The King’s Lifeguard Regiment of Foot

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ConflictsFirst Civil War
ColonelKing Charles I
Lord Willoughby D'Eresby
Area RaisedYorkshire
Coat ColourRed
Flag ColourRed
Flag DesignKnown
Field ArmiesOxford 1642-1645

The King’s Lifeguard Regiment of Foot, serving with the Oxford Army throughout the First Civil War

Service History


  • June: Recruiting begins at York, incorporating recruits from Willoughby's estates in Lincolnshire
  • August: Miners from Derbyshire are provided as recruits by Thomas Bushell
  • August: Commissioned at Nottingham2)
  • August: Move to Shrewsbury and recruit from Cheshire
  • October: Quartered at Yeaton, Walson (?), Oldbury and Morville in Shropshire
  • October: Battle of Edgehill Sir Nicholas Byron's Brigade
  • October: Siege of Banbury
  • November: Standoff at Turnham Green
  • December to April: Garrison of Oxford


  • February: Storm of Cirencester (detachment as part of a commanded party under Col Lewis Kirke)
  • April: Skirmish at Little Dean (det under Leighton)
  • April: Battle of Ripple Field (det under Leighton)
  • April: Skirmish at Dorchester-on-Thames
  • April: Battle of Caversham Bridge
  • April to July: Garrison of Oxford
  • August to September: Siege of Gloucester
  • September: Detachment remaining in Oxford escorts a convoy to the army
  • September: First Battle of Newbury Sir Nicholas Byron's Brigade
  • September: Return to Oxford, remaining in garrison over the winter


  • April: Mustered at Aldbourne Chase
  • April: 350 men sent to reinforce Hopton
  • June: Battle of Cropredy Bridge
  • August: Battle of Lostwithiel Colonel Thomas Blagge's Brigade
  • August: Skirmish at Caradon Down and Saltash, where a detachment storms a house at Lee held by Abercrombie's Dragoons
  • October: Second Battle of Newbury
  • November: Relief of Donnington Castle
  • November: Garrison of Oxford over the winter


  • May: At Stow on the Wold
  • May: Storm of Leicester
  • June: Battle of Naseby, the regiment's rank and file captured and marched to London
  • July: Lt Col Leighton and QM Stone at Hereford, recruiting includes 150 Lifeguard soldiers captured at Naseby now released in a prisoner exchange
  • July to September: Besieged in Hereford
  • December: Hereford stormed


  • March: Battle of Stow on the Wold, QM Stone captured, presumably with any remaining soldiers of the regiment


There is a regimental history available online at The King's Lifeguard of Foote of the Sealed Knot

The Lifeguard of foot absorbed William Legge's company of firelocks that had fought as an independent unit at Edgehill.

Coats, Flags and Equipment

The regiment are noted as 'red', probably referring to flag colour, by Edgehill 3). Thomas Bushell was thanked for cloathing our liefe Guard and three regiments more, with suites, stockings, shoes, and mounteers when wee were readie to march in the ffield. They were noted dressed in red coats and Montero caps in 1643 and 1644 4). In September 1644 they were issued clothes at Chard, these appear to have been red coats as they are noted in red coats and montero caps in October 1644.

The King's Lifeguard carried a unique pattern of red colours with large St George crosses rather than the usual small cross in a canton. The Colonel's colour (Illustration 1) featured a crown over a motto DIEU ET MON DROIT over a gold lion passant. The Lieutenant Colonel's colour had a crown over a gold dragon rampant (Illustration 2). The Major's colour had a crown over a golden portcullis (Illustration 3) and the captains' colours were distinguished by varying numbers of crowned Tudor rose devices (Illustration 4). Only three of the captains' colours were recorded. There is some variation in the depictions of the flags of the Lifeguard, including possible use of a lion rampant and a gryphon on the field officers' flags, these are detailed by Peachey and Prince 5). All 10 of the Lifeguard colours were captured at Naseby.

A letter from early February 1643 by Sir Jacob Astley’s states Sir John Heydon may be pleased to take notice that the regiment of the King’s guards being very weekly Armed; as the last time his Majesty saw this garrison in Armes, where they appeared 190 armed and 210 unarmed wherefore I pray as many Armes shall be brought into the Magazine let some especial care be taken first to furnish the King’s guards before any other regiments with the number of 110 Armes or some sufficient supply6).

From February to April 1643 110 muskets and 212 pikes were issued to the Lifeguard. They were issued 100 muskets from Weymouth by February 16447). In April 1644 they were issued with 132 muskets and bandoliers and 68 long pikes.

Notable Officers

King Charles I

Lord Willoughby D'Eresby

Montagu Bertie, Lord Willoughby d'Eresby at the start of the war, succeeded to the Earldom of Lindsey on the death of his father who led the Lord General’s Regiment of Foot at Edgehill and died from his wounds thereafter. Willoughby was captured at Edgehill and imprisoned at Warwick Castle, then Windsor, until exchanged in August 1643. By 1644 he was referred to as Lieutenant General of our Guards.

Lt. Col Sir William Vavasour

Captured at Edgehill and imprisoned at Warwick, then Windsor, he escaped from Windsor and rejoined the regiment in April 1643. In June 1643 he left after being appointed to command in Herefordshire and South Wales.

Lt. Col. Sir William Leighton

Initially serving as Major, he was wounded at Edgehill. Promoted to Lt Col in June 1643 replacing Vavasour. He was knighted in 1645.

Major Robert Markham

Promoted to Major in June 1643, taking over from Leighton.

Officer Lists

Lists of the regiment's officers are shown in Officers and Regiments of the Royalist Army by Stuart Reid (Partizan Press) and at The King's Lifeguard of Foote of the Sealed Knot


  • June 1642: Said to be 1000 men
  • November 1642: Approximately 670, inferred from pay warrants
  • February 1643: 400, excluding officers
  • February 1643: 512 soldiers, although 322 'unarmed'
  • April 1644: 350 men at Aldbourne
  • May 1645: 200 strong at Stow on the Wold according to Symonds

See Also

The King's Lifeguard are re-enacted by The King's Lifeguard of Foote of the Sealed Knot and the King's Life Guard of Foote of the English Civil War Society of America.

1) Flag images by kind permission of Wargames Designs
3) , 4) , 5) ECW Flags and Colours 1: English Foot, Stuart Peachey & Les Prince 1990, Partizan Press ISBN:0946525846
6) Ian Roy edition, Royalist Ordnance Papers, 1642-46, Pt. I, 1964, p.195
7) Bodleian Library Rawlinson Ms D395