Colonel John Okey’s Regiment of Dragoons

Active1645 to 1660
CountryEngland
AllegianceParliamentarian
ConflictsFirst Civil War
Second Civil War
Third Civil War
Glencairn’s Rising
TypeDragoons
Horse
ColonelJohn Okey
Edward Rossiter
Area Raised
Coat ColourRed
Flag Colour
Flag Design
Field ArmiesNMA 1645-6
Cromwell 1648
Fairfax 1648
Cromwell 1651
Monck 1651-54

Later Colonel John Okey’s Regiment of Horse, then Colonel Edward Rossiter’s Regiment of Horse

New Model Army regiment of dragoons serving in the First and Second Civil Wars then converted to Horse prior to service in Scotland

Service History

1645

  • April: Formed from the dragoons of Waller’s, Manchester’s and Essex’s Armies
  • April: Skirmish at Islip?
  • April: Taking of Bletchington House?
  • April: Skirmish at Bampton in the Bush
  • April: Repulsed from Faringdon House
  • May: Skirmish at Radcot Bridge
  • 14th June: Battle of Naseby
  • June: Siege of Leicester
  • July: Skirmish at Crewkerne
  • July: Battle of Ilminster
  • July: Battle of Langport (1 troop)
  • July: Taking of Burrough Hill Fort
  • July: Taking of Bath
  • August to September: Siege of Bristol
  • October: Skirmish at Axminster
  • October to April 1646: Siege of Exeter
  • December: Repulsed from Powderham Castle (det)
  • December: Skirmish at Youlston Park
  • December: Taking and Defence of Canonteign House

1646

  • January: Taking of Kingswear Fort
  • February: Battle of Torrington (5 troops)
  • February: Skirmish at Stratton
  • March: Skirmish at Camelford
  • March: Skirmish at St Columb
  • May to June: Siege of Oxford
  • June to July: Siege of Worcester

1647

  • April: Quartered in Shropshire and at Holdenby
  • December: Quartered in Lincolnshire (3 troops)

1648

  • March: Capt Edward Wogan absconds to Scotland with his troop
  • April: Join Horton at Neath (6 troops)
  • May: Battle of St Fagans (6 troops)
  • May: Siege of Tenby (6 troops)
  • May to July: Siege of Pembroke Castle (8 troops)
  • June to August: Siege of Colchester (2 troops, Capts Freeman & Barrington)
  • August: Battle of Preston (2 troops under Maj Daniel Abbott)
  • August: Battle of Winwick Pass (2 troops)
  • December: Enter London with Fairfax (2 troops)

1649

1650

  • Ordered to raise 500 men to bring the regiment up to strength, but countermanded
  • Two troops sent to form Colonel Henry Cromwell’s Regiment of Horse for service in Ireland
  • May: Two new troops raised
  • July: Invade Scotland under Cromwell (2 troops converted to horse)
  • September: Battle of Dunbar
  • November: Ordered that the whole regiment of 6 troops convert to Horse

1651

  • July: Skirmish at Torwood
  • 20th July: Battle of Inverkeithing
  • August: Siege of Stirling Castle
  • Disrupt Scots recruiting around Glasgow and Paisley
  • August to September: Siege of Dundee
  • September: Taking of Aberdeen

1652

  • Serving in Scotland

1653

  • Quartered in South-West Scotland

1654

  • April: Major Bridge pursues moss troopers
  • Serving with Monck
  • October: Okey opposes the Protectorate and is forced to surrender his commission

1655

1656

1657

1658

1659

  • June: Okey made Colonel again and supports Fleetwood
  • Okey brings 4 troops to Westminster

1660

  • January: Quartered in Northampton, Buckingham, Bedford and Aylesbury
  • January: Sent to quell disturbances in Bristol (det), then to Gloucester
  • March: Okey dismissed and replaced by Colonel Rossiter
  • April: Quartered in Northampton, Buckingham and Bedfordshire
  • April: Serve at Daventry (3 troops) alongside Ingoldsby
  • November: Disbanded

Notes

A history of the regiment is given in The Regimental History of Cromwell's Army by Sir Charles Firth and Godfrey Davies, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1940.

The regiment was formed from the dragoons of Waller’s, Essex’s and Manchester’s armies. Victorious at Naseby, they particularly distinguished themselves in the only known mounted dragoon charge of the war, against the disorganised Royalist foot. They went on to fight in the Western campaign, participating in most battles and many skirmishes and assaults. By May 1646 they returned East, serving at the sieges of Oxford and Worcester.

At the start of the Second Civil War the regiment were dispersed in detachments. Captain Wogan turned renegade and made off to Scotland with one troop. Okey with six troops fought in South Wales, with particular distinction at the battle of St Fagans. At the siege of Pembroke they were joined by two more troops accompanying Cromwell. Cromwell took two troops to fight at Preston, two were sent to garrison the West Country and two served at the siege of Colchester with Fairfax. Troops were detached to form the nuclei for Abbott’s and Henry Cromwell’s regiments for service in Ireland. In 1650 they formed part of Cromwell’s army and fought at Dunbar with 2 companies forming a reserve with Cromwell's horse (perhaps the 2 converted to cavalry?) while the rest protected the artillery. Cromwell promoted the regiment from dragoons to horse – a considerable increase in both status and pay that was no doubt appreciated. In 1651 the regiment remained in Scotland, fighting at Inverkeithing, and later served with Monck during Glencairn’s rising.

In 1654 Okey opposed the Protectorate and was made to surrender his commission. Firth & Davies do not specify who led the regiment thereafter, possibly Major Bridge. In 1659 with the fall of Richard Cromwell, Okey was reinstated but soon dismissed by Monck and replaced by Colonel Rossiter. Three troops of the regiment served alongside Ingoldsby in the capture of Lambert at Daventry and in November 1660 the regiment were disbanded.

Coats, Flags and Equipment

In 1645 they wore red coats and were likely issued firelock muskets, the powder containers of their bandoliers were painted blue.

Notable Officers

Colonel John Okey

Colonel Edward Rossiter

Major Tobias Bridge

Tobias Bridge was captain of dragoons by 1647, he rose to Major and led the regiment in Scotland during Glencairn’s rising. Appointed one of Cromwell’s Major Generals, Monck had a good opinion of him. He served in Sir William Lockhart’s Regiment of Horse at Dunkirk from 1659-1662, then in Tangier from 1663-4 and Barbados from 1667-1671. Bridgetown in Barbados is said to have been named after him.

Sergeant-Major Daniel Abbott

Abbott had served in Okey’s Dragoons as a Captain and by 1647 was promoted to Major. He led the detachment of 5 companies in Ireland as a Major, later being promoted to Colonel. From 1656 he sat on the committee to distribute forfeited lands in Ireland.

Captain Edward Wogan

Officer Lists

More detailed lists of officers for April and May 1645, December 1646, May and August 1647 and May 1649 are shown in Reconstructing the New Model Army. Volume 1, Regimental Lists April 1645 to May 1649 by Malcolm Wanklyn, Helion & Co. 2015. ISBN 978-1-910777-10-7.

May 1645 and December 1646

From Anglia Rediviva1)

  • Colonel: John Okey
  • Major: Nicholas Moore
  • Captain: John Farmer
  • Captain: Charles Mercer
  • Captain: Daniel Abbot
  • Captain: Farr
  • Captain: Tobias Bridge
  • Captain: Edward Wogan
  • Captain: Harold Scrimsheire
  • Captain: Turpin

Strength

  • 1645: Established at 1000 men in ten troops
  • 1650: Converted to a regiment of horse with 6 troops

See Also

Okey's dragoons are re-enacted by Col. James Wardlawe hys Dragoones, a regiment of the Sealed Knot.

1) Sprigge, Joshua, Anglia Rediviva, London 1647