The 101st Regiment of Foot (Duke or York's Irish) was a regiment in the British Army between 1806 and 1817. It was the last unit in the British Army to be raised through a contract with an individual.
The 101st Regiment of Foot was raised through a letter of service to Honourable Henry Augustus Dillon who had previously raised the Irish Brigade. The regiment was recruited in Ireland, and it establishment was set at 1000 rank and file. Dillon was granted significant patronage through the letter of service, as he was permitted to nominate the officers to the unit. The officers that Dillon nominated receive a promotion for joining the unit. However, gathering the officers from their previous regiments led to some delay before it was formally incorporated as part of the British Army. The regiment was added to the British Army on 25 July 1806, and the officer appointments were announced in the London Gazette, 30 August 1806. On 8 September 1806 the regiment was given the title 'The Duke of York's Irish'.
It was probably the last unit in the British Army to be raised through a letter of service - a contract between the Army and individual to raise men. This approach had been common in the eighteenth century, particularly in the 1790s, but was abandoned by the Commander-in-Chief the Duke of York who thought it was frequently corrupt, damaged the status of officers, and competed with recruiting for other units.
The regiment's Lieutenant Colonel was William Pollock, who had seen active service in the Siege of Fort St. Philip on Minorca during the American War of Independence, becoming a prisoner of war after the siege. He then served in Ireland and England between 1782 and 1792 before being sent to Gibraltar and participated in the Toulon. Service in the Mediterranean followed, in Corsica and Portugal in 1797. After this, he was sent to the East Indies, before returning to Ireland on recruiting duty during 1806 in the run up to the 101st Foot being established.
Major George O'Malley started his military career as a volunteer in the Castlebar Yeomanry and was present at the Battle of Castlebar. He then served in the North Mayo Militia before joining the 13th Foot. With them, he served in Egypt, Malta, and Gibraltar. Like Pollock, he was a successful recruiter and gained a company (and a Captaincy) in the 2/89th Foot in 1805, before being appointed to the 101st Foot. He was important in raising the regiment from men in Mayo.
Major O'Malley commanded the unit during its deployment overseas, but wanted to serve in Europe, a wish that was granted in 1815 when he became the commander of the 2/44th at the Battle of Waterloo, where he was wounded twice and received the CB. He was later lieutenant-colonel of the 88th Foot.
Although the establishment of the regiment was set at 1,000 men, when it was added to the British Army it was set at 10 companies with 76 privates each. Like many single battalion British regiments, a recruiting company was added in 1809. Initially, the regiment was stationed in Ireland, then Jersey before being sent to Nova Scotia. After 2 years there it was sent to Jamaica, and was quartered at Spanish Town and Stony Hill. It spent the rest of the Napoleonic Wars in Jamaica until it returned to the UK in 1816 and 1817. 4 companies were landed at Portsmouth 18 June 1816 and disbanded on 24 August at Hilsea Barracks, followed by the remaining 6 companies which landed on 17 December 1816 and were disbanded on 7 January 1817.