Essex's foot, and the infantry colours of the new model army
Among surviving state papers from this time is a receipt of payment to Alexender Venner “Ensign Maker” of London for 47 new regimental colours for foot regiments (National Archives SP28/19, part ii, f.174). The design of the colours was described as follows:
''vii new Ensigns of Orreng [sic] Florence Sarsnett with distinctions of white Mulletts''
"viii Ensigns of Crimson in graine florence florence [sic] sarsnett with distinctions of yellow mullets"
"viii Ensigns of greene florence sarsnett with distinctions of yellow Billetts"
"viii Ensigns of crimson in graine florence sarsnett with distinctions of white balls"
"viii Ensigns of greene florence sarsnett with distinctions of yellow halfe moones"
"viii Ensigns of greene florence sarsnett with distinctions of white diamonds"
The manuscript source provides only a written account, the graphics shown here are a reconstruction. The positioning of the devices on the field is based on surviving illustrations, but is by no means definite: some 17th century examples of London trained band colours show two distinctions positioned side-by-side, not diagonally as shown above (British Library, Add. MS. 14308). It is not known for which regiment each design of colours was intended; Venner's receipt notes only the design, quantity and cost: it is not a military document.
Although the first design described above (orange colours with white distinctions) may well have been intended for Essex's own regiment, it is far from certain whether the order in which the designs were listed followed any precedent of command among the respective colonels.
The New Model Army
During the retreat from Lostwithiel, one of the Parliamentarian colonels (Cunningham) was described as having green colours (Long, p. 66). His regiment was taken into the New Model as Fortescue's (Davies, p. 47), which narrows the search a little when trying to identify Fortescue's New Model colours from the above examples.
Only one colour design from this time can be confidently attributed to a particular regiment. The issue of new colours for Colonel Alrdiche's regiment was not included in the main order. They were instead paid for through a separate transaction, the receipt for which stipulated precisely both design and designated regiment. The bill for this order reads as follows:
This regiment was commanded by Colonel Lloyd in the 1645 New Model campaign.
Any readers' comments that may help shed further light on Essex's colours of October 1644, or those of the April 1645 issue, would be greatly received.
British Library: Additional Manuscripts 14308: London in Armes Displayed (1647)
Davis, G. (1934) 'The Parliamentary Army Under the Earl of Essex, 1642-5', English Historcal Review, vol. xlix, pp.32-54.
Long, C. E. (1859) Richard Symonds's Diary of the Marches of the Royal Army (1997 edn.) Cambridge: University Press.
National Archives: State Papers, 28/19, 21, 29 (i&ii)