The following article was featured in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Wednesday 23 November 1881.

The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

(1740 – 1881)



Peculiar interest attaches itself locally to the history and achievements of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, by reason of the time-honoured associations of its senior battalions (late the 47th regiment) with the county of Lancaster.

The regiment, which, as it happens, ranks last among the territorial regiments assigned to the country, has its depot (the term brigade-depot is no longer used) established at Preston, and is made up of the corps previously known as the 47th Lancashire and 81st (Loyal Lincoln Volunteers) regiments of Foot, with the two battalions of the 3rd Royal Lancashire (Duke of Lancaster’s Own) Militia. The latter, it will be remembered, was one of the ‘supplementary’ militia corps raised in 1798, and likewise one of those retained on the ground of superior efficiency when the rest of the supplementary militia was disbanded soon afterwards. It was also one of the militia regiments which volunteered for Foreign Service during the Crimean was, and under the command of its present honorary colonel, then Colonel J. Wilson Patten, did good service for some time at Gibraltar. The services of the line battalions of the Loyal North Lancashire have been many and important, in every clime, as the following narratives prove;

The 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Late the 47th (Lancashire) Foot

47thThis distinguished corps was raised, we believe, in the North of England, during the winter of 1740 – 41, and at first ranked as the 58th Foot. It was clothed in red, with white facings, as at present – the rank and file, in the fashion of the day, wearing parti-coloured worsted lace, of which the regimental pattern was white with one scarlet and two black stripes.

When the old Marine Regiments, numbered as 43rd – 53rd, were disbanded at the peace of 1748, the regiment, then popularly known as ‘Brigadier Peregrine Lascelles’ late Mordaunt’s’ was remembered as the 47th Foot. In the meantime, broken up in detachments, it had served some years in Scotland, and had been out in the ’45. Part of it was with Sir John Cope at Prestonpans; and two companies, detached under Brevet-major Robertson, defended Edinburgh Castle, under stout old General Preston, when it was beleaguered by some 3,000 of the Pretender’s followers, and had some smart fighting. In 1747, the regiment was removed to the Channel Islands, and afterwards went to Nova Scotia.

The 47th was at Halifax, N.S, at the outbreak of the seven years’ war, and formed part of the expedition despatched thence in 1758, against the newly-completed French stronghold of Louisburg, Cape Breton, proudly styled by its possessors “the Dunkirk of America.”

After its fall the regiment went into garrison there, and next year accompanied the expedition against Quebec. At the memorable victory of 12th September 1759, it fought in the centre of the front line, the Louisburg Grenadiers and 28th, at the head of which Wolfe received his death-wound, being together with the 35th on its right and the 43rd and 15th on its left. The regiment was one of those left with General Murray in Quebec during the ensuing winter, when the garrison of 5,000 men lost 1,000 by scurvy. It was likewise with Murray in his daring attack on the French investing army of 13,000 men posted on the heights of Abraham, on 28th April 1760. When the breaking up of the ice in the St. Laurence opened the road for reinforcements, the 47th accompanied the expedition against Montreal. There, on the first anniversary of Wolfe’s victory, the French commander with the remains of his army, about 4,000 French soldiers, formally laid down their arms to Lord Rollo, at the head of the grenadiers of the English force, and the Dominion of Canada and the vast and then unfathomed realm to the westward,

“At the portals of the sunset,

In the regions of the home wind”

passed, by right of conquest, to the victors. The 47th remained in garrison at Quebec until the peace of 1763, when it returned home, and was for some years in Ireland.

Sadly changed (from a military standpoint) was the course of events when the regiment next found itself in America, just 14 years afterwards. When the unhappy dissensions with the mother country were beginning to take ominous shape, the 47th was sent out from Ireland to Boston. It was there during the troubles of 1774, and was part of the gallant little band that so stoutly toiled and bled on Bunker’s Hill, on 17th June following, where it lost 18 killed and 55 wounded, out of a total of about 400 of all ranks. When the British evacuated Boston, the 47th was sent to Nova Scotia, and thence to Quebec. It was with General Burgoyne in his rapid and successful operations on Lake Champlain, and with him too, when deserted by his Indian scouts and reduced to dire straits for supplies, he was compelled to surrender to the American leader, Gates, at Saratoga in the fall of 1777.

The late General Sir James Craig, K.B., then a captain in the 47th, was one of the officers deputed by Burgoyne to sign the articles of capitulation. From the time of its return from Canada soon after down to the outbreak of the French war, the 47th appears to have spent most of its time in Ireland. County titles were bestowed on line regiments not already in possession of special designations, in addition to their numbers in 1782, and the 47th was directed to style itself the “Lancashire” regiment, and to cultivate a recruiting connection with the county.

After the outbreak of the French Revolutionary war in 1793, the regiment was employed for many years in the West Indies and Bermuda, most of its time down to the peace of Amiens being passed in the Bahama Islands and Bermuda, between which it was divided by wings. During this period the regiment appears to have generally had a recruiting party stationed at Preston. On its return from the Antilles the regiment was not sent into Lancashire to recruit, but was stationed first at Gosport and afterwards at Colchester, where it raised a second battalion of ‘short service’ men from those enrolled under the ‘Defence Acts’ in the county of Norfolk. The second battalion thus raised afterwards represented the regiment in the Peninsula, and as the honours there acquired by it ‘Tarifa’, ‘Vittoria’, ‘San Sebastian’, ‘Nive’, ‘Peninsula’ have since been borne by the surviving battalion – now the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire – a short account of its services may fitly find insertion here.

On the completion of the 2nd Battalion, both battalions of the 47th Lancashire removed from Colchester to Ireland, and there remained some time. In the summer off 1809, the 2nd Battalion proceeded to Gibraltar, and in the following year joined the troops at Cadiz.

It served through the defence of Cadiz, under Sir Thomas Graham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch, and its flank companies fought in the stubborn fight at Barossa, on 5th March 1811. On its return to Cadiz, the battalion, under command of its gallant colonel, J. Skerrett, was detached with a small force to Tarifa, where it took a prominent part in the defence, and in the signal repulse of an overwhelming force of French troops on 31st December 1811, so eloquently described by the historian Napier. Afterwards the battalion joined Lord Wellington’s army, and with it made the campaigns of 1813-14, during which it was present the battle of Vittoria, at the siege and storm of San Sebastian, in the operations on the Nive and Adour, and at the investment of Bayonne. At the peace it returned home from Bayonne, and for some months was stationed at Liverpool. The battalion was disbanded at Chelmsford soon after.

Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion had seen much varied service. It had embarked with the troops destined to reinforce Jamaica when in peril from Admiral Villeneuve’s fleet; but when that danger was over, it had been relanded. In 1806 it proceeded to the Cape, then lately retaken by the British. On its arrival there intelligence was received that a small force, which had been dispatched under General Beresford and Commodore Sir Home Popham, to the Rio Plate, had seized Buenos Ayres and was in urgent need of support. Some troops under command of Lieutenant-colonel Backhouse, 47th, were accordingly at once dispatched to the River Plate, but on their arrival on 29th October 1806, tidings awaited them that General Beresford and his men were prisoners in the hands of the Spaniards.

Deeming an attack on Monte Video unfeasible, Colonel Backhouse occupied Maldonado, an open town lower down the river, and there remained, supporting his force by occasional foraging parties in the Pampas, until the arrival of the first reinforcements, under Sir S Auchmuty, in January 1807. On the 3rd February Monte Video was stormed by the 38th, 40th, 87th, and Rifles; in May General Whitelocke assumed the chief command; and on the arrival of further reinforcements immediately after, commenced the luckless operations on the opposite shore, which culminated in the disaster and capitulation of the British force at Buenos Ayres on 5th July 1807. During the latter proceedings the 47th was in garrison at Monte Video and not engaged.

When the British quitted South America, the 47th returned to the Cape, and thence proceeded to India, where, in the course of the next 10 years, it performed good, albeit, unstoried services by the share it bore in the suppression of piracy in the Persian Gulf, and in the operations which led to the breaking up of the Maharatta Confederacy, and the extirpation of the Pindarries, those pitiless plunderers, who, under the aegis of one or other of the great Maharatta chieftains, had so long preyed upon the peaceful inhabitants of the adjacent plains.

The first of these services was the expedition of 1809 against the Joasmis. These were a tribe of maritime Arabs occupying part of the coast of the Persian Gulf, then designated the Pirate Coast. According to the traveller Morier, some of their vessels mounted 30 to 50 guns each, and one of their fleets, which became especially notorious, carried 1,500 men. For years they had been content to prey upon native coasting craft, the crews of which were given the inevitable alternative of the Koran and slavery or a cruel death.

By and by they waxed bolder, extending their ravages to Indian waters, until the terrorism created by the constant appearance of the blood-red pirate flag on the coasts of Bombay and Cutch induced the Bombay government to despatch a small force, of which the flank companies 1st battalion 47th formed part, to destroy the Joasmi stronghold of Rhas-ul-Khymah, a service duly performed after some hard fighting.

The force afterwards proceeded to Muscat, and was for some time employed in protecting the interests of our old ally, the Imaum of Muscat, against the designs of the dreaded Wahabee chieftain Saood. The troops returned to Bombay in June 1810, and thanks to their efforts, for a while piracy ceased.

The battalion saw some service in Southern India in 1811, and was actively employed chiefly in Malwa during the Maharatta campaigns of 1816,17 and 18. In the course of these campaigns, which extended over a line of 700 miles and ended in the final break-up of the confederacy of Maharatta chiefs, the army of which the 47th (a single battalion, as it thenceforth continued) was a component part, fought 20 actions in the field and captured, by surrender, siege, or storm 120 hill forts, many of them robber eyries perched high amid cloud-capped precipices, of which the castled crags of the Rhine convey but feeble conceptions, and which had hitherto been deemed impregnable.

Later the regiment was again in the Persian Gulf. The shores of the gulf had never been surveyed and hidden in unsuspected creeks a large proportion of the pirate fleet had escaped at the time of the destruction of Rhas-ul-Khymah in 1809. In 1812 the pirate flag was afloat again; in 1819 the Joasmis, it was alleged, had a fleet of 64 vessels, carrying a force of 7,000 men, at work at their old trade. The Bombay government, therefore, in 1819, despatched an expedition under Sir W Kier Grant, consisting of H.M. 47th, 65th, and some Bombay troops, by which Rhas-ul-Khymah was again captured and destroyed. The result of these operations was the conclusion of a treaty with all the Arab tribes of the gulf for the entire suppression of piracy, and the adoption of measures for the furtherance of this end. The treaty also provided for the abolition of slavery in Arabian waters. Its provisions were not carried out without some difficulties with the Beni-boo-Ali Arabs, in which, however the 47th were not engaged.

The next services of the regiment were in the first Burmese war. The constant encroachments of Burmese officials had led to the declaration of war against Burmah, and the despatch of a small force, under Sir Archibald Campbell, to the then unknown realms of the ‘Golden Foot’ early in 1824; and thither the 47th proceeded from Madras, with the first reinforcements, in December the same year. Under command of Colonel, afterwards Lieutenant-general Elrington, the regiment took part in the operations in the neighbourhood of Rangoon, at Syriam, Donabew, and Prome in 1827-8. After peace had been dictated in sight of Ava, the 47th left Burmah for Bengal, whence the regiment returned to England in 1829.

From 1834 to 1844 the regiment was stationed in the West Indies. In 1851 it proceeded to Corfu.

When war was declared with Russia, the 47th formed part of the army sent to the East; and in brigade with the 41st and 49t, under Brigadier Cadwallader Adams, of the last-named regiment, it landed in the Crimea with Sir De Lacy Evan’s division, of which these regiments composed the 2nd brigade.

With its brigade, the 47th was present at Alma, at the repulse of the Russian sortie of 26th October 1854, sometimes called ‘Little Inkerman’, at the capture of Balaclava, and the battle of Inkerman on 5th November 1854. On the latter occasion the gallantry of Private M’Dermond, of the Regiment, in standing by his commanding officer, Colonel, afterwards Lieutenant-general W O’Grady Haly, who had received four bayonet wounds and was surrounded by Russians, was rewarded with the Victoria Cross. The regiment also served through the siege of Sebastopol, where on several occasions it was hotly engaged, more particularly in the attack on the quarries, on 7th June 1855, when it suffered heavy loss. The names of Major Villiers, of Captain Lowry, afterwards the popular commanding-officer of the regiment, during its sojourn in Lancashire some years ago, and now Major-general Lowry, C.B., of Captains Lowndes and Hunter, Lieutenants Irby, Palmer and Waddilove, and Lance-corporal Quin, all of the regiment, were specially mentioned in the despatches for gallantry on the occasion last named.


Soldiers of the 47th Regiment in the Crimea 1854.

When the British troops quit the Crimea in 1856, the 47th went to Gibraltar, whence it returned to England in August 1857.

At the time of the ‘Trent-difficulty’ this regiment was sent to Canada, and continued to serve in North America and the West Indies until 1869, when it returned to England.

The battalion has not been abroad since, and at the present time (1881) is serving in Ireland.


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