Letter of Service to Major John Doyle (87th Regiment of Foot)

Event
Wednesday, 18 September, 1793
Colonel John Doyle
Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant, John Doyle of the 87th Regiment of Foot

Although Major John Doyle had begun to advertise in a Dublin newspaper for recruits for his regiment of foot in early September 1793, he did not actually receive authority to do so until the Secretary-at-War sent him a Letter of Service dated 18 September 1793. The contents of the letter are interesting as details dictate structure, terms of service, ranks and manning, and limits on heights and ages:

Sir,
I am commanded to acquaint you, that His Majesty approves of your raising a regiment of foot, without any allowance of levy money, to be completed within three months, upon the following terms, viz:

The corps is to consist of one company of Grenadiers, one of Light Infantry, and eight battalion companies. The Grenadier company is to consist of one captain, two lieutenants, three serjeants, three corporals, two drummers, two fifers, and fifty-seven private men. The Light Infantry company of one captain, two lieutenants, three serjeants, three corporals, two drummers, and fifty-seven men; and each battalion company of one captain, one lieutenant, and one ensign, three serjeants, three corporals, two drummers, and fifty-seven private men, together with the usual staff officers, and with a serjeant-major and quartermaster-serjeants, exclusive of the serjeants above specified. The captain-lieutenant is (as usual) included in the numbers of lieutenants above mentioned.

The corps is to have one major with a company, and is to be under your command as major with a company.

The pay of the officers is to commence from the dates of their commissions, and that of the non-commissioned officers and privates from the dates of their attestations.

His Majesty is pleased to leave to you the nomination of the officers of the regiment; but the lieut.-colonel and major are to be taken from the list of lieut.-colonels or majors on half-pay, or the major from a captain on full pay. Six of the captains are to be taken from the half-pay, and the other captain and the captain-lieutenant from the list of captains or captain-lieutenants on full-pay. All the lieutenants are to be taken from the half-pay; and the gentlemen recommended for ensigns are not to be under sixteen years of age.

No officer, however, is to be taken from the half-pay who received the difference on going upon the half-pay to contribute any money towards the levy, but he may be required to raise such a quota of men as you may agree with him.

The person to be recommended for quartermaster must not be proposed for any such commission.

In case the corps should be reduced after it has been once established, the officers will be entitled to half-pay.

No man is to be enlisted above thirty-five years of age, nor under five feet six inches high. Well-made, growing lads, between sixteen and eighteen years of age, may be taken at five feet four inches.

The recruits are to be engaged without limitation as to the period or place of their service.

The non-commissioned officers and privates are to be inspected by a general officer, who will reject all such as are unfit for service, or not listed in conformity to the terms of this letter ...

Doyle is also credited with reintroducing Pipers, last seen in 1662 when they accompanied the Duke of Ormonde's Royal Irish Regiment of Foot Guards, part of The Royal Irish Army of King Charles II.

When the order of precedence of British regiments was fixed, English regiments were granted precedence according to the dates of their formation. Irish and Scottish regiments, regardless of when they were raised, took their precedence from the dates they were taken onto the English army establishment for the first time. Therefore, although the 87th Regiment of Foot was raised before the 83rd Regiment, it is because of this rule that the 87th became the 'junior' of the two.

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