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Lord Brooke's Regiment of Foote
'The Dyers'

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History

Robert Greville was born in May 1607, and aged 4 was adopted by his distant cousin Fulke Greville. Fulke was the 1st Baron Brooke and was also childless when he passed, meaning his title and wealth passed to Robert in 1628, who subsequently became 2nd Baron Brooke.

 

Brooke also inherited Warwick Castle, and was a devout Calvinist with close connections to puritans such as John Pym; John Hampden & Arthur Haselrig* (the latter married Brooke's sister Dorothy).

 

Brooke was vehemently opposed to King Charles' personal rule of the 1630's, and after being suspected of being in secret contact with the Scottish Covenanters during the Bishop's Wars he was briefly imprisoned in York. 

During the early period of the long parliament (1640-1642), Brooke sat in the house of lords and was key to passing legislation which had originated from the commons.

In April 1642, Brooke was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire and quickly set about seizing and amassing an arsenal of weapons and powder at Warwick Castle for the impending conflict which was to come.

Brooke raised a regiment for service in Ireland in May 1642, which would no doubt form the basis for the raising of two Regiments at the outbreak of the Civil Wars. 

 

The King raised his standard at Nottingham Castle on the 22nd August 1642, effectively declaring war on Parliament. Brooke was appointed Parliamentarian commander in both Warwickshire & Staffordshire, and the following day Brooke repulsed an attempt by the Earl of Northampton to take Warwick Castle.

 

A regiment in Warwickshire was raised as well as one in Essex. The former included Captain Thomas Willoughby from Sutton Coldfield (who would go on to become a committee man, and Colonel in the New Model Army), and the latter Captain John Lilburne (political activist and founder of the Leveller movement).

Another notable name which appears on the muster rolls is John Okey, a man who started as a Captain in Brooke's regiment and would go on to become a Colonel of Dragoons in the newly formed New Model Army in 1645. He played a pivotal role in the Battle of Naseby, and was a signatory of King Charles I death warrant in 1649, making him a regicide. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Okey fled the country and sought refuge on the continent, where he was hunted down; arrested and subsequently executed in 1662. 

 

Present at Kineton Fight (The Battle of Edgehill), Brooke's regiments were also involved at the Battle of Brentford and the Stand Off at Turnham Green in late 1642, before being 'disbanded' in December of that year.

 

1643 saw Brooke elevated to the role of Commander-in-Chief of Staffordshire; Warwickshire; Derbyshire  & Leicestershire. He raised the Midland Association for Parliament, encompassing foote; horse & dragoon regiments which would first see action at a small skirmish in Stratford before laying siege to Lichfield.  It was here where Brooke lost his life on 2nd March 1643 whilst leading from the front and organising the siege. He was shot by a Royalist sniper located in the central spire of the cathedral, from a distance of approx. 175yds.

 

A few weeks after Brooke's death remnants of his regiment fought at The Battle of Hopton Heath, where Captain Willoughby acquitted himself most splendidly, being the only Captain from Brooke's regiment to retain control over his men in the face of a cavalry charge. 

 

Further research hints at the possibility of there being elements of Brooke's regiment caught up in the April 1643 siege of Lichfield, and being allowed to march out in good order. Shortly after this point all mention of the regiment disappears.

A Memorial plaque to Lord Brooke on Dam St. in Lichfield commemorates the spot where he was killed.

* Haselrig; Pym & Hampden were three of the 'five members' who King Charles sought to arrest in January 1642 when he entered the house of commons.

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