The Marquis of Granby

On this day, July 31st, a great military tradition attached to our regiment was born… and the heritage of a great many pubs founded.

The Battle of Warburg, July 31st 1760: Fighting in the Seven Years War rages on between an allied coalition of British and Hanoverian forces against a French army.

Whilst leading the Blues in battle, the regiment’s beloved Colonel John Manners, Marquis of Granby, loses his hat and wig in a gallant charge and carries on until the battle is won. As the dust settles the hero is forced to salute his commanding officer bareheaded...

Though unheard of at the time, this moment gave birth to a tradition that continues to this day: still now, non-commissioned officers and troopers of the Blues and Royals are the only soldiers in the British Army allowed to salute without headdress.

John Manners, Marquis of Granby

One of the many notable figures in the Household Cavalry’s history, John Manners, Marquis of Granby was a prominent figure, known not just in the regiment, but throughout the whole British Army.

Born 2nd January 1721, eldest son of the 3rd Duke of Rutland, by the tender age of 20 he was serving as an MP for the borough of Grantham, and aged just 25 received a military commission as Colonel of a regiment raised by his father to fight the Jacobite uprising under Bonnie Prince Charlie. Whilst the regiment remained at Newcastle, Granby volunteered to accompany the Duke of Cumberland on the final stages of a campaign into Scotland and was present at the Battle of Culloden, 16th April 1746.

When Manners’s regiment mutinied due to lack of payment, he paid them out of his own pocket before they were disbanded. He retained his rank and campaigned in Flanders in 1747, serving as an Intelligence Officer for Cumberland and gaining an even greater reputation as a soldier and a leader of men.

By 1752, Manners was suggested for the position of Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues) but it took a further 6 years of parliamentary advancement before he gained the Royal support required for such a position. On 18th March 1755 he was promoted to Major-General and finally appointed Colonel of the Blues on 27th May 1758.

Granby was one of the first officers to not only recognise the importance of welfare and morale amongst troops, but to address the issue. The impact of his leadership changed the character of British soldiering and thus so improved, the properly led army proved unbeatable in war. As a sign of respect, nearly all portraits of Granby depict him mounting a horse, or helping the wounded.

To this day, Granby is particularly remembered in the military for his custom of helping old soldiers from his regiment retire into sustainable work, ensuring they were able to support both themselves and their families. Subsequently, and perhaps more widely appreciated, he is believed to have more public houses in Britain named after him than any other person!