George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

Some memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times online

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guised and contrary intention. He stated also, in his message,
his determination that nothing should be wanting on his part
' to advance the True Protestant Religion, and confirm all just
' power and privileges of Parliament/ Under these words, so
often employed by him on similar occasions, it is but too
evident that he always veiled a double meaning. By ' True
' Protestant Religion ' it is to be shown that he reserved to
himself this interpretation, 'the ancient immunities of the
'Episcopal order;' and by 'just power and privileges of
' Parliament/ his own notions of the limits which, from the
beginning of his reign, he had endeavoured unlawfully to
assign to them. One of Charles's great vices was a constant
desire to gain an advantage in treaties by betraying his Parlia-
ment into acquiescing in some doubtful phrase ; and one of his
remarkable weaknesses was the being usually too hasty to do
this successfully.f Yet Clarendon, ascribing these overtures
to a mere wish to gain time, makes it matter of charge against
Hampdeu that he persuaded the Parliament to reject them.

After two days, this answer was returned by both Houses.
That they had ' endeavoured to prevent, by several advices and
' petitions, the dangerous and distracted state of this kingdom,
' not only without success, but that there have followed those
' several proclamations and declarations against both the
' Houses of Parliament, whereby their actions are declared
1 treasonable and their persons tiaitors; and, thereupon, your
' Majesty hath set up your standard against them, whereby
' you have put them, and in them the whole kingdom, out
' of your protection. So that, untill your Majesty shall re-
' call those proclamations and declarations, whereby the Earl
' of Essex and both Houses of Parliament are declared traitors
' or otherwise delinquents, and untill the standard set up in
' pursuance of the said proclamation be taken down, your
' Majesty hath put us into such a condition, that, while we so
' remain, we cannot, by the fundamental privileges of Parlia-
' irieut, the publick trust reposed in us, or with the general

* Hist. Keb.

\ Of his intention in using these ambiguous generalities there is abundant
proof in his letters taken at Naseby. See ' King's Cabinet opened.'


' good and safety of this kingdom, give your Majesty any
' other answer to this message/ *

The King returned a further reply, to the end, Clarendon
says, ' that he might make further use of their pride and
' passion/ In this he offered, that if they would appoint a
day for the revoking of their declarations against all persons
as traitors or otherwise for assisting him, he would, on the same
day, recall his proclamations and declarations, and take down
his standard; the noble historian confessing that, when he
took this resolution, ah 1 means of resisting them were hopeless,
and that some advised him to appear at once in London ;
' conceiving there would be more likelihood for him to prevail
'that way than by any army he was like to raise/ Lord
Falkland was received by Parliament in his place to deliver
this message ; but Charles, in the interval, and pending the
treaty, as if to prepare ground for departing from any terms
which might after be arranged, repeated, in fresh instructions
to his Commissioners of Array, his proclamation of treason.
Of this the Houses complained in their rejoinder ; but again
promised that, if his standard be taken down, and the procla-
mation recalled, and if he would return to his Parliament,
' your Majesty shall find such expressions of our fidelities and
' duties, as shall assure you that your safety, honour, and great-
' ness, can only be found in the affections of your people, and
' the sincere counsels of your Parliament/ What hope could
there be of the result of negotiations so begun and continued ;
while the King persisted in calling those with whom he was
treating traitors, and while they felt that no terms would be
kept with them, but such as should be first ensured by his
placing himself entirely and unreservedly in their hands ?

At length, wearied with what they saw were only artifices,
to gain time, the Houses, on the 9th of September, published
a declaration to the whole kingdom, and sent down again
Hampden and some of their other principal officers to North-
ampton, to put their regiments and brigades in readiness to

On the same day the Earl of Essex, with great pomp, at
the head of the London train-bands and the levies from the
adjacent counties which had come in the night before, pro-
ceeded to join the grand army. He was accompanied for

* Collection of Remonstrances,

8 2


: > several miles along the Barnet road by the Members of both
I Houses, and the several guilds and companies of merchants,

' and gpeeted by the acclamations and prayers of the populace
of both cities, who had poured forth to line the way as he

In the midland counties, the King's Commission of Array
had been published only partially, and with little success;
and, on several occasions, the Commissioners had been taken
by the country people, or by detachments of the Parliament's
troops, and sent up under escort to London.

About a month before, while Hampden and Goodwyn were
mustering the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire levies on
Chalgrove, information had been sent to them, by Whitelocke,
that a party of gentlemen, with the Earl of Berkshire at their
head, were assembling at Watlington, to make proclamation
for troops, in the King's name, under the Commission of
Array. With that quick spirit of decision which so strongly
marked his character on so many greater occasions, Hampden
seized the opportunity ; and, without dissolving the meeting on
Chalgrove, departed with a troop of Goodwyn's horse, and a
company of his own regiment, for Watlington. But the
Commissioners, hearing of the muster at Chalgrove, had
hastened with the soldiers whom they had brought down with
them, and some who had joined them, to Sir Robert Dormer's
house at Ascot, where they raised the drawbridge on the moat,
and stood upon their defence. Finding that they had been
pursued, and that the house was invested, they fired a few
shots from within ; but, the besiegers making ready for an
assault, they yielded upon quarter, and the Earl, and Sir John
Ciirzon, and three others, the principal Commissioners, were
sent prisoners to London.* From thence Hampden pro-
ceeded towards Oxford, in company with Lord Say, who joined
him with some forces from the neighbourhood of Banbury, and
entered it, after three days' preparation for a siege ; the King's
party retiring into Gloucestershire. This enterprise very much
discomposed and angered the Cavaliers, and delayed the pro-

Igress of the array in those parts, leaving to Hampden the
power of completing the business of the Buckinghamshire
muster unmolested.t But more active and more urgent
business soon called him in another direction.

* Wliitelocke's Memorials. Ruahworth Perfect Diurnal, August 15.
t Harl. MSS., Brit. Mus.


The several Ordinances which followed each other rapidly
for ' putting the kingdom in a posture of defence ' had been
before the arrival of Essex's main array, enforced with the
greatest zeal in the district lying between Nottingham and
London, along which it was reasonable to suppose that the
King's first great enterprize would be directed. It was im-
portant for the Parliament that the counties and principal
towns along this line should receive the strongest marks of its
trust, should be inspired with confidence while declaring
themselves in its behalf, and that they should be protected
and provisioned at the least charge to themselves. It was for-
tunate for the Parliament, that in those counties and principal
towns its cause was, at the outset, eminently popular. War-
wickshire, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, under the
influence of their principal gentry, had declared themselves,
almost unanimously, on that side, and were in the most
diligent preparation. In Hertfordshire also, the spirit, though
divided, was generally favourable to the Parliament. In
Northamptonshire alone, nearly one-half of the strength of the
county inclined towards the party of the King. The interest
of the Earl of Manchester, the Lord Lieutenant, was divided
with that of Lord Kirnbolton, his son. Lord Northampton
had great power : he was proud, active, and resolute; but, on
account of his reputation for courage and high honour, was
beloved as well as powerful. He was indefatigable in thwart-
ing the Parliamentary levies, and in proceeding with the Com-
mission of Array ; yet the town of Northampton declared for
the Parliament, and was made a place of arms. Cirencester
took the same part, in spite of the influence of the Lord
Chandoys, who lived at Sudely Castle in great magnificence.
The Mayor and principal inhabitants answered his requisition
with a protestation against the illegality of any commission
under the Great Seal to raise troops without consent of parlia-
ment ; and moreover desired him to prepare himself for going
up to London, under a guard of the townsmen, to answer
before Parliament for the act. He fled that night, and
rejoined the King.*

Besides Northampton and Cirencester, Warwick, Aylesbury,
and St. Albans, began to be strengthened with batteries, and
received the magazines for the supply of the country along the
two great London roads.

* Vicoars's Parliamentary Chronicle.


Gradually this spirit spread itself through other parts of
England, but not with the same unity of action. It had been
endeavoured by both parties to secure the towns along the
western coast. The Marquis of Hertford had dispatched from
Sherborne Castle a requisition to the town of Poole; but

IPoole had declared for the Parliament, and begun to fortify
itself. Lord Hertford then summoned the town by virtue of
his new commission as Lieutenant-General of Dorset, Somerset,
Hants, Wilts, and all Wales. It was at Poole that he pur-
posed to fix his head quarters ; but the Mayor, in the name
of the whole town, replied that 'no commission under the
' Broad Seal could make law ; that the commission to raise
' troops, without consent of the Houses, was against law ; and
' that, instead of obeying, they trusted to be able, before long,
' to bring him up to the Parliament to answer for that illegal
' act/ *

Shortly after the raising of the Royal standard, the Earl of
Bedford, Denzil Holies, and Sir Walter Erie, marched with an
army (according to Clarendon, of at least seven thousand
foot, and eight troops of horse), raised by Charles Essex,
from Wells to Sherborne, where they were kept in check by
Lord Hertford, with a very inferior force.

Portsmouth was, at the time of the raising of the Standard,
held for the King, by one whose course, from first to last,

f devious, uncertain, and unprincipled, shed disgrace upon the
nobleness of his name, and upon the honourable profession of
a soldier. This man was Goring ; than whom, on account of
his private vices of drunkennesss, cruelty, and rapacity, and of
I his political timidity and treachery, scarcely any one was more
I unworthy to be trusted with any important matters for counsel
I or execution. The King, forgetful of how Goring, by formerly
betraying his associates in the army plot, Had saved himself
from tlio Parliament's wrath, and for a time had won his way
into popular favour, was cajoled by his apparent devotedness
to the Royal cause, now that, in turn, he deceived the expecta-
tions of the Parliament, and held against them the charge they
\ had given him. Goring continued, therefore, in command of
I the most important fortified town on the sea-board of England;
and that at a time when (the state of the whole west of the
island and of the fleet being considered), the most brave and

* Yiccars Parl. Chron.


faithful hand should surely have been selected to hold the keys
of Portsmouth.

Goring, however, seemed to prepare for a bold and obstinate
defence. He raised a powerful battery at Portbridge, which
commanded the only pass into the island of Portsea, and
he strengthened all the works of the town to the land-side.
Towards the end of August, the Parliament's troops, which
had been collected under Sir John Merrick, appearing on
Portsdown, took possession of the London road ; and, forcing
Portbridge, invested the town to the northward and eastward
of Southsea, which was defended by the castle and a line of
outworks. On this quarter the siege commenced, and was
continued for several days with no advantage gained against
the garrison, till a two-gun battery was thrown up on the
other side of the town, across the water, at Gosport. By this
small work was that great and powerful place of arms,
fortified according to the best rules of art in those days
known, bristling with cannon, and its beach lined with
boats, so annoyed as, in the course of a few days more, to be
brought near to a surrender. On the night of the third of
September, the Parliamentarians took Southsea Castle by
escalade ; and on the next morning, ( the Governor seeing/
says Viccars, 'through perspective glasses, that a good and
'fair platform was erected at Gosport for ten pieces of
' ordnance/ proposed terms, and was allowed to march out
with the garrison. Upon this inconsiderable menace and
shameful capitulation (whether moved by treachery or cow-
ardice, or both), did 'Goring quit the town which he had
boasted should never be taken until he should have blown
up the magazine, which would have laid it in ruins ; and,
leaving his garrison to effect a difficult and hazardous march
to the King's quarters in the west, he, on the same night,
took boat for Holland.*

Meanwhile, the King, having quitted Nottingham, pro-
ceeded to Leicester, and, moving on the main London road,
menaced Coventry and Warwick. He desired the attendance
of the Mayor and Sheriffs of Coventry, and announced to
them his intention of occupying their town in person. But the
greater number of the inhabitants, putting on Lord Brook's
colours, in spite of the presence of the Earl of Northampton,

* Viccars Parl. Chron. Clarendon Hist. Reh


their recorder, instructed the Mayor, in conjunction with
the principal citizens, to return for answer, that ' his Majesty's
' Royal person should be most respectfully welcome to them,
'but that they humbly besought his Majesty to pardon
' them if they could not with safety permit his cavaliers
'to enter with him/* By a subsequent message they limited
the number of such attendants as might be permitted
to enter with the King to two hundred. The Earl in vain
endeavoured to collect an adverse party; but failing,
with his utmost efforts, to muster more than four hundred,
was obliged to leave the town, escaping, with great difficulty,
through the back door of an inn. Disappointed and incensed
at the obstacle which Coventry presented to his advance, the
King brought up his battering train, and, sitting down with a
large forct j , opened his fire upon the city.t Then began a
fierce assault, and a gallant defence. The condition of Coventry
had been considered by Lord Brook as so little promising,
opposed to so large a force as was marched against it, that he
had removed the greater part of the ammunition to Warwick
Castle for security. But the brave townsmen undertook to
endure the siege. Unsupported by soldiers, unassisted by
engineers, and very scantily supplied with the materials of war,
they prepared for one of those defences which, in later years,
and on a larger scale, unfortified towns in the hands of
the people have sometimes successfully made against the
regular operations of war. Having barricaded the streets with
harrows, carts, and spars, they first endeavoured to man the
breach which the king's guns had made in their walls.
Driven from thence, they rallied in the streets, and several
times forced back his troops beyond their broken gates. At
length, having, on one occasion, thrown the cavaliers into
utter confusion, they pursued the advantage, and, rushing out
of the town, stormed the King's nearest lines, and, taking
several guns, turned them on the retreating enemy with no
small execution. The Lord Brook, with Hampden, Lord Say,
Lord Grey, Holies, and Cholmley, who had joined from
several parts, were now advancing to the relief of this gallant
town ; on intelligence of which, all further attack on Coventry
was abandoned, and the King, drawing off his forces, returned
to Leicester.

* Viccars Parl. Chron.
t Collections for History of Coventry. Dugdale's Warwickshire.


Hampden had been dispatched out of Buckinghamshire to
take the command at Northampton, with a small brigade of
infantry and some guns, his colleague, Arthur Good \vyn,
accompanying him with his regiment of cavalry. On the
alarm, however, of the King's activity in Warwickshire, lie
hastened, with all he could collect, to join Lord Brook for the
support of that county.* Some weeks before, Lord Brook had
been threatened with a siege in his own castle.

On the night of the 28th of August, the Earl of Newcastle,
the Earl of Lindsey, the Earl of Northampton, the Earl of
Rivers, the Lord Rich, the Lord Mowbray, and the Lord
Capel, with five regiments of foot and ten troops of horse, hud
inarched from Nottingham towards Warwick, where Lord
Brook lay with his new levies, but in greater force than they
expected, the gentry of the county having flocked thither with
their men at arms, forming altogether a body of nearly seven
thousand men. Brook, having received intelligence in the
morning of the approach of the Royalist Lords with their
army, met them moving upon the town from Grove Park,
where they had been entertained by Mr. Dormer, a Roman
Catholic gentleman. The two powers met in the fields about
a mile from Warwick, when a trumpet was sent forward by
the Lords to demand a parley. Their propositions were, that
Lord Brook should lay down his arms, a royal pardon being
offered to him, that he should resign Warwick Castle into such
hands as the King should think fit, that he should disavow the
Ordinance of the Militia, endeavour the execution of the Com-
mission of Array, deliver the magazine of the county into the
hands of the Earl of Northampton, and make submission to
the King.

To these conditions the Lords added, that if they were
refused by Lord Brook, he must expect no less than signal and
instant punishment. Lord Brook was of a temper not quick
to anger, and a mind deeply imbued with the stern and patient
reserve which partly the externals of their religion, and partly
the pressure of political necessity, had imposed upon the
Puritan party. But the spirit of a gallant gentleman, in
whose veins flowed the blood of many generations of proud and
valiant ancestors, rose up against terms so unworthy to be

* True and Remarkable Passages, from Monday, 5th Sept., to Saturday,
10th, 1G42.


proposed to him, and against a tone and bearing so unbe-
coming to the noble persons who addressed him in the confi-
dence of fancied power. Incensed, he wheeled his horse about,
to leave them without reply ; but, after a moment's considera-
tion, he returned, and, fronting them, thus spoke :



' I much wonder that men of judgment, in whose breasts
true honour should hold her seat, should so much wrong their
noble predecessors as to seek the ruin of those high and noble
thoughts they should endeavour to support. Doth fond ambition,
or your self-willed pride, so much bewitch you that you cannot
see the crown of tins your act? When the great council of
the Parliament was first assembled, you then were members,
honourable . members. Why did you not continue? Was it
because your actions were so bad you were ashamed to own
them ? Had you done evil in some petty kind, a better course
might have quitted you from that, and you had been still
honoured, loved, and feared. As for these propositions, take this
in answer When that his Majesty, his posterity, and the peace
of the kingdom, shall be secured from you, I gladly shall lay down
my arms and power. As for the castle, it was delivered to my
trust by the High Court of Parliament, who reserve it for the
King's good use, and I dare boldly say will so employ it. As for
the Commission of Array, you know it is unlawful. For the
magazine of the county, it was delivered to me also by the
Parliament, and, as a faithful servant to the country, I am
resolved to continue it, till Northampton can show me greater
authority lor the delivery of the same. As touching his Majesty 'i
pardon, as I am continent 1 have not given any occasion of oHvnce
to his Majesty, so I need not his pardon ; and I doubt riot in a
short time his Majesty will find who are his best friends. As for
your fury, I wholly disdain it ; and answer it but by hoping that
Northampton may be translated to Warwick, to stand sentry
upon Warwick castle, to fright crows and kites.'

These words being thus spoken, the Lords rode back to
their party, and Lord Brook to his ; and it was not till the
King's troops, seeing those of the Parliament more numerous
than they had expected, had fairly left the field, that Lord
Brook returned with his men to Warwick, where, with thanks
for their support, he read to them the resolution of approba-

To 1642.] HIS PAltTY AND HIS TIMES. 267

tion which had been passed by the Lords and Commons for a
further incitement.*

Meanwhile intelligence was received at Warwick that
Northampton's army had passed to the eastward, and was in
full march towards Northamptonshire ; upon which Lord
Brook set forth with a small part of his army, about three
thousand, for Southam, where he was joined by Hampden's
brigade, which was then moving towards Banbury, Warwick,
and Coventry, to his support. These, together, formed a corps
of near six thousand infantry, with three hundred horse, and
nine guns. The chief officers who commanded this force with
Brook and Hampden, were Lord Say, Lord Grey, Denzil
Holies, and Cholmley. Thus, raised and led by chiefs to
whom the profession of arms was new, and who had only their
zeal, reputation, and general abilities, to contribute in aid of
the cause, these regiments, particularly those of Brook,
Hampden, and Holies, early in the war became distinguished
for discipline as well as courage. Gradually ridding them-
selves of some officers whose skill was unequal to the task
they had undertaken, deserted by some, and joined by others,
they formed the right wing of Essex's army, of which they
were now the first division in the field.

In the middle of the night, this little army being quartered
in Southam, and the powder and other stores found in the
town being secured, the men had retired to their billets,
wearied with the ^harassing and rapid march which both
brigades had that day made, when news came in from the
patrols that the Earl of Northampton had pushed on to within
two miles of the town with all his force. The drums instantly
beat to arms throughout the town, ' upon hearing whereof, of
' such magnanimous spirits were the soldiers, and possessed
' with such a sudden passion of joy, that their enemies, the
' Cavaliers, were so near, that they gave a great shout, with
' flinging up of their hats and clattering their arms, till the
' town rang again with the sound thereof, and, casting aside
' all desire of meat and lodging provided for them, went
' immediately into the fields adjoining to the town, ready for
' battle, where they continued till the morning/ f At day-
break, the enemy, who had been checked overnight by the

* Narrative of Proposition?, &c. ; with Lord Brook's Answer. Published
by authority of Parliament, August 20. In Mr. Stauuton's Collection,
f ' A True and Perfect Relation.' Mr. Stauuton's Coll. of Tracts.


sounds which told them that the town was on the alert,
appeared on the Dunsmore road and lanes adjoining, and
formed opposite. Hampden's brigade, with the guns, being
in the first line, had taken post on some rising ground ; and
Lord Brook, with the second line, and the cavalry in reserve,
.was covered by the brow of the hill. Thus the two bodies
remained, each in silence, awaiting the attack, till about eight
o'clock, when the soldiers of the Parliament becoming impa-

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 33 of 45)