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  • Haydn Wheeler

"These Clubmen would knock them on the heads as they should fly for safety."

Looking over Monkton Up Wimborne, home of George Hawles, one of the Clubmen leaders who met Fairfax in Dorchester as part of a deputation with a petition.

The petition titled the Humble Petition of The Inhabitants of Dorset was presented to King and Parliament on July 8th, with the King in reply from Ragland July 9th.

On 2nd of July 1645 Fairfax was again in Dorset, and by July 3rd had marched from Blandford to Dorchester, on what was described as "a very hot day." Col Sydenham the Governor of Weymouth, had seen fit to warn Fairfax of the Clubmen's strength in these parts and the need to treat them with caution. This can be seen as advice taken, as while meeting later that night with a Mr. Hollis of Dorsetshire and other leaders of the Clubmen with their Petitions to Parliament and King, Fairfax took the decision to treat them with civility, a view not shared by Fairfax's chaplin Mr Bowles, who was of the view "these clubmen would not know reason until it is beaten into them." Fairfax promised they should have an answer the next morning to their demands for "a safe conduct for certain persons to go to the King and Parliament with petitions." Seeing their strength at that time, it was held "a point of prudence to be fair in demeanor towards them." Fairfax had in mind that "if he should engage with General Goring the Royalist, (as was his intention) and be put to the worst, these Clubmen would knock them on the heads as they should fly for safety."

In a letter wrote to the Committee of both Kingdoms at Darby House, General Fairfax gives a description of the Clubmen he met on that day in Dorchester.

"They list themselves under several Officers daily, and meet in great Bodies at their Rendezvous, and boast they can have Twenty Thousand Men at Four and Twenty Hours Warning for assembling them together. Their Heads send out to the several Towns; and, by ringing of Bells, and sending Post from one Rendezvous to another, into the several Towns and Hundreds, they draw into great Bodies. For Distinction of themselves from other Men, they wear White Ribbon, to shew, as they say, their Desires of Peace."

General Fairfax.

Clubmen meet General Fairfax in Dorchester Dorset. July 3rd 1645.

The deputation of Clubmen that met with Fairfax that day were,

assigned to the King a Dr. Henry Goche of Trinity-College in Cambridge, Mr.Thomas. Bravell rector at Compton Abbas, John Saint. Lo, Peter Hoskins, esquire,, Mr. Thomas. Young an attorney, and Mr. Rob Paulet ,gentleman.

To the Parliament ,Mr. Melchisedec Waltham,, Mr. Richard Hook,, Thomas Trenchard, Robert Culliford of Encombe, esquire, George Hawles of Monkton Up Wimborne and, Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdelene

John Rushworth secretary to General Fairfax account of Clubmen meeting. July 3rd 1645

The leaders of the Clubmen saw that "it was fit the people should show their grievances and their strength" George Hawles of Monkton Up Wimborne was described as “most peremptory and insolent in his carriage, and but for his being sent as a messenger, he had been committed, as this man is the head of that giddy-head faction in Dorset.”

John Speeds Map of Dorchester 1611 (Michael Russell OPC for Fordington) Dorset Online Parish Clerks.

Mr Hollis tendered to the General the Petitions, so to be conveyed; as also certain Articles of their Association: The Articles were:

That the Associates provide Arms, set Watches, be quiet with them that are so, lay hold on disorderly Soldiers, bring them to the next Garrisons, not to deny Quarters and Contributions to their Ability: Till their Petitions be delivered, net to favor either Party, nor to protect any not Associated.

The Heads of the Petitions were:

To desire a renewed Treaty, with a Cessation, as also that the Garrisons of Dorset and Wiltshire be put into their Hands, till the King and Parliament agree about their disposal. That they be free from all Charge, but the Maintenance of those Garrisons. That all Laws not repealed, be in force, and executed by the ordinary Officers. That all Men who desire it, may lay down Arms. That others that have absented themselves from their Dwellings may have free liberty to return and live at home.

After Fairfax had speech with them, and some Consultation what to do in the Business, he returned his Answer in Writing as follows.

Fairfax's answer to the Clubmen.

Although the Papers brought to me, being not Subscribed, cannot challenge my Answer, yet to clear myself from any adverseness to the satisfaction of the Country, who are pretended to be interested in these Petitions, I return this


That my Affections and the Affections of this Army are as much inclined to Peace, as any Men's whatsoever; and we undertake the War for no other end, but the Establishing of a firm and happy Peace, by opposing the Enemies thereof; and that I shall be ready, so far as concerns me, to further all lawful and fit means to procure it: But having seen the Petitions, upon which a Let-pass is desired, I must profess my self not so well satisfied with some things contained in them, as to concur to their delivering by any act of mine: In particular, in that a Cessation is desired, whilst by Letters written by the King and Queen, taken at the late Battle of Naseby, it evidently appears that Contracts are already made for the bringing in 10000 French and 6000 Irish. It is further desired, that the Garrisons in these Parts, whereof three are Sea-ports, should be delivered up to the Petitioners; which to grant, were for the Parliament to acquit part of the Trust reposed in them by the Kingdom; and considering these Foreign Preparations, to run very great hazard to those Ports themselves, and to the whole Kingdom. Thirdly, it is propounded that liberty be given to all Soldiers to disband, and to return to their home, if they desire it; which may with equal Justice be desired by all Parts of the Kingdom, and so the Parliament made unable to manage the War, before Peace be settled.

These Considerations, with some other yet to be debated, will not allow me to grant the desire of the Letter: But as for that part of the Petition which declares the Grievances of the Country by Plunder and Violence, committed either by Garrisons or Armies: I do hereby promise and undertake for the Garrisons and Armies under the Command of the Parliament, that whatsoever Disorders are committed by them, upon complaint, making known the Offences and Persons, Justice shall be done, and satisfaction given: As also I shall endeavor that the Parliament's Garrisons may be regulated according to any reasonable Agreement with the Country; and without doubt the Parliament will cause them to be slighted, so soon as the condition of those Parts, and the public good shall permit; and that the Army under my Command shall be ordered as may be most for the good and advantage of these Counties, and of the whole Kingdom; of which some reasonable Testimony is already given, in their quiet and orderly Passage from these and other Counties, without many of those Complaints which usually follow Armies.

I further desire that in the publishing this my Answer to your Request, all assembling the People to public Rendezvous may be forborne, and that Copies hereof may be dispersed to the several Parishes, that the Country may be acquainted therewith.

Tho. Fairfax.

Ref. John Rushworth, 'Historical Collections: Military actions, January 1645 to the Battle of Naseby', in Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 6, 1645-47 (London, 1722), pp. 23-89. British History Online .

Fontmell Magna Dorset Clubmen “most peremptory and insolent in his carriage, and but for his being sent as a messenger, he had been committed, as this man is the head of that giddy-head faction in Dorset”.

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