The regiment was raised in East Anglia in February 1702 as "Lord Lucas's Regiment of Foot", and disbanded in 1712, but reformed without loss of precedence in 1715.
The 34th served in the Low Countries, southern England, and Scotland including the Battle of Culloden in 1746 where the Regiments loss being three private soldiers.
In 1751, they were numbered the 34th Regiment of Foot, and recognized as wearing red uniforms faced bright yellow.
Posted to Minorca in 1755 the Regiment consisting of 26 officers, 29 sergeants, 19 Drummers and 678 Rank and File as part of Lord Blakeney's garrison (with the 4th, 23rd and 24th Regiments.) As such they were besieged by a larger French force under Marshal Duke DE Richelieu and retreated in good order to Fort St Phillip. After a vigorous and gallant defence of two months duration, at one point watching themselves being abandoned by the fleet under Admiral Byng, the fort capitulated, the garrison being allowed to depart to Gibraltar with drums beating, colours flying, muskets in hand and 20 rounds of ammunition per man. From Gibraltar the Regiment returned to England having lost 2 officers, and 20 rank and file killed during the siege, 77 NCOs and men wounded, 9 later dying of wounds, disease and exertions.
A second Battalion was formed in 1757 to serve as marines. This unit was later re-designated the 73rd Regiment and disbanded in 1763.
The raids on the French coast of 1758 (24th, 34th and 72nd Regiments) in and around Brittany went well and were quite disruptive but a large French re-inforcement of the area rebuffed them with considerable loss during the departure from St Cas.
The Regiment mustered 1000 all ranks as it departed with the British expedition against Cuba and was part of the besieging force of Fort Morro in 1762. After a long and difficult battle the fort and soon afterwards the City of Havana were taken. The Regiment (brigaded with the 35th,43rd and 75th Regiments) garrisoned this port until peace with Spain was declared and Cuba was exchanged for the mainland colony of Florida and later Louisiana. Portions of the Regiment garrisoned at various times, St Augustine, Pensacola, New Orleans and Natches.
Returning to Europe in 1769 the Regiment was part of the Irish establishment until 1776 and called to lift the siege of Quebec in 1776.
Major General Burgoyne's army (which the 34th was a part) landed in the spring of 1776 with the breakup of the ice on the St Lawrence River. Participating in numerous small skirmishes the force drove out the American rebels and pushed them down through Lake Champlain. Captain-General Guy Carleton, the commander at Quebec for reasons still debated did not follow up his success and allowed the rebel forces a year to regroup.
In late July 1777 a detachment of the regiment took part in the Siege of Fort Stanwix while under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger, also commanding the 34th Regiment of Foot. The force, consisting of at its very highest 1700 men, comprised British (100 8th, 100 34th) Canadien (65-100), German (350), Loyalist (400) and Native American troops (possibly up to 700). In early August the rebels of Tryon County dispatched a force of militia to reinforce the besieged Stanwix defenders but a Native American force and the King's Royal Regiment of New York under the command of Chief Joseph Brant, ambushed the Americans successfully at the Battle of Oriskany, inflicting over 400 rebel deaths. The fort itself was heavily defended and newly repaired and prepared for a siege. The besiegers on the other hand were too few in number and the guns and mortars brought along too light to make any real damage. During the time the ambush was taking place, a sortie by from the forts defenders swept out unopposed capturing much of the Loyalist and Indian camp and supplies. A few weeks later the siege collapsed with the disappearance of the dispirited native allies.
Captain Alexander Fraser of the 34th Regiment, a veteran of the French and Indian War, commanded what became known as the Company of Select Marksmen during the Burgoyne campaign at the same time in 1777. The Marksmen, sometimes known as Rangers, were to consist of two good men from each company of the regiments then in Canada (9th, 20th,21st,31st,33rd,34th,47th,53rd,62nd and 67th) excluding the King's (or 8th) Regiment. This company, acting as scouts and light infantry under Capt Fraser did much good work participating in the battles of Hubbardton, Bennington and Saratoga. Capt Fraser either escaped or was one of four British officers to be given passports from Saratoga with General Burgoyne's papers, returning back to Fort Ticonderoga and Quebec with news of the defeat. Alexander Fraser continued fighting and raiding throughout the Revolutionary War, commanding at Carleton Island and Fort Schlosser and afterwards eventually becoming the commanding officer of the 45th (Nottinghamshire) Regiment in 1795.
Throughout the remainder of the war, under command of LCol Barry St. Leger the Regiment garrisoned numerous forts in the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario, conducted raids and acted as marines on gunboats. The Light and Grenadier companies which had been part of the composite Light and Grenadier Battalions on the Burgoyne Campaign were reformed and reinforced after surrendering with the army at Saratoga and becoming part of what was infamously known as the Convention Army. In autumn of 1778 a member of both these companies escaped captivity and managed to make their way back to Quebec to rejoin the battalion. Lt Bright Nodder of the Light Company was exchanged in 1782 and a year later took a captaincy with the 84th (Royal Highland Emmigrants) Regt.
The greatest single loss of life affecting the regiment was the disappearance of the brig-sloop HMS Ontario during a violent storm on October 31 1780. Lost somewhere east of Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario with all hands, up to 130 souls perished. The 34th that day lost 1 officer, 2 sergeants, 1 corporal, 1 drummer, 30 privates, 4 women and 5 children. The resting site of the HMS Ontario remained a mystery until 2008 when the nearly pristine sloop "was discovered resting partially on its side, with two masts extending more than 20 metres above the lake bottom", in approximately 150m of water "off the southern shore" by shipwreck enthusiasts Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville.
1782 saw the Regiment granted the county title as the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot returning to Britain in 1786.
The Revolutionary War re-enactment unit 'Company of Select Marksmen' portray members of the 34th and other member units with their women, children and native allies.
With the heightening of tensions after the French Revolution, the British army expanded their establishment and with this came a second battalion to the Regiment.
In the beginning of the Napoleonic conflict the First Battalion were posted to the West Indies to put down revolutionary inspired uprisings. They were then stationed on the Indian subcontinent for the remainder of the war. The Second Battalion of the Regiment served with distinction in the Peninsular Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. During the battle of Arroyo dos Molinos, they fought the French 34th regiment and won capturing the French drums and the Drum Major's mace which the regiment still possesses today (despite requests for their return by the French Government.) On the anniversary of the battle 28 October ("Arroyo day") the Regimental band would form up and march about beating the captured drums in celebration. These were presented for safe keeping to the Regimental Museum at Carlisle Castle and are now on public display though the celebration is continued today.
The political tensions in Britain and North America of the 1830s appeared in Canada as a series rebellions and border raids from 1837-39. The 34th(Cumberland)Regiment was a part of the 11,000 British regulars sent to put down the rebellions in Lower and Upper Canada. Posted to Fort Malden in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 they engaged Rebel forces at Peelee Island, Fighting Island and the Battle of Windsor and protected against American 'Hunter Lodges' raiding across the border.
At Fort Malden, a National Historic Site of Canada, there exists today in the smallest of three barracks buildings a full barracks display of that period. During the summertime, local students are hired and instructed representing members of the 34th on the proper drill and deportment in wearing the 1837 British Uniform and perform musket firing demonstrations.