1st The Royal Dragoons

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This article is about the British military unit. For the US unit, see 1st Cavalry Regiment (United States).
Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons)
Royal Dragoons Cap Badge.jpg
Royal Dragoons Cap Badge
Active 1661–1969
Country  Kingdom of England (1661–1707)
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1969)
Branch Army
Type Cavalry
Motto Spectemur agendo (Let us be judged by our deeds)[1]
Colors Scarlet uniform with blue facings, black plume.[1]
March "The Royals"
Engagements Dettingen, Waterloo, Second Boer War, El Alamein
The 1st Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo
Uniform of the 1st Dragoons, 1839

The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) was a mounted infantry and later a heavy cavalry regiment of the British Army. The regiment was formed in 1661, and served until 1969, when it was amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards to form The Blues and Royals.[2]


The regiment was first raised as a single troop of veterans of the Parliamentary Army in 1661, shortly thereafter expanded to four troops as the Tangier Horse, taking the name from their service in Tangier.

Three of the four troops of the Tangier's regiment were originally troops in the English Regiment of Light Horse in France attached to the French army of Louis XIV and under the command of Sir Henry Jones. They were constituted in 1672 and after Jones was killed during the siege of Maastricht in 1673, while serving with the Duke of Monmouth, command passed to the Duke. The regiment was recalled to England in 1678 (it was disbanded in France and reformed in England with most of the same officers) with the expectation of fighting in a war against France. In early 1679 it was disbanded and then reformed in June of that year as Gerard's Regiment of Horse (it colonel being Charles Gerard), with most of the same officers and men, to police the Covenanters in Scotland. The regiment was disbanded in late 1679 and three of its captains, John Coy, Thomas Langston and Charles Nedby along with their troopers went out to Tangier in 1680 as reinforcements. When they returned in 1684, they joined the what became a new permanent regiment of the Royal Dragoons.[3]

They were ranked as the 1st Dragoons, the oldest cavalry regiment of the line, in 1674; on their return to England in 1683 the three troops were joined with three newly raised troops and titled The King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons, named for Charles II. In 1690 they were renamed as simply The Royal Regiment of Dragoons, and formally titled in 1751 as the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons. The title was simplified in 1877 to the 1st (Royal) Dragoons. After service in the First World War, the regiment retitled as the 1st The Royal Dragoons in 1921.[2]

The regiment mechanised shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War and was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1940. The regiment survived the immediate post-war reduction in forces, and was retitled as The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) in 1961, but this name was short-lived; it was amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), to form The Blues and Royals in 1969.[2][4]

Colonels —with other names for the regiment[edit]

from 1661 Tangier Horse
from 1674 1st Dragoons
from 1683 The King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons
  • 1683–1685 John, Lord Churchill. app. 19 November 1683 —Lord Churchill's Dragoons
  • 1685–1688 Edward, Viscount Cornbury. app. 1 August 1685 —Hyde's Dragoons or Lord Cornbury's Dragoons
  • 1688–1689 Richard Clifford. app. 24 November 1688 —Clifford's Dragoons
from 1690 The Royal Regiment of Dragoons
  • 1689–1694 Edward, Viscount Cornbury. app. 31 December 1688 —Lord Cornbury's Dragoons
  • 1689–1694 Anthony Hayford. app. 1 July 1689 —Hayford's Dragoons
  • 1694–1697 Edward Mathews. app. 24 October 1694 —Mathews' Dragoons
  • 1697–1715 Thomas, Earl of Strafford. app.30 May 1697 —Wentworth's Dragoons or Lord Raby's Dragoons or Earl of Strafford's Dragoons
  • 1715–1721 Richard, Viscount Cobham. app. 13 June 1715 —Temple's Dragoons or Lord Cobham's Dragoons
  • 1721–1723 Sir Charles Hotham. app. 10 April 1721 —Hotham's Dragoons
  • 1723–1739 Humphrey Gore. app. 12 January 1723 —Gore's Dragoons
  • 1739–1740 Charles, Duke of Marlborough. app. 1 September 1739 —Spencer's Dragoons, or Sunderland's Dragoons or Duke of Marlborough's Dragoons
  • 1740–1759 Henry Hawley. app. 10 May 1740 —Hawley's Dragoons

On 1 July 1751 a royal warrant provided that in future regiments would not be known by their colonels' names, but by their "number or rank".

from 1751 1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons
from 1877 1st (Royal) Dragoons
from 1921 1st The Royal Dragoons
from 1969 Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards

See also[edit]



Further reading[edit]

  • Ainslie, Charles P.de (1867). The Royal Regiment of Dragoons. Chapman and Hall. 
  • Anglesey, Marquess of (1961). One Leg: The Life of and Letters of Henry William Paget, First Marquess of Anglesesy. Jonathon Cape. 
  • Anglesey, Marquess of (1973–1997). A History of the British Cavalry 1816-1939, in 8 vols. Leo Cooper. 
  • Atkinson, C T (1934). The History of Royal Dragoons 1661-1934. Robert Maclehose at Glasgow University Press. 
  • Pitt-Rivers, Julian (1956). The Story of the Royal Dragoons 1938-1945. William Clowes & Sons. 
  • Rocksavage MC, Earl of (1947). A Day's March Nearer Home: Experiences with the Royals 1939-1945. John and Edward Bumpus Ltd. 
  • Watson, J N P (1993). Through Fifteen Reigns. Spellmount. 
  • Woodham-Smith, Cecil (1953). The Reason Why: Behind the Scenes at the Charge of the Light Brigade. Penguin. 
  • Hills, R. J. T. (1972). Horrocks, Brian, ed. Famous Regiments: The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons). Leo Cooper.