Coat Colours Part 5: The Trained Bands

As I was about to post about the Tower Hamlet's Regiment of the London Trained Bands, and about to go down my usual ranty rabbit hole about coat colours I thought it better to write a general post about Trained Bands. This got out of hand a little and became the coat colours series, without even touching upon the Trained Bands. When I first started my ECW project I took at face value lots of information from what I believed to be 'trusted' sources. Which is why my original Tower Hamlet's Regiment wore red coats and carried the 'wrong' flag. They were quickly given the correct flag, but the red coat issue was slowly nagging me. They have since been rechristened John Birch's, and the Tower Hamlets LTB has been raised anew.

This post is a bit more than Coat Colours Part 5

Part 1 Parliamentarian coat colours
Part 2 Royalist coat colours
Part 3 Scots coat colours
Part 4 Dragoons, Horse and the New Model Army coat colours

... it also constitutes Flags Part 1b.

Flags Part 1
Flags Part 2
Flags Part 3


But first we need to understand a little bit about the political geography of seventeenth century England (Wales had been subsumed by England many hundreds of years previously, so when you read of England it also means Wales).

Tower Hamlet's Trained Band re-enactors: just ignore the red coats
(they also re-enact a NMA Regiment, which is why they wear red)

The countryside was, as it still is, made up of administrative areas called counties, which were subdivided into hundreds (hundreds are no longer used); these hundreds existed mainly for tax and judicial purposes, but they also had a military responsibility too.

The Lords Lieutenant for each county were responsible for the organisation of the Trained Band(s) of each county. As counties can cover large geographical areas they would delegate responsibility for more local organisation at a hundred level to a local dignitary, often the local magistrate.

Most large towns served as county towns, almost mini capitals for each county, so might provide a company (or more) for the county Trained Band by itself. London was a different kettle of fish, so I'll discuss London separately.

Membership of the Trained Bands was compulsory for freeholders, householders and their sons (in other words, well to do people, men with some money); they were expected to defend the country from foreign invasion or local rebellion. In practice, servants and hired substitutes were often sent to attend the training sessions, which were held once a month during the summer.

In some of the larger (geographically speaking) counties you might find a number of small market town based trained bands. In Cheshire, for example, there was a Nantwich Trained Band, a Macclesfield Trained Band and so on.

In other, much larger Counties you might find regiment sized Trained Bands from one area Yorkshire had a number of Trained Band Regiments (modern Yorkshire has now been subdvided into four County sized authorities). The Yorkshire Trained Bands took the name of their commanding officer; so you'll find Sir Robert Strickland's Trained Band, Sir Thomas Gower and a number of others.

It must also be noted that in many Counties companies of horse were also raised - of these we know very little other than their names, and where they were involved in fighting. Yorkshire even managed to raise some companies of dragoons, Derbyshire was able to field a troop of cuirassiers in 1638.

As well as the Trained Bands, there are times when civil militias were formed to defend a town against an imminent threat.

London functioned almost as a very large county in it's own accord: the population was expanding and the city was slowly creeping outwards to take in the outlying villages and towns. London had had a sufficient population to support four Trained Band regiments; North, South, East and West since the inception of the Trained Bands in Tudor times. Each regiment had five companies of 300 men apiece. The Lord Mayor of London was responsible for the organisation of the London Trained Bands (henceforth LTB), much in the same way that the Lords Lieutenant were for the county Trained Bands.  Local organisation was based upon the wards of the city: as particular trades would coalesce in one locality you would often find a LTB regiment dominated by men from one or two particular professions.

 In 1642, with the growing population of the city and the imminent threat of war the LTB were reorganised. Recruiting areas were altered slightly and the four regiments became six: Red, White, Yellow, Blue, Green and Orange.  The Green and Orange Regiments had six companies each, the other Regiments all had seven.

All of the members of the Trained Bands had to drill and train once a month. Although the concept of 'drill' was very loosely interpreted - often being an excuse to flounce around with flags flying before adjourning for a knees up in a pub. With the threat of war, their weekend warrior attendance became more frequent and they were expected to spend more and more time in  their military roles. However, the men in the Trained Bands were primarily business men, their main interest was their business and trade, soldiering was a secondary pursuit. This explains why the LTB were often reluctant to participate in long drawn out campaigning when they were called upon to fight outside London.

London had thrown up considerable defences around the city, and men were needed to defend these fortifications. But the men of the LTB still needed to work and earn money: the LTB were expanded again - this time three suburban Regiments were formed: Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Westminster. Each Regiment also recruited an Auxiliary Regiment, these soldiers were paid to be soldiers and were recruited from those not eligible to join a Trained Band, so there were a significant number of apprentices among their ranks. The Auxiliaries were issued more equipment than the traditional LTB Regiments, and it is thought that they were issued blue winter coats. The advent of the Auxiliary Regiments meant that the 'full' LTB members could go back to their commercial interests.

Outside of London the County Bands were mainly involved in garrison duties, or on occasion called upon to bolster numbers at sieges, or local battles. You don't really see County Trained Bands venturing too far from  their home patches after the Bishops Wars (there are a handful of exceptions).

 Members of Trained Bands were expected to provide their own equipment and clothing, although there is some evidence of equipment and clothing being issued to some Trained Bands. remember we are talking about men with money, and it was fashionable to flaunt one's wealth by the clothes one wore. It is fairly reasonable to assume that our 'weekend warriors' will have all the gear and look overly equipped compared to volunteer regiments. One item of clothing that did become very popular, certainly amongst the LTB, was 'trained band buffe' - sleeveless buff coats. The King's Army captured a large amount of trained band buff at First and Second Newbury.

Now the thorny issue of the LTB coat colours:

Major Randall Mainwaring of the Red Trained Band, and Red Auxiliaries raised a new regiment for Warwick's projected reserve army; this regiment was issued with 1200 red coats with white trim (National Archive SP 28 261 part 3 f. 296). We know that Mainwaring was a senior officer in three different regiments at the same time (Symonds p49) , this would appear to be the root of the confusion. 

Mainwaring, as Sergeant Major General of the City, was responsible for the policing of London, and he regularly used his own Redcoats for this purpose rather than the LTB regiments. Mainwaring's redcoats remained on duty in the City until at least January 1644, taking part in the expeditions to Sevenoaks, Gloucester and Newport Pagnell along with the Trained Bands and Auxiliaries. At the beginning of l644 they were still being referred to as 'the Regiment of Redcoats belonging to the Citie' (The True Informer, 6-13 January 1644 Thamason Tract E8l(31)).

A newsbook (A Continuation of Certaine Special and Remarkable Passages  17-25 August Thamason Tract E65/33(6H)) reported on 19 August that it was proposed to send 'two Regiments of the Auxilliary forces, and the Regiment of Red Coates' on the Gloucester expedition supplemented by three Auxiliary units - the Red, Blue and Orange a few days later (Thamason Tract E69(15)). Foster's account mentions these six regiments again on 31st August. The True Informer also mentions these six regiments in it's account of the return to London after the Battle of Newbury. However, Richard Symonds reports the red coats as LTB, and it is this reference that has led to the notion that the LTB wore red coats. The problem is that Symonds wasn't there, his report was second hand. Both Foster and the True Informer clearly state that there were six regiments; five regiments of auxiliaries and the red coats who were almost certainly Mainwairing's volunteer regiment (i.e. not the Red LTB or Red Auxiliaries).

Apart from Symonds's claim there is no other evidence that the Trained Bands wore uniforms of red, or any other colour. Clothing warrants for the army regiments still exist, together with warrants for arms to be distributed to both the regular army and the militia, but there are no records of uniforms being issued to the LTB. There are also references to the loaning of arms to substitutes serving in place of those liable for duty in the Trained Bands, but no mention of the loan of uniforms. 

Finally, a Royalist account of the first battle of Newbury records that 'much of the slaughter fell upon the London Trained bands and their Auxiliaries, many of whose Buffe Coates our Souldiers now have' (Mercurius Aulicus, 20 September l643). Again there is no record of buff coats being issued, and it is probable that the citizens bought these expensive items themselves. The lack of evidence (recording coat issue), surrounded by so much other evidence (for the issue and loan of everything but coats), strongly suggests that the militia wore their own clothes and had no uniforms.

Symonds's 'red coats' error has been replicated so often that it is now presumed to be true. Many wargamers, and wargaming websites are absolutely firm in their belief that the LTB wore red coats, even though the evidence points to them wearing civilian clothes. The old researcher's adage 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence' remains a valid counterpoint, but the weight of evidence does err on the side of civilian clothes.

What does all this mean for the wargamer and modeller?

Firstly don't fall into the trap of thinking that the Trained Bands only fought for Parliament. Trained Bands fought on both sides, individual units from a County Trained Band could be seen on opposing sides. 

As a wargamer choosing what colour to paint a Trained Band unit for the table, it is probably safest to stick with civilian clothes (there are a handful of exceptions, but no red coated Londoners)..

There are some references to coats and flags being issued, which I have tried to summarise below:

The LTB have the best recorded system of regimental flags of the era due to the efforts of Royalist spies. However, anyone still adamant that the LTB wore red coats, well there's a seat on the naughty step reserved for you*, unless you can provide definitive evidence that they did (preferably with colour photographs and a dated copy of a national newspaper in the same photograph).

The Essex Trained Bands carried blue, yellow and white flags with spot devices, but we don't know which of the Essex units carried which flag (Thamason Tracts E2(16)).

The Kent Trained Bands were organised into "lathes" or areas, a system unique to Kent believed to date to the Kingdom of the Kentish (which existed until the 9th Century). Each Lathe  was expected to recruit a militia, as well as a regiment of auxiliaries, a regiment of volunteers” and a regiment of horse. The only recorded coat colour that we know of concerns Aylesford Lathe  – their Regiment of Horse may have worn blue as they are recorded in 1599 being issued with “cassocks” of this colour.

There might be another Kentish coat colour reference:  Sir William Brooke’s Sutton at Hone Lathe, Kent Trained Band Volunteer Regiment of Foot, which fought for Parliament possibly had white coats when they fought at Gloucester and Newbury. (BCW Regimental Wiki, no attribution)

We do know that the Kent Trained Bands carried a blue and white striped flag with an unknown coat of arms emblazoned in the middle (National Archives SP 28/130). Unfortunately, we don't know how many stripes, or which coat of arms.

The mention of this striped flag, and some recorded 'unknown' striped flags captured at battles, has given rise to the hypothesis that some Trained Bands used the 'stripey' system of flags. This system of flags dates from Tudor times (which is also when the Trained Bands system were formally created); we don't know how the system worked to differentiate different companies but it is believed that the Colonel's, and Lieutenant Colonel's followed the convention of solid colour with the addition of a St George's canton for the Lieutenant Colonel. After that it is thought that an increasing number of stripes differentiated seniority, a little like the gyronny system.

It is suggested that the 'stripey' system could follow either of the following systems:




Illustrations from Fahnen und Standarten Band V, Antje & Jurgen Lucht, Edition PeterStor


The Bristol Trained Band's flags are well documented from the time when the city was under Royalist control, again sketched by Richard Symonds - they were white, emblazoned with the motto 'Pro Deo & Rege' and distinguished by different numbers of red heart devices. The motto seems strange as it goes against known 'conventions', I wonder if the 'Pro Deo & Rege' was added to the flags once they became a Royalist city?

Sir Nicholas Selwyn’s Regiment of Foot, later Colonel William Legge’s Regiment of Foot, also known as the City of Oxford Regiment have well documented colours as they were sketched by Richard Symonds.

The Cambridge Trained Bands carried yellow flags with crimson crosslets. In July 1643 an up and coming Parliamentarian (you probably haven't heard of him) called Oliver Cromwell was made Governor of the Isle of Ely and given command of the Trained Band unit in garrison. (National Archive SP28/223/pt3/unfoliated)

Not a true trained band, but a volunteer town militia Sir Francis Gamull’s Regiment of Chester Volunteer Foot are believed to have flown red flags and worn yellow coats (deduced from stained glass depictions at St Chad's, Farndon, and Poole Hall, Nantwich)

It is possible that one of the Hertfordshire Trained Bands carried green colours in 1645 (Peachey and Prince).

Colonel Jonathan Trelawney’s, Colonel Richard Arundell's, and Sir John Arundell's Cornish Trained Band Regiments possibly had red coats. (?Lord Goring letter to Lord Culpepper 20th July 1645, see BCW Regimental Wiki)

Colonel Edmund Syler's Lincolnshire Militia wore red coats (they were commissioned in 1650) (The Regimental History of Cromwell's Army by Sir Charles Firth and Godfrey Davies, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1940)

The East Riding Trained Band wore grey coats (Fairfax Papers Vol 2 p414/5) and carried yellow colours. Sir William Saville’s Yorkshire Trained Band wore red coats when they marched through Newcastle in May 1639 (National Archive Rutland volume 1 p510) A company of  Sir William Pennyman’s Yorkshire Trained Band were wearing grey coats in Beverley, 1640 (Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteer Forces of the East Riding 1689-1908, R.W.S. Norfolk, East Yorkshire Local History Society 1965).





* there isn't, they're your toys and you can play with them as you see fit. Even if it is wrong.



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Comments

  1. Another very interesting post. The more I read, the more I’m convinced to not worry about trying to replicate particular regiments. At last in my scale. Which coming from a background originally in 25mm SYW where things (appear to be?) well-documented is saying something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I wrote in one of the first posts on this blog, the very best we can ever achieve is a 'pastiche'. My 'even if it is wrong' comment is very much tongue in cheek. I read the angst of people fretting over minute detail of what shape and colour French line turnbacks were in 1813, and worry how much fun are they having? Says the man who has spent countless hours and several hundred words researching and writing about Civil War coat colours! I've enjoyed researching this, if it helps people out great. If people don't agree fine, I'm always open to new evidence. I really don't expect everyone to dash out and repaint their LTB so they no longer wear redcoats. (even though they should ;-) ). I think it stems from I'd be pretty miffed if I followed a coat colours list and painted a regiment a specific colour, to then read first hand accounts that put them in different colours. But in some ways that is part of the appeal of the Civil Wars - we know so little detail, that you can sort of make it up as you go along (there are only a few 'holy cows' so to speak).

      Delete
    2. The Norfolk Trained Bands of 1638 allegedly consisted of 5,137 men armed with 2,910 muskets and 2,407 corslets (i.e. pikemen). They also mustered a cavalry force of 400 consisting of 80 cuirassiers and 320 harquebusiers. Thats a very decent fighting force in theory - of course in the bishops war they did poorly. I'm sure some members likely moved to other regiments and they were not very active in the main civil war other than at a local level. I believe they wore red and had green colours.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Mellis, I haven't come across any coat or flag colours references for the Norfolk TB, don't suppose you know the source for that?

      The 1638 census, for want of a better word, of the TBs is a wealth of information - I'm more familiar with the figures for my part of the world, Derbyshire had 33 cuirassiers and 41 dragoons, 239 musketeers and 161 with 'corselets', so pikemen. I find it fascinating stuff.

      Delete
  2. Another fantastic article KYPD. I am inspired to build a trained band regiment for my Royalist forces, with miss-matching coats and a few different flags for flexibility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Codsticker, that's one of the reasons I'm currently painting the Kent TB, a nice stripey blue and white flag for a bit of variety (we'll just gloss over the coat of arms that is supposed to be in the middle of the flag).

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