The 4th (The Queens Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons.
My interest in this regiment currently only spans the period from 1824-1856 (the known service of my great-great grandfather, George Ellis) and so the information listed here relates mainly to that period - however I do have further details should you wish to contact me.
In tracing the regiment, one has to consider that the name of the regiment
has changed many times throughout its history such that identifying it
can become troublesome ; especially if sources refer to it by a later or
earlier name than the period of history would suggest. In addition,
similarly-named regiments can muddy the waters ! The 4th Dragoon Guards,
for example are a different regiment.
Summary of History & Troop Movement
(Extracted from "Records & Badges of the British Army" by H.M Chichester & G. Burges-short)
The 4th or Queens Own Hussars traces its origin to certain independent troops of dragoons raised respectively at Warminster, Shaftesbury, Shepton-Mallet, Glastonbury, Frome, Wincanton, Ilchester, and Bradford, which, the last excepted, were regimented under Colonel the Hon. John Berkeley on the 17th July 1685 as "The Princess Anne of Denmark's regiment of Dragoons".
(according to "4th Hussar" by David Scott Daniell) ...
1749-1809 : The regiment returned from Flanders and spent the ensuing years alternating between Scotland (1-2 years at a time) and England.(4-5 years at a time). There are no detailed records of service from this time, however there are some reports that pinpoint the regiment. In 1758 they were in Scotland.
1780 : Based at Canterbury, when the "Gordon Riots" broke out in London. The troops were called to London and traveled the 56 miles to London in a single day. The following week of violence saw 285 of the rioters killed by the troops, with the 3rd and 4th Dragoons accounting 101 of them.
1803-1806 : Quartered in Lewes and, Brighton, Sussex. 80 miles away at Boulogne, Emperor Napoleon had an army of 100,000 men waiting to invade England.
1807 : With the threat of invasion over, the regiment marched from its barracks in Lewes, to Chichester where it spent a year, followed by 6 months at Ipswich.
In the November, the regiment were now based in Canterbury when it
received orders to prepare to embark for active service in Portugal. Napoleon
had attacked Portugal in the previous December and had taken Lisbon. In April
1808 he had dethrowned the King of Spain. The English army had marched
into Spain to sever French supply lines and join with the Spanish army. The
4th Dragoons were ordered to join this force, and marched to Portsmouth on
December 5th. Although they spent 3 days on board ships with the 3rd
Dragoon Guards, they were ordered to disembark and march to barracks in
Chichester and Arundel. - the expedition had been cancelled following news
that all had not gone well in Spain.
The regiment formed part of Wellington's army in the Peninsular Wars. The
following battles were granted as Battle Honours :
The troops were immediately dispatched to Ireland for a tour of duty - in
those days there was no official leave nor a particular welcome home !
After six months in Dublin, the headquarters moved to Carlow in the
February, with the troops dispersed increasingly over the entire south of the
country. The reason for the dispersal was that Napoleon had escaped from Elba
and his landing in France had required other regiments from Ireland. By the
summer, the 4th Dragoons were the only regiment left in the country.
1819 : The regiment finished a tour of duty in Ireland and moved to the West Country, with headquarter in Exeter and troops in Plymouth, Truro and Taunton - helping the excise men to control the smuggling.
1820 : In the spring they marched to Birmingham with two troops detached at Coventry but a few weeks later they were called to London and were posted to Croydon, Lewisham and adjacent towns.
In July, with the coronation of George IV, the regiment moved to Greenwich
and Blackheath. After the coronation, they went to Romford Barracks to
prepare for a tour of duty in India - they were increased in size to nine
troops (each of about 50 men).
1822 : In May, the regiment arrived in India (Bombay harbour) and traveled 250 miles north to the Bay of Cambay, and then marched 50 miles north to Kaira.
1823-1826 : Due to terrible health conditions with cholera and fever being prevalent, the regiment suffered tremendous losses :-
1827 : In February, the regiment arrived in Kirkee - but the barracks were not complete and so they spent six months under canvas until the building was completed in June. From then on, the health situation improved so that the death rate fell to around 30 men a year - a figure that was considered very good in those days.
1828-1837 : The time in Kirkee passed without much incident, except for 1837 when a fever epidemic struck, and Colonel Fendell ordered the regiment out of the barracks while it was whitewashed, the floors taken up and the cesspits filled in.
1838-1840 : Two squadrons of the regiment joined the army that took part in the 1st Afghan War. They returned after 18 months away and in that time they lost 3 officers and 58 rank and file - all to fever and cholera and none to enemy action.
1841 : The 4th Dragoons ended their tour of duty in India - the 14th Dragoons took over. 150 NCOs and men transferred from the 4th, to join the 14th. The remaining men marched to Bombay and departed in November.
1842 : In March, the regiment arrived at Gravesend from India. They were headquartered in Canterbury and reduced to six troops.
1843 : Three troops were detached from the then HQ in Exeter to march into South Wales to help the authorities riots caused by "Rebecca and her daughters".
1844 : Regiment moved to Ipswich and Norwich.
1845 : The regiment moved to London; at Hounslow and Hampton Court.
1846-1851 : The regiment were posted once more to Ireland and were scattered across the south of the country to deal with the widespread civil unrest. In 1851 (sadly AFTER the time of the census!) they returned to England and were based in Middlesex for 3 months and to Hampton court and Woolwich for 9 months.
1852 : In May they returned to their old barracks in Ipswich and Norwich.
The regiment left Ipswich in the summer and moved to Chobham camp for
a month's divisional training with the 2nd Division.
In May, they marched to Dorchester to join the army being assembled
for the Crimean War. On the 2nd July the order was received and the regiment
was formed into 2 squadrons of two troops each; each with a total of 21
officers and 299 other ranks. On the 12th July the regiment assembled in
Exeter and marched to Plymouth and the troopship 'Simla' on the 19th July.
While many military records are held in the Public Record Office at Kew, the regiment also holds some records and archives at their Home Headquarters in London and can be contacted at :
The Queen's Royal Hussars
Regents Park Barracks
This museum is open to the public from Easter - November but is manned throughout the year and so can be reached by telephone.
I have compiled this short collection from a number of sources - I will add more as I get them...
Lives of the Light Brigade (The late E J Boys' site dedicated to the lives of the officers and men of the Light Brigade who fought in the Crimean War 1854-1856.)
Shadows Of Time (includes an excellent collection of 4th Light Dragoons transcriptions relating to India)
Queens Royal Hussars (Site dedicated to current regiment)
4th Hussar : The story of a British Cavalry Regiment - David Scott Daniell
Honour the Light Brigade - Lummis & Wynn
The Reason Why - Cecil Woodham-Smith
Letters from the Crimea - Captain Robert Portal (Available at the British Library)
Life in the ranks - W Taylor
Historical Record of the 4th Light Dragoons (to 1842) - Richard Cannon
Records & Badges of the British Army- H.M Chichester & G. Burges-short
The Crimean War - Andrew Lambert & Stephen Badsey (The War Correspondents Series)
And They Blessed Rebecca; an account of the Welsh toll-gate riots 1839-1844 - Pat Molloy
Page last updated : 19 May 2009