« PreviousContinue »
mell in with them: and if we had any fort, I might have bid fair to have taken the Castle. We took a Lieutenant-Colonel and divers officers and many prisoners, and 200 very good horses. Cromwell, I hear, is advanced from Ringwood towards Dorchester. I am now going after him to hear in what condition he is as fast as weary legs can carry me. Our want of money is extreme. Your humble servant,
“WILLIAM WALLER.” Near Blandford, the two Generals again joined forces; but the new-modelling of the army requiring their attendance soon after in London, the country was again left to the tender mercies of Lord Goring, who found no difficulty in driving in the unsupported local troops left under Wansey and Carr, somewhere in the vicinity of Fonthill and WestKnoyle, and carrying off a standard of Wansey's bearing the motto “FOR LAWFUL LAWS AND LIBERTY.” After which he repaired to the city of Bath “to intend his health” as Clarendon expresses it.
It must have been a source of considerable satisfaction to Waller that the last two signal actions in which he was engaged, viz. the capture of Long's regiment and the defeat of Jones's troop, should not only in both cases have been eminently successful, but should moreover have transpired in the vicinity of the very spot which had witnessed his fatal miscarriage in the summer of 1643.
There was then serving under Sir Charles Lloyd a grim Welshman named John Gwynn, who had followed the King's standard throughout the war, and whose relish for fire-eating in his royal master's service, judging by his own report, was a passion incapable of being satisfied. As soon as the Devizes garrison had recovered from the consternation into which Waller had thrown them, Captain Gwynn and his brother officers meditated reprisals, and the Parliamentary General's retreat towards the capital seems to have furnished them with the required opportunity. Let the captain speak for himself:
“When a party of Waller's horse beat up our quarters at the Devizes, and furiously scoured the streets, giving no quarter to any soldiers they
met, then I ran and leaped across the street of such a sudden by them, as to escape both their swords and pistols, when they killed Captain Jones with others, and shot Ensign Garroway in the neck. And to be quit with them, a knot of my own associates, officers, and reformadoes belonging to the garrison, came to pass away an hour or two with me at my quarters, and there contracted to make a party to go and fall upon Waller's rear-guard at Marlborough town-end; and withal, strictly resolved that not a word should be spoken after once our swords were drawn, but all to march on in order, and unanimously to sing a brisk lively tune, (being a great part of their design) and so to fall on, singing:-As they did, -beat the enemy, and pursued him through the town at mid-day, and market-day too; which so rejoiced a number of loyalhearted market-people, that their loud shouts gave an apprehension as if an army had come to second them. This strong alarm did so discompose their whole camp, that this small party had time enough to make good their long retreat; and to bring with them their well-deserved prize they so bravely fought for, of prisoners, horse and arms; without the loss of a man and but one or two slightly wounded.”.
[At the end of the Memoir, the notes of the tune are given, which Sir Walter Scott observes, resembles the old Scottish air of “Up in the morning early.”]
Once more for a brief period the Cavaliers were left masters of the centre and south of Wiltshire. Their career will terminate in the autumn of this year, (1645); and in the meantime it only remains to gather into one group the various performances by which Sir Charles Lloyd rendered memorable his closing tenure of office; and first, in respect of that large and influential class of citizens, the cloth manufacturers.
THE WESTERN CLOTHIERS. During the month of May a large party of clothiers, resolving to convey in person a cargo of their goods to London, endeavoured to secure themselves against seizures by entering into a bond with the Devizes Governor, whereby they covenanted to pay him a sum of more than £400 as excise upon the cloth after they should have transported it to the metropolis and returned in safety with ther teams. Upon this presumption a numerous company started in concert and got safe through the King's quarters at Marlborough;
but on approaching Newbury they suddenly found themselves encountered by Sir John Boys at the head of the garrison from Donnington castle. To him they laid open the circumstances of their case and exhibited the bond with Sir Charles Lloyd: but Boys insisting that the excise was as duly, payable to himself as to any other of his Majesty's servants, ordered them forthwith to produce the whole amount. The clothiers being unprovided with ready money, were driven to the necessity of raising the amount by loan among their friends in Newbury, and this with some difficulty having been effected, they were allowed to proceed on their journey. A few miles further on, they were caught sight of by the troopers of Wallingford castle, who pouncing upon them, drove them all, teams, baggage, and owners, into the castle, where the Governor Blake not only detained their goods for several days, but suffered his troopers to search their pockets. The end of it all was, that after much vexation and delay, they obtained permission to set out once more on their travels by paying an additional £10 on every pack of cloth, or leaving an equivalent in goods :—So that on reaching London the worthy merchants discovered that they had lost just one third of their property. Here they related their doleful case which was duly published in the newspapers; but whether their statement prevailed to purchase exoneration from Sir Charles Lloyd on their return into the country, the same veracious authorities fail to declare. It is on the whole to be inferred that this time the Devizes Captain lost his share of the booty; for he figures soon after in another seizure of cloth and clothiers which were safely lodged in his castle.
THE FIRST ATTACK ON CHIPPENHAM. On the 9th of May 1645 Colonel Sir James Long with 200 of his Devizes dragoons entered the town of Chippenham sword in hand and drove out the small Parliamentary garrison there stationed. He even pursued them as far as Malmes
bury, when the guns of that citadel opening a rapid fire upon him checked his further advance. To compensate himself and his followers for so long a ride, he carried off from Colepark a hundred head of cattle, with which he retired successfully to Devizes. Mercurius Aulicus, and others. About the same time a few straggling soldiers were taken in a tavern at Lavington, who having allowed their drinking propensities to obliterate their sense of danger, "were brought” says the Mercurius Viridicus, "with such triumph into the Devizes, that when Aulicus comes to flourish it over, I doubt not but it will prove a great victory, for he hath few others of late."
THE BURNING OF BROMHAM HALL. But though the Devizes garrison had but few opportunities for victory in the field, they were yet fated to become notorious in another way. It was during this same month of May that Sir Charles Lloyd resolved on the destruction of Bromham Hall, fearing perhaps that, like its neighbour Chalfield House, it might become a rival stronghold of the enemy; for it is to be observed that isolated houses better suited the purposes of small garrisons than did large straggling towns like Chippenham, where the ground to be defended required so much more numerous a force. Consequently we find that Chalfield House could maintain itself, though standing in a right line between the two hostile stations of Farley castle and Lacock Abbey; and there in fact a section of the Wilts Committee acting for the Parliament had now been sitting for some months, protected by a body of men under Lieutenant-Colonel Pudsey or Captain Hutchinson? for both names occur.
Bromham Hall was therefore doomed to the flames. As its proprietor Sir Edward Baynton was still nominally a friend to the Parliament, the destruction of his renowned mansion was not perhaps a source of much regret to the King's party, but the country people around beheld its fall
with consternation and sorrow; and Colonel Devereux the Governor of Malmesbury forthwith sent a message to Oxford, saying, that in consequence of the numerous burnings which had recently taken place between Oxford and Bristol, he had determined, in case another instance were brought to his knowledge, to commence a system of retaliation by beginning with the Earl of Berkshire's house at Charlton. Diary or Exact Journal 17 May.
The following letter, written just at this period by a resident in the neighbourhood of Bromham Hall to a relative in London, appeared in the Weekly Account June 4 to 11. “Blakemore Forest in the parish of Melksham:
«9th of June 1645. “LOVING COUSIN:-My best respects remembered. Having gotten a fit opportunity in these miserable distracted times, by my son, to write to you, I have thought fit to give you a touch of the miserable sad condition of our poor county of Wilts; being almost all over distressed with continual vexation of plundering by soldiers of the King's forces. I can hardly enough express our sad condition. We live in Blakemore-forest and about the Devizes, in which town the castle is made a garrison, commanded by Colonel Lloyd for the King. His soldiers rove about our county, where our misery is such that we are forced to pay them moneys to eat up our provision of victuals, oats, hay, and such like. For we must allow every common soldier sixpence by the day, besides diet; twelvepence per sergeant; eighteenpence the lieutenants and captains. And to add further misery to our country, the said Colonel Lloyd with a party of horse and foot came from the Devizes some ten days since to Bromham two little miles from thence, when they utterly destroyed by fire one of the famousest buildings in these western parts, Sir Edward Baynton's house, a member of the Parliament; it being a stately fabric of stone, with great store of very rich furniture. Nothing now is left standing but walls and chimneys. I suppose fifty or threescore thousand pounds cannot repair the loss: it is a great grief to our neighbours. When these troubles of quartering, billeting, and plundering will cease, I know not . . . . . . So with the prayers of myself and mine for you all, desiring the like from you, I take my leave: And rest, your loving kinsman till death,
"E. K.” The site of this once famous house is still known as Bromham House farm; but the few remaining vestiges of the primitive fabric, it must be confessed, disappoint the expecta