Share this page

4th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Dragoon Guards Visit the Birthplace

In May 1858 the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards visited Shakespeare's Birthplace and signed the visitor book.

Norma Hampson
Dragoon Guards signatures
Signatures of members of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards who visited the Birthplace in May 1858 (pps 146-7) ‘en route for Aldershot,’

As a cavalry regiment in the British Army the 4th Royal Irish Regiment of Dragoon Guards has quite a chequered history. It was first raised in 1685 as the Earl of Arran’s Regiment of Cuirassiers as part of the response to the Monmouth Rebellion in Ireland and was ranked as the 6th Regiment of Horse. In 1691 it was re-ranked as the 5th Horse and in 1746 transferred to the Irish Regiment establishment where it ranked 1st Horse. Returning to the British establishment in 1788 it was renamed the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards  before being amalgamated with the 7th Dragoon Guards (Princess Royal’s), to form the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in 1922. Their Standards and Appointments display the Harp and Crown and the Star of St. Patrick with the motto “Quis separabit” (who shall separate us) – “PENINSULA” “BALACLAVA” “SEVASTOPOL”.    

At the time of the visit to the Birthplace the Colonel of the regiment was General Richard Pigot and their headquarters were at Manchester.

Courtesy of HHG Museum, York

The regiment recruits mainly in Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and its HHQ and museum are based in the City of York.

Several of the signatories appear on page 182 of Harts Annual Army List 1858, for instance: Captain Robert Gunter had served during the eastern campaign of 1854 and the early part of the siege of Sebastopol. He was educated at Rugby School prior to joining the 4th Dragoon Guards. He was later elected MP for Knaresborough in Yorkshire in 1884 and for Barkston Ash from 1885-1905 and was granted the dignity of a baronet 18 April 1901.

Lieutenant C. Muttlebury also served in the eastern campaign of 1854-5 including the battles of Balaclava, Inkerman, Tchernaya and the siege of Sebastopol.

Luke Byrne veterinary surgeon a graduate of Edinburgh University in 1842.

William Macmanara assistant surgeon appointed 6 October 1854.  

Army list

The signatures of John Biggs paymaster and Robert Drake trumpet major appear separately on page 145 of the Visitors’ Book.

The regiment played a major role in Wellington’s Peninsula campaign but after the Crimean War came several years of service at home and in India. During this period they earned the nickname ‘The Buttermilks’  (because the regiment stayed so long in Ireland that many of its men bought land and became dairy farmers).

From 1813 – 1894 the unit alternated between English and Irish garrison duties. Two rare instances of action during this period were the unit’s participation in the charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 and in the battle of Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt in 1882. At the latter action it did not suffer a single casualty.



Harts Annual Army List 1858   pub. 1840

Royal Dragoon Guards Museum, York

National Army Museum, London

University of Edinburgh Alumni


Recommended blogs

See all blogs