Sir Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foote
Being a regimental history
By Robert Giglio from ECWSA Collections
Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot, known as the "London Regiment", was principally raised from the area around London, mainly Warwickshire.

Robert Deveraux, the 3rd Earl of Essex, born 1591, was the son of Elizabeth I's piqued favorite, and had gained considerable experience in war at and by sea. On July 12th, 1642, he was made Lord General of the Army of Parliament. The army included 20 regiments of foot that were raised shortly thereafter for him. This was to be the main field force to support the Parliamentary cause in its dispute with King Charles I. Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot was one of these 20 regiments of foot. The regiment was unusual in that it was the only regiment on either side to have been issued with purple coats. Otherwise, it received the same issued clothing and equipment as other regiments of the Earl of Essex's Army.

On Thursday, July 28th, 1642, volunteers from London and the Southwark of Essex registered at the New Artillery Gardens (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).

The regiment received levy money from Parliament, which was due to the order made by the Committee of Lords and Commons for the Safety of the Kingdom on August 6th, 1642, ".... That all the soldiers shall have delivered unto them at their first marching coats, shoes, shirts, caps and snapsacks, in all to the value of 17 shillings for every man...." (Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series).

On August 22nd, 1642, there was a warrant for 740 sets of clothing. Of this, 740 were received, with the following distributed - 740 shirts, 634 pairs of shoes, and 163 snapsacks. A further warrant for 24 pairs of shoes, and 3 shirts, was received on September 16th, 1642, with a further 200 coats, shirts, caps, snapsacks, and pairs of shoes for Lt.-Colonel Henry Billingsly, and received by Robert Brook on December 2nd, 1642.

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. 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 color, 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)." Therefore, 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.

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. 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 Lord Brooke died (Mar. 2nd, 1643). 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.

Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot was not one of the best in the Earl of Essex's Army, nor the luckiest, as it only lasted about seven months, and involved only in three or four actions.

Officers of Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot

The following is the list of officers that are known to have been in the regiment.

Colonel, Lord Brooke Killed at siege of Lichfield (Mar. 2nd, 1642).
Lt.-Colonel Sir Edward Peto (Chesterton, Warwickshire)
Sgt.-Major Walter Ailworth A reformado Captain, and the only officer of any experience in the regiment.
Capt. Thomas Fitch
Capt. John Lilburne The great English political activist, known as 'Free-born John', was certainly at the Battle of Edgehill. The Earl of Warwick said (Nov. 11th, 1642) that he was "a man both faithful, able, and fit to be Captain of a Troop of Horse (having showed his valor at the Battle of Kenton), and reported "he kept the field all night." Taken prisoner at Brentford (Nov. 12th, 1642) after a brave resistance.
Capt. Ralph Cotsforth
Capt. Thomas Hickman
Capt. Nicholas Warren
Capt. Sambridge
Capt. John Bridges Governor of Warwick Castle; later became Colonel of the regiment after Lord Brooke's death (Mar. 2nd, 1642).
Capt.-Lt. John Ashfield Had been chosen as an Ensign for the Irish Expedition (1640), but not known if he possessed any actual military experience.

Regimental Clothing & Equipment Issued

Warrants for the issue of clothing and equipment to Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot is scarce, but what is known to have been issued were as follows:

Items Issue Date Source
740 sets of clothing
(purple coats, shirts, caps, snapsacks, and pairs of shoes)
costing 17 shillings per man.
22 Aug.1642 State Papers
24 pairs of shoes, and 3 shirts. 16 Sept.1642 State Papers
200 coats, shirts, caps, snapsacks, and pairs of shoes. 2 Dec.1642 State Papers

>From other warrants it is apparent that every soldier of the Earl of Essex's Army was issued with a sword, most of which were bought from the Hounslow Factory of Benjamin Stone, with sword belts and scabbards issued with them.

Other warrants for the Earl of Essex's Army show that the Tower officers, Owen Rowe and John Bradley, were appointed to purchase new arms and armor from various suppliers in London, and in France and Holland, for a total of 12000 muskets with rests, 6000 pikes, and 6000 full corselets of armor (incl. gorgets, tassets & helmets). By the beginning of October, 1642, the following arms & armor had been purchased: 2690 muskets, 3956 rests, 5580 pikes, and 2331 full corselets of armor (incl. gorgets, tassets & helmets). By the end of the March 19513 bandoliers (over half of them with tin-plate charges), 261 drums, 21189 swords, plus 3346 more muskets and 599 more full corselets of armor had been purchased.

The pikes purchased were 16 feet long and 1.5 inches in diameter (obviously being wholly or partially tapered as was usual), but were no doubt cut down a few feet to make them more manageable by the soldiers.

The bastard muskets issued referred to their being of a non-standard bore size, rather than the one desired, but obviously pressed into service anyway. It is documented that musketeers would have to chew down their lead bullets to make them fit non-standard bore sizes.

The tin-plate bandolier charges is interesting to note, in that these were considered more safe than the usual wooden ones, but Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot would not have received these, as it would have gone to the most senior regiment of the army, the Lord General's own regiment.


There were quoted as being "purple color with the arms of England and 7 stars in the field".

The stars were the devices, and were to be one for each captain's company, and while no mention is made, possibly the stars were white. It is presumed that the student described the Seventh Captain's colour.

Therefore, a reconstructed colour would be:

Purple field with white stars; St.George's canton;
Purple sleeve; Purple tassels & cords of 2' length

If normal rules of colours were followed, as is presumed, then the Colonel's company colour would have been a plain purple field without the St. George's canton; the Lt-Colonel's company colour would have been a plain purple field with a St. George's canton; and the St-Major's company colour would have been a purple field with St. George's canton and a white flame blazon.

Uniform & Equipment

The following is a complete list of the uniform and equipment of the regiment if reconstructed in the ECWSA.

Issued Items: Purple wool soldier's coat lined white, linen shirt, Monmouth cap, shoes, leather snapsack, soldier's style sword (with wide epee stage blade) with leather baldric and scabbard. Note: all leather is vegetable tanned; Monmouth caps are in two styles depending on the soldier type (skull cap for pikemen and Alexander the Great 'blue-bell' with brim for musketeers).

Pikemen Arms: Ash pike with steel tip, blackened pikemen's pot helmet, back/breast armor with tassets and gorget all blackened.
Musketeer Arms: Matchlock musket with rest, triangular priming flask, leather covered oil bottle, vegetable tanned leather bandolier with 12 wooden charges.
Sergeant's Arms: Clothing was exactly as for soldiers, which is very apparent from the warrants, plus the following:
Silk (100%) tawny-orange sash (no fringe), steel halberd with red fringe 6" long, pikemen's style helmet (possibly decorated with brass studs), and either a pikemen's full corselet of armor, or officer's style gorget (bigger with brass studs).
Lieutenant's Arms: Clothing was at the officers' discretion, plus a silk (100%) tawny-orange sash (possibly with fringe), a steel partisan with red fringe 6" long, and a steel officer's style gorget with brass studs. Note: officers usually wore proper buff coats and possibly additional armor at their discretion.

Non-issued Items: White wool stockings, common colored wool breeches, wood or ceramic eating ware, common colored wool blanket, and personal items (clay pipe, common cards, dice, etc.). Optional are oversocks (either white or gray 'rowling' wool, or heavy linen boothose types), and vegetable-tanned leather gauntlets.

For skirmish swordplay the ECWSA requires the following items for safety protection: Vegetable tanned leather gauntlets, 3-weapon fencing mask, and a 6 oz. vegetable tanned leather jerkin (short buff coat), plus the soldier's coat must be lined with canvas duct as per ECWSA standards.

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