Thursday, January 10, 2019

Clothing for the Highland Regiments, 1757

The official tartan worn by the 78th Foot remains a mystery; however, many historians believe it the Black Watch plaid, same as the 42d FootIt is suspected this was also the tartan worn by Colonel Montgomery's 77th Foot, and researchers conclude any striking changes by Colonel Fraser would have probably been noted.

Colonel Fraser's army agent, George Ross, was most likely responsible for procuring uniforms for the 78th Foot [then, the Second Highland Battalion] on the colonel's behalf. Typically, the agent was responsible for handling the  administrative and financial matters, including ordering uniforms through a hired army clothier, who would employ the various trades [weavers, tailors, cordwainers, lace and button makers, etc.] to fulfill contracts and ship goods. As there were numerous army clothiers supplying the regiments, identifying the specific clothier used might assist in locating the exact cloth worn by the regiment. Two known army clothiers during the war were James Mann [St. Martin in the Fields], and Richard Lowe [King St., Covent Garden], both of Westminster, UK. Coincidentally, Ross also maintained an office in that city on Conduit Street.

Early Scottish Manufacturing
The British Linen Company was established in Edinburgh by royal charter in 1746. The Company was empowered to 'carry on the Linen Manufactory in all its branches' and was granted limited liability. The word 'British' in its title was an attempt to deflect the suspicion aroused by all things Scottish, after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The Company's key promoters were the 3rd Duke of Argyll; Lord Milton; the Earl of Panmure; and George Middleton, a London banker.

As the production of Scottish manufacturing grew slowly in the 1730s, the commercial output of linen doubled from an annual average of 3.5 million yards in 1728-32 to 7.8 million yards by 1748-52. The British Linen Company's prospects brightened in the mid-1750s as war promised to disrupt German competition, and internal correspondence indicates an eagerness to secure clothing contracts with Agent George Ross, as he represented a number of British regiments at the time. 

10 April 1755
To William Tod, London
"My Lord Milton desires you would wait on Mr. George Ross who is agent for the Earl of Home's and sundry other regiments and Make Lord Milton's compliments to him and let him know that if proper samples were fixed upon 'tis believed this Company could supply most of the regiments [at least in time] with their shirting linens and that if Mr. Ross thought it fit a trial might be made of supplying Lord Home's regiment which is now in Scotland & if that pleased others might be contracted for hereafter. And likewise the Company could engage to supply them with their linen for splatterdashes."

Mr. Tod was a sales agent for the British Linen Company operating from an office in London. Although it is unclear if he was successful signing George Ross to contract for clothing any of his regiments, including the 78th Foot, the amount of cloth needed to outfit a large army in such a short period of time [over 10 miles of material] would have definitely required the services of a company with considerable output capabilities. 

Clothing for a Highland Regiment
From the document titled "A State of Clothing for a Highland Regiment at first raising, 1757.
For each man, 1st year:
- 1 Coat
- 1 Waistcoat
- 1 Plaid
- 1 Bonnet
- 2 Shirts
- 2 Stocks
- 2 Pairs shoes
- 4 Pairs hose

For each man, 2d year:
- 1 Coat
- 1 Bonnet
- 1 Shirt
- 1 Stock
- 2 Pairs shoes
- 2 Pair hose

N.B. The plaid to last two years, the Shoes & hose to be deliver'd half yearly, Viz, one pair of Shoes & two pairs hose in June, and one pair Shoes wth. the other two pairs hose in December. The old Coat makes the vestcoat after the first cloathing.

From the document titled "Regulation of Cloathing for a Highland Regt. of Foot, c. 1757.
For a Serjeant:
- A Plaid of good tartan Cloth to be delivered once in two years at 1s/6d p. yard
- A Short Coat of Red Cloth every year
- A Waistcoat made out of the coat of preceding year
- A Bonnet every year at 1/2 a piece
- A good Shirt and Stock once a year
- A Pair of Short Hose every 3 Months at 1/5 p. pc
- A Pair of Shoes at 3/4 every 6 Months or money

For a Drummer:
- A Plaid of good Tartan Cloth once in two years containing 12 yards at 1s /p yard
- A Short Coat of good Cloth every year
- A Waistcoat made out of the Coat of the preceding yr
- A Bonnet every Year at 9d apiece
- A good Shirt and Stock once a year
- A pair of Short Hose every 3 Months ¾ yd. each at 10d p yard
- A pair of Shoes every 6 Months
- A belt and Sling once a year if wanted

For a private Soldr: as a Drummer:
Memoranda for Coll. Montgomery
- One of the Selvages to be Twiled
- Prices to be like Lord John Murray's
- Commission to Scott 2½ p cent
- Regimental buckles are got
- Regimental Garters to be bought at Glasgow
- Belts for Kelting Men provide
- Plaids, Bonnets, and Hose provided for the officers and charged to Paymaster

Note: It's worth mentioning, Lieutenant John Robertson, 42d Foot, gazetted 21 July 1758, paid James Scott, merchant in Edinburgh, for the following goods prior to his departure for North America. Scott operated a shoppe of eleven windows in the Canongate District near St. John's Cross to the foot of St. Mary's Wynd. Dated 23 August 1758. [NAS, GD132/395].

- 4 yards scarlet and white tartan
¾ yard superfine scarlet cloth
- 4 yards trustian
- 4½ yards tartan for phealbeg [sic]
- 2 yards broad linen for drawers
- Bonet [sic]
- Ribbons, cockade
- Black feathers
- 1 pair broad rib'd silk hose

Additionally, the lieutenant discharged an account to Jean Murray, merchant in Blair [Atholl], for tartan, ribbons for cockades, etc. Dated 29 March 1759. [NAS, GD132/397].

Alexander Grant, 77th Foot, had an account due with Peter Leith, for his military uniform. Dated 24 January 1757. [NAS, GD248/83/3]. This may be the same man listed as journeyman tailor in Edinburgh's South West Parish, Oct. 1754.

Calcraft, John. "Regulation of Cloathing for a Highland Regt. of Foot, c. 1757." James Grant of Ballindalloch papers, 1740-1819, Library of Congress.

"A State of Clothing for a Highland Regiment at first rising, 1757." James Grant of Ballindalloch papers, 1740-1819, Library of Congress.

“British Linen Bank.” Lloyds Banking Group. Accessed 10 January 2019.

Durie, Alastair J. The British Linen Company, 1745-1775. Scottish History Society, 1996. Internal company letter written to William Tod, 10 April 1755. 

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2019. 


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