Marquis of Hertford’s Regiment of Foot

Flag Illustration 11)
Active1642 to 1645
CountryEngland
AllegianceRoyalist
ConflictsFirst Civil War
TypeFoot
ColonelsMarquis of Hertford
Sir Bernard Astley
Area RaisedSomerset
South Wales
Coat ColourWhite??
Flag ColourGreen
Flag DesignRed 'hawk lures'
Field ArmiesHertford 1642-3
Hopton 1643-4
Oxford 1644-5

Later Sir Bernard Astley's Regiment of Foot

Royalist infantry regiment raised in 1642 that served in the West Country then with the King's Oxford Army throughout the First Civil War

Service History

1642

  • Raised in Somerset
  • September: Besieged in Sherborne Castle
  • September: Retreat from Minehead to Cardiff
  • October: Recruit in South Wales
  • November: Occupy Hereford?

1643

  • January: Failed attempt on Cirencester
  • June: Skirmish at Chewton Mendip
  • July: Battle of Lansdown
  • July: Besieged in Devizes
  • July: Storm of Bristol
  • September: Detachment at First Newbury?
  • September: Repulsed from Poole

1644

  • March: Battle of Cheriton
  • June: Battle of Cropredy Bridge
  • August: Battle of Lostwithiel
  • October: Relief of Portland Castle
  • October: Second Battle of Newbury?

1645

  • February: Storm of Rowden House
  • February: Skirmish at Lydney?
  • April: Storm of Ledbury
  • May: Storm of Leicester
  • June: Battle of Naseby
  • June: Probably disbanded after Naseby

Notes

The Marquis of Hertford's Regiment of Foot were likely raised from a nucleus of the foot besieged at Sherborne Castle in September 1642, that accompanied Hertford in his withdrawal to Minehead and Cardiff in the October together with the nucleus of Sir Thomas Lunsford’s Regiment of Foot. Initially they may not have been formally organised into a regiment. Hertford raised men in South Wales over the winter, before marching to reinforce the Oxford Army in January 1643, and along the way making an unsuccessful attempt on Cirencester with Prince Rupert.

According the Royalist news-sheet Mercurius Aulicus: 9 Jan 1642/3 (Mon) [Last] night Prince Rupert came againe to the Court, from whence he went towards Cyrencester on Friday morning, as before was said, he came in sight of Cyrencester on Saturday about nine of the Clocke expecting to have met there with the forces of the Lord Marquesse of Hartford, who by reason of their long and troublesome march (in which they found more difficulties then was first expected) could not reach the place till towards evening: before which time, the Princes horse and foot being much wearied, as well with their long march from Oxford thither, as their long standing on the place, having in all that time neither sleepe nor victuals; and the approaches to the Towne being found so dangerous, by the overflowing of the waters, that the foot Companies which came with the Lord Marquesse, could not come neere the workes without manifest hazard, (though they desired very eagerly to give the onset) it was thought fitting to returne, and not expose their wearied forces to the present danger, which a darke night accompanied with so many disadvantages might bring upon them. So that this action ended without losse upon either side, save that some five or six musketeers coming severally out of the Towne to dare the Prince, and draw him within reach of gun-shot, were killed upon the place for their foolish bravery, and that Captaine John Villiers, (a brother of the Viscount Lord Grandisons) having lost his way, and falling into the hands of some of the Parliaments Scouts, was taken Prisoner. Peter Heyleyn – Mercurius Aulicus (Reporting The Civil War)

Rupert returned to storm Cirencester the next month, but Hertford's regiment are not mentioned as being present.

In May, Hertford, together with Rupert's brother Prince Maurice and a small army of 1000 foot in three or four regiments and 1500 horse, marched into the West Country where they joined with Lord Hopton's forces at Chard. They served with the Western army for the remainder of the campaign, fighting at the Battle of Lansdown, defending Devizes and storming Bristol. Subsequently the regiment remained in Bristol to recruit and equip, though likely sent a detachment of musketeers to the First Battle of Newbury as part of a unit of commanded shot.

By the winter of 1643 Sir Bernard Astley had been promoted to Colonel since Hertford had returned to court at Oxford. They remained under Hopton's command into 1644, being defeated at Cheriton and marching to join the Oxford Army. The regiment served on the Cropredy and Lostwithiel campaign but it's unclear whether they were present at Second Newbury as Astley was ordered to relieve Portland, thus missing the battle.

In 1645 Astley led the regiment in skirmishes in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire before they rejoined the Oxford Army for the fateful Naseby campaign. At the Battle of Naseby Sir Bernard Astley commanded an brigade of infantry. Heavily defeated after a valiant fight against superior numbers, the Royalist foot were surrounded and surrendered to the New Model Army. Sir Bernard later accompanied Prince Rupert to Bristol, where he was mortally wounded in September 1645.

Coats, Flags and Equipment

They were issued 300 muskets from Weymouth by February 1644.2)

By a process of elimination Peachey & Prince have tentatively identified the regiment’s coat colour as white in April 1644, however this relies on some unconfirmed assumptions and is therefore not definite. At the Aldbourne Chase muster in April 1644 Richard Symonds noted that they carried green flags with red charges and illustrated one plain green flag, one with a St George canton and one with a St George canton and red device. The device looks like a ring with three tails and has been interpreted as a hawk-lure or grenade but is not a standard heraldic device, and breaks the ‘metal-on-colour’ rule generally adhered to in Civil War flag designs3).

Notable Officers

A list of the regiment's officers is shown in Officers and Regiments of the Royalist Army by Stuart Reid (Partizan Press).

William Seymour, 1st Marquis of Hertford

William Seymour (1588-1660) biographies at BCW and Wikipedia.

Sir Bernard Astley

Sir Bernard Astley (k. 1645) was the son of Sir Jacob Astley, Sergeant Major General of the King's infantry. He served as Major of his father's regiment in the Bishops' Wars, then in Ireland. By 1643 he returned to England and became Lieutenant Colonel of the Marquis of Hertford's Foot. After the Storm of Bristol in 1643 Hertford withdrew from military command and returned to Court at Oxford, Astley being promoted to Colonel after recovery from an illness. He commanded an infantry brigade of the Oxford Army during the 1644 campaign and at Naseby in 1645. Astley then accompanied Prince Rupert to Bristol, and was mortally wounded during the Second Siege of Bristol on 4th September 1645.

Strength

  • March 1644: 6 or 8 companies at Cheriton

See Also

1) Flag images by kind permission of Wargames Designs
2) Bodleian Library Rawlinson Ms D395
3) ECW Flags and Colours 1: English Foot, Stuart Peachey & Les Prince 1990, Partizan Press ISBN:0946525846