Shropshire

in the Civil War

  

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Causes of the War

 

The main cause of the Civil War was the attitude of the Stuart kings and their belief that they had a divine right to rule.  The problem started with King James I, who had quarrelled with Parliament on a number of occasions about custom duty.  This was his main source of income but Parliament told him that he could not collect it without their permission. Parliament had their own sources of income and James was obviously annoyed at this. 

 

In 1611, James suspended Parliament but recalled it 10 years later in 1621 to discuss the proposed marriage of his son Charles to a Spanish princess. Parliament was outraged at the prospect of any children being brought up as Catholics and Spain was still regarded as an enemy.  In the event, the marriage never took place and relations between the king and Parliament never improved by the time James died in 1625. 

 

Charles was arrogant, conceited and a strong believer in the divine rights of kings. He considered that Parliament was to blame for all his financial problems and he also argued with them over religion.  In 1629, Charles refused to let Parliament meet and its Members arrived at Westminster to find that the doors had been locked with large chains and padlocks. They were locked out for 11 - a period they called the Eleven Years Tyranny.

 

Charles ruled by using the Court of Star Chamber. To raise money for the king, the Court heavily fined those brought before it. Rich men were persuaded to buy titles and, if they refused to do so, they were fined the same sum of money it would have cost for a title anyway.  In 1634, Charles ordered that everyone in the country should pay Ship Money. This was historically a tax paid by coastal towns and villages to pay for the upkeep of the navy. Charles decided that everyone in the kingdom benefited from the navy's protection and that everyone should pay. This tax was highly unpopular and many people refused to pay it.  One of these was John Hampden, who had been a Member of Parliament.  His excuse was that it had not been approved by Parliament. Hampden was put on trial and found guilty but he became a hero for standing up to the king.

 

Charles also upset the Scots when he ordered that they should use a new prayer book for their church services. This angered the Scots so much that they invaded England in 1639. As Charles was short of money to fight the Scots, he had to recall Parliament in 1640 as only they had the required authority to collect extra money to fight a war.  In return for the money and as a display of their power, Parliament called for the execution of one of Charles’ advisors, the Earl of Strafford (called Black Tom Tyrant). After a trial, Strafford was executed in 1641. Parliament also demanded that Charles get rid of the Court of Star Chamber.

 

In 1642, still angry over his lack of money, he went to Parliament with 300 soldiers to arrest his 5 biggest critics. Someone had already tipped off Parliament that these men were about to be arrested and they had already escaped.  Parliament was now concerned that, if Charles was prepared to arrest 5 Members of Parliament, how many others were at risk? Even Charles realised that things had deteriorated and 6 days later he left for Oxford to raise an army to fight Parliament.

 

Most of the people in Shropshire were unaffected by the above events until the Ship Tax was announced.  The first tranche of tax was demanded in 1634 and, despite objections, over £100,000 was collected nationally.  Many Shropshire landowners would have contributed towards this.  In 1635, a second tranche of £208,000 was demanded and Shropshire’s share was to be collected by the Sheriffs and Justices, with authority to sell remove and goods if necessary.  In 1636, Charles tried to collect yet more Ship Money but there was so much opposition that many Sheriffs refused to collect it.

 

Being mainly a rural economy, many people in Shropshire were tenants or workers for the richer landowners and thus they tended to follow the beliefs of their landlords.  When war became inevitable in 1642, most landowners in Shropshire supported the King, although some were for Parliament. In some cases, families were split with fathers, sons and brothers supporting opposite sides.  Certainly at first Shropshire was regarded as a Royalist county with only small parts supporting Parliament. 

 

Many landowners raised bands of fighting men to garrison various castles or their own houses.  This soon began to be a problem, since these soldiers needed to be paid and fed.  There was no central fund to pay them so the garrisons instructed the local towns, villages and farms to provide them with food and money.  Where anyone failed to provide this support, the soldiers visited and took away everything they could find, often burning down the buildings as a punishment.  In some cases, the soldiers were so undisciplined that they plundered the local countryside for their own ends at will.  Locals soon began to resent this and it often helped to turn opinion against the King, whose soldiers were the worst offenders.  A report of the time said

 

“…All the Country over within 12 or 14 miles of Shrewsbury are full of soldiers, your father hath some four for his part, being some of those that came from Nantwich, which after they had made what spoil they could there, are now billeted a good many of them in Prince Parish, they are of my Lord Grandison's regiment, and such for condition, that I think the earth affords not worse; they have plundered diverse men's houses in a most woeful manner : your friend hath had in money and goods taken from him about £50. A gentleman of quality was enforced to shift for himself, and leave his house, and they have taken possession of it, and live upon the spoils of his household provisions, corn and cattle; near 20 men, and at least 40 Horses, since Monday last, and show no signs of parting as yet, but endeavour the ruin of his house and goods, and if any fault be found, threaten to burn it to the ground. We hear one outrage or other committed daily, they ride armed up and down, with swords, muskets and dragoons, to the great terror of the people, that we scarce know how in safety to go out of doors; they take men's horses, break and pillage men's houses night and day in an unheard of manner, they pretend quarrel against the Roundheads as they call them, but for aught I see they will spare none if they may hope to have good booty."

 

 

Timeline

 

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1642

Aug 22      

Sep 19

Sep 20

Sep 28

Oct 12      

Oct 15      

Oct 23      

King Charles I raises royal standard at Nottingham Castle.  King and Parliament now at war.

King Charles I arrives at Wellington

Declaration of Wellington.  King Charles I arrives at Shrewsbury

King Charles I musters his army on Gay Meadow at Shrewsbury

King Charles I arrives at Bridgnorth

King Charles I leaves Shropshire for Oxford

Royalists win Battle of Edgehill

 

1643

Jan 15

Mar 15      

May 30

Aug 15      

Aug 29      

Sep 11      

Sep 20      

 

Sep 28

Oct 18      

Dec 15      

Chirk Castle captured by Royalists

Lord Capel appointed Lieutenant General of North Wales & Marches for King

Whitchurch captured by Roundheads

Sir Thomas Middleton appointed Lieutenant General of North Wales & Marches for Parliament

Ecclesall Castle captured by Roundheads

Wem garrisoned by Roundheads

Roundheads win First Battle of Newbury

Loppington Church besieged and damaged by Roundheads from Wem

Lord Capel fails to capture Wem

Lord Capel replaced

 

1644

Jan 12

Feb 19      

Mar 5            

Mar 15      

Mar 18      

Mar 24      

Mar 24      

Apr 3             

Apr 6             

May 17      

May 20      

May 22      

Jun 23      

Jul 2               

Jul 15            

Oct 27

Roundheads win Battle of Ellesmere

Prince Rupert arrives at Shrewsbury with 700 cavalry

Market Drayton raided by Royalists

Wellington captured by Roundheads

Apley Castle captured by Roundheads

Apley Castle recaptured by Royalists

Hopton Castle captured by Royalists and garrison massacred

Longford House captured by Royalists

Tong Castle captured by Royalists

King Charles I arrives at Chetwynd

King Charles I arrives at Market Drayton

King Charles I leaves Shropshire for Leicester

Oswestry captured by Roundheads

Roundheads win Battle of Marston Moor

Royalists besiege Oswestry

Roundheads win Second Battle of Newbury

 

1645

Feb 15      

Feb 22      

May 12      

May 15      

Jun 14      

Aug 6            

Aug 7            

Aug 15      

Aug 22      

Aug 23      

Sep 24

Sep 29      

Oct 2 

Dec 19      

Apley House captured by Roundheads

Shrewsbury captured by Roundheads

Sir Thomas Mytton appointed Lieutenant General of North Wales & Marches for Parliament

Madeley Court captured by Roundheads

Roundheads win Battle of Naseby

King Charles I arrives at Bridgnorth via Ludlow

King Charles I leaves Shropshire

Broncroft Castle captured by Royalists

Atcham Bridge captured by Roundheads. 

Dawley Castle captured by Roundheads

Roundheads win Battle of Rowton Heath

King Charles I arrives at Bridgnorth

King Charles I leaves Shropshire for Newark

Benthall Hall garrisoned by Roundheads

 

1646

Mar 28      

Apr 15      

May 5            

Jun 10      

Jun 24      

Jul 9   

High Ercall captured by Roundheads

Bridgnorth captured by Roundheads

King Charles I surrenders to Scottish Army at Newark

Caus Castle captured by Roundheads

Roundheads capture King Charles’ headquarters at Oxford

Ludlow captured by Roundheads

 

1647

Jan 30

 

Scottish Army hand King Charles I over to Parliament

 

1648

Jul 15            

 

Broncroft Castle destroyed

 

1649

Jan 20

Jan 30

 

Trial of King Charles I begins

King Charles I beheaded

1650

 

 

1651

Jan 1             

Sep 3             

Sep 4             

Sep 5             

Sep 6             

Sep 7             

Oct 13

King Charles II crowned at Scone

Roundheads win Battle of Worcester

King Charles II arrives at White Ladies Priory

King Charles II arrives at Madeley Court

King Charles II arrives at Boscobel House and hides in oak tree during day

King Charles II arrives at Moseley Old Hall

King Charles II escapes to France

 

1652

 

 

1653

Dec 16      

Oliver Cromwell appointed Lord Protector

 

1654

 

 

1655

 

 

1656

 

 

1657

May 8            

 

Oliver Cromwell refuses crown

1658

Sep 3             

Oliver Cromwell dies.  His son Richard appointed as successor

 

1659

May 24           .

Jul 3               

Aug 5            

 

Richard Cromwell resigns as Lord Protector

Viscount Mordaunt arrives in England to coordinate a Royalist insurrection

Roundheads suppress Royalist revolt in Cheshire

 

1660

May 25      

May 29      

King Charles II lands at Dover

King Charles II makes a triumphal entry into London