Under an order, dated 1 January 1836, signifying the royal commands that an historic account of the services of every regiment in the British Army should be published under the superintendence of the Adjutant-General, the work of compilation was entrusted to Cannon, at that time principal clerk in the Adjutant-General’s office. During the ensuing seventeen years historical records of all then existing regiments of cavalry, and of forty-two regiments of infantry of the line, were thus issued “by authority”, all of which were prepared under Cannon’s direction.
The Richard Cannon books set the standards to be expected of all future regimental histories. His Modus operandi was to liaise directly with the regiments concerned, relying upon them to consult their own records, and to write and proof-read their own texts. His function was essentially that of co-ordinator and editor. The resultant work was authoritative and reliable. Based upon a combination of archival sources and personal knowledge of past and servicing officers it provided accurate information regarding dates, engagements, moves and locations. The book contained helpful illustrations- often executed to a high standard – showing details of uniforms and equipment. There was little if any of the fine detail or human interest which later generations of readers came to expect, but the essential blueprint has been drawn.
The regiment was formed on 9 October 1688 in Reading, Berkshire, in response to a possible invasion by William of Orange, later William III; On 5 November 1688, William landed in Torquay, James was deserted by his troops and he went into exile.
As a result of England’s involvement in the 1689-1697 Nine Years War, the regiment was posted to Flanders; between 1689 and 1693, it fought at the battles of Walcourt, Steenkirk and Neer Landen, as well as the 1695 Siege of Namur.
The war ended with the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick and the regiment transferred onto the Irish establishment, based at Carrickfergus. When the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1702, it returned to Flanders and served throughout Marlborough’s campaigns, including the capture of Liège in 1702, as well as the battles of Schellenberg, Blenheim, Ramillies, the Oudenarde and Malplaquet After the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714, it moved to Scotland and held Fort William during the Jacobite Rising of 1715.
In 1739, long-standing commercial tensions with Spain led to the War of Jenkins’ Ear, which took place largely in the Caribbean and North America. After a brief period as a marine unit, it was sent to the West Indies in January 1741, an area notorious for high mortality rates. A detachment took part in the failed assault on Cartagena de Indias, in modern Colombia; the troops suffered enormous losses from yellow fever, estimated as between 80-90%.
The few survivors returned to England in 1742 and the unit brought back up to strength, while the conflict with Spain expanded into the wider European struggle known as the War of the Austrian Succession. Shortly after the Allied defeat at Fontenoy in May 1745, the regiment moved to Flanders and suffered heavy losses at Melle in July. It retreated to Antwerp and then shipped to Scotland to suppress the Jacobite Rising of 1745 but arrived after the rebellion had been defeated. The regiment remained there until 1749, when it moved to Ireland.
In 1751, a royal warrant declared that regiments should no longer be known by the name of their colonel, but their number in the order of precedence, and Handasyd’s duly became the 16th Regiment of Foot.
The 16th Foot remained in Ireland until 1767, when it sailed to Florida, establishing a headquarters at Pensacola with detachments in various areas of the territory. When the American War of Independence broke out in 1776, the regiment was ordered to New York, but returned south in the following year to various garrisons in Florida and Georgia. In 1778, Spanish forces invaded the area from Louisiana, and part of the 16th was captured with the fall of Baton Rouge. Other detachments helped repel French attacks on Savannah in September 1779 and Pensacola in May 1781.[The remains of the 16th Foot returned to England, arriving in March 1782.
In August 1782, county designations were added to the numbers of the regiments of foot to encourage recruitment. The regiment duly became the 16th (Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot.With the end of the American war, the regiment was reduced to a peacetime complement in 1783, and in the following year moved to garrison duty in Ireland.
In August 1790, the 16th Foot sailed to Nova Scotia, moving in the following year to Jamaica.In 1793 the French plantation-owners of the colony of Saint-Domingue signed an agreement to place the territory under British sovereignty in return for assistance in halting a slave rebellion. Soldiers of the 16th Foot formed part of the British detachment, but they were all but wiped out by disease: only one officer and one sergeant of the 16th returned alive to Jamaica in 1794.The 16th Foot, as part of the garrison of Jamaica, fought in the Second Maroon War in 1795–96, before returning to England late in 1796. The much-depleted regiment attempted to recruit in Scotland, before being brought up to strength by volunteers from English militia regiments in 1798. In 1799–1804, the 16th Foot was stationed in England, Scotland and Ireland.
In January 1804, the 16th Foot sailed for Barbados, arriving in March. On arrival, it formed part of an expeditionary force formed to capture the Dutch colony of Surinam. In May, the Dutch forces surrendered. Detachments of the regiment remained at various locations in Barbados and Surinam, returning gradually to England between 1810 and 1812
In 1820, the regiment began a long term of colonial service. It was stationed in Ceylon until 1828, when it moved to the Bengal Presidency. It returned to England between December 1840 and January 1841. In 1843 it took up garrison duties in Ireland, remaining there until 1846 when it moved to Gibraltar.