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monly failed. It was estimated that in two years no less than
forty thousand packs were shipped from the coasts of Kent
and Sussex to Calais alone. It was too much to expect
that the landowners and their dependents in these counties
would acquiesce in provisions made in the interest of the
clothiers of Wilts, Worcester, Gloucester, and Essex. Re-
stricted trade ever seeks an outlet, as water seeks a level.

The North Sea fishery was a great source of wealth to
the Sussex seaports, especially Hastings, Rye, and Bright-
helmstone, but was rendered somewhat precarious by the
operations of the privateers. In August 1644 the Mayor
and Jurats of Rye represented the great distress their poor
fishermen were in, because they could not go about their
calling for fear of being taken by the King's men-of-war,

1 S. A. C. xxxix, 10.

8 The Golden Fleece, by W. S., Gent., 1656, p. 67; S. A. C., x, 73.


having already that summer lost one gainfull voyage to the
North Sea to take fish, and not daring to adventure to
Yarmouth to take herring; these two voyages being the
chief means of the year for their maintenance, and if they
should be deprived of both, it would prove their utter un-
doing, and they would not be able to subsist the next win-
ter. Their necessities, therefore, being so great, and like to
be greater, they determined to petition the honourable House
of Parliament to let them have safe convoys to Yarmouth,
and to stay with them all the fishing season. 1 The follow-
ing year, while the fishing fleet was absent at Yarmouth,
Colonel Morley was informed that two men-of-war had been
lying for a long time in the bay, and that there was great
fear that unless a frigate were at once sent, the fishing boats
would be surprised and captured on their return. 2 A similar
request was made to the Commissioners of the Navy in
February 1659 for the protection of boats engaged during
spring and summer in the mackerel fishery. 3 The Bright-
helmstone fishermen also in July 1653, in the middle of the
Dutch war, petitioned for a convoy for fifty boats sailing
for the North Sea, and no doubt obtained it*

Another fugitive of importance found his way to France
through Sussex. In January 1652 Lieut-General John
Middleton, a prisoner in the Tower, escaped thence in his
wife's clothes. The Council of State sent urgent letters to
all the ports, and offered a reward of 200 for his apprehen-
sion ; ' but in vain. In May one Abel Tabret * gave certain
information which the Council referred to Colonels Morley
and Stapley and Messrs. Hay, Baker, Gratwicke, and Bur-
bridge directing them to send for and examine any of the

1 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 215.

' 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid., p. 233.

4 Viet. Hist. Sussex, ii, 157.

5 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., xxiii, 5.

6 A Sussex name; see Sussex Marriage licences, Sussex Record
Society, vol. vi.


persons mentioned in the information who should be found
in Co. Sussex, and who had anything to do with Middle-
ton's escape. Colonel Morley was requested to give special
care to the business. 1 It does not appear that anything im-
portant resulted.

The Dutch war of 1652 was the inevitable outcome of
the increasing commercial rivalry of England and Holland,
especially in the East Indian trade. The high-handed pro-
ceedings of the Dutch in the Spice Islands, and the mas-
sacre of Amboyna in 1623, had occasioned many fruitless
demands for redress from James and Charles, but neither
was willing to push his claims to the point of war. The new
ruler of England was of different stuff. Sincerely anxious
to avoid a war between the two Protestant republics,
Cromwell yet knew that the time had come for England to
make a bold bid for the trade of the world, and especially
for the carrying of it. If we put Germany for England, and
Great Britain for Holland, the conditions of the last quarter
of a century have not been very unlike those which pre-
vailed in the middle of the seventeenth.

Far and near the operations of the Dutch merchants had
extended China, Australia, the Cape, North and South
America no corner of the world was too remote for
Dutch enterprise. " The carrying trade of Holland was at
its zenith, and a source of great wealth to the whole country.
Seven hundred ships were engaged in the Levant and
Barbary markets: three thousand vessels plied between
Hamburg and Holland, while many hundred craft were
concerned in the home or Baltic trade. It was no wonder
that to strangers the ' stems ' in the harbour of Amsterdam
seemed as those of the Ardennes forests in winter." z

The first step was a legislative one. In 1651 Parliament
passed the Navigation Act, providing that no goods might
be imported from Asia, Africa, or America save in an

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., xxiv, 13.

2 Anna van Schurman, by Una Birch, Lond., 1909, p. 93.


English ship, with a crew at least one-half English, or in
ships of the country where the goods were produced. The
Dutch protested, but the Act gave no pretext for war.
War came a year later with the refusal of Tromp, the
greatest of Dutch admirals, to strike his flag to Blake in
acknowledgement of the English claim to sovereignty of
the seas surrounding the island. On i8th May 1652 Blake,
who had been lying in Rye Bay for a week previously, was
off Fairlight, whence he proceeded to the Downs to en-
counter Tromp. In the battle which ensued on Tromp's
refusal to obey Blake's summons, the Dutch were defeated
with some loss. After the action Blake returned to his
anchorage at Rye. Open war followed.

The Dutch were reputed the leading maritime nation of
the age, and victory might have been expected to lie with
them. But such was not the event. The Parliamentary
navy had been brought to a great pitch of efficiency, largely
through the exertions of Sir Henry Vane; the English
ships were bigger and better armed than the Dutch; the
crews more efficient; and the Government behind them
possessed concentration of purpose and energy in a high
degree points in which the loose Dutch confederation was
deficient. "Dutch War: cannonadings and fierce sea-fights
in the narrow seas; land- soldiers drafted to fight on ship-
board; and land-officers, Blake, Dean and Monk, who
became very famous sea-officers; Blake a thrice-famous
one. They doggedly beat the Dutch, and again beat them ;
their best Van Tromps and De Ruyters could not stand
these terrible Puritan Sailors and Gunners. The Dutch
gradually grew tame." l

To the Sussex coast-towns the conflict was of the first
importance. Not only did many of the sea-fights take
place within their sight or hearing, but their fishing fleets
and merchant vessels were liable to capture, and the ports

1 Carlyle, Cromwell, Letter clxxxiv.


themselves were exposed to attack. Colonel Morley was
authorized to raise forces for the defence of the county. 1
In August De Ruyter was off the Sussex coast: a letter
from Lewes says " this day appeared at Brighthelmstone
a great fleet of Holland men of war passing by, being in
all about 80. ... They took a Sussex bark near Hastings.
They chased another fisherman ashore near Brighthelm-
stone, whom they plundered and so left her." 2

A month later, on his way back up Channel, he was off
Beachy Head, and the Council of State warned the Sussex
ports to stay all shipping. 3 On 3Oth November the Dutch
fleet defeated Blake off Dungeness. Blake retreated to the
Downs, and the Dutch landed foraging parties in Kent and
Sussex. The London journalists made a good deal of these
incursions. " This day we understand by several letters
from Romney Marsh in Kent, and several parts of Sussex,
that the Dutch fleet (who now lie near Rye) have come
ashore and plundered the people, and driven away much
sheep and cattle of a considerable value, but for their pre-
servation forces both horse and foot are drawn into these
parts. . . . Further also by letters from Rye they write that
the Dutch fleet being dispersed upon that coast, takes all
vessels and boats that come there, and that the people are
much amazed, and full of fears, the disaffected much height-
ened in their spirit ; but a speedy care will be herein taken
to curb their haughtiness." 4 Another paper stated that the
raiders " drove away abundance of cattle and sheep and
plundered divers houses, and so consequently put the
country into a lamentable fear. Saturday night the army
drew into those parts, and the foot from Sion College, and
St. James's, to prevent the like invasions for the future." 5

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., xxiv, Qth August 1652.
z Mercurius Politicus, p. 1818, I4th August 1642.

3 S. P. Dom., Interreg., xxiv, I7th September 1652.

4 A perfect account, etc., ist to 8th December 1652.

5 The Moderate Intelligencer, ist to 8th December 1652.


In the early days of the Dutch war a somewhat unusual
event occurred at Rye. On 2 1st September the Marline
frigate entered at the port, and the officers informed the
Mayor and Jurats that shortly before their arrival the
captain, Peter Warren, had killed one John Wright, a
passenger in the ship, and presented him as a prisoner,
desiring that he might be secured until further order. 1 An
inquest was held on the body of Wright, and the town
authorities having committed the captain to custody, asked
for direction of the Council of State. The Council immedi-
ately ordered three of the deputies of the Serjeant-at-Arms
to go to Rye and take into custody " the late captain of
the Marline [or Merlin\ frigate." The action of the local
authorities was approved ; and they were ordered to send
up three witnesses to testify to the killing of the man. 8
Captain Warren was committed to Newgate to be tried for
murder. 3 It is significant that in a petition of Eleanor
Warren, dated 2ist October 1652, she is described as his

The Dutch war gave a great stimulus to the Sussex
iron-working industry, there being a pressing demand for
shot for the navy. On 8th August 1653 Thomas Newberry
wrote to the Ordnance officers describing a journey to
various forges in Sussex, with the object of making con-
tracts. He went to Colonel Stapley to discuss the matter
with him, but found that he knew nothing of the business.
Mr. Farrenden, an iron-master, said he had no water at
present, but could make 100 tons by March, but he would
not deliver it further from his furnace than Hastings or
Rye, and his lowest price was 13 ior. per ton. Mr. Ever-
den of Lewes, Mr. Akehurst of Warbleton, and some other
mill-owners also wanted water. When they had it they
would ascertain how much they could make, contract for a

1 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), P- 9-
3 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., xxiv, 137, 14-
3 Ibid., 150.


considerable quantity, and deliver it in March, but none
would deliver it further from the furnaces than " the water-
side edge." Walter Burrell had set his furnace at work
casting shot, and demanded 14 per ton, to be delivered
in the Tower. Mr. Stendwick's men were casting shot, and
he had fifteen tons ready ; he would cast five tons weekly,
and provide 100 tons by the end of November, and
he was about supplying another furnace. Mr. Yalden
of Blackdown had a stock of metal and water, and might
send a quantity of shot to Portsmouth, only he was
straitened for workmen at the time. As the previous
week had been wet, it was probable that some of the works
would be furnished with water soon. " I offered Mr. Burrell
12 per ton," concluded Mr. Newberry, "but conceive he
will not like less than 13 " l

The Mr. Yalden of Blackdown above-mentioned, sat for
Midhurst in Richard Cromwell's Parliament of 1659. He
is said to have been a personal friend of Oliver Cromwell,
and to have entertained him at Blackdown House. 2 William
Yalden, or Yaldwyn, of Blackdown, was appointed High
Sheriff of Sussex in 1656*

In October 1653, with what object does not appear, un-
less it were to save the expense of a garrison, the Council
of State decided that the walls and works of Arundel
Castle should be slighted, and the place disgarrisoned. The
Governor of Portsmouth was ordered to sell the salt and
victuals then in the castle towards the cost of slighting,
which was to be done with some of the powder stored in
the castle, the rest being removed to Portsmouth ; the keys
to be delivered, to Mr. Howard. 4

1 S. P. Dom., Interreg., xxxix, 31.

2 S. A. C., xxviii, 99. I can discover no authority for this visit.
Dallaway speaks of the tradition that Blackdown was occasionally
frequented by Oliver Cromwell in secret as " not well founded."

3 The documents with reference to this appointment signed
" Oliver P." are printed by Dallaway II, i, 363 n.

4 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., xli, 26, 153.


In spite of constant war the manufacture of gunpowder
in Sussex does not seem to have prospered. In 1658
Captain Walter Everenden of Battle presented the follow-
ing petition to the Protector, Richard Cromwell. " It is
experimentally known that the best pistol and fowling
powder was made at Battle; the maker is now fallen to
decay and is unable to carry on the work, and has applied
to me for a large loan of money; but I am unwilling to
enter on the business without your consent. I beg an order
licensing me to make 8 or 10 tons yearly, this being such
a proportion as will defray my costs." ' Whether Everenden
established his business or not, the manufacture of gun-
powder at Battle became an important industry. In the
eighteenth century it was reputed "the finest gunpowder,
perhaps the best in Europe." a

With the decline of its ports, and the increase in size of
ships required for the navy, Sussex had ceased to have any
importance as a ship-building county. But the necessity
of turning out fighting ships as quickly as possible, and
the great pressure on the Government yards, led to the
employment of every private yard which was available.
In 1654 the Dover, a fourth-rate, 533 tons, 48 guns, was
built at Shoreham by a London builder, 3 the first and the
biggest of the men-of-war built in that port. It was found
that when launched there was hardly enough water to enable
her to get out of the port to go to Chatham to be fitted

As the war proceeded there was an increasing difficulty
in obtaining seamen for the navy, partly due to the superior
attractions of privateering. To an order from the Council
of State that men should be impressed for the service of
the fleet, the Mayor of Rye replied that owing to the

1 Cal. S. P. Dom., Interreg., clxxxii, 34.
- Defoe's Tour, 182.

3 Viet. Hist. Sussex, ii, 157; see also The Ships and Manners of
Shoreham, by Henry Cheal, Junr. [1910], p. 5.


number of men already so serving, the town afforded none
but unserviceable men, aged or sick ; and that the fishing
masters were so short of crews that they had sent for men
out of France, five or six apiece, to supply their wants for
the fishing season. 1

Two or three years later when the naval operations of
the Commonwealth were extending into distant seas, the
difficulty of procuring men for foreign service became very
great ; the loss of life from disease during the West India
expedition of 1654-5 having rendered service in the tropics
unpopular. In January 1656 Blake and Lambert applied
to Rye requiring sixty able seamen to be impressed, be-
tween the ages of fifteen and sixty, each man to be furnished
with "twelve pence press money and three halfpence a
mile conduct to Dover," at which town they were to repair
before the Mayor, who would take care for the sending of
them on board the State's ships in the Downs. The Mayor
and Jurats replied : " We have done our endeavours to im-
press the number of seamen required, but some of our
vessels being abroad and others laid up at home for this
winter time, few seamen are to be found in this town, and
those that were, upon suspicion of a prest (the messenger
that brought the orders coming in the daytime) fled out of
our Liberties and hid themselves in the Foreign, so that
though we presently endeavoured their taking and since
have searched divers houses yet cannot meet with the
enough to accomplish the number, nor believe the number
of sixty can be found in town, unless masters themselves
and others incapable to do service should be added to the
complement." 2 An application to the Mayor of Tenterden
to impress seamen who had fled thither from Rye, produced
eleven men, who, he hoped, " would prove good seamen and
serviceable to the State." 3

During the war with Spain the channel was full of

1 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 220.

2 Ibid., p. 227. 3 Ibid.


privateers from Ostend and Dunkirk. The towns of Hastings
and Rye sent a joint petition to the Protector in February
1656, stating that both merchants and poor fishermen were
daily taken and made prize of, and begging that " whereas
the maintenance of the fishery of this nation is very con-
siderable for the nursery and increase of able seamen," some
measures might be taken for their protection, and also
that the French be impeded from any further fishing in
English seas " with their unlawful nets and engines, whereby
all our choice fish and the breed thereof are almost and will
be (unless prevented) utterly destroyed." 1 The Sussex
fishermen themselves do not appear to have been quite
blameless in this matter of unlawful nets. Desborough and
Lambert, on behalf of the Council of State, wrote to the
authorities of the Cinque Ports in 1655 as follows: "We
are lately given to understand that there is a sort of fisher-
man inhabiting within the Cinque Ports called trowlers
and drawers by the water side who by reason of the small-
ness of the moakes in their nets take up and destroy all
the young fish which they meet with, to the great prejudice
of the public. We desire you will forthwith cause public
notice to be given that no person do henceforth use any
such unlawful nets." 2

In response to the Hastings and Rye petition, the Cat,
a pink, was told off to protect the fishermen. But she her-
self fell a victim to a frigate with 22 guns and 180 men. 3
Her captain, Richard Pittock, wrote the following letter
describing her capture and his own plight to the Commis-
sioners of the Navy from " Donkerke prison": "These
lines is to certify your honors that upon the 2Oth day of
March 1656 I did receive an order in the Downs from
Capt. Whitehorn, commander in chief then, to ply to the
westward all the coast along, until I came to Brighthelm-

1 S. P. Dom., Interreg., cxxiv, 51.

2 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), P- 224.
* S. P. Dom., Interreg., cxxvi, 128.


stone, 1 and then to bring up all such fishermen as were to
fish at the North Foreland this mackerel season ; and ac-
cording to his order I departed out of the Downs forthwith.
The wind being westerly I plyed up and gave warning to
all the fishermen off Hastings, if in case any of them should
go up, when I should return back from Brighthelmstone,
with me, I would see them to the North Foreland. And
the 26th day we plyed to the westward, and betwixt
Beachy Head and Pevensey 2 we see a sail that stood right
with us, when we see that he was a Dunkirker; and he
came up and engaged with us the space of an hour. And
when he had spoiled and cut asunder all our rigging ropes,
and shot our sails very much, he then laid us aboard, and
entered into us, a hundred men or thereabout, which caused
us to surrender up, having some men hurt, and forced off
our deck. And now it is the pleasure of the Lords of Dun-
kirk to release all our men but myself; and for my part
they keep me a prisoner in Dunkirk until they have received
as many men of theirs from England as they have cleared
of ours, the which is in number thirty and six men. And
myself that remains here in prison is thirty-seven. The said
Lords of Dunkirk do inform me that they have two captains
of theirs in York prison, and all their companies, which
they do desire if your honors be pleased to set their men at
liberty; then they will ever hereafter set all English men
at liberty that they have in Flanders." 3 Poor Captain Pit-
tock was as modest as he was courageous. Captain White-
horn informed the Admiralty that he had defended the
pink very bravely until his masts were shot by the board,
and he was overpowered by the boarding party. He added
that the poor fishermen were much dismayed at the capture
of the Cat; and that he had ordered the True Love frigate
to keep by the Rye and Hastings men, and the Dartmouth

1 Spelt " Broadhemson " in the original.

3 Spelt "Pamsey." 3 S. P. Dom., Interreg., cxxvi, 118.


to ply to Brighthelmstone l to fetch from thence the fisher-
men to the North Foreland. 2

In consequence of the capture of the Cat, two guns were
mounted for the defence of Hastings. 3 Although its six
biggest guns had been sent away to Shoreham in 1643,
Rye still possessed some ordnance, which from a request
for powder in 1662, appears to have been put to various
uses. The corporation then petitioned the Duke of York
in the following terms : " That the town of Rye anciently
had more great guns mounted than any other of the Ports
(Dover excepted) which requiring a magazine as well of
powder as of other ammunition, upon petition to the Lord
Warden hath been favoured with supplies of powder out of
the Tower. And whereas the said Town is so much im-
poverished and decayed that to maintain the carriages of
the guns with other ammunition necessary is a very great
charge, and yet it stands alike exposed to the often use of
them, both for ornament upon festival and other public
occasions, and for service as well sometimes for the stop of
vessels which might otherwise steal out of the haven with-
out payment of tonnage and customs, as for keeping of the
peace when ships of war of several nations with their prizes
happened to be together in the harbour, and otherwise
might quarrel there, contrary to his Majesty's peace, the
safety of the Town, and the law of nations. May it please
you therefore to favour us with the procurement of some
barrels of powder out of his Majesty's store in the Tower." *

1 Spelt " Brightsemson " in the original ; the name seems to have
been a stumbling-block to naval officers.
- S. P. Dom., Interreg., cxxvi, 128.

3 Hastings MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 362

4 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 244.



THE Royalist plots of the early years of the Pro-
tectorate, organized by the Cavalier society known
as "the Sealed Knot," and culminating in Penruddock's
foolhardy rising in Wiltshire, seem to have found no great
encouragement in Sussex. In the general movement which
was intended to take place, the gentry of Sussex and Surrey
were counted on to provide 500 horse. 1 But even this
small force would probably have been found wanting. It
was one thing for ingenious and enthusiastic conspirators
from abroad to reckon every country gentleman who had
shown Royalist sympathies as a supporter of their schemes,
and another for men who had already lost much of their
estates to risk the remainder and their lives in taking up
arms against an established Government. But these pro-
jects of insurrection, together with continual plots to murder
the Protector, countenanced, or not discountenanced, by
Charles and the Royalist leaders abroad, had their effect
in driving him to resort to measures which could not be
justified by law.

The financial necessities of the Government were very
pressing. They were met by reducing not only the sol-
diers' pay, but the number of the regular army. As a less
expensive substitute a new local militia was created. To
control this force, and for other purposes, England was
divided into eleven districts, each of which was placed

1 Clarendon MSS., xlviii, fol. 326.


under the command of a Major-General. William Goffe, a
Sussex man, was made Major-General of Sussex, Hamp-
shire, and Berkshire. The powers with which he was in-
vested went far beyond a mere military command; they
constituted him, in fact, a viceroy with almost unlimited
powers in his own district. He was instructed to "sup-
press all tumults, insurrections, rebellion and other unlaw-

Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 23 of 30)