Siege of Colchester – 1648

thomas fairfaxAfter eleven weeks Royalists being besieged in Colchester by General Fairfax (pictured at the start of this post) surrendered on 28 August 1648.

 

Essentially the King had escaped from Hampton Court to the Isle of Wight at the end of 1647. Parliament and the army were not in agreement with what should happen to him or to the country.  May 1648 saw the Second English Civil War begin with an uprising in Kent orchestrated by the Earl of Norwich (Lord Goring).  Whilst Fairfax was sorting out the people of Kent at Maidstone in June 1648, Royalists in Essex took the Parliamentary Committee in Chelmsford prisoner. The Earl of Norwich now joined with Charles Lucas, the brother of Mad Madge in Essex – Maidstone having been recaptured by Fairfax.  Lucas and some 5,000 men, many from Essex’s trained bands marched on Braintree to take possession of the munitions stored there.  Unfortunately for him those members of the trained bands who had stayed loyal to Parliament had already secured the weapons.

 

Inevitably there was a coming together of forces which at that time were about evenly numbered. Fairfax commanded the Parliamentary army.  He hoped to take Colchester by storm and thus prevent the need for a siege. He failed to force his way through the Royalists when he met them on the outskirts of the town despite attempts to carry the day which lasted well into the evening.

This meant that he found himself in the situation of having to prevent royalists from relieving the garrison or the men inside from coming out to resupply – sheep and cattle fell prey to the Royalists as did a supply of  corn, wine and fish that was stored at The Hythe. There was also the small matter of the River Colne.  The town was completely encircled by the 2ndof July.

 

It must have been rather a strange experience as the people of Colchester were Parliamentarian by sympathy and yet they now found themselves in the middle of a siege with them on the wrong end of the New Model Army.  Having said that, Essex which formed part of the  Eastern Association – along with the other eastern counties, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire was not as pro-Parliament as it had been.  The English Civil War had seen a heavy burden of tax to pay for Parliamentary armies. And it turned out that Parliament wasn’t necessarily that keen on freedom of expression. The offices of Mayor and Justices of the Peace for Colchester and environs were elected in 1647 but parliamentary troops arrived and ordered a second election of candidates who met with their approval. Needless to say there had been riots.

 

There were a variety of attacks and counter-attacks.  Fairfax attempted to make terms on the 16thJuly but Charles Lucas threatened to have the messenger hanged if he returned again.

 

Despite this bravado it was clear to the Royalists that they would not be relieved. Groups of cavalry attempted to escape.  One group was forced back on 15thJuly whilst another group fought their way to freedom on the 22nd.  As the Royalist forces dwindled, Fairfax’s numbers grew.

 

Food ran out.  So it would appear did the cats and dogs of the town. Things became so dire that the people of Colchester found themselves eating soap and candles.  Not only were  they eating soap but they were also getting damp and cold as the Royalists stripped the thatch from their roofs to feed their horses.

 

Fairfax realised that if he permitted supplies into the town the Royalists would confiscate them so he ignored the pleas of Lord Norwich and of the Town Council.  Five hundred women and children were sent to the Parliamentarian army to beg for sympathy.  This plan went badly awry when they were fired upon and Colonel Thomas Rainsborough (who is usually remembered as the highest ranking officer to show support for the Levellers) ordered some of the women to be stripped.  Remember these people had been loyal to Parliament throughout the first civil war.  Rainsborough would be sent north after the siege to attend to the Royalists in Pontefract where he would be killed in a kidnap gone wrong.  The Parliamentarians knew that the Royalists would have to be starved out and the best way to do that was to ensure that there were a lot of mouths to be fed.

 

On the 24thAugust Parliamentry forces received news that Cromwell had won the Battle of Preston against the Duke of Hamilton.  Fairfax shared the news by sending a kite over the wall bearing the news and then he ordered his men to fire a volley as though preparing for another attack.  In addition to which the people of Colchester had taken to pleading with Lord Goring at every opportunity to surrender – Lucas had not endear himself to the population and was even accused of rape.

The royalists had no option but to make terms.  Fairfax who had shown himself to be a compassionate commander during the first civil war now revealed the steely side of his command by refusing to allow the officers involved with the siege any quarter.  He allowed the men of the royalist army to march to freedom upon swearing not to take up arms again but the officers were not.  The town had to pay £14,000 in cash.  This was subsequently reduced to £12,000.  It should also be noted that quarter in this instance meant being beaten and possible sent to the West Indies.

 

Part of Fairfax’s fury stemmed from the fact that the Royalist commanders such as Charles Lucas had given their parole in 1646 and had broken it when they rose against parliament.  They faced a military court and immediate execution.  Fairfax argued that they had caused unnecessary suffering – which was a bit rich coming from a man who’d just fined the impoverished and rather battered town £14,000 – even if it was reduced and £2,000 set aside to assist the poor.  Justice was speedy.  Lucas was executed on the evening of 28thAugust along with Sir George Lisle who had served Prince Rupert and was related to the Duke of Buckingham.  Another Royalist,  Bernard Gascoigne, turned out to be an Italian citizen so was not executed on account of Parliament not wanting to fall out with the Italians (and yes I know Italy wasn’t a country but I can’t remember which particular region was involved- I think it was Tuscany.)

 

John Evelyn described Colchester as “wretchedly demolished,” in 1656.  Daniel Defoe recorded events  in 1722 during his tour of the Eastern Counties:

An Account Of The Siege And Blockade Of Colchester, A.D. 1648.

On the 4th of June, we were alarmed in the town of Colchester that the Lord Goring, the Lord Capel, and a body of two thousand of the loyal party, who had been in arms in Kent, having left a great body of an army in possession of Rochester Bridge, where they resolved to fight the Lord Fairfax and the Parliament army, had given the said General Fairfax the slip, and having passed the Thames at Greenwich, were come to Stratford, and were advancing this way; upon which news, Sir Charles Lucas, Sir George Lisle, Colonel Cook, and several gentlemen of the loyal army, and all that had commissions from the king, with a gallant appearance of gentlemen volunteers, drew together from all parts of the country to join with them.

The 8th, we were further informed that they were advanced to Chelmsford, to New Hall House, and to Witham; and the 9th some of the horse arrived in the town, taking possession of the gates, and having engineers with them, told us that General Goring had resolved to make this town his headquarters, and would cause it to be well fortified. They also caused the drums to beat for volunteers; and a good number of the poor bay-weavers, and such-like people, wanting employment, enlisted; so that they completed Sir Charles Lucas’s regiment, which was but thin, to near eight hundred men.

On the 10th we had news that the Lord Fairfax, having beaten the Royalists at Maidstone, and retaken Rochester, had passed the Thames at Gravesend, though with great difficulty, and with some loss, and was come to Horndon-on-the-Hill, in order to gain Colchester before the Royalists; but that hearing Sir Charles Lucas had prevented him, had ordered his rendezvous at Billerecay, and intended to possess the pass at Malden on the 11th, where Sir Thomas Honnywood, with the county-trained bands, was to be the same day.

The same evening the Lord Goring, with all his forces, making about five thousand six hundred men, horse and foot, came to Colchester, and encamping without the suburbs, under command of the cannon of St. Mary’s fort, made disposition to fight the Parliament forces if they came up.

The 12th, the Lord Goring came into Colchester, viewed the fort in St. Mary’s churchyard, ordered more cannon to be planted upon it, posted two regiments in the suburbs without the head gate, let the town know he would take them into his Majesty’s protection, and that he would fight the enemy in that situation. The same evening the Lord Fairfax, with a strong party of one thousand horse, came to Lexden, at two small miles’ distance, expecting the rest of his army there the same night.

The Lord Goring brought in prisoners the same day, Sir William Masham, and several other gentlemen of the county, who were secured under a strong guard; which the Parliament hearing, ordered twenty prisoners of the royal party to be singled out, declaring, that they should be used in the same manner as the Lord Goring used Sir William Masham, and the gentlemen prisoners with him.

On the 13th, early in the morning, our spies brought intelligence that the Lord Fairfax, all his forces being come up to him, was making dispositions for a march, resolving to attack the Royalists in their camp; upon which, the Lord Goring drew all his forces together, resolving to fight. The engineers had offered the night before to entrench his camp, and to draw a line round it in one night’s time, but his lordship declined it, and now there was no time for it; whereupon the general, Lord Goring, drew up his army in order of battle on both sides the road, the horse in the open fields on the wings; the foot were drawn up, one regiment in the road, one regiment on each side, and two regiments for reserve in the suburb, just at the entrance of the town, with a regiment of volunteers advanced as a forlorn hope, and a regiment of horse at the head-gate, ready to support the reserve, as occasion should require.

About nine in the morning we heard the enemy’s drums beat a march, and in half an hour more their first troops appeared on the higher grounds towards Lexden. Immediately the cannon from St. Mary’s fired upon them, and put some troops of horse into confusion, doing great execution, which, they not being able to shun it, made them quicken their pace, fall on, when our cannon were obliged to cease firing, lest we should hurt our own troops as well as the enemy. Soon after, their foot appeared, and our cannon saluted them in like manner, and killed them a great many men.

Their first line of foot was led up by Colonel Barkstead, and consisted of three regiments of foot, making about 1,700 men, and these charged our regiment in the lane, commanded by Sir George Lisle and Sir William Campion. They fell on with great fury, and were received with as much gallantry, and three times repulsed; nor could they break in here, though the Lord Fairfax sent fresh men to support them, till the Royalists’ horse, oppressed with numbers on the left, were obliged to retire, and at last to come full gallop into the street, and so on into the town. Nay, still the foot stood firm, and the volunteers, being all gentlemen, kept their ground with the greatest resolution; but the left wing being routed, as above, Sir William Campion was obliged to make a front to the left, and lining the hedge with his musketeers, made a stand with a body of pikes against the enemy’s horse, and prevented them entering the lane. Here that gallant gentleman was killed with a carabine shot; and after a very gallant resistance, the horse on the right being also overpowered, the word was given to retreat, which, however, was done in such good order, the regiments of reserve standing drawn up at the end of the street, ready to receive the enemy’s horse upon the points of their pikes, that the royal troops came on in the openings between the regiments, and entered the town with very little loss, and in very good order.

By this, however, those regiments of reserve were brought at last to sustain the efforts of the enemy’s whole army, till being overpowered by numbers they were put into disorder, and forced to get into the town in the best manner they could; by which means near two hundred men were killed or made prisoners.

Encouraged by this success the enemy pushed on, supposing they should enter the town pell-mell with the rest; nor did the Royalists hinder them, but let good part of Barkstead’s own regiment enter the head-gate; but then sallying from St. Mary’s with a choice body of foot on their left, and the horse rallying in the High Street, and charging them again in the front, they were driven back quite into the street of the suburb, and most of those that had so rashly entered were cut in pieces.

Thus they were repulsed at the south entrance into the town; and though they attempted to storm three times after that with great resolution, yet they were as often beaten back, and that with great havoc of their men; and the cannon from the fort all the while did execution upon those who stood drawn up to support them; so that at last, seeing no good to be done, they retreated, having small joy of their pretended victory.

They lost in this action Colonel Needham, who commanded a regiment called the Tower Guards, and who fought very desperately; Captain Cox, an old experienced horse officer, and several other officers of note, with a great many private men, though, as they had the field, they concealed their number, giving out that they lost but a hundred, when we were assured they lost near a thousand men besides the wounded.

They took some of our men prisoners, occasioned by the regiment of Colonel Farr, and two more sustaining the shock of their whole army, to secure the retreat of the main body, as above.

The 14th, the Lord Fairfax finding he was not able to carry the town by storm, without the formality of a siege, took his headquarters at Lexden, and sent to London and to Suffolk for more forces; also he ordered the trained bands to be raised and posted on the roads to prevent succours. Notwithstanding which, divers gentlemen, with some assistance of men and arms, found means to get into the town.

The very same night they began to break ground, and particularly to raise a fort between Colchester and Lexden, to cover the general’s quarter from the sallies from the town; for the Royalists having a good body of horse, gave them no rest, but scoured the fields every day, and falling all that were found straggling from their posts, and by this means killed a great many.

The 17th, Sir Charles Lucas having been out with 1,200 horse, and detaching parties toward the seaside, and towards Harwich, they brought in a very great quantity of provisions, and abundance of sheep and black cattle sufficient for the supply of the town for a considerable time; and had not the Suffolk forces advanced over Cataway Bridge to prevent it, a larger supply had been brought in that way; for now it appeared plainly that the Lord Fairfax finding the garrison strong and resolute, and that he was not in a condition to reduce them by force, at least without the loss of much blood, had resolved to turn his siege into a blockade, and reduce them by hunger; their troops being also wanted to oppose several other parties, who had, in several parts of the kingdom, taken arms for the king’s cause.

This same day General Fairfax sent in a trumpet to propose exchanging prisoners, which the Lord Goring rejected, expecting a reinforcement of troops, which were actually coming to him, and were to be at Linton in Cambridgeshire as the next day.

The same day two ships brought in a quantity of corn and provisions and fifty-six men from the shore of Kent with several gentlemen, who all landed and came up to the town, and the greatest part of the corn was with the utmost application unloaded the same night into some hoys, which brought it up to the Hythe, being apprehensive of the Parliament’s ships which lay at Harwich, who having intelligence of the said ships, came the next day into the mouth of the river, and took the said two ships and what corn was left in them. The besieged sent out a party to help the ships, but having no boats they could not assist them.

18th. Sir Charles Lucas sent an answer about exchange of prisoners, accepting the conditions offered, but the Parliament’s general returned that he would not treat with Sir Charles, for that he (Sir Charles) being his prisoner upon his parole of honour, and having appeared in arms contrary to the rules of war, had forfeited his honour and faith, and was not capable of command or trust in martial affairs. To this Sir Charles sent back an answer, and his excuse for his breach of his parole, but it was not accepted, nor would the Lord Fairfax enter upon any treaty with him.

Upon this second message Sir William Masham and the Parliament Committee and other gentlemen, who were prisoners in the town, sent a message in writing under their hands to the Lord Fairfax, entreating him to enter into a treaty for peace; but the Lord Fairfax returned, he could take no notice of their request, as supposing it forced from them under restraint; but that if the Lord Goring desired peace, he might write to the Parliament, and he would cause his messenger to have a safe conduct to carry his letter. There was a paper sent enclosed in this paper, signed Capel, Norwich, Charles Lucas, but to that the general would return no answer, because it was signed by Sir Charles for the reasons above.

All this while the Lord Goring, finding the enemy strengthening themselves, gave order for fortifying the town, and drawing lines in several places to secure the entrance, as particularly without the east bridge, and without the north gate and bridge, and to plant more cannon upon the works; to which end some great guns were brought in from some ships at Wivenhoe.

The same day, our men sallied out in three places, and attacked the besiegers, first at their port, called Essex, then at their new works, on the south of the town; a third party sallying at the east bridge, brought in some booty from the Suffolk troops, having killed several of their stragglers on the Harwich road. They also took a lieutenant of horse prisoner, and brought him into the town.

19th. This day we had the unwelcome news that our friends at Linton were defeated by the enemy, and Major Muschamp, a loyal gentleman, killed.

The same night, our men gave the enemy alarm at their new Essex fort, and thereby drew them out as if they would fight, till they brought them within reach of the cannon of St. Mary’s, and then our men retiring, the great guns let fly among them, and made them run. Our men shouted after them. Several of them were killed on this occasion, one shot having killed three horsemen in our fight.

20th. We now found the enemy, in order to a perfect blockade, resolved to draw a line of circumvallation round the town; having received a train of forty pieces of heavy cannon from the Tower of London.

This day the Parliament sent a messenger to their prisoners to know how they fared, and how they were used; who returned word, that they fared indifferent well, and were very civilly used, but that provisions were scarce, and therefore dear.

This day a party of horse, with 300 foot, sallied out, and marched as far as the fort on the Isle of Mersey, which they made a show of attacking, to keep in the garrison. Meanwhile the rest took a good number of cattle from the country, which they brought safe into the town, with five waggons laden with corn. This was the last they could bring in that way, the lines being soon finished on that side.

This day the Lord Fairfax sent in a trumpet to the Earl of Norwich and the Lord Goring, offering honourable conditions to them all, allowing all the gentlemen their lives and arms, exemption from plunder, and passes, if they desired to go beyond sea, and all the private men pardon, and leave to go peaceably to their own dwellings. But the Lord Goring and the rest of the gentlemen rejected it, and laughed at them, upon which the Lord Fairfax made proclamation, that his men should give the private soldiers in Colchester free leave to pass through their camp, and go where they pleased without molestation, only leaving their arms, but that the gentlemen should have no quarter. This was a great loss to the Royalists, for now the men foreseeing the great hardships they were like to suffer, began to slip away, and the Lord Goring was obliged to forbid any to desert on pain of present death, and to keep parties of horse continually patrolling to prevent them; notwithstanding which many got away.

21st. The town desired the Lord Goring to give them leave to send a message to Lord Fairfax, to desire they might have liberty to carry on their trade and sell their bays and says, which Lord Goring granted; but the enemy’s general returned, that they should have considered that before they let the Royalists into the town; that to desire a free trade from a town besieged was never heard of, or at least, was such a motion, as was never yet granted; that, however, he would give the bay-makers leave to bring their bays and says, and other goods, once a week, or oftener, if they desire it, to Lexden Heath, where they should have a free market, and might sell them or carry them back again, if not sold, as they found occasion.

22nd. The besieged sallied out in the night with a strong party, and disturbed the enemy in their works, and partly ruined one of their forts, called Ewer’s Fort, where the besiegers were laying a bridge over the River Colne. Also they sallied again at east bridge, and faced the Suffolk troops, who were now declared enemies. These brought in six-and-fifty good bullocks, and some cows, and they took and killed several of the enemy.

23rd. The besiegers began to fire with their cannon from Essex Fort, and from Barkstead’s Fort, which was built upon the Malden road; and finding that the besieged had a party in Sir Harbottle Grimston’s house, called, “The Fryery,” they fired at it with their cannon, and battered it almost down, and then the soldiers set it on fire.

This day upon the townsmen’s treaty for the freedom of the bay trade, the Lord Fairfax sent a second offer of conditions to the besieged, being the same as before, only excepting Lord Goring, Lord Capel, Sir George Lisle, and Sir Charles Lucas.

This day we had news in the town that the Suffolk forces were advanced to assist the besiegers, and that they began a fort called Fort Suffolk, on the north side of the town, to shut up the Suffolk road towards Stratford. This day the besieged sallied out at north bridge, attacked the out-guards of the Suffolk men on Mile End Heath, and drove them into their fort in the woods.

This day the Lord Fairfax sent a trumpet, complaining of chewed and poisoned bullets being shot from the town, and threatening to give no quarter if that practice was allowed; but Lord Goring returned answer, with a protestation, that no such thing was done by his order or consent.

24th. They fired hard from their cannon against St. Mary’s steeple, on which was planted a large culverin, which annoyed them even in the general’s headquarters at Lexden. One of the best gunners the garrison had was killed with a cannon bullet. This night the besieged sallied towards Audly, on the Suffolk road, and brought in some cattle.

25th. Lord Capel sent a trumpet to the Parliament-General, but the rogue ran away, and came not back, nor sent any answer; whether they received his message or not, was not known.

26th. This day having finished their new bridge, a party of their troops passed that bridge, and took post on the hill over against Mile End Church, where they built a fort, called Fothergall’s Fort, and another on the east side of the road, called Rainsbro’s Fort, so that the town was entirely shut in, on that side, and the Royalists had no place free but over east bridge, which was afterwards cut off by the enemy’s bringing their line from the Hythe within the river to the stone causeway leading to the east bridge.

July 1st. From the 26th to the 1st, the besiegers continued finishing their works, and by the 2nd the whole town was shut in; at which the besiegers gave a general salvo from their cannon at all their forts; but the besieged gave them a return, for they sallied out in the night, attacked Barkstead’s fort, scarce finished, with such fury, that they twice entered the work sword in hand, killed most part of the defendants, and spoiled part of the forts cast up; but fresh forces coming up, they retired with little loss, bringing eight prisoners, and having slain, as they reported, above 100.

On the second, Lord Fairfax offered exchange for Sir William Masham in particular, and afterwards for other prisoners, but the Lord Goring refused.

5th. The besieged sallied with two regiments, supported by some horse, at midnight; they were commanded by Sir George Lisle. They fell on with such fury, that the enemy were put into confusion, their works at east bridge ruined, and two pieces of cannon taken, Lieutenant Colonel Sambrook, and several other officers, were killed, and our men retired into the town, bringing the captain, two lieutenants, and about fifty men with them prisoners into the town; but having no horse, we could not bring off the cannon, but they spiked them, and made them unfit for service.

From this time to the 11th, the besieged sallied almost every night, being encouraged by their successes, and they constantly cut off some of the enemy, but not without loss also on their own side.

About this time we received by a spy the bad news of defeating the king’s friends almost in all parts of England, and particularly several parties which had good wishes to our gentlemen, and intended to relieve them.

Our batteries from St. Mary’s Fort and steeple, and from the north bridge, greatly annoyed them, and killed most of their gunners and firemen. One of the messengers who brought news to Lord Fairfax of the defeat of one of the parties, in Kent, and the taking of Weymer Castle, slipped into the town, and brought a letter to the Lord Goring, and listed in the regiment of the Lord Capel’s horse.

14th. The besiegers attacked and took the Hythe Church, with a small work the besieged had there, but the defenders retired in time; some were taken prisoners in the church, but not in the fort; Sir Charles Lucas’s horse was attacked by a great body of the besiegers; the besieged defended themselves with good resolution for some time, but a hand-grenade thrown in by the assailants, having fired the magazine, the house was blown up, and most of the gallant defenders buried in the ruins. This was a great blow to the Royalists, for it was a very strong pass, and always well guarded.

15th. The Lord Fairfax sent offers of honourable conditions to the soldiers of the garrison if they would surrender, or quit the service; upon which the Lords Goring and Capel, and Sir Charles Lucas, returned an answer signed by their hands, that it was not honourable or agreeable to the usage of war to offer conditions separately to the soldiers, exclusive of their officers, and therefore civilly desired his lordship to send no more such messages or proposals, or if he did, that he would not take it ill if they hanged up the messenger.

This evening all the gentlemen volunteers, with all the horse of the garrison, with Sir Charles Lucas, Sir George Lisle, and Sir Bernard Gascoigne at the head of them, resolved to break through the enemy, and forcing a pass to advance into Suffolk by Nayland Bridge. To this purpose they passed the river near Middle Mill; but their guides having misled them the enemy took the alarm; upon which their guides, and some pioneers which they had with them to open the hedges and level the banks, for their passing to Boxted, all ran away, so the horse were obliged to retreat, the enemy pretending to pursue, but thinking they had retreated by the north bridge, they missed them; upon which being enraged, they fired the suburbs without the bridge, and burned them quite down.

18th. Some of the horse attempted to escape the same way, and had the whole body been there as before, they had effected it; but there being but two troops, they were obliged to retire. Now the town began to be greatly distressed, provisions failing, and the townspeople, which were numerous, being very uneasy, and no way of breaking through being found practicable, the gentlemen would have joined in any attempt wherein they might die gallantly with their swords in their hands, but nothing presented; they often sallied and cut off many of the enemy, but their numbers were continually supplied, and the besieged diminished; their horse also sunk and became unfit for service, having very little hay, and no corn, and at length they were forced to kill them for food; so that they began to be in a very miserable condition, and the soldiers deserted every day in great numbers, not being able to bear the want of food, as being almost starved with hunger.

22nd. The Lord Fairfax offered again an exchange of prisoners, but the Lord Goring rejected it, because they refused conditions to the chief gentlemen of the garrison.

During this time, two troops of the Royal Horse sallied out in the night, resolving to break out or die: the first rode up full gallop to the enemy’s horse guards on the side of Malden road, and exchanged their pistols with the advanced troops, and wheeling made as if they would retire to the town; but finding they were not immediately pursued, they wheeled about to the right, and passing another guard at a distance, without being perfectly discovered, they went clean off, and passing towards Tiptree Heath, and having good guides, they made their escape towards Cambridgeshire, in which length of way they found means to disperse without being attacked, and went every man his own way as fate directed; nor did we hear that many of them were taken: they were led, as we are informed, by Sir Bernard Gascoigne.

Upon these attempts of the horse to break out, the enemy built a small fort in the meadow right against the ford in the river at the Middle Mill, and once set that mill on fire, but it was extinguished without much damage; however, the fort prevented any more attempts that way.

22nd. The Parliament-General sent in a trumpet, to propose again the exchange of prisoners, offering the Lord Capel’s son for one, and Mr. Ashburnham for Sir William Masham; but the Lord Capel, Lord Goring, and the rest of the loyal gentlemen rejected it; and Lord Capel, in particular, sent the Lord Fairfax word it was inhuman to surprise his son, who was not in arms, and offer him to insult a father’s affection, but that he might murder his son if he pleased, he would leave his blood to be revenged as Heaven should give opportunity; and the Lord Goring sent word, that as they had reduced the king’s servants to eat horseflesh, the prisoners should feed as they fed.

The enemy sent again to complain of the Royalists shooting poisoned bullets, and sent two affidavits of it made by two deserters, swearing it was done by the Lord Norwich’s direction; the generals in the town returned under all their hands that they never gave any such command or direction; that they disowned the practice; and that the fellows who swore it were perjured before in running from their colours and the service of their king, and ought not to be credited again; but they added, that for shooting rough-cast slugs they must excuse them, as things stood with them at that time.

About this time, a porter in a soldier’s habit got through the enemy’s leaguer, and passing their out-guards in the dark, got into the town, and brought letters from London, assuring the Royalists that there were so many strong parties up in arms for the king, and in so many places, that they would be very suddenly relieved. This they caused to be read to the soldiers to encourage them; and particularly it related to the rising of the Earl of Holland, and the Duke of Buckingham, who with 500 horse were gotten together in arms about Kingston in Surrey; but we had notice in a few days after that they were defeated, and the Earl of Holland taken, who was afterwards beheaded.

26th. The enemy now began to batter the walls, and especially on the west side, from St. Mary’s towards the north gate; and we were assured they intended a storm; on which the engineers were directed to make trenches behind the walls where the breaches should be made, that in case of a storm they might meet with a warm reception. Upon this, they gave over the design of storming. The Lord Goring finding that the enemy had set the suburbs on fire right against the Hythe, ordered the remaining houses, which were empty of inhabitants, from whence their musketeer fired against the town, to be burned also.

31st. A body of foot sallied out at midnight, to discover what the enemy were doing at a place where they thought a new fort raising; they fell in among the workmen, and put them to flight, cut in pieces several of the guard, and brought in the officer who commanded them prisoner.

August 2nd. The town was now in a miserable condition: the soldiers searched and rifled the houses of the inhabitants for victuals; they had lived on horseflesh several weeks, and most of that also was as lean as carrion, which not being well salted bred wens; and this want of diet made the soldiers sickly, and many died of fluxes, yet they boldly rejected all offers of surrender, unless with safety to their offices. However, several hundreds got out, and either passed the enemy’s guards, or surrendered to them and took passes.

7th. The townspeople became very uneasy to the soldiers, and the mayor of the town, with the aldermen, waited upon the general, desiring leave to send to the Lord Fairfax for leave to all the inhabitants to come out of the town, that they might not perish, to which the Lord Goring consented, but the Lord Fairfax refused them.

12th. The rabble got together in a vast crowd about the Lord Goring’s quarters, clamouring for a surrender, and they did this every evening, bringing women and children, who lay howling and crying on the ground for bread; the soldiers beat off the men, but the women and children would not stir, bidding the soldiers kill them, saying they had rather be shot than be starved.

16th. The general, moved by the cries and distress of the poor inhabitants, sent out a trumpet to the Parliament-General, demanding leave to send to the Prince, who was with a fleet of nineteen men of war in the mouth of the Thames, offering to surrender, if they were not relieved in twenty days. The Lord Fairfax refused it, and sent them word he would be in the town in person, and visit them in less than twenty days, intimating that they were preparing for a storm. Some tart messages and answers were exchanged on this occasion. The Lord Goring sent word they were willing, in compassion to the poor townspeople, and to save that effusion of blood, to surrender upon honourable terms, but that as for the storming them, which was threatened, they might come on when they thought fit, for that they (the Royalists) were ready for them. This held to the 19th.

20th. The Lord Fairfax returned what he said was his last answer, and should be the last offer of mercy. The conditions offered were, that upon a peaceable surrender, all soldiers and officers under the degree of a captain in commission should have their lives, be exempted from plunder, and have passes to go to their respective dwellings. All the captains and superior officers, with all the lords and gentlemen, as well in commission as volunteers, to surrender prisoners at discretion, only that they should not be plundered by the soldiers.

21st. The generals rejected those offers; and when the people came about them again for bread, set open one of the gates, and bid them go out to the enemy, which a great many did willingly; upon which the Lord Goring ordered all the rest that came about his door to be turned out after them. But when the people came to the Lord Fairfax’s camp the out-guards were ordered to fire at them and drive them all back again to the gate, which the Lord Goring seeing, he ordered them to be received in again. And now, although the generals and soldiers also were resolute to die with their swords in their hands rather than yield, and had maturely resolved to abide a storm, yet the Mayor and Aldermen having petitioned them as well as the inhabitants, being wearied with the importunities of the distressed people, and pitying the deplorable condition they were reduced to, they agreed to enter upon a treaty, and accordingly sent out some officers to the Lord Fairfax, the Parliament-General, to treat, and with them was sent two gentlemen of the prisoners upon their parole to return.

Upon the return of the said messengers with the Lord Fairfax’s terms, the Lord Goring, etc., sent out a letter declaring they would die with their swords in their hands rather than yield without quarter for life, and sent a paper of articles on which they were willing to surrender. But in the very interim of this treaty news came that the Scots army, under Duke Hamilton, which was entered into Lancashire, and was joined by the Royalists in that country, making 21,000 men, were entirely defeated. After this the Lord Fairfax would not grant any abatement of articles–viz., to have all above lieutenants surrender at mercy.

Upon this the Lord Goring and the General refused to submit again, and proposed a general sally, and to break through or die, but found upon preparing for it that the soldiers, who had their lives offered them, declined it, fearing the gentlemen would escape, and they should be left to the mercy of the Parliament soldiers; and that upon this they began to mutiny and talk of surrendering the town and their officers too. Things being brought to this pass, the Lords and General laid aside that design, and found themselves obliged to submit; and so the town was surrendered the 28th of August 1648, upon conditions as follows:-

The Lords and gentlemen all prisoners at mercy.

The common soldiers had passes to go home to their several dwellings, but without arms, and an oath not to serve against the Parliament.

The town to be preserved from pillage, paying 14,000 pounds ready money.

The same day a council of war being called about the prisoners of war, it was resolved that the Lords should be left to the disposal of the Parliament. That Sir Charles Lucas, Sir George Lisle, and Sir Marmaduke Gascoigne should be shot to death, and the other officers prisoners to remain in custody till further order.

The two first of the three gentlemen were shot to death, and the third respited. Thus ended the siege of Colchester.

N.B.–Notwithstanding the number killed in the siege, and dead of the flux, and other distempers occasioned by bad diet, which were very many, and notwithstanding the number which deserted and escaped in the time of their hardships, yet there remained at the time of the surrender:

  • Earl of Norwich (Goring).
  • Lord Capell.
  • Lord Loughbro’.
  • 11 Knights.
  • 9 Colonels.
  • 8 Lieut.-Colonels.
  • 9 Majors.
  • 30 Captains.
  • 72 Lieutenants.
  • 69 Ensigns.
  • 183 Serjeants and Corporals.
  • 3,067 Private Soldiers.
  • 65 Servants to the Lords and General Officers and Gentlemen.
  • 3,526 in all.

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9688 (Daniel Defoe)

Manganiello, Stephen. (2004) The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland and Ireland 1639-1660. New Jersey: Scarecrow Press

 

 

Charles I raises royal standard and declares war.

Charles_I_in_Three_Positions_1635-36On August 22nd1642 King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham Castle.  Whilst times had been increasingly discordant this act effectively marked the start of the First English Civil War which lasted until 1646.

 

On August 12th 1642, Charles issued a proclamation to all his subjects living on the north side of the Trent and within twenty miles south of the river, to assemble at Nottingham on the 22nd of August, “where we intend to erect our Standard Royal, in our just and necessary defence, and whence we resolve to advance forward for the suppression of the said Rebellion, and the protection of our good subjects among them, from the burthen of the slavery and insolence under which they cannot hut groan until they be relieved by us.”

The banner that was raised bore the legend ” Religio Protestans Leges Angliae Libertas Parliamenti,” – Many of Charles’ subjects had doubts about his religious affiliations having taken exception to his attempts to impose conformity on Laudian principles with their emphasis on ritual and ceremony – that smacked strongly to Puritans of popery. English law and a free Parliament were also something that many observers might have questioned given Charles’ strategy of levying taxes by drawing upon ancient feudal dues and having ruled for the better part of twelve years without his parliament.

Charles’ call for all men to support him did not meet with the popular out pouring of loyalty that he hoped.  Parliament took the opportunity to announce that until such time as he retracted his proclamation then he couldn’t be trusted.

 

mad madgeMeanwhile in Colchester the house of ‘Mad Madge’ Cavendish’s parents’ was sacked by Puritans on the 22nd August 1642. Mad Madge had not yet acquired that name nor had she yet entered the service of Queen Henrietta Maria or married the royalist Duke of Newcastle.  She was still the youngest of eight children sired by Sir John Lucas. Madge’s father was a prominent royalist in the area.  The relationship between him and the citizens of Colchester had deteriorated over the years.  It probably didn’t help that East Anglia had strong Puritan sympathies and Lucas was suspected of being a Papist.  This event was not a one off though.  The Stour valley had become increasingly restless during 1642.  Unemployment was high.  Rumours became wilder and anti-popery became more rife.  The Countess of Rivers, for instance, found herself under siege by the people of Melford.  Melford Hall was partially destroyed as a consequence.  Parliament did not condone the harassment of the widowed countess – though how they may have felt when she spent her wealth on supporting the Crown is another matter entirely.  She would eventually find herself in a debtor’s prison as a consequence of her loyalty.

 

The first battle of the English Civil War would not take place until September 25that Powick Bridge near Worcester.

 

 

 

St John the Evangelist, Leeds.

DSCF0371St John the Evangelist in Leeds is a seventeenth century church built  between 1632-34.  To put that in context this is during the later part of the twelve years when Charles I ruled without Parliament.  In 1638  John Hampden was sent to trial for refusing to pay ship tax  (traditionally paid in coastal communities but not by the whole country) and John Lilburne was flogged for selling un-licensed Puritan books.  Between the Elizabethan religious settlement of 1559 and the onset of the English Civil War there were an increasing number of strands of protestant belief. Many of these branches of Puritanism did not want to be part of the Church of England because they saw it as too ritualistic and too hierarchical. In 1639 Charles I went to war with his Scottish subjects in the so-called Bishops War about the prescriptive content of the prayer book.  During this period of increasing religious turbulence, just prior to the English Civil War, very few new churches were built in England. During the Commonwealth period new churches harked back to the past – the Crown and to superstitious times.  To build a new church would have been an act of defiance against Parliament. Prior to the Commonwealth Period there were new chapels built during the reign of Charles I, notably by Inigo Jones in 1627 – the Queen’s Chapel at St James.  However, the queen in question was Henrietta Maria who was, of course, a Catholic. Consequentially if you had enough money for a new-fangled architect designed place of worship you ran the risk of being associated with European ideas, the Court, Laudianism and at worst Catholicism. In 1636 a new chapel was built in Somerset House – it was a Catholic Chapel.

Of course, that’s not to say that existing medieval churches didn’t have the occasional interior overhaul or extension in an era before the advent of the need for church faculties or conformity to planning regulations.

Yesterday’s post about Staunton Harold Church built during the Commonwealth period was a statement of Robert Shirley’s political and religious affiliations. John Harrison, who paid for St John’s building, was not a baron.  He was a wealthy wool merchant and local politician.  He was also one of Leeds’ benefactors. The building of St John’s was more about doing good for the people of Leeds as were Harrison’s other building ventures.  He helped pay for the Moot Hall and the market cross, a row of almshouses and the grammar school. Unfortunately the Jacobean architecture for which the church is famous (and yes I know the church was built ten years after the death  of James I) is beautifully decorated with angels and all sorts of other embellishments which are very decorative and thus not at all what Puritans approved. Nor would they have been very happy about the fact that the altar is against the East wall of the church and that there were screens to separate the congregation from the most Holy place within the church.

IMG_2987

The heavily carved pulpit makes the link to the importance of sermons for Puritans.  To hear and understand what the preacher had to say was an essential part of Puritan belief. Most pulpits dating from this time are plain, often of unpainted oak and usually octagonal.  This was the period of the triple-decker  pulpit.  If you’re curious about the tester or “roof” over some pulpits from this period it was so that the sound of the preacher’s voice didn’t disappear into the rafters of the church but so that it improved the acoustics for the congregation.

DSCF0380Parliament believed that Harrison was a Royalist and there is a tale that when the king was in Leeds as a prisoner that Harrison took him a lidded tankard of ale, except rather than ale the contents of the pot were gold coins – whether this was to support the king during his captivity or facilitate his escape is a matter for speculation. The moment is commemorated in the Harrison Memorial Window but this was not created until the nineteenth century.  And it would have to be said that Harrison didn’t get on with all of Leeds’ inhabitants.  There were a number of scurrilous songs about him – we know about this because there was a court case with Harrison taking twenty-two people to court for libel.

 

DSCF0384The problem for Harrison was that he lived in difficult times and despite his generosity he was insufficiently Puritan for some tastes.  In time he found himself being fined by Parliament – which must have been somewhat irritating given that he had loaned them money in 1642. As a result of his ultimate loyalty to Charles I and also as a result of his religious faith which although not described as Laudian was not as austere as Puritan taste demanded much of his wealth was confiscated and his is, described by an article from the Yorkshire Evening Post (29 Oct 2005), as spending his final years in comparative poverty.

IMG_2999

St John’s looks from the outside like a typically Gothic medieval church but the woodwork inside – the panelling, the pulpit and the screens inside are decidedly Jacobean. The coat of arms are those of James I (he died in 1625) before the church was built so it may have been that Harrison was trying not to make too public a statement in regard to his loyalty to the Crown.  The royal coat-of-arms are a feature of churches dating from the Act of Supremacy in 1534 which made the monarch the head of the Church of England.  These days the coats of arms can turn up any where within a church but during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they tended to be placed where the rood screen would have once stood. There is nothing subtle about Harrison’s screen.

It is a remarkable survival not least because there were some Victorian “improvements” which included the removal of the screen.  It was only by chance that it was rediscovered and returned to its correct location. The south porch actually was demolished and the tower rebuilt.

DSCF0408

At this point, you may like me, be wondering what other churches were built during this period. The seventeenth century is not exactly knee deep in new churches excluding all those Sir Christopher Wren creations in London built to replace medieval buildings destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666.  So here goes – the church at Berwick-Upon-Tweed was rebuilt in 1641 with money given by Charles I.  I think it was finished after the First English Civil War – though of course it wasn’t brand new – it was replacing a medieval church that had been rather badly knocked about. There is a church in Hargrave in Cheshire built by a former Lord Mayor of London – essentially a “local boy done good story” who then returned to his native Cheshire to create a church and school. There may be others but I have not yet stumbled across them.  St Charles the Martyr in Tonbridge Wells is Baroque and built during the 1670s but that is clearly post-Restoration as are the Wren builds and, like the Wren churches, the architecture has moved on from Jacobean to Baroque which is definitely a heavily ornamented period.

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Price’s Church Primer

Victoria County History

Sir Robert Shirley, Laudianism and an unusual protest against Cromwell’s Commonwealth

Staunton Harold ChurchStaunton Harold in Leicestershire, just a stone’s throw from Ashby de la Zouche.  It’s seventeenth century church reflects the principles of Laudianism.

Laudianism was the approach to religion and belief favoured by Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud.  On a superficial level Laud can simply be seen as wishing for a return to ritual, vestments and rich furnishings.  He also advocated the return of altars to the east wall of the chancel rather than a more central table.   It also placed an emphasis upon hierarchy. None of these things were particularly appealing to members of the church with a Calvinist mindset.

Even worse, Laud’s theology differed from those with more Puritanical leanings.  Calvinists believed in predestination.  Essentially you either were one of the elect or you weren’t – you could not save yourself from damnation by good works.  Laud was more optimistic in that he preferred to focus on God’s grace towards mankind and free will.

Unsurprisingly both groups believed they were right.  The Puritans saw church furniture such as the return of altar rails keeping God’s people at arm’s length so as to speak was rather too close to Rome for comfort. Meanwhile Laud was stressing that the altar was the “Greatest place of God’s residence upon earth.”  Salvation for puritans was through faith alone – there was not the need of the altar for communion and we are not even going to go down the route of transubstantiation.

Charles I favoured Laud.  When Laud was promoted from the bishopric of London to that of Canterbury he effectively became the spokesman for the Church of England which Puritans at the other end of the spectrum found somewhat alarming. Though as with all things painting in black and white does not do justice to the nuances of religious belief of the seventeenth century or the degree to which those in power tolerated the beliefs or not of their countrymen – and it certainly isn’t a topic for a brief post.

Into this increasingly complex world came Sir Robert Shirley.  He was just seventeen when he inherited Staunton Harold and the title Baron Ferrers (he was the 13th baron)  from his brother Charles in 1646 – the English Civil War seems not to have affected Staunton Harold or the Shirleys up until this point.

Unfortunately Robert Shirley was not like his brother who had done remarkably well to keep such a low profile in an area criss-crossed by assorted armies during the period.  Robert had been raised as a Protestant by his mother but the Shirley family were known for their Catholicism.  Perhaps for Shirley, Laudianism presented a middle ground where he felt comfortable. Robert was also a staunch royalist.

Robert now spent the next ten years irritating Cromwell and Parliament.  In 1648 he was caught up in the fighting for Ashby Castle. To be fair it was more of a drunken brawl that an attempt to take on the Parliamentarian garrison.  Shirley was packed off to Leicester where he was imprisoned and then accused of plotting with fellow Royalist goal-birds to ferment rebellion. He was also accused of stockpiling weapons at Staunton Harold. Shirley claimed he was the victim of some unfortunate confusion. He was also just nineteen years old.

In 1650 he found himself in the Tower having been set up by an agent provocateur and his estates were sequestrated. This particular episode began with a letter sent from some of the gentlemen of Staffordshire to the Rump Parliament denouncing the execution of Charles I.  Shirley added his signature along with some Leicestershire gentry.  Parliament responded by demanding that their various county committees investigate the men that they now styled “delinquents.” In Leicestershire this was backed up by confiscating all of Shirley’s rents and income. Shirley tried to untangle his finances from the Tower explaining that if Parliament sequestrated his estate rental then he would not be able to pay outstanding debts or care for his family.  Interestingly he didn’t attempt to naysay the notion that he was a delinquent although in his next missive he did take the authorities to task for their labelling of him. After six months of imprisonment he was freed. He did not receive a “get out of jail free card.”  He was required to offer a security of £10,000.

In December 1652 Shirley reappears in the official record on account of the fact that he was having to defend himself against the charge of being a “malignant Royalist landlord.”  Basically a couple of his Parliamentary supporting tenants had been on the receiving end of Shirley’s spite. Shirley needed to prove that the families who petitioned against him were not respectable Parliamentarians at all and that they were simply using his well known royalist credentials as a way of backsliding.  History does not know what the court decided.

In 1653 Shirley began to build an unusual architectural protest against the political and religious situation.  He also seems to have been part of the Sealed Knot – the underground Royalist organisation that plotted for the return to England of Charles II. It seems unwise to draw attention to yourself by building a new chapel kitted out with Laudian features at the same time as indulging in some serious plotting against authority but that is exactly what Robert Shirley did. By 1654 Shirley was purchasing arms, writing to royalists abroad and co-ordinating resistance to Parliament in the East Midlands.  In the prequel to the Royalist rising known as Penruddock’s Rising (March 1655) after John Penruddock who managed to get himself executed in Exeter, Shirley came to the notice of Cromwell’s intelligence network.

John Thurloe, Cromwell’s spymaster, now discovered that Shirley was planning to blow Cromwell up. But it didn’t really matter because Shirley had done something much more noticeable than concocting fantastical plots.  He had built Staunton Harold Church of the Holy Trinity – which was the private chapel of the Shirley family.  Staunton Harold boasts being one of the few churches built during the Commonwealth Period and it certainly didn’t meet with Cromwell’s approval.  The altar is aligned to the east wall of the chancel which is screened by rough iron gates.  The lavish silk velvet altar frontal yells Laudianism. And that’s before visitors to the Church even get so far as studying the painted ceiling in the nave.  It’s hues of grey depict the creation of the World by God.  Humankind are on the right hand side of the ceiling looking towards God whilst opposite them the head of a dog looks back in the direction of chaos – on one hand it might be the creation of animals on the other Shirley did liken Cromwell to a dog so it might be more of an oblique comment on Shirley’s views about the Protector’s religious beliefs.

Stunton Harold ceiling

Cromwell suggested that if Shirley could afford to build such a lavish chapel complete with box pews and a pulpit he could outfit one of Parliament’s ships.  Shirley declined and found himself back in the Tower where he spent his time considering how the Sealed Knot could best be reformed to be more effective.  Unfortunately he died whilst imprisoned aged twenty-seven.  Inevitably there were suggestions that he had been poisoned.  Robert never saw his completed church. His son’s guardians would complete the building and the message above the door which is Shirley’s legacy:

“In the year 1653 when all things Sacred were throughout ye nation, Either demolisht or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet, Founded this church; Whose singular praise it is, to have done the best things in ye worst times, and hoped them in the most callamitous. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.”

 

And for those of you who like a moment of complication – the Earl of Essex who was Parliamentarian, perhaps  in part thanks to his humiliation over his divorce from Frances Howard so that she could marry James I’s favourite Robert Carr and become the Countess of Somerset, was Robert Shirley’s uncle.  Robert’s mother was Dorothy Devereaux – whose father managed to get himself executed for treason against Elizabeth I and whose mother was the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham.  If one climbs a little further up the family tree Robert Shirley was descended from Catherine Knollys the unacknowledged daughter of Mary Boleyn and Henry VIII.

 

If you are in the West Riding and feel the urge to visit a seventeenth century church – St James in Leeds was built during the reign of Charles I and is resplendent in terms of its woodwork.  I shall be ferreting through my photographs and a post will follow!

https://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/downloads/1982-83/1982-3%20(58)%2025-35%20Lacy.pdf

Sir Philip Musgrave – A royalist commander in the North West

castleAt the onset of the English Civil War the inhabitants of Cumberland and Westmorland can’t be described as being very enthusiastic for war – although they were largely nominally Royalist.  In the North East, the Earl of Newcastle levied a force and roused some stronger feeling although his tenants did, on occasion, simply ignore his warrant.

The Earl, no doubt feeling that the west of the country should be more proactive, appointed Sir Philip as commander-in-chief of the two counties. Sir Philip Musgrave of Edenhall was already a militia colonel and based on the content of a letter in his correspondence had taken steps to act against known parliamentarians in the area – Sir Patrick Curwen of Workington found it expedient for his friends to intercede with Musgrave on his behalf for instance.   He was not very active but the musters he did insist upon were sufficient to irritate Sir John Lowther – who didn’t want Sir Philip to do anything at all. Essentially he felt undertaking the minimum would increase the likelihood of drawing Parliament’s attention on the northwest while Sir Philip hoped that doing very little would ensure that Newcastle  would stay on the opposite side of the Pennines.  Somewhat bizarrely Musgrave and Lowther engaged on a long drawn out feud over who had the right of the matter which involved several of Cumberland’s leading families including the Dacres who resisted Musgrave’s command.

julia musgraveSir Philip was the son of Sir Richard Musgrave, the 1st baronet of Hartley Castle. Sir Richard died in 1615 when his son was just eight.  His career trajectory followed that of many of other gentleman of the period.  He was educated at Trinity College Oxford and then was found a suitable wife- Julia Hutton- from within his own county.  He became the Deputy Lieutenant for both Westmorland and Cumberland.  In 1642 he was made a commissioner for array – that is to say he was responsible for raising Cumberland’s levy of soldiers for the king. There were problems over the exact nature of his commission from Newcastle and assorted feuds to contend with.  However, by 1644 he was able to supply a force to join with Prince Rupert’s army.

Things changed in 1644 because of the intervention of the Scots. On one hand York was captured by Parliament thus causing royalists to come north and secondly Carlisle now stood in danger of capture.  When the city finally fell to Parliament Edenhall had been damaged and Sir Philip had to ride south with a royalist troop to join with the king. At the battle of Rowton heath in September 1645 Sir Philip was injured and subsequently captured.  Records indicate he was sent to York and from there to Pontefract.  Meanwhile his lands were sequestrated.

Sequestration was a means by which that Parliament was able to fine Royalists and confiscate their goods.  Sir Philip’s belonging were valued at £308 in the spring of 1643.  Not only were his cattle and sheep assessed but a figure was also attached to the bees in the hives on his land.

Musgrave was released at the end of 1645 and he went to Newcastle. From there he finally made his way home the following year.  Suffice it to say, Musgrave was loyal to the Stewarts and became involved in the 1648 rising in Scotland which resulted in  Musgrave capturing Carlisle on the 29th April. Musgrave before seeking to capture Appleby. Unfortunately for Musgrave Parliament gained the upper hand  before the Duke of Hamilton and his army could take advantage of the way into England.

Rather than face General Lambert Musgrave sued for parliamentary protection which he gained, not that this prevented him from fleeing to France in 1649. As a direct result of this involvement with the so-called Scottish engagers Musgrave’s lands were confiscated in 1651. His wife was required to sue for maintenance, Sir Philip having been excluded from any act of amnesty by the Treason Act which confiscated his land.

Sir Philip did not remain quietly in France.  He negotiated with the Scots, travelled to England and was even offered Governorship of the Isle of Man by the Countess of Derby. In part his apparent freedom to travel around the realm which had declared him traitor resulted from his friendship with Lord Wharton who even lent his son the money to buy the sequestrated estates back. It was however, one step too far when Sir Philip turned up at his newly repurchased estates.  He was arrested  and sent to London where he was charged with various conspiracies against parliament. If he himself was not involved it is probable that one or more of his sons was.  Ultimately Sir Philip was released but not until £2000 bail had been paid and even then Parliament was keen for him to remain outside his home county.

Musgrave returned to Cumberland in 1660 with the Restoration.  He returned to doing what gentry do – being a JP and member of parliament.  He was also the mayor of Carlisle in 1666 having also been its governor and the captain of the castle.

He died in 1678 having fought at the Battle of Marston Moor and the Battle of Worcester. In between times he had fathered seven children, been granted a peerage by Charles II which he never took up and acquired the right to take tolls on cattle passing through Cumberland (of which he did avail himself).

It would have to be said Sir Philip is one of those figures in history that the more you dig around the more that you find – although sadly not a portrait.

Robinson, Gavin. Horses, People and Parliament in the English Civil War: Extracting Resources

https://archive.org/stream/lifeofsirphilipm00burt/lifeofsirphilipm00burt_djvu.txt

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/musgrave-sir-philip-1607-78

Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) – Parliamentarian Commander of Cheshire

sir william brereton

Sir William Brereton from Cheshire has cropped up several times in my reading during the last couple of weeks. Initially it appears that Cheshire tried to sit on the fence. It sent no petitions to the king in the summer of 1642 whilst he was at York. Sir William Brereton, who had been an MP for Cheshire until Charles I dissolved Parliament, was a Deputy Lieutenant for the county and was in receipt of a memorandum from Parliament with regard to the recruitment of soldiers for the Earl of Essex’s army. He turned up at Lichfield, Nantwich and most importantly in Denbigh in 1645 when he was responsible for the defeat of the Royalists there, so who exactly was he?

 

He was born shortly after James I succeeded to the throne and by the time Charles I was king he had become a baronet. He seems to have travelled in the Low Countries and France. He was married to the daughter of Sir George Booth of Dunham Massey. Booth was well known for his puritanism. It is also apparent from William’s diaries that he leant towards puritanism and that as a JP in Cheshire he closed taverns and fined Catholics. It is perhaps not surprising to discover that by the end of 1642 he had been appointed to the position of commanding officer for the Parliamentarian troops in Cheshire.

 

An article in History Today reveals why history knows so much about the man. He was an inveterate letter writer. He wrote, it turns out, rather often with requests for assistance and cash in turning Cheshire into a godly Royalist-free county not that his ideal was realised during the 1643 summer of Royalist victories.

 

Sir_John_Gell_originalInitially Brereton tried to take hold of Chester for Parliament but was unable to capture it. Instead having taken Nantwich for the Parliamentarian cause in 1642 he made that his headquarters.  From there he ranged along the Welsh marches on Parliament’s behalf and down through Cheshire to Stafford. He came with Sir John Gell of Hopton in Derbyshire to the siege of Lichfield and was concerned at the later siege of Tutbury that his colleague was far too lenient on the Royalist defenders. Across the region Brereton was only defeated once at the Battle of Middlewich on December 26 1643 but he swiftly recovered from this as he had to return with Sir Thomas Fairfax to Nantwich when Sir George Booth managed to get himself besieged by Lord Byron and Cheshire was more or less completely in the hands of the Royalists not that this stopped Brereton from establishing an impressive network of spies loyal to Parliament.

 

thomas fairfaxIn January 1644 Sir Thomas Fairfax crossed the Pennines with men from the Eastern Association Army. On the 25th January his men were met by a Royalist army headed by Byron who was defeated. The place where the two armies collided was Necton but the disaster for the royalists has become known in history as the Battle of Nantwich. It meant that the king could not hold the NorthWest. Even worse Royalist artillery and senior commanders were captured along with the baggage train. None of this did any harm to Sir Thomas Fairfax’s reputation nor to Brereton who had command of the Parliamentarian vanguard.

 

It should be noted that one of his relations, another William Brereton was a Royalist. William Brereton of Brereton Hall at Holmes Chapel was married to the royalist general Goring’s daughter Elizabeth. Parliamentarian William did not hesitate to besiege his own relations who happened to disagree with him. Brereton Hall found itself under siege after the Battle of Nantwich.

 

In March 1644 Parliament granted him the right to “take subscriptions” in Cheshire to maintain his army not only against the Royalists but most especially against the hated Irish Forces for the “timely prevention of further mischiefs.”

 

Lord John ByronFrom there Brereton became involved in the siege of Chester – at Nantwich Byron had been outside the town whilst at Chester he was inside the walls.   In September 1645 Bristol in the command of Prince Rupert surrendered. The only remaining safe harbour to land troops loyal to the king was Chester. Lord Byron had withdrawn there following his defeat at Nantwich and Brereton had followed him. Byron held the river crossing and in so doing was denying the Parliamentarians a way into North Wales which was Royalist.

 

Bereton began by trying to scale the walls. When that strategy failed he set up blockades and tried to starve them out. In March the slimline Royalists and disgruntled townsfolk were given some respite by the arrival of Prince Maurice but in April Brereton returned and Chester’s rather lean diet continued. It didn’t help that Maurice had removed more than half of Byron’s men leaving only six hundred soldiers to defend the walls. By September the parliamentarians had pressed forward and were shelling Chester’s inner walls. The king himself set out to relieve the siege and possibly to break out from the Midlands and Wales.

 

Charles and his men were able to enter the city over the River Dee from the Welsh side of the city as that was still in Royalist hands. The idea was that Chalres and his cavalry would nip around the back of the besiegers and at the appropriate time Byron and his men would come bursting out of Chester squashing Brereton like a slice of meat between two Royalist slices of bread. King Charles took his place in Chester’s Pheonix Tower to watch the action. Unfortunately the Battle of Rowton Heath on 24 September 1645 did not go according to plan. Charles left Chester the following day with rather fewer men than he arrived, returning to the safety of Denbigh.   From there he would go to Newark and on 5th May 1546 surrender himself into the custody of the Scots at Southwell.

 

Meanwhile Byron absolutely refused to surrender so Brereton’s men started mining beneath Chester’s walls, kept up a constant artillery barrage and ultimately encircled the city. It was the mayor of Chester who persuaded Byron that enough was enough. After Chester surrendered in January 1646, Brereton mopped up what royalists there still were in his region and in the course of his endeavours travelled as far south as Stow-on-the-Wold becoming the parliamentarian commander to take the surrender of the last royalist army in the field in 1646. It is perhaps not surprising given his capabilities that like Oliver Cromwell he was excluded from the Self Denying Ordinance that prevented members of Parliament from holding military commissions.

 

Interestingly after the end of the second, short lived, English Civil War he took no real part in the politics of the period. For instance he refused to sit as one of Charles I’s judges. It is perhaps for this reason that upon the Restoration in 1660 that he was allowed to continue to live in Croydon Palace which had been the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury but which a grateful Parliament had given to Brereton.  Brereton had expressed his puritan views about Archbishop Laud, Charles I’s arminian archbishop by having his private chapel turned into a kitchen.

 

Brereton died the following year and managed with his death to add to the folklore of Cheshire.  He died at Croydon Palace on the 7th April 1661 but he wished to be buried in Cheshire at Handforth Chapel near Cheadle where several of the family were buried including Sir Urien Brereton.  Unfortunately it would seem that his coffin didn’t get there being swept away by a river in full spate as the funeral cortège was crossing it which is unfortunate to put it mildly although having said that he appears, according to findagrave.com to be safely buried in the church of St John the Baptist, Croydon also known as Croydon Minster.

 

For reference, and I don’t think I can describe it as a surprising connection given that the name is the same,  the family was related to the earlier Sir William Brereton who had a bit of a reputation as a womaniser in Henry VIII’s court which was unfortunate because having delivered jewels to Anne Boleyn from the king and also given her a hound (which she named after Urien Brereton- the one buried At Handforth Chapel) he found himself in the rather unfortunate position of going from one of the king’s most trusted men (even being present at the wedding between Henry and Anne Boleyn) to being accused of being one of Anne Boleyn’s lovers in 1536.  He was tried for treason on the 12 May 1536 and was beheaded on the 17th May.

Porter, Stephen. http://www.historytoday.com/stephen-porter/letter-books-sir-william-brereton

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/brereton-sir-william-1604-1661

https://www.hslc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/47-8-Robinson.pdf

 

‘March 1644: An Ordinance to enable Sir William Brereton Baronet, one of the Members of the House of Commons, to execute the several Ordinances of Parliament for advance of money within the County of Chester, and County and City of Chester, and to take Subscriptions for the better supply and maintenance of the Forces under his Command, for the security of the said places, and for prevention of the access of the Irish Forces into those parts.’, in Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660, ed. C H Firth and R S Rait (London, 1911), pp. 409-413. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp409-413 [accessed 24 February 2018].

 

Charles Cavendish – cavalier (1620-1643)

Colonel_Lord_Charles_Cavendish_(1620-1643)_by_Sir_Anthony_Van_Dyck,_1637_-_Oak_Room,_Chatsworth_House_-_Derbyshire,_England_-_DSC03062Let us return today to the Royalist summer of victories in 1643. It was really only in the east of the country that events did not go all Charles I’s way. On 20 July 1643, Lord Willoughby captured Gainsborough in Lincolnshire for Parliament. This meant that the Earl of Newcastle could not now communicate so easily with the royalists at Newark and he could not simply march south expanding royalist territory.  The Committee of Safety scratched their various heads and then sent Oliver Cromwell and Sir John Meldrum from the Eastern Association Army to back up Lord Willoughby as he was being threatened by the Royalist military commander – Colonel Charles Cavendish – who was the nephew of the Earl of Newcastle.

Charles, born in 1620, was the younger brother of William Cavendish the third Earl of Chatsworth and the epitome of a Hollywood cavalier unlike his brother who appears to have been much more retiring. Apparently Charles had travelled as far as Greece and Cairo in happier times as well as the more usual Italy and France. As you might expect of a nephew of the Earl of Newcastle he was ferociously Royalist. He had gone to York in 1642 to offer his services to the king; been part of Prince Rupert’s cavalry charge at the Battle of Edgehill on the 23 October 1642 and had then been offered command of the Duke of York’s troop (a sudden vacancy had arisen).   From there he persuaded his family to raise sufficient funds for him to form his own body of men making him a colonel and the royalist military commander for Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. It was Charles Cavendish who took Grantham for the king on 23 March 1643 and sent the Parliamentarians packing at Ancaster the following month.  In the space of a year he had changed from being a volunteer guards officer to a Colonel in charge of an entire region. Possibly, the gift of £1000 into the king’s war chest may have expedited matters.

 

Anyway, the Parliamentarians came across Cavendish’s dragoons south of Gainsborough on the morning of 28th July 1643. The Royalists had the advantage of high ground which they lost during a Parliamentarian cavalry charge. The Royalists ultimately fled on account of the fact that the Parliamentarians were learning a thing or three about tactics but Charles had kept his own men in reserve and was very sensibly planning to nip around the back of the Parliamentarians to attack their rear. Unfortunately a certain Colonel Cromwell spotted the manoevre and attacked the Royalist rear instead. Cavendish fell from his horse during the fighting and was killed by Captain Berry with a sword in the small ribs. Ultimately the Parliamentarians, who definitely won the battle, were unable to hold out against Newcastle.

Years later when Charles’ mother, Christian Bruce, was buried in All Saints Church, Derby on 16 February 1675 the bones of her long dead son were interred with her as she had asked. The funeral sermon by William Nailor described Charles as a “princely person,” “the soldiers’ favourite and his majesty’s darling.” It also described Charles as being like Abner and related to the Stuarts through the Bruce connection. The full text can be found in the snappily entitled  A commemoration sermon preached at Darby, Feb. 18, 1674, for the Honourable Colonel Charles Cavendish, slain in the service of King Charles the First, before Gainsborough in the year 1643.

Colonel, Lord Charles Cavendish (1620-1643)by British (English) School

The picture at the start of the post is by Van Dyck and is at Chatsworth whilst the picture above is at Hardwick Hall (I think).

Bickley, F. (1911) The Cavendish family  https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Cavendish_Family.html?id=1G8Al5RutVAC&redir_esc=y

Dick, Oliver Lawson (ed) (1987)  Aubrey’s Brief Lives.  London:Penguin

 

 

 

English Civil War 1645

prince rupertAs with all civil wars some people change their minds.  Having described the Hothams (father and son) shutting the city gates of Hull in Charles I’s face in 1642 it comes as something of a surprise to discover that John Hotham (junior) was executed for treason on 1st January 1645 for conspiring to let the royalists in!  John Hotham senior was executed the next day.  Unfortunately  for them their coat turning tendencies had been proved by the capture of the Earl of Newcastle’s correspondence after the Battle of Marston Moor.

1645 followed the increasingly depressing routine of burning houses to deny the enemy cover and of being besieged not to mention taxation, parliamentary committees sending stiffly worded notes to their commanders and men on both sides having something of a wobble as the war became less and less chivalrous.  At the beginning of the year royalist Newark was in hot water and Prince Rupert was still charging around the countryside.  Poor old Abingdon seemed to change hands more often than anywhere else in the area around Oxford and in January, Rupert was busy attacking it.

Things were changing though.  The Parliamentarian army was becoming much more professional. On the 21st January, Parliament appointed Sir Thomas Fairfax to overall command.  And I would have to say Tom Fairfax is one of my heroes – who can’t like a man who retired to grow roses?  It should also be added that Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Rider on the White Horse may have something to do with my affiliation. In Scotland the Earl of Montrose was flitting around and Prince Maurice relieved Chester which had been besieged (who would have thought all those Roman walls would have come in so useful) not that it did much good because as soon as he left the area the siege was re-imposed.

Elsewhere things were getting really very nasty and unnecessary,  the earl of Essex hanged thirteen men simply because they were Irish – a modern warcrime if ever there was one.  Prince Rupert (pictured at the start of this post) retaliated by hanging thirteen parliamentarian soldiers based on the fact that they weren’t royalists.  The two gentlemen in question then exchanged letters on the subject – to modern eyes neither of them comes out of the exchange particularly well.

Meanwhile the Scots had managed to irritate the people of Westmorland and the Royalist Oxford Army set off on its summer campaign having been reorganised by the king who managed to irritate many of his commanding officers in the process.

I could say etc etc because much of the manoeuvring seems very similar to the previous eighteen months but then on 14th June 1645 the king’s army met with Fairfax’s army at the Battle of Naseby.  The royalists, quite frankly, were toast.  As usual Rupert’s cavalry were rifling through the baggage train whilst disaster struck. The women in the royalist baggage train were overrun by the victorious parliamentarians.  Unfortunately they didn’t know the difference between the sound of Welsh and Irish – the Irish being catholic and therefore much hated.  The brave parliamentarian soldiers proceeded to slaughter many of the women and those who weren’t slaughtered had their faces and noses slashed to mark them as whores – a more delightful group of puritans you couldn’t wish to meet!  The king fled int he direction of Ashby-de-la Zouche and from there to Lichfield with the parliamentarians in hot pursuit.   The king turned left (if he was facing north) into Wales and Fairfax who had other orders from Parliament took a detour into the West Country where he set about bringing various royalist garrisons to book.  Whilst all that was going on Archbishop Laud was finally executed on 10th July 1645.

For those of you of a Derbyshire turn of thought, Charles travelled down through the Welsh borders to Ludlow receiving assorted correspondence from Prince Rupert as he went.  Rupert was doing his usual Jack-in-the-box routine and would seem to have been collecting “horse miles” as averse to air miles. Fairfax, it would have to be said, was doing something similar.  On the 13th August the king arrived in Ashbourne and on the 14th he paid a visit to Chatsworth and from there went across to Welbeck Abbey, another Cavendish residence. By the 18th August Charles I was back in Yorkshire – in Doncaster raising men to continue his campaign.

This was unfortunate as the Scots arrived at Rotherham the next day.  Accounts suggest that the royalists had something of a panic before hurrying the king to Newark. Ten days later he was back in Oxford.

The sense I have of 1645 is a nation on the move.  David Leslie was in charge of the Scots at Rotherham for example but by the 13th September he is in Scotland decimating the Earl of Montrose who was coming south to join with the king who by that stage of the game had made a personal visit to Worcester and Hereford.  Meanwhile Bristol had finally fallen into Parliamentary hands and the king held his nephew Rupert personally responsible.  Chester was still holding out against Sir William Brereton so the king decided to show Rupert how to relieve a siege and set off from Hereford.  The result was the Battle of Rowton Heath – the king  having watched the loss of  his army from the city walls headed back to Wales where they had plenty of large castles to hide in – he selected Denbigh.

On October 14th the symbol of royalist loyalty in Hampshire was finally taken and destroyed.  Basing House was stormed by Cromwell and his fellow commanding officers. The defenders made a call for a parley and were ignored after two hours of vicious hand to hand fighting. Between one hundred and two hundred people including civilians were killed inside Basing House and then the Parliamentarians looted £200,000 of goods.  Catholic items were destroyed in a public fire in London.  Meanwhile Basing House burned and what remained standing was torn to the ground – by which point of reading I must admit to having gone right off Cromwell but can see that in order to bring the civil war to an end Parliament was stamping out royalist nests whenever and wherever it could and Basing had been a particular thorn in Parliamentary sides for the last two years.

It probably didn’t help that the fall of Bristol on the 10th September when Rupert handed it over to Thomas Fairfax after a ten day siege caused bad blood between uncle and nephew.  Rupert turned up at Newark despite orders to the contrary demanding that he should be court marshalled so that the slur upon his honour could be erased.  The resulting factions lead to division within the royalist chain of command.  By November things were so bad that Charles wrote to Rupert telling him to leave the country.  Unsurprisingly Parliament was more than happy to issue Rupert with a fourteen day pass to leave the kingdom without interference.

By the 7th of December King Charles was writing to his son urging him to make his escape from the kingdom without delay as castles across the country found themselves making terms with their parliamentarian besiegers and the king himself sent a series of letters to parliament trying to agree terms.  On the 26th of December following an exchange of correspondence between the king and parliament, Charles proposed a personal treaty.  On the 5th May the following year Charles surrendered to the Scottish army at Southwell.  He had been totally defeated and his kingdom was in tatters.  Of course, things did not go well from thence but for the time being I shall leave the unfortunate and self-deluded Stuart stewing.

Charles_I_in_Three_Positions_1635-36

English Civil War 1644

Oliver_Cromwell_by_Samuel_Cooper.jpg1644 was a year where no one gained the upper hand and the casualties of war grew.  The arrival of the Scots in the Civil War ultimately tipped the balance of power in Parliament’s favour but as a result of amateur approaches to warfare the Second Battle of Newbury failed to end matters once and for all.  This had the knock on effect of ensuring the rise of the New Model Army and Cromwell’s Ironsides.

January 1644 started with the usual petitions and recruitment.  Pay remained an issue.  For example Hopton who led the rather successful Western Army for the king in 1643 found himself dealing with mutineering.  Five hundred of his men simply marched off with their weapons to join the Parliamentarians in Poole.  In the midlands as armies ebbed and flowed Nottingham fell once more into Parliamentarian hands and Newstead Abbey, the home of Lord Byron, was looted whilst he was besieging Nantwich on behalf of the king.  This resulted in the necessity of Fairfax crossing the Pennines to Manchester with a view to relieving the siege.  The result is the Battle of Nantwich on 26th January 1644 which Parliament won despite the bad weather and prevailing soggy conditions.  He went on to besiege Latham House near Ormskirk on 28th February where the Countess of Derby held out for the king.  Her husband was on the Isle of Man.  Rather than a direction confrontation she played for time which worked to a degree although Fairfax ordered his men to build earthworks around the house.

At the beginning of February, Newcastle was back in Newcastle to stop the Scots from occupying it on Parliament’s behalf and the royalist garrison at Newark started to feel a bit uncomfortable as well they should because by the end of February, which was a leap year, Sir John Meldrum had besieged the town.  He had 5,000 men and rather a lot of ordinance but the royalists held out. Prince Rupert marched his men from Wolverhampton to Newark to relieve the siege on the 21st of March.

earl of manchester.pngMeanwhile two of the Parliamentarian generals were at loggerheads with one another.  Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex felt that Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester  (pictured above) was getting the better part of the deal from Parliament.  Montagu, married to a cousin of George Villiers in the first instance married for a second time to Ann Rich, the daughter of the Earl of Warwick – the Parliamentarian Lord Admiral.  He turned from Court towards a more Puritan way of thinking and did not support the king in the Bishop’s War.  He was also the peer who supported John Pym at the opening of the Long Parliament  and was the one member of the House of Lords who Charles I wanted to arrest at the same time as the five members of the House of Commons.  In 1642 he was on his third wife (another member of the Rich family) and had become the Earl of Manchester upon his father’s death.  Manchester had been at the Battle of Edgehill but his was one of the regiments that had fled the battlefield.  After that he was eventually appointed to the command of the Eastern Association Army – regiments covering Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridge.  By the end of 1643 East Anglia was very firmly in Parliamentarian hands and Manchester’s men had broken out into Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.  This should be contrasted with Essex and the Western Association Army performance.  It is perhaps not surprising that Parliament effectively allowed Manchester to by pass Essex and to liaise with the Scots and with the Fairfaxs.

 

By April Selby was back in Parliamentarian hands as Lord Fairfax retrieved the ground that had been lost the previous year.  Newcastle also returned to Yorkshire and occupied York. The Earl of Manchester was ordered to York at the same time as Parliament realised that Prince Rupert and his men were also heading in that direction.  Inevitably York now found itself besieged with the royalists inside and Lord Fairfax outside.  It would have to be said that before that point had been reached Newcastle had got most of his cavalry out of the city.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Pennines Sir Thomas Fairfax was throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at Latham House.  On the 23rd April he asked the Countess of Derby to surrender.  She declined. At the other end of the country parliamentarian Lyme Regis also declined to surrender.  The townsfolk were hoping that the Earl of Warwick and his navy were going to come to their rescue.  Oxford prepares to be besieged by the Earl of Essex who took nearby Abingdon which the Royalists had abandoned.  Charles I had to leave the city for fear of capture.

Meanwhile the Royalists in York could look over the city walls and watch as the Earl of Manchester and his men arrived. Its best to think at this point of Prince Rupert haring around the countryside relieving Parliamentarian sieges and helping Royalist besiegers to storm their targets.  He did not cover himself in glory at Bolton where the defenders were slaughtered.  The war was beginning to take a decidedly less gallant turn.  Essentially large houses across the country swapped hands – some with the modicum of upset, others after much ammunition had been used.  Meanwhile the king arrived in Worcester and the Parliamentarian armies of Waller and Essex chased after him although somehow Waller managed to lose the king and end up in Gloucester.

The movements of the armies and key figures seem to be very much like a game of strategy where nobody is quite sure of the rules.  The king, for instance, next surfaces in Buckingham, whilst Prince Rupert rocks up  in Knaresborough.  His job is to relieve the siege of York.

With so many men and armies in the vicinity it is perhaps no surprise that July 2nd saw the Battle of Marston Moor.  The Parliamentarians on hearing the news that Rupert was int he area had withdrawn from around York and taken up a position to bar Rupert’s approach to the city. Rupert did not take the bait, he crossed around behind the Parliamentarians at Poppleton and wrote a note to Newcastle telling him to get himself and his lambs into position.  Newcastle wasn’t terribly happy with these orders.  All he wanted was for the Parliamentarians to march off and leave York in peace.

Fairfax and Manchester,along with the Scots under the command of Leven were at Tadcaster when Rupert assumed the correct position for battle on the morning of the 2nd.  A messenger carried the news to the Parliamentarians to the effect that Rupert was “up for it.” Consequently the parliaments had to turn around and go back.  The Royalists had the moor and the Parliamentarians had farmland.  There was a ditch between the two sides. By four in the afternoon there had been no move to battle and by seven the royalists had settled down by their campfires.  At which point the Parliamentarians made their move – which though not particularly gallant was militarily rather sensible.

Lord John Byron.jpgFairfax opposed Goring on the right wing: Goring 1 – Fairfax O.  Goring and his men got side tracked by the baggage wagons.  Crowell was on the left wing facing Lord John Byron (pictured right): Ironsides 1 – Royalists 0.  Prince Rupert turned the fleeing royalists round and sent them back into battle.  Rupert and his men were evenly matched with the Ironsides.  Essentially they hacked one another to a standstill at which point the Scottish cavalry charged in on the Royalist flank and scattered them.

Fairfax needing to communicate with Cromwell took off his sash and his field sign and rode across the battlefield, paling through Royalist lines as he did so, to provide Cromwell with accurate information about what was happening.  Cromwell, and his men circled the field and came up behind Goring and his men who were busily looting Fairfax’s baggage train.

Meanwhile Newcastle’s lambs at the centre had fought doggedly through the whole encounter.  Now they were forced back and rather than leave the field they died to a man. William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle was the last royalist commander left on the battlefield. As his men were slaughtered he ultimately made his way back to York and from there to Scarborough.  At Scarborough he sailed for Hamburg.  The North was lost to the Royalists.  More than 4,000 of their number died at Marston Moor.

In the Midlands, Welbeck Abbey, one of William Cavendish’s homes, fell to the Parliamentarians – who helped themselves to tapestries and silver plate.  Royalist Newark began to feel the pinch once more and Rupert made his way back to the SouthWest where Essex wasn’t having such a victorious feeling as his counterparts in the North.  Ultimately he had to make an undignified escape from Lostwithiel.  Basing House in Hampshire was still being pummelled.

The king seems to have spent much of the second half of the year popping up all over the country being pursued by various parliamentarians. He had planned to relieve Basing House but that went awry so he decided, instead, to relieve Donnington Castle – bearing in mind there was no such thing as a motorway network the various armies marched huge distances a the drop of a hat.  This meant that they were required to live off the land – which was not good news for anyone who happened to be in the path of any army and its destination.  On the 22nd October Charles was in Berkshire, near Newbury.  Cromwell, Manchester and Waller took to the field but the king escaped under cover of darkness and scarpered in the direction of Bath. From there he returned to Oxford – as clearly the Parliamentarians had cleared off by that time.

As the year drew to the close Parliamentarian generals were still writing to London politely suggesting that their men should be paid, Rupert was still popping up like a jack in the box and Basing House was still under siege.  Lord Fairfax was quietly sitting outside the castles of Pontefract and Knaresborough but had been given orders to sort out the royalists in Newark as well.  Knaresborough did surrender by the end of the year, not that it was much consolation to Lord Fairfax who felt that he was being over-stretched with insufficient men or money to do Parliament’s bidding.

In London, Parliament was pointing fingers about who was responsible for the failure to administer a crushing defeat on the king at the Second Battle of Newbury  and the Self-Denying Ordinance is proposed which would prevent members of Parliament (Lords or Commons) from holding military command.  Whilst the Commons agreed to the idea the Lords were less keen but would pass a revised version of the ordinance in 1645.

All in all – a very depressing year and that’s without considering Scotland, the Covenanters and the Earl of Montrose.

Emberton, Wilfred. The Civil War Day by Day.

 

 

The Civil War in Yorkshire

thomas fairfaxEssentially we have covered the fact that during 1643 the Earl of Essex’s parliamentarian Western Association army did not have a great deal to shout about.  Meanwhile in Yorkshire the same Commissions of Array were delivered and like their counterparts in the SouthWest the gentlemen of Yorkshire and the Midlands were forced to decide where their loyalties lay.  Hull and Leeds were important towns.  Both declared for Parliament, Hull rather noticeably by refusing to let the king into the town in 1642.

Initially the Earl of Cumberland was in charge of the Northern army.  Henry Clifford (the fifth earl) was given the job because he was deemed to be the senior aristocrat in the region.   He was not a warrior so it wasn’t too long before parliamentarian garrisons began giving him the runaround and he was forced to summon help in the form of William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle.

Fernanindo_fairfax.jpgBy contrast the Parliamentarians had men whose names reverberate through history. Sir John Hotham was the governor of Hull; Sir Hugh Cholmley led the garrison at Scarborough and then in the West Riding there was Ferdinando Fairfax  (pictured right) and his son Thomas (pictured at the start of this post).  The only difficulty was that Hotham didn’t appreciate Fairfax being the senior commander. The Fairfaxes controlled the West Riding and extended their hold from there to Tadcaster.  Their main opponent in the West Riding was Sir William Savile.

When Newcastle crossed the Tees with his army it became apparent that the trained bands of men from Richmondshire and Cleveland would refuse to fight the Royalists. Sir John Hotham’s son called on troops stationed further south in the East Riding to help him repel the royalists but on 1 December 1642 there was a coming together at Piercebridge.  Newcastle had 8,000 men.  Hotham had considerably fewer.  Unsurprisingly Newcastle won and was in York by 3rd December.

Tadcaster looked a bit precarious so far as the Parliamentarians were concerned.  The Fairfaxs were outmanned and it did not help that although Ferdinando had received Parliamentary  orders to the effect that he was in charge neither the Hotham’s nor Sir Hugh Cholmley appeared to believe them.  Cholmley was told to move his men into position so that the West Riding was protected from Newcastle’s military designs.  Sir Hugh returned with the majority of his men to Scarborough.  There may have been some scratching of heads about this particularly manoeuvre as back in London, John Pym described Scarborough as being “not very useful.”  Not that it would have made a great deal of difference to Newcastle’s superior numbers and it was perhaps more of an indicator that Cholmley was thinking of swapping sides – something that he did in spring 1643 having been sweetalked by Queen Henrietta Maria.

Fairfax realised that he needed a bigger army and began a recruitment campaign.  Tadcaster and Selby remained in Parliamentary hands for the time being.  In November Thomas Fairfax occupied Wetherby.  They held important river crossings and if they could get enough men together they could threaten York but they still did not have an army that could match Newcastle’s.

On 6th December 1642 the Earl of Newcastle attacked Tadcaster and from there captured Pontefract.  Fairfax withdrew to Selby where he realised that the West Riding had been cut off from the East Coast Parliamentary garrisons.

Whilst the Fairfaxes had their hands full Sir William Savile made his move in the West Riding.  He occupied first Wakefield and then Leeds. From there he marched on Bradford which was expected to put up a fight.  The weavers were inclined to non-conformity, were in financial difficulties because of the collapsing cloth trade and were troubled by the fact that Bradford which had once been a royal manor had been sold to pay Charles’ debts and as a consequences tenants in that manor had suffered a considerable rent hike.  All things considered they were not going to hand the town over to the king’s man without a fight even if it didn’t have a wall.   On 18th December 1642 Savile was beaten back.  In addition to the trained bands Savile found himself confronted by clubmen – these men were paid by no army.  They were armed with whatever they could find that could be turned into weapons.

 

On 23rd December Sir Thomas Fairfax left Selby and spurred through royalist held Yorkshire with his men to reinforce Bradford.  It was the one remaining pinpoint of Parliamentarianism in the West Riding although of little strategic value and almost impossible to defend long term.

 

On the 23  January  1643 Fairfax took the war back to the Royalists.  He and his men marched from Bradford to Leeds with six troops of horse, dragoons, musketeers and 1,000 of the irregular clubmen.  They took 500 prisoners whilst Sir William was forced to flee.

In March Ferdinando decided to withdraw from Selby – exposed as it now was.  On the 30 March he feinted towards Tadcaster, where the Royalist garrison seemed to have had a bit of a panic attack because they promptly fled to York.  This enabled Fairfax to dismantle the town’s defences.  Meanwhile Newcastle sent George Goring to prevent Fairfax from taking Tadcaster – by the time Goring and his men arrived Fairfax’s men were at Bramham Moor.  Goring attacked them at Seacroft on the outskirts of Leeds.  Goring’s men were mounted and Fairfax was outflanked.  800 men were taken prisoner in the chaos that followed but the majority of Fairfax’s army had already made it too Leeds when the attack took place.

On the 20 May 1643 the second Battle of Wakefield was fought.  Fairfax was under pressure to get his men back.  The idea was that either they could be freed or if enough royalists could be captured an exchange of men could be negotiated.  In a bizarre twist of events a small band of parliamentarians led by Sir Thomas Fairfax captured a garrison of more than 3,000 royalists.  Poor old George Goring had been tucked up in his bed at the time the raid started and although he had got himself sorted out enough to lead a counter-attack against Fairfax he had found himself facing some of his own artillery that had been captured and turned on the royalists.  He was taken prisoner along with more than 1,000 other men and sent down to London where he remained in The Tower until 1644, no doubt having some difficult conversations about the fact that in 1642 before the outbreak of war parliament had paid him to secure Portsmouth against the king.  He had actually secured the port for Charles and there had been a month long siege before Portsmouth was handed over to Parliament and Goring fled to the Netherlands only returning when Henrietta Maria raised men and munitions to help her husband.

By the summer of 1643 the Earl of Newcastle controlled most of Yorkshire and his men had gained something of a reputation for looting.  Only Bradford held out.  In part Newcastle couldn’t really do much between March and June because Henrietta Maria was in Yorkshire.  She’d landed in Bridlington on 22 February 1643 and had been waiting for a safe route to be opened so that she could join her husband once more in Oxford – it was, in part, for this reason that Newark was captured by the Royalists and remained a royalist stronghold throughout the rest of the first English Civil War.  The queen journeyed south on the 4th June freeing Newcastle from his royal protection duties.

Newcastle having waved farewell to the queen gathered his army and set off in the direction of the West Riding.   There was no wall at Bradford.   Fairfax had no choice but to stand and fight.  Fernando and Thomas marched out of Bradford and met Newcastle on the 30 June 1643.

It looked for a while as though Fairfax would win the Battle of Adwalton Moor but it was Newcastle who won the day.  On the night of 1st July Ferdinando and the Parliamentarians broke out from Bradford and made for Hull giving the order that Leeds should be evacuated as well – for the timbering the West Riding was in Royalist hands. Thomas was left behind to cover their escape. On the 3rd of July he made a similar escape along with his wife and daughter.  Bradford was down to its last barrel of gunpowder.  It was at this stage in proceedings that Ann Fairfax became separated from her husband and was captured.  In between times her husband and father-in-law had an exciting interlude at Selby when the royalists tried to intercept them as they were crossing the river there.

Newcastle who wrote scurrilous verse about serving maids in his youth showed every gallantry on this particular occasion by sending Ann to her husband in Hull  (the Fairfax’s arrived there on the 4th July) in his own carriage with a military escort to ensure her safety.

Hull now found itself under siege for a second time – though not necessarily particularly wholeheartedly. Newcastle meanwhile turned his attention from the West Riding to Sheffield where the iron masters were turned to making armaments for the king. He went on to capture Gainsborough and Lincoln.  Lincolnshire was in the hands of Parliament’s East Association Army.

Of course, whilst the cat is away…the Fairfaxs will take advantage of the opportunities provided.  By August Fairfax was back in Beverley and was raiding ever closer to York.

Newcastle stopped rattling the Eastern Association Army and went back to Yorkshire to squelch heavily upon those dratted Fairfaxs.  The Second Siege of Hull began in all earnestness on 2nd September 1643.  Newcastle set to work creating a series of earthworks for his artillery.  A fortnight later the Parliamentarians opened the sluice gates and flooded the royalists out just as they had done during the first siege.  Even more irritatingly for Newcastle, the town was being provisioned from the sea by the navy which was in Parliament’s hands.

On 22 September a certain Colonel Cromwell crossed from Lincolnshire to Yorkshire where he offered muskets and gunpowder to the Fairfaxs.  On the 26th Thomas and his men left Hull to join the soldiers of the Eastern Association Army.  Ferdinando Fairfax remained in Hull until the 12 October when newcastle lifted the siege following some violent military encounters.  Meanwhile the Eastern Association came to blows with the Royalists at Winceby and won.

All in all 1643, apart from the bright spot of Essex’s victory at Newbury had been a dismal one for Parliament but in Lincolnshire a certain Oliver Cromwell was beginning to make his mark.  The summer of Royalist victories was over and in the north men like Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax and his son are being recognised as men who could turn the tables on the Royalists.

 

Binns, Jack. Yorkshire in The Civil Wars.  Blackthorn Press