F. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph Harvey) Darton.

The marches of Wessex, a chronicle of England online

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Chamberlain. Endicott is said to have been a Dorchester
man. The first colonists sailed from Weymouth in the
Abigail on June 20, 1028.

It seems probable that the idea of this settlement arose
out of the Dorset fishing " adventures " oversea. The
Ixjats in that trade sailed with double crews, to expedite
the catch and i)acking. " It was conceived," says an
authoritative j)amphlet on the New Enghmd traflic, almost
certainly written by Wliit*^ liimself, " that, the fishing
being ended, the spare men that were above their ner(ssaiy
sailors might !»(■ left behind wilh piovisions for a year;


and when that ship returned next year, they might assist
them in fishing, as they had done the former year ; and
in the meantime, might employ themselves in building, and
planting corn, which, with the provisions of fish, fowl, and
venison that the land yielded, would afford them the chief
of their food." They raised " a stock of more than £3000,
intended to be paid in five years, but afterwards disbursed
in a shorter time." But it was found (" which experienced
fishermen could easily have foreseen beforehand ") that
good fishermen do not necessarily make good land settlers,
nor a fishing ground an earthly paradise. They wanted shoe-
makers, vineplanters, " men skilful in making of pitch, of
salt," a barber-surgeon, mining experts, and so on. It
needed Endicott's arrival with new settlers not bound to
the fisheries, but akin in their desire for religious liberty,
and amenable to the governor's genuine powers of organiza-
tion, to set up the new colony on a sound footing ; though
even so the sort of practical difficulty that had to be faced
can be gathered from a letter to White, of 1632, about a
Dorset man : "I have much difficulty to keep John
Galloppe (Gollop ?) here by reason his wife will not come.
I marvel at her woman's weakness, that she will live
miserably with her children there, when she might live
comfortably with her husband here. I pray you persuade
and further her coming by all means ; if she will come let
her have the remainder of his wages, if not let it be bestowed
to bring over his children, for so he desires. It would be
about £40 loss to him to come for her."

Moreover, in addition to this vigorous undertaking of
White's, the Puritan movement had long had a strong
support in Dorset in the increasingly numerous non-con-
forming churches. Poole, possibly, was the earliest Dorset
centre of dissatisfaction with either the Roman Catholic or
the Protestant organization. One Thomas Hancock of that
place was in the first year of King Edward VI " called to
be minister of God's word at the town of Poole, which town
was at the time wealthy, for they embraced God's word,


they were in favours with the rulers and governors of the
reahn, they ^\ore the first that in that part of England were
called Protestants : they did love one another ; and every
one glad of the company of the others ; and so God poured
His blessing plentifully upon them."

The domestic life of the period was largely a matter of
small 1)eer laced with spite. Individualists of to-day are
rather apt to call upon the past to support their cries for
liberty. They would find it hard to appreciate a condition
of things in which the community as a whole had so much
power as it had in Stuart times. A genuine conservative
might indeed feel sympathy with the examiners of Roger
Honiborne of Dorchester, who in 1630 affirmed that Robert
Hoskins and Thomas Waite " were in Mr. Angell Grej'cs
grounds of Kingston and fished in his waters and tooke
fishe theie," and wouldn't put them back again when
Honiborne (who seems to have been a keeper of an early
type) " willed " them to do so. But some of the more
socialistic interferences with the liberty of the subject might
prove displeasing. You were liable to be examined by the
magistrates or " presented " to the parish or the justice
for any trivial offence — and that before the Puritans held
the reins : and your examiners, the authorities of the
community, had full power to do justice upon you. " Mary
Tuxbury, for scolding at the sergeants ... is ordered to be
plounced when the weather is warmer." Justice, but mercy
. . . plouncing is ducking — in the Frome. " Hugh Baker,
carrier of this Bcjrough, was complayned of to Mr. Maior that
he went out of church yesterday at Morning Prayer before
prayers were ended, and confesseth to the same, and is
censured to sit in the stocks two lujurcs for his misdemeanor "
(1020). John (iape was summoned for playing "at the
ball " in the prison court : Anthony Wood for saying to
Matthew Swaffiejd " that his heart was so hollow that the
I)ivell might dance in it." In 1030 the .Justices had to hear
this terrible story : " .John Graunt upon oath. Yesterday
coming from Weymouth, [Robert] (ieorge demanded of


Pouncy where he beloed like a caKe ; he said he was a man,
and George said he was a puppy ; then Pouncy alighted
from his horse and after divers speeches George strake
Pouncy with a Cudgell." No wonder that in 1632 the sons
of Roger and Thomas Pouncy (" greate boyes ") were fined
12d. apiece, with others, for being absent from church and
playing " at Nine Holes for money, a farthing a game."
Yet one of them was put in the stocks for doing it again a
few months later ; and Thampson Pouncy, " the wife of
Thomas Pouncy the elder," shortly afterwards was j)lounced
" three several times " as a common scold : and Thomas
Pouncy the younger was charged in 1637 with being at the
bull-baiting and " breaking the bullkeeper's head with
his cudgell." A spirited family.

And while I am dealing with names so well known still in
Dorset and Dorchester, here is yet another of 1632. " William
Hardy, gent, dwelling everywhere (as he said), charged
with swearing eight oathes, and abused the constables,
saying : ' that he dm-st say they weare all a company of
dampned creatures and the divell would have them all, and
called them cod's heads and sheepe's heads.' " It cost him
eight shillings and a day in gaol, from which he was released
on " plenary confession."*

I do not propose to dwell in detail on the historical events
of this period. The county was fairly evenly divided in the
Civil War. Like other counties, it had its grievances,
particularly the extraction of shipmoney, the administration
of the forest and highway laws, and the billeting of soldiers.
No great battle was fought within its borders, but it was in a
constant state of warfare. Corfe and Sherborne castles were
duly besieged and " slighted."

* The quotations are from the Dorchester Municipal Records, edited
with loving care by Charles Herbert Mayo and Arthur William Gould
(Exeter, 1908). That great Dorset antiquary, Mr. H. J. Moule, aided the
project of publication. But it is clear from Mr. Gould's modest preface
that most of the cost (apart from all the toil) of production fell on the
Editors. This is a most valuable social docimient. When will the greatest
country in the world be able, or feel able, to do for its local records what
it has done for its State Papers ?

A strange picture of the equally squalid party strife of this period is
contained in the annotated edition of James Strong's Joanereidos.


Lyme withstood a memorable siege. It was of high
importance to Charles to win it ; Blake, who afterwards
defeated Van Tromp off Portlanil. was one of the defenders.
It is ilifHcult to understand to-day how a town so situated
— at the very bottom of a steep cup — could not be taken
with some ease. But the defence was determined. Tlie
great historian of Lyme, Roberts, from whom Macaulay
drew, without excessive acknowledgment or acciu-acy, his
picturesque information, says that " the resistance of the
townsmen was most obstinate : their courage was increased
by the vehement harangues and violent rhapsodies of
twenty-five puritanical preachers, who confidently assured
eternal salvation to those who should fall in the contest."
The women joined valiantly in the struggle. One lost a hand
in conflict. All she said was " Truly, I am glad with all my
heart I had a hand to lose for Jesus Christ, for A^hose cause I
am willing to lose, not only my other hand, but my life also."

Fairfax on the one side and Goring on the other encamped
often within the county borders ; and Wareham and Poole
— Roundhead, in spite of an offer by the ]Marquis of Hertford
to spend £200 a week there if it would change sides — had
their usual full share of any available fighting. William
Wake, rector of H0I3' Trinity, W'areham (grandfather of
a Dorset Archbishop of Canterbury), suffered exceptionally.
He was first shot by a Parliamentary agent ; then cut over
the head and left for dead : then sent prisoner to Dorchester,
where ho caught the plague. Meanwhile his family were
turned out of doors and his goods seized. He was set free,
joined the Royalists, was captured at Sherborne, strippc^d
and paraded naked through tlu^ town, and sent jnisoner,
first to Poole, where plague was raging, and then to Corfe.
When the main fighting was over, he retired to lUandford,
but the Parliament men " k(^pt him, a very infirm nuin, on
their guards, and daily moved him with them as they wore
commanded from j)laco to place." "110 was ninotoon
times a j^risoner in the time of the rebellion, and all that
timo under sequestration."


The Bridport records contain a valuable document on the
realities of the taxation Charles I found it desirable to im-
pose. It requires Dorset to provide a man-of-war of four
hundred tons, one hundred and sixty men, guns and equip-
ment, and victuals for twenty-six weeks : six or eight
assessors were to supervise the levy. The alleged cause
was " that certain pirates and sea robbers, both Mohametans,
detesters of the Christian name, and others," had " collected
together, robbing and spoiling the ships and goods not only
of our own subjects but of the subjects of our allies upon the
sea, which had been formerly accustomed to be guarded
by the English nation." The order in which the municipal
authorities of Dorset were addressed in this writ is curious,
and perhaps significant : the towns run thus — Poole,
Dorchester, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, Bridport,
Lyme Regis, Corfe Castle, Shaftesbury, Blandford, " the
good men of Poole and of the Isle of Purbeck, of the Vills
of Portland, Burton, Sherborne, Cranborne, and Stoborough,
and all other places " : no Wareham, no Wimborne.

There was, however, one feature of the war in Dorset
which deserves special notice : the rising of the Clubmen.
This is sometimes spoken of as though it were the work of a
rabble of irritated peasants, who simply desired to live and
let live, and to keep their fields free of bloodshed. It was
at least serious enough to cause both Fairfax and Goring
to pay attention to it. It occurred in 1645. In that year,
on May 25, a meeting of men from Dorset and Wilts was held
at Badbury Rings ; neither the first nor the least resolute
gathering in that ancient fortress. There were present
" near 4000 armed with Clubs, Swords, Bills, Pitchforks,
and other several weapons, etc." The meeting declared, in
resolutions read by one Thomas Young, that " our ancient
laws and liberties . . . are altogether swallowed up in the
arbitrary power of the sword," and covenanted, among other
things, " to join with and assist one another in the mutual
defence of om- Liberties and Properties against all Plunderers,
and all other unlawful violence whatsoever." Their


imniediate concern was to prevent violence. In every parish
there was to be a committee of three, " for assistance and
direction," with two constables to raise the alarm at any
sign of tumult ; and all were to " furnisli themselves with
as much, and good, arms, weapons, and ammunition as they
can procure."

A few weeks later the inhabitants of Dorset petitioned
the King himself ; " the petitioners, since these unhappy
Civil Wars, having in a deeper measure than other subjects
of this kingdom, suffered by means of the many garrisons
within this littb county (they being ten in number) and the
armies partly drawn into these parts by reason thereof."
Charles, in a statesmanlike reply filling several pages of
prmt, said that the matter was receiving attention. So did
Fairfax, when a deputation waited upon him also, and asked
" that all laws not repealed be in force, and executed by the
ordinary officers : that all men who desire it may lay down
arms : and others, who have absented themselves from their
homes, may have free liberty to return and live at home."
Fairfax knew what civil war meant : he found at Dorchester,
for instance (" a town famous for piety and good affection "
— to his cause), that " divers of the best inhabitants being
forced from it, the beauty of the town is much impaired,
and many houses empty." But how could he maintain
an army, he asked in his reply, and so attain his just
aims, if everyone wont home ? Necessity . . .

The deputation to him was led by men of good name.
It contained a Trenchard and a Holies : John St. Loe,
Peter Hoskins, Esquire, Master Robert J'aulet, gent ; and
" Master Thomas Young, an attorney, more eloquent
than honest." T should like to know more of Master
Thomas Young, tlie orator of liadbury : but history
is silent.

Tho chief recorded motto of the ('hil)iiu'n was on one of
their banners : —

" If you offer to plundor our cattle,
Bo aAHurcd wo will give you buttle."


The London news-sheets of the time regarded them as
both partisan and dangerous ; but the alleged partisanship
depended on the journal. " The Clubmen speak altogether
the royal language, however they may seem to be neuter,"
says the True Informer. " The most eminent gentlemen,
and others, for the King in those parts, are their leaders :
neither are they without some from Oxford, the most notori-
ously profane and noted wicked persons in that county and
Wiltshire are among them, and but few either of seeming
civility or religion." " There are Knights among them,"
cried the Moderate Intelligencer ; " they are armed very
well." But the Scottish Dove said that " these men (as they
first resolved, hold perfect neutrals) oppose free quarter by
both sides, and yet accommodate either with provisions for
money . . . which assures me their affections stand right
to the Parliament."

The elementary Soviet system did not live up to the hopes
or fears formed of it. Cromwell himscK arrived in August,
1645, and persuaded one section to go quickly home. The
rest encamped on Hambledon Hill, above the Stour. Crom-
well demanded surrender, which was refused. Major Des-
borough was ordered to approach and prepare to charge.
The Clubmen fired, whereupon Desborough " got in the
rear of them, beat them from the work, and did some small
execution upon them ; I believe killed not twelve of them,
but cut very many, and we have taken about 300 ; many
of which are poor silly creatures, M^hom if you please to let
me send home, they promise to be very dutiful for time
to come, and will be hanged before they come out again."

Cromwell, who wrote this, was made for larger wars
and greater policies. It is suggestive to notice how intimate
and petty and personal all the Dorset connection with the
Civil War is. The county seems only to touch larger issues
in a venture like White's, or in the supreme tragedy of
" King Monmouth " ; though by a curious chance it may
have had a vision of what was to come in the great world.
It is recorded that " a very learned pious man," Mr. John


Sadler of Warinwell. in \CA\\ propliesied to his Rector:
he said a " Someone " in tlie room in ^vhicll he lay ill told
him "that there would die in the city of London so many-
thousands, mentioning the number, A\]iich I have forgotten,
and the time that the city would be biu-nt down. . . . That
we should have three sea-fights with the Dutch. . . . That
afterwards there would come three small ships to land in
the west of Weymouth, that would put all England in a
uproar, but it would come to nothing. That in the year
1(188 there would come to pass such a thing in this kingdom
that all the world would take notice of it." It was, as the
gentleman in Martin Chuzzlewit says, "a prediction cruel

But for one strange alarm Dorset had little to do with
great events between the Restoration and the coming of
Monmouth. That alarm was experienced at the time of
the Gates affair. One Capt. John Laurence of Grange, in
1078, reported that he had seen " a vast number of armed
men, several thousands, marchuig from Flowers Barrow
over Grange Hill ; and a great noise and clashing of arms
was supposed to have been heard." People on the hills
and the heath fled hastily to Warcham, which was barricaded.
The militia were called out. And nothing was ever seen of
the phantom army, to whose existence Laurence and his
brother subsequently swore on oath before the Privy Council.
Hutchins ascribes it to the effect of mist on the Purbeck

It is not difficult to follow on foot the path of tlie two
princes, father and sxjn, who made Dorset notable in this
Bovcnteenth century. Charles H tried to leave England by
way of the county in Ki")!. >r()nmouth entered Hiiglaiid
thnnigh it in 1G85 and was captured within its borders a
few weeks afterwards.

The flight of Charles II through Dorset is adorned with
many pi(tures<jue details. It was from Boscobel that ho
came to Col. Wyndham's house at Trent, a village near
Yeovil, now pait of Dorset. Mrs. Wyndham wrote the


fullest of the accounts of his stay " in that Ark in which God
shutt him up, when the Floods of Rebellion had covered the
face of his Dominions." He arrived on September 17,
and a secret chamber was kept in readiness for any
emergency. His pm-pose was to take a boat from some
western port to France. Apparently he was unaware that
the western ports were full of Parliamentary troops preparing
for an expedition to Jersey. He knew, of course, that there
was a hue and cry after himself ; and at Lyme, there had
just been set up a proclamation, dated September 10, in
which " a heavy penalty was thundered out against all that
should conceal the King or any of his party," and a price of
£1000 set upon Charles's person.

At Trent, however, he seemed to be reasonably safe, and
it was within easy distance both of the Dorset ports and of
the Bristol Channel. His adventures in Dorset begin with
a visit which Col. Wyndham paid to William Ellesdon of
Lyme, one of a family long of repute in that town. Ellesdon
was a known Royalist, and, as he himself says, " would with
the utmost hazard of my person and whatsoever else was dear
to me strenuously endeavour " to serve the King. Wynd-
ham asked him to find a vessel for France, telling him the
truth about the jDroposed passengers (Lord Wilmot was with
Charles). Ellesdon had a sea captain, Stephen Limbry,
as tenant of a house of his at Charmouth, and they rode over
to see him, Limbry agreed to do the business for sixty
pounds, payable on completion of the undertaking. He was
master of " a small vessel of about thirty tons."

Here there is some room for geographical conjecture.
The arrangements made provided for embarking for Char-
mouth " by the seaside." " Indeed," says Ellesdon, " a
more commodious place for such a design could hardly be
found, it lying upon the shore a quarter of a mile from any
house, or footpath." Charmouth village was and is a quarter
of a mile from the sea — a peculiarity of distance shared in
various degrees also by Abbotsbury, Swyre, Burton Brad-
stock, Bridport town, and Chideock, along this coast. On


the otlier hand Limbry's boat was moored off Lyme Regis
Cobb, from two to three miles away. A little before the time
appointed for departure, Limbry took the boat out " to
the Cobb's mouth for fear of being beneaped." The Septem-
ber neap tides are usually the lowest of the year, as the
spring tides of the same month are the highest ; and at a
neap tide all along that coast from Axmouth to Burton the
moorings can hardly be reached or quitted because of the
low water.

Further, Ellesdon, riding back with Wyndham to Lyme,
" chose the land road . . . that upon the top of a hill
situate in our way betwixt these two towns, upon a second
view he might be more perfectly acquainted with the way
that leads from Charmouth to the place appointed for His
Majesty's taking boat." The whole coast has altered since
then : it has altered even so recently as 1921 ! The cliffs
have fallen. The land where twenty -four years after Charles's
flight Monmouth enrolled his poor peasants at L^me is now
beneath the sea. The road now known as the Devil's
Ik'Uows was not in existence in 1651. Charmouth stream,
maybe, ran openly to the sea instead of burying itself in the
shingle bank.

I think that Charles was meant to be rowed from Char-
mouth beach to Cobb's mouth, a stiff' pull ; and that Ellesdon
took Wyndham up to the still existing old high road, an
inflexible steep track from which not only Charmouth but
Lewfedon and Pilsdon and Marshwood Vale, and far more
distant hills, and the most glorious curve of coast in England,
are seen spread out in a magnificent pageant. There
(among the bracken and blackl)errie8 which would conceal
him as well as any Boscobel oak) well might the King of
England look out over his realm with pride and love.

The course of English history was very near deflection
in the next few hours. Wyndham rode back to Trent. Ho
sent a servant, Henry Peters, to the Queen's Ann.f at
Charmouth to bespeak rooms foi the fugitive w iiiic he waited
for the boat. Ho was to represent Charles as a lunaway


lover eloping with his lady (who was to be played by Juliana
Coningsby, Wyndham's niece). This was satisfactorily
arranged over a glass of wine with the hostess.

They set out in due course, Miss Coningsby riding pillion,
Wyndham in front as guide, Wilmot and Peters a little
way behind, " that they might not seem to be all of one
company." Ellesdon met them, and took them to his
brother's house at Monkton Wyld, a village to-day very
beautifully placed among trees, just off the road from Char-
mouth to Hunter's Lodge. (The brother is said in one account
to have been " a violent Oliverian.") It is impossible to
tell, among the many lanes of Marshwood Vale, what roads
were then in existence for them to follow, in the days before
the main highways of the present time were even thought of.
They may have gone along something like the present
main road round the top of the vale, or even through

The king gave Ellesdon, for remembrance, a gold coin,
" which in his solitary hours he made a hole to put a ribbin
in." There were more solitary hours to come, but some
of them full of fears lest the solitude be broken. At dusk
they moved to Charmouth. The Queen's Arms is now
a private house, marked by a commemorative tablet.
Ellesdon had told Limbry, for the benefit of the crew, that
his friend " Mr. Payne," a merchant — Lord Wilmot — and his
servant (the King) wanted to sail by night because, " Lyme
being a Town Corporate," " Payne " feared an arrest in his
sudden voyage to St. Malo to recover property from a dis-
honest factor. Limbry seems to have swallowed this tale.
Unfortunately for the King, however, he did not warn his
wife of his intended voyage till the last moment, when he
went home to get some linen. Now she had been at Lyme
Fair that day, and had read the proclamation of September
10th : and she was not minded to lose her husband. She
suspected his alleged cargo to be refugees from Worcester,
to say the least ; and she locked her Stephen in, and " by
the help of her two daughters kept him in by force."


Limbrv seoms to have done his best. He " sliowed his
wisdom," Elltsdoii saitl, '* by his peaceable behaviour, for
had lie striven in the least it is more than probable that His
Majesty and his attendents had been suddenly seized upon
in the inn." But later on, apparently, he got some mitiga-
tion of his duress ; for Wyndham, watching, m the moon-
light, on Ciiarmouth beach, for the boat that was to save his
King, " discovers a man coming, dogged at a small distance
by two or three women. This indeed was the master of the
vessel, who by this time had obtained liberty (yet still under

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Online LibraryF. J. Harvey (Frederick Joseph Harvey) DartonThe marches of Wessex, a chronicle of England → online text (page 13 of 28)