Colonel Robert Tichborne’s Regiment of Foot, The Tower Guards

Active1647 to 1650
ConflictsSecond Civil War
Irish Confederate War
ColonelRobert Tichborne
Simon Needham
William Shambrook
Thomas Rainsborough
George Cooke
Area RaisedLondon
Coat ColourRed
Flag ColourSea green??
Flag DesignUnknown
Field ArmiesFairfax 1648
Cromwell 1649-50

Later Colonel Simon Needham’s, William Shambrook’s, Thomas Rainsborough’s and George Cooke’s Regiment of Foot

Regiment of foot raised to guard the Tower of London, serving at Colchester in 1648, then in Ireland

Service History


  • August: Tichborne commissioned as colonel, 600 men raised in 6 companies to guard the Tower of London, incorporating the Artillery Guard of Firelocks of the New Model Army
  • October: Taken onto the strength of the army


  • April: Increased to 1000 men in 10 coy
  • May: Tichborne replaced by Needham, 7 companies of the regiment march out to join Fairfax, 3 remain at the Tower
  • June to August: Siege of Colchester (7 coy)
  • June: Needham killed in action at Colchester, replaced by Shambrook
  • July: Shambrook killed in action at Colchester replaced by Rainsborough
  • March to Doncaster
  • October: Skirmish at Doncaster, Rainsborough killed
  • November: Return to the army at St Albans
  • December: George Cooke promoted to Colonel


  • March: Quartered at Guildford
  • April: Selected by lot to serve in Ireland
  • August: Shipped from Minehead to Ireland, despite a mutiny
  • August: Fail to land in Munster
  • August: Arrive at Dublin
  • September: Storm of Drogheda?
  • October: Siege of Wexford
  • Garrison of Wexford


  • Garrison of Wexford?
  • January: Taking of Deeps Castle, Killurin?
  • April to May: Siege of Clonmel?


  • Garrison of Wexford?
  • May: Recruits being sent from England1)



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. A history of the regiment is also shown online at The Blew Regiment LTB website.

Sir Thomas Fairfax ordered the regiment raised to guard the Tower of London in 1647, appointing Tichborne as Colonel. The regiment included the Artillery Guard of the New Model Army. During the Second Civil War their six companies were increased to ten and the regiment was led out to the siege of Colchester by its new colonel, Simon Needham. At Colchester Needham and his replacement, Colonel Shambrook, were both killed in action and Thomas Rainsborough was appointed Colonel. Shortly afterwards Rainsborough was also killed in a skirmish at Doncaster and the regiment was given to George Cooke.

Cooke led the regiment to Ireland where it served with Cromwell at the siege of Wexford. Cooke was then appointed governor of Wexford and the regiment likely remained with him for a time. Firth and Davies suggest that it was drawn out into Cromwell’s army again in 1650 and was reduced into Colonel Culme’s regiment of Irish foot after losses at the siege of Clonmel. However the regiment was still apparently in existance in May 1651.

Coats, Flags and Equipment

Red coats. The Levellers adopted sea-green ribbons in remembrance of Rainsborough and this has been taken as a clue to the colours of his regimental flags but is highly conjectural. In June 1649 Cooke's regiment were given £20 to buy new flags, colours and design unknown.

Notable Officers

Robert Tichborne

Simon Needham

Served as Lieutenant Colonel of Sir William Constable’s Northern Regiment of Foot at Marston Moor , then raised men for and briefly served in Ireland. He was killed during the initial attack at Colchester’s Headgate on the 13th of June 1648.

William Shambrook

Shambrook was killed at Colchester on the 5th of July 1648. The Parliamentarians blamed the Royalists for using poisoned or chewed bullets.

Thomas Rainsborough

George Cooke

George Cooke (1610-1654) had emigrated to America in 1635, settling in Boston. By 1646 he had returned to England and was Lieutenant Colonel of Needham’s previous regiment in Ireland. Appointed governor of Wexford in 1649, he pursued a scorched earth policy, aiming to starve the ‘unsubdued Irish’. He was killed in a minor cavalry skirmish with Captain Nash’s Confederate horse near Leighlin and Gowran in April 1652.

Officer List

A quartering bill from the St Albans area in December 1648 2) mentions

  • Lieutenant Colonel Cook
  • Captain Gray


  • August 1647: 600 men in 6 companies
  • April 1648: Increased to 1000 men in 10 companies
  • Summer 1648: 7 companies with around 400 men at Colchester, 3 remain at the Tower

See Also

The regiment are re-enacted by The Blew Regiment LTB of the Sealed Knot.

1) N.A. SP28/125/pt1/56
2) N.A. SP28/156/n.f.