The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015



PERHAPS no town in the kingdom witnessed greater vicissitudes than Tewkesbury, during the commotion which arose out of the disastrous quarrel between Charles the first and the Parliament. Being contiguous to the important garrison at Gloucester, so long and so successfully held by the parliament forces, in defiance of the utmost efforts of the king, and almost equally near to Worcester, which was for a long time a royal garrison, the possession of Tewkesbury was a consideration of the highest importance to both parties: it gave the entire controul of the only eligible passage over the Avon in this neighbourhood, and greatly facilitated the occupation of the bridge at Upton, which, being the only one across the Severn between Gloucester and Worcester, was frequently of the utmost consequence; and as the town was seated in the centre of a fertile and well cultivated district, it was peculiarly necessary to the garrison at Gloucester, for insuring to them a supply of provisions, - the want of which they sometimes severely felt, particularly at such times as the royal army held possession of this place.

Tewkesbury[52] appears very early to have espoused the cause of the parliament, though the king had from the first


many firm adherents among the more respectable class of the inhabitants, particularly in the members of (he corporation;[53] and however circumstances might render it prudent in some of them to stifle their loyal feelings, yet many worthy persons never deserted for a moment the interests of their persecuted though imprudent monarch.

The first decided manifestation of the sentiments of the townspeople occurred immediately after the first siege of Worcester, in Sept. 1642, at which time the place was garrisoned by a strong party of the republican army from Gloucester, and was afterwards for a short time augmented by part of the parliament forces which bad been successful at Worcester. But when the Earl of Essex, in the following month, abandoned Worcester, to intercept the king in his progress from Shrewsbury towards London, and subsequently fought the memorable battle at Kdgehill, where the parliamentarians were at first reported to have been completely routed, the abettors of anarchy in this place were stricken with terror, being in daily expectation of a visit from the royal army, and well knowing that they were not able to defend themselves in case of an assault.

A tolerable idea of the situation of the inhabitants may be formed from the following account by Corbet, extracted from


his celebrated "Historical Relation of the Military Government of Gloucester": it should however be borne in mind, that the narrator, though he lived in that troublesome period, and was an eye-witness of many of the transactions he so minutely records, was a strenuous supporter of the republican party:

"The garrison of Tewkesbury (which was defended only with such slender forces as Gloucester could spare out of its penury, before the enemy fell on the county), was already surprised with fear": the people of "Tewkesbury sent an express to the city, to inform them of the state of their town, and to request more aid; likewise they dispatched messengers to the villages round about, to acquaint them with the state of things, and to try whether the inhabitants would come in person or send in their arms, but there came neither the one nor the other; and it was resolved, by the council of war at Gloucester, that the forces, ordnance and ammunition, with all well-affected persons, should forthwith repair thither. In the heat of this debate there came an invitation from Worcester, by a letter from Sir William Russell, with intimation of conditions of peace; all which disposed that town to compliance with the enemy. Hereupon a common council being held, and the officers present, it was determined that the Gloucester order was to be obeyed. The town, thus deserted, was willing to provide for its own safety, and chose rather to obtain some reasonable terms of peace than suffer itself to be quite ruined; wherefore they drew up some propositions to be sent to Sir William Russell, yet before the dispatch they sent to Gloucester a second message by the minister of the town, and an officer of the garrison, with Sir William Russell's letter and their answer. These promised an early return, but failing some hours of the time appointed, in the mean while the propositions were sent to Worcester. This message brought a countermand, when there sprung an alarum that Cirencester was regained, and the spoil and prisoners recovered back; for this cause the soldiers were detained awhile, but when the report was found untrue, of themselves they began to quit the town. In the evening the messenger returned from Worcester,


with the propositions granted: the subjection seemed unfortunate and dishonourable in them whose affections were engaged to this cause, neither did there appear a means to prevent it, for the transmigration of the whole town was impossible, nor as yet did the condition of the war require any such thing from one particular place; for the parliament's adherents, as also the malignant faction,[54] did never at once forsake their habitations to be gathered into one body for a sudden conclusion, but were brought piecemeal into action, and many lay under covert in the enemy's country, reserving themselves for future service. Thus the people entertained gladly those conditions, which though performed in part yet were a sufficient bondage, did impoverish their spirits, cool their zeal of religion, and lessen the former inclination to liberty; after which by frequent changes under many lords they became so feeble that they never durst confide in themselves to vindicate the town into its former happiness, but a long time remained averse to the fairest opportunities, yea necessities of engagement, and desired an everlasting neutrality. The deserting of this town increased the forces of Gloucester by two hundred foot and dragoons, and took off the fear of a greater mischief; for though the quitting of the place caused us to resent our great distress, yet the taking thereof would have confounded our thoughts, and hazarded the main chance where the whole strength did not lie at stake".

A pamphlet, published in 1642, entitled "True News out of Herefordshire", gives an account of an action said to have been fought on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 1642, on the field where the last decisive battle took place between the houses of York and Lancaster near Tewkesbury, in which Lord Stamford routed the Marquis of Hertford and Lord Herbert, with the loss of two thousand five hundred men. This affair is wholly unnoticed by Corbet, or any writer of credit, and was without doubt entirely a fabrication, designed to divert the attention of the people.


The town was delivered up on the 7th of Feb. 1642-3, to Sir William Russell, who was appointed governor, and garrisoned it with a large force for the king. He exacted £.500[55] from the inhabitants, for the support of the royal cause; and seized all the public stores and ammunition, and even the fire-arms of private individuals, and sent the whole to the headquarters at Worcester.

In the following month, Sir William Russell, having first put the town in the best state of defence possible, retired to Worcester, and appointed Sir Matthew Carew governor of Tewkesbury; but the parliamentary general, Sir William Waller, having just gained a decisive advantage over the royalists under Lord Herbert, at Highnam near Gloucester, resolved to attempt the capture of Tewkesbury, which he effected, but was shortly afterwards obliged to abandon it. Corbet thus describes this affair:

"The general fame did increase and heighten the repute of Sir William Waller, and the enemy possessed therewith began to draw back on all sides: Sir Matthew Carew forthwith quitted the town of Tewkesbury, which within twelve hours was repossessed by our forces: Capt. John Fienes was commanded thither with a slender strength of horse and dragoons, with whom the well-affected of the town that abode in Gloucester began to return. The undertaking was hasty and confused, without the observance of the enemy's motion or distance, or any rational assurance of defending the place. Our party had no sooner saluted the town, but received an alarm that the former forces were returned with a greater power. Twas a gallant brigade of horse, commanded by the Lord Grandison, which immediately came from Cheltenham, whereof our men had not the least intelligence: it seemed by the event that the enemy expected none from Gloucester: however there was quick dispatch on both sides, yet Captain Fienes with his


whole party had been surprised, had not those horse been kept off at a mile distance by a ridiculous accident. It so fell out that they met a man coming alone from the town, whom they fell to question whether any forces were there, of what strength, and by whom commanded. The man, intending nothing less than the escape of our party, but supposing them a part of the parliament forces, and willing to curry favour, begins to talk of a main strength and vast numbers, with so many guns and all kinds of preparations, and withal defies the cavaliers with much affected indignation; which words so far prevailed, that they presently held a council of war, and once were about to fall back. This delay gave an hour's respite to those within to prepare for a flight, who had no sooner recovered the end of the town, but the enemy had entered, amazed to see themselves so miserably deluded".[56]


Sir William Waller having returned to Gloucester, and from thence marched into Wales, Tewkesbury was suffered to remain quietly in the hands of Lord Grandison. Shortly afterwards, Sir Matthew Carew again returned from Worcester, and Prince Maurice came with a great additional force both of horse and of foot; so that these commanders conceived themselves strong enough to intercept Waller on his return out of the principality, where he had met with considerable opposition from the royalists.

"Wherefore", says Corbet, "a bridge of boats was made over Severn at Tewkesbury, that they might pass to and fro nearer the retreat of our army. Here the Prince marched over with a body of two thousand horse and foot, confident of this design, and therefore too remiss and slow in his advance. Sir William was nimble in the retreat, caused his foot and artillery to pass over Severn at Chepstow, and himself with his horse and dragoons passed through the lower part of the Forest of Dean, near the river side; and before the enemy had notice of his march, sent forth two parties to fall upon two of their main quarters, which was performed whilst the main body slipt between both, and a party was left to face them and make good the retreat, which came off something disorderly, and with the loss of a few private soldiers. 'Twas an exquisite conveyance, and unexpected felicity that brought them out of the snare through those intricate ways. This alarm quickly reached Gloucester, and Lieutenant-Colonel Massey drew out three hundred foot and two troops of horse to fetch off our men, but if he found them disengaged, for a further design. This party met them within two miles of the town, where the governor made known to Sir William Waller his purpose to set upon Tewkesbury; and taking the opportunity of the prince's absence, and the enemies' jollity at our supposed total defeat, instantly advanced upon them, and by break of day brought


up his men before the town, one part whereof fell into the Ham, seized upon the guard left with the bridge of boats, and cut off that bridge; the horse with the rest of the foot came up Gloucester way, the forlorn hope surprised and slew the sentinel, climbed over the works, and cut down the draw-bridge; whereupon both horse and foot rushed in, and the party on the other side of Avon ready to enter. There were left in the town near three hundred men, commanded by Sir Matthew Carew, whom the triumph of yesterday's conceived victory laid asleep, and the sudden alarm roused up, first into a shuffling fighting posture, and after half an hour to a nimble escape. Sir Matthew Carew fled, and many escaped the hands of our men, who wanted numbers to surround the town, but most of the common soldiers, and some valuable officers, were taken.[57]


This capture of the town by Colonel Massey occurred in the beginning of April, 1643; but Prince Maurice only retreated a few miles towards Worcester, and was so little intimidated by the defeat, that on the very same day a large party of his horse appeared at the Mythe, which so alarmed the parliament forces, that they instantly sent to Gloucester for reinforcements; and Sir William Waller, considering the preservation of Tewkesbury at that juncture of the utmost consequence, marched thither himself the same evening, resolving either to break down or take the bridge at Upton, which was then strongly guarded by the prince.

The skirmish at Ripple, which immediately followed, is so fully detailed by Corbet, that we shall give the particulars of it in his own words:

"The next morning, Sir William advanced towards the prince, and found him in Ripple Field, with his army drawn up, and divided into three bodies, besides the hedges lined with musketeers. Here our forces faced the enemy in a large field, and could hardly reach the third part of the prince's strength; brought up their guns, having neither shot prepared, nor cannoniers that understood the business, nor the assistance of foot, save only a part of the governor's own company; besides the wind and sun were against them, and no retreat if need were, but through a narrow lane of two


miles long; and whereas they might stand upon the top of a rising ground to deceive the enemy with the semblance of a greater power behind, they descended a little on the side of the hill, and discovered their weakness to a full view. In this posture, some persuaded to fight, and began to make some shot with the ordnance, which gave no shew of the least execution. But some other officers examined the cannonier, and finding neither fit bullet nor any convenient shot, but all things at random, earnestly dissuaded either to make the onset, or expect the enemy in that place; and advising likewise the trial, discovered their ambuscades within the hedges. Hereupon Sir William Waller fell back, and entered the narrow lane, commanding a party of dragoons to face the prince's army, and the musketeers to stand at the corner of the lane within the hedges, to make good the retreat. The enemy fell on, not a man of those dragoons would stand to receive the charge, but hurried away, broke over the hedge, fell among and disordered our own musketeers, the enemy clapt in after them, cut down four or five of the foot, and took as many prisoners. Lieutenant-Colonel Massey kept close to his foot, and instantly dispatched to Tewkesbury for a supply; and Sir Arthur Hazelrig prevailed with his own troop to charge, and in his own person performed gallantly: the foot with those horse put the enemy to a stand, and in part took off the foulness of the retreat through that strait passage. When they came to the next open place, our men had the advantage of a ditch to stay the pursuit; and in the heat of the chase, one foot soldier, at the command of the governor, turned upon the enemy a gate then cast off the hinges, which barred their entrance, and enabled our men to draw up for a charge: here for awhile they stood in amaze, but on a sudden faced about, ran flock-meal, the enemy upon their backs, and the close of this action was like to be miserable; but at the entrance of a strait passage, near the Mythe Hill, a supply of foot from the town opportunely met them, galled the enemy, and put them to a stand once more, whilst the governor charged the leader of the forlorn hope, hand to hand, and was rescued by


the gallantry of some officers, when of ours only a small party of horse remained in the field, the rest being got off in great confusion. Yet the escape might equal a victory, and the saving of the forces pass for clear gain. Prince Maurice did not attempt the regaining of Tewkesbury, the government of which was entrusted to Sir Robert Cooke, who had newly raised a regiment of foot by commission from Sir William Waller".[58]


Shortly after this affair, Sir Robert Cooke and his forces were called off from Tewkesbury; and having destroyed the works, he marched into the west, leaving the town once more without a military governor.

In June, Sir William Waller and a large army passed through this place on their way to assault Worcester; but being valiantly repulsed there, he retreated to Tewkesbury with three thousand men and eight pieces of ordnance, and retired again to his old quarters at Gloucester.

On the 10th of August, 1643, his majesty commenced the memorable siege of Gloucester, and as the fate of the kingdom appeared to depend principally upon the issue of this measure, the eyes of the whole nation were directed to that quarter on which the hopes and fears of both parties were suspended. During this momentous period, Tewkesbury was in a state of the utmost alarm; and as it appeared impossible that the city could hold out against the overwhelming strength of the king until reinforcements should arrive, Mr. Hill, the town-clerk of the borough, and Mr. Bell of Sandhurst, were deputed to solicit a conference with the garrison of Gloucester, and, by persuading them to yield up the city, to avert the dreadful burthens under which the neighbourhood already groaned, and the still greater sufferings which were likely to follow a protracted defence. This conference was held on the 24th of


August, but the garrison resolutely refused to hearken to the advice of the mission.[59]

In the mean time, parliament being apprised of the depressed state of the city, sent the Earl of Essex, with fourteen thousand efficient men, including four regiments of the London militia, to the relief of Gloucester. The appearance of this immense body of troops, as they passed almost within view of the town, could not fail deeply to interest the feelings of the inhabitants of Tewkesbury, who anticipated the most dreadful carnage betwixt the contending armies before the gates of Gloucester; but the whole nation, which had long been surprised at the languor with which the king assaulted the place, was still more astonished at the tameness which he evinced by raising the siege at Essex's approach, and making way for him to enter the city unmolested.

The Earl of Essex having supplied the garrison with military stores, and encouraged the country people to furnish them with provisions, hoped to retire without hazarding a battle with the king's army, then stationed at Winchcomb and Sudeley, which he dreaded on account of its superiority in cavalry. Leaving therefore a reinforcement of troops in Gloucester, he came to Tewkesbury, which he summoned and entered on Sunday the 10th of September. He remained here five days, and exacted the twentieth part of the property of the royalists for the relief of the garrison of Gloucester, and then, feigning to proceed towards Worcester, he, by a forced march during the night, reached Cirencester, and thus obtained the double advantage of passing unmolested an open


country, and of surprising a convoy of provisions which were in that town.[60]


A few days subsequent to this, a party of the parliament soldiers, which had been left in Tewkesbury, aided by a


few others from Gloucester, made a disgraceful excursion to Castlemorton, where they plundered the house of Mr. Bartlett, and wantonly destroyed much valuable property.[61]


After the first great battle at Newbury, which happened on the 28th of September, 1643, Sir William Vavasour was sent by the king to raise forces in Herefordshire and the adjoining counties of Wales, and with them to garrison Tewkesbury. Sir William accordingly arrived here in October, with about seven hundred horse and foot, with which he put the town into a tolerable state of defence, invited the neighbourhood to repair to the royal standard, and styled himself governor; but his newly-raised troops, being unaccustomed to the privations of a military life, mutinied and ran away with the utmost precipitation, on the first alarm of the approach of the enemy from Gloucester. Sir William, being thus deserted by his troops, was obliged to abandon the town, and retired to Hereford, after sustaining a very severe loss in killed and taken.[62]

The country gentlemen, particularly those residing in the neighbourhood of the Cotswold hills, about this period began


to take a more decided part in favour of the king: Tewkesbury was again garrisoned by the adherents of royalty, and Sir William Vavasour returned to the chief command, accompanied by Sir Walter Pye and Colonel Wroughton, who fortified the town stronger than ever. The garrison at Gloucester continually annoyed the forces within the town; and between the different parties, while on foraging expeditions, there were repeated skirmishes. The army having been augmented by the arrival of two Irish regiments, which broke up from Wotton-under-Edge, and came over the hills in safety, notwithstanding the efforts of Governor Massey, who sent out a party from Gloucester to stop their progress, consisted of upwards of two thousand six hundred foot and horse; but shortly afterwards part of them were sent towards Evesham, to join the king's troops in that quarter, who were waiting to intercept supplies which the city of London had long promised to forward to the garrison at Gloucester.

In the beginning of 1G44, Prince Rupert came to Tewkesbury, and considerably distressed the garrison at Gloucester, by cutting off their supplies from the country;[63] and Sir William Vavasour, having at that time fifteen hundred horse and foot constantly quartered in the town, made an attempt to take Bodington manor-house, where the governor of Gloucester had placed a detachment, for the protection of those husbandmen and others who supplied the garrison with provisions. He appeared before the house with five hundred foot and two pieces of large ordnance, with which he commenced an assault; but the besieged defended themselves with such bravery, that they were enabled to hold out until a reinforcement arrived from Gloucester, when Sir William was compelled to return to Tewkesbury, having lost eight or ten men in the affray.


At this time, such multitudes of the king's forces were stationed in and near to Tewkesbury, that they became extremely distressed for provisions: on one occasion, two thousand horse and foot were compelled to march together as far as Painswick, to gather contributions about Stroudwater, who, on the following day, all safely returned laden with plunder.

Sir William Vavasour was called away from the government of this town early in the spring, and Colonel Nicholas Mynne, of the Irish brigade, who was a much more active leader, took the command. This change was so unwelcome to Colonel Massey, governor of Gloucester, who had before experienced the great bravery and loyalty of Mynne, that he determined to attempt the recapture of this important station by an unexpected attack.

"For the enemy", says Corbet, "by the number of their men, and the natural strength of the place, with the works well begun, were sufficiently provided to receive an expected and open storm, and the governor shunned all desperate hazards, because he did not march with supernumerary forces, but the main strength of Gloucester. Wherefore, to deceive the enemy, the foot were drawn forth at the West-gate, bearing the shew of an advance into Herefordshire, and the horse kept their rendezvous, and looked the same way. But in the evening the horse came back, and marched through Gloucester towards Tewkesbury, having first sent a guard to Upton bridge, while the foot came on beyond Severn. The design had taken effect, had not the foot, by their slow march or misguidance, passed the hour, which was break of day, for they came not before the town till an hour after sun-rising, when we were found not fit to assault a waking and prepared enemy. To withdraw, nevertheless, did seem but a feeble business for such a fair body of horse and foot displayed before the town, and carried before it the appearance of a baffle: yet the governor, though naturally jealous of honour, could digest such mis-feasance, when the safety of his own men required, knowing that the opportunity of service would in good time cancel a misgrounded ignominy.


"After few days, the governor, having breathed himself and his men, resolved to attempt the taking of Tewkesbury, a bad neighbour to our head garrison, and where he had suffered the repulse twice before. He was able to draw forth a hundred and twenty horse, and about thirty dragoons, and three hundred foot. For his strength was no more than the standing forces of the city, a great part of which were now swallowed up by the garrisons lately taken in. The horse and dragoons, commanded by Major Hammond, advanced some few hours before the foot and artillery, and were to alarm the enemy till the foot came up. They made a halt a mile from the town, and drew out a pretty strong forlorn-hope, conceiving they might possibly surprise them, if they had not as yet taken the alarm; and first, three men were sent before to espy if the draw-bridge were down, and six more behind went undiscovered; next unto these marched the forlorn-hope, and the main body in the rear. In this posture they advanced up to the town, where they found the bridge down, the guards slender, the enemy without intelligence, and supinely negligent. On went the first party, killed the sentinels, a pikeman and a musketeer without match, and made good the bridge: the forlorn-hope rushed in, and after them a full body of horse and dragoons, fell upon the guards, came up to the main-guard before the alarm was taken, overturned their ordnance, and charged through the streets as far as the bridge Worcester way, where they took Major Mynne, the governor of the town. The enemy threw down their arms, many escaped by flight, and many were taken prisoners. Colonel Godfrey was slain in the first charge, as also Colonel Vavasour's quarter-master-general, and a lieutenant, all papists, besides a sergeant, with about six common soldiers. Our officers and soldiers, supposing themselves wholly victorious, dismounted and went into the houses, some in the vanity of their humour, others for plunder, whilst all slighted their own guards, and the making good of the bridge at which they entered, and neglected the taking and disarming of the main-guard, which lay in the heart of the town, and cleared every street. Whereupon those at the


main-guard, observing the horse not seconded with foot, took courage to charge some of our horse now in confusion, and many of the enemy out of the houses ran to the guard, and so strengthened it, that they issued out upon our men, put them to a retreat, beat them out of the town, and took some few prisoners. But before they were beaten out, they had cut down two draw-bridges, and secured the governor, Major Mynne, who was passed over Severn with a small party that took him beyond the town. By this time, Colonel Massey was come up with a few horse, half a mile in the van of the foot, which hastened after to make an assault in this instant of time. But the bridge towards Gloucester was again drawn up, and the works manned on that side; here the governor placed his company of dragoons, and gave order to fire upon them, whilst he drew his men round the town, it being now dark night; but before he could reach the farther end, where he entered about midnight, the enemy were fled towards Worcester, being daunted at the first assault made by the horse, observing withal our foot now brought up, their own governor lost, their officers slain, and most of the common soldiers already run away. The townsmen, through fear, durst not give the least intelligence of what had happened. By which means they were past the recovery of our horse, already tired, besides the night and dark weather hindered the pursuit. Only we took some scattering foot, to the number of four and twenty, with a lieutenant. Upon our entrance, we found eighteen barrels of powder, left by their haste, a hundred and twenty skeins of match, two hundred new pikes, four and thirty large hand-granados, good store of musket shot, and two brass drakes. Most of their muskets were thrown about in the fields, ditches and rivers, many of which were afterwards found; but the place itself was of greatest consequence, and worthy of the service, being now a strong frontier town, securing that side of the county, and commanding a good part of Worcestershire; and in this nick of time extremely cross to the intentions of the king's army. The enemy confessed themselves to be near seven hundred strong, when our whole body could not reach that number".


This affair took place on the 5th of June, 1644,[64] while the Earl of Essex and Sir William Waller remained with their armies near Oxford, watching the movements of the king: his majesty however contrived to elude their vigilance, and hastened over the Cotswold hills to the relief of Tewkesbury, not being apprised of the loss of the place until he was within a day's march of it. Finding that Massey had rendered the bridge at Upton impassable, the king went to Evesham, where he remained one night, and when he left it in the morning, he broke down all the bridges, to prevent Sir William Waller, who was in the rear, from pursuing him.[65]

After this, the king's army remained for a considerable time about Bredon hill, keeping Tewkesbury in continual alarm. At length, on ascertaining the weakness of the place, his majesty in person drew near with the intention of storming it; he advanced his ordnance within a mile of the town, and sent out parties to skirmish. Colonel Massey, in the mean while, sent into the town two hundred musketeers from Gloucester; and marched himself, with another party, to Corse Lawn, where he encountered and dispersed a detachment which had been sent


from Worcester; and then, crossing the Severn, came to Tewkesbury, upon which the king drew off his forces, and retired towards Pershore and Evesham.

In 1644, "the fortifications and bulwarks", which had been previously erected around the town, were strengthened and increased; and twenty-five of the inhabitants were daily employed by the corporation on the works. The High-street men worked at these on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; those of Church-street on Fridays and Saturdays; and those of Barton-street, on Mondays.[66]


The Worcestershire committee, for aiding the parliament, assembled here for some time in the latter end of the year 1644, and were guarded by two hundred and fifty well-appointed horse; and Colonel Rouse was also stationed here, for the purpose of raising a regiment of foot for the parliament, about the same period.[67]

In May, 1645, Colonel Massey came, with a reinforcement from Gloucester, and scoured the neighbourhood, as the garrison apprehended a visit from the kings forces, which were collecting in Worcestershire.[68] In September, Major General Poyntz arrived, for the purpose of watching the movements of the king, and of preventing especially his going to his friends at Bristol.[69]

In 1647, the borough was assessed at ten guineas per month, towards the maintenance of the forces under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, and for carrying on the war with Ireland.[70]

In 1648, an additional troop of horse, belonging to the parliament, was quartered upon the parish;[71] and in the following year, a petition to the government, from the corporation, asserted, in substance, "that the town was a parliament garrison, that the inhabitants generally were friendly to the parliament, and that most of them were provided with arms in their houses".


In 1651, when Cromwell marched to Worcester, to attack King Charles the second, a portion of the parliament's army occupied Tewkesbury; but as there were numerous parties of royalists in the neighbourhood, the republicans were afraid to leave their position even to obtain provisions, and were therefore in a great measure dependent upon their friends at Gloucester for supplies. Two days only before the last decisive contest at Worcester, a large quantity of bread was sent by the corporation of Gloucester to the lord general's army at Tewkesbury,

During the latter period of the commonwealth, Tewkesbury remained comparatively tranquil. On Christmas eve, 1653, Cromwell was proclaimed protector, with the same forms that are observed on the accession of sovereigns to the throne. In 1657, a recruiting took place, for the purpose of filling up a regiment, commanded by Colonel Mills, which was designed to assist in opposing an armament then expected to invade the country from Flanders; but the enthusiasm which had once animated the inhabitants to arm against the house of Stuart had abated, and few recruits were obtained. Before that time, indeed, the townspeople appear to have become weary of the exactions and oppressions under which they had for many years groaned; and shortly after the death of the protector, in 1658, when it became apparent that Richard Cromwell's power was tottering, the inhabitants of Tewkesbury evinced perhaps greater anxiety for the restoration of royalty and order, than they had formerly shewn in favour of rebellion and anarchy.

Subsequently to the restoration of Charles the second, there are so few important public occurrences connected with Tewkesbury, that we shall no further proceed with its history in chronological order: an account of the charters, and other more recent events, will be given in future portions of this work.

[52] The common people at this period lent a willing ear to idle reports of omens and prodigies, however extravagant and absurd; and as one of the inhabitants of this borough had rendered himself in no small degree notorious, from being a witness of one of those "strange sights in the air", which were supposed then to occur as warnings to the people, that circumstance must be our apology for alluding to such ridiculous fancies. Howell, in his Familiar Letters, declares that he read the relation and deposition of the Tewkesbury carrier, who asserted that, some time previous to the breaking out of the troubles between the king and the parliament, as he was passing over the Cotswold hills, with his men and packhorses, a little before the dawn of day, they "saw most sensibly and very perspicuously in the air, muskettiers, harnassed men, and horesemen, moving in battel array, and assaulting one another in divers furious postures". - Those appearances were probably nothing more than northern lights; and it is more likely that the poor carrier was himself deceived by the workings of his own disordered imagination, than that he attempted to impose upon the credulity of others.
[53] In a catalogue of these royalists, in the county of Gloucester, who compounded for their estates with the parliamentarians, appears the name of Thomas Jeynes, of Tewkesbury, the amount of whose composition was £.31. 10s.
[54] "The king's adherents were the wicked and the malignant: their adversaries were the godly and well-affected". - Hume.
[55] The townspeople having previously lent £.500 to the parliament, Sir William Russell thought it equitable that they should contribute the same amount for the service of the king.
[56] The following is the account given of this affair by the kind's friends, extracted from the Mercurius Aulicus, the famous court newspaper published at Oxford, under the superintendance of the celebrated Peter Heylyn:-
"Tewkesbury, Wednesday, March 29, 1643. - News also came this day that Sir William Waller, having by his perfidiousness and treachery beaten up the Lord Herbert's quarters, as before was said, had marched to Tewkesbury, which he took and pillaged: his majesty's forces there (which were but few) withdrawing themselves from thence by a timely providence as soon as they heard of his approach: but that he presently retired to Gloucester, not daring to adventure farther into the country, for fear of Prince Maurice and his troops, who was come to Cirencester, and joined with those other forces, who were before sent thither under the Lord Grandison". - Mercurius Aulicus, March 29, 1643.
"Tewkesbury - It was also certified, by the said messenger, that after Waller had left Tewkesbury, which his soldiers quitted in such haste upon the noise of Prince Maurice's coming, that some of then ran into the Severn to avoid the danger, the king's forces entered the same again; and that, besides the companies which were there before, there are three hundred commanded men put into it also, all of them being well armed and furnished with ammunition, which before was wanting; and for the want of which they had before withdraw n themselves at the approach of the enemy". - Mercurius Aulicus, April 2 to 9, 1643.
The following account of the same transaction is copied from a parliamentary newspaper:-
"Tewkesbury. - Sir William Waller regained divers towns possessed by the cavaliers, but especially Tewkesbury, which he entered with small difficulty, took divers prisoners and great store of arms, Prince Maurice having placed all his stores and magazines there, and other rich prize; that done, he placed a garrison in Tewkesbury, and so himself came to Gloucester". - Perfect Diurnal, April 10 to 17, 1643.
[57] On the 15th of April, 1643, a letter was read in both Houses of Parliament, from Sir Wm. Waller and Sir Arthur Haslerig, (dated April 12th), detailing "The victorious and fortunate Proceedings of Sir William Waller and his forces in Wales, and other places, since they left Malmsbury; with the true manner of his taking Highnam and one hundred and fifty commanders and gentlemen, and one thousand four hundred and forty-four common prisoners, well armed; also how he beat up Prince Maurice's quarters, brake through his army, and came safe to Gloucester, from whence he sent Lieutenant-Colonel Massey to take Tewkesbury, which he hath since effected". This Letter, which was published by order of parliament, and printed for John Wright, in the Old Bailey, April 17, 1643, thus concludes: "Last night we came to Gloucester, and sent forth Lieutenant-Colonel Massey for to take Tewkesbury, which this morning he did. There were eight commanders, but we missed Colonel Slater, he being gone last night to give information at Oxford, that all Sir William Waller's forces were routed. We doubt not but you will have strange reports, believe this, God hath been good unto us beyond our thoughts; the taking and keeping Tewkesbury is of great consequence to these parts, Prince Maurice's design of taking us in the forest is now foiled; and so have we the bridge he passed over, but if he make haste, we fear he will find another before we can give a stop, if not, we hope he may taste a little of Wales as well as we have done. We writ you a letter for some arms and ammunition, we earnestly beg they may be sent, and two hundred horsemen's swords of Kennet's making at Hounslow. We desire your praises of God, and your prayers for,
My Lords and Gentlemen,
Your faithful Servants,
 William Waller,
Arthur Haslerig".
"We are now marching towards Tewkesbury".
The court newspaper thus laments this unfortunate affair:-
"Tewkesbury. - But it was certified withal (though hy later messengers) what ill success this fortunate success produced. For those of his majesty's forces which were left in Tewkesbury, upon receipt of this good news [the defeat of Waller's forces by Prince Maurice in the Forest of Dean] grew so secure, if not so careless of themselves, that they neglected to keep their watches, and so became an easy prey unto the enemy, who coming up the water in boats from Gloucester, to the number of four hundred or thereabouts, made themselves masters of the town ere they were discovered, seized on the officers and soldiers as they were asleep, carried their arms and horses away to Gloucester, took prisoners most of the commanders and some common soldiers, and so returned again without any loss. So that, comparing this with some former accidents, a man may easily observe, that his majesty hath lost more by the negligence of his own men than the power and valour of his enemies". - Mercurius Aulicus, April 9 to 16, 1643.
[58] The following are the court newspaper accounts of this engagement:-
"Tewkesbury, Apr. 14, 1643. - This day there came relation of a second fight betwixt the forces of Prince Maurice and Sir William Waller: it being related, that after the defeat at Little Dean, Waller returning with his horse had, by by-paths and unsuspected ways, got in safe to Gloucester, and from thence taking with him some commanded men out of the garrison there, had entered Tewkesbury, being made ready to his hands (as before was noted) intending to have kept the prince beyond the Severn; but that the prince, hearing how he had stolen away, and warily suspecting what his plot might be, had sent five hundred horse before to gain Upton Bridge, which was done accordingly: that the prince, having crossed the Severn, drew towards Tewkesbury, where Waller tarried to expect him, and for his entertainment had lined the hedges thereabouts, with good musketeers, with an intent to brave the Prince, with some troops of horse; and so by that bravado to entice his army within the reach and compass of his ambuscado; that the Prince, knowing whom he was to deal with, having repulsed the horse so sent out to brave him, pursued no further than the country was free and open; and then commanded some of his choicest foot to scour the hedges; which being done, he fell so unexpectedly upon them with the main body of his forces, that he made them fly, killing about eighty in the place, besides as many more (as it is conceived) who, flying from the sword, fell into the river, and were there drowned, there being but two only killed of his own soldiers: that Waller upon this second beating had recovered Tewkesbury, which he began to fortify for his best defence; and that the prince was got betwixt him and Gloucester, intending to prevent him from returning thither. What hath been done since then is not yet made known". - Mercurius Aulicus, April 9 to 16, 1643.
"April 15, 1643. - A false report is contradicted, 'that Sir William Waller, when he came first to Tewkesbury, (after his beating up of the Lord Herbert's quarters) took twenty-five of his majesty's horse, with their pistols, carbines, and other arms, and £.16,000. in money.'" - Ibid. "Tewkesbury, April 19, 1643. - There came this day some more particular information of the fight at Ripple Field, near Tewkesbury, mention whereof was made on Friday, April 14, in the last week of this Mercurius; viz. that one of Waller's troops of horse was by themselves confessed to be cut off by the Prince Maurice's forces; and that another, which was thought to have saved themselves by running away, was not yet returned unto their fellows; his foot being so extremely routed, that it was thought impossible they should be rallied; so that in the two late fights betwixt Prince Maurice and him it is conceived he hath lost above five hundred of his men: as also, that Sir William Waller himself, being by accident thrown off his horse in the heat and fury of the battle, was trodden under foot, and so sorely bruised, that it was thought he could not easily recover, insomuch that it was affirmed in London, as is advertised by some letters thence, that he was killed, and all his men slain, except those that fled; and it was signified, withal, that since the fight Prince Maurice was marched towards Evesham, to comfort and refresh his wearied troops after so long travel; and that on his removal thither, Waller was safely got to Gloucester, where he still abideth". - Mercurius Aulicus, April 16 to 23, 1643.
[59] In a pamphlet, entitled "An Abstract of several remarkable Passages which happened at Gloucester during the Siege", are the following verses on the above gentlemen:-
All know full well,
That every Bell
Is useless till't be hanged;
And none I hope,
Denies a rope
To have his sides well banged.
This Hill was seen
In summer green,
Fresh, faire and flourishing;
Now Proteus-like,
'Tis altered quite
'Tis fading, perishing.
[60] Henry Foster, quondam Serjeant to Capt. George Mosse, published "A true and exact Relation of the Marchings of the two Regiments of the Trained Bands of the City of London, being the Red and Blue Regiments, as also of the three Regiments of the Auxiliary Forces, the Blue, Red and Orange, who marched forth for the Relief of the City of Gloucester, from August 23 to September 28, 1643", from which the following extracts are made:- "Sept. 5, We advanced to Prestbury, within sight of Gloucester. This evening the Lord General was fain to fight for his quarter, and beat the enemy out of it, at a market town called Cheltenham. - The next morning, Sept. 6, our soldiers came down from Prestbury Hill into the village, being wet to the very skin, but could get little or no refreshing, every house being so full of soldiers: the cavaliers were in the town but the day before. We staid here but two or three hours that morning: our soldiers began to complain pitifully, being even worn out and quite spent for want of some refreshing; some complaining they had not eat or drank in two days, some longer time. Yesterday the enemy raised their siege from before Gloucester; this day our two regiments of the trained bands marched to a little village called Norton, three miles wide of Gloucester, and four miles from Tewkesbury, where our soldiers had some reasonable accommodation and refreshment: in this village we had many alarms: we continued here two days and two nights. - Sept. 7. This night, about seven of the clock, there came a command for our regiments of the trained bands to march five miles back again in the night, but it being a very dark night, and our men worn out and spent with their former marching, they refused to go; but next morning, Sept. 8, we did. The Lord General with the whole army marched into Gloucester this day. The city was exceeding full of horse and foot: the enemy besieged this town a full month and three days. We found very loving respect and entertainment in this city, they being very joyful of our coming; we abode here Friday night and Saturday, and marched away on Sabbath-day morning. The Lord General left in this city three great pieces of ordnance, as also many score barrels of powder, with match and bullet proportionable, furnishing them to their heart's desire. Sept. 10. The whole army advanced from Gloucester to Tewkesbury, where we abode four days and five nights, till Gloucester had provided themselves of corn and other provisions: the enemy had cut off from the city all their pipes of water, and burnt their mills. My Lord General summoned this town of Tewkesbury, and demanded the twentieth part of their estates for the relief of Gloucester. We were at this town five days, from Sabbath-day till Friday, Sept. 15. On Thursday night, the enemy did fall upon some of our troops of horse, who were quartered about three miles from Tewkesbury, [at Oxendon], of the regiment belonging to Sir James Ramsay; they slew many of our men, and took many others prisoners. We took four of them prisoners; but the greatest loss was sustained on our side. Before we marched from this town, the Lord General gave orders for the making of a bridge over the Severn near Tewkesbury, as if our intention had been to march with our army over there to Worcester; which caused the enemy to draw their forces thither, as a place of refuge. The wisdom and policy of the Lord General and counsel of war, as also their great care for the preservation of our army, is highly to be commended, and never to be forgotten; and may serve to stop the mouths of all such as shall hereafter be opened against him; for had the enemy known which way we had marched, they might have had us at a great advantage, by gaining the hills; we being now in the vale of Evesham, and all our great ordnance and carriages to be drawn up these hills, they might have kept us there all this winter, and starved our army; but, blessed be God, we all marched away with safety. One that was present at Evesham, where the king with his army lay, affirms, that when tidings came to the king that we were marched from Tewkesbury, they did stamp and swear and curse their scouts exceedingly, that they gave them no better intelligence of our departure. And the same day we marched from Tewkesbury, the king with his army and train of artillery marched from Evesham after us. - September 15. Our whole army advanced from Tewkesbury to Cirencester, 17 miles; we marched all night, and sat down before it about three o'clock in the morning".
From "A true Relation of the late Expedition of his Excellency Robert Earl of Essex, for the Relief of Gloucester", ordered by the Commons, Oct. 7th, 1643, to be printed, the following extracts are taken:-
"Monday, Sept. 4. The army that night quartered at Naunton. Tuesday (the 5.) his Excellency advanced and came to Prestbury Hills, where he drew up his whole army in view of the city of Gloucester, and discharged four pieces of great ordnance to give them notice of his approach; soon after we discovered the enemy's quarters on fire, for upon our advance they deserted the siege, and marched away all that night in fear and disorder: the rear guard of our army, some ordnance and ammunition, stayed on top of the hills by reason of the steepness thereof, darkness of the night, and tempestuousness of the weather, whereby (besides the famine) the whole army had for three days march before, extremely suffered through a country that the enemy had already destroyed, and that night through the violence of cold and rain divers of their horses died. His Excellency with the rest of the army quartered that night below the hill at Prestbury. - The next day (being Wednesday) his Excellency marching to Cheltenham, the enemy fell into the quarters of Col. Dalbeir's regiment; but having the alarum, soon retired with little loss. - The next day (being Thursday) the enemy beat up the quarters of Col. Goodwin and Col. Beere's regiment; the loss was not considerable, only Major Boza (charging the enemy very bravely, to make retreat for the rest) there lost his standard; his lieutenant and cornet taken prisoners. - His Excellency staid at Cheltenham till Friday, and then marched with his whole army to Gloucester, where he continued till Sunday, furnishing the town with ammunition, money and other necessaries. - On Sunday he marched to Tewkeshury, where he staid betwixt the enemy's forces and that garrison four days, to give them more time to furnish themselves better with provision of victual, which was to be brought from Herefordshire and parts beyond the Severn, since all the hither parts were before ransacked by the enemy. In all these removes since our army came down the hills, the enemy avoided quartering near us, lying at Sudeley when we were at Gloucester; and when we came to Tewkesbury, and advanced with part of our forces to Upton, they marched with their army to Evesham, and towards Worcester, ten miles at least from us: whereby it appears how true it is that they pursued us ten days to seek battle. On Friday morning, his Excellency arose with his whole army from Tewkesbury, intending to quarter that night at Cheltenham; but upon advertisement that a body of the enemies were then in Cirencester (which were reported to be Prince Maurice's forces) and had there laid in great store of provision for their army, (our want of necessaries and victual still continuing, and miserably increasing upon us), his Excellency made a long march with the vanguard of the army, to fall upon them; which he did about one of the clock in the night, sending in a party of horse, (under the command of Major Robert Hammilton), to seize upon the centinels and guards, whilst we with the rest of the horse begirt the town, and a forlorn hope of foot (commanded by Col. Alex. Bradley) and his Excellency's own foot regiment entered the town, and surprised two regiments of horse (being Sir Nich. Crispe's and Col. Spencer's) which were both, by the confession of their own prisoners, intended for raising a commotion in Kent. We took there likewise forty loads of victuals, which under God's providence was the preservation of the army till the day that we fought the great battle [at Newbury]: there were taken six standards, all the officers except the two colonels, which were absent, with divers other gentlemen of quality, above three hundred common soldiers and four hundred horse". "There came letters to the Parliament this day from the Earl of Essex, dated at Tewkesbury, the 11th present, and directed to the Speaker of the House of Commons, giving them a brief account of the relieving of Gloucester. Upon consultation of these letters by the Commons, public thanks were ordered in the churches, and thanks of both Houses to the Earl of Essex the governor, and garrison. The governor was presented with £.1000; additional forces and arms ordered for the garrison; and £.4000 more in money to be sent; and every man to have a month's pay gratis, over and above his arrears". - Perfect Diurnal, Sept. 11 to 18, 1643.
[61] "On the 2!st Sept. 1643, one hundred and fifty soldiers, some from Gloucester and some from Tewkesbury, taking the advantage of the neighbourhood being absent at Ledbury fair, under the conduct of Capt. Scriven, son to Scrivcn the rich ironmonger, and sometime mayor of Gloucester, came to Castle-Morton, to plunder Mr. Rowland Bartlett's house; a man so well beloved in his country for his hospitality, so dear to all sorts of people, especially to the poor, for his charity, and those helps which he freely bestowed on them, that, had not the rebels taken the opportunity of his neighbours being at the fair, the force had been too weak to have plundered his house. In Mr. Bartlett's chamber, Scriven seized Mrs. Bartlett's watch, and there breaking open a chest, took away £.600 in money, besides linen to the value of £.60; in other rooms they found more money, plate, jewels, bracelets, &c. amounting to a great sum; among other things valuable, both for rarity and use, he took a cock eagle stone, for which thirty pieces had been offered by a physician, but refused. In their strict search, they met with Mrs. Bartlett's sweetmeats; these they scattered on the ground, not daring to taste of them for fear of poison. After this, poor Mr. Bartlett's house was plundered four or five times". - Mercurius Rusticus. Mr. Bartlett was a Roman Catholic, and was one of the last of the country gentlemen who retained a jester in his house: many of the tricks and drolleries of John Havod, "the squire's fool", were remembered by the inhabitants of the village of Castle-Morton, long after his death.
[62] "Tewkesbury. - From Gloucestershire the House having received intelligence, that a party of the king's forces coming to Tewkesbury began to fortify the same for a winter garrison, and the very renowned governor of Gloucester, Colonel Massey, having notice thereof, drew forth a considerable party of horse and foot from Gloucester, and marched towards Tewkesbury, where he fell upon the enemy, killed about three hundred of them, took many prisoners, with about five hundred arms, and put the rest to flight". Perfect Diurnal, Nov. 6 to 13, 1643.
[63] "By letters from Gloucester, it is informed to the House of Commons, this day, of the intolerable oppressions of the Duke of Plunderland [Prince Rupert] and his plundering cavaliers, lately come into those parts about Tewkesbury; and that he sends about his cruel warrants, threatening fire and sword to all those that shall carry or cause to be carried any victuals or any provisions to the garrison at Gloucester, whereby that garrison is somewhat straitened". - Perfect Diurnal, Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, 1644.
[64] A manuscript, written in 1644, in the possession of the Tewkesbury feoffees, thus enumerates "The several changes of our town in these wars:-
"1. - Very forward and active for the parliament.
"2. - 7th Feb. 1642-3, it was delivered up to Sir William Russell, who was the governor.
"3. - In March following, Sir Matthew Carew was made governor, and shortly after withdrew to Worcester.
"4. - Then, within three days, came in Capt. John Fienes from Gloucester.
"5. - The next day came in the Lord Grandison, with a great army, and so Capt. Fienes retreated to Gloucester.
"6. - Then Sir M. Carew returned from Worcester, and settled here again.
"7. - Then, viz. April 1643, Colonel Massey won the town, and Sir Robert Cooke was governor, who shortly after sleighted the works, and left the town.
"8.- Afterwards, came in Major Massey to be governor.
"9, - 10th Sept. 1643, came in the Earl of Essex from raising the siege at Gloucester.
"10. - Then came in Sir Wm. Vavasour; and his soldiers, being Welch, ran away.
"11. - Then, the 6th of Jan. 1643-4, he came again, with fresh men.
"12.- 5th June, 1644, Colonel Massey won it".
[65] Perfect Occurrences, 1644.
[66] In the account of Mr. Alye, as to the "assignation for the Tewkesbury garrison", beginning Aug. 16, 1644, and ending July 18, 1645, (preserved among the Corporation Records), the following items appear:-
The total charge assessed on Tewkesbury hundred, and the hundreds of Cleeve, Westminster, Tibaldston, Cheltenham, Deerhurst, the borough of Tewkesbury, &c. was£.5206152
The total Receipts on account of which were458694
The total Arrears were62067
The total Disbursements were46401611
The Money owing was5477
Particular Disbursements. 
For petty charges of the Garrison£.238165
Paid the Marshall16100
Gunner and Mattresses12736
Captain Evans58150
Captain Cartwright2800
Captain Pury324190
Major Grey9140
Captain Warde of Tewkesbury724190
Captain Neast27350
Captain Warde789100
Lieutenant-Colonel Matthews88740
The Governor1076110
In this account, the total charge of a company weekly is stated to have been £.21. 16s.; - viz. 80 common soldiers, £.16. - captain, £.2. 12s. 6d. lieutenant and ensign, £.1. 4s. 6d. - 2 Serjeants, 14s. - 3 corporals and drummer, £.1. 5s.
The charge for the governor's company was £.30. 8s. 6d. - viz. 110 common soldiers, £.22.- for his own pay, £.5. 5s.- and £.3. 13s. 6d. for his officers, as above.
The whole pay of the four companies, if they were full, amounted weekly to £.95. 16s. 6d. and for the gunner and mattresses, £.1. 18s. 6d. more.
[67] Parliament's London Post, Jan. 7, 1645.
[68] Ibid, May, 1645.
[69] "At this very instant, Major-Gen. Poyntz is here with the commissioners, and his horse are now passing over Severn in boats on Worcestershire side, and so onwards, intending to be observant of the king's motions, especially if he look towards Bristol". - Letter from Tewkesbury, in Perfect Occurrences, Sept. 8 to 15, 1645.
[70] Tewkesbury Corporation Books.
[71] This troop was thus disposed of: - the town quartered, 50 - Walton Cardiff, 11 - Southwick, 19 - the Park, 16 - and the Mythe and Mythe Hook, 14. For their support, the town contributed monthly, £.18. Walton Cardiff, £.4. 2s. 6d. - Southwick, £.7. 8s. 4. - the Park, £.6. 0s. 4d. - and the Mythe and Mythe Hook, £.4. 17s. 6d.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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