Saturday, 13 December 2014

Development & History of Irish flags Pt8: Military flags of the 18th & 19th Centuries

Colour party of 18th Regiment of Foot battle of Amoy 1841
Compared with the 16th and 17th Centuries the 18th century was a relatively stable period in the Kingdom of Ireland, despite various external and internal threats. This is the period known as the Protestant Ascendancy (although speaking as a Presbyterian, Anglican Ascendancy would be more appropriate), secure after the Williamite-Jacobite conflict of 1688-92. As such many of the flags used would reflect this, and symbolise a different idea of what it means to be Irish, than what most people would think today. Of course towards the end of the century we saw the end of the Kingdom of Ireland when it was fully incorporated into the United Kingdom, and the birth of modern Irish Nationalism, their many and interesting flags will be covered in a separate post. The military forces of this period can be divided into three categories:

  • The regular Army
  • Independant Volunteers
  • Militia & Yeomanry

Regular Army

After the 1690s the Kingdom of Ireland was not allowed an army, it was feared that a deposed monarch would use it to oppose or threaten parliamentary democracy in mainland Great Britain, like what James II had done in the previous decade. So many of the Irish units of the former Williamite forces were either disbanded or transferred to the new British Army. (in Great Britain the monarchy was forbidden by law from having a standing army, which is why unlike the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, the British Army has no royal title.) Later new Irish regiments were raised. 

Infantry

The foot soldiers followed the standard patter of Infantry colours. Like the UK Army today these consisted of two flags for each battalion, A King's Colour (or Queen's Colour if the monarch was of the fairer sex) and a Battalion or Regimental Colour. Since 1743 these followed a strict uniformed pattern, the regulations stated that colonels could not display their coat of arms or any personal heraldic device on their regiments colours. The King's Colour was established as a Union Flag, normally with the St George Cross defaced with a royal cypher and crown. The regimental colour was the same colour as the facings of the units uniform (for example the 18th Foot would be blue). It had a (representation) of the Union Flag in the canton, The Regiment's number (often in roman numerals) appeared in the center of this flag inside a wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks. Although there were certain exceptions where a regimental insignia or badge was used instead. Most of the Irish units appear to have been part of this exception. 
At the beginning of the 1700s there were only two Irish regiments, the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot raised in 1684, and sided with the Williamites in 1688, and the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot,one of those raised in 1688 defend Enniskillen from James II.  
The18th Foot, had a blue colour with a crowned harp and the motto "Virtutis Namurcensis Praemium" (The reward of virtue at Namur). This was awarded when the regiment distinguished itself at the Siege of Namur 1695, and one of the earliest examples of a battle honour, on British regimental colours. In the second, third and fourth corners was a representation of the Lion of Nassau. This was taken from the arms of William III, who awarded it as a badge to the regiment. The crowned harp also appeared on the King's Colour. Both flags had the regiment's number in the canton. 
The 27th Foot had a buff colour, on which was a blue disk, depicting Enniskillen Castle flying the Cross of St George, with the word "Inniskilling" above it. This was the same regiment as Colonel Tiffin's Regiment, who's Williamite colours can be seen in Part 6. The badge of the castle was also awarded to the regiment by William III. The use of this badge was reauthorized in 1751. Like the standard colours it had a Union Flag in the canton, with the regimental number. The castle was also depicted on the King's Colour. In this period regiments did not display battle honours on their colours. 
For most of the century these were the only Irish Infantry regiments in the Army, These were primarily protestant units as the state feared giving Catholics weapons and teaching them how to use them effectively. However  following the threat from revolutionary France in 1793, the British government increased the size of the army and relaxed these regulations. Five new Irish regiments were formed the 83rd (County Dublin), 86th (Royal County Down), 87th (Prince of Wales Own Irish), 88th (Connaught Rangers) and 89th (Princess Victoria's). .
The colours issued to these regiments followed the pattern described earlier, although the 88th Foot colours are interesting as it follows the pattern but has some distinct differences. It had the number in arabic numerals, rather than roman ones. It also had a regimental device of a crowned harp and motto "Quis Separabit" (who shall separate us, same motto as the order of St Patrick).The colours of the 89th are particularly interesting as having a black field with a red cross. A history of the regiment's colours can be seen here.
 In 1810 the 86th (Leinster) Regiment of Foot, were the first British troops to storm the walls of Bourbon, they did not have a flag to replace the French one over the garrison. So the Leinsters took their colour off their pole and ran it up the flagpole. As far as I know this is the only time British Army colours have been used like this. In 1837 the 87th Regiment of Foot charged the French at the battle of Barrosa and became the first British Army unit to capture an French Imperial Eagle standard. The eagle became incorporated in their badge and the badge of their successor the Royal Irish Fusiliers and is still worn in the ceremonial uniform of the Royal Irish Regiment, and the eagle is still possessed by the regiment.
video
Following the Napoleonic Wars, the colours started to become more elaborate, with more and more regiments displaying their battle honours on their regimental colours. Initially these were special badges with scrolls, however this system was soon replaced with scrolls only.
However they remained a practical piece of equipment for identifying regiments and as rallying points. After the 1860s regiments were known by name only, and so the practice of displaying the regimental number on the colour was phased out, and replaced with a regimental badge. By the end of the 1800s colours had become very flamboyant, however following changes in how battles were fought during the Boer Wars, they were no longer carried into battle and were/are only symbolic and ceremonial.

Cavalry 

King's Guidon 5th Dragoons 1751
There were only two mounted Irish raised regiments the 18th Century army, the 5th and 6th Dragoons raised for the Williamite cause between 1688-90. These became the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers and the celebrated 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons (immortalized in the ballad "fare ye well Enniskillen", a regiment that saw service throughout the 1700s, served with Wellington in Spain and at Waterloo and campaigns in the Crimea, and who's descendant regiment (5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards) would see service in both world wars and distinguish itself in Korea.) There were various other Cavalry regiments that were originally raised in England, however after spending most of the eighteenth Century garrisoned in Ireland, they took on many Irish recruits. Some of the longest serving in Ireland from the periods of 1698 -1793 were 1st (Irish/Blue) Regiment of Horse and the 2nd (Green) Regiment of Horse. 
Regulations on the flags of mounted units were introduced in 1743 (and amended in 1751) stated that calvary standards should be of damask, embroidered and fringed with gold or silver, those of dragoon regiments were made of silk.  
2nd guidon of 2nd Regiment of Horse 1750
Each regiment bore three standards (called guidons) the 1st the King's (or Colonels) standard was carried by the right flank squadron. This was crimson with a floral representation of the Union of Great Britain an entwined thistle and rose (a shamrock was also on some and on all after 1800) in the centre; beneath which was the royal motto "Dieu et mon Droit" (God and my right). on the first and fourth corners was the white horse of the Hanoverians, the arms of the royal dynasty ruling Great Britain & Ireland at the time. The number of the regiment in gold or silver numerals on the colour of the regiment's uniform facings were on the second and third.
1840 3rd Guidon of  5th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Enniskillen Castle
the second or Lieut-Colonels guidon and third or majors guidons were the colour of the regiments facings (blue for the 1st horse and 5th Dragoons, Green for 2nd Horse and yellow for 6th Dragoons). The second guidon was carried by the left flank squadron and the third by the centre squadron. In the centre often (but not always) on a crimson disc surrounded by thistles, roses and shamrocks was either the regiment badge or its number. the white horse emblem was on the first and fourth corners and the entwined flowers on the second and third. The third guidon was distinguished from the second by a number "3" below the central emblem. This style of guidon has changed little and is still used by regiments with a cavalry history or culture today. Dragoon Guidons were often swallow tailed or notched in the fly, where those of standard cavalry were often square.
2nd Guidon 5th Dragoons 1751
There were various short lived Irish regiments in these two centuries, including but not limited to; 100th Regiment of Foot (Prince Regent's County of Dublin Regiment) 1804-1814) 102nd Regiment of Foot (Irish Rangers) 1793-1795. 134th (Loyal Limerick) Regiment of Foot 1794 -1796. 135th (Limerick) Regiment of Foot which was raised and disbanded in 1796 and the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) 1881-1922. Their colours followed the patterns described above. Other Irishmen served in other military units, whose flags (if any at all) are outside the scope of this series. In fact up to a third of soldiers in the British Army of the nineteenth century is thought to have been Irish. 
Detail from the artwork "the Volunteer Furniture"

Independant Volunteers 

There were numerous Volunteers Companies in Ireland throughout the eighteenth Century, The Volunteers were not a formal part of the army or the state authorities. They were organised by the gentry and influential citizens, and their ranks were mostly made up of the middle classes. They're role was to defend their homes and property from foreign raiders (their were examples of French raids on Irish soil throughout the century as well as planned and attempted raids by the fledgling US Navy) and domestic rebels. They were mostly however political and social organisations offering men look brave and patriotic uniforms which the ladies liked, as well as positions of respect and authority, Their flags like their uniforms, unit sizes and equipment varied. There were however some common themes. The largest battalions and brigades copied the styles of the colours of the regular army. A Union Flag, and a flag with a badge or insignia, with an interpretation of the union flag in the canton. However those of smaller corps and companies were often completely different and varied, with almost no uniformity at all. Some were painted silk, others rather elaborate embroidered flags. We are fortunate that many volunteer flags have survived hanging in the halls of private estates or carefully kept by family members, and are now carefully cared for by museums. The symbolism on them varied greatly, one of the best pictures of Volunteers, is the painting by  Francis Wheatley. which depicts the Volunteers parading on College Green in Dublin. It shows two flags being carried side by side, on red the other blue. The detail is not recorded but one appears to show a shield with a red saltire on white field. A possible St Patrick's Cross or more likely the Fitzgerald arms, The Lord Fitzgerald was a colonel of a Dublin Volunteer regiment.
There were far too many volunteer units who's flags have survived to list and show them all, like the army colours and standards, I will list the common patterns and display some of the more unusual ones.
Most flags had a red, blue or green field. The most common symbol being a crowned harp, although there were two notable versions of this badge. One was the harp with the imperial state crown, the other replaced the state crown with an interpretation of a more ancient celtic type crown. This could reflect some units might have seen their primary loyalty to their country rather than King, or maybe they wanted to show their loyalty but not being an official state body, refrained from using the state crown, perhaps it was nothing more than artistic? The badge was usually on a central panel in a wreath of shamrocks or bay leafs or both. This is demonstrated on the flag of the Pason Volunteers, preserved in Bir Castle Co Offlay.
Human figures were also popular. Of these the most common was the personifications of Hibernia and Britannia. The similarities of these figures (in the flags at least) is interesting. Both show a seated female figure generally in armour. She is seated with the national symbol. Britannia has a Union Jack shield, Hibernia a harp. They both have a shafted weapon over their shoulder, Britannia has a trident, symbolising her rule of the sea, Hibernia a spear with a liberty cap, symbolising freedom. They are often offering something with their other had, for Britannia its an olive sprig of peace, Hibernia is varied from shamrocks and olive branches, the one below has the staff of Moses which along with the ship represents prosperity  
The other common Human figure was that of a volunteer, these appeared on many flags such examples include the Royal Glin Hussars, Tullamore True Blue Rangers (you don't get unit names like that anymore) and seen here the Braid Volunteers, the central panel of who's flag had a volunteer loading a musket it was flanked by a wreath of bay and shamrocks, itself flaked by trophies of flags guns and shaft weapons, and muskets above these around the wreath was the motto or slogan "Liberty is here in My country" and below the panel was the unit name:
The Killeavy Volunteers of Co Down had a picture of what is presumed to be William III. Many of these units would have been exclusively Protestant, and at this stage the memory of "King Billy" was already becoming the Personification of Protestant Ireland. As such many flags had references to him. the Ballymena Volunteers of Co Antrim had a harp on their flag but it was flanked by the letters and Numerals of "W" and "III." It is also thought that the Killeavy flag might have had a version of the Union Flag in the canton although this is no longer the case:
Many of these flags were also double sided, often with a crowned harp on one side and a local or unit badge on the other. For example the guidon of the mounted branch of the Tullamore True Blue Rangers:

Other Volunteer flags of interest is that of the Ennis Volunteers, it had the local coat of arms surrounded by some trophies as their badge. A harp on green field is in the canton, rather than a Union Flag, less than a handful of flags (that we know of) did this:
The motto around the harp translates to "For King often, For Country always." Another most fascinating flag is that of the County Sligo Light Horse. This colorful double sided flag has a crowned harp on a black and red saltire field with the letters "CSLH" on a one side. The other side is pale blue with a Sun coming out from behind clouds with a rainbow. This is fascinating as it is before the foundation of modern Nationalism, and could possibly be an origin of the Sunburst used in many nationalist flags historic and modern, which will be covered later in this series. The motto translating as "After the clouds Sun" suggest it has the same symbolism of a new day.

Militia & Yeomanry 

Militia

The formation of the Irish Militia by 1793 effectively ended the reign of the Volunteers (who's numbers were already dwindling due to political divisions and government restriction like the Gunpowder Act ans Convention Act). The Militia and Yeomanry effectively took over the role of the Volunteers and Unlike the Volunteers was an official branch of the military, The Militia was an organised Division of infantry battalions all over the country, who's members trained and drilled in their spare time (forerunners of today's Army Reserve & Reserve Defence Forces) they would be called up to serve alongside their regular army colleges in a time of crisis like an invasion or rebellion. Like the regular army each battalion followed a standard practice for colours. Each had a king's Colour that was a Union Flag, and a battalion colour which was the colour of their uniform facings with a Union Jack in the canton. However unlike the regulars their does not seem to have been a standard practice for the devices and insignia displayed on them or of the material they were made of or how they were made. Most seem to have displayed a royal cypher or battalion name rather than a number. We are fortunate in that the National Museum of Ireland has in its possession remnants of some Militia colours. These are mostly second generation flags presented after the 1801 Act of Union. We know they were not the first because their is a newspaper article that describes a Militia battalion being presented with new colours in Armagh:
"The regiment was drawn up in funeral procession before Major Cope's lodgings, commanding at Ennis at present. The ancient banners were given out, with which  they proceed, the band playing solemn dirges, to the exercise ground. Here they formed a hollow square, in the centre of which the colours were burned and the ashes interred, over which the regiment fired three rounds. This ceremony concluded, the regiment again formed a hollow square and were presented with the new standards."
 Some colours that survie are:
  • The County Clare Militia Battalion
The King's Colour is a union flag with an imperial crown in the centre, below this is a scroll with inscription "Clare Militia."
 The battalion colour is yellow with a representation of the union flag in the canton, The centre peice is embroided, with a red disc, inside which is the royal cypher and the inscription "Clare Militia." Around this is a union wreath of thistles, roses and shamrocks topped with a crown.

  • Kildare Militia
The King's Colour has the wreath ensigned with a crown. Inside this is a shield which has the legend "Kildare or IV Battalion Militia." The Battalion colour is black with defaced with a red cross, and union jack in the canton. within an arrangement of scrolls is "Kildare Militia IV" above a large shamrock. This is surrounded by a wreath symbolising the union. Similar to the 89th Regiment of Foot.

  • North Mayo Militia
The colour of this battalion is a St George Cross with union flag in the canton. Within a wreath of thistles, roses and shamrocks is the legend "North Mayo Militia." This design of colour was common with units that had white facings. The red cross breaking up the white. The King's Colour doesn't seem to have survived so we are unsure what (if any) devices the Union Flag had.

  • Galway Militia
the colours of the 11th Battalion of Militia, are about five feet square. The King's Colour has an embroidered centrepiece. This is a shield with the Royal Cypher on a shield. This is surrounded with the union wreath, ensigned with a crown. beneath the shield is the battalion number XI and a scroll inscribed "Galway Militia." The battalion colour is yellow with a union flag in the canton, this has a shield with the royal cypher surrounded by the union wreath ensigned with the crown. Above this is a scroll with "Gallway Militia." The number below XI is below.
The Wicklow Militia is almost exactly the same as Galway's but are painted rather than embroided, it appears the some units were prepared to spend more on their colours than others.

Yeomanry Cavalry

The Yeomanry Corps was a sort of military police force, who's primary role was to maintain law and order, although like the Militia they would be expected to fight beside the regular army during a rebellion or invasion. The Yeomanry was made up of both mounted and infantry units.  There seems to be a standard design that was loosely followed. Some of these flags survive in both the Ulster Museum and National Museum of Ireland. These flags were double sided, with a royal badge of some description on one side, a royal cypher, coat of arms or crowned harp, and unit badge on the other. Like the regular cavalry most seem to have had a horse of Hanover in the corners.  The Londonderry Cavalry for example had the royal cypher on the red side, and rather unusually had a pre 1801 union flag in the canton (clearly presented before the Act of Union.). On the blue side within a wreath of bay leafs and shamrocks is the Derry coat of arms. On a scroll above is the inscription "L:Derry(short for Londonderry) - Cavalry between this is a latin motto translating as "for hearths and homes." Beneath the arms is the city motto "Vita Veritas Victoria" (Life, Truth, Victory). The cavalry of neighbouring Coleraine had a similar flag, except there is no union flag, and it bears the Coleraine coat of arms. These two are the only flags without a Hannover badge. 
The Lower Iveagh Cavalry, seems to have had troops guidons as two first and second troop guidons survive. These flags are blue on both sides. One side has a wreath of oak leafs, in which is inscribed "Lower Iveagh Yeoman-Cavalry and the troop number.  In wreaths on the 1st and 4th corner is the badge of hannover, the Royal cypher on the others. The reverse has a belt inscribed "For our King, Laws and Constitution." within this is a crowned harp. The troop number is in the 2nd and 3rd coroners and royal badge in the 1st and 4th. 
the Rathfarnham Calvary from Co Dublin, is a standard rather than guidon. It is not clear if there was any significance between a standard and guidon like in the regular cavalry. On the blue side was the complete achievement of the Royal Coat of Arms of the 1714-1800 version (it is worth noting that the Irish quarter is the only quarter of the arms that has remained unchanged since 1603). In each quarter is the royal cypher. The red side has a crowned harp, (the inside of which is blue for heraldic reasons) above and below which were two scrolls, reading "For King and Constitution" and "Rathfarnham Calvary." In the 1st and 4th coroner is the badge of the Royal House and a St Patrick's Star in the 2nd and 3rd. 

Yeomanry Infantry

There are at least four Yeoman Infantry colour that have survived these are the colours of the Belfast Battalion and the King's Colours of the Templepatrick battalion and South Circular Road Battalion form Dublin.
The Belfast King's Colours has the Royal arms (of 1801) in the centre, Below which is the King's cypher GRIII. The battalion colour is blue with a Union Flag in the canton. The centre is a shield inscribed "Belfast Yeomanry Formed October 1796" This is surrounded by a union wreath ensigned with a crowned harp.
The Templepatrick battalion's King's Colours have a royal coat of arms surrounded by the Union wreath, above this is a scroll with "Templepatrick In." The reverse of this flag feature the coat of arms of the unit captain, the Earl of templetown, and the motto "Virtutis avorum preamium" (The reward of ancestral valour) it appears the restrictions of displaying personal arms on colours did not apply to the Yeomanry as it did the army.
The South Circular Road Yeomanry King's Colours has a shield with the royal cypher, surronded by the union wreath ensigned with the crown. Below this is the unit name.
Another unidentified set of colours feature a pre-1801 Union Flag with no markings, and as the unit flag a yellow flag, with a union flag in the canton. The centrepiece is an image of William III on horseback as often depicted. Above and below are two scrolls one reading "In HoHonorf his virtues" the other "Glorious Boyne 1690" in reference to the great battle of the Glorious Revolution. This unidentified set of colours is thought to belong to either the Cork Yeoman Infantry, Bandon Boyne Yeoman Infantry or possibly a Volunteer Company.

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