Irish Guard Naval Squadron

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Irish Guard Naval Squadron
Flag of the Commonwealth of England and General at Sea 1649 to 1651.png
Blue Ensign of the English Navy (1625-1707)
Active1642 - 1653
AllegianceCommonwealth of England
BranchCommonwealth Navy
TypeDetached Squadron
RoleConvoy Protection, Transportation, Patrol
Garrison/HQMilford Haven, Wales
Greenock, Scotland

The Irish Guard Naval Squadron [1] originally known as the Irish Squadron[2] was a series of temporary naval formations assembled for specific military campaigns of the the Commonwealth Navy from 1642 to 1653.


English Monarch's formed temporary naval formations for particular naval campaigns off west coast of England in the Irish Sea from the thirteenth to seventeenth century. An Irish Fleet was in operation from 1297 to 1415. In sixteenth a naval formation for the Irish Sea was reformed the Irish Squadron of the Navy Royal this was raised during Anglo-Scottish Wars (1539-1545). In 1571 the Irish Squadron operated during Desmond Rebellions (1569–1573) and again in (1579–1583), its commander during these periods was Admiral Sir William Wynter in 1579 he was authorized to cut off all sea routes into Ireland and seize all ships of the pending papal invasion force.[3] In 1616 it was formed again under the command of Sir Thomas Button.

At the start English Civil War in 1642 the Navy Royal came under the control of Parliament of England its squadron operating from Milford Haven was renamed the Irish Guard Naval Squadron of new Commonwealth Navy (1642-1653) it was active during Oliver Cromwell's expedition to Ireland in 1649.[4] It operated only during two specific time periods three months during the summer and three months during the winter. The strength of the squadron varied in size but did reach a peak of 56 ships in 1645 making it the navy's second largest squadron.[5] In July 1689 the Irish Squadron of the now Royal Navy was engaged at the Battle of Bantry Bay under the command George Rooke he remained in control of the squadron until early 1690. The squadron then reformed in June 1690 when it took part in the Capture of Waterford under the command of Rear-Admiral Cloudesley Shovell until June 1690. In 1691 it was part of a larger naval force assembled to transfer King William III to Ireland.[6][7]

Into the eighteenth century the the Royal Navy's Irish Squadron was reformed in July 1727 and again in July 1731 but it was gradually wound down in terms of ship numbers assigned to it before being disbanded.[8] It would not be until 1758 that the British Admiralty established a permanent naval formation for the Irish Sea known as the Cork Station.

The squadrons operating base for the majority of its existence was from Milford Haven, Wales for operations in the Irish Sea and off the Coast of Ireland. By the end of the 1680s it was stationed at Greenock, Scotland.[9]. Its repair and resupply bases in Ireland included Kinsale Dockyard in County Cork.

In command

Note:Incomplete list of post holders include.

No. rank name date/s appointed as ref
1. Vice-Admiral Sir John Pennington 1642–1643 Admiral of the Irish Guard [10]
2. Vice-Admiral William Smith 1643 summer Vice-Admiral, Commander Irish Guard [11]
3. Vice-Admiral Richard Swanley 1643–1647 Admiral of the Irish Seas/Commander Irish Guard [12][13]
4. Vice-Admiral Thomas Rainsborough 1647–1648 Admiral of the Irish Seas/Commander Irish Guard [14]
5. Vice-Admiral William Penn 1648–1649 Admiral of the Irish Seas/Commander Irish Guard [15]
6. Rear-Admiral Sir George Anscough 1649 Admiral of the Irish Seas [16]
7. Vice-Admiral Sir George Ayscue 1649–1650 Admiral of the Irish Seas [17]


  1. Davies, J. D. (2008). "Convoys, Cruisers and Station Ships". Pepys Navy, Ships, Men and Warfare 1649 to 1689. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. p. 245. ISBN 9781848320147.
  2. Fortescue, Sir John; Plummer, Charles (1999). The Governance of England, Otherwise Called, The Difference Between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy. Clark, New Jersey, USA: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 238. ISBN 9781886363793.
  3. Joyce, Patrick Weston (1910). "The Geraldine Rebellion - Concise History of Ireland". National Library of Ireland. p. 404. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  4. Lenihan, Pádraig (2000). Conquest and Resistance: War in Seventeenth-Century Ireland. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishing. p. 174. ISBN 9789004117433.
  5. Murphy, Elaine (2012). Ireland and the War at Sea, 1641-1653. Woodbridge, England: Boydell & Brewer Ltd. pp. 91–92. ISBN 9780861933181.
  6. Meredith, Jon (January 2009). "THE ENGLISH NAVY IN AN IRISH WAR: CAPTAIN GEORGE ROOKE'S SQUADRON AND THE JACOBITE WAR IN IRELAND, SUMMER 1689". The Mariner's Mirror. 95 (2): 179–193. doi:10.1080/00253359.2009.10657095.
  7. Yonge, Charles Duke (1863). The History of the British Navy: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time. London, England: Richard Bentley. p. 106.
  8. Rodger, N.A.M. (7 September 2006). "Appendix III: Fleets". The command of the ocean : a naval history of Britain 1649-1815 (1st ed.). London, England: Penguin. pp. 610–617. ISBN 9780141026909.
  9. Meredith, Jon (January 2009). "The English Navy in an Irish War: George Rookes Squadron and the Jacobite War in Ireland, Summer 1689". The Mariner's Mirror. 95 (2): 179–193. doi:10.1080/00253359.2009.10657095.
  10. Murphy, Elaine (2012). Ireland and the War at Sea, 1641–1653. Woodbridge, England: Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 20. ISBN 9780861933181.
  11. Manganiello, Stephen C. (2004). "Appendix:The Navy". The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1639-1660. Scarecrow Press. pp. 597–602. ISBN 9780810851009.
  12. KEYMER, E. W.L.; REED, ADRIAN; GRAINGER, J. D.; WELCH, JOHN C.; LEE, C. D.; OWEN, HUGH (January 1996). "NOTES:Richard Swanley (c 1592–1650), Admiral of the Fleet on the Irish Coast". The Mariner's Mirror. 82 (4): 461–476. doi:10.1080/00253359.1996.10656619.
  13. Laughton, John Knox. "Swanley Richard". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 55. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  14. Manganiello.pp.597-602.
  15. Laughton, John Knox. "Penn William (1621-1670)". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900. Wikisource. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  16. Cunningham, George Godfrey (1836). Lives of eminent and illustrious Englishmen Volume 4. Edinburgh, Scotland: A. Fullarton and Co. pp. 8–9.
  17. Le Fevre, Peter (January 1982). "SIR GEORGE AYSCUE, COMMONWEALTH AND RESTORATION ADMIRAL". The Mariner's Mirror. 68 (2): 189–202. doi:10.1080/00253359.1982.10655858.