Royal Marines



Formation: on 28 October 1664, the newly raised Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment, which was also known as the Admiral’s Regiment, paraded on the City of London’s Artillery Ground "to be in readiness to be distributed in His Majesty’s Fleet prepared for sea service". This marked the formation of the Marines who served with the Royal Navy as snipers, landing parties, discouragers of mutinies, ceremonial guards and later, gun turret crews and bands men.

In 1755, Marine forces were formed on a permanent basis. At this period, the uniform was red, faced white, with white linings, waistcoats and breeches, and silver Officers’ lace. The Marines are also recorded as wearing caps similar to those of earlier Regiments, although these were probably reserved for ceremonial dress, and the day-to-day headgear was the cocked hat.

Strength: in 1797, the strength of the Marines was raised to 20,000, an increase of 2,000. By 1801 it had been further increased to 24,000. Each Company comprised a Captain, two Lieutenants, eight sergeants, eight Corporals, six Drummers, and about 120 Privates. At about 1802, each of the Colonel commandants, Lieutenant Colonels and Majors were allowed one Company with a Captain Lieutenant in lieu of one of the 1st Lieutenants.

Change of Name: exceptional loyalty and service during the period of the great naval mutinies led to the King’s Order of 8 May 1802 directing that the title of Corps should henceforward be the "Royal Marines". As a consequence of the change of title, the facings were changed and henceforth would be ‘Royal’ blue rather than ‘Naval’ white, and the Officers’ lace was changed from silver to gold. Sergeants were to have yellow metal buttons.

Ship Uniform: when detachments were sent on board ship, it was recommended that their uniform clothing - hats, coats, white shirts, stockings and shoes - should be removed, tied into a neat bundle, tallied, and stored until required to turn them out in a well-dressed manner. Each Marine was then issued with a top jacket, a pair of stout brown gaiters, a pair of trousers, a haversack, a pair of woolen stockings, checked shirts, and shoes, this being his sea-kit for daily use.

Shore Uniform: in 1775, it was reported in Boston that the Commanding Officer of the Marines had ordered the officers to appear uniformly dressed when on duty with their men; and that each Officer should immediately provide himself with a jacket and a cocked hat with a silver band. In addition, there are temporary references to ‘cropped’ hats, and it seems that these were the first prototypes of the round hats which were later to be adopted as the official headdress.

Several paintings of the early 1800’s, show Marine Officers wearing cocked hats with gold and tassels and white over red feathers, but there seems no reason to doubt that the distinctive cocked hat, which was also worn by Army Officers in many circumstances, was used by Officers of all Marines under some active service conditions. The hat, officially adopted for the rank and file in March 1799, was made of lacquered black felt. Until the abolition of Flank Companies in November 1804, the following distinctions applied: Grenadiers, brim bound black, band white, stay loops white, worsted tuft; Battalion Companies, brim bound white, band white, stay loops black, white-red tuft; Light Infantry, brim bound black, band white, stay loops white, green tuft.

Field Officers had silver stars on the epaulette straps: three for Colonels, two for Lieutenant.\



The marines had given a certain amount of trouble throughout the voyage. A marine sergeant got drunk aboard the Prince of Wales on July 14, and after abusing a number of his shipmates had jumped down the main hatchway, landing on the wife of the fellow Marine Scott. One marine in the Prince of Wales received 175 lashes for insolence and disobedience of orders and another the same number for abusing an officer when drunk. At Rio, a marine was punished with 100 lashes for being found with the women convicts, a second was sentenced to 300 lashes for attempting to suborn a sentinel to allow him to go among the women, a sentence which was remitted, and a third received 200 lashes for attempting to pass a spurious dollar which be had obtained from a convict. Before the fleet sailed on its voyage, a marine, sentenced by court-martial to 200 lashes for unsoldier like behaviour, received 150 lashes on board the Charlotte, a sergeant, corporal and six privates from each of the other ships being required to witness the punishment. Other marines on the Scarborough received from 50 to 150 lashes for different offences.

Compared with these penalties, the one and two dozen lashes given to convicts were mild.