Bellasis regiment of foot

Commanded by Henry Bellasis

Previously known as the 'First Tangier regiment', later 2nd regiment of foot

Commanded by:
Earl of Peterborough130 September 1661
Andrew Earl of Teviot29 April 1663
Henry Norwood310 June 1664
John Earl of Middleton415 May 1668
William Earl of Inchiquin55 March 1675
Sir Palmes Fairborne610 November 1680
Piercy Kirke719 April 1682
Wiliam Selwyn818 December 1691
Sir Henry Belasyse928 June 1701
David Colyear earl of Portmore27 February 1703
Piercy Kirke (son of)19 September

In September 1661 Henry Mordaunt second Earl of Peterborough was appointed as governor of Tangier which he occupied in January 1662. In order to support him there four regiments of Foot were sent in. The first was the one Mordaunt brought with him. Another regiment was the Irish one under deputy governor Colonel Fitzgerald10. Still another regiment was the Dunkirk regiment Lord Rutherford (Earl of Teviot since April 1663) brought with him when he became governor in 166311. These then seem to have been amalgated into two regiments due to the rather high mortality rate in the garrison. The regiment we are concerned with was Teviot's. Teviot died at Tangier in 1664 and was succeeded by Colonel Norwood. He was recalled in 1669 and succeeded be the Earl of Middleton, William O'Brien second Earl of Inchiquin and then Sir Palmer Fairborne. By 1680 there was probably only one regiment left, because a new regiment was raised as second Tangier regiment. In 1682 Percy Kirke was colonel of this second Tangier regiment and became Colonel of the first regiment12. In 1684 Tangier was abandoned and so Kirke's regiment returned home. In 1685 it fought in the Battle of Sedgemoor and Colonel Kirk got a very bloody reputation by the way he handled the rebels afterwards.

Kirke's regiment during the Glorious Revolution and in Ireland

In 1688 Kirke commanded a detachment in an advanced position of James II's army at Warminster. Kirke refused to advance and was therefore arrested and sent to London. This (in)action secured Kirke's command. On 31 May 1689 Major-General Kirke commanded an expedition by his and another regiment to save Londonderry. It arrived and after some trouble it raised the siege of this town on 30 July. On 1 July 1690 Kirke's regiment was in the battle of the Boyne and later that year in the siege of Limerick. On 24 December 1690 Kirke was promoted to lieutenant-general. In June 1691 Kirke's was in the siege of Athlone. On 12 July 1691 the regiment was in the Battle of Aughrim. Later that year it was in the second siege of Limerick. After that Kirke's regiment went to the continent. Kirke died at Breda on 31 October 1691.

Selwyn's regiment in Flanders

King William appointed William Selwyn as the regiment's colonel on 18 December 1691. One of its first actions under its new commander was to re-embark and sail for England, where it guarded Portsmouth. Selwyn's was then embarked for a descent on the French coast, but this came to naught. On 22 August it landed in Oostende and proceeded to fortify Furnes and Dixmuiden. In June 1693 Selwyn's camped near the Abbey of Parck12b. In July 1693 the regiment was in the battle of Landen. Selwyn's regiment also participated in the 1695 siege of Namur. It was probably on this occassion that Selwyn was promoted to Brigadier-general. In 1696 the regiment went to London to counter Fenwick's plot. In 1697 the regiment went once again to Flanders and returned in September.

Selwyn's regiment becomes Bellasis

The Selwyn regiment was on the 5 March 1699 bill that listed the 7,000 troops that were to remain on the English establishment. It was to count 445 men under Selwyn. Later on Selwyn exchanged regiments with Henry Bellasis13. This because Selwyn had become governor of Jamaica, and the regiment up till then commanded by Bellasis was destined to go there14. Sir Henry Bellasis became colonel on 28 June 1701.

Bellasis regiment during the War of the Spanish Succession

In 1702 the Bellasis regiment was part of the expedition to Cadiz, where it landed in the first line on 15 August 1702. Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Bellasis was the second in command of the land forces under the Duke of Ormond. During the attack Port Saint Mary was plundered by the troops and Bellasis was implicated in profiting from this plunder. He was therefore arrested with a view to a court martial in England. The regiment then participated in the battle of Vigo, after which it returned to Portsmouth. In February 1703 a court-martial was held that dismissed Bellasis from the service.

On 27 February 1703 lieutenant-general David Colyear earl of Portmore was appointed as colonel of the regiment. In May 1703 a regiment designated as Portmore's was captured in Tongres. This led some to describe the gallant actions of the later 2nd Foot at Tongres, but in fact this regiment was the Earl of Portmore's regiment in the Scots Brigade serving the United Provinces. That this is the case is proven by a letter from Marlborough to the Earl of Nottingham on 8 August 1703, about sending Portmore's regiment to Portugal. In it Marlborough states: So that the four that might be send to Portugal, are Portmore, Stanhope, Stewart and Sir M. Bridges, all four old regiments, and I think very good ones: the last two are the strongest we have here, and the other two I have not seen, they being arrived since my being in the field, but I am told they are good ones. Portmore and Stanhope's should have a company added to them, if they are to be of the same strength with the other two.15. On 12 September 1703 Marlborough writes to Villeroy about exchanging the regiments taken at Tongres:C'est pourquoi je vous prie de faire venir les deux batallions pris dans Tongres etc.16.

What did happen to the Portmore regiment in 1703 was less spectacular. It sailed from England to the United Provinces in mid-April 170317. It then probably served in Zeeland or the western part of Brabant, for in September 1703 it was in Bergen op Zoom18.

In 1704 the regiment sailed to Portugal, where it arrived at Lisbon on 16 March. With the army first commanded by Schomberg and then by Galway it advanced to Ciudad Rodrigo, and then back again for winter quarters. In 1705 it participated in the siege of Valencia de Alcantara, which was taken on 8 May. This was followed by the capture of Albuquerque and the failed attempt on Badajoz. In April 1706 the regiment participated in the siege of Alcantara and on 10 April it attacked a post at the convent of St. Francis. Later it engaged in the siege and capture of Ciudad Rodrigo.

On 25 April 1707 Portmore's regiment fought in the battle of Almanza. In this disaster it lost 22 officers killed or prisoner, with lieutenant-colonel Piercy Kirke among the latter. As a measure to regain strength all servicable men who were left were transferred to other regiments and the remaining officers were sent to England to recruit. In 1708 these arrived in England. On 19 September 1710 Lieutenant-colonel Piercy Kirke (son of the previous colonel Kirke) was appointed as colonel after he purchased the regiment.

In 1711 Kirke's regiment sailed in the failed expedition to Quebec. It returned to England on 9 October. After the peace of Utrecht the regiment was styled as 'Her royal highness the princess of Wales's own regiment of Foot'. On 1 January 1741 its colonel Lieutenant-General Kirke died.

Notes

1) English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol. IV London 1898, page 4 has 30 September 1661 as date of the Earl of Peterborough's appointment (not present in the commission entry books)
2) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 9 April 1663 as date of Andrew Earl of Teviot's appointment (present in the commission entry books)
3) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 10 June 1664 as date of Henry Norwood's appointment (not present in the commission entry books)
4) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 15 May 1668 as date of John Earl of Middleton's appointment (not present in the commission entry books)
5) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 5 March 1675 as date of William Earl of Inchiquin's appointment (present in the commission entry books)
6) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 10 November 1680 as date of Sir Palmes Fairborne's appointment (present in the commission entry books)
7) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 19 April 1682 as date of Piercy Kirke's appointment (present in the commission entry books)
8) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 18 December 1691 as date of Wiliam Selwyn's appointment (present in the commission entry books)
9) English Army Lists, Vol. IV, page 4 has 28 June 1701 as date of Sir Henry Belasyse's appointment (present in the commission entry books)
10) Diary of Samuel Pepys under 29 April 1663 for Fitzgerald's regiment
11) For Rutherford / Teviot and his Dunkirk regiment see: Scottish soldiers in France in the reign of the Sun King by Matthew Glozier, published by BRILL 2004 ISBN 900413865X, 9789004138650 page 65.
12) For the First Tangier regiment, and the rest of this page see: Historical record of the second or Queen's royal regiment of Foot
12b) Europische Mercurius for June 1693 page 289 has the Lyste van het leger der Geallieerden, gecampeerd by d'Abdye van Park, onder den Koning van Engeland en den Keurvorst van Beyeren. It has the 'Seelrin' under the English regiments.
13) Historical Records of the British army London 1837, The sixth or Royal First Warwickshire Regiment page 105: In 1701 he (Bellasis) obtained the colonelcy of the Queen Dowager's regiment (now second foot) in exchange with colonel Selwyn.
14) Historical record of the twenty-second, or the Cheshire regiment of foot London 1849, page 5 has this exchange with the Jamaica details.
15) Murray, page 155: Marlborough to the Earl of Nottingham on 8 August 1703, there is also a 4 October 1703 letter from Marlborough to Heinsius mentioning the same 4 regiments.
16) Murray, page 177: Marlborough to Villeroy on 12 September 1703
17) Heinsius Archive 1703, page 161: Resume of a 17 April 1703 letter by Sauniere de l'Hermitage to the effect that the regiments of Churchill and Portmore have embarked.
18) Murray, page 181: Marlborough to Slingelandt on 16 September 1703, about Portmore's being in Bergen op Zoom.