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represented him in the annexed engraving. The scattered troops being at length drawn together, they took up their quarters for the night at the two Lavingtons, and on the next day, Sir William Waller addressed the following letter to Lenthall the Speaker of the House of Commons.
"West Layington 13 March 1645. "SIR. These lines are to certify you that upon intelligence that Colonel Long lay with his regiments about the Lavingtons, I marched from Andover on Monday last to Amesbury, and there refreshing my troops till midnight, I advanced from thence in three parties. The first, commanded by General Cromwell, fell in between these quarters and the Devizes; the second, commanded by Sir Hardress Waller, fell in at Trowbridge to cut off their retreat towards Bath and those parts; with the third I fell in at Lavington. It was my fortune to find an empty fourme ; [or “ form,” meaning a nest which the game had deserted,] the enemy being drawn off to Westbury and Steeple Ashton, but the rest had better fortune, and in the end I had my share too. Cromwell lighted upon two troops at Potterne; Sir Hardress Waller upon the rest of his regiment at Westbury and Steeple Ashton, who beat the enemy in upon my quarter, when my regiment lighted upon them. Of 400 horse there escaped not 30; the Colonel with most of the officers and 300 soldiers taken prisoners, with about 340 horses and a good store of arms..... This success I hope will be the earnest of a further mercy. I was enforced to refresh our horse after this toilsome march and service in the worst of ways and basest weather that ever I saw. I am this day marching towards (Colonel] Holborne, to join with him so soon as possibly I can. I have no more to add, but that I am, Your humble servant,
Another reporter of the day's proceedings writes as follows, apparently to the governor of Newport-Pagnell. It is extracted from Sir Samuel Luke's MS. Letter-book.
“ Lavington 12 March 1645. “ NOBLE DEAR SIR. As bound in duty, these present you with all occurrences since my last. It was dated, as I remember from Ouslebury, whence on Saturday we marched to Andover where we surprised some forty from Basing and Winchester collecting contributions and provisions. Thence on Monday we advanced to Amesbury, which, though the farthest way to our journey's end [Taunton]; yet for quarter's sake we were compelled to march. Whilst we were on our march we had advertisement of Colonel Long and his regiment; (he is High Sheriff of Wilts), securely quartered between Lavington and the Devizes, and that his number was some five hundred. We thought so considerable a party worth our pains of fetching; and that night, dividing our forces for several quarters and passes, our success this enclosed will impartially testify. So now intend without delay for our Taunton fraternity. What shall in our journey thither or there happen, you may assuredly expect faithfully related from, Sir, Your most obsequious kinsman and humble servant,
The rumours of this scrimmage were not long in reaching Bristol, from which place Lord Colepepper sent forward a warning note to his friend Lord Goring who was then beleaguering Taunton.
“12 March 1645. “For the present I can contribute nothing but our intelligence of Waller's advance westward. Mr. Long the Prince's secretary came from the Devizes upon Monday [the 10th] with the assurance that Waller's head quarters were at Andover with 2500 horse and dragoons, and that the foot, which they call six regiments, were behind at Alresford. Yesterday some that came from Warminster, in a sufficient fright, said that several great parties of his horse and dragoons were in the woodland country of Wiltshire towards Farley castle, and that the country people estimated them to be 3000; but these messengers heard nothing of his foot. Thereupon my Lord Hopton sent orders to two regiments of his own horse quartered between Bath and the Devizes, with the Sheriff of Wiltshire's horse (of which I fear one troop has been beaten up by Waller) and other horse in several quarters scattered in those parts, to draw into a body about Bath ; then to expect further orders. When joined, they will be at the least 800 horse. These particulars are sent you that you may compare them with other intelligence." Tanner MSS, in the Bodleian Library.
A writer from Wiltshire in the Parliamentary interest observes:
“Colonel Ludlow is now sole Sheriff of the county. His competitor being taken prisoner, is in custodiâ Marescellorum, together with the greatest part of his officers, and his whole regiment utterly extirpate. Colonel Ludlow's approach hither is now most earnestly desired, to join with us in regard to this county, in which we hope there will now be found but little opposition, though we have been lately heavy-laden with infinite numbers of barbarous villains.”
Another paper has the following: “A most eminent piece of service it was, performed by Sir William Waller and Colonel Cromwell near Lavington in Wiltshire, where they
killed 40 and took 300 prisoners and 400 horse, gallant horse, and their best horse, being the same which conducted the Prince to Bristol ; besides their mock-Sheriff Colonel Long, who now may return by Tom Long the carrier.” Mercurius Brittanicus. March 17 to 24.
Lord Clarendon in his very brief notice of the above adventure, attributes Colonel Long's defeat to “his great defect of courage and conduct.” This is perhaps too severe, considering the numbers that were opposed to him; though it is not very clear what necessity there was for his leaving Devizes at all. His friends on the spot appear to have taken a higher estimate of his services, for within a few weeks, they procured his release by getting him exchanged for Colonel Stephens who had been taken prisoner at the rendition of Rowden House, see page 215.
Lastly we have to notice a memorial of the transaction left on record by the Parliamentary General himself, who, it is to be borne in mind, was not Oliver Cromwell, but Sir William Waller. At present Oliver was steadily performing the duties of a subordinate officer; but performing them in a manner so characteristic of his fervent soul, that the occasion seems to have elicited from his commander-in-chief a confession of delighted astonishment at witnessing the powerful grasp with which he closed upon his prey when once the moment for action had arrived. Apparently Waller had never had a fitting opportunity for estimating the capacity of his associate in arms before this march to Taunton; for he makes the notice of the affair at Devizes the occasion for expatiating on his professional characteristics. The passage occurs in Waller's private journal, written many years subsequent to the scenes depicted.
“In this engagement” says he “Cromwell's horse did good service ; and here I cannot but mention the wonder which I have ofttimes had to see this eagle in his eirey. He at this time had never shewn extraordinary parts, nor do I think that he did himself believe he had them; for although he was blunt, he did not bear himself with pride or disdain. As an officer, he was obedient and did never dispute my orders nor argue upon them. He did indeed seem to have great cunning; and whilst he was cautious of his own words, not putting forth too many, lest he should betray his thoughts, he made others talk until he had as it were sifted them and known their inmost designs. A notable instance was his discovering in one short conversation with one Captain Giles (a great favourite with the Lord General and whom he most confided in,) that although his words were full of zeal and his actions seemingly brave, yet his heart was not with the cause: and in fine this man did shortly after join the enemy at Oxford with three and twenty stout fellows" (with more to the same effect). Recollections of Sir William Waller, page 126.
Sir James Long's captivity wrought, as may well be imagined, great consternation in the family circle at Draycot. His lady, Mistress Dorothy Long, probably began to apprehend that heavy reprisals might now be taken for the recent demolition of Rowden House; and although the county of Wilts was at present so far under the King's power that the sittings of the Wilts Committee acting for the Parliament were in great measure confined to Malmesbury, yet she prudently thought it best to temporise with an enemy whose proximity had already enabled him to issue an order for the sequestration of her rents. Mistress Long therefore took the matter into her own hands; and expressing to the committee her private wish that Sir James would lay down his arms and submit to the Parliament, she offered at once to compound for his personal estate. Of the following documentary proofs of that transaction, the two last, it will be seen, belong to the period at the close of the war, when Devizes like Malmesbury again witnessed the conclaves of the Wilts Committee.
“At a council sitting at Malmesbury 5 April 1645:-Present, Richard Talboys, Edward Martyn and William Jesse, it was;-Ordered, That James Long Esq. pay for his composition £100 on Tuesday next: also that he yearly pay forth of his manors, lands, and tenements, £100 clearly, without deduction for contribution or for quartering of soldiers; to be paid at Michaelmas and Lady-day by even proportions. Signed by John Strange, clerk to the Committee.”
The Committee sitting at the Devizes to the London Committee, 17th December 1645.
“Right HONOURABLE. According to your Honours' reference to us of 26th November last upon the petition of Mrs. Dorothy Long wife of James Long Esq., we humbly certify that in April last we compounded with her for a fine for her husband's personal estate, then being in her custody, for £100; and for his real estate, £100 for one year, without deduction for quartering; whereunto we were the rather induced by reason the enemy's forces at that time overpowered this county, and none but herself then daring to adventure the taking of that estate, nor she herself without she might be protected. And she relating her desire to have her husband lay down his arms and submit himself to the Parliament, we gave her protection for herself and tenants and for her stock and goods ...... and it is our opinion that her goods were unjustly taken away and ought to be restored. And thus much we humbly submit to your honours' consideration.” Signed by Goddard, Brown, Jesse, and Martyn.
The allusion here made to goods being taken away will be explained by another paper, evidently sent up in consequence of a representation made by the family, at head quarters.
Certificate of the Wilts Committee addressed to the Committee at
Goldsmiths Hall: 14 November 1646. “Whereas Mrs. Dorothy Long compounded for her husband's estate in April 1645, albeit the county was at that time overpowered by the enemy, nevertheless upon some misinformation given to the Lords and Commons for Sequestration at Haberdashers Hall, one Thomas Vaughan by authority from them seized her goods to the value of £400, and would not return them for a less sum than £300. But the Wilts Committee, on complaint, gave order for their restoration 21 January 1646, when it was found that Vaughan had carried them off.” Signed by John Goddard, Edward Martyn and William Jesse.
A petition on the same subject by Sir James Long himself (no date] is endorsed by Mr. Ashe the sequestrator at Goldsmiths Hall, to the following effect;—That as the goods were taken by soldiers and not by order of the Wilts Committee, the London Committee cannot interfere. Nevertheless an order was sent from London dated 21 January 1646 enjoining the Wiltshire sequestrators to see the stolen property restored ;—with what result is unknown.
WALLER'S THIRD AFFAIR AT DEVIZES. The two Parliamentary Generals broke up from their quarters at the Lavingtons on the 14th March 1645; and hasten