When Queen Henrietta Maria landed at Bridlington Bay on February 15th, 1643, she brought with her large quantities of munitions for 10,000 troops, even cannon, all purchased from money received after having pawned the Crown Jewels on the Continent. Besides munitions there was both English and foreign volunteers with the Queen, to serve the Royalist cause.
The Queen's arrival led to an upsurge in the recruiting for the Royalist cause in the North of England. It was natural that some of these recruits should be formed into a unit of horse (and also of foot), named after the Queen herself. The Queen's Lifeguard of Horse therefore was formed in early 1643, and principally in the North of England, and while it did include many French volunteers, due quite naturally to the Queen's nationality, these were in fact only a minority when compared to English in the unit, but what makes this unit notable was that it had the largest amount of Frenchmen of any horse unit.
The regiment came south to Oxford with the Queen's convoy of arms on April 15th, 1643. The Queen's Lifeguard of Horse was uniformed exactly as any other horse regiment of the time, but is unknown whether they would have had carbines like King's Lifeguard of Horse were known to have. The regiment then became part of the Oxford garrison, and subsequently the King's Oxford Army, which it served with on the campaigns of 1644.
The regiment's first Colonel was Henry Jermyn (later Lord St. Albans), who had returned from Holland with the Queen. He was the Queen's favorite, the subject of scurrilous tales, and captain of her personal bodyguard prior to the forming of the regiment. Harry Jermyn tends to be regarded as a typical Cavalier 'roitsterer', and indeed never exercised any higher command, but as Colonel of Horse he appears to have been effective enough.
The Lt.-Colonel of the regiment, William Crofts of Sweetham, Suffolk, had also been a captain in the Queen's personal bodyguard at the outbreak of the war. The Major of the regiment, John Cansfield, was from Lancashire, and one of the most effective officers in the regiment. He was quickly sent into his native county to raise men to serve in the Queen's regiments (both foot and horse), and probably drew some from detachments of Lord Derby's Army.
According to Richard Symond's Diary, the regiment was mainly raised in Lancashire, but Walter Slingsby says that it was "most French". It is certainly true, and quite natural to expect that the unit included a number of French volunteers, but there is no evidence that the Queen's countrymen were in the majority. It seems probable that the regiment originally approached the regulation strength for a horse unit of 500 men.
During the King's 1643 Campaign the regiment fought at Burton-on-Trent, and was part of the force which accompanied the Queen south to join the King at Oxford. Upon arrival the regiment was incorporated into the King's Oxford Army in time for the campaign and First Battle of Newbury. During this battle with the Earl of Essex's forces on September 3rd, part of the regiment was ordered by Prince Rupert to charge the Parliamentarian Forlorn Hope. Despite coming under fire from both the musketeers of the forlorn hope, and the enemy cannon, the Queen's Regiment of Horse routed the enemy, killing 14-15 of them and taking some prisoners, while only losing one horse.
A few days later the regiment saw action again when three of its troops charged seven Parliamentarian troops (supposedly French or Dutch), and routed all of them, killing "four score" (40) and took 30-40 prisoners, without losing one man. At Aldbourne Chase part of the regiment, led by Jermyn, was cut-off from the rest of the unit. The detachment managed to fight its way out through several bodies of enemy foot, but lost a Lieutenant Constable and a French volunteer, the Marquis de la Veuvville. The Marquis was reported killed after refusing quarter with the words "Vous voyez ici un grand Marquis mourant". Jermyn himself was wounded.
The regiment must also have been present at the Second Battle of Newbury, but no record of its actions or losses appears to have survived. On November 4th, 1643, the regiment was involved in the brisk little actin at Osney, when Prince Rupert beat up the Parliamentarian quarters there. Most of the enemy fled, but a party did manage to make a stand. The Royalists were initially checked, but eventually routed their opponents, who lost 60-80 men, while the Royalists are reported as having lost no one. However, "Major Cansfield [was] shot in the arm...who as his manner is behaved himself very manfully." he received his Knighthood as a result of this action.
Evidently the regiment spent the remainder of the winter of 1643/44 in quarters in the Oxford area. Then with the opening of the spring campaign of 1644, the regiment was one of the units that accompanied the Earl of Forth when he joined Lord Hopton's Army in his operations against Sir William Waller in Hampshire. The Queen's Regiment of Horse formed part of the Royalist army at the Battle of Cheriton on March 29th, 1644, where it was commanded by Raoul Fleury, who seems to have been the colonel at this time, and it behaved with more distinction than most of the other Royalist Horse units on that occasion, but only after a very unimpressive start. During the battle the regiment saw action on the right wing, as related by Colonel Walter Slingsby, who was unimpressed by its performance:
"My Lord John Steward (seeing our foote like to be oppressed with fresh horse) sends down the Queen's Regiment, which were most French, who descend the hill into this ground with seeming resolution, but retreated after an unhandsome charge."
Lord Hopton thought better of the regiment, as he managed to rally 300 horse to cover the Royalist retreat that followed the battle, with "the greater part of that little number of horse that stayed with him here of the Queen's Regiment, where Monsieur de Plume their chief commander doing his duty like a very worthy person in the head of them had his leg shot off to the ankle with a great shot, whereof he shortly after died."
In May 1644, Captain Edward Brett's Troop evidently formed part of the force escorting the Queen to Exeter, afterwards about August it was attached to the King's Lifeguard of Horse (also being one troop) during the Lostwithiel campaign, while the rest of the regiment served with Prince Maurice's Army. In July, with the Earl of Essex's Army advancing into the West Country, the Queen's Regiment of Horse (except for the troop escorting the Queen) was sent to reinforce Sir Richard Grenville's Army, which was at that time around Plymouth. Their new commander was not impressed with the regiment, writing on July 19th, that Prince Maurice had ordered away most of the foot from the area and "hath sent in their stead only the Queen's Regiment of horse which was at first not above 300, and since many of them run away and the rest being discontented are expected daily to be drawn from us."
Upon the arrival of the main Royalist Army on the King's Lostwithiel Campaign, the regiment was added to the Earl of Cleveland's Brigade of Horse, and on Saturday, August 31st took part in an attack on the rear of the entire horse of the Earl of Essex's Army as it successfully made a breakout about 1 AM under Colonel Balfour at Braddock Down. During the Lostwithiel Campaign, it seems that Captain Edward Brett's Troop became a permanent troop of the King's Lifeguard of Horse, now having the King's Troop and the Queen's Troop. While facing the enemy many times with the King himself being present on the various hills and downs during this campaign, on one occasion Captain Brett led the Queen's Troop in full view of the King, and charged the enemy's foot that was lining a hedge within musket and cannon shot, successfully beating them from the hedge and killing many of them, all being done through volleys of the enemy's musketeers. Captain Brett was shot in the left arm during this action, and a Frenchman named La Plunne was killed, along with three horses shot, and two more wounded, but Captain Brett managed to bring the rest of his men away successfully with 7-8 prisoners, including a captain of foot, and a drunk gunner. This gallant charge, which was fully witnessed by the King, caused the King to immediately draw Captain Brett's sword upon his return, and knighted him Sir Edward Brett, while he was still on horseback. This occurred about midnight.
On September 9th and 10th, the regiment being led by Sir John Cansfield "their Colonel", the Queen's Regiment of Horse were with the King before Plymouth, and faced some Parliamentarian Horse from the garrison, though no fighting occurred.
The regiment then played an active part in the campaign and Second Battle of Newbury, and on October 24th, 1644, and a detachment under Captain Markham beat-up Parliamentarian outposts near Basing. During this time the regiment seems to have had its full strength of 7 troops. During the battle the regiment again distinguished itself, as it withstood an attack by enemy horse "Most gallantly". During the relief of Donnington on November 9th, Prince Rupert ordered the regiment to face Parliamentarian musketeers, though no fighting took place.
Symonds gives as the regiment's various troop commanders in 1644, as follows:
The 1645 campaign, which was to prove the year of disaster for the regiment, also reflected the fate of the Royalist fortunes at that time. In April 1645, the regiment was serving with the Earl of Northampton's Brigade of Horse, when Cromwell's Horse at Islip routed it on April 24th. Although casualties must have been received by the regiment during this time, no record of numbers lost are known, but its most grievous loss must have been one of its standards, which was taken. The standard was covered with Fleurs de Lys, and had been presented by the Queen herself.
By May 1645, the regiment had dwindled to only 150 strong (28 of which were officers). During the Naseby campaign the regiment continued to serve with the Earl of Northampton's Brigade of Horse (the King's Lifeguard of Horse, being made up of 3-4 troops, including the Queen's Troop of now Captain Sir Edward Brett, numbered 130 total). On the day of the Battle of Naseby, the Queen's Regiment of Horse was in Prince Rupert's first line of horse, and although obviously involved in heavy fighting, it did not distinguish itself, as it was swept along with the other four regiments of horse (including Rupert's Regiment of Horse) during its first charge, and only seems to have lost three troopers during the battle. After the Battle of Naseby the regiment remained in the Leicester garrison until its surrender.
By August 1645, the regiment was part of Sir William Vaughan's Brigade of Horse, which was four regiments (total 400 men), so the strength of the Queen's Regiment of Horse at this time must have been far less than the 150 it mustered during the Naseby campaign, and therefore probably numbered no more than two troops. By September 1645, Captain Sir Edward Brett was made Major, and was now the commander of the Queen's Troop in the King's Lifeguard of Horse.
The Queen's Regiment of Horse was probably at the Battle of Rowton Heath with Sir Marmaduke Langdale, and accompanied the King, along with his own Lifeguard of Horse, to Newark thereafter. The Queen's Regiment of Horse appears to have lost many horses during a raid by Parliamentarian troops under Colonel-General Sydenham Poyntz, as thereafter what little remained of the regiment was placed in the garrison of Shelford House, where the total garrison of which was then known to number 180-200 men. When forces under Colonel-General Poyntz stormed Shelford House on October 15th, 1645, all the garrison was put to the sword after ferocious fighting, and the house destroyed.
Sir John Cansfield was presumably not present at Shelford House when it was stormed, as he went to Oxford after the Battle of Naseby (along with Sir Thomas Smith, as his Lt.-Colonel) where he commanded the horse of that garrison (Oxford Horse) with distinction in the last days of the war, and therefore was not the colonel of the regiment after Naseby. The Queen's Regiment of Horse seems to have ended its distinguished career amidst the flames of Shelford House on that fateful day of October 15th, 1645.
Cornets of the regiment
The following two cornets of this regiment are known:
Colonel's Cornet was Gold Fleur de Lys, Crown & Fringe on a Blue Field, with Red Velvet inside Crown.
Officers of the historical regiment
The following were the known officers of this regiment, based on muster rolls and the List of Indigent Officers of the Civil Wars:
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