||The warrant of 1 February 1678 for
the Duke of Monmouth's Flanders Expedition is the basis for our uniforms.
It describes the clothing of a typical soldier in the army of Charles II.
..."(A) cloth coat 7 Cited with bayes, one pair
of kersey breeches, lined, with pockets, two shirts, two cravats, one pair
of shoes, one pair of yarn hose, one hat, edged, one hat band, one sash,
and also one sword and belt .... (T)he said clothing be satisifed for out
of the off-reckonings of their pay...(at) 53 shillings in the whole for
The outer shell was made of yellow broadcloth, lined
with madder red baize, a coarse felt-like wool, and cut from four panels.
It was a rather straight, loose knee length cut with little definition
at the waist and edges left raw when sewn. The sleeves were turned backed
to, or just above the elbow, revealing the lining. The coats had brass
buttons from neck to hem, but were commonly unbuttoned below the waist
for ease of movement an the march and on in the field. We feel the buttons
were 3/4" in diameter, at least 18 down the front, six on each of the side
and rear vents, five on each sleeve, and five on each pocket. The pockets
were functional and set low on the coat, usually with narrow horizontal
flaps. Coats were purchased en masse and probably came out in three sizes:
too big, too small, and almost right. If a soldier wanted a better or more
personal fit, he would have to pay a tailor out of his own pocket.
The breeches were of madder red kersey, a ribbed
woolen fabric that was once commonly used to make stockings, trousers or
breeches. They had full seats and moderately wide legs. Garters were run
through the kneebands to tie them just below the knee. The breeches were
no longer highwaisted but were cut to ride on the hips. They were secured
about the waist with either a sash through the waistband which either tied
in the front or with a strap and buckle in the rear. They would be lined
with linen or light wool with vertical slit pockets of chamois leather
on each side. The fly buttons were identical to the coat and six to eight
They could be of yarn, which was specified in the
warrant, kersey, or worsted wool. They were madder red as were the breeches
and coat lining and came well above the knee to mid-thigh. In cold weather
two pair were worn.
Shirts were made up from rectangles of cloth and
cut very full, especially the sleeves. Neckbands and cuffs were 1 1/2 to
2 1/2 inches wide and were fastened at the wrists and throat with either
ties or small buttons. Linen was a common material but cotton was by this
time replacing it as the preferred fabric.
In the 1660's a bib-shaped falling band was still
being worn. By 1670 it had been replaced with a scarf or neckcloth - the
cravat. Cravats were five to seven feet long and six inches wide. They
were worn folded in half lengthwise and wound several times about the neck,
then loosely knotted with long ends hanging down the front of the shirt.
Linen was the most common fabric, but muslin, cotton or silk (for the wealthy)
were also used.
Hats were made of black felt, with low crowns and
wide brims. They were trimmed with gold or yellow galloon, a cheap tinsel
ribbon, for royal regiments such as ours. They were cocked up in front
or on the side to keep them from being knocked off during drills.
The sash came into military use circa 1673 or 1674
to cinch in the waist of the rather straight cut coats and give the soldier
and a smarter look. These sashes, made from white broadcloth, were edged
and the ends fringed with the lining color. They were 14 to 18 inches wide
and nine feet long. They were worn folded in half lengthwise, wrapped once
about the waist and knotted with the fringed ends hanging down (a cravat
for the waist).
The square toed, high tongued shoes were made of
brown leather with no right or left foot and 1 to 1 1/2 inch squared heels.
Their open sides grew smaller during the period and eventually disappeared
by 1680. Madder red ribbons went through the latchets and tied the shoes
on over the tongue.
Capes and Greatcoats
The Warrant of 1678 called for troops to be issued
with cloth cloaks lined with baize for inclement weather. There is no indication
given to their colour, but it is safe to assume that they were the common
army color, either madder red or hodden gray. Each company was also issued
a few heavy greatcoats or watchcoats for centinel service (sentry duty).
Gloves and mittens were not issued to soldiers, but
they were necessary in cold and wet weather, and were purchased or "requistioned"
by the individual rank and file. They could be either gauntlet style made
of brown or buff leather or knit from wool yarn.
Waistcoats were not issued to the army until the
1680's and possibly not until James' reign. It was strictly an optional
item and the soldiers would, upon receiving their annual new uniform, disassemble
the old coats and use cleaner interior face for the new outer face. They
could be either sleeveless or sleeved and if so, the sleeves needed a tighter
cut to pass through the sleeves of the new uniform coat.
Fatigue or Undress Coat
The yellow and red uniform coat was for dress occasions
and not worn every day, but only when on parade and active duty. For work
details and off-duty a grey coat of a cheaper grade of wool, often with
black lining, was issued to the army.
One major problem of our period is that no uniform
patterns exist before 1742. There were in fact, patterns and these correct
or official patterns, as well as cloth specimens, were either loaned or
issued to clothiers. There were two copies of these patterns; one was kept
in the Tower, and the other was kept in the Strand. Both were destroyed
by fires, one in the mid 18th and one in the mid 19th century. Our patterns
have been reconstructed from illustrations, paintings, written descriptions,
and surviving civilian garments. It must be remembered that, at this time,
military fashion was heavily influenced by nonmilitary styles and patterns.
Replacement of Worn-out Clothing
After enlistment the ordinary soldier was issued
a complete uniform, as described in warrant above, and was to receive a
new set annually but like his pay this also was often in arrears. He got
NOTHING for free and he was required to pay back his colonel for the priviledge
of serving King and Country by an off-reckoning or deduction of 2d taken
from his daily wage. Often it would take him the whole year to settle this
expenditure just in time to replace the now ragged uniform with a new one
and be off-reckoned again!
We have consulted many, many sources, but in particular
we want to acknowledge these most valuable sources: The Royal Marines Museum;
Andrew Robertshaw and The National Army Museum; John Tincey, whose articles
on the army and Monmouth's Rebellion in Military Illustrated and his excellent
The British Army, 1660-1704 in The Osprey Men-at-Arms series were
extremely helpful; Robert Giglio, who kindly lent his research; and Charles
Young; The Cut of Men's Clothing by Nora Waugh; and Handbook
of English Costume in the 17th Century by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington.