Captains' Company Colours

 

FOOT GUARDS IN THE REIGN OF WILLIAM III

 

1st FOOT GUARDS
Colonel's Colour    Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour  Major's Colour

 

2nd (COLDSTREAM) FOOT GUARDS
Colonel's Colour    Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour  Major's Colour

 

1st FOOT GUARDS
1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Captains' Company Colours

 

THE QUEEN DOWAGER'S REGIMENT OF FOOT (KIRK'S LAMBS)

 

THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF FUZILEERS

 

THE DUKE OF NORFOLK'S REGIMENT OF FOOT

 

THE HOLLAND REGIMENT OF FOOT

 

SIR EDWARD HALE'S REGIMENT OF FOOT

 

SIR JOHN HANMER'S REGIMENT OF FOOT

 

THE EARL OF BATH'S REGIMENT OF FOOT

 

THE MARQUESS OF WORCESTER'S REGIMENT OF FOOT

 

PRINCE GEORGE OF DENMARK'S REGIMENT OF FOOT
 

 

PRINCESS ANNE OF DENMARK'S REGIMENT OF FOOT
 



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