Private 1743

There are several prints of the 43rd Highland Regiment, as it was then ranked, around 1743. This one is by William Meyer and dedicated to the Colonel of the regiment 'Lord Semple' who was Colonel from 1741 to 1745. This print is obviously based on careful study of the uniform and weapons of the new regiment. The date 1843 is when the regiment came to London for everyone to view the 'wild' Highlanders in their outlandish dress. The full belted plaid is worn in a rather haphazard way, not forming a proper skirt like the feilidh beag (little kilt). Its Gaelic name was breacan-an feilidh and was a combined kilt and cloak made from a single 12-yard length of tartan cloth. Fastened by a belt around the waist, the lower part became the feile and the upper part being looped up at the back to the left shoulder. It looks as if the Highlander would show a little too much thigh when marching. The dirk is attached to his waistbelt and hangs between his purse (sporan) and ammunition pouch, engraved with GR and a crown. The bayonet hangs from the belt on the other side of the purse and his broadsword is supported, presumably, by the shoulder belt on his right shoulder. This is usually depicted as black leather but appears pale in this and other similar prints. The pistol has the distinctive Highland butt with decorative curly metalwork. This is slung also on the right shoulder with a thin strap.

There are three prints of this period which depict the ringleaders of the mass desertion in 1743; Corporals Malcolm and Samuel Macpherson and Private Farquar Shaw. The faces are similar in all three prints so cannot be an accurate representation of the individuals, but the uniforms are shown as very similar to the one here. The two corporals differ from the private in that they have simple white cord aiguillettes attached to their right shoulder. They are armed with pistol, musket, bayonet, dirk and sword, and one of the corporals is shown holding his pistol ready to fire. The thin strap is hanging round his body, not attached to the pistol so it seems that the firearm hooks onto the strap, there is no sign of a holster. The coat and waistcoat are red with buff facings and the blue bonnet has a dark bow on one side and a tourie on top which may be red. There were no feathers at this stage. The hairstyle conforms to the print of Farquar Shaw, although we can only see the curled up sides. The back of the hair was formed into a club which is visible in the accompanying print of an officer and sergeant. There is much information to be found on the uniform of this period in the German print Campaigning in Flanders.

Regimental Details | Uniforms

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by Stephen Luscombe