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mediaeval fleets Rye, Winchelsea, Pevensey, Hastings,
Cuckmere, Shoreham, Pagham, and others. Even Brighton
had its little harbour, at the mouth of the Wellsbourne
stream, which now flows underground. Andrew Borde,
writing in the reign of Henry VIII, speaks of Bryght-
Hempston as among the " noble ports and havens of the
realm." 3 In 1625 there were belonging "to Brightempston
300 mariners at least." 4 By the middle of the seventeenth
century most of the Sussex ports had fallen into decay,
chiefly owing to the alterations of the coast-line and the
silting up of the harbours. Winchelsea, once the great
emporium of French wines, and in the reign of Henry VI
the chief port of embarkation for France, had lost its
harbour from this cause in the time of Elizabeth, and was
now commercially ruined and almost deserted. 5 Hastings
had suffered much from the repeated destruction of its pier,
as appears in a very interesting memorandum preserved
among the Corporation papers, which relates that " the pier
of Hastings was begun to be re-edified by certain western
men sent for of purpose from the Cobb of Lyme. 8 And by
them was built a high work without the old pier, full south,
all of huge rocks artificially piled edgelong one close by
another of a great height, but without any timber, yet to
men's judgement unremoveable it grew to so huge a pile;

1 Professor Burrows, Historic Towns; Cinque Ports, pp. 26-9.

2 J. Horace Round, Feudal England, p. 319.

3 S. A. C., xvi, 247.

4 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, dxxi, 170. 5 See post, page 267.

6 " In the very entrance into Dorset out of Denshire, the first place
that showeth itself on the shore is Lime, a little town situate upon a
steep hille; which scarcely may challenge the name of a Port or
Haven towne, though it be frequented with fishermen, and hath a
rode under it called the Cobbe, sufficiently defended from the force of
winds with rocks and high trees." CAMDEN.


but notwithstanding, the first winter flow overthrew it in a
moment and dispersed the huge rocks like thin planks.
And so that cost was lost. But the next year after other
workmen of better knowledge (as was thought) were called
thence, and by general consent the like piece of work was
begun to be again built with the like huge rocks. And for
more surety, by advice of the master workman, it was
thought best (because they judged the decay of the former
was for want of some timber) to lay the foundation of this
new work within the timber work of the old pier and so to
continue with timber braces and bars, cross dogs and such
like up to the top. And this work was with singular in-
dustry and art brought above the full, and by All Hallow-
tide 1597 well near finished, viz.: thirty foot high and a
hundred foot long at least, beautiful to behold, huge, in-
vincible, and unremoveable in the judgement of all the
beholders, amounting to a great charge, whereunto the
whole shire and divers beholders were contributaries of
benevolence, besides the Town's great expenses. But behold
when men were most secure and thought the work to be
perpetual, on All Saints' Day 1597 appeared the mighty
force of God, who with the finger of his hand and one great
and exceeding high spring tide with a south east wind
overthrew this huge work in less than an hour, to the
great terror and abashment of all beholders, to the great
discredit of the like work hereafter with the Country, and
to the manifest undoing of the Town which by reason
thereof was left greatly indebted." 1

Rye had also lost much of its earlier importance. It was
stated in the draft of an Act of 1624 that the town of Rye
had been of great consequence to the State, in that it had
supplied his Majesty's house, and that part of the king-
dom, with more plentiful store of fish than any two towns
in England. Its trade and traffic had been so great that

1 Hastings MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 357.


it had paid 2,000 a year Customs in Queen Elizabeth's
time. Its shipping and mariners had done the King and
the kingdom greater service than any of the Ports, 1 its
harbour was not only a place of refuge for ships in distress,
but the most convenient in England for passage to the
heart of France. But of late years the harbour was much
" swarved up " with sand brought in by the sea, for want
of a sufficient fresh to drive it back ; wherefore the town
was impoverished for want of trade, and unpeopled, there
being a hundred houses uninhabited. 2

The efforts of the town authorities to keep the harbour
open did not command universal respect. It was com-
plained of John Allen, goldsmith, in 1611, that he had said
that " the harbour makers were brewers and bakers, shep-
herds and silver-candlestick-makers, carters and hogschops,"
and had made "divers other bad speeches." 3 But Rye,
though somewhat decayed, had managed to maintain its
position as the chief port on the coast between Dover and
Portsmouth. It was the recognized port for traffic with
Dieppe, and a regular service of passenger boats was kept
up, even during the Civil War. The Rye Passage-book, a
few years before the outbreak of hostilities, gives a long
list of passengers of all classes between the two ports ; 4
and in 1641 Sir Francis Windebank recommended his son
Thomas to cross the Channel by " a little ordinary vessel
of Rye." 5

As a maritime county, exposed to the depredations of
hostile fleets, Sussex had not much ground for objecting to
the imposition of ship-money, the attempt to levy which
upon inland counties brought matters between the King
and his subjects to a head. The first writs were issued on
2Oth October 1634, and addressed only to the ports and

1 No doubt the Cinque Ports are referred to.

2 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 167.

3 Ibid., p. 147. * S. A. C., xviii, 170-179.

5 Cal. S. P. Dom., Chas. I, cccclxxxii, 76-77; cccclxxxv, 116.


maritime places. The Cinque Ports were ordered to provide
an 8oo-ton ship (which none of them possessed), or its
equivalent in money, 6,375. The second writ of 4th
August 1635, required from the Cinque Ports, coupled with
the county of Kent, an Soo-ton ship ; and from the county
of Sussex a 5<DO-ton ship, or 5,000; towards which
Hastings was rated at 410, Chichester at 200, Arundel
at 30, and Shoreham at 20. The third and fourth writs
of 1636 and 1639 required similar provision of ships, but
the assessment of the towns was considerably reduced.'

But the sea-side counties had their own grievance, in
that although they were called upon to pay for a navy it was
used not for their protection, but for dynastic purposes, or
" merely as a pageant." 2 The Channel was full of privateers
from Dunkirk and Ostend, and Algerian pirates, who
reaped a rich harvest. The master of a Rye fishing boat,
which had been plundered by a Dunkirk privateer, deposed
that he had seen thirty-four others on the coast, and that
there was always one stationed permanently outside the
harbour. It is no wonder that when war broke out the sea-
board of Sussex, in common with most of the ports
throughout the kingdom, stood solidly to the Parliament.

As regards the general social condition of the county in
the period preceding the Civil War, there is plenty of
evidence of a prevailing prosperity, in spite of occasional
troubles, such as the great famine of 1630-3 1. 3 The build-
ing or rebuilding of such stately mansions as Wiston,
Danny, Slaugham, Wakehurst, Gravetye, and Blackdown,
attests the wealth of the gentry. At the greatest of them
all, Cowdray House, Lord Montague kept an almost royal
state. A house in which the " officers " and other male
servants numbered at least sixty, and probably a great
many more, must have given much employment to the
surrounding country. When Queen Elizabeth visited Cow-

1 See Viet. Hist. Sussex, ii, 156. * Ibid., 157.

3 See S. A. C., xvi, 20 seq.


dray she was " most royallie feasted ; the proportion of
breakfast was three oxen and one hundred and fortie
geese." 1 And not only were the ancient families of
the county housing themselves in splendid fashion, but
wealthy Londoners were choosing Sussex, in spite of its
bad roads and reputation for savagery, as a place of
residence. Thomas May of Rawmere, in Mid Lavant, 2
was the grandson of a rich London tailor of the time of
Elizabeth; Sir William Morley of Halnaker was the son
of John Morley of Saxham, in Suffolk, who, having grown
rich in his place of " Apposer of the Extracts " in Queen
Elizabeth's exchequer, had purchased Halnaker and ob-
tained a grant of arms somewhat similar to those of the
more ancient Morleys of Glynde, with whom he does not
appear to have been connected ; 3 the gallant cavalier, Sir
Thomas Bowyer, who, upon paying his enormous fine of
^"2,033 i8s. yd,, said cheerfully that " he had gotten a cheap
pennyworth to preserve peace of conscience," 4 came of a
family enriched by trade in the City of London.

John Evelyn, the diarist, records that his father's estate
"was esteemed ^"4,000 per annum, 5 well wooded and full
of timber." In 1634 "my father was appointed Sheriff for
Surrey and Sussex, before they were disjoined ; he had
116 servants in livery, every one liveried in green satin
doublets ; divers gentlemen and persons of quality waited
on him in the same garb and habit, which at that time
(when 30 or 40 was the usual retinue of the high Sheriff)
was esteemed a great matter."

On 3rd November 1640, the Long Parliament met at
Westminster; that Parliament, "which indeed is definable
as the Father of Parliaments, which first rendered Parlia-
ments supreme, and has since set the whole world upon
chase of Parliaments, a notable speculation very lively in

1 S. A. C., v, 1 86. 2 See ante, p. 4.

3 S. A. C., v, 46. 4 Ibid., xix, 94 n.

5 Equal to ,16,000 or ,20,000 in the present day.


most parts of Europe to-day." 1 Sussex returned to it
twenty-eight members, who, judged by their subsequent
conduct, may be classed as seventeen Roundheads and
eleven Cavaliers. On the Parliamentary side, among those
who were to be most prominent in county affairs during
the war, were Anthony Stapley, of Patcham, who, being
returned both for the county and for Lewes, elected to sit
for the county; Sir Thomas Pelham, Bart, for the county;
Herbert Morley, of Glynde, for Lewes; William Cawley,
of Chichester, brewer, for Midhurst; Thomas Middleton
for Horsham. Among the Royalists, who were all "dis-
abled" in the early years of the war, were Christopher
Lewknor and Sir William Morley, knt, returned for
Chichester; Sir Thomas Bowyer, for Bramber; Sir Edward
Alford for Arundel; and John Ashburnham Charles'
faithful friend and attendant " Jack " for Hastings.

This House of Commons of 1640, and the House as we
know it, are two very different things. To us the House is
the ultimate repository of the nation's aspirations; its in-
tentions may be delayed by the Crown or the House of
Lords, but both forces will bow before what is held to be
the national will decisively expressed in general elections.
In the eventful two years between the election of the
Long Parliament and the outbreak of war, the House was
only feeling its way to a commanding position. The King
was still the one permanent and guiding influence in the
Constitution. The nation was accustomed to see parlia-
ments summoned only at long intervals and for special
purposes. This particular House, intent on substituting a
limited for an absolute monarchy, and engaged on such
momentous proceedings as the impeachment of Strafford,
felt the need of a more precise popular mandate than its
election had given it. Pym, the popular leader, who still
clung to the idea that the King must be brought round by
persuasion and not by force, that he had only to be sur-

1 Carlyle, Cromwell, iii, 244.


rounded by good counsellors for all to be right, found a
way to such a mandate in the " Protestation." This docu-
ment, with its accompanying resolutions, expressed in a
manner characteristic of the times the abhorrence felt by
the nation alike of the Romish religion and of illegal taxa-
tion. It was ordered to be signed by all males aged eigh-
teen and upwards, and was intended to be a " Shibboleth
to discover a true Israelite," for " what person soever shall
not make the protestation is unfit to bear office in the
Church or Common-wealth." To the local historian, the
signatures to the Protestation are perhaps even more im-
portant than the document itself. The returns for the
western half of Sussex are very complete, and have been
printed. 1 Alike to the genealogist and to student of social
conditions they are invaluable. With some allowance for
imperfect returns, they give a total of about thirteen thous-
and, four hundred and nineteen male inhabitants of West
Sussex aged eighteen years and upwards. The Protestation
was administered by the Justices of the Peace to the respect-
ive ministers, churchwardens, and other officers, who sub-
sequently gave it to the inhabitants of their parishes. As
a rule in addition to the names of those who took it, the
names of absentees and those who refused it are noted.
Doubtless its main object was not only to support the
Protestant religion, but also to discover Roman Catholics ;
a fact which several of the Sussex clergy grasped. The
return from Binderton states: "There is noe Recusant
Papist, or any other, in this Parish, that refused to make
this Protestation " ; the Rector of Pagham, after giving the
names of absentees, mentions: "We have no Papists nor
other sectaries in our Parish." As regards the diffusion of
population, the returns give a total male population for
Chichester of about 772; for Horsham of 509; for Petworth

1 Sussex Record Society, vol. v, 1906; West Sussex Protestation
Returns, 1641-2 ; transcribed, edited, and indexed by R. Garraway
Rice, F.S.A.



of 419; for Kirkford of 309 ; for Midhurst of 271 ; for West-
bourne of 236; for Billingshurst of 225 ; for Pulborough of
220; for Steyning of 204; for South Harting of 199; for
Wisborough Green of 181 ; and for West Grinstead of 179.
It is a piece of curiously good fortune that such definite
information should be available.

Some evidence of the feeling of the county is given by
the petitions of February, 1642, from the high sheriff,
knights, ministers, and other inhabitants of Sussex to the
Houses of Parliament. After thanking the Lords for pass-
ing the Bill for taking away the bishops' votes in Parlia-
ment, and the Commons for what they had done in that
House, the petitioners proceed : " Our humble desires are
that the laws of God may be truly maintained ; government
and discipline so settled that we may conform therein to
the perfect rule of God's word; able learned and painful
ministers may be encouraged, scandalous speedily displaced ;
pluralities and unwarranted orders and dignities of the
clergy taken away; that the probate of wills may be referred
to the cognizance of temporal courts; that places of con-
cernment in the Kingdom may be in the hands of persons
of ability, integrity and good conversation ; Papists may be
totally disarmed, their persons confined, their subtle con-
veyances of their estates discovered and prevented ; secret
evil counsels and counsellors taken away from his Majesty,
and delinquents punished; sale of honour and offices re-
strained ; that our county more than seventy miles naked
to the sea may speedily be put into a posture of warlike
defence by sea and land, seamen encouraged, fishing main-
tained; Ireland further relieved; the clergy and others dis-
obeying your late orders in our Cathedral and other churches
questioned; the universities thoroughly purged; the mass
utterly abolished."

Although Sussex was by no means especially strong in
Royalist families, yet of the men who were closely associ-
ated with the King at the most critical points of his career


quite a remarkable number were of Sussex birth or Sussex
origin. Henry Gage, his governor of Oxford, John Ash-
burnham, his treasurer and twice his comrade in flight,
Stephen Goffe his trusted emissary to the Continent,
Accepted Frewen his favoured chaplain, William Juxon
his companion to the scaffold : to these we may add the
Gorings, father and son, of whom the younger perhaps did
more to bring ruin on the royal cause than almost any of
its enemies. And in those last stormy weeks before Charles
left London, his promotion of and reliance on a Sussex
cavalier of doubtful character helped to precipitate the
hostility both of the Parliament and the City.

In pursuance, as it was commonly supposed, of his plan
to arrest the leaders of the Commons, Charles on 23rd
December 1641 dismissed Sir William Balfour, a man of
staunch integrity, from the Lieutenancy of the Tower, and
appointed Colonel Lunsford in his place. " Lunsford was
only known as a debauched ruffian, who was believed cap-
able of any villany. If the talk of the seizure and execution
of the leaders, of which so much had been recently heard,
was to be carried into practice, Lunsford was the very man
to keep a tight hold on his prisoners." 1

Thomas Lunsford, of Whiligh in East Hoathly, at this
time about thirty-two years of age, had already enjoyed a
somewhat varied career. Eight years before, in 1633, he
had been brought before the Star Chamber for poaching
the deer and assaulting the gamekeepers of his neighbour
and cousin, Sir Thomas Pelham, and fined 1,000 to the
King and 500 to Sir Thomas. Becoming desperate, he
" lay in wait and beset Sir Thomas Pelham, as he was re-
turning from church in his coach on a Sunday, discharging
two pistols into his coach." 2 This further outrage brought
fresh fines of 5,000 and 3,000 upon him the Star
Chamber knew how to fine whereupon he fled to France,

1 Gardiner, History of England, 1603-42, x, 108.

a City of London's petition for his dismissal. S. A. C., v, 81.


and taking service there, rose to be a colonel of foot. The
Earl of Dorset, writing to Sir Thomas Pelham on 26th Oct-
ober 1633, speaks of him as " that young outlaw, Mr. Luns-
ford, who fears neither God nor man, and who having given
himself over unto all lewdness and dissoluteness, only
studies to affront justice." l Clarendon describes him more
mildly as "of no good education." In 1639 he returned to
England, became reconciled to his cousin, and obtained the
King's pardon for his fines.

The appointment to the Lieutenancy of the Tower of " a
man given to drinking, swearing and quarrelling, much in
debt and very desperate," raised a furious storm. The
Commons requested the Earl of Newport, Constable of the
Tower, and therefore Lunsford's superior officer, to take
personal charge of the fortress. Charles replied by dis-
missing Newport from the Constableship. On 26th Dec-
ember the Lord Mayor assured the King that unless Luns-
ford were removed he could not answer for the peace of
the City, as the apprentices would try to storm the Tower.
Charles yielded, dismissed Lunsford (with a knighthood),
and appointed in his stead Sir John Byron, an honourable
man of stainless character. But the mischief was done.

Next day Lunsford led an attack on a number of appren-
tices and others who had invaded Westminster Hall and
saluted the bishops with cries of " No Popish Lords ! " A
week later the climax came. One of the most stirring and
dramatic scenes in the history of England was enacted on
4th January 1642, when Charles, accompanied by an armed
band of 300 gentlemen and servants, went down to the
House, " stepped through the door which none of his pre-
decessors had ever passed," 2 and demanded the surrender
of the five popular leaders, Pym, Hampden, Holies, Hazle-
rigg, and Strode. Baffled by their absence, and by the
resolute dignity of the-Speaker, William Lenthall, Charles

1 S. A. C., v, 82.

2 Gardiner, History of England, 1603-42, x, 139.


withdrew, but not before the Lunsfords of his armed

His bravos of Alsatia and pages of Whitehall,

had exhibited a strong desire to make short work of the
members. "The Commons at once adjourned, with the
sense that they had but just escaped a massacre. The
orderly D'Ewes testified his opinion of the danger by step-
ping to his lodgings and immediately making his will." l

On loth January the King, with Thomas Lunsford and
his brother Herbert in his escort, left London, never to
return but as a prisoner to hear his sentence of death.

1 Gardiner, History of England, 1603-42, x, 139.



IF the blood of martyrs is the seed of churches, the
Marian persecution, with its heavy roll of Sussex vic-
tims, doubtless bore in due time its inevitable fruit. Thirty-
three men and women, about an eighth of the total number
of victims in all England, perished at the stake in various
Sussex towns. Lewes has not yet forgotten the day, three
hundred and fifty years ago, on which Richard Woodman
the ironmaster, and nine other Protestants, were done to
death by fire in her main street. From our general know-
ledge of the futility of such methods of repression, we
should infer that in the next generation or two there would
be a sturdy growth of militant Protestantism of an advanced
type, and with reason. Throughout the reign of Elizabeth,
and still more in that of her successor, what came to be
called Puritanism was advancing with great strides. Partly
its strength was due to the deficiencies of the Reformed
Church of England, whose ministers too often failed to
satisfy the spiritual aspirations of their people, especially as
regards preaching and the exposition of Scripture; partly
to the influence of the Bible, then a new book to English-
men, and the only book to which most of them had any
access. Still the noblest example of the English language,
the effect of the Bible on minds unoccupied with any rival
literature was immense. It directed the whole trend of
thought in the nation, it dominated the national speech,
and it deeply affected the national character. A new and



unprecedented religious fervour, a fresh conception of man's
life and destiny, spread through every class.

In 1591 the Mayor and Jurats of Rye were troubled
about " a small secte of purytanes, more holy in shewe than
in dede," who were putting the law in motion against Mr.
Greenwood, the Corporation's preacher, for non-residence,
and for that purpose had procured " certain mutinous fellows
of the town who profess to be more pure than others, and
are in deed much worse than in show " to lay an informa-
tion against him, whereby he was very likely to be taken
from them, and to bear the penalty of the law. By way of
checking the proceedings of these troublesome persons, the
Corporation held an inquiry and committed some of them
to prison. Robert Rede, a joiner, deposed concerning a
fellow tradesman : " I have hard Francis Godfrey say that
my Lord of Canterbury is but the Pope of Inglande, and
that the Booke of Comon Prayer which he alowethe to be
sayde in the Church is but masse translated and dumdogs
to reade it, for those ministers that do not preache they call
them dumdogs." *

But the Puritans were not to be easily put down in
spite of James I's declaration that he would make them
conform, " or else harrie them out of the land, or else do
worse; only hang them that's all." In Sussex records of
the time we may note a progressive change of attitude on
the part of the authorities towards them. Nineteen years
after the magistrates of Rye had committed Puritans to
prison as " mutinous fellows," Rye had a Puritan mayor.
In 1610 Richard Colbrand of Holborn, in the county of
Middlesex, musician, deposed that while lodging at the inn
of one Daniell at Rye, he heard the said Daniell say: "We
have a Puritan to our Mayor and therefore you may play
as long as you will at his door, but he will give you
nothing." And that was the occasion that they stayed from
playing and showing their music unto Mr. Mayor. 2

1 Rye MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com., xiii, 4), p. 99. 3 Ibid., p. 144.


The prevalence of Christian names characteristically
Puritan during the early part of the seventeenth century,
points to the spread of Puritan doctrines. As early as 1588
the Rev. John Frewen, the Puritan rector of Northiam,
baptized his eldest son " Accepted " ; l his second son he

Online LibraryCharles Thomas-StanfordSussex in the great Civil War and the interregnum, 1642-1660 → online text (page 3 of 30)