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Scots Guards

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Date: 1642 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
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Scots Guards (SG)


The history of the Scots Guards can be traced to the commission, by King Charles I on 16 March 1642, to Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll, authorizing him to raise a Royal Regiment of foot, of 1,500 men, to be “led into our Realm of Ireland” with the intent of suppressing an Irish revolt against Scottish settlers in Ulster. The King had intended to visit Ulster and this Regiment was intended by the King to be his Royal Guard, his Scots Guard. Argyll appointed his kinsman, Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck, to command his Regiment for him. The Regiment became known as the Marquis of Argyll's Royal Regiment. The action would last seven years and the remnants of the depleted Scottish army merged into one unit referred to as The Irish Companies.

1650-1660; King's Lyfe Guard

After the execution of Charles I the Royalists had strong support in Scotland and the future Charles II was welcomed and crowned at Scone. The Irish Companies were re-named The King's Lyfe Guard of Foot in 1650 at Falkland Palace in Fife.

Under this title they fought the Parliamentary army, under Cromwell, at Dunbar on 3rd September 1650, where they found themselves opposite General Monck's Regiment (later Coldstream Guards). They were defeated by Cromwell's army and were reduced to two companies. Charles unwisely invaded England at the head of a Scottish army but was again defeated at Worcester in 1651, also on 3rd September. The Lyfe Guard of Foot, along with the rest of the Scottish army ceased to exist.

1660-1691; King's Foot Guards

When Charles II was restored to his throne in 1660, the companies of Scottish Foot Guards were re-raised to garrison Edinburgh, Dumbarton and Stirling Castles. Expanding first to six, then to thirteen companies by 1666, the regiment fought against the Covenanters at Rullion Green in 1666 and at Bothwell Brig in 1679.

As early as 1666, Charles II was making enquiries about bringing the Scots Guards to London in anticipation of a Dutch invasion. The regiment was said to 'correspond in all things to the King's Foot Guards' and that they were in need of a physician and that the men claim tenpence a day. It was also said that the men were not inferior in social status to those of the Life Guards. It is not known how many companies the regiment had at this stage. At the beginning perhaps two or three, but in 1674, two more companies of 100 men each were added, and a third in 1677.

Charles II died in 1685 and the country was again split under James II. Monmouth's Rebellion was crushed at Sedgemoor on 7th July 1685, but the Catholic King James remained unpopular. By now the Regiment had 14 companies and in 1686 two battalions were formed, one of which was brought south. King James had set up a training camp on Hownslow Heath and the Scots Guards joined the other two Guards regiments for the first time. They were to be brigaded with the 1st and Coldstream Guards, but being the news boys, they were called The Kiddies.

When William of Orange landed in England on 5th November 1688, the Scots Guards were deeply divided. Some officers chose to do their duty and serve their unpopular King, James, but others sided with William. The situation resolved itself when James fled. Under King William the regiment was given, in 1691, the same rank privileges as the other two Guards regiments whereby a Guards Captain would be equal to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army.


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Categories: Scots Guards