George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

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

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tient, began shouting, and setting up their hats on their pikes
and musket- rests, to draw on the enemy. Lord Brook then
moved up his cavalry on Hampden's right, to extend his line,
the enemy being observed to bring up some fresh troops, with
some pieces of ordnance, on that Hank. Hampden began the
fight, charging with his infantry, under cover of the guns, and
supported by the horse. After a sharp skirmish, the King's
troops gave way, and were pursued to the river, leaving their
guns behind them, which they had scarcely brought into
action ; but beyond this, Lord Brook, with his cavalry, could
not follow them, the enemy showing in position behind the
river a body of dragoons of at least four times his number.
This success against a superior force seems to have been
owing to the Parliament having more cannon, and using them
with eifect at the beginning of the affair, the whole of the first
line advancing at the moment when the artillery of the King
had taken up their ground to answer their fire. Two of Lord
Northampton's officers fell into their hands; one of these,
Captain Legge, mistaking the green regiment of the enemy for
his own (no uncommon disaster in the commencement of these
ill-disciplined campaigns), was made prisoner in the very
midst of the opposite lines. The King and Prince Rupert
were said to have been on the field as spectators, and to have
retired before the rout to Nottingham, and from thence again
to Leicestershire. Towards the close of the skirmish, 11 amp-
den and Brook were joined by fresh levies of volunteers out of
Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, and Buckinghamshire ; the
country bringing in provisions from every part, and the
peasantry of the district, through which the King's troops
retired, rising upon the stragglers in the rear of his retreating
masses with cudgels and staves.*

Meanwhile, the town of Northampton began to fortify.

* Viccars Parl. Chron.


On the 5th of September, letters, we find, were received by
the Parliament from Withers, the Mayor, stating that Hamp-
den and Goodwyn had marched for Leicester, by which the
town of Northampton had been left without assistance to resist
the adverse party in that neighbourhood, and praying for
troops from London to supply the place of the former gar-

^ ith this requisition the Parliament had not the means
of complying. And now, left to their own resources, the
citizens began to emulate the late example of those of Coventry,
and to prepare for defence. The women worked with the
men, day and night, throwing up earth from the ditch, and
forming ramparts.

But the King, mortified at the slowness with which his
levies proceeded throughout the midland counties, and the
delays which in consequence befel his cause, resolved to put
himself at the head of the forces which were assembling in
Shropshire and in Wales. Sending orders to the Earl of
Newcastle to move his army southward, to support Lord
Northampton and keep Lord Essex's advanced guard in
check, he repaired to Derby, and thence to Wellington.
Here, halting, he issued his orders of war, to be spread through
the country wherever troops were collecting in his behalf; and
he published a protestation, again declaring the Earl of Essex
and his adherents to be traitors, and his troops an army of
Brownists, Anabaptists, and Atheists. From thence he pro-
ceeded to Shrewsbury. Here all was favourable and cheering
to his cause. Above ten thousand men had, within a week,
marched in brigade to join him, well armed, and already
disciplined by bodies of old soldiers mixed up in their ranks
to the amount of full one-half of the whole number. These
powers were daily increasing, and supported by crowds of
Welshmen, ill-armed and undisciplined, but still formidable on
account of their wild spirit, and of the vast accession which
they gave to an army in a fertile country, where an abundant
harvest had just been reaped, and which was well able to sup-
port them. It was here, too, that he received the encouraging
news from the north, of the arrival of a second supply from
Holland, of arms, ammunition, and money, which had escaped
the vigilance of Warwick's cruisers.

* True and Remarkable Passages, &c., from Monday, 5th of September,
to Saturday, 10th, 1642.


1 Clarendon expresses his surprise that during this period, and

I even before the King left Nottingham, Lord Essex did not

j advance upon the line which was before him. A week before

the King began his journey, no assurance (to use the phrase

quoted by Lord Clarendon as Sir Jacob Astley's) could have

been given to the King against his being taken out of his bed,

if a brisk attempt had been made to that purpose. But, short

of any extremity which these words are meant to describe,

Rupert might have been driven back, the King obliged to

place himself in the hands of the Parliament, or to quit the

(island, and the war thus brought to an end.* This was the
first grand display of Lord Essex's overmastering faults of
dilatoriness and indecision. By those who confound these
qualities in war or politics with a spirit of moderation, Essex
is praised for not pressing upon the King ; but even Claren-
don, with all his feelings on these subjects, treats this only as
matter of oversight on the one part, and of wonder on the
other. It was not what Hampden meant when he advised
refusing the offer of treaty from Nottingham. No delay, in
truth, occasioned during a treaty, could have given the King
greater advantage than Essex now voluntarily afforded him.
Essex had experience in the details of war : he was a good
general in the day of battle ; but, beyond the science of opera-
tions in the field, he had no qualities for command. His
recommendation for 'the office of General-in-Chief consisted,
indeed, only in his possessing to an eminent degree the love
$ and confidence of his soldiers, and in his high birth and
Presbyterian tenets, which made his appointment a compro-
mise agreeable to a large party in the Upper House, who,
though faithful in the cause, were yet well pleased to see in the
Lord-General a person qualified by position and by religion to
neutralise the ascendancy of the Root and Branch men, and of
the Independents. Accordingly, with good motives and great
means, he conducted himself throughout as one acting for a
party rather than for a cause ; and his timid and temporising
policy inclined him always (as Cromwell afterwards said of
!| Kimbolton) to ' such a peace to which victory would have been
jl ' an obstacle/ He entered upon the business of the Civil
War, having by his side Dalbier, and other soldiers of fortune,
who had long served abroad in foreign pay. In a war of great

* Clarendon Hist. Eeb.


principles, mercenaries may be good agents, but are bad
advisers. Hampden saw this ; and his penetration was after-
wards done justice to by Cromwell. In the field Cromwell
pursued the system which Hampden had in vain recommended.
The technical rules of war were easily to be learnt; but the
successful application of them in great affairs required more
than mere soldiership. Dalbier and Lesley failed before
OTrveT, who had studied the lessons of their experience, but
had, in addition, higher gifts, the knowledge of how the
spirits of men were to be dealt with. lie cultivated the
enthusiasm of the young troops ; and he conquered. Hampden
from the beginning kept the cause, and the object of it,
straight in view. He kne\v that to begin with displaying a
spirit of compromise renders an advantageous compromise^!!!
the end impracticable. It was those who knew little of his
real ends, or were little disposed to do them justice, who said, 11
that ' when he drew the sword, he threw away the scabbard/ j
Such a "rnefrtphor describes a feeling seldom known in any
higher grade of an army than among its ranks.

But from this time began that conflict of system between
Hampden and the Lord-General, of which the history of the
next year gives so many instances.

A party in Yorkshire began now to form and arm for the
Parliament, under Sir John Hot ham and his son, who, by the
departure of the Earl of Newcastle, were enabled to move out
of Hull, and occupy a line of country to the north of the
Ilumber. These levies increasing gradually in numbers, the I
leaders chose Ferdinando Lord Fairfax to be their Commander- j
in-Chief; and their choice was confirmed by Ordinance. They
then proceeded to garrison some other fortified places in the
county, and forced Sir William Saville, and the other Cavaliers
who had been left in weak and detached parties, to throw
themselves into Pomfret Castle. On the other bank of the
river, the Lord \Villoughby of Parham, the .Kail of Lincoln,
and other persons of influence in Lincolnshire, raised troops
of horse, and proceeded to form a junction with Fairfax's
northern army.*

Meanwhile, a division of the King's troops, moving south-
ward, began to take in towns upon their line of advance.
The Earl of Derby, with Lord Molineux, inarching with a

* Viccars Parl. Chron,


large force to the westward of the course which the Earl of
Newcastle had taken, traversed Cheshire ; and, in order to
place themselves on the flank of Fairfax, summoned the town
of Manchester, establishing their batteries in Salf'ord ; but the
citizens, assisted by a German engineer, stood a close and hot
siege for some days, and obliged the Earl to retire. The state
of Yorkshire, however, its inclinations strongly favourable to
the King's cause, and supported by the presence of this well-
appointed and numerous army on its western frontier,
presented such difficulties in the way of any active operations
for the Parliament in those parts, that Lord Fairfax, and many
of the gentry who had joined him, showed a disposition to
propose a treaty of neutrality ; a measure evidently fraught
with the most serious injury to the Parliamentary cause in the
midland counties. For, the King's object being to collect all
his disposable force nearer the metropolis, he would have been
thus enabled to leave the whole north, with the Parliament's
levies there, such as they were, neutralised, end put out of a
condition to act ; while he might have carried on the great
objects of the war undisturbed, until it should have suited his
Convenience to return northwards in force.

This negotiation, however, was stopped by peremptory
instructions from Westminster. But to the same instrument
the Houses, inflamed by the King's denunciations against
Lord Essex and their other leaders, were persuaded to enter
exceptions, charging treason against eleven of the ministers
and principal officers of the household, who had first declared
against their authority. These were the Earls of Bristol,
Cumberland, Rivers, and Newcastle, Lord Newark, and
Endymion Porter; and, besides these, some of the wisest and
best of the advisers of the King, the Duke of Richmond,
the Earl of Carnarvon, Lord Falkland, Hyde, and Secretary
Nicholas, who, if there had been a chance of moderating
the King's temper and counsels, so as to bring him to any
hopeful terms of treaty, would probably have been the most
inclined, and certainly the most able, to do so. This was
a violent and ill-advised act of the Parliament, and is hardly
to be accounted for but by a degree of passion unworthy of
their accustomed sagacity and prudence.

But, upon this proclamation, their army in the north ceased
from its inactivity. Hotham put himself in march, with
a brigade, to the support of tne western towns ; and took


Doncaster, and Selby, and Cawood Castle, where the Arch-
bishop of York had established a place of arms.*

On the first show of the King's intention to move south-
ward with his main army, London and Westminster completed
their fortifications, and increased their train-bands to a great
amount. Batteries were thrown up in the suburbs, at Mile
End, Islington, and the approaches to Westminster ; bars and
chains were drawn across the entrances of the main streets, and
lines constructed on the heights towards Hampstead and
Harrow ; and armed boats, with ordnance, were sent up the river
to Maidenhead and Windsor.f To supply the expenses of this
defence, votes of sequestration were passed against the revenues
of bishoprics and deaneries, and against the rents of those
who had been declared delinquents.

It was now that Bishops were voted down, root and branch ;
on whiclf occasion great illuminations and bonfires were
kindled in London, and an ordinance was passed, (a singular
accompaniment to a general rejoicing,) putting down stage
plays, and directing monthly fasts ; and the people, animated
at once by resentment and by danger, loaded the tables of
both Houses with unqualified tenders of fidelity and service
for life or death.

The Parliament, having ceased to treat, now set forth, in
a long and eloquent proclamation, the provocations under
which they had taken arms, and that the end for which they
did so was ' to procure and establish the safety of religion
' and fruition of our laws and liberties in this and all other his
( Majesty's dominions, which we do here again protest before
' the Almighty God to be the chief end of all our counsels
' and resolutions, without any intention or desire to hurt or
' injure his Majesty, either in his person or just power.'

The virtuous and brave Lord Brook, to whose high qualities
even his enemies paid their relucianTTribute, had been placed
by vote at the head of the Lieutenancy of the County of
A\ arwick.J He assembled at his castle the commanders and
captains who had been elected to take charge of that county,
to deliver to them their commissions. There, in the hall of

* Continuation of certain Special and Remarkable Passages, from
Monday, 10th October, to Friday, 14th.

f Special Passages and Certain Informations, from Tuesday, llth
October, to Tuesday, 18th. Perfect Diurnal, Tuesday, 18th October.

Clarendon Hist. Reb.


that noble fortress, threatened with an instant siege, and his
troops newly mustered, and unprepared for war, save by the
spirit which they had already caught from their dauntless
leader, he harangued his officers, in a speech abounding in high
and manly feeling. He enlarged upon the miseries of a civil
war, and the unprovoked courses which compelled them to
engage in it.* ' Persuasions/ said he, ( to valiant men, as
' I know you to be, are useless ; and if I thought there were
' any of you that was not to be incited more by the justice of
' the quarrel than any oratory to fight in this cause, surely
' I would rather wish his room than his company ; for, if the
' nobility and bravery of the cause be not sufficient to animate
' even cowards, and make even the meanest spirits courageous,
' I know not what possibly can stir up mortal men to put on
' undaunted resolutions.' He then appealed to them as
husbands and brothers, who would save their houses, their
wives, and sisters, from the lawless fury of soldiers, hired and
incensed to insult and to outrage. He described the conduct
of the royal troops, on free quarter, where they had been
admitted or faintly opposed. He appealed to them by their
religion, by that ' freedom of conscience which invokes you
' to stand up its champions against those Papistical malignants
' who would strike at God through the very heart of his
' known truth so long practised among us/ He vindicated
their cause from the aspersion of its having been undertaken
against the King. ' They were to fight/ said he, ' to keep
' the crown and kingdom for the sovereign and his posterity,
' to maintain his known rights and privileges, which are only
' relative with the people's liberties/ He concluded thus :

c Touching those gentlemen who, being strangers, are come
hither to proffer to us their services, and, in testimonial of their
abilities, and that they have been commanders in the German
wars, have here produced their several certificates. I must needs
thank the gentlemen for their kind proffer, and yet desire license
to be plain with them, hoping they will not take it as a disparage-
ment of their valours if I tell them we have now too woful
experience in this kingdom of the German wars, and therefore
cannot so well approve of the aid of foreign and mercenary
auxiliaries. In Germany, they fought only for spoil, rapine, and
destruction ; merely money it was, and hope of gain, that

* In Mr. Staunton's Collection.


excited the soldier to that service. It is not here so required,
as the cause stands with us. We must rather employ men
who will fight merely for the cause sake, and bear their own
charge, than those who expect rewards and salaries ; for by such
means we shall never have a conclusion of these wars. For
mercenaries, whose end is merely their pay, as for their sub-
sistence, rather covet to spin out the wars to a prodigious length,
as they have done in other countries, than to see them brought to
a happy period. We must dispatch this great work in a short
time, or be all liable to inevitable ruin. I shall, therefore, speak
my conscience. I had rather have a thousand honest citizens that
can handle their arms, whose hearts go with their hands, than
thousands of mercenary soldiers that boast of their foreign
experience.' * * ' And so I shall conclude my speech, and turn
it into prayer, that God Almighty will arise and maintain his own
cause, scattering and confounding the devices of his enemies, not
suffering the ungodly to prevail over his flock. Lord, we are but
a handful in consideration of thine and our enemies. Therefore,
O Lord, fight thou our battles: go out as thou didst in the time
of David before the hosts of thy servants ; and strengthen and
give us hearts, that we may show ourselves men, for the defence
of thy true religion, and our own and the King and Kingdom's

T 2




Defence of Warwick Castle by Sir Edward Peto Of Caldecot Manor-House by
Mrs. Purefoy Lord Essex advances to Worcester His Speech to his Army
Skirmish at Powick Bridge Parliamentarians enter Worcester Parliament's
Petition for Peace Rejected by the King Essex advances his Army
Hampden and Holies defeat a party near Aylesbury and pursue them into
Worcestershire The King puts himself in march towards London Edge
Hill fight March through the midland counties Action between Balfore and
Rupert at Aylesbury Battle of Brentford Retreat of the King.

BEFORE the arrival of the main army, the Parliament's
quarters round Northampton and Daventry had been harassed
by sharp and frequent attacks, and Lord Brook had quitted
his castle, and hastened to their relief. Warwick had for a
while ceased to be threatened ; yet it was not safe to materially
weaken its defences. He therefore took only his troop of
horse, and a few companies of pikemen, leaving Sir John Peto
in command, with a part of the infantry, mostly of the new
levies, and despatching the rest to the neighbourhood of
Coventry and Birmingham. On the same day, his departure
was made known to Lord Northampton, who instantly put a
large body of troops in march for Warwick ; but making a
circuit to the southward, he first entered Banbury, where,
little prepared for such an incursion, the townsmen held a
large store of ammunition, with some pieces of ordnance. Of
these supplies the Earl possessed himself, meeting with little,
if any, opposition ; and then proceeded rapidly to his destina-
tion. Early in the morning of the next day but one, he
entered Warwick with all his forces, and summoned the castle.


Sir Edward Peto without hesitation returned an absolute
refusal to treat. After a pause of two hours, another summons
was sent in, and terms offered, which were met by an indig-
nant reply, that the Earl might at first have taken the word of
a gentleman who would not surrender his trust. Lord
Compton, the Earl's son, began the attack with a few guns
from the town, while his father and Lord Dunsmore threw up
a battery on some rising ground in the park, on the other side
of the castle. Sir Edward then sent a trumpet, desiring that
' all friends should leave the town, but, for the rest, he bid
' them look to themselves ; ' and, upon the return of the
officer, hung out a red flag of defiance from Guy's Tower.
Well furnished with ammunition, but with no heavier ordnance
than a few drakes and some large wall-pieces, he now began
to return the fire, which continued, though without much
effect on either side, for three days. The castle's strength was
security enough against any attempt by storm, nor had it any-
thing to fear from the effect of the few guns which had been
brought from Banbury ; while the assailants on the town side
were covered by the houses, which the garrison were loth to
batter or burn down. On the third day, Lord Compton
planted some cannon on the church tower, from which the fire
of the castle soon dislodged him, knocking down one of the
pinnacles, and making his position too dangerous to be held.
The besiegers then trusted to starving out the garrison, and,
thenceforward, remained under shelter of the town ; those on
the other side never having unmasked their battery, but
keeping the trees still standing for their protection. The
castle being thus invested, Sir Edward hoisted on the flag-
staff of the tower a Bible and a winding-sheet, the one as a
testimony of his cause, and the other of his determination to
maintain it to the last.

Nothing seemed likely to be gained to the opposite party
by protracting the siege. The King was advancing to relieve
Worcester. He required the whole strength of his army;
and Lord Northampton, therefore, drew off his troops to join

Scarcely had the siege of Warwick Castle been raised, when
Prince Hupert, with from five to six hundred cavalry, marched

Tracts in the possession of Mr. Staunton. Collection for a History of


upon Caldecot Manor-house, in the north of the county, with
intent to take~tE'"by Surprise. It belonged to Mr. William
Purefoy, a gentleman of ancient family, a member of the
House of Commons, and colonel of a regiment in garrison at
} Warwick Castle. When Eupert summoned Caldecot, there
\ were none within but Mrs. Purefoy, her two daughters,
| Mr. Abbott, her son-in-law, eight serving men, and a few
I maid-servants.* This brave little garrison refused to sur-
render, inspired by the example of a woman's courage and
fidelity to maintain the charge for her absent husband. The
history of the civil wars affords several such instances. The
stories of Lathom Hall, held by the Countess of Derby, and
of Warder Castle, by Blanch Lady Arundell, have added lustre
to those noble names. The holding of Caldecot was not less
heroic, nor its capitulation less honourable. The assailants
broke down the main gate of the outer court ; but the men,
stationed at the windows, received them with so well-directed
a fire, that, at the first onset, three of Rupert's officers, and
several of his soldiers, were slain. There were twelve muskets
in the house ; the women loading them, as the men continued
the execution with rapid and deadly aim. The attack continued
for several hours, with repeated assaults, in the intervals
between which, as the bullets were expended, the women ran
the pewter of their kitchen dishes into moulds for a fresh
supply. At length, towards nightfall, mortified with the
obstinate resistance, and with the loss he had already
sustained, Rupert drew off his party, but, as he retired,
set fire to the barns and outhouses. The wind blowing fresh
upon the main building, he again advanced under cover
of the smoke and darkness. And now, the ammunition
within failing, the house threatened with instant conflagration,
and no hope of succour remaining, the brave lady went
forth, and claimed protection from the Prince, stipulating for
the lives of her garrison.

It was then first that lie was made aware of the smallness of
the force which had so gallantly withstood so fierce and pro-
tracted an assault. He granted her condition; and, to his
honour, as Yiccars confesses, ' being much taken with their
' most notable valour, saved their lives and house from plun-
' dering, saying to Mr. Abbott that he was worthy to be a chief

* Gibson's Additions to Camden.

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 34 of 45)