George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

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

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and the Earl of Northampton, retiring, took up his quarters
in Stafford. On the fifteenth was fought, near this town, the
battle of Hopton Heath; the division of the Pailiamentarians
from Lichfield having advanced under Sir William Gdl, and
joined itself -to that of Sir William Brereton, coming- from
the north. Here, within a few days after his great rival and
opponent, Lord Brook, had been carried to his grave, the Earl

* Mercurius Aulicus. Tuesday, March 14.


of Northampton lost his life, fighting with desperate valour, :
and, even when unhorsed and surrounded, refusing quarter.

As the evening closed upon these troops, the cavalry of
both sides equally were prevented by the coal-pits from pur-
suing any casual advantage in a manner which might have
determined the success. After a bloody, bat indecisive day,
both armies retreated at nightfall ; the Parliament's to some
rising ground southward, and the King's into Stafford. And,
as was the custom on all like occasions, both parties took to
themselves the credit of a victory.*

Meanwhile, Lord Herbert's small and newly^raised army
was surrounded and entirely destroyed by Sir William Waller,
who, shortly after, reduced Hereford also, and Tewkesbury.
While these places were won and lost alternately by King and
Parliament in the midland counties, and while a great cam-
paign M r as preparing in the extreme West of England, the
intermediate county of Wilts was the scene of no less active
operations ; but these were carried on by parties inconsider-
able in number, and unconnected in position. The castle of
Warder, small and unimportant for any object that could have
influence on the fate of the war, was, in the course of a few
months, twice besieged, and twice taken ; once by Sir Edward
Hungerford and Strode, for the Parliament, and again retaken
by the Lord Arundell, Colonel Barnes and Sir Francis
Doddington from Edmund Ludlow, who had been left in com-
mand and had assisted in the first siege. The last of these
defences was remarkable for the obstinate bravery with which
Ludlow, for several months, maintained against a very
superior force an edifice weakened by the lapse of many
centuries, originally constructed to resist only the attacks of
archery and such other powerless machines of ancient warfare,
and surrounded on three sides by a steep woody hill in the
possession of the enemy. It was at last taken by the explo-
sion of a mine, which laid a great part of one of the flanking
towers open, and grievously damaged the main body of the
castle. The first defence, which had lasted little more than a
week, was rendered memorable as having been conducted by
the courage and fidelity of two noble ladies ; these were the
aged Lady Blanch, wife of Thomas Lord Arundell, and her

* Clarendon, Hist. Reb. Kingdome's Weekly Intelligencer. Speciall
Passages, &c.



son's wife, the Lady Cecily, daughter of Sir Henry Compton,
of Brambletye in Sussex. They held the castle, in the absence
of their husbands, with a garrison consisting of little more
than their menial servants. The firing of a mine on one side
of the building so weakened the remaining means of resistance,
that, on the besiegers threatening to spring another on the
other side, and then to storm the castle, if it were not delivered
up before an hour-glass should have run out, a surrender was
proposed on an honourable capitulation, the terms of which
were signed by Hungerford and the Lady Blanch.*

By these successive sieges this antique mansion was brought
nearly to the condition of a ruin. The ponds were drained,
the deer parks destroyed, the gardens and terraces dismantled,
and the walls shattered almost to their foundations. A great
part of the outer Avail, inner court, and two towers, still stand,
a monument of the ancient glories and greatness of a noble
house, beautiful and venerable in the bareness in which war
and time have left it.

A cessation of arms in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire
had been proposed by the King, and assented to by Parliament,
on the first of March ; and grounds of treaty were discussed
by Commissioners, at Oxford, with the King in person. It
was agreed that, during the cessation, the King's forces in
Oxfordshire should advance no nearer to Windsor than
Wheatley, and, in Buckinghamshire, no nearer to Aylesbury
than Brill; the Parliament's in Oxfordshire, no nearer to
Oxford than Henley, and, in Buckinghamshire, no nearer than
Aylesbury. And the King's troops, soon after, retired from
before Gloucester, which, after Waller had left those parts,
had been maintained with the utmost resolution and skill by
General Massey, for several weeks, against the vigorous and
unremitting attacks of a large army.f

But, at Oxford, from beginning to end of the long-protracted
negotiations, the insincere and inconstant temper of the King
cast endless difficulties in the way of the treaty, and often
marred the prospect when it seemed the most promising of
success. Whitelocke, who was present with the Commis-
sioners, and acted as their clerk at the conferences, ascribes
this mainly to the influence of certain others, ' some of the

* Lucllow's Memoirs. Clarendon, Hist. Reb. Mercurius Rusticus.
Original MS. terms of capitulation, preserved at Warder.

t Viccars's Parl. Chron. Mercurius Rusticus. Clarendon, Hist. Reb.


f bed-chamber and higher/ whose weaker judgments it was
the King's misfortune to have permitted to sway his own.*

He received the commissioners with courtesy ; he feasted
them in his Court at Christ Church; he occasionally even
condescended to share the entertainment of the Earl of
Northumberland, who kept a magnificent and costly table for
the Commissioners, and to accept presents of wine and other
dainties from them.f But, early in the armistice, he essayed
to amend the terms of cessation, in order to keep his commu-
nications open with London ; and the Earl of Newport was
taken at Coventry, coming from the Queen, without a pass
from Sir Thomas Fairfax, and contrary to the stipulations
agreed upon.f These attempts were strongly resisted by the
Parliament's Commissioners. But the Close Committee in
Westminster were not inclined, any more than the King, that
these disputes should abruptly end the negotiation. For they
had a great and difficult work in hand elsewhere, which required
time, and which, in case of the King proving insincere in his
professed desire for peace, it was of the utmost importance
to them to conclude.

Hitherto, from the breaking out of the war, Scotland had
preserved a careful neutrality. She had been content that the
dispute should be waged by others, though not insensible of
the deep interest which she had in the result. From the
struggle into which she had entered for the security of her
National Church she had been relieved only by the events
which had turned the King's whole attention to what was
going on nearer home. She dreaded lest any issue, either of
treaty or of arms, disadvantageous to the Parliament, might
be followed by a renewed attempt on the King's part to ex-
tinguish that spark of the Genevan discipline and doctrine
in his northern kingdom which had kindled and spread
through the South among the materials with which he had
vainly endeavoured to smother it up. Argyle was for an
open junction with the cause of the English Parliament. But
most of the other Covenanters, having parted with the King
on such good terms, and having, since that time, received no
provocation of a strictly national sort, and moreover being
neutralised by the influence of the Marquis of Hamilton, did
not choose to risk anything by joining in the general cause

* Whiteloi'kc's Memorials. f Ibid.

Weekly lutelligencer.


with the Parliamentary leaders of England. They had there-
fore coldly met all the overtures made to them for assistance.
But the time was now come when Scotland saw her interest
iu bearing a share in the arrangement of the treaty. Henderson,
whose abilities and favour with the King marked him as a fit
person to conduct such a conference on her behalf, was now
therefore despatched, at the head of a deputation of Ministers
of the Kirk to Oxford. Their propositions, however, were
strictly confined to the project of a settlement of Ecclesiastical
affairs ; in which, they contended, the Kirk should take part.
Meanwhile the King's proposals to the Parliament's Com-
missioners varied almost daily, and soon took a shape which
gave little reason to expect a peaceful issue. He stipulated
for a surrender, at the outset, of all the forts, magazines,
towns, ships, and revenue, into his own hands, and that ' all
' illegal power claimed or acted by orders of Parliament be
' disclaimed/ This was no less than proposing to the Par-
liament to disarm and deprive themselves of all further power
to raise troops or money, promising in return to ' execute all
' laws concerning Popery or Reformation/ and afterwards ' to
' try per pares all persons excepted against in the treaty/ *

Yet did these hopeless conferences endure for more than a
month ; the King manifesting, says Whitelocke, ' his great
' parts and abilities, strength of reason, and quickness of
' apprehension, with much patience in hearing what was
' objected against him, wherein he allowed all freedom, and
' would himself sum up the arguments, and give a most clear
' judgment upon them/ Upon the great subject of difficulty,
respecting the Parliament's not giving away the means of
defence until the other terms should have been carried into
effect, the King at length ' said he was fully satisfied, and
' promised to give the Commissioners his answer in writing
' according to their desire; but, because it was then past
' midnight, he would have it drawn up the next morning, as it
' was now agreed upon/ They returned to their lodgings ' full
1 of joyful hopes/ ' But, instead of that answer which they
' expected and were promised, the King gave them a paper
' quite contrary to what was concluded the night before, and
' very much tending to the breach of the treaty. They did
' humbly expostulate this with his Majesty, and pressed him

* Whitelocke's Memorials.


' upon his royal word, and the ill consequences which they
1 feared would follow upon this his new paper. But the King
' told them he had altered his mind, and that this paper which
' he now gave them was his answer which he was now resolved to
' make upon their last debate/ * This answer was that, as
soon as he should be satisfied in his first proposition, namely,
the surrender of the forts, towns, magazines, navy, and
revenue, and as soon as the members of both Houses should
be restored, and he and they ' secured from tumultuous
' assemblies, (which he conceived could not be otherwise done
' but by adjourning the Parliament to some place twenty
' miles from London, such as the Houses should agree upon,)
1 he would consent to the disbanding of the armies, and would
' return speedily to his Parliament. This being intimated to
' the Commissioners, they dissuaded the sending of it, as
' fearing it might break off the treaty, and the improbability
' that the Houses would adjourn and leave the city of London,
their best friends and strength, and put a discontent upon
' them/ Such is the account of this unhappy transaction,
written after the Restoration, by Whitelocke, who was himself
the witness of what he relates.

Thus, then, was the last cherished chance of peace de-
stroyed, and, on the 15th of April, the Commissioners left
Oxford in obedience to a peremptory order of recall. But,
while the last negotiations were proceeding, Prince .Rupert had
recommenced his incursions into Buckinghamshire with a large
force. On Monday morning, the 13th of March, he again
appeared with 6000 men and the King's life guard, and the
black regiment, at the village of Stone, within two miles of
Aylesbury. But the news of the intended enterprise having
reached the Parliament the day before, Hampden and
Stapleton had ' posted away to their charges/ t With their
regiments, and those of Goodwyn and Homestead, which lay
at \Vycombe, in all about 3000 horse and foot, they set forth
to reinforce Colonel Bulstrode, who commanded at Aylesbury.
They were joined on their march by Colonel Mills, with a
regiment of dragoons from Beaconsfield ; so that, early on the
morning of Prince llupert's intended attack, the to\vn was found
thronged with a powerful force for its defence. It now be-
came their duty to endeavour to protect the country round

* Whitelocke's Memorials. t Kingdoiue's Weekly Intelligencer.

844 JOHN HAMPDE5, [PAitr X..

from pillage which had already commenced. The Prince had
begun to retire, but had detached Lord Carnarvon to his
right, who entered the town of Wendover, and, having
plundered it, proceeded towards Chesham, where he met a few
of the Parliament's horse, whom he routed and forced back
into Missenden. On rejoining Rupert that night he found
him in full retreat, laying waste, as he passed, the villages
which lay on his road to Oxford. But towards the morning,
the Prince hastened his retreat by Brill, his rear-guard severely
harassed by repeated charges, and, moreover, having received
the alarm that Lord Essex was moving to intercept him at
Thame. On the 24th he resumed his enterprise with an
increased power, and ten pieces of ordnance but with no
better success. The disposition of the Parliament's troops
was now complete; the country people all along this
line of march on the alert ; a large force in position before
Aylesbury; and Hampden's brigade joined with the
main body under the Earl of Essex, on his flank near
r lhame and menacing Oxford, in the event of his further

Before the Commissioners had left Oxford, and while the
King was still anxious to avoid making such a movement as
must fix upon him in person the reproach of having broken
the armistice in those parts, Rupert traversed the whole of
Northamptonshire and Warwickshire with his cavalry, and,
putting himself at the head of that army which had remained
inactive since the Earl of Northampton's death, on Easter
Monday he took Birmingham by assault. Of all his acts of
cruelty and rapacity, none are a fouler stain upon his memory
than those which, without provocation or excuse, he perpe-
trated against this town after all resistance was at an end,
There had been nothing done by the defenders of Birmingham
which justified any extraordinary severity. The inhabitants, it
is true, had strongly and uniformly attached themselves to the
party and fortunes of Lord Brook. They had twice gallantly
defended their town ; but, in those defences, they had shown
no spirit and done no act contrary to the acknowledged usages
of war. On this occasion, they had been left defenceless, at
the mercy of a powerful army. But mercy there was none.
The town was sacked and pillaged, and, the night after it was

* Whitelocke's Memorials. Perfect Diurnall, from March 6th to 27th.
Speciall aud liemarkable Passages, from March 16th to 23d.

To 1643.] HIS 1'AllTY AND HIS TIMES. 345

entered, nearly one half was burned to the ground by the
furious soldiery. Without delay, moving into Staffordshire,
the Prince laid siege to Lichfield, and took that place also.
But Lichfield was saved from a like vengeance by a peremp-
tory letter dispatched by the King, with a postscript from
Secretary Nicholas ; both of which, though written in terms
which might not offend the Prince or discredit him with the
army, sufficiently mark, in the way of advice, what Charles
felt of the wanton violence of his nephew's conduct. *

And now the judges' sessions of Oyer and Terminer were
suspended by message from the Houses, ' untill it should
' please God to end these distractions between King and
' people/ This consequence of civil war, long deprecated,
long delayed, had become inevitable. The course of the
common law was stopped through the land. It had hitherto
been wondrously maintained in a country beset by fighting
armies. But the Great Seal was in the King's hands, and,
under the guise of general justice, commissions had for some
time been issued only to such judges as were with the King
or of his party ; and the cases brought before them bore
relation all to state matters. Moreover, the King now issued
a proclamation for holding the Easter term at Oxford instead
of Westminster, and requiring all the judges to attend
him there, f For some time after the commencement of the
war the power of the law had been preserved, respected, and
duly administered, on both sides. The judges had gone their
circuits, passing with flags of truce through the districts held
by opposite armies, and holding their courts with sheriffs who
at other times headed the levies of their respective counties in
the field. And it is remarkable and memorable to all pos-
terity, and glorious to the character of our country, that,
throughout this great struggle, from first to last, there is no
installer mi record of private assassination or popular massacre',
nor of plunder except under the orders of war. '.Xon inter-
' nccinum inter cives fuisse bellum ; de dignitate atque imperio

* ' A Message with a Letter from his Majesty to Prince Rupert at or
' before the time of the taking of Lichfield and the Close ; willing and
' commanding Prince Rupert not to use any cruelty upon the inhabitants
' of the aforesaid city,' &c., with a postscript from Sec. Nicholas, concerning
' His Majesty's reall intentions how your princely thoughts ought to be
' steered in your resolutions and all your warlike affairs and enterprises.
' April 18.' In Mr. Staunton's Collection;

t Continuation of Speciall Passages, from 13th to 20th of April.


1 certasse/* Doubtless, on both sides, as must ever be when
interests lie deep and rising passions overflow, and where the
war is carried on by small detached parties of ill disciplined
troops, often acting under feelings of local feud, the work of
spoliation was carried on with more eagerness and severity
where there was a spirit of personal or family animosity to be
gratified. There were confiscations, there was free quarter

! occasionally allowed, but much oftener restrained ; and private
pillage there was none. What very strongly marks this is the
loud complaining, by the journalists on both sides, of the
enormities done by the troops, but which, when specified, even
with all the exaggeration of party recitals of events then fresh,
appear to have been few, and, with one or two great exceptions,
trifling. These accounts are full of petty inflated details of
such atrocities as those committed upon the furniture and
wine-cellars of Sir Eobert Minshull's house at Bourton,t or
of Lord Say's at Broughton;J a minister of the gospel led
astride upon a bear, or bed-tickings and curtains cut to
pieces and household stuff destroyed at Brentford ; || now and
then recounting, in terms of deep horror or of vast commen-
dation, a practical jest like that of the Parliament's soldiers
eating up the batch of apple-pies which Mrs. Armitage, the
wife of the clergyman of Wendover, had baked for Prince
Rupert's troopers, ^f

The instances of sanguinary cruelty which find their place
among the stories of these wars were of acts done in military
execution : no secret murder, no bands of freebooters assembling
for spoil between the quarters of the armies or among the
villages deserted by their fighting men, no savage outbreak of
a licentious rabble, disfigured the grave severity of this mighty
conflict. An honourable memorial of the comportment of the
English people in those unhappy times.

The suspension of commissions of Oyer and Terminer did
not last beyond a few months. No sooner had the Parliament
resolved to make a Great Seal of its own than the common
law courts again sat throughout the realm ; and Button and
Davenport, assisted by Maynard, Glyn, Wylde, and llolls, for
the Parliament, and ChieTTlIstice Heath and Ryves for the

* Tit. Liv. f Merourius Rusticus. + Viccars's Parl. Chron.

Mercurius Rusticus. II Speciall Passages.

^1 A Perfect Diuruall of the Passages in Parliament, Tuesday 21st of

To 1643.] HIS PA11TY AND HIS TIMES. 317

King, tried causes under the authority of the two seals of
England ; the King's being in the hands of the Lord Keeper
Littleton, and Whitelocke being appointed by the Parliament to
hold theirs.

On the 15th of April, the day on which the treaty was
formally declared by both parties to be at an end, the Earl of
Essex marched his whole army to besiege Reading. Eeading
had been carefully fortified, and the three entrances, by
Forbury, Harrison's barn, and Pangbourne-lane, covered
with works ; some reliefs had been sent in by water, but still
there was a great want both of provisions and ammunition,
Hampden, commanding the advance guard, broke ground
within a short distance of the town during that night, taking
advantage of the hedges and banks to shelter his working
parties. On the afternoon of the next day, the army being
strengthened by three regiments of foot coming up by Sonning
and Caversham with Lord Grey, the cannonade was opened
from the trenches and batteries hastily thrown up to the
south between the Thames and Kennett, and was briskly
answered from the town. Towards the evening, Sir Arthur
Aston, the governour, having received a grievous blow on the
head from a falling tile, was disabled from further duty, and
the command of the garrison devolved on Colonel Fielding.*
The King, having made preparation to relieve the town, set
forward early on the morning of the 24th to Wallingford. Two
days before, an attempt of the same sort had been made by
Vavasour, which was defeated with great slaughter by Colonel

In the collection of manuscripts at Stowe is a journal of
these transactions, written by Sir Edward Peering, who was
present with the King during the attempted relief. Charles
established his head-quarters at Wallingford ; and, after
dining at Mr. Molyn's house, went round the fortifications,
and passed that evening in preparations for his attack. He
took up the ground for his army about two miles before
Wallingford, and gave orders that all should be in readiness
for moving at five in the morning. At day-break, having
slept the night before in the governor's apartments at the
castle, he mounted, having his household, heralds, and guard
of gentlemen-pensioners, in attendance; and with him went

* Letter to the Speaker, from Hainpdcn, Stapleton, and Goodwyn, Kind's
Collect., Brit. Mua.


forth his own troop of horse, consisting of a great number of
persons of high quality; commanded by the Lord Bernard
Stuart, brother to the Duke of Richmond. Another troop
followed, composed of their servants, under the command of
Sir William Killigrew, with the baggage of the King and of
his retinue. The army, being forty-five troops of horse, and
nine regiments of foot, besides dragoons and artillery, now
marched in two divisions ; the one, with General Euthven,
straight upon the town of Beading ; the other, commanded by
the King in person, upon a road to the left, towards Caver-
sham, where the two divisions again met, with the intention
of surprising the besiegers' quarters, and taking their works
in reverse. Here the fight began and soon became general.,
the Parliamentarians having enclosed the rear of their works,
and turning a great part of their battering train upon the
King's troops as they advanced, at the same time filling the
hedgerows on the flanks with musquetry, and having two
regiments of infantry (Colonel Barclay's and Lord Roberts's)
within the lines opposite, ready to act on any point. The
King's troops, however, received no effectual check until they
reached Caversham bridge, which General Euthven endea-
voured to force with his whole power, under cover of his guns,
' some of which were so large/ says Dr. Coates, ' that they
' discharged balls of twenty-four pounds weight,' a calibre of
artillery scarcely ever before- used in the field. But repulsed
here, after a long and bloody struggle, the Cavaliers retired
upon Wallingford, making no further attack.

And, this enterprise having failed, the town surrendered.
For, unknown to the King, on the morning on which he
moved to the relief, the garrison had hung out a white flag
from the walls, had sounded a parley, and were actually treat-

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 41 of 45)