Nothing more is heard of either army in the neighbourhood of Hungerford until June 1644, when Essex and his army spent the night of the 10th in the town, whilst on his way to the West Country.
October 1644: On 5th October, the Earl
of Manchester (a Parliamentary general), who was then at Reading, reported that most of his horse were at Hungerford, where they stayed until being sent to Salisbury on the 9th.
Later that month, the King was at Salisbury, and after a number of
successes in the west country, he planned to move east to relieve the garrisons at Banbury Castle, Basing House and Donnington Castle - all of whom had been besieged a long time.
The Parliamentary forces decided they must intercept him and prevent him returning to Oxford or London. Once again, it was at Newbury where they met.
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The 2nd Battle of Newbury: On 24 October
1644, the King had managed to reach Newbury first and occupied the town, making his own quarters at Shaw House. He decided to despatch a troop of his soldiers to Banbury, in an attempt to draw some
of the Parliamentary armies away from Newbury. However, this resulted in the King's own force being reduced to some 9,000 men, and all three parts of the Parliamentary army remained at Newbury
against him. Nevertheless, the Royalists had joined up with Colonel Boys, who was holding Donnington Castle, and took up strong positions.
The large Parliamentary army, under the Earl of Manchester, found
Newbury heavily defended, but three generals, in conference, decided to attack the King's very strong defensive position from both sides at once.
They sent Cromwell, with the more junior commanders Waller and
Skippan on an encircling march of 13 miles north and west around Newbury (through Chievely, Winterbourne and Boxford) through the night to reach the west of Charles' line, while Manchester remained
in the east.
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The plan was that at a pre-arranged signal, both forces would
attack simultaneously - but things did not go according to plan.
On the morning of 27th October, Manchester and his troops made a feint attack on the King's headquarters at Shaw House, which developed into something greater so that his
men were seriously committed.
Later in the day he did not recognise Waller's signal to attack - Waller attacked at 3pm. but Manchester did not attack until 4pm, with the light rapidly failing into
dusk. Fighting continued until dark, but despite the heavy pressure, the Royalists held their own, and having deposited their guns and baggage in the Castle, they withdrew over a bridge over the
river Lambourne which was an obvious line of retreat, but no Parliamentarian troops blocked their path, and the Royalists were free to withdraw.
The following day, the Parliamentarian commanders held a council of war at Speen. Cromwell, Balfour and Sir Arthur Hesilrige eventually were allowed to take cavalry in
pursuit of the King's army, but soon found that the Royalists had already crossed the River Thames at Wallingford and had reached the safety of the neighbourhood of Oxford.
The Siege of Donnington Castle: Colonel Sir John Boys held the castle bravely
against great odds, in face of a number of assaults, both before and after the second battle of Newbury.
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A major assault on the castle was made by Manchester and his entire army, with siege pieces brought from London, on the 7th November,
1644, but it was repulsed and the Parliamentary troops retired to Newbury.
Two days later the King, with Prince Rupert, returned with reinforcements and raised the siege. He collected his artillery, spent the night in the castle, and left the
next day - when the castle and Sir John Boys were again besieged.
They held out until the end of the war, when ordered to surrender by the King. The garrison marched cut with full military honours in April 1646. The siege of Donnington
had lasted 20 months.
King Charles executed: In 1649, following the Second Civil War (1648-49) and a second defeat for Charles, he was subsequently
captured, tried, convicted, and (on 30th January 1649) executed for high treason at the banqueting house in Whitehall . The monarchy was abolished, the House of Lords was abolished, and the
Commonwealth was proclaimed.
In 1650 Oliver Cromwell became Lord-General, and in 1653 Lord
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1651: That troops were stationed in Hungerford
during the Commonwealth is shown by the occasional parish register entry. Thus in 1651 there is record of the burial in Hungerford
on 7th June of Thomas Silversyde, "a soldier, of London"; and among the baptisms on 22nd August that year was that of Thomas, son of Thomas Later, "a soldier".
Later in 1651, the young Charles (later Charles II), having been crowned at Scone, made an abortive attempt to recover his father's kingdom, and seize the throne by force
of arms. He was defeated by Cromwell at Worcester on 3rd September 1651, and on the following day the Council of State sent orders to the Militia Commissioners of Hampshire to march their levies
(enrolled men), which were then stationed at Hungerford, to join Cromwell's force at Worcester (State Papers Domestic 1651, p.406).
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Penruddock's Rising, March 1655: Cromwell was now firmly established as Protector, but not all Royalist opposition was quelled.
A further attempt to overthrow the Commonwealth occurred in March 1655, and had its origin in the area of Salisbury. Led by Colonel John Penruddock, a small group of
gentry from the West Country rode into Salisbury on 11 March with about 200 adherents on horseback, raised the Royal standard and proclaimed Charles as king.
The assizes were being held at the time, and the revolutionaries seized the sheriff and judges and held them prisoner. The next morning, they headed west out of Salisbury,
through Blandford, Sherbourne and Yeovil, hoping to pick up more supporters, but a single troop of horse of the new Model Army under Captain Crook defeated them in a three hour street fight in South
Molton, Devon on 14 March. Most of the supporters fled, but Crook captured Penruddock and the ringleaders.
Amongst Penruddock's 200 supporters were a small number of Royalist sympathisers from Hungerford and district. These included William Palmer, a cordwainer,
who joined the group at "Bottles Hill", 4 or 5 miles from Hungerford, intending to rendezvous at Old Sarum, but had turned back and was arrested. More notable local rebels were
Sir Seymour Pyle of Axford near Ramsbury and his brother Gabriel Pyle; Robert Mason who owned the manor of Hidden-cum-Eddington; two more landowning gentry in John Deane and
Thomas Curr; John Lucas, a tradesman's son of Hungerford; and John Kensey, surgeon, who is described in one list as of Hungerford but probably came from Newbury.
In May Penruddock and the ringleaders were tried at Exeter. Several of them (including Penruddock himself) were executed; many were sold as slaves in Barbados.
Of his followers Mason and Curr were fortunate to escape; Deane, Lucas, and Kensey were tried and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. However Deane was reprieved;
and Lucas and Kensey by what was described as an act of grace had their sentence reduced to beheading.
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The incident shows what relatively small support there was in
for a Royalist action so extreme. Of those named as having Hungerford connections Palmer changed his mind; Kensey almost certainly came from Newbury (the name Kensey appears nowhere in Hungerford parish registers, nor in any other Hungerford documents); the Pyles resided well outside the parish; Deane lived in the parish of Tidcombe.
Of the remainder who might more properly be considered Hungerford locals, Robert Mason had fought as a young Cavalier in both the first and second Civil Wars; Thomas Curr
was a staunch Roman Catholic whose adherence to his faith had caused him to lose much of his landholding in Sandon, Helmes and Anvilles; John Lucas was a member of a well-to-do Hungerford family of
mercers, being the son of Jehosophat Lucas who had given the town its famous Hocktide horn in 1634. John was born in 1631 and, like Mason, and probably other hot-heads, was a young man when he was
caught up in the excitement of Penruddock's rebellion. There are several indications that the rest of the Lucas family held Puritan views; the will of John's uncle Onesimus (1638) in
particular being full of the most extreme Puritan theology. One can but feel sorry for poor young Lucas, as one may for surgeon Kensey who, we are told, was drawn into the rising by Robert Mason, the
latter "a desperate fellow". Be that as it may, different fates befell them. Lucas and Kensey were executed; but when the King returned Mason received a knighthood, and Deane climbed his
way back to become the member of Parliament for Great Bedwyn.
Cromwell died in 1658 and was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard Cromwell, but he was forced to abdicate the following
year. The new parliament of 1660 proclaimed Charles as King and invited him to return to Britain. He reached London on 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday.
- Littlecote House
- Norman Hidden: "Caught in the No-Man's Land of War"
- "Gloucester & Newbury 1643 - The Turning Point of the Civil War",
Jon Day, Pen & Sword
Books Ltd, 2007
- "The English Civil War", Peter Young & Richard Holmes, Wordsworth Military Library, 2000
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