The first three Jacobite Irish regiments taken into French service were those formed from Mountcashel’s Brigade, sent to France in 1690. These regiments, and those raised thereafter for the French service, took the name of their titular Colonel, or Mestre-de-Camp Propriétaire, who effectively “owned” the regiment. This officer might in practice hold a far higher rank and did not necessarily serve with his regiment. If he were not present in person, command would be invested in a Colonel-Commandant. In order of seniority, the regiments of Mountcashel’s Brigade comprised :
Régiment de Mountcashel, taken into French service in 1690 but tracing its ancestry to an Irish regiment embodied by Charles II in 1683 from Irish garrison troops previously stationed in Tangier. Became in 1694 the Régiment de Lee, and in 1734 the Régiment de Bulkeley. Amalgamated with the Régiment de Dillon in 1775.
Régiment O’Brien, taken into French service in 1690 but raised the previous year for James II. Became Régiment de Clare in 1691 upon its Colonel becoming 4th Viscount Clare, and then the Régiment de Lee in 1693 after Clare’s death. Andrew Lee transferring the following year to the former Régiment de Mountcashel, it became the Régiment de Talbot, and on Talbot being disgraced in 1696 and stripped of his commands it passed to the brother of its original Colonel and, he now being 5th Viscount, become again the Régiment de Clare. From 1706 to 1720 again the Régiment O’Brien, the colonelcy passing to a junior branch of the family, until the 6th Viscount Clare came of age and assumed the colonelcy in the latter year. The regiment then continued as the Régiment de Clare, under successive Viscounts, until 1775 when it was amalgamated with the Régiment de Berwick.
Régiment de Dillon, taken into French service in 1690 having recently been raised for James II. Amalgamated with the Régiment de Bulkeley in 1775, the combined unit retaining the title of Régiment de Dillon. The name remained the same throughout its service until abolished by the decree of July 21st 1791, when it became the 87eme Régiment d’Infanterie.
After the Treaty of Limerick, James II organised an army-in-exile largely paid for by France. It fought under French command during the later battles of the War of the League of Augsburg and was disbanded at the close of that conflict under the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick. It comprised :
- Irish Horse Guards
- The King’s Regiment of Horse
- The Queen’s Regiment of Horse
- The King’s Royal Irish Regiment of Foot Guards
- The Queen’s Regiment of Foot
- The Marine Regiment
- Regiment of Foot of Limerick
- Regiment of Foot of Charlemont
- Regiment of Foot of Dublin
- Regiment of Foot of Athlone
- Regiment of Foot of Clancarty
- King’s Regiment of Dismounted Dragoons
- Queen’s Regiment of Dismounted Dragoons
- Three Independent Companies of Foot
Largely from the remnants of this force, more Irish Regiments were later raised for the French service.
Régiment de Dorrington. Taken into the French service in February 1698, but tracing its ancestry back, through James II’s Royal Irish Regiment of Foot Guards, to the Royal Irish Regiment formed by Charles II in 1662. From 1718 Régiment de Roth, from 1766 Régiment de Rosscommon, and then from 1770 Régiment de Walsh-Serrant until regimental titles abolished by the decree of July 21st 1791 when it became the 92eme Régiment d’Infanterie. The 9th Earl of Rosscommon, Colonel from 1766 to 1770, was born Robert Dillon, and was a distant relation of the colonels of the Régiment de Dillon.
Régiment de Berwick. Raised 1698 for the French service out of the Regiment of Foot of Athlone, King’s Regiment of Dismounted Dragoons, and Independent Companies of Foot. Its first Colonel was James Fitzjames, Duke of Berwick, illegitimate son of James II by Arabella Churchill (and therefore nephew of the 1st Duke of Marlborough). Amalgamated with the Régiment de Clare in 1775, the combined unit retaining the title of Régiment de Berwick. The Colonelcy remained with the house of Berwick throughout the unit’s existence, until the abolition of regimental titles by the decree of July 21st 1791 when it became the 88eme Régiment d’Infanterie.
Régiment de Galmoy. Raised 1698 for the French service out of the Regiment of Foot of Charlemont and Queen’s Regiment of Dismounted Dragoons. Dissolved January 30th 1715 and the remaining troops incorporated into the Régiment de Dillon.
Régiment de Bourke. Raised 1699 for the French service. Became Régiment de Wauchop in 1715, and passed the same year into the Spanish service, having served for most of its existence in that country. Became Regimento Connacia (ie Connaught) but in 1733 transferred to the service of Naples. Eventually incorporated in the Foreign Brigade in Neapolitan service, losing its Irish character.
Régiment de Lally. Raised 1744 out of surplus manpower left over from the reduction of the established strength of the five Irish infantry regiments then in existence. Disbanded 1762 after being taken prisoner in India, and the survivors incorporated into the Régiment de Dillon.
There was also a single regiment of Irish cavalry :
Régiment de Sheldon. Raised 1698 for the French service out of the cavalry of James II’s army-in-exile. From 1706 Régiment de Nugent, and from 1733 Régiment de Fitzjames. Disbanded 1762 after being near annihilated in the fighting at Graebenstein on June 24th of that year.