Independent Companies. (1689-1712 One Independent in Newfoundland)
This man wears the classic red coat of the British soldier, with green cuffs, the colour associated with the independent companies. He holds a flintlock musket fitted with a ‘plug’ bayonet. A sword completes his armament. Independent companies were used to guard places that were not important enough to warrant a regiment.
The Independent Companies were composed of officers and soldiers sent from Britain and not raised locally. Unlike the other units of the army that each had distinctive uniform colors, regiment dependent, they would have worn Royal Livery colors, that is to say red coats faced blue. Commanders were responsible for clothing, arming and equipping their soldiers. Each company would have been equipped and clothed as any other company for the time it was raised. This being a time of great transition in weapons and equipment and there being no uniform pattern for clothing and equipment, there is likely to have been a good deal of variation between the companies at different locations not to mention the differences between the equipment of “old timers” and new replacements. When the initial issue was worn out, it was expected that the colony, officers or soldiers would replace it. The likelihood that such replacement occurred with any degree of regularity is low, given multi-year long delays in soldier and officer pay and colonies already feeling over taxed by the British government. Equipment and style of uniform was a function of when a company deployed from England and when or if it was re-supplied and re-equipped.
An Independent Company organization had 50-100 soldiers with one Captain, one to two Lieutenants, three sergeants, three corporals and 2 drummers. There is no mention in the literature of pike being used, only muskets. Once a soldier came over with an Independent Company they rarely went back to Britain. They either died, as large numbers did, due more to conditions than combat, or retired and settled where they had been sent, subject to recall at any time. Officers did find their way back to Britain on occasion, but staying in the colonies allowed advancement for those without the requisite family connections, due to death and or retirement of superiors. A lack of family connections would have been likely to land officers in the Independent Companies to begin with. Sergeants from regular regiments, as opposed to “gentlemen,” were even known to have been offered and accepted commissions in the Independent Companies during the reign of Queen Anne. These were not prestigious postings for ambitious officers.
Why volunteer for service in an Independent Company half a world away? Some soldiers didn’t, but were forced to go as punishment for desertion and other crimes. Others were from “broken” disbanded regiments and wished to remain soldiers. Some were doubtless told they would receive their past due pay if they continued to serve.
The army underwent a major draw down in 1697 with the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick leading to a 60% reduction of an army of 87,500 men. A total of 1500 officers were put on half pay. The Independent Companies were an opportunity to continue to serve, and many chose to.
The mission of the Independent Companies was colonial defense as well as to augment and support offensive operations. The Independent Companies manned garrisons and forts, served as leadership cadre as well as trainers for militia forces, and served as marines for Royal Navy and Privateer vessels that needed them. Soldiering in the Independent Companies no doubt became a part time job, situation and location dependent, allowing for casual labor and taking up outside trades. Unlike soldiers in mobile regiments, these soldiers became permanent members of the community where they were stationed.
Before the birth of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1722, British guns were crewed by a ‘train of artillery’. Trains were raised at the beginning of each new campaign by the Board of Ordnance. The Ordnance department (which dated back to the 15th century) was a separate government department from the Army, and provided all British artillery and military engineers until 1855. The garrisons of British forts in Newfoundland and Nova Sotia included detachments of men from the train of artillery. These early gunners were unusual in one way – they wore red coats rather than the blue worn after 1722.
1689-1712 One Independent Company
1694-97 Gibson’s Foot (28th) (red/yellow)
1699 Queen Dowager’s Foot- Selwyn’s (2nd) (red/green)
xxx River’s Foot (6th)
1713-17 Four Independent Companies
1717-20 Phillip’s Foot (40th)
Indexes from the British Archives with Birth Dates:
Joseph Noel in the War of 1812
Joseph Noel of Jersey fought with the Newfoundland Regiment in the War of 1812. He married Sarah Woodfine but it appears they did not have children.
Richard Noel and Esther Renouf
- 22 07 1744 Esther daughter
- 21 07 1746 Jeanne daughter
- 25 11 1750 Philippe son
- 14 01 1759 Marie daughter
Philippe and Rachel Le Cornu, b 30 10 1748 daughter of Jean LeCornu and Elizabeth Vibert
Married in St John, 24.03.1772 Rachel Le Cornu (d 1835) & Philippe Noel both from the parish of St. Mary
- 28 11 1772 Philippe son
- 04 03 1775 Josue son
- 15 06 1780 Rachel daughter
- 25 12 1784 Marguerite daughter
St Mary records unless noted otherwise.
Married in St Hellier, Jean LeCornu of St Mary married on 21.06.1740 to Elizabeth Vibert of St Mary
Jersey Land Transaction 1812
A very great thank you to James Brannon who posted that he had it and then provided it to us.
From his website:
I found a contract dated 1812 that had been drawn up in Canada but entered in the Jersey register later. It showed that when the contract was signed my ancestor Henry Renouf and his brother John were “Navigateurs” in the province of Lower Canada (Quebec) and one of the witnesses was John Dupré, “second” on the Brig “Princess Royal”, who was probably Henry’s brother-in-law and cousin. During a visit to Quebec I traced the original contract in the Quebec Archives among the notarial records, and as a bonus I also found the will of Henry’s brother John Renouf. The will states that John was the Captain of the “Recovery” (a Quebec-registered ship owned by Peter Bréhaut) on a voyage to the West Indies – using the Lloyds shipping intelligence books I discovered that this ship had been plundered by a French privateer on the way out to Quebec, and subsequently, on the way to Jamaica it was captured by an American brig-of-war and taken into Newport.
I initially presumed that Henry was a crew-member of his brother’s ship “Recovery”, but then found from the Lloyds List that at exactly the same time a ship called “Three Sisters” (Quebec-registered and owned by Jerseyman Philip Dean) was in the port of Quebec and its captain was also a Renouf! Unfortunately, Lloyds only gives the surname so I have not yet proved that Henry was a captain himself at this time (I still hope to find the first name in some shipping register). The “Three Sisters” is listed by John Jean as a Jersey-owned vessel a few years later from 1817-19.
The 2 documents – One is the notary document from Quebec and the other is the Jersey Registration.
Translations courtesy Adam Szoo
(Left side note)
The said undersigned seller, in the presence of the said acquirer, declared and notarised, that his real name is Joshué Noel, but that in all business agreements, he signs as Joseph Noel. and accordingly he so signed below.
Amongst other things, determining the price to be the sum of three hundred pounds in cash paid locally in this province of Lower Canada and that the said seller recognises and acknowledges having received advances of three hundred, the total price of the sale, as has been agreed .
For which receipts the said seller will transfer all property rights, inventories, titles, chattels to the said acquirers, as declared and the balance that has ostensibly been sold (?) (?) (?) and their (?) and having a future claim so that he transfers the entire property. As well, he promises and is obliged, to renounce his claims and pay the Quebec practice of M. Plante, one of the two notaries , the year one thousand eight hundred and twelve, August fifteenth afternoon, nine original copies delivered…
In the presence of the Notaries published in the Province of Lower Canada and undersigned in Québec City. Present was Joshué Noel, originally from the Ste-Marie parish on the Isle of Jersey, son of Philippe Noel, Tailor, and of Rachel LeCornu, currently a soldier in the Newfoundland Regiment where his Company is presently garrisoned in this city. He has, by his present and voluntary sale agreed to yield, leave, give up, abandon as of now and forever, promising and guaranteeing all encumbrances including all debt, mortgage, evictions, variations, substitutions and other generalities that may obstruct the Sirs Henry Renouf and Jean Renouf, brother, natives of the Ste-Marie parish in Jersey, Navigators, currently in Québec City, (?) (?), purchasers accepting his offer, and having a future claim.
Firstly, it should be known that a plot of land whose shape is similar to that of an irregular triangle of about four perches links the said Ste-Marie parish in Jersey to the foot of some land belonging to Jean Grudel, bordering the East side of the property and the side of the Chemin du Roi (King’s Road). There is a modern stone house, built without faults (pending), a fertile garden of approximately two thousand square patches situated in the same parish. Secondly, along the West side, near some land near the pump belonging to Charles Hugh Renouf, and along the East, North and South sides by the Chemin du Roi (King’s Road). The said land currently has a spring and other things pertaining to it. Thirdly, three contingent pieces of land where one is coarsely known by the name of (?), constituting a plot of land of about seven square acres situated by the same parish to the East (?) (?) at the West side by a public road at the North and South side of the Chemin du Roi (King’s Road) , with (?) pertaining and such so that all undersigned is currently (?). Nothing is reserved except in a non-descript format and it is only the said acquirers that are held and obliged in solidarity for each other without any division or desertion to which they will renounce (?) (?) possibly. The said Lady Rachel, Widow of Philippe Noel, mother of the Seller, shall retain for her domain for life a third of all assets sold . The said acquirers must be informed of, and have identified all such assets which are subject to their approval. As a result of the said transfer in the domain of the King and the property being burdened accordingly by seigneurial rights, the specific requirements of which the seller was unaware. The present owner will pay the current associated burdens, and the said acquirers will pay, in the future, the said seigneurial rights and all other burdens.
Property owners were obliged to pay conge (2% of the purchase price) which used to be payable to the Seigneurs. Some property owners still have to pay Chef-rente as a small tax and Poulage (originally two chickens). Quarantaine (40 eggs) also used to be payable to the seigneur. A Tithe (the eleventh sheath of all cereal crops) also had to be paid over.