THE OXFORD ARMY
It would seem that Charles was considering clothing at least part of his
army in March 1643, and Thomas Bushell equipped the, "..liefe Guard
and three regiments more, with suites, stockings, shoes and mounteroes...".
The colours of the uniforms and the regiments receiving the issue remains
unclear. Red is traditionally the colour attributed to the Lifeguards,
and a reference is made to that colour when describing them at Edgehill,
although it is unclear as to whether this refers to the coats or the regimental
colours However, these four regiments notwithstanding, it is highly likely
that large part of the Royalist Foot at Edgehill served in their civilian
We have a number of unattributable colours and references
to colours borne by regiments in the Edgehill campaign. The Kings Life
Guard are noted as having red colours but with no further description.
These may have been of the unusual design noted for the 1645, or may have
simply have been of a 'standard' type. Other references are made to 'green
regiments, and we do have a record of some captured colours, again unattributed.
So for all of 1642, we have the following
In July suits of clothing consisting of coats, breeches and monteroes
were issued to troops in Oxford. These suits were blue or red, but unfortunately
we cannot attribute them to specific regiments. We can determine that Darcy's,
Charles Gerrard's and Lunsford's/Rupert's
wore blue, and that the King's Lifeguard wore red. It is also highly probable
that the regiments of Percy, Pinchbeck, Dyves and Pennyman were dressed
in grey/whitecoats, as befitted their Northern origin.
We have little information for this year, other than
references to 'red', 'green', 'yellow', etc. regiments or colours. The
following are all specifically mentioned but with no details other than
the field colour. The only exception to this could be that of the black
Colour which, in an ambiguous reference, can be traced to Sir Thomas Blackwell's
regiment. Members of the present day re-enactment regiment choose to interpret
this as black coats rather than Colours, but under the pressure of a certain
amount of alcohol will usually concede the point that as an Oxford Army
regiment they would probably wearing an issue blue or red suit, leaving
the way open for the attribution of black Colours for their unit.
Frustrating isn't it? However, we begin to get more concrete evidence
in 1644 and 1645.
Much of the confusion of the previous year becomes clearer, as more references
enable us to identify more coat colours. However, there is one group of
regiments who received an issue of clothing in either red or blue, but
we cannot accurately define which.
The following may have been issued either red or blue clothing: J. Astleys,
Pennymans, Lisles, Thelwells
Prior to the 1644 campaign season, the Oxford Army mustered at Aldbourne
Chase in April. Symonds took details of some coat colours and very importantly
made sketches of a number of Colours. The details are not always clear,
and there are some inconsistencies, but we gain a very good picture of
the Colours carried by the Foot. In most cases I have chose to illustrate
only one example when many more from the stand are known. A full set of
illustrations can be found in Peachey and Prince.
In addition to these there are a number of unattributed captured flags.
These may date from 1643 or 1644.
The most important point to note is that in its final campaigns, the Oxford
Foot was a composite body of old regiments, garrisons and new-levied men, formed
into brigaded to make viable battlefield units. These brigades could not have presented
anything like a uniform appearance. Apart from a reference to Rupert's regiment being
bluecoats, we have no further information to add to what is outlined below. Given that
I would suggest that red and blue uniforms would have dominated would a sprinkling of white/grey
and the odd yellow coat.
There is nothing like a spanking good victory to give us information about
the colours of the defeated army. To the Parliamentarians, Naseby was
that spanking good victory, and they proved it by parading the captured
colours of the Royalist army. A series of eyewitness accounts and an illustrated
manuscript enables us to add some more information about the Colours under
which the Oxford army marched.
The unknown colours are based upon multiple references to Blue, Green,
White, Yellow and Black colours mentioned by observers or illustrated
It is interesting to compare this version (Turmile's) of Bard's colours
with those of Symond's, and the un-named regiment in the first plate,
based on an eyewitness account.
The Stripy colours have been reconstructed from Turmile's illustrations
of what are badly damaged flags. The actual colouring of the dark stripes
is unclear, and has been presented here as black, although this is not
Rupert's Colours continue to befuddle historians, wargamers and reenactors.
There are two known sets of illustrations; Symond's (the first two), and
four fragmentary drawings in Turmile (the third). Both versions have similarities,
namely the black and while piles and the black annulets. Turmile's pictures
of very badly damaged originals seem to show a more complicated patters
and add a set of grey blue piles to the equation.
There have been many valiant attempts to impose an order and a system
on this information, alas none of it really satisfactory. The Turmile
illustrations are so fragmentary that any reconstruction based on them,
including the one illustrated can only be highly speculative.
And now we come to the King's Lifeguard, but that will have to wait until
I get a bit more time to get the images drawn!