Officer, 1669


Unknown unit (possibly the 2nd Foot or Tangier Regiment)

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Here is an officer wearing the first tropical dress worn in the British army. It is based on drawings made in Tangier, opposite Gibraltar in Morocco, where the Tangier Garrison was maintained. It was the land force which oversaw the defence of English Tangier between 1661 and 1684 when it was evacuated. It was part of the de facto standing English army that Charles II established following the Restoration. He received Tangier as part of a Marriage Treaty with Portugal in 1661. Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough was governor and, on 30 January 1662, the new garrison took up its duties. Peterborough was not successful so Lord Rutherford, was appointed in 1662/63 to replace him. The dress of this officer appears to be made of some light, natural linen or cotton, and is cut loosely, as tropical dress is to-day. The coat follows the cut of a coat then worn at home and has short sleeves decorated with ribbons, allowing the full-cut shirt sleeves to be seen. The usual heavy crimson sash round the waist is replaced by a light cord, and the large, broad-brimmed hat by a smaller, lighter version. The full-bottomed wig was retained. The knot of ribbon on the right shoulder may be a forerunner of the epaulette or knot of cords worn by officers on the right shoulder fifty years later. This early ‘shirt-sleeve order’ was not particularly suitable for hot weather but was no doubt acceptable in an age when men were generally more heavily clothed than today.

Source: Drawings by Wenceslaus Hollar in the British Museum.

Additional information

Dimensions 24 × 37.5 cm