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  • Writer's pictureHaydn Wheeler

The Peaceable Army. Clubmen?

Ragland Castle

The period that put the Clubmen as a need for a negotiation with or a requirement for a use of force against them by Parliament and Royalist alike in June, July, August, and September of 1645, also included a gathering of the like-minded with The Clubmen. In a putting of their demands and conditions to King Charles in Wales a large body of potential would-be recruits for The King was not so obliging. This gathering went under the banner of The Peaceable Army.

After the king’s army defeat at Naseby in June of 1645, Charles in early July of 1645 through to August and in part September was spent in South-East Wales. Residing in part at Ragland Castle, the King would take upon a mission to recruit and replenish his army. The King’s stay at Ragland would be on many fronts a lost cause. His efforts to recruit men, resources and money to his army was not going to be a show of loyalty by those in Glamorganshire.


Royalist General Goring had now faced defeat in Somerset with the loss of Bridgewater and had now retreated into Devon. The Royalist army was weakened, and the war was taking its toll on those affected in those armies in the Southwest. The conflict had made for a ruin for many. Propositions for peace were in the planning, with several days in August of 1645 set aside in Parliament to finalise proposals to be then presented to the King.

This was all playing out in the background while The King resided in Wales. The early connection with the Uxbridge peace negotiations is of note here. As with the now Parliament peace propositions plans, both these peace negotiation timelines are at a time where a generality of people had found a newfound urgency and confidence to put their grievances to both warring parties. We have a gathering in Berkshire at Compton Down for example in August 12th, 1645, going under the heading of “A peaceable meeting”. A declaration is put forward to the committee of Berkshire for peace to be found in the Country.

General Goring’s actions in the southwest had caused the generality of those counties to be alienated from the King’s cause. Similarities can be seen in South Wales also regarding commanders stationed there. Plunder, taxation, and devastation brought about by commanders’ actions and orders had caused long lasting grievances. Richard Vaughan, 2nd Earl of Carbery appointed as lieutenant general of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire had before the start of the war been courted by both Parliament and King for allegiance. Joining the Royalists in 1642 he was replaced after resigning his command after being defeated by Parliamentarian Major-general Rowland Laugharne forces in Pembrokeshire. Charles Gerard, a soldier with a vast experience of soldiery, was brought in to replace Vaughan in 1644. Gerard as said was a hardened military commander and was an advocate for experienced soldiers placed in commanding positions. His tactic of warring in the action of taking resources and pulling resources, crops, provisions for a denial of Parliamentarian army potential use had consequences. Reports of soldiers being stationed in a protection aginst the firing of crops by the enemy can be read at this time with the arrival of Parliaments, Captain William Batten.

Those in the nearby county of Shropshire had also seen similar tactics as used by Charles Gerard put upon them with Royalist Colonel Vangeris.

The events in South-East Wales can make for confusing reading, this is exactly what was the case. Authority from the king was being undermined by those now putting their demands and terms to the king if support for was to be given.

The King, on arrival in Cardiff on July 29th, 1645 after a stay at Ruppera, attended a meeting planned with representatives from what he suspected would be an uncomfortable rendezvous, and that it was. Meeting at St Fagans the King was met by the “country gentlemen on horse, the rest drawn up in a battlaile (battle array) winged with horse and reserve”.

Numbers are set at four thousand to five thousand raised in body for this now named Peaceable Army.

For loyalty to the The King a supply of men for and money certain grievances had to be settled by Charles in assurances for. If he required their aid, it would be on their terms.

A removal of the Governor at Cardiff and a Welshman put in his place

To have a choice for their own officers.

To have the paptist removed from the county.

To have the arrears demanded by Colonel Gerard remitted.

The King promised his assurances on meeting these demands but must have been shocked for a comeback by some that his promises were not to be trusted.

Colonel Gerard himself was meant to be at this meeting and was outraged by their manner regards trust of The King. This led to even more support for the removal of his command in Wales. The King returned to Cardiff that night.

The Peaceable Army had now quartered themselves under the stars at Cefnon (Parc Cefn Onn) and was met on the second day again by Charles. This would result in an agreement.

1. Tim Tyrell governor of Cardiff Castle removed, and his garrison replaced with country men and a Sir Richard Basset appointed the new governor.

2 With this done a thousand men and £800 would be furnished on The King.

Gerard was removed as commander of those parts in South Wales with his officers also removed. Sir Jacob Astley was appointed the new commander.

Gerard was appointed a Baron by The King in compensation for the loss of this command, which must have been frowned upon by Charles’ own local officers, as this would rile the local populace even further.

The King rode out of Cardiff on the 4th/5th of August heading towards Brecon, Welbeck and then to Doncaster leaving command of Glamorganshire under Sir Jacob Astley. The collapse of order once the King had left was quick to appear. Those officers that were left behind were now in hiding. The Peaceable Army was in a state of disorder and when chance came those officers left by Charles made their exit. Leaving Sir Jacob Astley in an unfavorable position. The Parliamentarian Army under Laugharne was making progress in Pembrokshire with Royalist garrisons now in the hands of Parliament. The Scottish Covenanter army under the Earl of Leven was at Hereford where the siege of was having less success. News of Royalist enforcement forced the Covenanter’s hand to retreat. A report from the Scottish Commissioners states reported, “the towne of Hereford was very stronge , the moate deepe and the wals lined within , but our batteringe peeces weare smale , most of the mines fayled , and therefore ' twould be a worke of time,”. They would later take part in the siege of Newark.

Sir Jacob Astley was under pressure by August 11th to keep order in his now commander position of South Wales. In a letter written to Prince Rupert he describes “the county of Glamorganshire is so unquiet that there is no good to be expected”. In a meeting called for by Astley with the inhabitants of Monmouthshire , Glamorganshire, and others he was informed at that meeting after a demand made by himself, “who were for Parliament and those that were for the King to stand by themselves”? Was in reply by Sir Trevor Williams of Llangibby, “they came for both King and Parliament, and not to divide between them as they perceived his intention was”.

Col. Morgan Governor of Gloucester writes in later October of 1645 labelling those with Sir Trevor.

The Countrey riseth very freely since my taking in Chepstow. Sir Trevor Williams is neere with above one thousand Clubmen , they all declare themselves absolutely for the Parliamentt. If God blesse my proceedings in this designe, Wales will be in a good condition. Sir, I rest,

Sir Trevor Williams was himself a wearer of many coats through the wars, Royalist, Parliamentarian, Governor of Monmouth, and (Peaceable Army) Clubmen.

The Peaceable Army in holding back from choosing side had caused and assisted in that reserve in now putting Cardiff into the hands of Parliament under Colonel Herbert in September of 1645. This led to Colonel Edward Prichard now being Governor of Cardiff Castle, a man that had now shown allegiance to the Parliaments cause.

Then in February 1646 we see again the Peaceable Army (a section of) in another form, now under the command of Edward Carne as an independent (a third army for independence from both King and Parliament) or with Royalist sympathy occupy Cardiff and lay siege to the castle. This siege was held off by Prichard who sent for reinforcements. With the arrival of Parliamentarian forces under the command of General Laugharne and Sir Trevor Williams, Colonel Mogan covering a retreat for soldiers supplied from Ragland Castle to Carne the Peaceable Army was quashed. There are several accounts of this coming together, some reports speak of some resistance by the Peaceable Army, others a rout and many killed in the field as they retreated. Carne is described as on horse, “not to charge but to fly with”. Wherever the truth lies the members of this independent force were treated lightly after, terms and conditions are a matter of as with the Clubmen in Dorset a matter of a keeping the peace, some concessions are named also in reports regards the prayer book.

The weight of the war and a sense of where the ending could be hastened if sympathy were shown to the prevailing forces and where an inevitable conclusion lay in those forces had brought the Peaceable Army to hold back in support for the King. Up against disciplined soldiers, as Parliament gained momentum in the war, the fall of Bristol across the water, a need for resolve and an ending to the chaos brought upon them had sealed the King’s fate in part in the first Civil War.

Divisions in The Peaceable Army can also be seen here. For we see a mix of those labelled as and those labelled Clubmen add to what is the answer to the question of where lies the true description and what was the end desires.

We have several accounts from contemporary news sheets and letters which speak of this period regards the King’s attempts to recruit numbers to his army.

Perfect Passages of each day’s proceedings in Parliament, September 17 1645

Letter from North Wales

Major General Gerheard doth exceedingly plunder in Wales and force the country to come to him. And that with promises and threats and all means he can use, he doth what he may to get himself ab army, and that the King hath sent to him to march

towards Glamorganshire, to see if can draw in the Clubmen that are rising there to come to the King.

A colourful contemporary account of these meetings with the King with some good exaggeration and propaganda but with some truth thrown in makes for interesting reading.

Historical Manuscripts Commision/ Duke of Portland. Captain William Batten to William Lenthall.

The news at my cometh away was that the King was in Cardife on the 8th of the month who was demanded by twenty thousand Clubmen that are risen, as they pretend to carry him to Paarliament. There are many good quality amongst them, and well armed. The King got away with a small party of horse to Ragland Castle. It is reported that the King endevoured to put the towne of Cardife into Paptists’ handsto secure, which would not be indured, but on the contrary, the Welsh plundered them sufficiently. Those that escaped have sent their goods to Bristol. The Clubmen likewise demanded Gerrard and vow to cutt him in peeces for firing the corne and plundering the county of Penbrooke. That Sir Jacob Ashley is made Mayior-generall of South Wales in place of Gerrard, I saw in a letter under his owne hand.

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