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United Kingdom: London Trained Bands

Last modified: 2015-06-13 by rob raeside
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Introduction

See Colours of Infantry Militia in English Civil War for background information on the Trained Bands. Details of individual colours are shown for the Yellow regiment; it is mostly sufficient to show just the Sergeant Major's colour of the other units.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Sources:

Ede-Borrett (1987)
Peachey and Prince (1991)
Keith Roberts: 'London and Liberty- ensigns of the London Trained bands'; Leigh-on-Sea, 1987, Partizan Press
Peter Young and Richard Holmes: 'The English Civil War - A Military History of the Three Civil Wars 1642-1651', London 1974, Purnell Book Services; [www.traynedbandes.org.uk]


Yellow regiment

'Stand of colours' is a term that was applied to English colours. It was mentioned in a book of Cpt. Thomas VENN: "Military Observations or The Tacticke put into Practice", published in 1672. Here is the complete stand of colours (type VENN B) of existing companies of the yellow regiment. The sheet was yellow, the devices were black 5-point stars rotated anticlockwise 45 thus pointing at the upper hoist corner.

Colonel's colour was a plain yellow flag, Lieutenant Colonel's colour was yellow with a St. George canton, Sergeant Major's colour had added one black 5-point star, 1st Captain's colour two stars, 2nd Captain's colour three stars, 3rd Captain's colour four stars, 4th Captain's colour five stars as shown below.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Ian Sumner once wrote that there was no known surviving colours of English Line Regiments, maybe this is the exception. I have an image of the flag in question. The description of the yellow band colours in the early 1640s was accurate but as time marched towards 1690, a slight change was made, I believe, by the re-positioning of the black star for the sergeant major's colour or maybe this was the original all along.
This flag is from pre -1690 & post 1690. The whole flag is not shown in the photo but at least most of it is. The rest of the flag is currently covered. This flag measures 74 inch's by 81 inch's, yellow silk in colour, faded with time. The flag was taken into battle, at the Battle of the Boyne 1690 by one of the Regiment's belonging to William the III. Question is which one? It was carried by Ensign Watson. There was an Captain-Lieutenant Watson in the Irish Regiment Establishment, 'Inniskilling foot'' 1691, possibly he was the ensign in 1690 but where does the flag fit in, that's my dilemma or was it another Regiment who took it into battle with another ensign Watson. There were many Watsons in William of Orange's armies at the time. All went on to become Captains around that time period 1690s.

This yellow silk flag has been kept in the Watson family for generations & has been used on two other occasions in British & Irish history: as part of British history - the opening of the Exeter Canal basin, 29 September 1830. The blue attachment marked "'Correspondence "' was by M Watson: http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/canalbasin.php
As part of Irish history: the Ulster covenant 1912. An ancient yellow silk banner. http://www.boyneobelisklol1690.com/interesting_facts.php

The flag has been protected for generations by Watsons who were Commanders, Captains & Rear-admirals in the Royal Navy (over 300 years RN). Watsons roles in the Royal Navy were extensive & rich in history. The first known member of the Watson family was a Page of the Bed Chamber to William The III from 1689-1703.

I am trying to match the flag to the Regiment who carried it, into the Battle of the Boyne. Knowing that its history originated from the London Yellow bands is a good start. Of course now we have identified the flag as being the Sergeant Major's colour.

I am keenly interested in the Yellow Regiment banners. On this site: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/40113/40113-h/40113-h.htm#page41 (Hulme, The Flags of the World, etc. [hul94] - [hul97] (green cover)) I found this flag on the plate, belonging to the 'London Train Bands; The Yellow Regiment 1643. This flag is square at the fly. It is an ancient yellow silk colour & bore a cross of St George at the upper hoist. There is one device in the middle of the flag, a black 5 pointed star turned through 45 degrees to the hoist, so its point is pointed directly at the corner of the canton.
Phillip Edwards, 21 December 2014

This modern text (http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/canalbasin.php) claims "The flag flying at the bow of the first boat to enter the basin formerly belonged to William of Orange, when he landed at Brixham, in 1688. The colour was loaned, for the opening, by a descendent of the Watson family who had held it since he landed. (FP)"
The attribution is for the information only; the article in the Exeter Flying Post, 18 June 1879, doesn't word it that way (and the article itself is also almost 50 years after the event.)

Concerning the blue attachment marked "'Correspondence "' by M Watson:
"... Observing in your last paper (Nov. 28th) an enquiry respecting a banner under which William the Third (then Prince of Orange) landed in England, I beg to acquaint you that the banner, (/without/ /inscription/ ) is now in the possession of the family of the Watsons, having descended to the late Capt. Joshua Rowley Watson R.N., from his great grandsire from Ireland, who was with the Prince on his landing in this country ..."

All three agree that the Watson flag is supposed to be the flag under which William of Orange landed in Brixham, though. As I understood the story, the troops William III brought with him from The Netherlands were, as could be expected, Dutch troops. It would seem unlikely that such an expedition would include a typical London Train Bands flag.

From http://www.boyneobelisklol1690.com/interesting_facts.php:
"On the 28th September 1912, Ulster Day The Boyne Standard, an ancient-looking yellow silk banner carried by an Ensign Watson before William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne on 01st July 1690, was carried after noon religious services flanked by smartly turned-out guard of men wearing bowler hats and carrying batons, along Bedford Street and into City Hall to a large round table draped with a Union Flag where upon the Ulster Covenant was signed in City hall and in other venues in Belfast"

Now, generally, the Boyne Standard is orange, with a purple star, but this need not be true for the original.

Concerning the "ancient yellow silk banner", the problem with that, is that what we have is a website that doesn't seem to give sources. I'll leave it to others whether London troops were present at the Battle of the Boyne, but this website simply doesn't tell us where the information comes from. The best I can find, so far, are the words of Rev. Mervyn Gibson, on the occasion of the 2012 Convenant Celebrations: <http://www.royalyork.org.uk/2011_10_01_archive.html>, posted 6 October 2011. However, whether these are his own flowery words, thought up for the occasion, or whether he is quoting some older source, I'm not sure.

However, with 1912 we're in the age of the photo camera. Such an historic event will surely have been captured, so it's probably possible, somewhere, to see what that Boyne Standard looked like.

The illustrations from Hulme referred to, combined with the photograph from Phillip Edwards, yields this image. The ratio seemed closest to 7:8, so that's what I used. The difference with the yellow second captain as we have it are: a smaller canton, a thicker St. George cross, and the star being centred, rather than placed in the first position after the canton.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 14 May 2015

Colonel's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Lieutenant Colonel's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Sergeant Major's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

First Captain's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Second Captain's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Third Captain's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Fourth Captain's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Yellow regiment variants

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The devices had not always been ordered per bend. There were e.g. also 2nd Captain's colours having three stars ordered as a triangle 1:2 and 4th captain's colour having five stars ordered in quincunx.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Yellow auxiliaries

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was yellow, the devices were blue piles starting from the canton and pointing to centre, looking somehow like rays coming out from the canton. The Sergeant Major's colour was yellow with one blue pile coming out of the canton, 2nd Captain's colour was the same with three piles.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010


Red regiment

Sergeant Major's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was red, the devices were white piles wavy radiating from the canton to the centre, the Sergeant Major's colour had one pile wavy.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Second Captain's colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The Second Captain's colour had three piles wavy.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Red auxiliaries

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was red, the devices were white discs, the Sergeant Major's colour had one disc.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010


White regiment

Sergeant Major's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was white, the devices were red lozenges pointing at the upper hoist corner, the Sergeant Major's colour had one lozenge.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

White auxiliaries

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was white, the devices were red piles wavy radiating from the canton to the centre, the Sergeant Major's colour had one pile wavy.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010


Blue regiment

Sergeant Major's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was blue, the devices were white discs, the Sergeant Major's colour had one disc.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Blue auxiliaries

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was blue, the devices were yellow piles starting from the canton and pointing at the centre, looking somehow like rays coming out from the canton, the Sergeant Major's colour was blue with one yellow pile.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010


Green regiment

Sergeant Major's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was green, the devices were white 3-point caltraps rotated anti clockwise 45 thus pointing at the upper hoist corner, the Sergeant Major's colour had one caltrap.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Green auxiliaries

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was green, the devices were yellow piles wavy radiating from the canton to the centre, the Sergeant Major's colour had one pile wavy.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010


Orange regiment

Sergeant Major's Colour

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was orange, the devices were white slipped trefoils rotated anti clockwise 45 thus pointing at the upper hoist corner, the Sergeant Major's colour had one trefoil.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Third Captain

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

A variant of the 3rd Captain's colour showed the four trefoils ordered rhombish.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

Orange auxiliaries

[London Trained Bands colours] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010

The sheet was orange, the devices were white discs, the Sergeant Major's colour had one disc.
Ian Sumner, Christopher Southworth and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 8 November 2010