[From Draper The House of Stanley]
Though the battle of Dunbar was ostensibly fought by the Scotch on behalf of Prince Charles, it was, to all intents and purposes, a struggle for power between the Presbyterians and the Independent Parliamentarians ; and there can be no doubt but Charles looked upon the defeat of the Scotch as a fortunate event in his history, for he knew full well that both the Presbyterians and Independents were almost equally his enemies, except so far as his cause could be made subservient to their purposes. The Presbyterians now seeing their plight, made common cause with Prince Charles, and on the 1st of January, 1651, the ceremony of his coronation was performed at Scone with great pomp and solemnity : and now the object of the Presbyterians was accomplished, for the King signed the solemn League and Covenant, and thus agreed to maintain and respect the Presbyterianism of Scotland ; but, not-withstanding this act on the part of the King, and the apparent loyalty of the Presbyterians towards his Majesty, there was little confidence subsisting between them, and the position of Charles was such that he actually made his escape from the Presbyterian army and fled towards the Highlands to join himself with Colonel Middleton, then at the head of a few Royalists who had been proscribed by the Covenanters: but Colonel Montgomery, with a troop of horse, went in pursuit of his Majesty, and he was easily induced to return on finding that the Royalists were not numerous enough to support him.
In the spring of 1651, as soon as the season would permit, another army mustered in the Kings favour at Stirling, under the command of Hamilton and Leslie, and the King was also allowed to be in the camp ; and Cromwell, leaving one of his officers to watch the movements of the King, proceeded with his army to cut off the Kings communication with the Highlands by the capture of Perth. Cromwell having thus secured his position at the back of the King, made it impossible for him to retain his ground any longer. The way into England being now open, owing to the position taken up by Cromwell, Charles immediately determined to march into England, where he expected all his friends, and all those who were discontented with the existing government, would flock to his standard ; and, acting in obedience to the determination of the King, the whole army, numbering about 14,000 men, advanced across the border and came into England, but were closely followed by Cromwell.
Whilst at Stirling the King appears to have been directly in communication with the Earl of Derby, who still remained in the Isle of Man ; and in a series of letters published in Mr. Carys Memorials of the Great Civil War the Earls preparations for a descent upon Lancashire are alluded to : The first is a letter from the Duke of Buckingham to the Earl of Derby, dated Stirling, July 24th, 1651, and is followed by one from Lord Derby to his secretary, Brown, intimating himself as being in readiness to come to Lancashire when called, " with five thousand good fellows in good equipage," and recommending the publication of the Scots report, " that the DUKE OF DERBY is coming with five thousand men." The Earl also mentions his having communicated his intentions in Lancashire, that the King might not suffer as Hamilton did, by coming without him, and his wish that the gentlemen in the Isle of Man might know the Kings desires, that the Earls commands might be obeyed there as his own, as the maintaining of the security of the Isle of Man would "be a service as acceptable as if it were done in England."
The Earl of Derby having been apprized of Charless march into Lancashire, immediately sailed with his two frigates from the Isle of Man, accompanied by a gallant baud of devoted Royalists, including Sir Thomas Tyldesley, Colonel Ashurst, and others,1 who had been sheltered and entertained by him from the fury of the Parliamentarians, with the intent of joining Charles in his march to Worcester. The Earl of Derby landed in Lancashire on the 16th of August ; and, we are told, that no sooner had Colonel Birch, the governor of Liverpool, heard of the arrival of Lord Derby, than he hurried his lordships younger children (whom he had been retaining at Liverpool as prisoners) to Chester, fearing, as it is observed, that the Earl of Derby "would knock at his door to inquire for them."
Charles is supposed to have passed through Warrington, on his way to Worcester, on the 16th August ; and Clarendon,2 noticing the Kings march through Lancashire, says, "In Lancashire the Earl of Derby met him," and then proceeds to notice that it was advised "unfortunately that the Earl of Derby, &c., should return into Lancashire, in order to raise the well-affected in those two counties of Lancashire and Cheshire," adding that "the Earl of Derby had a body of near two hundred horse, consisting for the most part of officers and gentlemen, which deprived the army of a strength they wanted." Seacombe, on this point, observes that the Earl, being called upon to meet Charles II. in Lancashire, hastened over to England, bringing with him three hundred gallant gentlemen,3 who had been sojourning with him in the Isle of Man, and though his lordship made all possible speed to have met the King in Lancashire, it so happened that his Majesty had passed through Lancashire three days before the Earls arrival, but had left Major-General Massey to receive him ; upon the hearing of which the Earl hasted to Warrington, where, that very night (August 16th), Major-General Massey brought in many of the Presbyterians to the Earl of Derby, and the Earl of Derby informed them "that he had come from the Isle of Man to do his Majesty all the service in his power ; that the King had given him a previous assurance that all the gentlemen of the Presbyterian persuasion would be ready to join him, and that he was ready to receive whoever pleased to come to him, and to march directly to join the royal army," when one of their ministers, on behalf of himself and the rest of his brethren, proposed to the Earl "That he hoped, and so did all the gentlemen with him, that his lordship would put away all the Papists he had brought from the Isle of Man, and that he himself would take the covenant, and then they would all join with him." The Earl, we are told, declined this proposal, adding, "That upon these terms he might long since have been restored to his whole estate, and that blessed martyr, Charles I., to all his kingdom; that he came not now to dispute but to fight for his Majestys restoration, and would upon the issue of the first battle, humbly submit himself to his Majestys direction on that point ; that he would refuse none of any persuasion whatsoever that came in cheerfully to serve the King ; and hoped they would give him the same freedom and latitude, to engage whom he could for his Majestys preservation ; and that he was well assured that all those gentlemen he had brought with him, were sincere and honest friends to his Majestys person and interest." Finding the Presbyterians inexorable, the Earl appealed to them further, saying, "Gentlemen, if you will be persuaded to join with me, I make no doubt but in a few days to raise as good an army to follow the King, as that he has now with him, and by Gods blessing to shake off the yoke of bondage resting both upon you and us" ; "if not," added the noble and gallant Earl, "I cannot hope to effect much : I may perhaps have men enough at my command, but all the arms are in your possession, without which I shall only lead naked men to slaughter ; however, I am determined to do what I can with the handful of gentlemen now with me for his Majestys service, and if I perish, I perish ; but if my master suffer, the blood of another Prince and all the ensuing miseries of this nation will lie at your doors." Having thus expressed himself to his scrupulous audience, the Earl took horse, having with him only the trusty gentlemen who had accompanied him from the Isle of Man and some other of the Royalist party, but lost no time in sending out his warrants for all persons willing to serve the King under him forthwith to hasten to Preston, that town being appointed as the place of muster and rendezvous.
The precepts, or warrants, issued by the Earl of Derby from Preston, calling upon the inhabitants of Lancashire to join him at that place in arms, for the purpose of following the King to Worcester and strengthening his army, were but feebly responded to, and thus the Earl was severed from the main army, those having flocked to his standard being only about six hundred, whilst the enemy was pouring into the county in great numbers. At this time Manchester was held by the Cheshire and Lancashire militia, and Colonel Robert Lilburne had arrived in Lancashire from York with ten troops of dragoons, to join the army under Cromwell, who was expected from Scotland in pursuit of the King. On Thursday, the 21 st of August, Lilburne and his forces took up their quarters for the night at Prescot, and the same night the Earl of Derby and his companions were at Ormskirk. The following day three hundred foot marched out of Chester, and all the foot that could be raised in Liverpool and other parts of Lancashire, to join in with Colonel Lilburnes cavalry, in order that the Earl of Derbys march to join the King at Worcester might be intercepted, and the Earl, if possible, captured, or his escape by water prevented. On the same day, August 22nd, the Earl of Derbys secretary informed Colonel Ashurst4 that the presence of the Parliamentary forces, under Lilburne, had prevented the circulation of the Earls precepts ; and that Lilburnes force was then approaching Wigan, which force now comprised eighteen hundred dragoons and the militia of Lancashire and Cheshire, numbering altogether about 3,000 horse and foot. To meet this numerous and unexpected force, the Earl of Derby had only been able to equip his six hundred horse.
On being apprized that Colonel Lilburne was in the neighbourhood, and knowing that longer delay in Lancashire would make his present critical position utterly hopeless the Earl of Derby, trusting to the goodness of his cause and the dauntless courage and resolution of those gentlemen who had accompanied him from the Isle of Man, and those who had afterwards joined him, resolved to proceed after the King towards Worcester, and not to shrink from encountering the enemy should he find his progress interrupted ; and to carry out his two-fold determination the Earl gave orders to march forthwith from Preston to Wigan, which place had ever proved faithful and loyal to the Royalist cause, and there, if possible, to await the arrival of the enemy, and so anticipate the measures and tactics of his antagonist. With this object before him, the Earl commenced his march with his small force, taking the route of Leyland, having on the right, at a distance, his own park and the ruins of his old mansion of Lathom, and proceeding on to the Standish. road, brought his force into Wigan-lane, which lies on the north of Wigan. Unexpectedly, however, to the Earl and his small band of brave followers, Lilburne, by forced marches, had succeeded in bringing up his forces to Wigan before the arrival of the Earl ; and Lilburne having posted his horse in Wigan-lane, and lined the hedges with his infantry, saluted the Earl of Derby on his approach with a galling fire of musketry. The Earl, though somewhat astonished at this unexpected reception, was not to be daunted or dismayed, but held on his march for some distance, when, approaching near to, and perceiving the strength of the enemy, and finding that an engagement was imminent, he gave orders for his troops to halt, and immediately divided them into two bodies of three hundred each. Having thus disposed of his troops, the Earl himself took command of the van, and confided the command of the rear to Sir Thomas Tyldesley. The charge was then sounded, and almost instantly the Earl of Derby and his followers were engaged in one of the most bloody and deadly conflicts ever fought on Lancasterian ground, being determined to cut through Lilburnes formidable and opposing cavalry, or die in the failure. Twice the gallant Earl and all his brave party cut their way clear through the main body of the enemy ; but, on attempting to repeat the same feat of courage and destruction the third time, though considerably reduced in strength, and still environed and overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the Parliamentarians, Lord Witherington5 and Sir Thomas Tyldesley were slain, besides many other brave and worthy gentlemen, a more extended list of whose names are given in Colonel Lilburnes despatch. Sir Robert Throgmorton, knight-marshal, was also left for dead upon the field of battle, but, being taken up by a poor woman, and placed under the care of Sir Robert Bradshaw, he recovered.
In this sanguinary conflict the Earl of Derby is said to have displayed prodigies of valour. He had two horses killed under him, and was twice remounted by a faithful French servant, who also lost his life by his noble masters side in the third charge. On the fall of the brave and lamented Lord Witherington, the Earl of Derby mounted the steed of that unfortunate nobleman, in the third charge, and being supported by six gentlemen engaged in the conflict, the gallant party of seven fought and cut their retreat through the body of the enemy, who attempted to surround and capture them, and actually reached the market-place of the town, where the Earl dismounted opposite a door, then open, and fled into the house, and suddenly closed the door after him, before his pursuers could overtake him. The good housewife received the wounded Earl kindly, and kept the door shut until she had conducted him to a place of privacy, where he remained concealed for some hours, notwithstanding a most industrious search was made for him in all directions by the enemy.
The day on which this memorable battle was fought was Monday, the 25th of August, 1651 ; and in the gallant exploits of the day, the Earl lost at least one-half of his six hundred companions in arms who took part with him in the struggle. During the conflict, which barely lasted two hours, the Earl himself received seven shots upon his breastplate, and thirteen sword-cuts upon his beaver, which he wore over a helmet of steel, and which was picked up in the lane after the battle. The noble Earl also received five or six severe wounds on his arms and shoulders, but none of them appear to have been dangerous.
The daring and bravery displayed by Lord Derby in this unequal struggle is universally acknowledged ; and though he had the misfortune to meet with a defeat, yet the contest which resulted in that defeat was one of those incidents in his honourable and patriotic, but checkered career which gives to his illustrious name one of its brightest rays,and confirms, in a most convincing manner, the sincerity of his loyalty, and his indomitable courage and endurance as a soldier.
The loss of the Parliamentarians in the battle of Wigan lane is put down by the Royalists as seven hundred killed, exclusive of those wounded.
The following letter, or despatch, from Colonel Lilburne to the "Honourable William Leuthall, Esq., Speaker of the Parliament," will be read with interest, as it shews the importance attached by the Parliamentarians to the defeat of the Earl of Derby at Wigan, and as it accidentally betrays the fact that the Royalist newly-raised force, under the command of the Earl of Derby, was not very strong, but would have been "very strong in a short time," had it not been for the defeat sustained. The letter and inclosed list of casualties read as follow :---
" Mr. Speaker,-My Lord Generall being pleased to command me to stay here to assist the well-affected against the Lord Derby, who was then at Warrington, in this county, with some considerable force both from the Isle of Man, and which he had from the Scots army, wherewith he did not only much encourage the enemies, but also discourage all the well-affected in these counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, and whereof he thought. himselfe wholly master (as indeede he was~, and none in those counties were able, or durst appear against him ; and began to beate drums and raise men in all places where he came, and would have been very strong in a short time, not only through the accesse of many Malignants, Papists, and disaffected persons, but that assistance the ministers and those who are called Presbyterians afforded, and would more abundantly have appeared, for they are the men who are grown here more bitter and envious against you than others of the old Cavaliers stamp ; the power of the Almighty was very much seene in the total overthrow (I hope) of that wicked designe which was laid and hatched not only here, but through the whole North of England, which was getting into the like posture, as you may further understand by those papers I have here sent you ; but that God who hath all along appeared with us and for us, hath shewed himself very good and powerful in the discipating of this enemy, who was about fourteen to fifteen hundred strong ; I had only three companies of foot, about fifty or sixty dragoons, and about thirty horse from Liverpool, with my own wearied and somewhat scattered regiment through our tedious march from Scotland, and hard duty we had here. Yesterday morning, about eleven or twelve a clock in the night, the enemy marched from Preston, we lying within two or three miles of them, where we expected those supplyes of forces which came not, some of our intelligence informing us the enemy were running away towards their army with what they had gotten ; we pursued them hither with some confidence that that intelligence was true, and the rather we believed it because of some discouragement we put upon them the day before ; but upon our approach hither we found it otherwise, for they were bending their course towards Manchester, where they had not only very great hopes of surprising my Lord Generalls regiment of foot, but also assurance of the assistance of five hundred men in and about that towne, but upon the sight of our near approach they unexpectedly put themselves in a posture of fighting with us, which then we endeavoured to decline, in regard to the very great advantage they had by their many foote and hedges, and the danger we apprehended my Lord Generalls Regiment of Foot at Manchester to be in, we were drawing off, thinking to have marched in the left flanke of them thither, to have gained a conjunction with our friends, who too, had order to march that day to me to Preston ; we had thought to have met them on the way, having sent several messengers to let them know both the enemies and our motion, but the enemy perceiving us to draw off, quickly advanced upon us with their horse and foot, which we perceiving, and that we could not goe off safely enough, we fell to dispute with them, which lasted almost one houre; our horse being not able to doe any service but in lanes, and they overpowering us so much in foot, made the businesse very difficult that we hardly knew whose the day would be for so long ; but therein was the salvation of God the more seen, and the greater opportunity we had to destroy them. I desire that he may have the praise and glory of that happy successe he was pleased to give unto his poor creatures. Having given you this narrative in general, which I thought it my duty to doe, this inclosed list will inform you further of the particulars. I desire the Lord would teach us to walke in some way answerable to those manifold and gracious dispensations he daily gives us experience of, and manifests his love to us, in that, His name may be magnified in all we doe in our several places and stations ; this great mercie to us here I hope is the earnest of his further tendernesse to the great concernment of all good people in this nation, which is the hearty desire of your faithfull and most humble servant to my power,ROB. LILBURNE.
"This Bearer was all the while in the engagement, and is able to give you a further relation. I have not lost an officer in this engagement, but one corporal, and not above ten soldiers slaine, but very many wounded.
"Present these to the Right Honourable William Lenthall, Esq., speaker of the Parliament of the Common Wealth of England.Haste.
"A List of the Prisoners taken at Wigan, August 25th, 1651.Col. Throgmorton, Col Rich. Leg, Col John Robbinson, Col Baynes, Col Ratcliffe Garret, Adjutant General, Lieut.-Col Francis Baynes, Lieut.-Col Galliard, Lieut.-Col Constable, Major Oower, Four Captains, 2 Lieutenants, One Quarter-master, Twenty Gentlemen and Reformadoes, 400 Private Prisoners.All their Baggage and Sumptures, Armes and Ammunition, the L. Derbies three cloakes with stars, his George, Garter, and other Robes.Slaine and dead since they were taken :The L. Witherington, Major-Gen. Sir Thos. Tilsley, Col. Math. Boynton, Major Chester, Major Trollop, and divers others of quality, whose names are not yet brought in, besides 60 private men."
It has already been stated that the Earl of Derbys force only numbered 600, whilst that of the enemy numbered altogether 3,000. The Earl of Derbys advance has been noticed as having been retarded by Lilburnes musketeers who. lined the hedges, but at last two charges were made by the Earl, which cut through the enemy, and that in the third, Lord Witherington and Sir Thomas Tyldesley were slain. The known intention of Lord Derby to follow King Charles II. to Worcester, and the result of the battle in Wigan-lane certainly favour the probability of the truth of the Royalist account. And it is worthy of observation that in all the letters and despatches issued by the Parliamentarians in Lancashire relative to the number and quality of the gentlemen who accompanied Lord Derby from the Isle of Man, they are represented in the most contemptible terms. One writer says, "The Earl of Derby after all the great noise is landed with 250 foot and 60 horse unarmed ; and a letter from Colonel Birch, governor of Liverpool, informs us "what a molehill that mountain, the Earle of Derby and his forces from the Isle of Man, doth prove, that is to say 60 poore horse and 250 foot" ;and yet four days after the last quotation was penned, and nine days after the Earls landing in Lancashire, when the Parliamentarians come to meet Lord Derbys force in the field, it is represented by Lilburne as superior to his own, apparently to magnify his victory.
Before proceeding to notice further the movements of Lord Derby after the battle in Wigan-lane, the reader will not deem it out of place, if we here give a few brief particulars respecting that gallant soldier, Sir Thomas Tyldesley, who, after his heroic death in the battle of Wigan-lane, by which he escaped death on the scaffold, was buried in the north chancel of the church of Leigh. Sir Thomas was a Royalist major-general, and a representative of a younger branch of the ancient Lancashire family of Tyldesley, in which township he appears to have inherited estates, possessing also Morleys Hall in Astley by descent from the Lelands, and Mierscough Lodge, near Lancaster, the latter being his residence. Of Sir Thomas, who was always a great favourite with the Earl of Derby, it has been observed that "his own brave actions would have supplied the want of ancestry, had he been otherwise born. . He was one of those Cavaliers whose deeds are more suited to the pages of romance than history" ; and the same writer also speaks of him as "the Bayard of Lancashire, the Knight sans peur et sans reproche." In memory of this gallant knight a pillar or monument was erected in 1679, about a quarter of a mile to the north of Wigan, in Wigan-lane, in the hedge fence on the east side of the lane, being the spot where he fell. It is said the original monument was defaced and removed about the middle of the last century, but was replaced by an inscription on a brass plate set in a piece of stone. In Adams Chester Courant, of May 29th, 1750, a correspondent gives the following description of the original pillar :"The pillar was of hewn stone, plain and quadrangular, rising from a projecting base, and on its top is the neck of a conick pedestal. A stone globe on the front of it, towards the west, has a vacancy of about 18 inches square, and two inches deep, which seemed to have contained some inscribed marble, or fiat stone, which had been injuriously carried off ; yet the stone was left. Sometime ago I was passing that way, and to my no little surprise observed that this monument itself was taken down, and totally moved away, so that even its situation is not now to be discerned." The writer seems to have found the slab taken from the front of the monument ha a neighbouring public-house. The slab was of black marble, and the letters had been gilt, and the inscription read as under :.
A high act of gratitude erected this
conveighs the memory of Sir Thos. Tyldesley
who served King C. 1st, as Left. Col. at Edghill battell,
after raised Regiments of horse,. foot, and dragoons,
and for the desperate storming of Burton upon Trent
over a bridge of 36 arches
Received the honour of Knighthood.
He after served in all the wars in great commands
was Governor of Litchfleld
and followed the fortunes of the Crown thro the
would never compound with the rebels tho strongly
and on the 25th Augt, 1650,6
Was here slain commanding as Major Genl. under the E. of Derby,
to whom the grateful erector
Alexr. Rigby, Esqre.+ was Comet,
and when he was High Sheriff of the Co. of Lancaster
anno 1679, placed his high obligation
On the whole family of the Tyldesleys.
Without questioning the truth. of what the correspondent of Adams Chester Courant may have seen, it is pleasing to find that posterity has not suffered the spot where Sir Thomas Tyldesley fell to be entirely forgotten or unmarked, for at the . present moment a monument, a plain quadrangular stone pillar, something similar to the one described above, perpetuates the memory and worth of that gallant patriot and Cavalier, this monument being situated in a garden fronting Wigan-lane, about a quarter of a mile from the town. The height of the monument, from the base of the pedestal to the top of the stone globe, with which it is surmounted, is about ten feet, and a canopied panel, about midway of the shaft, and on the west side of it, facing the lane, is let in a white marble slab bearing the above inscription, now very indistinct, and set out or displayed in thirty lines, the whole being protected from the lane by a high iron palisading. What portion, if any, of the present monument may have formed part of the original, said to have been removed about 1750, is not known.
The house into which the Earl of Derby fled from his pursuers after the battle in Wigan-lane was that now generally known as the Dog Inn, in the Market-place ; and, at that time, we are told, there was an upper room belonging to the house into which the wounded Earl took refuge, which received the name of "Beeston Castle," and it was in this apartment that the Earl had his wounds dressed previously to his departure towards Worcester. If the representations at the present time be correct the apartment which afforded refuge to the Earl was a room immediately over the present kitchen of the Dog Inn, the floor of which has been removed and so thrown open to the kitchen, and the stranger visiting that hostelry is shewn a recess or cupboard in the kitchen chimney, about seven feet above the kitchen fireplace, the door of which is always open, as being the very spot in which the Earl secreted himself during the search made for him by his pursuers. At about two oclock the following morning, having disguised himself, the Earl proceeded on his journey to Worcester, leaving behind him a brass plate containing the arms of the Isle of Man, encircled by the Garter, bearing the inscription Honi soit qui mal y pense. This plate remained at the Dog Inn till the year 1824, when it was sold to Edward Smith-Stanley, the twelfth Earl of Derby, and grandfather to the present Earl, by a descendant of the family that had afforded refuge to Earl James, and was conveyed to Knowsley, and, though much defaced, is an interesting and valuable relic of the unfortunate Earl.
The first shelter to the Earl after his departure from Wigan was given by a Royalist family near Newport, in Shropshire, a few hundred yards from the Staffordshire border, and the particulars of his arrival and reception there, as given in the Boscobel Tracts, cannot fail to be interesting to the reader. "After some days," says the writer, "my lord (the Earl of Derby) with Colonel Roscarrock and two servants, got into the confines of Staffordshire and Shropshire, near Newport, where at one Mr. Watsons house he met with Mr. Richard Snead (an honest gentleman of that county, and of his lordships acquaintance), to whom he recounted the misfortune of his defeat at Wigan, and the necessity of taking some rest, if Mr. Snead could recommend his lordship to any private house near at hand, where he might safely continue till he could find an opportunity to go to his majesty. Mr. Snead brought my lord and his company to Boscobel House, a very obscure habitation, situate in Shropshire, but adjoining upon Staffordshire, and lying between Tong Castle and Brewood, in a kind of wilderness. John Giffard, Esq., who first built this house, invited Sir Bazil Brook, with other friends and neighbours, to a house-warming feast, at which time Sir Bazil was desired by Mr Giffard to give the house a name, he aptly calls it "Boscobel (from the Italian Bosco-bello, which in that language signifies fair wood), because seated in the midst of many fair woods. At this place the Earl arrived on the 29th of August (being Friday), at night ; but the house at that time afforded no inhabitant except William Penderell, the house-keeper, and his wife, who, to preserve so eminent a person, freely adventured to receive my lord, and kept him in safety till Sunday night following, when (according to my lords desire of going to Worcester) he conveyed him to Mr. Humphrey Elliots house at Gataker Park (a true-hearted royalist), which was about nine miles on the way from Boscobel thither. Mr. Elliot did not only cheerfully entertain the Earl, but lent him ten pounds, and conducted him and his company safe to Worcester."
The King, at the head of an army of about 14,000, being principally the forces which had accompanied him from Scotland, reached Worcester on the 22nd of August, where he established his head-quarters, and issued a declaration, calling upon the nobility, gentry, and others of every degree to hasten to his standard, the declaration being dated "in the third year of our reign." Not having had, however, any previous concert or correspondence with the Royalists of the district, and owing to the terror the Parliamentary army had produced, the King was unable to strengthen his army to any great extent ; whilst Cromwell, who was in command of a powerful army of 30,000 men, in little more than a week after Charles had issued his proclamation, having followed in the track of the Royalist forces from Scotland, came up with him, and encamped on Redhill, a rising undulating ground not more than half-a-mile eastward of the city of Worcester.
It was on the night of Sunday, the 31st of August, after having been two days at the House of Boscobel, that the Earl of Derby, with his wounds, received in the battle of Wigan lane, yet green and sore, "set off with the impatience of a gallant spirit "to join the King at Worcester, where he arrived on the 2nd of September, being the eve of the approaching battle.
On the following day, being Wednesday, the 3rd of September, and the first anniversary of Cromwells victory at Dunbar, the Royalists, perceiving that several detachments of the enemy were separated from the main body of the army by the waters of the Team and Severn, determined upon an attack before their apparently only chance past away by the concentration of the Parliamentarians. After a severe and general engagement, which was bravely contested for some hours by the rival armies, the Kings forces were repulsed on both sides of the river, and forced back into the city, horse and foot mingling together in wild confusion in the streets, which were strewed with the dead ; and the Duke of Hamilton 8 a nobleman of great bravery and honour, was mortally wounded, and died at Worcester nine days after the battle ; and Colonel Massey 9 was also wounded and taken prisoner. The King, in the struggle, gave many proofs of personal valour ; but finding his solicitations to inspire his troops with resolution to resist the army of Cromwell were fruitless, and seeing the cavalry of the enemy breaking into the city, he fled with a small squadron of cavalry through St. Martins-gate, at the north-east of the city ; and his defeated army, after about 3,000 had been slain, was dispersed in every direction, and nearly all, or at least 8,000, were taken prisoners ; and Hume informs us that "the country people, inflamed with national antipathy, put to death the few that escaped out of the field of battle."
It was six oclock in the evening when the King left Worcester, and, without halting, he travelled about twenty-six miles, being attended by fifty or sixty of his devoted friends, one of whom was the Earl of Derby, who had attended his Majesty through the whole of the battle, and displayed in the struggle his accustomed dauntless bravery.
A brief summary of the romantic and hazardous adventures of the fugitive King to escape from the country, occupying about six weeks, cannot be omitted here, as the security of Charles was mainly owing to the care and advice of the Earl of Derby. A circumstantial narrative of the Kings adventures, written from his own dictation after he was securely seated on the throne of England as Charles II., is handed down to us by the inquisitive and amusing Samuel Pepys, who, on account of his extensive knowledge of naval matters, was appointed secretary to the admiralty ; and Lord Clarendon has also given an account of the adventures of the King as related to his lordship by the King himself, and these two accounts in the main facts substantially agree.
On the night after the unfortunate battle of Worcester, it seems the King reached the borders of Staffordshire, where, for more secrecy and greater security, he separated from the majority of his companions ; and, after spending the night in a neighbouring dwelling, called Whiteladies, about three-quarters of a mile from Boscobel House, from its having been formerly a monastery of Cistercian nuns, the next morning he was conducted by the Earl of Derby to Boscobel House, situated near Bridgnorth, about 140 miles from the metropolis, where the Earl himself had been kindly entertained on his journey to Worcester, and on meeting with his simple but honest and faithful friend and late host, William Penderell, the Earl confidentially addressed him in the following terms,. "This is the King. Thou must have a care of him, and preserve him, as thou didst me." Thus the King, like the Earl had been, was committed to the care and fidelity of William Penderell, the farmer, and of his wife and four brothers, who were all entrusted with the secret, and the Earl of Derby then took leave of the royal fugitive for ever.
The Kings long hair was now cut off ; his hands and face were stained ; his clothes were carefully secreted ; and in the common garb of a rustic, like their own, and carrying a bill hook in his hand as a woodcutter, he accompanied the Penderells 10 to their daily toil. Boscobel House was immediately surrounded by a troop of Parliamentary pursuers, and closely examined. The day was spent in Spring-coppice, an adjoining wood ; but the day being rainy, it was not entered by the military searchers. Weary with exertion and excitement, Charles reposed upon a blanket beneath a tree, where a sister of the faithful Penderells brought him such a repast as her humble home would affordbread, milk, butter, and eggs. Having conceived the idea of endeavouring to enter Wales and reach the coast, by that route he commenced the journey on foot, in company with one of the Penderells, when the darkness had fully set in. By midnight, the royal fugitive and his guide gained the house of a gentleman at Madeley, who was apprized of the rank of the fugitive. The following day was passed behind the hay and corn in a barn, while the guide went out to ascertain the state of the weather. It was now found necessary to abandon the idea of entering Wales, as all the passes of the Severn were vigorously and carefully watched, and the boats secured. On the following night, Charles and his attendant, Penderell, retraced their wearied steps to Boscobel, where the King met with a refugee Royalist, Major Careless. As the Parliamentary troops were scouring the country in search of the King, for a better concealment of his person, he and his companions agreed to spend the succeeding day in a great oak, from the Kings own account, a pollard oak, which, having been lopped some years before, had grown out bushy and thick. Accordingly they mounted the oak, and remained hid by the foliage for the space of twenty-four hours, their provisions consisting of bread, cheese, and beer. Whilst in this melancholy position, they saw and heard soldiers, as they passed by, talking of the King, and expressing their earnest wishes that they might be able to meet with him and seize him. This memorable oak was afterwards denominated the "Royal Oak." The old oak tree, which was regarded in the neighbourhood with great veneration, perished some years ago from natural decay, but one of its progeny still flourishes near the same spot, and is walled round for preservation ; and that part of Boscobel House which rendered such essential service to the King is still shewn. This romantic and interesting adventure of the "merry monarch," Charles II., is annually commemorated on the 29th of May, being the anniversary of the Restoration, when the Royalists displayed the branch of oak, owing to the tree being instrumental in the Kings preservation. Charles, whilst in his retreat at Boscobel, was almost in the middle of the kingdom, and could neither stay in his retreat nor move a step from it without the most imminent danger ; he, however, at length ventured forth, and joining himself with Lord Wilmot, who was wandering in the neighbourhood, they resolved to put themselves in the hands of Colonel Lane, a zealous Royalist, who resided at Bentley, a few miles distant. The Kings feet were much hurt, we are informed, by walking about in the heavy boots of the farm labourer, which did not fit him. Lane formed a scheme for the Kings journey to Bristol, and obtaining a pass for his sister, Jane Lane, and a servant to travel thither under a pretence of visiting a Mrs. Norton, a near relative residing there ; and the King, disguised, rode before the lady, and personated the servant. From Bristol he gained the south coast, and, after many wanderings, at last embarked in a collier at Shoreham, and was safely landed at Fécamp, in Normandy, on the 17th October.
The Earl of Derby, on leaving the King to the care of the Penderells, turned his horse with all speed towards Lancashire, being accompanied by Lord Lauderdale11 and a few others; but before the Earl and his companions had gained the borders of Cheshire, they were met near Nantwich and attacked by a regiment of foot and a troop of horse belonging to Colonel Lilburnes force, under the command of Capt. Oliver Edge, who were marching towards Worcester, to whom, after a short dispute with the enemy, the Earl of Derby and his companions, after making themselves known, surrendered on a promise of quarter for life, and honourable usage upon giving up their arms as prisoners of war.12
1 In the Perfect Diurnal, October 13, mention is made of admissions by the Earl of Derby as to arrangements made with the Presbyterian party in Lancashire, the particulars of which are as follow : That one Isaac Birkenhead had been the agent of communications between the Earl (when in the Isle of Man), the Presbyterians in the south of England, and the Royalists in Scotland, where Birkenhead was made prisoner. That this arrest induced Sir Thomas Tyldesley and Major Ashurst instantly to fly from Lancashire to the Isle of Man, prevented the delivery of the commissions in that county, and prevented a general rising of the Presbyterians, who were provided with arms and ammunition, and had intended to seize Liverpool. That the delivery of letters to the Lancashire Presbyterian party, signed by the Scots King, had been intrusted to general Massey and Major Ashurst, but had failed. That he himself (Lord Derby) was designed to be general for the counties of Lancaster, Chester, Salop, Worcester, Stafford, and all the North Wales counties, Sir Thomas Tyldesley being intended for his major general, and that he had left his Countess in trust for the isle of Man, with one Martin Greenhough to assist her as governor.
2 Hist. Great Rebellion, vol. vi., 469, cdi. 1826.
3 A communication, supposed to be from Majors-General Lambert and Harrison, to the Parliament, states, " A Letter from the Gouvernour of Liverpoole informes what a molehill that mountain, the Earle of Derby and his forces from the Isle of Man, doth prove, that is to say, 60 poore hosse and 250 foot." The same communication also says, in speaking of the Royalist army :" They have betwixt 5,000 and 6,000 weak Horse, and some 6 or 7,000 very sickly Foot. We hear further that on Sunday night (August 17th) last my Lord of Derby came up to them, who brought with him some 60 Horse, most gentlemen, and returned back towards Lancashire, where he has left some 200 Foot to raise more."
This confirms the statement of Clarendon, that "In Lancashire the Earl of Derby met" the King.
4 William Ashurst, Esq. of Ashurst, was a Presbyterian, and at the breaking out of the civil war was a member of the Lancashire Committee, and a major in the service of the Parliament ; but after the separation of the Presbyterian and Independent parties, he joined the Royalists, and was an active supporter of Charles II, and the Earl of Derby.
5 Lord William Witherington, or Widderington, descended from an ancient Northumberland family.
6 Should be 1651.
7 Alexander Rigby, of Lapton, near Poulton, in Lancashire, served the office of sheriff in the year 1677-1678, and again in 1691. He does not appear to have been of tie same family as the Rigbys of Preston He was taken prisoner in the battle of Wigan-lane and is, unquestionably, the person styled Lt.-Col. Rigby of Heath. Mr. Rigby married the daughter of Sir Gilbert Hoghton.
8 William, the second Duke of Hamilton, was brother of James, the first Duke of Hamilton, who was taken prisoner at Uttoxeter, in August, 1648, after the battle at Preston and beheaded in Old Palace Yard, March 9th, 1649.
9 Major-General Edward Massey, was, at the commencement of the Civil War, an active Parliamentarian, and the celebrated governor of Gloucester during its siege by Charles I., and afterwards as active a Royalist, and was, to use the words of Clarendon, " looked upon as a Martyr for the Presbyterian interest." He was the fifth son of John Massey, of Coddrington in Cheshire, by Anne, daughter of Richard Grosvenor of Eaton.
10 a When Charles became seated on the throne he rewarded the Penderells for their loyalty in protecting him after the battle of Worcester. Burke, in his Anecdotes of the Aristocracy, chapter " Traditions of Heraldry," vol ii., p. 38 (1850), observes :" To the Penderells, the humble but no less faithful protectors of the fugitive prince, was assigned for arms, Arg. on a mount, an oak tree, ppr. ~ s ~ The pension of 100 marks, granted at the same time to Richard Penderell, still continues to be paid to his representative, and several members of the family, in various conditions of life, have been connected for some generations with the county of Sussex. One of them, (says Mr. Lower, in his Curiosities of Heraldry), a few years since kept an inn at Lewes, bearing the sign of the Royal Oak. "
11 * John Maitland, Earl, and afterwards Duke of Lauderdale, was taken prisoner with the Earl of Derby and remained a prisoner nine years, until released by Monk at the Restoration. He became Prime Minister in 1670, and retained power until 1682, the year of his death.
12 The surrender of the Earl of Derby is thus narrated in the memoirs of Captain Hodson, of Coley, said to be present on the occasion, the place being the road about half a mile south of Nantwich :(Original Memoirs during the Great Civil War, p. 154). " They (meaning the Scots party) were by computation about five or six hundred men, and our musketeers would have gone into the lane, and taken by the bridle the best like person they saw, and brought him out without a stroke, so low was the Scot brought. But the most remarkable thing was, one Oliver Edge, one of our captains, had a mind to see what became of the forlorn, hearing such a great firing ; and viewing them very busy, he spies a party of horse behind him in the fields, and having no order to be there, he retreats towards the regiment, but they called upon him and asked if he was an officer; and drawing towards them about eighteen or twenty horsemen lighted, and told him they would surrender themselves prisoners ; there was the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Lauderdale, Sinclair, and a fourth. These became prisoners to one single captain ; but the soldiers fell in with him immediately."