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As in the case of Charles I. The result was a foregone conclusion, for Parliament had resolved to put Derby out of the way.
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As a matter of law his excuses were good enough; but no one could suppose that the trial would be decided by technical points. Of course the Earl had not heard of the Act of August 12th, but it would have made no difference if he had; and he knew quite well that he had been exempted from pardon by the Parliament years before, and must have been fully conscious of the risk he ran in taking part in the invasion of the Scots.
The Council of State had evidently decided also that the sentence of the court-martial should be carried into effect. They had written to Colonel Duckenfield on September 30th "As to what you mention of the Earl of Derby, order has been given by Parliament concerning him, which is to be effectually pursued, without expecting any interposition from Council. On September 29th, after the first day's sitting of the court, Derby himself directed two petitions, one to the Council, and the other to Parliament, promising to surrender the Isle of Man if his life should be spared.
He also wrote to Lady Derby to surrender the Island, but no hope was given that his petition would be granted even on these terms. As a matter of fact the Isle of Man was not surrendered until November. After the Earl's death Duckenfield and Birch led an expedition against it, and landed troops; but the Countess asked for terms, and before any fighting took place capitulated.
Duckenfield thought that the terms were satisfactory, because "these Castles might have cost a great expense of blood, time and charge, besides several other difficulties which in this Island are to be undergone in a siege, which are only obvious to such as be upon the place. To return, however, to the trial of the Earl of Derby, Charles, Lord Strange, now appeared upon the scene. He was a worthless person of whom his father had written "I have no good opinion of him; he is not ashamed of his faults.
But a few years later the exile of the Isle of Man became irksome to him and he left his parents and went to France, where he spent most of the next few years. Now, however, he returned, and a reconciliation was made; and to do him justice Strange seems to have used great efforts on his father's behalf.
He journeyed to London, but no one in London would intercede for the Earl, the intention of Parliament being evidently too well known. Derby then applied personally to Cromwell, emphasising the illegality of his condemnation by a court-martial after having received quarter.
There seems to have been no doubt that Cromwell was anxious to secure the Earl's reprieve; but Parliament would not listen to him.
Other means were then used. Brideoak pleaded so well for himself that he was made Lenthall's own chaplain and Preacher at the Rolls, but he failed to secure his patron's pardon. Finding there was no hope of reprieve the Earl made an attempt to escape which was very nearly successful. One night he found some pretext for being on the lead roof above his chamber, and procuring a rope slid down and escaped from the city. The alarm, however, was raised, and he was recaptured on the roodee, having unawares discovered himself to his pursuers.
Before attempting to escape, he left on his table a letter to the Countess advising her to make the best terms she could with Colonel Duckenfield "who being so much a gentleman born will doubtless for his own honour's sake deal fairly with you.
Did Ministers Matter? War and Religion in England, 1642–1649
After this Derby was of course more carefully watched. He made one final attempt in a petition to Lenthall on October 11th. In this he offered no vindication, but cast himself entirely on the Parliament's mercy, stating that he had been persuaded by Colonel Duckenfield that Parliament would spare his life. He again offered to surrender the Isle of Man, to take no further action against the Government, and to be imprisoned or banished as the House might direct.
If this was refused he particularly asked that the place of his execution might be altered from Bolton, because "the nation will look upon me as a sacrifice for that blood which some have unjustly cast upon me"; and he claimed that the charge of cruelty at the capture of Bolton was never once mentioned during his trial, which indeed was quite true.
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This petition was not brought forward in the House till Tuesday, October, 14th, the day before that which had been fixed for the execution. The House voted by 22 votes to 16 that the petition should be read, Sir William Brereton being one of the tellers for the ayes; but no action could be taken, for if a reprieve had been intended it would have been decided upon long before.
The Earl's last hours were moving and dignified enough; and told chiefly by Rev. Humphrey Bagguley, who was in attendance upon him during the few days before his death, they lose nothing in effect. Bagguley, with the Rev. The authorities at Chester showed unnecessary cruelty in forbidding the Earl's children intercourse with him; but his second and third daughters, Lady Katherine and Lady Amelia were allowed to spend most of Monday, October 13th, with their father.
Next day Derby was informed that he must start for Bolton on the following morning, and that evening he wrote his two last affectionate letters to his wife and children in the Isle of Man.
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Next morning he duly set out for Bolton, after his fellow-prisoners had been permitted to say farewell to him at the Castle gate. There was one sadder farewell still to be gone through. The Earl rode on horseback and about half a mile out of the town was met by his two daughters in a coach. Alighting from his horse he kneeled down and prayed for them before taking a final farewell. His request to be allowed to visit Sir Thomas Tyldesley's grave had been refused.
After resting two hours at an inn the Earl was conducted to the scaffold, which had been built near the Cross partly of timber brought from the ruins of Lathom House. Not very many people were present besides the soldiers on guard; but a tumult arising from some unexplained cause interrupted Derby in his last speech. He seems to have been afraid of the hostility of the crowd, but the soldiers with more reason feared a demonstration in his favour, for most of the onlookers evidently pitied him.
In them he again repudiated the charges of cruelty made against him. After having spent some time in private prayer, the Earl gave the signal to the executioner by lifting his hands, and his head was severed at one blow. So died, if not the wonderful possessor of all the virtues which partisan biographers afterwards pretended, a brave, upright and Christian gentleman, weak rather than offending, who deserved a better fate.
It would seem that this was the real reason for the final breaking off of the negotiations. The letter has been frequently reprinted.
The Great Civil War in Lancashire, 1642-1651
Marlet, "Charlotte de la Tremoille," p. There is also a letter referring to this matter in the "Ormonde MSS. The particulars are from the Garter Records of Sir Edward Walker; but, curiously enough, the date in one of the volumes is given incorrectly as January, The fact that the patent was directed from Castle Elizabeth in Jersey, however, is proof of the correctness of the earlier date. Assheton had died in February of this year, and Moore and Rigby in The latter has high praise for the moderate conduct of the royal troops.
The "Discourse," p. Cary's "Memorials," Vol. It was directed "To our Right Trusty and Right Well-beloved Cosen the Earl of Derby, our Captain Generall in our County Palatine of Lancaster," and states that owing to his rapid march the King had been unable to send particular summonses to Lancashire; he was now pursuing the enemy, who had been dislodged from Warrington Bridge.
Gardiner, "Commonwealth and Protectorate," Vol. Massey's letter of August 19 is printed in "Cary," Vol. He says that his advance has been checked by a regiment of Lilburne's horse quartered near Middleton; but this cannot have been Lilburne's own regiment, which only left Stockport on the 22nd. Some prisoners were made by Massey. Seacome's account that Massey strongly seconded Derby's appeals is, however, not compatible with a sentence of Mr.
Gardiner's: "Too late Charles discovered that a letter carried by Massey from the Scotch ministers attending the army contained a warning against a too close conjunction with malignants. It must be supposed that Seacome overrated Massey's part in the meeting.
Several warrants issued by Derby are given, and orders against plundering; companies on the march, however, were to have free quarter. Robert Lilburne, etc. The last gives most details, probably from personal knowledge; Major Robinson was one of the Lancashire officers to whom a commission was given in the reorganisation of the Militia in His narrative and that of Lilburne, as those written by eye-witnesses, may be taken as the most reliable.
With regard to the numbers of the respective forces, there can be little doubt that they were very nearly equal. Seacome's wild estimates, which are, as usual, unhesitatingly followed by Canon Raines, may be dismissed as impossible; he gives Lilburne 3, horse and foot. It has already been mentioned that Derby landed with less than horse, and either or foot p.
All the accounts substantially agree in respect to these figures. In the few days after landing these numbers were considerably increased; Seacome acknowledges that Derby had horse at the battle, while Lilburne says that the royalists had increased to 1, or 1, men, and the "Discourse" gives them 1, foot and horse. Lilburne's estimate of his own army, as stated in the letter to Cromwell, may be accepted as correct. He writes: "I had only my own regiment, and those three companies of foot, and the 60 horse and dragoons.
The latter of these references is to a letter from Birch, the Governor of Liverpool, who writes: "All that could be afforded in assistance were two foot companies from Chester, one of my Regiment, left about Manchester, not being so ready as the rest to march out, and what musketeers I horsed from hence with some few countrymen.