Troops of Horse Guards

1st Troop of Horse Guards at the Battle of Dettingen.

The Horse Guards comprised several independent troops raised initially on the three different establishments. In the late 1660s, there were thus three troops in England, one in Ireland, and two in Scotland of which one was ceremonial for attendance of Lord High Commissioner (named after John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton and after John Leslie, 7th Earl of Rothes). In 1707, there were four troops of Horse Guards (the three original English and one Scots), and two troops of Horse Grenadiers.

From 1658 to 1788, the Horse Guards existed as independent troops. They were placed on the English establishment in 1661, with the founding of the modern Regular British Army. In 1788, as part of the re-organization of the British Army, the remaining 1st and 2nd Troops were united with the 1st and 2nd Troops of Horse Grenadier Guards to form, respectively, the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Life Guards.

Originally, as befitted their role as bodyguards to the Sovereign, the ranks of these Troops were filled by members of the gentry. They, therefore, had no non-commissioned officers,[1] their brigadiers (i.e. corporals) being commissioned and ranking as lieutenants, their sub-brigadiers (i.e. sub-corporals)[2] ranking with cornets in the rest of the army.[3] Although this no longer obtains, the non-commissioned officers of their successor regiment, the Life Guards, are still grades of Corporal, rather than sergeants.

1st Troop [1658-1788]

2nd Troop [1659-1788]

3rd Troop [1658-1746]

Scots and 4th Troop

4th Troop [1686-1689]

4th (Dutch) Troop [1689-1699]

4th (Scots) Troop [1709-1746]

Other Troops

The Scottish Troop [1661-1676]

Raised on the Scottish Establishment for attendance on the Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland.

The Irish Troop [1662-1685]


In some literature reference is made to the existence of a 4th, 5th and 6th Troop of Horse Guards, between 1661 and 1683, 1664 and 1676, and 1664 and 1685, respectively. However, no explicit evidence if found of these troops[5] and it is thought that these 4th, 5th and 6th Troops were confused with the Scots Troop, the (other) Scots Troop for attendance of the Lord High Commissioner, and the Irish Troop.

Ranks [1766]




  1. Cannon, Richard (1840), Historical record of The Life Guards: containing an account of the formation of the corps in the year 1660 and of its subsequent services to 1836. London: Longman, Orme and Co. p. 13
  2. Magnæ Britanniæ Notitia (1716) p. 115f.: Of the Troops of the Household
  3. Encyclopædia britannica, Vol. 8 (1797), p. 171: Horse Guards.
  4., (in Dutch). Archived September 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. See, e.g., Charles Dalton (1892). English army lists and commission registers, 1661-1714, volume 1.
  6. The Scots Magazine, Vol XXXV, p. 501 et seqq.
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