Robert Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foot

Brooke was the local magnate for Warwickshire and his regiment seems to have been raised both there and in London. He was provided with £644 14s by the parliamentary Committee of Safety in London on 17 August 1642 to raise a regiment of 1,200 men, excluding officers, and purchase partisans, halberds, drums and a surgeon’s chest. The fact that, unlike other parliamentary colonels raising regiments at this time, he was not paid levy money or given funds to purchase colours suggests that his regiment was well on its way to being formed by this date. Initially the regiment was recruited on the basis of a 1,200-man formation, but by mid-September expectations had been modified and the company sizes re-established on the basis of an 800-man unit. Warrants were issued on 22 and 29 August 1642 for the supply of 850 coats and other items of clothing to the six companies in Brooke’s regiment, although the regiment was then only around 500 men strong. It is doubtful if it ever had a strength of 850 men and by mid-September 1642 is likely to have consisted of around 700 men, excluding officers.

The regiment wore purple-coloured coats and appears to have been officered as follows:

  • Colonel Robert the Lord Brooke (Captain-Lieutenant John Ashfield)
  • Lieutenant Colonel (Edward Peyto or possibly Henry Billingsley)
  • Sergeant Major Walter Aylworth
  • Captain Thomas Fitch
  • Captain John Lilburne
  • Captain Ralph Coatsforde
  • Captain Scowcroft
  • Captain Nicholas Warren
  • Captain John Bridges

Peyto was identified as the regiment’s Lieutenant Colonel in September 1642, but seems to have been based at Warwick in the early stages of the Edgehill campaign and after the battle of Brentford became responsible for the field army’s train of artillery. It is unclear whether Peyto’s company was recruited and, if so, whether it garrisoned Warwick or was with Brooke’s regiment at Edgehill. Henry Billingsley, who, after being cashiered as Lieutenant Colonel in Denzil Holles’s regiment in late-August 1642 was appointed as assistant to the Sergeant Major General of the army, is known to have commanded a company in Brooke’s regiment at Edgehill as wounded soldiers from his company are recorded at Warwick after the battle. There is also a warrant of 2 December 1642 for the issue of 200 coats and other items of clothing to Lieutenant Colonel Billings, which was received by Brooke in January 1643, possibly for the soldiers from the regiment that were stripped of their clothes following the battle of Brentford and for new recruits. John Bridges also appears to have been based at Warwick through the Edgehill campaign and was responsible for raiding the king’s baggage train before the battle and then returning to Warwick. From the limited evidence available it seems his company was with him at Warwick. Assuming Peyto and Bridges were based at Warwick, it seems likely that Brooke’s regiment only consisted of around 630 men at the battle of Edgehill.

Brooke’s regiment fought at Edgehill in the rear battle of Essex’s army with Denzil Holles’s regiment; 80 men were wounded there and by 12 November 1642 the regiment had only 480 men remaining. At the battle of Brentford the regiment defended the second barricade in the town and succeeded in delaying the royalist advance for up to two hours. Fifty-seven of Brooke’s soldiers were captured and a number may have drowned in an attempt to escape the pursuing royalist forces.

Brooke was killed at the siege of Lichfield in March 1643 and his regiment disappeared from the parliamentarian order of battle shortly afterwards.