The regiment was originally part of the Dutch service and known as the Irish Regiment, or Viscount Clare's Regiment, under the command of Daniel O'Brien, 3rd Viscount Clare. In the following year the colonelcy passed to John Fenwick and the "Irish" designation was discontinued and the regiment was referred to as a "Holland Regiment". The regiment was transferred to the British Service on 5 June 1685, establishing its order of precedence as the 5th Regiment of the Line. Until 1751, like most other regiments, it was known successively by the names of the colonels who commanded them at the time.
The 5th left Monkstown[disambiguation needed], Ireland on 7 May 1774, for Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their presence was necessary because of strong civil unrest in the area. Arriving in July, 1774 the 5th camped on Boston Common.
On 19 April 1775, the Light Infantry and Grenadier Companies participated in the march to Concord, and the resulting fighting at Lexington, Concord, and the march back to Boston. Casualties were five men killed, three officers and 15 men wounded, and one man captured. On 17 June 1775, after being under siege by American forces for two months, the regiment participated in the attack on the fortifications at Breed's Hill (the Battle of Bunker Hill). The American forces were finally driven off after intense fighting. The regiment was heavily engaged and suffered 24 dead, 137 wounded.
After spending two months on board ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 5th sailed to New York to participate in the effort to capture the city from the Americans. They took part in the Battle of Long Island and the Battle of White Plains, the capture of Fort Washington, New York, the capture of Fort Lee, New Jersey. They then spent the winter of 1776-1777 quartered near New York City and were involved in skirmishes with the American forces. They were then part of Howe's campaign to capture Philadelphia, being engaged in the Battle of Brandywine Creek, where they broke the Continental Army's center at Chadds Ford, capturing 5 cannon. On the retreat through New Jersey, on 28 June 1778, the regiment was involved in the fighting at Monmouth Court House. While in New York, the 5th participated in several raids and skirmishes, including a raid on Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. The Americans had been using the harbour for privateering, and this raid succeeded in destroying many buildings and boats.
They then embarked from New York on 3 November 1778, for the French West Indies, landing on 13 December 1778, on the island of Saint Lucia. The 5th was engaged with a small force of French and captured a four cannon battery. On 18 December 1778, a force of 9,000 French troops were landed on St. Lucia. The small British force of 1,400 men occupied a hill located on the neck of a peninsula. The French were fairly raw soldiers trained to fight in the classic European style of linear battles. The French advanced on the British force several times. The British, veterans of colonial fighting, inflicted a stinging defeat on the French. The French lost 400 killed and 1100 wounded to the British losses of 10 killed and 130 wounded, which included two officers from the 5th Foot. As a result of the defeat, the French force abandoned the island. Regimental tradition states that after the battle men of the 5th Foot took white hat plumes from fallen French soldiers and placed them as trophies in their own hats.
After two years in the West Indies, the 5th Foot was sent to Ireland in December 1780. They were still in Ireland when hostilities between Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the former Colonies officially ended in 1783.
Whilst in the Peninsula the regiment earned the nicknames the " Old and Bold," " The Fighting Fifth," and also " Lord Wellington's Bodyguard." It formed part of a small force which beat off an overwhelming body of the enemy at El Boden in 1811, a performance which Wellington notified to the Army as a memorable example of what can be done by steadiness, discipline, and confidence." The Regiment was in the 3rd Division, 2nd Brigade under command of Major General Charles Colville, the formation was:
1st/5th Regiment of Foot
2nd/83rd Regiment of Foot
2nd/87th Regiment of Foot
94th Regiment of Foot
The regiment fought in the;
Battle of Roliça
Battle of Vimeiro
Battle of Corunna
Battle of Bussaco
Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810)
Battle of Badajoz
Battle of Salamanca
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of Nivelle
Battle of Orthez
Battle of Toulouse (1814)
Sir Charles Broke [or Brooke, subsequently Vere) was in Lower Canada with his regiment, the 5th (Northumberland)Regiment of Foot, which was at the Battle of Plattsburg in 1814. Later he was with the Army of Occupation in France, receiving the Waterloo medal despite arrivin too latefor the battle (from Manasek).(from a note on A. Arrowsmith's map of North America in the David Rumsey Map Collection).
On 4 May 1836, the 5th became a fusilier regiment and was redesignated as the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot:
The King has been pleased to command, that the
5th, or Northumberland, Regiment of Foot shall in future be equipped as a Fusilier Regiment, and be styled the 5th Regiment of Foot, or Northumberland Fusiliers.
The regiment, which was increased to two battalions in 1857, saw active service in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Anglo-Afghan War. By 1881 the 5th foot had been awarded the following battle honours
Under the Childers reforms of 1881, the numbered regiments of the line were given new titles, and were linked with a particular recruiting district, usually a county. At the same time the existing militia and rifle volunteer units of the district became battalions of the regiment.
Accordingly on 1 July 1881 the Northumberland Fusiliers was formed as the county regiment of Northumberland, (including the Counties of the towns of Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick upon Tweed) with the following battalions: