blue coated regiment, re-enacted by Lord Saye and Sele’s Blew regiment
of Foote, was raised in the summer of 1642, by William Fiennes, First
Viscount Saye and Sele, a powerful politician and wealthy landowner, to
fight for the cause of Parliament. Drawing mainly from his power base in
and around Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire, he appointed experienced and
prominent officers, including Captain Lieutenant John Rainsford, the
author of “The Young Soldier” drill manual. On 3rd September 500 men
drew pay and on 8th September 300 muskets and 200 pikes were issued to
the soldiers as recruits continued to join the unit.
Battle of Edgehill 1642 and the First
September 1642, Lord Saye and Sele handed over the command of the
regiment of Colonel Sir John Meldrum and as part of Meldrum’s brigade
the regiment acquitted itself well at the battle of Edgehill on 23rd
October 1642. Legend has it that the 768 men of the regiment spent the
night before the battle at Broughton Castle, where the attics are still
known as “The Barracks”. Following the battle, a detachment was besieged
at Banbury by Royalists on their march to London and Broughton Castle
was itself besieged, captured and plundered by troops under the command
of Prince Rupert. On the 13th November 1642 the regiment had moved with
the Earl of Essex’s army to defend London and was involved in the
engagement at Turnham Green.
regiment remained under Meldrum’s command until July 1643, when it was
passed on to Colonel John Aldridge. A further 400 muskets were issued in
January 1643 and in June 286 more soldiers joined the regiment, having
been recruited in Essex. In March the regiment was involved in fighting
around Aylesbury. It remained in the area garrisoning Aylesbury and
involved in small engagements until May 1644 when it re-joined
Parliament’s field army
led the regiment through the 1644 campaigns in the West Country,
including the Parliamentarian defeat at Lostwithiel in Cornwall, where
the “Blew colours with lions rampant” of the regiment were witness to
the Parliamentarian surrender on the 2nd September 1644. Reduced in
strength to only 324 men, it took part in the second battle of Newbury
on 27th October 1644.
The “New Model Army”
regiment reformed, re-equipped and re-organised in the Portsmouth area
during the winter of 1644-1645 and became part of the red coated “New
Model Army”, England’s first professional army. At this time many of the
reinforcements came from the Eastern Association counties, particularly
the county of Essex. In April 1645 it was reinforced by a draft of
troops from Lord Robarte’s regiment.
the command of Colonel Walter Lloyd, the “New” regiment campaigned
in the West Country. At Taunton it was heavily engaged, resulting in the
death of Colonel Lloyd and an 80% casualty rate (killed and wounded)
amongst it’s company commanders.
now passed to William Herbert, who led it through the battle of
Langport, siege of Bridgewater, the storming of Bristol, the siege of
Berkley Castle and the fighting at Reading.
1646 the regiment took part in the siege of Oxford.
the political problems amongst the army in 1647 Colonel Robert Overton
was appointed to command the regiment. In November 1647 the regiment was
regiment spent the winter 1647-8 in Somerset. In May 1648, eight
companies were dispatched under the command of Lt. Colonel Thomas Reade,
as the only regular New Model Army foot to join Colonel Hortons campaign
in South Wales, where the regiment fought bravely at St. Fagans. These
elements of the regiment went onto fight at the sieges of Tenby and
that summer, 8 companies marched North with Oliver Cromwell under the
command of Lt Col Reade. They fought at Preston 17th and 18th August
1648, where Cromwell mentioned them in dispatches to Parliament as
“Often coming to push of pike and to close firing”. By October, these
troops were garrisoned at Berwick-on-Tweed.
Scotland and beyond
May 1649 command passed to George Fenwick (an associate of Lord Saye and
Sele). The regiment remained part of the Berwick garrison until July
1650. Oliver Cromwell then formed George Monck’s regiment for the
invasion of Scotland using five companies of Fenwick’s and five
companies of Sir Arthur Hazelrigg’s regiment. Fenwick was ordered to
raise a further 5 companies to replace these.
companies of Fenwick’s fought at Dunbar on 3 September 1650 along with
regiment then formed part of the garrison at Edinburgh.
1651 it took part in the siege of Hume Castle and on 20th July in the
battle of Inverkeithing.
1652-1656 the regiment was part of the garrison of Edinburgh and Leith.
In October 1652 stoppages of pay led to a mutiny.
August 1656 Timothy Wilkes replaced Fenwick as Commanding Officer, who
commanded it during garrison duties in Leith, Edinburgh, Tomtallant and
December 1659 Wilkes was replaced by Thomas Hughes. He commanded the
regiment until it was disbanded in Oct 1660.
is not quite the end of the story, since some officers and no doubt some
of the rank and file of Monck’s Regiment formed by half of Fenwick’s
command in 1650 continued campaigning throughout the war in Scotland and
the subsequent “occupation” and into the restoration period when Monck’s
went on to become the Coldstream Guards.