Major-General Farrington Documents (1694 to 1710)

The Worcestershire Regiment Archives and Museum have in their possession a group of documents of the highest interest, possibly unique, relating to the raising and equipment of the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment on its first formation in 1694 and during the years immediately after that date. These documents were presented to the Regiment in 1935 by the direct descendant of the first Colonel of the Regiment, Major-General Thomas Farrington.

Major-General Farrington was himself the son of a Mr. Thomas Farrington, of Bertie Place, Chislehurst, Kent, who married in 1663 Mary, the sister of the Right Honourable John Smith of Tedworth (now known to the Army as Tidworth), Hampshire, afterwards Chancellor of the Exchequer to King William III and Speaker in the first two Parliaments of Queen Anne. They had one son Thomas, who entered the Army, serving in the Coldstream Guards, and in 1687 held the rank of Captain in that regiment. In those days, however, also long afterwards, officers of the Foot Guards enjoyed an honorary rank as compared with the rest of the Army; a Lieutenant in the Foot Guards ranked as a Major in the Army and a Captain as a Lieut.-Colonel, (the last remnant of this still surviving is that a subaltern of the Foot Guards wears on the peak of his cap a gold band like that of a Major of the Line) so that Thomas Farrington held the latter rank in the Army when in 1687 he married Miss Theodosia Bettenson. About the same period his sister married one of his brother officers in the Coldstream Guards, Captain and Lieut.-Colonel William Selwyn.

Major-General Thomas Farrington
Who in 1694 raised the Regiment, afterwards entitled the 29th and later became the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
This portrait remained in the possession of his direct desendants until in 1917 when it was sold by auction.

daughter of Richard Bettenson, of Chislehurst, who in 1687 married
Lieut.-Col. (afterwards Maj.-Gen.) Thomas Farrington

Two generations later, the grand-daughter of Lieut.-Colonel (afterwards Major-General) Thomas Farrington, who inherited his property, married the second Viscount Sydney, whose family name was Townshend. Their daughter and heiress married the Earl of Romney, whose family name was Marsham. In consequence the property and papers of the Farrington family (together with those of the Bettensons and the Selwyns) have passed to the descendants of that Countess of Romney, of whom the representative is now Mr. H. S. Marsham-Townshend of Scadbury Park. Through the good offices of Colonel F. J. F. Edlmann, D.S.O., J.P., of Hawkwood, Chistlehurst, Kent (Colonel Edhnann served during the Great War 1914-18 with the 2lst Division, which was commanded during 1915-1916 by Major-General [later Field-Marshal] Sir Claud Jacob, who became Colonel of the Worcestershire Regiment) Mr. Marsham-Townshend has most kindly presented to The Worcestershire Regiment the documents in his possession relating to the earliest days of the Regiment' s career and these are now held in the Regimental Museum.

Genealogical Table
To show the successive owners of the Farrington Documents


The 1st Battalion was raised, as every recruit should know, by Colonel Thomas Farrington in 1694. In those days, when the organization of Government services was still in a primitive state, there was no proper War Office to deal with details of the recruitment and clothing of the Army. When it was desired to increase the armed forces of the Crown, Commissions were given to selected officers (or other gentlemen of means) as Colonels to raise regiments. These Colonels then collected suitable officers, and with their aid raised the necessary number of recruits, for whose clothing, equipment and pay they became responsible. Government simply furnished the Colonel with a lump sum of money to cover the expenses of the Colonel, on his producing the required number of soldiers, fully equipped. Government also provided the firearms. The Colonel did the rest.

This system, which suited the primitive conditions of that time, remained in force throughout the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, although as the machinery of Government grew more efficient the control of the central authority over the Colonels of Regiments became more definite. It was not until after the Crimean War of 1854-5 that the responsibility of the Colonel of a Regiment for the clothing of his men was finally abolished, and not until some twenty years later that the Colonelcy ceased to have any financial meaning and became the unpaid appointment which it remains to-day. In the Indian Army a similar system remained in vogue even longer—the so-called “Silladar” system, under which Indian cavalry regiments were largely self-administered units right up to the outbreak of the last war in 1914.

It will be understood, therefore, that when the 1st Battalion was raised in 1694 the Colonel of the Regiment was responsible for all arrangements made about it, for its clothing, equipment and pay. The rates of pay were laid down by higher authority and the general patterns of clothing and equipment were also regulated; but the details remained in the hands of the Colonel, who was responsible for providing his soldiers with their clothing and necessaries.

At that period (1694) a war with France had been raging for more than five years, ever since the Parliament and people of this country had risen in rebellion against King James II and, driving that obstinate monarch from the country, had proclaimed his daughter the Princess Mary, and her husband, Prince William of Orange, on the 18th February, 1689, to be Queen and King of this country, as Queen Mary II and King William III. The King of France, Louis XIV, had taken up the cause of the exiled James, and threatened to invade this country to restore him by force. Britain under this threat had made common cause with the Dutch and with other States on the Continent equally menaced by French aggression, a British expeditionary force was sent across to Flanders in 1692, and for three years a protracted series of operations had continued. During this war additional corps were formed from time to time, Colonel Farrington’s Regiment being one of several which were authorised to be raised in the spring of 1694. The young Colonel received his formal commission to raise his Regiment in the February of 1694. Presumably he at once busied himself with the selection of officers and the arrangements for recruiting. At the end of March, as we now learn, he concluded a contract for the clothing and equipment of his new regiment.

The documents which are now in the possession of the Regimental Museum are five in number, as follows:

(1) Contract for the clothing and equipment of the Regiment dated 26th March 1694.
(2) Contract for clothing dated 30th January 1695.
(3) Certificate signed by an official of the “Secretary-at-Warr” that Farrington’s Regiment was raised (for the second time, as will be explained later) on the 18th March 1702.
(4) Contract for new uniforms, dated 9th March 1708.
(5) Authorised Establishment of the Regiment, giving rates of pay, dated 25th June 1710.
Each of these documents has particular points of interest, which we will explain separately.
The first document gives a very detailed statement of the complete kit of a soldier in those days. It also provides the detail of the authorised establishment of an infantry regiment at that date. From it the reader can learn that the non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment were then as follows (the spelling is as written):










Serjeants (including 3 of the Grenadeers)


Drumms (including 2 of the Grenadeers)

Making a total of 819 exclusive of the officers. In those days, as may be learnt from Col. Everard’s History of the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment, each company of foot consisted of 48 “musqueteers” and 14 “pikemen”. The “Grenadeers” formed a separate company by themselves, with their own Serjeants and “Drumms.”
Each man, according to the contract, was to receive:
“one coat and breeches, one paire of shoes, one paire of stockings one hatt, two shirts and two necklass (neck-cloths),” except that the “Grenadeers” were to have “one Cap” instead of a “hatt,” this being the mitre-shaped cloth cap then worn by that species of soldier. ‘Grenadeers” were specially picked men of high stature and comely build” selected as what we should nowadays term “bombers.” They alone were armed with bombs, then termed “grenadoes,” but they also carried a “musquet” (or “fire-lock”) which they slung over their shoulder when about to hurl their dangerous missiles. Their distinctive “Cap” originated from this necessity of slinging their firearms, since the broad brim of the “hatt” worn by the other soldiers would 0f necessity interfere with the passing of a sling over the head. In 1694 and for some three generations afterwards the Caps of the Grenadiers were made of cloth, but in 1768 we adopted a foreign fashion and gave our Grenadiers caps of dark fur, from which have been evolved the well-known bearskin caps of His Majesty’s Foot Guards.

The Farrington document of 1694 (Document 1)
(Contract for the clothing and equipment of the Regiment dated 26th March 1694)

The equipment of the different types of soldier in the Regiment varied widely. The “Musqueteers,” according to this contract, were to receive “ one sword and belt” and “one Snapp Sack “—the latter being presumably the original English spelling of that curiously foreign term “Knapsack” now re-named in our Army a “pack.” The “ Grenadeers” were to have a “hanger” in place of a sword— presumably a lighter form of weapon—and also “one match box” to carry the ingredients wherewith to ignite their bombs. The Pikemen were to have “one sword and shoulder-belt” costing half as much again as the “sword and belt” of the “Musqueteers, from which it may be assumed that the “belt” of these latter was worn round the waist. The Serjeants wore equally a “sword and belt,” but more expensive still, so that presumably their belt may have been embroidered or ornamented in some way; there is no mention of any Serjeant’s Sash. The Drumms, like the “Grenadeers” wore a “hanger” in place of a sword, and it is to be noticed that (except the two “drumms” allowed for the Grenadeer Company) they wore a “hatt” like the men, not a Cap like the Grenadeers as their descendants did fifty years later; but the coats of the “Drumms” were to be so much more expensive than those of the rank and file (£3 10s. as against £1 18s.) that evidently they were ornamented then as elaborately as in the full dress of the present day.

One other point is of importance in this first document. Before 1689, it is known each company of infantry had its own Company Colours. Late in the Seventeenth Century these were reduced to three per battalion and at some later period reduced again to the present arrangement of two Colours (King’s and Regimental) per battalion. But the dates of these successive changes are still uncertain. This contract, however, throws some light on the matter; for it stipulates definitely for: “ye 3 Colours of ye Regiment — £25 : 0 : 0,” showing that in 1694 Company Colours had already disappeared, although the reduction to the present pair of Colours had not yet taken place.

Unfortunately this contract gives us no information as to the details of these Regimental Colours, or as to that of the clothing of the soldiers, merely specifying that it should be “according to ye sealed pattens,” whatever they may have been. Light, and an unexpected light, is thrown on this obscure point, however, by the next document of the series.

This, which we will term “Document No. 2,” is a contract for new clothing ten months later, on the 30th January, 1695. (The date actually shown on the document is “ 1694- 5,” and it must be explained that it was then the custom to employ a doubled date like this for the first three months of every year—presumably since the “financial year” ran on then, as now, to the beginning of April.) It was quite normal then for the troops to be issued with new clothing once a year, and in this case evidently the whole regiment was re-equipped; for this second contract, made incidentally with different contractors from those of the year before, (The contract of 1694 was made with “James and Stephen Pigou, Citizens and Merchants of London.” That of 1695 was made with Thomas Plummer, Citizen and Weaver of London and James Gutheridge, of the Parish of St. Martin’s-in-the-Field in the County of Middlesex. Taylor.”) provides for” 754 coats . . . for the Private Sentinells and Corporalls . . . . 39 coats . . . for the Serjeants and 26 . . . for the Drummers,” making the same total of 819 as before. But the surprise is in the detail given of this costume; for these uniforms are to be “of white Kersey faced with yellow . . . . and as many breeaches of blew Kersey to tie below knee,” except for the drummers, who were to have coats “of yellow Kersey faced with blew Bays,” with breeches whose colour is not stated but probably also of “blew.”

This is quite unexpected information. Previously it was known (from a notice offering reward for apprehension of a deserter, quoted in Colonel Everard’s History of the 29th) that a year or so later the Regiment wore red uniforms faced with yellow, and blue breeches; and it is the more startling to find this definite order for white uniforms. It is known that at that period the red coat was by no means universal, that the Earl of Bath’s Regiment (now “our Cousins” the l0th Lincolns) wore “butcher blue” faced with red (whence their present regimental tie) and that Sanderson’s Regiment (now the 1st East Lancashire) wore grey uniforms faced with purple; but no one has so far ever recorded a British regiment dressed in white with yellow facings. Nevertheless the wording is quite clear on the document, and until it is explained in some way it must needs be accepted.

One might hazard many guesses—that it may then have been intended to send the regiment on active service to the West Indies, where some rather obscure operations were actually then in progress, and that Colonel Farrington, far ahead of his time, thought white uniforms suitable for tropical climates. But there is no particle of foundation for such a guess. Then again it must be remembered that white uniforms were not at all unusual at that period. The French infantry and the Austrian infantry both wore white or greyish-white —really plain undyed cloth at that period, for it was not until about 1740 that both these armies dyed their coats really white — so that Colonel Farrington may quite easily have copied one or other of those Continental models. Nevertheless this contract is definitely unusual and remains to be explained.

Document No. 3 is simple — a certificate signed by one Jeremy Taylor that Colonel Farrington’s Regiment was raised “on the English Establishment” (for Scotland and Ireland then had their separate Army Lists) by orders bearing date the 18th day of March,. 1701/2. (It must be explained that it was then the custom to employ a doubled date like this for the first three months of every year—presumably since the “financial year” ran on then, as now, to the beginning of April.) This was the second raising of the Regiment, which had been paid off on the conclusion of hostilities in 1698, but was reassembled with most 0f the same officers when the war was renewed again in the spring of 1702.

Contract for new uniforms, dated 9th March 1708 (Document 4)

Document No. 4, the contract for clothing in 1708, is of interest when compared with that of 1694. The Pikemen have disappeared, for bayonets affixable to the muzzles of the muskets had taken the place of the old pikes as the prime weapons for close quarters; and the battalion now consists of 600 “Centinells” (of whom 60 were grenadiers issued with “Caps,” whereas the remaining 540 had “hatts”), 36 Serjeants, and 23 Drummers. Of the latter, two, presumably those of the grenadier company, are to have caps, the remainder “hatts.” Curiously enough there is here no mention of any serjeants for the grenadier company, but there appears a new rank, not mentioned in 1694, the Drum Major,” who wears, be it noted, a “Hatt,” presumably of superior magnificence to that of the rest.

The reduction in total numbers covered by this contract — 659 as against 819 — requires some explanation. Perhaps it may be due to the fact that the Regiment had then recently returned home from active service overseas and was not yet recruited up to the full establishment.

Authorised Establishment of the Regiment, giving rates of pay, dated 25 June 1710 (Document 5)

The last document, No. 5, gives a detailed establishment of the Regiment for 1710. From it we may learn that the battalion was then organized in 13 companies each of 56 “private men,” with to each company one Captain, one Lieutenant, one Ensign, three Serjeants, three Corporalls and two Drummers, also “one company of Granadiers to compleat the Regiment” of similar strength, save that the Ensign was replaced by a (second) Lieutenant. The Battalion staff consisted, apart from the Colonel of the Regiment, of one Lieut.-Colonel, one Major, one Chaplain, one Adjutant, one Quartermaster, and a Chirurgeon with his Mate. Rates of pay are laid down; a Captain then received 8/- - a day, an Ensign 3/-, a Serjeant 1/6, and a Private Soldier 8d.; but of course the purchasing value of these sums was then four or five times what they would be now; for instance, a good horse could be purchased for £5.

These, in brief outline, are the very interesting collection of old documents, which have now passed into the keeping of the Regiment.

If you are interested in obtaining higher resolution copies of these unique document you should contact the Regimental The Worcestershire Regiment Museum, Dancox House, T.A. Centre, Pheasant Street, Worcester, WR1 2EE. They should be able to supply copies for a fixed fee.