Earl of Castlehaven’s Regiment of Horse

The first unit of Confederate horse leave the painting table, with a healthy pinch of conjecture as to their equipment, uniform and cornet.

James Tuchet, the 3rd Earl of Castlehaven, viewed himself as an Englishman, and as such volunteered to help suppress the Irish rebels during the outbreak of the Irish uprising in 1641–42. Unfortunately the fact that he was Catholic caused a sense of distrust amongst the pro-English side, and he was arrested and incarcerated in Dublin Castle. He managed to escape and fled to Wicklow; on arrival at Kilkenny, the headquarters of the confederate Catholics, he was persuaded to accept a command in the army, and was appointed general of horse under Sir Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara. Many believed at the time that the Earl of Ormonde had engineered the whole situation, in order to bring Castlehaven over to the rebel side.

The regiment of horse would be raised in late 1642; and may have numbered not much more than a single troop. Day to day command of the regiment was handled by Garret Garbh Fitzgerald of Tully, County Kildare. One of its first actions was at the battle of  Cloghleagh/Cloughleagh/Funcheon Ford/Manning Water/Fermoy Field on the 4th June 1643, where the regiment numbered 120 men.

Vavasour had recently taken Cloughleagh Castle, but was fooled by Castlehaven into retreating from the Castle. The retreat took Vavasour's men through a bottleneck where Castlehaven's much smaller force of horse took a famous victory. This victory added succour to the Confederate cause, as it emboldened the native gentry to stop paying 'protection money' to Inchiquin. 

They would round out 1643 fighting at Cloghrenan, Ballynunnery, the siege of Ballylynan Castle, and the surrender of Dollardstown Castle. 

In 1644 he was awarded command of the Ulster expedition, however friction and jealousy between himself and Owen Roe O'Neill would be the undoing of the campaign. Where Castlehaven went, so did his horse: fighting at Newry, Kells, Connacht, skirmishing at Finnea, before garrisoning Charlemont.

In 1647 he, like many other Catholic nobles, moved to France and was present at Prince Rupert's siege of Landrécy. He would return to Ireland, after seeing the Prince of Wales in Paris, to hold several commands in Leinster, Munster, and Clare.

In 1650 he won a second small (though inconsequential) victory over a Parliamentarian force at the Tecroghan.

He was able to return to the continent in April 1652 to further his military career serving Prince de Condé in the Fronde, Charles II, and the Spanish Crown. He participated in the battles of Rocroy, Cambrai, Seneffe, Maestricht, Charleroi and Mons.

Castlehaven's personal life was worthy of an episode of the Jeremy Kyle/ Jerry Springer, warring family scandal/shock style car crash daytime TV show. 

In 1630, Castlehaven's father (the 2nd Earl) was publicly accused of raping his wife and committing sodomy with two of his servants. James, made the accusation, claiming that it was the extent of his father's "uxoriousness" toward his male favourites which led to his lodging of a complaint.

Charges were brought against the 2nd Earl, and were heard by the Privy Council under the direction of Thomas Coventry, Lord High Steward. Lady Castlehaven, James's mother, gave evidence of a household which she said was infested with debauchery.

At the trial, it was stated that one of the 2nd Earl's favourites, Henry Skipwith, had arrived at Fonthill Gifford in 1621; and, that within a few years, he was so close to the 2nd Earl that he sat at the family's table and was to be addressed as "Mister Skipwith" by the servants. Several years later, Giles Broadway arrived at the house and received similar treatment. It was not long before Castlehaven was providing Skipwith with an annual pension, and he was accused of attempting to have Skipwith inseminate his daughter-in-law, to produce an heir from Skipwith instead of his son. 

James, the 3rd Earl, would die without issue in 1684.

These figures are from Peter Pig, with a number of headswaps. I've decided to equip them as harquebusiers, albeit without buff coats, and a mélange of armour and helmets (including morions). No known cornet for the regiment is recorded, so I took at look at the Earl's armorial coat, which translated nicely into the conjectural cornet that Stuart at Maverick Models created for me.

If you enjoyed reading this, or any of the other posts, please consider supporting the blog. 


  1. Lovely work. And great research.

  2. Very nice looking unit. Research is not easy for this theatre, even with Padraig Lenihan's excellent book, so for my Irish confederate horse I just settled for generic Horse and generic Lancers. Paul.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Prison Wagon

Coat Colours Part 1: Parliamentarian Regiments of Foot

Warlord Pike and Shotte Epic Battles: the infantry sprue

Coat Colours Part 2: Royalist Regiments of Foot

Soldiers' Clothing of the Early 17th Century

Houses of Interest: Cambridgeshire

Flags and Colours Part 3: Media

Novelty and Change

Sir Phelim macShane O’Neill's Regiment of Foot

Colonel Ruari McGuire's Regiment of Foot