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Orders for the Royal Marines c.1755 - 1765
"Portsmouth, Standing Orders for the Division of Marines.
...The Commifsion Officers to remain with their Companies Unless directed otherwise in Publick Orders.
1. All Officers whilst at headquarters are to appear with their swords on and drefsed in a soldier like manner and never to appear on any sort of duty, but in red cloaths with sashes.
2. Officers when they arrive at Quarters are immediately to wait upon the field Officers and as soon as they are given out in Publick Orders they are directed to attend the field punctually at the usual hours of exercise.
3. All Officers on their arrival at Quarters are to be presented to the companies and squads they belong to. They are then to give orders to the Serjts. and Corporals of the company or squad they are directed to take charge off, to bring them all orders relative to their companies and report to them daily all casualties.
4. All Officers to have effective lists of their companies on which they are to note the casualties. They are likewise to have linnen rolls and are constantly to review the mens necefsaries twice a week, Viz: tuesdays and saturdays and report in writing to the Commanding Officer every wednesday morning before 12 O'Clock the state and condition they find them in. All marines doing duty at headquarters are to have at least three white shirts, 3 stocks, two pair of stockings, two pair of shoes, one pair of brown spatterdashes, a pair of buckle garters, a black leather stock and buckle, a hat and hair cockade and no marine to wear his cap but upon duty.
6. The several companies to be drawn up by squads every morning in the field exactly at the time ordered by the Commanding Officers for the mens being under arms. The Officers are then strictly to review their mens cloaths, arms and accoutrements and do their utmost to oblige them, at all times to make a soldier like appearence.
7. The rolls to be called twice a day in the field during the summer season and in the winter or when there is no field day, the men are to afsemble at the Officers Quarters at the hour fixed in Publick Orders, and the roll to be called there in his presence. All casualties that happen in the squads or companies to be immediately reported to the Commanding Officer.
8. As marines from the sea and from hospitals generally come to Quarters tottally out of repair, and their cloaths and arms in a most shamefull condition the Officer commanding the company or squad to which such marines belong is strictly ordered to examine into the state and condition of all such men and make an immediate report thereof in writing to the Commanding Officer who will give directions to the Deputy Pay Master to cause the said marines to be supplyed with proper necefsaries as far as their credit will admit after which the Officer commanding ye said squad or company is to report the same to the first field Officer that attends the field and show him the men.
9. The mens sea necefsaries to be taken from them on their arrival at Quarters and given in charge to ye Quarter Master who will preserve them for their use when they go on to sea again.
10. All marines furnished with necefsaries at Quarters to be put under stoppages not exceeding elevenpence a week. Which stoppages are to be given in with an account of the mens debts to the Deputy Pay Master every monday before 12 O'Clock.
11. All Officers meeting Noncommifsioned Officers or private men in the streets dirty or ill drefsed are immediately to enquire what duty they are employed in, and, if they belong to Headquarters to confine them but if belonging to any ship to take their names, number of company and ships names and immediately report the same to the Commanding Officer.
12. The Noncommifsion Officers to appear at all times in their uniforms and no Serjeant to be seen in the street without his sword on.
13. The Noncommifsioned Officers and men for duty are allways to appear in clean linnen and brown spatterdashes with their caps on. To be well powdered and shaved, their shoes well blacked, accoutrements well put on and their arms in perfect good order, and it is ordered that the Officer of the company or squad to which the men for duty belongs to see this order punctually obeyed.
14. When any marine has any complaint to make or wants a furlow he is to apply to the Commanding Officer of the company or squad he belongs and on no account to apply himself to any of the field Officers unlefs the Officer of the squad or company neglect to take notice of his request or complaint. The Officers are from time to time to acquaint the men with this order that none may plead ignorance.
15. All embarkations to be given out in orders as soon as a demand is made by the Commanding Sea Officer and the Surgeon is constantly to attend the parading all parties to certifye that the men are in perfect health. Lists of the parties signed by the adjt. to be immediately sent to the Deputy Pay Master and the Officers who pay Companies are at the same to give into the Deputy Pay Master an account of the mens debts contracted on shoar [shore] that they may be charged against them before they embark, otherwise it cannot be allowed in the Officers accounts.
16. To prevent the marines when ordered for sea duty from making away with their white shirts, etc, etc, the adjt is on his making up the parties to acquaint the men that their necefsaries will be examined before they embark and that such as are found to have made away with any part of them will be stopped from going on board, tryed by a Court Martial and most severly punished.
17. Subsistance for the Officers to be issued by the Deputy Pay Master the first day of every month between the hours of eight and one and the Officers who pay companies to draw subsistance for their men every monday morning from seven to twelve. No Officer to advance subsistance to men going on furlow till they are entered in the Deputy Pay Masters books, nor subsist men from ships or hospitals till mustered by the Clerk of the Cheque, and their tickets or discharge showed.
18. Officers commanding squads or companies to be particulary carefull that reports are made daily to the Surgeon of the sick, and such as are not taken into the Infirmary are to attend there if able every day between the hours of ten and two.
19. The men to parade every sunday morning at their Officers Quarters perfectly clean, the rolls to be called, and the men marched to church by a serjeant and no man to presume to leave till Divine is over. Returns of the absent to be made to the Adjt. every monday morning.
20. The Commanding Officer of each squad to appoint a place within the walls for the men to parade at every morning at 1/2 past 7 there to be reviewed by himself or such of his subalterns as he shall appoint in order that whatever is amifs in the mens drefs, arms or accoutrements may be rectifyed before they are marched to the place of exercise and no man to be suffered to repair there not drefsed in a soldier like manner."
In 1755 Grand Divisions of the Royal Marines were established being based at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham. Before this date the Marines were raised and disbanded according to need and circumstances. The Grand Divisions established the Marines on a regular basis. The Standing Orders for the Portsmouth Division, printed above, would therefore date from 1755 onwards, from when the Divisions were formed. Also, a comparison between the uniform details contained in these orders with those found in the Daily Order Books of the other two Divisions, points to a date for the Portsmouth Orders of between 1755 to 1765. Uniform details from the Other Divisions Order Books are as follows :-
1755 (Plymouth) Coats ordered to be worn "hooked up always" and white stockings to be worn by both Officers and men. The former "when under arms" to wear "stiff- topped buff-coloured gloves.
1756 (Chatham) "No man to appear in the streets with his Hat flapped", and Sergeants and Corporals of each Company to take care that the Men all keep their Hats well cocked.
1757 (Chatham) The complement of Necessaries of each man of the Division is three shirts, two pair of shoes and three pairs of stockings. The Officers are to observe the length of the mens shirts to be to the top of the knee pan.
1758 (Plymouth) Brown linen spatterdashes ordered "for Guard".
1761 (Chatham) Captain Davidson, First Lt.Davis and 2nd Lt. Davidson to appear in their Uniform, Fuzees, Sashes, Corselets and Boots. The rest of the Officers in their Uniform with white stockings.
1764 (Plymouth) Officers ordered to have "Uniform Frocks lapelled with white cloth with a Death's Head button. Waistcoats white with plain buttons. Frock to have a stand-up cape(collar). Breeches to be of leather and Hats "Plain" with a gilt button and Double Gold loop". Officers were to agree on a Shoulder knot.
1765 (Plymouth) At an Inspection by the Duke of Gloucester, Officers ordered to wear, "Laced Uniforms, coat, waistcoat and Hat, white breeches and boots". The men to have on spatterdashes and their "Caps...Tops perfectly clean and well dressed".
1766 (Plymouth) Men ordered to wear white stockings and short spatterdashes and spatterdash tops.
1767 (Plymouth) " The Officers to make Uniform frocks with white lapels, and cuffs, the white of the lapels to be each full three inches depth. The cuff to be close and round, with four buttons and four button-holes. The same number of holes to be on the pocket of the coat and waistcoat. On the hip and side-plates four buttons. A white turned-down collar; the waistcoat and breeches white cloth. The lining of the coat and waistcoat, white shaloon. A plain double-gilt button of the same pattern as may be seen at the Adjutants Office. Each Officers coat of the Battalion to have a gold fringe epaulet on the right shoulder and the Grenadier Officers to have one on each shoulder".
1768 (Plymouth) Officers ordered to wear their frocks,"with skirts turned back", short spatterdashes and hair queued. The men to wear white breeches and short spatterdahes, their " New hats " and their hair, " plaited and turned up inside their hats ".
1769 (Plymouth) Officers ordered to wear their coats without any lace or embroidery, Hats with New pattern lace, two epaulets with no distinctions of rank. Gorgets when ordered. Men to wear red breeches and long spatterdahes to mount guard in. Officers to have New uniform gorgets ( Silver ).
Standing Orders for the Royal Marines C.1755-1765, printed with the permission of the Principal Archivist, Nottinghamshire Archivies. Ref.No.DDS 49/115 Britains Sea Soldiers by Colonel C.Field, Lyceum Press, Liverpool 1924. Nelsons Navy by Brain Lavery, Conway Press 1989. Thanks to M.Little, Archivist Royal Marines Museum for his help.
This article first appeared in " 18th Century Notes and Queries " published by Partizan Press, 818 London Road, Leigh on Sea, Essex, SS9 3NH, England.
Copyright: Keith Raynor