…Including some personal reminiscences by Bob Partridge, formerly Commanding Officer (amongst other things).
(this is an article written by Bob in 1992, which was found floating about on the web - johno)
The Sealed Knot was formed in 1968 (as you must all know). Almost immediately the initial enthusiasts began raising regiments and recruiting their friends, who recruited their friends etc. etc.
Prince Maurice's Regiment was probably formed in 1968 or at the latest in 1969. It was raised by Maurice Burton-Crawford in the West Country. Maurice was at that time living in Brixham (my hometown). I distinctly remember seeing recruiting posters on local shops in early 1969. I was keen to join then, but none of my school friends were interested so I forgot all about the Sealed Knot until 1975 when I was working in Bridgewater in Somerset.
The Sealed Knot were reenacting the Battle of Sedgemoor. Working for Barclays Bank, my branch manager was a member of the local Lions Club who were sponsoring the event and a few of us were "volunteers " to help with distributing posters and selling programmes. This was no hardship as there were several of us in digs during the week with little else to do and we stayed for the weekends activities. For a week, the town was full of oddly dressed people, who seemed to spend most of their time in pubs. The battles and parades were wonderful and two of us decided we just had to join. Not knowing anyone in the Sealed Knot, we wrote off to the Membership Secretary and were advised that we had been posted to Prince Maurice's Regiment as Dragoones. (We had expressed a preference to be Royalists). We were told to contact Maurice Burton-Crawford, the Commanding Officer, who would give us further details of uniform etc. (I will admit that at this time I had never heard of Prince Maurice and assumed that the Regiment had been named after Maurice Burton-Crawford, who had assumed the title of "Prince" within the Society ... I was probably only slightly wrong on this!).
By the time we joined, the campaigning season was almost over. Maurice had moved to Horrabridge in Devon so all our contact with him was through the post to begin with. We were given details of uniform and set about making them. At this time there were hardly anyone making costumes and very few merchants, so most people had to make their own uniforms.
Black Breeches: A pair of black trousers, turned into breeches by cutting them off at the knee. I had to go out and buy a new pair to cut down, the zip fly remained.
Socks: White nylon football socks.
Shirt: White, large collar. The shirt was my old school shirt. I stitched some lace around the cuffs and around the large circular collar (I think I managed to buy the collar). The lace was the biggest and best synthetic lace I could get.
Buff Coat: Hoggar Brown colour (a sort of Tan) PVC was the material we had to use (and was extremely difficult to get hold of, but it HAD to be this shade). The design resembled a long waistcoat and the edges of the coat were trimmed with gold braid. (The gold braid had a blue velvet ribbon threaded through it - this had to be done by hand). On the left breast of the buff coat we wore a badge of blue felt, outlined with the braid and bearing a gold lion. (The outside seam of the breeches was also braided). These coats were extremely uncomfortable to wear. One got very hot and very sticky very quickly (a bit like plastic Car seats).
Hat: Black felt, with the rim edged with braid. The rim to be turned up on the left side and a gold Lion fixed to the turned up side. Blue and white ostrich feathers were used as decoration. (Coloured feathers are sometimes not a good idea, as when rained upon the colour does tend to fall out onto collars).
Sash: Bright Pink, fringed with gold.
Boots: Black Bucket top. The instructions (which I followed) were to use black ankle boots and add a PVC bucket top, secured by elastic under the instep. A band of lace was fixed around the top of the boots with Velcro. (Wonderful stuff is Velcro and it was used on many articles of early Sealed Knot clothing..... one could hear the ripping sound of Velcro coming from the early Sealed Knot toilets (canvas screens and pits) at a hundred paces).
Weapon: A sword. We were told to purchase a "Leon Paul" sabre or epee. Most used them as purchased, but some managed to alter the hilt to look less like a modern fencing weapon and slightly more 17th Century.
Helmet: Lobster pot with a gold lion painted on the front.
(The overall effect of this was not as bad as you would perhaps think looking through "authentic" eyes. It was certainly colourful and over-the-top, but from the crowd viewpoint the fine detail was lost and we did put on impressive and entertaining battles, even in the very early days).
We spent all winter getting the uniform together and it wasn't until early in 1976 that we first met up with the rest of the Regiment and walked straight into a dispute over authenticity! We turned up looking exactly as Maurice had instructed, at a time when other members were genuinely trying to improve their appearance.
Some members wanted to change to real leather buff coats. We were not allowed to ... our Uniform was "Hoggar Brown PVC". One or two members had got around this problem by protesting that they were "allergic" to PVC. This was believed by our Commanding Officer and leather coats were allowed for these members, but they had to be Hoggar brown in colour.
The Regiment at this time had an artillery company and a small pike block. The artillery pieces were small but good (one gun is still in use today in Grenville's Regiment). The pike were odd pieces of wood, rarely more than about eight feet in length, carried by the heavier members of the Regiment.
The majority of the members were sword-wielding Dragoones. Maurice and the other officers taught us stage fighting and we put on impressive displays at battles, which the crowds always seemed to appreciate. Our opponents (usually Meldrum's Dragoones) were similarly equipped.
There was a marked lack of parliamentary opposition in the Westcountry. Maurice had the idea of raising a Parliamentarian Company within the Regiment so we had someone to fight. This worked well for a short time and some willing volunteers changed the colour of their sashes. Politics then reared its head. The Army of Parliament objected (understandably) to an ostensibly parliamentarian unit under Royalist control and the parliamentarian members of the Regiment probably were fed up being beaten all the time by the rest of the Regiment. The outcome of all this was the formation of Colonell Wardlawe's Dragoones in the Army of Parliament, under the Command of Richard Webb. Prince Maurice's lost some of its keenest members, but we continued to socialise together and gained worthy opponents on the field who were as well trained as ourselves.
It was around about this time that our opponents started equipping themselves with a new and fearsome weapon... the musket. As Dragoones, some of us (not unreasonably we thought) asked our Commanding Officer if we too could obtain muskets. The answer was no, "our weapon is the Sword" and by the way "our uniform is Hoggar Brown PVC buff coats!" (Noises were still being made about buff coats and Parliament were already wearing the new authentic real leather). I had by this time, managed to buy a real leather coat which was nearly -'Hoggar Brown" shade... I wore it at musters when Maurice wasn't around.
More and more muskets appeared in the army of Parliament, but we continued to soldier on with our swords. We eventually made our point at a Muster in Bristol, where we were faced with an impressive bank of muskets. On being fired upon, to a man, we all died leaving our Commanding officer alone amidst the smoke and looking somewhat bemused. It was at this muster that Maurice resigned as Commanding officer and that the Captain Generall granted Prince Maurice's Bye-Trayne of Artillery Regimental Status as Sir Beville Grenville's Regiment under the command of Michael Butterworth.
With the loss of members to Wardlawes and now to Grenvilles, the Regiment was now somewhat depleted, but the few who remained did not particularly want to join Grenvilles (which I think was probably expected at the time). We decided to stick with Maurice's, albeit with only about six or seven members left. Kim Thomas wanted to raise a Cornish Regiment so we agreed to split the Regiment into two companies to begin with the ultimate aim of the formation of a new Regiment when numbers permitted. For this reason the Cornish Company chose a new uniform and in effect ran itself in all but name from this moment. This Company was later to become Sir Nicholas Slanning's Regiment of Foote, under the Command of Kim Thomas and later under Alan Wicks.
We found we had a new Commanding Officer, Maurice's second in command. Christopher Peterson-Royce. WHO? was our cry, for we had never seen him at two years worth of Musters. We didn't see much of him as Commanding Officer either. By this time I was in effect second in command (probably only a Sergeant) and we had decided amongst ourselves to change our uniform and our weapons I informed the new C.O. and his non-response was considered a YES.
OUT went the braided PVC buff coats, the PVC bucket tops and the little gold lions on everything. We actually obtained muskets ... Well, I say Muskets, they were actually modern shotguns. I managed to alter the wooden parts slightly so mine looked slightly less like a shotgun, but it wasn't easy loading with the nature of the weapon being obvious. If one turned one's back on the public, the shotgun could be broken and the cartridge inserted without being spotted. Misfires were relatively rare occurrences. We were actually issued with shotgun blanks at powder issue and were constantly being moaned at for not picking up the spent cartridges which always littered the battlefields.
In a relatively short space of time the appearance of the Regiment had changed. Now wearing burgundy wool doublets and sporting muskets (of a sort) we had reached the same level of authenticity as most of the other Regiments in the Knot. From this time on, there has been a long and gradual improvement. Every time a piece of clothing needed replacing, it was replaced with something a little more accurate. Muzzle loading percussion cap muskets replaced our shotguns, to be in turn replaced by good reproduction 17th century muskets. The Fencing sabres were replaced with safer, heavier swords and the pink sashes were replaced by red, but for officers only.
Our new commanding officer lasted about a year in his new position. There was a sort of coup, with some members of the Regiment having a stir and a lot of support from the top by John Richards (who had helped the Regiment organise a muster at Mount Edgcumbe near Plymouth) and the Captain Generall himself, who promoted me to Major at the Mount Edgcumbe Muster. I suddenly found myself as commanding officer.
The rest is probably well known. Initially a West Country Regiment through and through, we recruited well in Plymouth and Exeter. With the passing of time members have moved to different parts of the country and we now have recruited all over the country as well. We still have a strong base in the Plymouth area, but members can now be found in most counties. Consequently, Maurice's are seen at most of the Sealed Knots events as there are nearly always members living nearby.
So… Prince Maurice's can claim to be the "Mother" Regiment of Wardlawe's, Slanning's and Grenville's.
The campaign for Authenticity has not lessened and I am sure there will continue to be room for improvement, but the formative and early years of the Society saw great change, much of it instigated by the Rank and File rather than by the Officers.
To be fair, the early members had a difficult job obtaining costume and equipment. We "made do". Members themselves started to research costumes, make weapons and equipment, which has meant that today new recruits can be kitted out quickly and accurately.
Tales of battles past can be a tedious thing, best related in the beer tent at a muster when the listener is as pickled as the storyteller. (In any event, some 17 years worth of battles all tend to merge together). Suffice it to say here that the Regiment has supported battles both large and small all over the Country. As a Regiment we have run battles for the rest of the Society, from Major Musters to small displays. This is always hard work for all concerned but only fair as we enjoy the hospitality of musters arranged by other Regiments.
The West Country Regiments continue to work together well, being now (1992) brigaded together in Prince Maurice's Tertio. (later renamed to Hopton's Tertio: Maurice's themselves later moved to the Forlorn Hope Tertio when that was formed)
In the early years the Regiment was not brigaded with any other, which meant we had a free hand to a large extent. Maurice was frequently chastised for moving the Regiment where HE wanted it rather than where he was told. His philosophy was to have us near the crowd. To be fair to him, this was not always a bad thing, for even with just swords, our fighting was very entertaining, more so than pushes of pike.
Later we were brigaded with the Cavalry (which made no real difference); then the West Country Regiments and the Queen's Lifeguard were grouped together as a Tertio. The Queen's Lifeguard left and were replaced by Rawdon's, which greatly improved the fighting strength of the Tertio. I may be biased, but the Tertio as it stands today, is, in my opinion the best equipped and efficient fighting unit in the Royalist Army, if not the Society. Certainly our fire-power is second to none.
It is interesting to note that our opponents, the Parliamentary Dragoones have also been combined under the command of Kevin Pomeroy, who was himself, in the dim and distant past, a fellow member of Prince Maurice's Regiment, before joining Wardlawes Regiment. Kevin is also Commanding Officer of Wardlawes.
Col. Generall Bob Partridge.
The First day of September, in the Yere of our Lord 1992.