On 1st August, 1714, the Hanoverian ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneberg (also known as Hanover) succeeded to the British throne, on the death of his second cousin, Queen Anne. Despite seventeen pregnancies, Anne had no natural heir, and the man with probably the best claim, her half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart, was barred by reason of his Catholic faith.
Within the country, George’s succession was not universally popular, and a movement to overthrow him and put James on the throne soon began. In order to protect this throne, George began to increase the size of his army, and in July 1715, amongst many new regiments raised, with the following Royal Warrant:
Whereas we have thought fit that a Regiment of Dragoons’ be forthwith Raised under your command for Our Service, which is to consist of six troops of one Sergeant, two Corporals, one Drummer, one Hautbois and Thirty private Dragoons, including the Widdowsmenin each troop .
These are to authorize you by beat of Drumm or otherwise to raise so many Voluntiers as
fhall be wanting to compleat the said Regiment to the above numbers.
And when you shall have Listed fifteen men fitt for service in any of the said Troops, You are to give notice to Two of Our justices of the Peace of the town or Country wherein the same
are, who are hereby Authorized and Required to view the said Men and Certify the Day of their so doing, from which Day the said fifteen Men and the Commission and Non-Commission Officers of Such Troops are to enter into our pay, and you are to cause the said Voluntiers to be Raised and Levy’d as aforesaid to march under the Command of such Commission Officers as you fhall direct to Hertford, appointed for the Rendezvous of the
Said Regiment, and all Magistrates, justices of the Peace, Constables and other Our Officers who it may concern are Hereby required to be Assisting unto You in providing Quarters, Impressing Carriages and otherwise, as there fhall be Occasion.
Given at Our Court at St . James’ this 23rd day of July,
1715. In the first Year of Our Reign.
By His Majesty’s Command,
(Sd .) WM. PULTENEY . ‘
This Warrant was issued to Brigadier-General Humphrey Gore; he was an experienced commander of a regiment of Foot (infantry) and, most importantly, a staunch Protestant. His regiment, Gore’s Dragoons, went on in the fullness of time to become the 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales’s Own).
At the same time, Brigadier-General Philip Honywood was given the same Warrant, but based on the Essex town of Chelmsford, to raise a regiment of Dragoons. Honywood’s Dragoons went on to become the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own).
In all, thirteen regiments of Dragoons and eight of Foot were raised, one of the other Dragoon regiments being raised by Brigadier-General Dormer, and later becoming the 14th King’s Hussars, who are also now part of the King’s Royal Hussars.
It must be remembered that the Colonelcy of a regiment was not just about military command: it could also be a way of rewarding loyalty. The colonel of a Dragoon regiment received, in 1716, £12,8491. 13s. for all its pay, clothing, forage, weapons, etc. It was up to him how he spent the money (within certain basic rules), so it was common to turn a good profit! In addition, commissions were bought and sold, with a Colonel’s commission selling for up the £6,000 (£40 a year represented a good wage for a skilled male worker). A Sergeant earned 14 shillings (70 pence) a week, and a Dragoon a little over 8 shillings. Both would be deducted around 7 shillings for food and lodgings!
Both Gore’s and Honywood’s took part in the campaign which followed. On 6th September the Earl of Mar raised the Standard of James VIII and III at Braemar; by mid-October, all of Scotland north of the Firth of Forth (except Stirling) had fallen, and an uprising had begun in the west of England. Lancashire was also a source of support for the cause (as it was again in 1745 when the Young Pretender raised his Standard), and the town of Preston was taken.
Preston, with its crossing of the Ribble and its equidistance between Glasgow and London, together with its weaving industry, was a very important town, and its recapture was vital to the government. Honywood’s was one of the regiments sent to assist.
It is thought that only 50 men of the regiment took part in the successful assault on 12th November, and on foot rather than mounted. 19 casualties were suffered, and the rebels were completely defeated. The fall of Preston was the end of the cause in England, and also affected support, already diminishing in Scotland. Although the Pretender landed at Peterhead on 22nd December his cause was already lost, and he re-embarked from Montrose on 5th February. It was left to his son, Charles Edward Stuart (“The Young Pretender”) to mount another rebellion 30 years’ alter.
It should be noted that Gore’s Dragoons were not involved in the fighting at Preston, but were retained in Wiltshire, ensuring Jacobite sentiments were kept in check. Dormer’s Dragoons, however, were in the action at Preston, beginning a connection with that town which continues to this day.
And so it is that 2015 sees the tercentenary of the King’s Royal Hussars.