Sir Arthur Aston’s Regiment of Foot

Sir Arthur Aston’s Regiment of Foot were the garrison regiment at Oxford. Needless to say they didn't get out much. Raised in Oxford in 1643, a detachment went to the relief of Greenland House, which is about as exciting as their battle honours get, before surrendering in 1646. Nice flag though.

We don't know what colour coats his regiment wore, but as governor of Oxford Aston was often accompanied by a company of red coated halberdiers - possibly Yeoman of the Guard, but could easily have been from his own regiment. Aston was deeply unpopular with the civilian population of Oxford, he had to have a bodyguard of halberdiers as he had a close call with an Oxford man who knocked Aston's footman's teeth out and took a sword blow to the ribs from the same man. A few days later Aston was placed under house arrest for hitting Oxford's mayor.

Red coats it is!

Aston was a colourful character: learnt his soldiering on the continent (Polish-Swedish War, he fought for both sides); as governor of Reading he was struck on the head by a roof tile (dislodged by cannon fire) and rendered dumb - which rather handily meant he absolved personal responsibility for surrendering the town to the Parliamentarian besiegers, he miraculously recovered almost immediately after the surrender; made governor of Oxford, and lost the job after breaking his leg in a riding accident (showboating for the ladies), worse was to come as the leg had to be amputated, so he used a wooden leg.

Went to Ireland to help the Royalist cause. In 1649 Cromwell besieged Drogheda, where Aston was now governor, he surrendered but was beaten to death with his wooden leg by soldiers convinced he was hiding gold coins inside it.

The manner of his death, quite rightly, earned him a spot on Horrible Histories's stupid deaths.

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  1. A very nice regiment of foot, but even more fascinating to find out about Aston. I had heard the Drogheda story, but didn't know of his previous history. Not sure if he was lucky to survive in each case of injury, or if he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can imagine a 'dumb' commander was a bit of an inconvenience! I will definitely look to include him in my Swedish and Polish forces :-)

    1. Thanks. I get the feeling he was a man who 'got things done' without winning any popularity contests


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