THE 1644 CAMPAIGNS
While in garrison at Oxford, the rank and file, as well as some of the company officers were billeted in Oxford at St. Aldate’s and Pembroke colleges. It’s fortunate that a survey of the inhabitants of that parish was carried out in early 1644. This gives some valuable information on the composition of the Lifeguard at that time.
As could be expected, the senior officers of the regiment lived in some style. The Earl of Lindsey, Lord Willoughby, is recorded as having a household consisting of four gentlemen, three footmen, a cook and groom, and two other servants. Lieutenant-Colonel Leighton had two servants, and Major Markham had one. Captain John Windebanke, who as second son of Sir Francis Windebanke, a former Secretary of State, came from a well-to-do background, and lived with his wife, two men, and two maidservants.
The remaining company commanders do not seem to have had any servants at all, but Lieutenants Webster, Aubrey, Godwin, Cranfield, and Ensign Hubberley, each had one servant. Since all were sons of gentry, this seems quite appropriate, while a number of the company commanders were professional soldiers from less well-to-do backgrounds. In addition to Captain Windebanke, Lieutenants Cotton and Aubrey, and Ensign Masterman and Sergeant Benfield are all listed as having their wives with them.
In addition, the survey gives a number of other interesting glimpses of the Lifeguard. One resident of St. Aldates, John Miller, was described as “in reversion Taylor for ye Guard.” Also listed are Drum-Major Francis Barnes and Mr. Thornell “Surgeon to the Lifeguard.”
It was natural of course, due to the many diseases of the period that soldiers sometimes died in their billets rather than on the field of battle. It is recorded that a soldier of the Lifeguard died while lodging with Thomas Wright of St. Aldates. An entry in the Accounts reads, “Paid for a shroud for a soldier that died at Thomas Wright’s on the 30th June 1644, 4s.”
By January 1644, the strength of the regiment was down to about 350 men, not including officers, which it mustered at Aldbourne Chase (10 April 1644). Little is known of the part played by the Lifeguard in the campaigns of 1644, except that on April 6th, 1644, 350 of the Lifeguard were among the troops sent from Oxford to reinforce Lord Hopton after his defeat at the battle of Cheriton by Sir William Waller. Although efforts were already in progress to re-equip the Lifeguard for the coming campaign season, and on the April 30th, 1644, the regiment was issued with 132 muskets with bandoliers, and 68 “long pikes.” It is interesting that in this warrant the Earl of Lindsey, the Lifeguard’s Colonel, is described as “Lieutenant General of our Guards.”
The Lifeguard was present at the battle of Cropredy Bridge (28 June 1644), as it was one of the regiments that garrisoned Oxford, although no details are known of its part in the battle.
When the King marched into Cornwall for his Lostwithiel campaign, the Lifeguard naturally went with him. At the various actions in Lostwithiel, the Lifeguard was heavily involved it seems. At about 3 AM on August 31st, Essex’s cavalry (led by Sir William Balfour, Major-General of Horse of Essex’s Army) broke out of Royalist cordon via the Liskeard Road. The pursuing Royalist horse (under the Earl of Cleveland) was eventually held up by some of Essex’s Dragoons (commanded by Captain Abercrombie) on September 1st. The dragoons had barricaded themselves into a house in the village of Lee, and therefore brought the Royalist pursuit to a halt. Eventually an unknown lieutenant arrived with a “gallant little detachment” of the King’s Lifeguard of Foot and stormed the dragoons’ position. However, the delay was sufficient to allow Essex’s cavalry to reach Saltash and make good their escape by being ferried across to Plymouth the next day.
During the attack on the Parliamentarian left flank, the King’s Lifeguard were part of the battalion under
From recordings from the actions involving the Lifeguard during the campaign in Cornwall, it is known that the regiment returned 35 sick soldiers at Boconnoc and Liskeard, as follows:
My Lord’s Company 6 4
Lt-Colonel’s Company 2 2
Major’s Company 4 3
Capt. Legge’s Company 1 0
Capt. Ffoxe’s Company 1 0
Capt. Levinz’s Company 4 0
Sir Henry Radley’s Company 1 3 (inc. Sgt. Will Parsons)
Capt. Stacey’s Company 2 0
Capt. Johnson’s Company 1 (Drummer) 2 (Ens. Hubbard & Cpl. Willyson)
Also probably present during the campaign, were the companies of Captains Beeton and Fisher. It therefore seems that at this time the Lifeguard had 11 companies, one of these was probably Captain Legge’s company of firelocks, which was normally employed to guard the baggage train.
The Lifeguard was re-issued with clothing in Devon in September, 1644, as the King’s Army was returning from the capture of the Earl of Essex’s Army at Lostwithiel. Devon was to provide 3,000 suits with shoes and stockings on September 18th, 1644, “against the Winter.”
The clothing was received by the King’s Army at Chard in Somerset between September 23rd and 30th, 1644. From the haste with which this issue was organized, it is likely that much of he clothing issued was of rapidly made garments, and therefore probably did not last long on the soldier’s bodies.
It should be noted here that as with the Earl of Essex’s Army (Parliament), a pattern of issuing fresh supplies of clothing at the start of winter seems to have been normal for the King’s Army as well.
In Cornwall the regiment marched in the first tertio, under Colonel Thomas Blague. No doubt it fought in the same formation at the battle of Second Newbury (27 October 1644), but again, nothing is known of its fortunes that day. The Earl of Lindsey was among those who accompanied the King on his forced march to Bath on the “sad night” after the battle, from which the effective command of the regiment passed to Lieutenant-Colonel Leighton.
More recruits were being absorbed into the Lifeguard, since on October 11th, the Earl of Bath wrote to his wife that, “your servant Tom Bold is now in a company of the Life Guards in a red suit and montero which they wear.”