The Earl of Stamford’s Regiment of Foot: a short introduction
Stamford’s regiment was one of the 20 regiments of foot raised in London by Parliament during July and August 1642. Despite impeccable aristocratic credentials, Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford, had risen high in the favour of Parliament and had taken active steps to seize the Leicester magazine on its behalf, thus denying its resources to the King. Henry was one of the first to be declared a traitor by King Charles, but he still went to war under the motto ‘For Religion, King and Country’. Stamford followed his religious convictions to fight the King’s evil advisors rather than the King himself; to limit the power of the monarchy, not abolish it.
Training must have been quick, because by 24 September 1642, the regiment was part of the Earl of Essex’s army that had marched from London and entered Worcester. By 11 October the regiment had been moved further west to form the garrison of Hereford. They were still there when Essex took the army back to London and so did not take part in the battle of Edgehill (23 October), the first major action of the Civil Wars. In December 1642, Parliament ordered the regiment back to garrison Gloucester. Stamford was then sent, with his troop of horse, to take command of the Parliament forces in the West Country, leaving the foot regiment in Gloucester under the command of the Lieutenant Colonel, Edward Massie (or Massey).
Massie was an energetic commander who believed in taking the fight to the enemy. Throughout the following months, he led elements of the garrison in many local actions, ‘beating up’ (as the expression was) Royalist units in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. In some, such as Highnam House, he succeeded; in others, notably Cirencester, the regiment suffered.
Then in July 1643, the Royalists captured Bristol and moved north to take Gloucester as it blocked the way to their forces in Wales and the North West. From 6 August to 7 September, Gloucester was besieged, only to be relieved by Essex with an army from London when the garrison was down to its last 3 barrels of powder. After replenishing the city, Essex took his troops back to London, fighting Rupert at the battle of First Newbury (20 September) where the London Trained Bands distinguished themselves.
Throughout the rest of 1643, all 1644 and into early 1645, Massie and the regiment, with the rest of the Gloucester garrison, continued their local harassment of the Royalists in the three counties. In May 1645, Parliament ordered Massie away from Gloucester to command its forces in the Western Association and the regiment (so we believe) became Colonel Charles Blunt’s Regiment of Foot. As such, it does not seem to have been merged subsequently into the New Model Army and its ultimate fate has not yet been established.
This regiment may not have taken part in the big, national, events of the Civil Wars but it played its part in helping to keep Gloucester for Parliament. Some say that Gloucester served to distract the Royalists from the objective of taking London; if the King had concentrated on the bigger prize, then he may have made a quick and decisive stroke to end the war in its early stages.
This is a very short introduction to the history of the Earl of Stamford’s Regiment of Foot. We continue to research the history of the regiment, together with the story of the 1643 siege of Gloucester and those of Massie and the Earl himself.
One day, we will publish a more detailed account on this site, but in the meantime, if you have any information about the history of the Regiment that you would like to share, please contact Jim Spencer via the Contact Form