Colonel Richard Fielding’s Regiment of Foot

Flag Illustration 11)
Active1642 to 1645
CountryEngland
AllegianceRoyalist
ConflictsFirst Civil War
TypeFoot
ColonelsRichard Fielding
Sir Jacob Astley
Area RaisedHerefordshire
Coat ColourRed or Blue?
Flag ColourWhite or Blue
Flag DesignCinquefoils?
Field ArmiesOxford 1642-45

Also Jacob, Lord Astley’s Regiment of Foot

Royalist infantry regiment of the Oxford Army given to Sir Jacob Astley after Fielding’s disgrace at Reading

Service History

1642

  • Raised in Herefordshire
  • October: Quartered at Wornill (Woodhill?), Shropshire
  • October: Battle of Edgehill
  • 13th November: Standoff at Turnham Green
  • 9th December: Garrison of Reading

1643

  • 13th - 27th April: Besieged st Reading
  • 27th April: Surrender of Reading
  • May: Quartered at Culham Camp
  • 26th July: Storm of Bristol
  • August-September: Siege of Gloucester
  • 20th September: First Battle of Newbury
  • October: Re-occupation of Reading?
  • December: Battle of Alton (det)

1644

  • April: Mustered at Aldbourne Chase
  • May: Skirmish at Gosford Bridge
  • June: Battle of Cropredy Bridge
  • August: Battle of Lostwithiel
  • September: Second Battle of Newbury

1645

  • April: Storm of Ledbury
  • May: Storm of Leicester
  • June: Battle of Naseby
  • June: Besieged at Leicester?

Notes

Fielding’s Regiment was one of the first raised for the King, serving at the Battle of Edgehill in the brigade led by Fielding himself. In 1643 they formed part of the large garrison of Reading that was besieged by the Earl of Essex, with substantial reinforcements, in April. The Reading garrison was initially led by Sir Arthur Aston but after he was apparently rendered incapable after being hit on the head by a falling roof tile during a bombardment, command passed to Fielding. In desperate straits after two weeks siege of the town, Fielding entered into surrender negotiations, despite the King’s Army marching to his relief from Oxford. When the Royalists arrived and joined battle with Essex’s men at Caversham Bridge Fielding failed to support them, considering any action a breach of the truce he’d agreed with Essex. This resulted in defeat of the relief attempt. By the terms of the surrender the Reading garrison were allowed to march back to Oxford with colours flying, but were thoroughly plundered by the Parliamentarians as they set off. On his return to Oxford Fielding was court-martialled and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted at the last minute when Prince Charles pleaded with his father, as suggested by Prince Rupert.

With Fielding in disgrace, in May the regiment was given to Sir Jacob Astley, Sergeant-Major General of the Oxford Army infantry, and a very experienced old soldier indeed. Usually they were commanded by Lt Col Coningsby or Major Toby Bowes in the field as Astley had other duties to perform. They took part in the Oxford Army campaigns of 1643. In December 1643 a detachment was made to the composite musketeer battalion under Colonel Richard Bolle that was sent south to reinforce Hopton. Trapped by Sir William Waller at Alton Church they fought stoutly but were forced to surrender after Bolle was killed. The rest of the regiment continued with the Oxford Army through 1644 and 1645, until defeated and mostly captured at Naseby. It’s possible that some of the regiment were also in Leicester, surrendering a few days later.

Coats, Flags and Equipment

Clad in either all red or all blue suits of coats, breeches and montero hats in July 1643 along with the other Royalist foot regiments then in Oxford 2).In September 1644 they received another issue, but of unknown colour.

Astley's regiment's flags aren't known for certain, but one possibility is shown above at Flag Illustration 1. At the surrender of Reading white, red and blue flags were carried by the eight regiments of the garrison. At the Aldbourne Chase muster in 1644 Symonds noted that Astley’s and Stradling’s regiments combined had 5 blue colours differenced by white cinquefoils and one plain white colour. Both the Astley and Stradling families used cinquefoils as devices, so which flags belonged to which regiment is rather unclear, though Stradling’s regiment was the larger. A similar blue flag with cinquefoils was captured at Edgehill, so is more likely from Stradling’s. However, a blue flag with a pierced ermine cinquefoil was captured at Naseby, which muddies the waters somewhat, this is illustrated above. Sir Jacob Astley’s regiment raised for the First Bishops’ War of 1639 had sky-blue and white colours, design unknown3).

Notable Officers

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

Colonel Richard Fielding

Richard Fielding (also spelt Feilding) was appointed a Colonel of Foot for the Second Bishops' War of 1640, raising his men from Essex, Huntingdon and Bedfordshire. In the First Civil War he served as a brigadier at Edgehill, where he was captured but soon exchanged, then as second in command to Sir Arthur Aston at Reading. After the debacle resulting from his surrender to the Earl of Essex he was court-martialled and sentenced to death, but was reprieved at the last minute following pleas by Prince Charles supported by Prince Rupert. He was stripped of his command, but not his rank, and went on to fight for the Royalists as Master of the Ordnance at Cheriton under Hopton and Forth.

Jacob, 1st Lord Astley of Reading

Sir Jacob Astley (1579-1652) was a highly-experienced professional soldier who 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.

Sergeant-Major Toby Bowes

Strength

  • Edgehill: 460 men (estimated by Brigadier Sir Peter Young)
  • April 1644: 155 men (Symonds)
  • April 1644: At Aldbourne Chase mustered 7 Captains, 7 Lieutenants, 8 Ensigns, 8 Gentlemen, 14 Sergeants, 18 Corporals, 9 Drummers, 146 Soldiers 4)

See Also

1) Flag images by kind permission of Wargames Designs
2) , 3) ECW Flags and Colours 1: English Foot, Stuart Peachey & Les Prince 1990, Partizan Press ISBN:0946525846
4) British Library Harleian ms 986.

Discussion

daveplant, 18/03/2014 22:18
When Prince Rupert took command of the Royalist privateering squadron in 1649, the captain of his flagship "Constant Reformation" was also named Richard Fielding (or Feilding). Does anyone know if this is the same officer?
ivor-carr, 19/03/2014 10:30
According to Newman, Fielding had navel experience from before the civil war and died in Lisbon in 1650 so it seems likely.
daveplant, 19/03/2014 18:09
Thanks. Rupert's squadron was blockaded in Lisbon by Blake. Warburton (Memoirs of Prince Rupert & the Cavaliers) says Fielding died of a fever and was replaced as captain of the "Constant Reformation" by Capt. Kettleby.
You could leave a comment if you were logged in.