Flags And Standards

Colonel's colour, Sir George Preston of Valleyfieid's Regiment (Dunbar no.48). White field, black unicorn head; gold eye, mane, horn and beard; scroll with red edge and black tassels.


Infantry Colours

Scots colours generally followed a quite distinctive style, although it has to be emphasized that there were no written regulations governing their appearance, and that consequentlv, while they broadly conformed to certain accepted principles, they did not adhere to them rigidly or uniformly - even within the same regiment. Only two or three actual examples survive, but fortunately nearly 200 captured at Preston. Dunbar and Inverkeithing were meticulously recorded by an artist and sometime Royalist officer named Fitzpayne Fisher.

As in most Western European armies, each company within a regiment had its own colour, and in conformity with Continental (but not English) practice, the regimental colonel's company had a white colour. Generally speaking the colonel, if he were armigerous, placed his crest and motto in the canton; in other cases a thistle frequently appeared there instead. As to the remaining companies, a few regiments placed a white saltire or St.Andrew's cross in the canton, but in most regiments the saltire was spread over the entire sheet.

Nearly all colours bore a more or less standardized inscription in addition to any family mottos. In the early years there was a certain lack of consistency and the following variations are recorded in various sources: FOR CHRISTS CROUN AND COUENANT (1639); FOR RELIGION THE COVENANT AND THE COUNTRY (1639); FOR THE COVENANT RELIGION THE CROWN AND THE KINGDOM (1644); and FOR RELIGION COUNTRY KING AND COVENANT (1644). In 1650, however, all colours were ordered to bear the legend CO\TNANT FOR RELIGION KING AND KINGDOMS.

Regiments were distinguished one from another by varying combinations of tinctures. Some units adopted the national flag - a white saltire on blue - but most opted for something dif-

ferent. The actual choice seems to have rested with the local Committee of War, and consequently there was continuity of style over successive le\ies, and almost certainly some re-use of older colours by new regiments. White saltires on red were particularly popular with units raised in Aberdeenshire, the Mearns and Forfarshire, while most Fife regiments seem to have displayed yellow colours; otherwise the choice of tinctures was apparently quite arbitrary. Only two instances can be identified - Argyle's and Home's regiments - where they were based on the principal tinctures of the colonel's own arms: a yellow saltire on black in the former case, and a white saltire on green in the latter.

On the other hand, considerable use was made of heraldry in distinguishing the several company colours. Usually this took the form of the captain's family crest or a device taken from his arms, but sometimes burgh or other local heraldry appeared. A notable example was the set of colours which Sir James Balfour had made for the

King's Lifeguard of Foot in 1650. All seven had a plain blue field bearing the motto COUENANT FOR RELIGONE KING AND KINGDOMES on the reverse. On the obverse the King's colour bore the arms of'Scotland, England, France and Irland quartered'; the lieutenant-colonel's had a silver unicorn, and the major's a golden lion; while the four captains' were distinguished by three jleur de lis, the 'arms of Scotland", three lioncells gradient, and the Irish harp respectively.

There was evidently no consensus on the use of heraldic devices and other symbols. A number of colours surrendered at Preston were identified by varying numbers of stars within a wreath at the centre of the saltire. Others simply bore a thistle in the centre - the significance of this is unknown but it seems possible that it may have denoted the major's company. However, other units seem to have had a promiscuous mixture of colours distinguished either by stars in the centre or by the captain's own crest or motto instead.

In 1649, by way of an experiment, it appears that heraldic cadency marks were applied to denote the seniority' of each captain in the regiments levied that year: 1st Captain: label 2nd Captain: crescent 3rd Captain: mullet 4th Captain: martlet 5th Captain: ring 6th Captain: fleur de lis 7th Captain: rose

The experiment was evidently unsuccessful, however, for most of the examples recorded by Fisher are disfigured by the addition of rather crudely drawn arabic numerals - frequently quite at variance with the seniorities indicated by the cadency marks. This almost certainly reflects the disruption caused by the 'purging' of supposedly unreliable officers shortly before Dunbar.

Preston Valleyfield Unicorn

Second captain's colour, Preston of Valleyfield's Regiment. Red field, white saltire, black distinctions. Raised in 1649, this regiment's colours were originally distinguished by heraldic cadency marks, but the purging of 'ungodly' officers before Dunbar dislocated seniorities. The star would normally indicate the third captain's company. Three other colours were taken at Dunbar: the first captain's (no.100) correctly bore a black label with a roman 'I' beneath; the third captain's (no.49) had a black crescent - normally denoting second captain - and an Arabic '3' above and to the left; while the fourth captain had a black martlet facing left and a reversed Arabic '4' above and to the left.

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