Parliamentary Newspaper 1645
A joining through the counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Hereford by the people was forced upon them. As in other counties the Civil War had torn away the fabric of civility. Demands made by the people of the Counties not of Parliamentary or King were put to the warring sides. Both sides took issue with these risings of the generality, for they were a third force. Without warrant from either side they saw fit to show their strength and grievances. The articles and demands through declarations and petitions put to both sides could not be ignored.
Perfect Occurrences March 1645. Articles broke with the country people.
The demands of the 12,000 Clubmen in March 19th 1645 to the Royalist governor of Hereford, Sir Barnabas Scudamore had come to a head. The oppression of the inhabitants by garrisoned troops had resulted in the demands for "release of the prisoners, compensation for the families of those killed, and that all Royalist soldiers should leave the county". A Parliamentary report (Perfect Occurances) from Hereford published in March 21st 1645 states
"that the enemy had grown so odious to the country people that the very boys and girls would make songs of them". notice whereof being brought to Colnol Scudamore, he thereupon did threaten them, that he would hang the dogs and drown the whelps, meaning the (Country people and their children) which hath so enraged the Country, that they are rising in those Counties to the number of about 7000. many of them armed, and have now besieged Hereford, threatening to have Scudamore out, or to lose their lives.
Being met only in part by the governor, many Clubmen were unsatisfied with their demands not being met. Setting out to Ledbury and a push for a full implementation of their demands was wanted. 2000 Clubmen were now gathered in Lebury when Royalist Prince Rupert arrived on the scene and on the 29th March the Clubmen were to be set upon.
Resist all Plunderers Tolpuddle 2017
After refusing to disperse, Rupert with horse (cavalry) and a thousand foot charged.
200 Clubmen took aim with musket but to no avail. With a full force of war ready troops on them they were soon overrun and most fled. Crushing these last holders out, Rupert's troops went on to hang three of the Clubmen leaders and plunder the parish.
Letters from Massey informed,
"that the discontented Herefordshire men, having laid down their Arms upon Articles with the Princes; afterwards, and contrary to those Articles, the Princes caused three worthy Gentlemen to be executed, who were conceived chief in that Rising".
Another witness to actions that day by Rupert's troops accompanied by Scudamore states.
"plundered everie parish and howse poor as well as others leavinge neyther clothes or provision".
The Clubmen leaders talks with Parliamentarian Colonel Massey at Ledbury, although keeping their neutrality from both warring sides had not gone unnoticed.
Massey withdrew to Ross on Wye in early April of 1645 and took his men out of the garrisoned house of Royalist John Winters in the Forest Of Dean. Now outnumbered by Royalist troops arriving in the area he was now to become an observer of the plunder of the Forest.
The arrival of Prince Rupert and Maurice on the 4th April 1645 and an aim to press men into the Royalist cause "reducing this county for its just obedience to his Majesty." was the call.
8 April 1645, the County Comnittee reported 'great oppressions, cruel plunders and continual marches and inroads of the enemy lying near and heavy upon us on every side; our county was so extremely exhausted and miserably destroyed that it was even ready to give up the ghost'.
With his 2000 horse and 1,500 foot Royalist Sir Thomas Lunsford entered the lower parts of Monmouth, Chepstow and the Forest of Dean. On orders to press men into service between 16 and 60 many able bodied men fled their homes and went into the forest and mines.
John Corbet wrote, "they plundered the houses to the bare walls, driving all the cattell, seizing upon the persons of men, and sending them captives to Monmouth and Chepstow"
Seeing their country put under sword, and burning of their properties that could quarter a soldier (depriving Massey) and taking of goods.
Lunsford on one episode took back to Monmouth 3,000 head of cattle. On a visit to Brockwear he commandeered leather worth £2000 and at Lancaut seized so much wheat that he was unable to find enough boats to load it onto.
The inhabitants of the Forest and loss of homestead is an example of displacement forced upon the people during the Civil War.
The burning of property in the pursuit of depriving the use of it by opposing troops shows how refugee status was forced upon the people in the English Revolution. A report from 1646 says of Gloucester (Gloucestershire) the destruction of 241 houses and 1,250 people left homeless, one women with her family were living in a pigeon house.
Reports in news letters at the time talk of parishes being burnt . An example in a letter wrote to Royalist Lunsford by Parliamentarian Colonel Massey who had been garrisoned in the area talks of the actions of troops in the Forest. A description of pillage is told..
Perfect Occurences Of Parliament 1645 April 11, 1645
They have plundered much about Mansil-hope, Ruardean, Staunton, and the adjacent parts about the Forrest of Deane, and have murdered divers men, women and children - particularly at Longhope, they took away some Gentlemen's children & the like at other townes, & carried them away either to be redeemed by their parents or starve; for some of those children have died under their hands.'
(Perfect Occurrences April 12th. 1645)The 16th Week Tuesday, April 11, 1645.
Also appointed to these events is an account of brutality witnessed by Reverend. Nichols, of an outrage at Drybrook,
"where a householder was struck down and his eyes knocked out, for refusing to give up a flitch of bacon to a foraging party"
Massey himself had destroyed property (set to fire) in Beachley in the cause of depriving Royalist troops a place to quarter. (Pot calling the Kettle black springs to mind.)
With the place (forest) now spent and scourged and the burning of Lydney house by John Winter the owner of so depriving it being garrisoned by Colnol Massey's troops, Rupert's forces headed to Herefordshire.