5: Ensigns and Volunteers
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 5Ensigns and Volunteers Ensign was the junior commissioned rank among line officers . Its title came from the fact that two of the ensigns were responsible for carrying the regiment’s colours,or ensigns,in battle and on parade.The ensigns who purchased their commissions spent £400 if they purchased at the regulated price. Most ensigns were able to purchase a lieutenancy within a couple of years of service. Volunteers were young gentlemen unable to come up with the price of a commission, so they shouldered a firelock and hoped to earn recognition on active service and thus a commission without purchase.The only volunteers identified in the muster rolls of the Royal Irish were sons of John Mawby Sr. Most of these junior officers went on to obtain higher rank after returning to England.The careers that ended as ensigns tended to have tragic ends. James Aldcroft James Aldcroft (ca. 1752–27 July 1797) purchased a commission in the Royal Irish on 26 July 1775. His surname is sometimes given as Aldercroft or Alcroft. He may have served briefly in America, but he was clearly with the regiment by mid-1776. He is not mentioned, nor does he have an account listed, in the regimental agent’s extant ledger.This would tend to indicate that he did not serve in America with the regiment. He was listed as the only officer present with William Blackwood’s company at Dover Castle in August 1776. By the time the regiment was inspected at Dover Castle in 1777, Aldcroft was listed as a twenty-five-year-old Englishman with two years of service. He was promoted to lieutenant on 5 June 1778 and was present with the regiment at the training camps at Coxheath (in Kent) and Warley (in Essex) during the summers of 1778 and 1779. Nathaniel Cookman succeeded to his ensigncy.1  e n si g n s and volunte e r s Aldcroft was promoted to captain on 16 November 1781 upon Benjamin Chapman’s promotion to major.2 In June 1783 Aldcroft was commanding one of the regiment’s additional companies, and he continued to command one of the additional companies through 1783. He briefly commanded a battalion company in early 1784 but was reduced to half pay when the Royal Irish was decreased from twelve companies to ten in 1784. Aldcroft remained on half pay until transferred into the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd (Queen’s) Regiment of Foot on 6 March 1795. He was promoted to major in the army on 12 May 1795.3 The 2nd Battalion was initially raised at Portsmouth, England and remained in the country until later in 1795, when it was moved to Guernsey, an island in the English Channel.The battalion embarked from Guernsey for Martinique in November 1795, and a hurricane caused heavy casualties on the trip.Aldcroft was present at Rumsey with the 2nd Battalion on 6 October 1796. He died at Martinique on 27 July 1797.4 Aldcroft’s will,which had been drawn up in July 1789,was validated in London on 23 November 1797.His estate was divided between his mother and his sisters.The family was living in Upper Swinton, Shropshire, at the time the will was drafted. His estate was worth several thousand pounds.5 Charles Hoar Figure 5.1 Charles Hoar Harland’s coat of arms. Courtesy of Ryan Gale Charles Hoar (ca. 1755–26 February 1810) was commissioned as an ensign in the Royal Irish on 10 June 1774. His surname is also given as Hoare. He was the third son of George Hoar of Middleton , St. George, Burham, and Francis Sleigh of Stockton-uponTees .6 Charles Hoar was approximately nineteen at the time of his commission and was listed as English. He was assigned to the major’s company and was present with the regiment in New York  Protecting the Empire’s Frontier City by 8 February 1775. He was present when the regiment embarked on HMS Asia before the rebel mob at New York City on 6 June 1775.7 He disembarked onto Governor’s Island on 10 June 1775 with most of the regiment. Hoare was one of only a few officers present at NewYork City who did not testify at Captain Payne’s court-martial. Hoar traveled to Boston with the remainder of the regiment in June 1775. He is listed as present with the major’s company there on 2 October 1775, but he did not sign...


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Subject Headings

  • Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 18th (Royal Irish) -- History -- 18th century.
  • Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 18th (Royal Irish) -- Officers -- Biography.
  • Great Britain. Army -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- British forces.
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