John Fitzgerald was an experienced officer who had commanded an
Irish Regiment in the service of Charles II in exile in the Low
Countries, and commanded it at the battle of the Dunes in 1658.
Pepys records that Fitzgerald was a great favourite of the Duke
of York, who wished to promote him, but Norwood, Bridge, and Peterborough
were all hostile and so the Privy Council blocked his preferment.
His regiment had joined the Dunkirk garrison after the Restoration
on 12th March 1661, and he sailed with his regiment and the regiment
of Farrell for Tangier in January 1662.
April 1663 Andrew Rutherford, Earl of Teviot, the Governor of
Tangier, was ordered to reduce the two Irish regiments in the
garrison to one of five companies, under Fitzgerald’s command.
On 4th May 1664, Teviot was killed in a Moorish ambush. Fitzgerald
was then on leave and was instructed to return immediately. This
he did and was appointed Governor, and thereby Colonel of the
Governor’s Regiment, on 7th June 1664. He was at the same
time instructed to reorganise the two Regiments into two of roughly
equal size, eliminating the national differences. This was done
for two reasons. First to spread the veterans of good fighting
quality around and stiffen the rest, secondly to eliminate a dangerous
degree of Republicanism present among the soldiery of the English
Regiment - who were in great part former Protectorate men. Interestingly,
it was Norwood who was to command the Lieutenant Governor’s
the arrival of Bellasise as Governor, the Commission Register
still shows Fitzgerald as Colonel of the Governor’s regiment,
a post which he held until the enforcement of the Test Acts in
Tangier in 1666. Why has he not appeared subsequently in lists
of Colonels? Several reasons. First, given the role of Kirke and
the Regiment in the Dutch invasion, it was politically undesirable
to admit to an Irish catholic having commanded the Regiment in
Tangier, at a time when legally, despite the practice of the King
in preferring Catholics, the Test Acts forbade this. Secondly,
Davis’s history is vague in many areas concerning the early
years of the Regiment, and has established the incorrect view
that the Queen’s sprang from only one root origin in 1661.