17th Lancers

1825 Cornet Forbes

The painting is of Charles Forbes who purchased the rank of Cornet in the 17th in 1825. The regiment was one of the swankiest in the British Army at the time, and was nicknamed Bingham's Dandies after their colonel George Bingham, a wealthy young nobleman who later became Lord Lucan. Bingham lavished enormous amounts of money on his regiment. The officer's uniform was dark blue with white facings, ie the coller, cuffs and plastron on his chest are white, so too is the upper part of his Czapka (lance-cap). The lace and braid are nearly all silver, ie the embroidery on his collar and cuffs, the epaulettes, the aiguilette (pronounced egglet by modern day household cavalrymen) suspended from his left shoulder and draped across his chest, the buttons and trouser stripe are silver. Around his waist, however is a girdle of three gold lace stripes with stripes of crimson silk between. The belts are of silver lace with white silk stripes down the centre. The pouch belt which is the hallmark of a cavalryman always goes round the chest from the left shoulder. It is ornamented on the front with silver pickers and chains (the pickers were originally used to clean out an apperture on the firing mechanism of the wearer's pistol, but became ornamental over the years). The pouch itself, round the back, was a small black leather box containing cartridges, ornamented with a silver flap and with a gilt royal cypher on it. The belt round his waist has slings attached to his sword, which is the marmeluke style, and his elaborately embroidered sabretache (shown here).
Forbes's horse is expensively decorated with a harness covered in gilt scales with silver deathshead mottoes on the martingale on the horses chest and on the cross chains on the horse's nose. The most distinctive features are the red plumes of horsehair hanging in threes from various parts of the harness. The shabracque is only partly visible and is dark blue with white vandykes and silver lace and embroidered Georgian cypher (also shown in next picture). His helmet, or Czapka is mostly white and silver with the exception of a gilt 'sunray' on the front on which are fixed a silver motto and crown. There are gold caplines wound round the waist of the cap. They hang down the back and go under the left arm, attaching to a hook sewn on the front of the jacket. Other portraits show the caplines ending in gold 'acorns' which hang in front and flap about as the officer canters along.

17th Lancers: Uniforms | Regimental details


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by Stephen Luscombe