George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

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

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ing, hostages having been exchanged, and commissioners from
both sides sitting at Sir Francis Knowles's house, while the
armies were engaged.

On the next day, the capitulation was signed ; by which, on
the morning of the 27th, the garrison marched out with the
honours of war, but leaving ten pieces of ordnance, their
stores, and prisoners, in the town, and engaging to retire
directly to Oxford, without committing any hostilities in their
way. Hampden and Skippon were instantly sent in alone,
with a few soldiers and a working party, to view the town, an
alarm having been spread that some of the works were mined


and slow matches left burning : but, in the evening, the Earl
of Essex, with his whole army, entered. The recent conduct
of Prince Rupert at Birmingham had so inflamed the anger of
the Parliament's troops, that it was by the utmost exertions of
their officers that they could be restrained from outrage. It
was with difficulty that they were held from violating the
treaty, and attacking the King's troops marching out, their
rage being increased by seeing the waggons of the retiring
cavaliers laden with much more than they were entitled by the
capitulation to carry away ; ' much unlawful baggage/ says
the Mercurius Bellicus, ' besides of women, great, though not
' good, store/ The conduct of the Earl of Essex, and the
other officers, was scrupulously honourable and just; and, by
an issue of twelve shillings to each man, from the military
chest, in lieu of plunder, the threatened disorders were stayed,
It was not, however, till the Sunday following that discipline
was quite restored. On that day, public thanksgivings were
offered up through the town ; all the churches were thronged
with the soldiery, and the preachers effectually quenched
the flame which the leaders had had only power enough to

Colonel Fielding was instantly brought before a Council of
"War at Oxford to answer for the surrender. The indignation
of the King, the court, and the whole army, was intense
against him who had delivered up a place to an enemy in face
of a royal army fighting to relieve it, when, as it was urged.,
the King depended on his seconding the attempted relief by a
vigorous sally of the whole garrison. With such feelings
arrayed against him, Fielding was not likely to have his case
fairly judged. It was in vain he pleaded that the negotiations
had been begun before he had any knowledge of his Majesty's
intended enterprise ; that, before the action, the treaty was in
progress, and that his honour was engaged to the enemy, not
at such a moment to ' defy them, to break off/ Those who had
advanced on Brentford during a treaty, and harassed the country
round Oxford for weeks during an armistice, w r ere little disposed
to listen to a justification of the surrender of Reading upon the

* These details of the siege and surrender are taken from Dr. Coates's
papers ; ' Mercurius Bellicus, being the fourth intelligence from Reading,
April the last;' 'Joyful Intelligence from our Camp at Reading, John
Alexander, April 27th;' and Hampden's, Stapletou's, andGoodwyn'sletter to
the Speaker ; all in the King's Coll. Brit. Mus. : likewise from the Mercu-
rius Aulicus; and Sir Edward Deering's Journal, in the MS. Coll. at Stowe.


plea of faith to be kept with rebels. In vain did Hampden,
Stapleton, and Skippon, offer, if safe conduct might be given
them, to come before the Council as witnesses in Fielding's
behalf that the negotiation was justified in the beginning by
dearth of food and stores, and the surrender demanded in the
end by engagement ; and thus a brave and faithful officer,
distinguished by many forepast services to the King's cause,
was found guilty on a mixed charge of cowardice and treason,
and sentenced to an ignominious death. Charles reprieved
him at the last moment, when the soldiers were under arms in
Oxford streets, and the crowd assembled round the scaffold.
But the revenge of the court was fully wreaked upon Fielding
in the destruction of his character.

The occupation of Heading was of great importance to the
Parliament's interest. But the immediate result of it was a
great calamity in their army. The unhealthy state in which
the town had been left by the former garrison, and the closely
crowded lodgement of the victors for some weeks after their
entry, produced a fever and ague among their ranks, the
effects of which were scarcely mitigated by the withdrawal of
the greater part of them to quarters round, in a country now left
unusually damp by heavy rains. Sickness, and many other causes
of discontent, raised a mutinous spirit, and, on orders being given
for marching to the cantonments near Reading, some regi-
ments refused to put themselves under arms. Among these
was Hampden's. Their leader was absent at Westminster.
He instantly hastened to subdue the storm by his presence,
and it was by his courage, address, and popularity, that the
mutineers were again reduced to discipline and duty.*

But more serious discontents even than these, and in higher
quarters, distracted the affairs of the Parliament. Up to this
time, and from that of the Edge Hill fight, the Close Com-
mittee had seen the genius and the resolution of Hampden in
conflict with the timorous counsels of Essex, in all his latter
views of state policy, and in most of his operations of war.
The evil influence of the Lord General's inactive temper was
shown in the unresisted advantages reaped by the Royal party.
In Staffordshire and Northamptonshire, cities were taken,
within reach of support, yet unsupported. The Queen's
forces had increased and become formidable in the North,

* Dr. Coates's Papers, May 26. Mercurius Civicus.


where Fairfax was cramped by his orders. Waller, in Here-
fordshire, had been unable to profit by his successes ; and the
campaign in the west was starved for want of necessary sup-
plies. And all this because no decisive movement was made
by the army covering London, to occupy the King's attention,
by which, if it had failed to bring the war to an instant close,
it might at least have obliged the King to fall back from
Oxford, and have afforded succour to the cause in other parts.
The disheartening aspect of things had its effect upon the
politics of many of the party. The less courageous, and the
less faithful, were endeavouring to make what terms they could
with the King for their own safety. The fruit of those
opportunities which the long-protracted conferences at Oxford
had afforded to the King, for detaching many powerful per-
sons, some of the Commissioners themselves, from their
engagements to the Parliament, had now become manifest.
The Earls of Northumberland and Holland made their sub-
mission and joined the Court; the latter of these, under
circumstances of humiliation so mortifying to his spirit that,
before long, his wounded pride again led him back to rejoin
the cause to which he had not virtue enough to cleave in its
adversity. Edmund Waller, who had also been on that com-
mission, was detected, with Tomkins his brother-in-law,
Chaloner, and a few other subordinate agents, in their wild
and treacherous plot to deliver over their party to destruction.
During the treaty of Oxford, the King's friends in the city,
among whom was Sir Nicholas Crispe, a rash but brave
partisan of the Royal cause, had engaged to seize the Par-
liament and the Metropolis. The commission of array, under
which they were to act when the scheme should be ripe for
action, was entrusted to the care of the Lady Aubigny, who
came up to London with a pass from the Parliament under
the pretext of family affairs. The conspiracy was discovered
to Pym by a servant of Tomkins. Among those appre-
hended and tried, was Mr. Alexander Hampden; a name
which, probably out of reverence to the memory of his illus-
trious kinsman, is kept out of sight by almost all the
Parliamentarian writers in their narratives of this transaction.
' ]S T e in tali faciuore optiini hujusce nominis ulla fieret

' Waller, a member of the House of Commons, Tomkins,
' Chaloner, and others,' says Whitelocke; * those who were


' engaged in this conspiracy, of which Mr. Tomkins and
' Mr. Chaloner were found guilty and executed for it/ says
Edmund Ludlow. ' One plot/ says Mrs. Hutchinson, who
disguises nothing for interest or fear, ' conducted by Mr.
' Waller, and carried on by many disaffected persons in the
' cittie, was now taking effect, to the utter subversion of the
' Parliament and People : but that God, by his providence,
' brought it timely to light, and the authours were condemned
' and some executed. But Waller, for being more a knave
' than the rest, and peaching his complices, was permitted to
' buy his life for 10,OOOJ.' Of those who had sided with the
Parliament, all are silent respecting the name of Alexander
Hampden, except Rushworth, who details everything.
' May 19 :' says Dugdale in his Diary, 'Mr. Hampden sent
' with a message for treaty, and stayed/ He was apprehended
on the 21st,

Alexander Hampden had indeed always been about the
Court and person of the King, and against him there is but
this mitigated reproach that, for the advancement of a cause
to which he had throughout attached himself, he, under pre-
tence of negotiation, became a party in a plot which, both on
account of the means and the associates employed in it, a high
sense of honour should have bid him shun. But no baseness
can be conceived greater than Edmund Waller's. Formerly,
officious in his services to the Parliamentary leaders, he hail
distinguished himself by the virulence of his invective against
those who were then sinking under the power of the House of
Commons ; now, forward in the design to deliver up to ruin
and destruction the cause in which he had engaged and the
friends and kindred who had trusted him, he was cowardly
an.d begged their mercy when the peril recoiled upon himself.

The following letter is in Lord Wharton's papers in the
Bodleian. In it he meanly prays the favour of Arthur
Goodwyn to save him, in regard to the memory of John
Hampden, who was among those whom the plot was to have
delivered up prisoners to the King.

' SIR, If you will be pleased to remember what your poore
' neighbour hath been, or did knowe what his hearte now is, you
' might perhaps be inclined to contribute something to his pivser-
' vation., I heavde of your late being in towne, but am so closelye
f confined that I knowe not how to present my humble serviss unto


1 you. Alas, Sir, what should I say for myself? Unless your
' o\vne good nature and proneness to compassion encline you to-
' \vards me, I can use no argument, having deserved so ill. And
' yet 'tis possible you may remember I have heretofore done some-
' thing better, when God blest me so as to take you and my deare
' cosen, (your late friend now with God,) for my example. Sir, as
' you succeede him in the general hopes of your country, so do
' you likewise in my particular hope. I knowe you would not
' willingly have let that fall oute, which he, (if alive,) would have
' wisht otherwise. Be not offended, (I beseech you,) if I put you
' in minde what you were plesed to say to your servant, wheu the
' life of that worthye person was in danger in a noble cause as
' anye is now in the country. You asked me then if I were content
' my kinsman's bloode should be spilt ; and truly I thinke you
' found not by my words onely, but my actions also, my earnest
' desire to preserve and defend him, having had the honour to be
' employed among those who persuaded the Shreeves with the
' trayned bands to protect him and the rest in the same danger
' to the House. As then you were plesed to remember I was of
' his bloode, so I beseech you forgett it not now ; and then I shall
' have some hopes of your favour. Sir, my first request is, that
' you will be nobly plesed to use your interest with Dr. Dorislaus
' to shew me what lawful favour he may in the tryall ; and, if I
' am forfeited to justice, that you will plese to encline my Lord
' General to grant me his pardon. Your interest, both with his
' Excellence and in the House, is very great ; but, I will not direct
' your wisdome which way to favour me ; onely give me leave to
' assure you that, (God with his grace assisting the resolution he
' has given me,) you shall never have cause to repent the saving a
' life, which I shall make haste to render you again in the cause
' you maintain, and express myself during all the life you shall
' lengthen,

' SIR..

' Your most humble, faithfull and
' obedient Servant,


Waller's was but one, the most important, and the last, of
a train of conspiracies and defections, which, exploding
separately, were dealt with, and their mischiefs repaired, in
detail ; but which, if they had all taken effect together, would
probably have shaken the power of the Parliament to its
foundations. Sir Hugh Cholmeley, who commanded a brigade
in the North, went over to the Queen ; but of his whole force
he could prevail on only twenty troopers to accompany him



in his desertion. Cheshire, his native county, was strong for
the King ; but Lancashire, where he had raised the principal
part of his force, was equally so for the Parliament. Win-
chester was already beginning to be an important trading
town. 'It had declared, magisterially/ says Lord Clarendon,
' for the Parliament : ' and Lord Derby, with all his chivalrous
fidelity to the King, was, by disposition, indolent, and unable
to cope with the vigorous and earnest spirit of that county.

Sir John Hotham and his son had, for some time, been
lukewarm in the discharge of their appointed duty, and,
whether from jealousy of the ascendancy of the Fairfaxes, or
hopeless of the issue of the war, had remained motionless
within the walls of Hull. They were now discovered in a
conspiracy, with some of the other officers, to deliver up that
place to the Queen. It was detected by Moyer and Ripley,
two captains of merchantmen lying in the river, who, instantly
mustering the crews of all the ships, seized the three block-
houses by surprise, and proceeding to the castle, harangued
the troops, got possession of the main guard and magazine,
and put Captain Hotham, with such of the conspirators as
they found there, into irons. Sir John Hotham fled to
Beverley; where Colonel Boynton, his cousin, upon intelli-
gence from Hull, went out to meet him, and took his horse by
the bridle, saying, ' Sir John, you are my kinsman, and one
' whom I have much honoured ; but I must now waive all
' this, and arrest you as a traitor to the kingdom/ And the
conspirators were sent up prisoners to London, to expiate
their treachery on the scaffold.* By these prompt and
decisive acts the great position of Hull, with all its important
garrison and stores, was saved to the Parliament ; and a plot,
which would have given all Yorkshire, to the South of the
Humber, into the Queen's hands, was at once defeated and

Almost at the same time an enterprise of the same sort
failed at Lincoln. It had been undertaken by two of
Hotham's captains, who were to have opened the gates of that
town to a detachment of the Queen's troops. They were
seized, together with about sixty cavaliers, who had already
entered the city in disguise, by the mayor, who, taking com-
mand of the garrison and batteries, opened their fire on the

* Viccars Parl. Chron.


assailants advancing in force on the Gainsborough side from
Newark, and obliged them to retire.

From the central army, even from the head-quarters of
the Lord General himself, desertions were not unfrequent.
Among others who went over at this time was Urrie, of whom
it may be truly said that, though his services proved of great
advantage to the King, his character had been long so odious
that his example rather did benefit than injury to the Par-
liament's cause, as deterring any man who had a care for
honourable reputation from being seen to follow him in his
course. Tailing of promotion with Lord Essex, he fled to
Oxford, giving to Prince Rupert an able and active assistant
in all the business of partisan warfare, and carrying with him
information and experience of the disposition and strength of
all the quarters lying between Oxford and the capital."

Hainpden incessantly, but in vain, endeavoured to promote
some great enterprise which might restore the cause and give
heart to its supporters. But, failing in this, he served to the
last under Essex, with a zeal as obedient as if those means
had been adopted which his superiour mind clearly saw were
necessary for the success and credit of their arms.

Reading having surrendered, the troops who had been
engaged in that siege were not directed to any forward move-
ment ; they were not effectually removed from the neighbour-
hood of contagious disease, nor was the position turned to
account as the base of any new set of operations. To prevent
the sickness spreading, as well as to cover the country which
principally produced his supplies, Essex extended his
quarters greatly, but still continued to act on the defensive ;
thus imposing on himself the necessity of protecting a
lengthened and more vulnerable line, while the enemy was
left unembarrassed and at leisure to choose both the time and
point of attack. Whenever Rupert wanted cattle or any
other provisions for his troops, he seized them from some part
of these feeble and ill-connected lines. The remonstrances of
the troops could no longer be suppressed, and Hampden was

* Lord Clarendon, endeavouring to apologize for Urrie's treachery,
states that he had, for some time before, withdrawn himself from the active
service of the Parliament. This is, however, clearly contradicted by several
of the Parliament's papers printed just before his desertion, which recount
skirmishes in which he bore an active part in command of parties of Lord
Essex's horse.

A A 2


again loudly named to the Parliament as the fit person to

place at their head. To remove from himself all suspicion of

a querulous or selfish ambition, and to exhibit to murmuring

spirits a great example of patient subordination, he placed

himself in constant and personal intercourse with the chief

whose plans he disapproved, and many of whose qualities he

held in. disesteem. Meanwhile, the distant cantonments in

the country round Thame and Wycombe, worn by fierce and

wasteful sickness, by inglorious suffering, and deep discontent,

were nightly harassed by the enemy. Rupert's zeal was

unremitting: while Essex slumbered at his post, and while

that sullen recklessness of its own fate which soon shows

through an army distrustful of its chief was spread from end

to end of the Parliament's long line, the King's troopers were

ever alert, and generally successful in their enterprises, and

therefore always hopeful, and always formidable. Not a week,

scarcely a night, passed, but they were heard laying waste

some defenceless district, worse than defenceless, because

occupied by the wearied and the disheartened, inviting attack,

and never prepared to repel it. The country round suited

well the activity of the young Prince and his cavalry. The

gorges of the hills, lined with deep tracts of beech woods,

shrouded his stealthy march through the night, upon the flank

or rear of his sleeping enemy ; and at daybreak would lie

pour forth his squadrons sparkling like a torrent on the plain

which lay before him open for the manoeuvre or the charge.

Often would a village many a mile from the King's country

suddenly wake to a dreadful irruption of horsemen who came

thundering in from the side opposite to that of his distant

lines ; the track of the night march marked from afar by the

blaze of burning houses and the tumults of posts surprised,

and the morning retreat by the dust of columns returning to

Oxford and leaving behind them a region of desolation and


In these expeditions the renegade Urrie was eminently
qualified to bear his part. His knowledge of the country, and
of the points occupied, as well as his address and experience
in that sort of service, especially recommended him to the
Prince and his council of war. It was only the opinion which
all men had of the baseness of his motives, and the hazard
which there must always be in employing such agents where
a second treachery might produce the utmost mischief, that


could make the cavaliers distrustful of their new partisan.
But these considerations added to Urrie's eagerness for early
action. Nor was it many days before he found the occasion
he wished for. He planned the expedition which ended in
the memorable fight at Chalgrove ; an enterprise not very /
important in its promise, nor in its success, otherwise than 1
that the skirmish to which it led was fatal to Hampden, at /
the time when his powers were in their fullest vigour, when
his military abilities were ripening by experience of war, and '
when prospects were daily opening to him for exercising them
on a scale of larger responsibility.

A detachment of Essex's troops had, two days before, made
a feeble show of attack upon one of the King's outposts at
Islip. These small disconnected enterprises were always
dangerous for them to undertake ; the King's troops acting
from a centre, and being able to bring a powerful body, from
within or near the walls of Oxford, to any point that was
menaced. The Parliamentarians, meeting with a larger force
than they had expected, had retreated without coming to
action. On Saturday, the 17th of June, about four o'clock in
the afternoon, Rupert's trumpets sounded through the streets
of Oxford, and the cavalry were called to general muster and
parade. In less than half an hour the column had passed
Magdalen Bridge, and were in march for the Parliament's
country, joined, as they went, by the infantry, who had been
sent on, the day before, from the rendezvous at Islip, to
different stations from jvhich they might fall in upon the line
of the cavalry's advance.

Forming a body of about two thousand, they proceeded
cautiously towards the Chilterns, crossing the Cherwell at
Chiselhampton Bridge, and leaving Thame, where Essex lay,
but two or three miles on their left. Then, burying them-
selves in the Woodlands, somewhere about Stoken Church,
they proceeded to the left, nearly opposite to the hamlets of
Postcombe and Lewknor.* It was now too late to reach
Wycombe. Some delays with the infantry had made that
night's expedition longer than they had intended. They
begun their attack, at about three in the morning, upon
Postcombe. Here was only a troop of horse, who, mounting,

* ' His Hisjhnesse Prince Rupert's late beating up the rebels' quarters,
' &e.. and his victory in Chal^rove-field, on Sunday morning, June 38.'
Printed at Oxford, by Leonard Lichfield, printer to the University. 1643.


as the dragoons appeared at the street's end, after a
slight skirmish retired in good order, leaving only a few
prisoners behind. But Rupert pursued the work of havock
rapidly. At Chinnor, about two miles off, there lay, according
to Urrie's information, a stronger party. Thither Rupert
hastened with his whole force of cavalry, and, sweeping off the
picket as he galloped in, instantly dismounted his headmost
regiment of four squadrons. He entered the quarters, slaugh-
tering and capturing all within; while the mounted cara-
bineers who lined the village street and the backs of the
houses and barns where the Parliament's soldiers lay, shot
down those who attempted escape. They then s"et fire to
Chinnor, and left it. In this place, according to the account
published at Oxford, about fifty were killed and about six
score prisoners were dragged away half naked at the horses'
sides to the infantry who were in full march, under the ledge
of hills to the left, to secure the main road back to Oxford.
Here they narrowly escaped taking a rich prize of money on its
way to the Earl of Essex ; but those who were with it drove
the carts into a wood, and escaped. The sun had now risen,
the alarm had spread, and a party of the Parliament's horse
appeared on the side of the Beacon-hill.* Hampden had
very lately and strongly remonstrated upon the loose and

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 42 of 45)