Sir Jacob Astley’s Regiment of Foot

Active1639
CountryEngland
AllegianceEnglish
ConflictsFirst Bishops’ War
TypeFoot
ColonelsSir Jacob Astley
Area Raised
Coat Colour
Flag ColourBlue & White
Flag DesignUnknown
Field Armies1639

English infantry regiment that was raised for the First Bishops’ War of 1639

Service History

1639

  • Raised
  • March: Garrison Berwick ?
  • May: March to the camp at Birks
  • June: Retire from Kelso
  • June: Standoff between Birks and Duns Law
  • June: Disbanded after the Treaty of Birks

Notes

Astley garrisoned Berwick at the start of April 1639 with 1000 men and a troop of 60 horse. Perhaps the foot were from his own regiment, certainly Sir William Pennyman’s Yorkshire Trained Band Regiment of Foot and Sir Charles Vavasour's Durham Trained Band formed part of the garrison, Astley's Lieutenant Colonel, Sir Michael Earnley was left in charge1). Astley's regiment appear to be in the camp at Birks at the end of May. Astley and Earnley were present on the unfortunate foray to Kelso, implying that Astley's foot formed part of the 1500 infantry lagging behind the horse, together with a contingent under Lt Col Cromwell.

Coats and Flags

The regiment carried 12 blue and white colours 2), 3).

Notable Officers

Sir Jacob Astley

Sir Jacob Astley, who served as Sergeant Major General of the English army in the First and Second Bishops’ Wars, was a highly-experienced professional soldier who later served as Sergeant-Major General of the infantry of the Oxford Army during the First Civil War. Biographies can be found online at British Civil Wars, Wikipedia and Wikisource DNB . He served as a soldier from the age of 18 beginning with an expedition to the Azores under Sir Walter Raleigh and the Second Earl of Essex, then on the continent for Prince Maurice of Nassau, Frederick V the ‘Winter King’ of Bohemia (brother in law to King Charles I and father of Prince Rupert), Christian IV of Denmark and Gustavus Adolphus and is said to have tutored Prince Rupert.

He was appointed Sergeant Major General (commander of the infantry) and raised regiments of foot for both Bishops’ Wars. In the First Civil War he again led the King’s Infantry, from Edgehill where he prayed “O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not forget me.” and promptly followed with the order “March on, boys!” to the defeat of the ‘Old Foot’ at Naseby. He was created 1st Baron Reading in November 1644. Clarendon noted that he contributed little to the Royalist Councils, possibly due to deafness, but remarking on his appointment as Sgt Maj General thought him ”a man as fit for that office as Christendom yielded”.

After Naseby, Astley was sent to Wales and the Marches, replacing the unpopular Charles Gerard. In September 1645 his son Sir Bernard Astley, a brigadier of the Oxford Army, was mortally wounded at Bristol. By March 1646 Astley had somehow managed to raise an army of 3000 out of remnants of regiments, reformados and garrison troops. In the final battle of the First Civil War he was defeated at Stow-on-the-Wold by Brereton and Morgan. Sitting down on a discarded drum he told his captors “You have now done your work and may go to play, unless you will fall out among yourselves”. After a short imprisonment at Warwick Castle he retired to Kent, taking no part in the Second or Third Civil Wars.

  • Lt Col Sir Michael Earnley
  • Ensign Joseph Bampfield4)

Strength

  • 12 companies
  • May 1639: Arundel's, Essex's, Newport's and Astley's foot together numbered 6000 5)

See Also

1) Six North Country Diaries by John Crawford Hodgson. The Publications of the Surtees Society Vol. CXVII, Durham, 1910. available online via Archive.org
2) Original research by BCW wiki contributor 1642
3) ECW Flags and Colours 1: English Foot, Stuart Peachey & Les Prince 1990, Partizan Press ISBN:0946525846
4) Bamfield's Apologie
5) Rushworth's 'Historical Collections: 1639, March-June', Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 3: 1639-40, pp. 885-946. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=74912 Date accessed: 24 June 2014