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Home > Oxford Army Clothing Issue 1643

Copyright © Julian Tilbury, 1998

On Tuesday 6th Dec 1642, a 3,300 strong force, probably including Sir William Pennyman’s, Thomas Blagge’s and Earl Rivers regiments of foot, looted Marlborough, gaining civilian clothing in the process:-

… Having thus won the Town, they set fire to it in two other places so that there were four fires blazing at once, and the Soldiers fell to pillaging the houses and Shops, all the wearing Apparel, Plate and Money they took away, and all the Horses and Carts that were in the Town, which were the more, because those of the Country that came to the Market had been kept in…[Young, pp.179-180]
The actual manufacture of uniforms appears to have started in January 1642/3, as on 23rd January, the school boy, Anthony Wood recorded in his diary::

… so the magazine for cloth for soldiers’ apparel and coats was in the Music School, and in the Astronomy school adjoining to it. That day also were a great many tailors, as well foreigners as townsmen, set on work to cut out these coats, to the number 4000 or 5000 (as I was told), which presently afterwards put forth to the tailors here inhabitants, and to strangers within ten miles who were called into Oxford, to be made up & finished …[Wood pp.83-84]

At that time cloth was still being sought, as the letter from Charles I to Prince Rupert, 1st February 1642/3, indicates:

Most trusty and entirely beloved Nephew Wee greet you well Whereas we are credibly informed that at Cirencester, Stroud, Minchinhampton, Tetbury, Dursley, Wooton underedge and Chipping Sudbury great quantities of cloth canvass and Locherame are to be had for supplying ye great necessities Our Souldiers have of Suits. Wee have thought good to advise you thereof And doe hearby pray you to send a competent party of Horse under ye command of some able person to visit those several places wch lye not farr asunder, and to bring from thence all such cloth canvass and Locherame as they shall find there to Cirencester. Giving a Ticket to ye Owners for all ye parcells they shall take up and keeping a perfect Accompt thereof, and from what persons ye same was taken with this intimation that every one of them shall upon his repaire to Oxford receave such Security for his comodity as hee shall have noe cause to except against. For ye better ordering and managing of this service Wee shall expressly send Mr. Nevill, Mr. Bradburne and Mr. Ball, men of experience, to take order for receaving and putting of ye cloth where of Wee intend ye best shall be reserved for ye service of our Troopers and ye rest for ye Dragoons and Foot of our Army. In this wee pray you to use you wonted diligence. And bid you heartily farewell, Given at our Court of Oxford ye first day of February 1642.[Ponting p.143]

By early March, production was evidently in full swing:

March 6th, 1642/3, Mr. Bushell made his proposition thus that he would procure for the King’s soldiers cassocks, breeches, stockings and caps at reasonable rates to be delivered at Oxford, and at the delivery to receive ready money, or a bill of exchange to be paid at London, the choice to be left to them who provided the clothes. And when one load of clothes is brought, or in bringing, to go on with providing of a second load, and so from time to time till the King’s Army be all provided for, and paid for in such manner as before[Young pp.184-185]

By July large numbers of soldiers were clothed in uniform, as an attestation to the services of Thomas Bushell, dated 12th, June 1643, states:

your clothing our life guard and three regiments more, with suites, stockings, shoes, and monteroes which we were ready in the field…[Young p.186]

In his diary, on the 15th July, Anthony Wood records seeing them:

And uppon the next, viz Saturday all the common soldiers then at Oxford were new appareled, some all in red, coats, breeches, and monteroes, and some all in blue‘. [Wood p.103]

and even a Parliamentary spy, Nicholas Luke, witnessed them, as he reported to his master, Sir Samual Luke, a few days later on the 18th July:

That they have clothed all their foote soldiers in redd and blew having all of them monteroes, coates and briches.’ [Luke p.119]

The uniform was still being reported in October, as a letter of the 11th, from the Earl of Bath, in Oxford, informed his Countess:

‘Yo servant Tom Bold is now in a company of the Life Guards in a red suit and montero which they wear’ [Toynbee & Young p.44]