Saturday, May 11, 2019

Lord Brooke’s Regiment of Foote... the "Dyers"

...couldn't help myself and went slightly off piste for these guys (rather than completing brigades I'd already started), purely so I could use that splendid new Vallejo purple I found at Salute..

The Brooke in question was a fascinating man..  enjoyed the research on him very much.. more properly known as Robert Greville, he was a cousin of, and the adopted son of, his unmarried uncle Fulke Greville, first Baron Brooke who clearly needed an heir.

Educated at the universities of Leiden and Paris he travelled extensively until on the death of his uncle (murdered by one of his servants in 1628*), he inherited the title and became 2nd Baron Brooke.

He married Katherine Russell, daughter of the Earl of Bedford three years later, and it was through Bedford (or was that why he married Katherine, as he was already that way inclined??) that he was introduced to the group of puritan aristocracy opposed to the King's religious reforms and leanings (Lord Saye and Seale was one of the leaders).
The man himself.. an etching by
William Henry Mote

During the Bishops War's he (and Saye and Seale) refused to provide support to the King and were imprisoned briefly. The year after the wears ended he wrote A Discourse on Episcopacy in which he attacked the political power of the bishops and the established church. Nailing his colours to the mast I think... When the Long Parliament met in 1640, Brooke was prominent in demands for the exclusion of bishops from the House of Lords.

After the "first Army Plot" of April 1641 (an alleged attempt by the army to take over Parliament and also free Stafford from the Tower as a result of discontent over Parliament sending money to the Scottish army rather than the English army it was intended for), Brooke began to stockpile weapons and ammunition.

In March 1642, he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Warwickshire, secured the county magazine at Coventry and fortified his ancestral home, Warwick Castle but came into conflict with the Earl of Northampton, the King's commissioner of array. Northampton captured a convoy of artillery that Brooke was bringing up from London and used it to besiege Warwick Castle in August. Brooke led the relieving force, that succeeded in driving back Lord Northampton and securing control of Warwickshire for Parliament.

In December 1642, he was appointed commander of Parliament's Midlands Association and proved to be a popular leader. He drove the Royalists out of Stratford-upon-Avon in February 1643 and advanced on the city of Lichfield.

During this siege, Brooke was shot dead on the 2nd March by a Royalist sniper stationed on the central tower of Lichfield Cathedral (possibly/supposedly/allegedly the first ever recorded death by sniper fire). This was a serious loss to the Parliamentary cause, many saw him as the potential replacement for the Earl of Essex.

Anyway - on to the regiment in question...  On Thursday, July 28th, 1642, volunteers from London and the Southwark of Essex registered at the New Artillery Gardens (from the Thomason Tracts E109). On August 1st, 1642, these volunteers were divided into companies and regiments for the Earl of Essex's Army, with officers appointed over them (Thomason Tracts E109) some of these were ear marked for Brooke.  At the same time Brooke was recruiting in Warwickshire in 1642, but there is some confusion, as Brooke received monies from Parliament for two separate regiments, and it's unknown whether these recruits were for a separate regiment to the same one of his name in Essex's army (recruited in London).

By the time of the compilation of “The list of the Army …..”# in early September, however, they seem to have been combined into one regiment with 6 London and 4 Warwickshire companies. Their theoretical strength from the same list was 1200 [clicky], but I would have thought it unlikely they were anywhere near that and Giglio quotes from  the Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series that on August 22nd, 1642, there was a warrant for 740 sets of clothing issued..

# "The list of the army raised under the command of his Excellency, Robert Earle of Essex and Ewe, Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Bourcheir and Lovaine: appointed captaine generall of the army, imployed for the defence of the Protestant religion, the safety of his Majesties Person, and of the Parliament; the preservation of the lawes, liberties, and peace of the kingdom, and protection of his Majesties subjects from violence and oppression. With the names of severall officers belonging to the army". The author of this, snappily entitled, tome was George Glover....

The regiment probably mustered for review on September 20th near Coventry (Thomason Tracts E239). The regiment then departed en-route to Oxford. While en-route to Sherbourne on September 22nd, 1642, it stopped to pillage one of the Queen's servants at Uxbridge on the 23rd. They were diverted, so as to reach Oxford by the 27th, along with Granthams Regiment of Foot. It appears that the regiment was about 1,000 strong at this period.

In October 1642, when the King moved towards London, the Earl of Essex's Army followed, which resulted in the Battle of Edgehill (Oct. 23rd, 1642). Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot was part of Thomas Ballard's brigade, which acted as the reserve in the center rear of the Parliamentarian order of battle. One company, however, were left to garrison Warwick Castle. The strength of the regiment for the Battle of Edgehill appears to have been about 740 strong.

The outcome of the battle left the King's Army in possession of the field since four of the foot regiments of the Earl of Essex's Army (the whole left wing) routed from the field when the Royalists advanced, although the other foot regiments (including Lord Brooke's Regt.) fought valiantly. This has been attributed to the fact that the Earl of Essex's Army was well armed with muskets and pikes (about 2:1 ratio) with a lot of the pikemen wearing corselets of armor. Whereas the King's forces were badly armed at this time (in addition, there was help from two parliament horse units as well).

Only ten battle scarred foot regiments of the Earl of Essex's Army managed to return to London after the battle. Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Edgehill, being reduced to 480 strong by mid-November, when it was stationed at Brentford along with Holle's Regiment of Foot.

Freikorps figures, for a change from the purely Peter Pig I've used up to now...

Prince Rupert attacked Brentford on November 12th, 1642, while the King was in peace negotiations with Parliament. After a stubborn resistance by Lord Brooke's and Holle's regiments, which were short of "musket, pike or powder", the barricades were stormed by the Royalists, and the parliamentarians forced onto the plain beyond Brentford, where Captain John Lilburne rallied the remnants of both regiments. The Royalists described the two regiments as butchers and dyers playing on their red and purple coats. Some were eventually forced into the Thames River, where many drowned, and Lilburne captured. Both regiments lost over 200 casualties each at Brentford.

The regiment apparently went into winter quarters after Brentford, and in 1643 took part in the siege of Lichfield, where Brooke died. The regiment did not survive long after his death, eventually being disbanded in mid-March. Although officers were retained on half pay, and at least two were sent to Baronett Northcote's Regiment at Plymouth on the 20th and 30th of March, 1643. 

Uniquely, as far as is known, Brooke’s regiment wore purple coats. In September 1642 a regiment carrying purple flags differenced by stars (mullets) marched through Oxford. A student, Anthony Wood, who wrote, witnessed their entry in Oxford on the 27th; "there were 8 or 10 auntient (standard) of them, of a purple colour, with the arms of England and 7 stars in the field. Every auntient had a hundred men under it (i.e. 100 men per company)." This is generally assumed to have been Brooke's due to the use of purple. The colour of stars was not recorded, but likely was white or yellow. "It is unknown but probably unlikely that the Warwick companies were issued any uniform never mind purple ones".

NB. Brooke had five sons. The eldest, Francis, succeeded to the title, but dying unmarried was succeeded by his brother Robert Greville, 4th Baron Brooke, who also dying without male issue the title devolved upon his younger brother Fulke, who became 5th Baron Brooke. Fulke happily did his marital duties... 

* He was murdered by one, Ralph Haywood, who believed that he had been cheated in his master's will. Haywood then turned the knife on himself. Greville's physicians treated his wounds by filling them with pig fat rather than disinfecting them, the pig fat turned rancid and infected the wounds, and he died in agony four weeks after the attack. Yikes...

24 figures - Freikorps 15mm - painted April/May 2019



  1. Very nice. You don't get to use purple very much in the wargaming world, so why not!

    1. Ta Ray - you're absoluely right.. Imperial Romans next.. :o))

  2. A nice looking unit. As Ray says, purple is pretty unusual so the unit certainly stands out. Note to self, don't dress wounds with pig fat! :-0

    1. Cheers FoGH - maggots probably a better bet for the wounds.. :o)

  3. Another fine unit Steve and an excellent choice of figures, they work really well.

    1. Thanks Lee.. they're quite nice, but not as characterful as the PP's, I think..

  4. Nice figures and the research is going well, I find it really helps to get through the painting if I can find something out about the unit in real life.

    It is entirely possible they were called dyers and butchers because they were. I believe that the volunteers were allocated up to units with some reference to their street/ area/ parish. Given that (like the shambles in York) each trade guild had a geographical area and the high number of apprentices it seems quite possible that the initial regiments had distinctive characters. I have not seen anyone except Peter Young make reference to this and since it would require a bit more than looking at the uniform illustrations I am never going to check it out. Incidentally did you know that time spent in Essex's army counted toward the completion of apprenticeship? No wonder they got so many volunteers.

    1. John - you are a veritable mine of information - I had no idea about the apprenticeship thing, and had not been able to trace the quote so I wondered where it had come from.. I just assumed it was a smart comment about the colour of their coats.. your thoughts about those original units make sense - there's almost a direct corrolary between them and the Pals Battalions...

  5. Nice looking unit and great excuse to use your salute purchase! I'm really enjoying your regimental histories,bits of which I know but lots I don't!
    Best Iain

    1. Iain - one of the facets I enjoy most is the research and reading so thanks very much - John has it I think, once you know about their history then they kind of worm their way into your affections.. :o)

  6. Interesting piece and fine addition. In the early 1970's I saw Brooke shot by Dumb Dyott at a reenactment in Lichfield. It would have been some shot I think!

  7. David - that sends me off another interesting 30 minutes - I wasn't aware of the name of the "assassin"...loads of interesting stuff here, not surprisingly there are a number of differing views on how Brooke was killed..