Tensions and fears of plunder, loss of provision and being pressed into the warring armies had in the English Revolution caused a meeting of the generality of those effected by quartered and passing through troops. Fairfax and Colonel Massie's arrival in Wiltshire and Dorset in June of 1645 saw the beginning of the Western Campaign. Tensions already heated were ramped up by an uptake of troops in the west. Goring and Lewis Dive were both now in the sights of Parliament. A quashing of Royalist activity in the South West now the focus. A rising of The Clubmen in a "A Tumultuous and Insolent Way" was not accounted for.
In early March of 1645. Sir Lewis Dives (Royalist commander Dorset) trying to quell the Clubmen anger made promise to put an end to the Royalist plunder ( Goring's Crew ) of Dorset. This it seems was to no effect, as by May the threat to Sir Lewis by the Clubmen to join the Parliamentarians commanders in the West of General Graves and Weldon was being voiced. This followed a then issuing of horse and furniture (tackle) by Dives so The Clubmen could defend themselves.
Both Royalist and Parliamentarian alike were seen as unjustly by The Clubmen at different intervals in Dorset. In the example as mentioned above, a tool most handy in getting a desired result. Playing off one side against the other.
With Fairfax now with orders to move into the west in June of 1645 he was given the extended provision of pressing men ( forced into the army). After the decisive Battle of Naseby the New Model Army had lost men. In a letter written on the 26th of June Fairfax noted "some stragglers being gone from him to carry their rich plunder home", "Loss and lack of things" also noted included the wounded, loss of horses and saddle and the army of foot halved to what was thought by the establishment.
The pressing of men had been used by both sides in the war. The issuing of provision for those families who suffered loss through this recruiting method was put into the Clubmen declarations. The Somerset declaration of June 1645 went as far as stating "those that could prove of being pressed in this unnatural and cruel war and leaving army or garrison be accepted when retiring to their homes".
Goring's Royalist troops garrisoned in Godmanstone had a clash with the Clubmen in Feburary of 1645. Now with Fairfax heading west for the relief of Taunton and Massie's men and the Parliamentarian troops quartered at Sturminster Newton Castle, another bloody meeting with the Clubmen was to be had on June 29th 1645.
Massie's Brigade as it was called had a reputation itself of doing as it wished as did the notorious Goring ( Goring's Crew ) previously mentioned.
In a letter written by Colonel Massie from Shaftesbury on the 29th June 1645 he describes the bloody clash with The Clubmen at Sturminister Newton Castle where his troops were quartered. The Clubmen numbered between four or five thousand at least, a loss of life on both sides and the taking of the quartered troops Dragoons horses. "A quarrel not provoked by soldier but by The Clubmen" Massie would later go on to describe this encounter.
What is of note, thereafter Parliament was to write to Fairfax and Massie. The nature of these letters was to put assurances to The Clubmen and of the armies desires. The Armies intention to advance to the relief of Taunton a desire for them to depart, every man to his habitation and they will not be prejudiced by their rising, case they be obedient to this order. The letter then gives Fairfax and Massie the okay to implement martial law and make examples of the leaders if this command was not acted on. As the Western Campaign continued meetings between the army and Clubmen on intentions and desires from both parties would continue.
Letter from Colonel Massie on the clash with The Clubmen, Sturminster Newton Castle 29th June 1645.
Perfect Occurrences June 27th 1645
General Fairfax and army on the 30th June were in Amesbury in Wiltshire. Fairfax himself was staying in what is now The George Hotel. In a letter written back to Parliament that night of the 30th he spoke of his plans to march next morning and a later rendezvous with Massie in Blandford. The Clubmen if encountered "if the Clubmen interrupt not, whom we shall endeavor to quiet with fair words, and courteous usage, but if that not prevail and necessary inforce it, they will be sharply dealt with all".
Letter, Perfect Occurrences June 1645
Marching next day to Broad Chalke near Salisbury he arrived the day after in Blandford..
Reaching Blandford in Dorset on the 2nd of July we see Fairfax writing a letter on the 3rd informing Parliament with a description of The Clubmen.
Fairfax letter with description of Clubmen, Blandford 3rd July 1645.
My former Letter acquainted your Lordships with my Resolutions to march Westwards, for the Relief of Taunton; in Pursuance whereof, I am advanced as far as Blandford. I could not hitherto give your Lordships an Account of the Conditions of these Counties of Wilts and Dorsett, in Arms under the Name of Club-men. They pretended only the Defence of themselves from Plunderers, but not to side either with the King's Forces or the Parliament's, but to give Free Quarter to both: The Heads of them are all (so far as I can learn) such as have either been in actual Service in the King's Army (nay, some having Commands at the present with the King), or those that are known Favourers of that Party. I hear they have drawn up certain Articles, where unto they have subscribed, for the managing and maintaining this new Party. They have drawn up Petitions, one to the King, the other to the Parliament, the Copies whereof I have here with all sent unto your Lordships. The Heads of them have had some Treaties with the Governors of the Garrisons, both of the King and Parliament, that lie nearest to them, and have agreed to pay Contribution to both; I hear, Fifty Pounds to Tolston House, and the like to Langford House. They have appointed Treasurers of their own, for receiving and paying for the same; and the Garrisons, in Consideration hereof, are not to raise any Contribution to themselves. I have sent your Lordship One of their Warrants for raising Money, and paying it in to Mr.Hollis of Salisbury, who is One of their Heads. For that Purpose, they give Passes to One of their Party, whom they call Associates, to pass freely in the Counties without Molestation. 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. They meet with Drums, flying Colours, and for Arms they have Muskets. Some, I hear, have been sent them from Sherborne; Fowling-pieces, Pikes, Halberts, great Clubs, and such like. They take upon them to interpose betwixt the Garrisons of either Side; and when any of their Forces meet in Places where they have a sufficient Power, as Salisbury and the like, they will not suffer them to fight, but make them drink together, and so make them Part to their several Garrisons. They come into our Horse Quarters, and steal Horses where they find them at Grass, and carry them into the Woods. They will obey no Warrants further than they are compelled, for sending in Provisions for the Army, or Draughts for the Carriages. In these Two Counties, they are abundantly more affected to the Enemy than to the Parliament; and publicly declare, what Party soever falls on them, they will join with the other; and those of the Inhabitants of these Counties who are really affected to the Parliament do not join with them, but are daily threatened by them, and suspect the Issue of it will be very mischievous. I have the Enemy before me, towards whom I am advancing with all Expedition; and in my Rear these Men, who, being very numerous, and acted by Men so dangerous as for the most Part their Leaders are, I know not what they may attempt. I desire your Lordships Advice in this Business, being uncertain what to do, until I hear from your Lordships. I am careful to prevent any just Cause of Clamour from the Country through any Disorders in the Army; and hope there will be Care taken for the sending Money to us, that they may be able to give Contentment to the People, by discharging their Quarters: But I do not at all doubt, that, if some speedy Course were taken for their quieting, or suppressing them, it would be no hard Work: I know not what it may prove to in Time; I find them generally very confident of their Cause and Party; and, if hereafter they should presume to give Laws to the Armies, as they do to the Garrisons, it might be of evil Consequence. For the present, I shall offer to your Lordships the commanding of Colonel Fines and Colonel Norton's Regiment of Horse into these Parts, who, with the Assistance of Colonel Ludlowe, the Sheriff of Wilts, and the Garrisons in these Parts, may be able at least to keep them from drawing into any great Bodies, to the Disturbance of the Country. I desire your Lordships speedy Answer; and remain
"Your Lordships most
Blandford, July, 3d 1645, 7 in the Morning.
Fairfax letter in part read by Ceejay Sargent
This is followed by a meeting with a party of Clubmen in Dorchester the same day, seeking warrant and allowing them passage to King and Parliament with petition.
Those to the King were Doctor Henry Goche, and Thomas Bravel, Divines; St. Loe, Peter Hodskins, Esq; Thomas Toung an Attourney, and Robert Pawlet Gent.
To the Parliament were directed Melchisedec Woltham and Richard Cook Club-teachers or Preachers; Tho. Trenchard and Robert. Culliford, Esqs; George Hawle and Richard Newman, Gent. And together with Hollis Desre, he delivers the Petitions themselves with their devised Articles concerning an Association of the County independent of either Armies.
The effect of the Articles. That those Associate shall find Arms for themſelves to beat peace, unless in opposition of disorderly Soldiers on either side to be brought to the next adjacent Garrison. - That they will submit to Quarter and Contribution to their abilities, till their Petitions be preferred, and timely answered Not to favour either party, nor to protect any, not ſo aſſociated. Then in their Petitions. - They desire a renewed Treaty of King and Parliament, with cessation of Arms.That the Garrisons of Dorset and Wiltſhire be put into their hands, till the King and Parliament agree about the disposal of them. That they be free from all charge but maintenance of those Garrisons. That all Laws not repealed be in force, and to be executed by the ordinary officers. - That all men that deſire, may lay down Arms, and others who have abſented themſelves from their Dwellings may have liberty to return home.
Meeting with Fairfax 3rd of July 1645
This was given reply by Fairfax on July 4th. The requiring of garrisoned troops to come under the warrant and command by The Clubmen until a peace is attained, is given a focus in the reply. The threat of a foreign invasion through the three sea port garrisons is mentioned as a need to keep under parliaments control, and a promise to impose discipline in said Parliament garrisons and the grievances commonly imposed by troops marching through the counties brought to a stop. A quiet and orderly passage by troops from now on is mentioned. The garrisons particularly of the three seaports are of great importance, and as mentioned the given up of to put under command of the Clubmen was never going to be. What the letter shows is Fairfax dealing with The Clubmen in a cautious manner, given a communication with and a reassurance of a keeping troops in order. This would play dividends as the Western Campaign continued.
Although the Paper brought to me being not subscribed cannot challenge any answer, yet to clear myself from any answers to the satisfaction of the country, who are pretended to be in-trusted in these petitions, I return this. That my affections, and the affections of this Army, are as much inclined to peace, as any mens whatsoever. And we undertake the War for no other end than the eſtablishment of a firm and happy peace.......
Letter of reply, Fairfax.
Fairfax and The New Model Army by the night of the 5th of July had marched to Beaminister and were quartered on the top of a hill over the town with a few in Beaminister. A description of the state of the town makes for how the occupation of towns with soldiers had in many accounts caused a miserable and devastating effect on the people of those towns.
" a place of the most pittifulest spectacle that man can behold, hardly a house left not consumed by with fire; the town fired by the enemy in five places at once ".
Fairfax with the army were now in camp between Crewkerne and Beaminster on the 5th-6th of July had dispatched with The Clubmen ambassadors from Dorchester. Receiving word of Goring's Royalist troops from his scouts, he hears of Goring's departure from Taunton and was marching for Yeovil. A report in a Parliament newsletter speaks of Goring and a "sharp farewell, where he has spit his last venom". The march from Marlborough by Faiirfax's troops in five days on course for the relief of Taunton was now focused on the chase of Goring.
The report also mentions a coming together with the Governor of Lyme. The Clubmen assembling, they were approached by the Governor of Lyme who "put those in a condition to receive the worst of answers" where upon they "rudely tore his papers and increased their sedition's" This resulted with the Governor approaching them and the loss of 50 to 60 Clubmen. A comment is made "they will not understand reason till it be beaten into them".
( Fairfax himself reported on this clash with the Clubmen in Lyme with the added note of the messenger of Colonel Martin Pinder losing his papers to The Clubmen and 80 being killed. )
The 5th of July 1645 The Clubmen take 100 of Goring's men and draughts (Horses) and Fairfax is in Crewkerne Somerset. Parliament debate the Somerset Clubmen petitions. The debate is centered on these Clubmen making laws upon themselves.
The Somerset Clubmen had been organising throughout the county since early June, mainly in objection to Gorings soldiers. With Fairfax and a more disciplined New Model Army now in the county, this would later play as an advantage in winning The Clubmen to be more sympathetic to Parliamentarian cause. The pushing of warrent and hopes of the Royalists in gaining recruits via The Clubmen, up to this point was still at play. Goring himself had a ploy in preparation regards The Clubmen which would come to light late July.
A petition from the Somerset Clubmen prepared in late June was published in a Parliamentary Newspaper in early July. One of the leaders of these Clubmen was a Humphrey Willis who came from Woolavington. Willis had taking the demands and petitions of The Clubmen to both warring sides.
The Clubmen meeting on Cattle Hill was presented in 'Some Queries presented by Mr Willis at the Clubmen's Rendezvous June 30th 1645'.
Clubmen Petitions Somerset Reported 5th July 1645
Fairfax succeeds in beating the Royalist troops back at Yeovil on the 7th of July. The defeat of Royalist Lieutenant-General George Porter near Taunton at Isle Abbott's by General Massey on the 8th and Goring's troops at The Battle of Langport on the 10th. Goring now fled back into Devon. The Clubmen with the recent history of Goring and his deprivations on them took revenge on those fleeing back to Devon, killing those caught.
This Clubmen revenge upon those fleeing was a result also in part because of the Royalist garrison under the the command of Francis Mackworth in Langport. Goring had kept the garrison at Langport short of supplies. The gathering by force of supplies had been instructed by Mackworth and this brought a resistance to that force upon the surrounding area. The Clubmen had set upon the garrison on a previous occasion. Capturing some of the Royalist troops they confronted the Langport garrison with musket fire. Mackworth had set his horse ( cavalry ) on them, killing one or two and forcing the rest to flee.
Plaque on wall in Langport.
A letter from Fairfax at this time shows the toll of the marching being put upon the army.
After the Battle of Langport and marching the same day the New Model Army arrived at Pensy-Pound. Fairfax and the New Model Army were now quartered at Weston Moor, Penzoy Common part of 'The Kings Sedgemoor'.
The following day July 11th 1645, and being informed of a gathering of Clubmen with banners and aprons of white being seen on Knoll Hill, he ( Fairfax ) with officers and the Lieutenant General (Cromwell ) went out to meet and talk with The Clubmen. On advancing upon the Clubmen, Fairfax and his officers were friendly received and thereafter a volley of shot was fired in salute. A neutral speech was made by the leader Humphrey Willis where as in common with other Clubmen demands, peace and a treaty for was proposed.
Fairfax assured The Clubmen pay for supplies for the New Model Army, and appealed for help against the Royalist garrisoned in Bridgewater, before heading back to the army quartered now in Chedzoy.
The King was now at Raglan Castle by the 3rd July where later on the 8th of July he would meet with a delegation of Clubmen from Dorset with another petition.
The Humble Petition of the Inhabitants of Dorset is in keeping with other Clubmen petitions. A desire for peace and the suffering imposed on them by garrisoned troops ( ten in number, Dorset stated ) with payment by taxes and a supply of food and provision brought to an end to those garrisons. The arbitrary power of the sword is once again highlighted.
Clubmen Petition Ragland Castle July 8th 1645
The Somerset Clubmen make another appearance on the 23rd July 1645. The loss and surrender of Bridgewater to the New Model Army also on the 23rd July saw General Goring see fit to send a warrent in the hope of recruitment as mentioned earlier. According to reports from a Parliamentarian Newspaper this was a ploy to see who was willing, some to be forced and the rest scattered. This was of little success.
Fairfax and the New Model Army now being headquartered in Wells Somerset late July, and with the surrender of Bath to parliamentarian forces, Fairfax now had on mind, the Royalists and Clubmen in Dorset. The paying of quarter and provision that had swung the Clubmen in West Somerset would prove to be a different matter in Dorset. Bristol could wait.
Letter from Wells Somerset with warning of Dorset Clubmen
The Somerset and Devon Clubmen would be active throughout August, September and October in the county. A meeting at Goosmoor near Halberton was had in late July as was a meeting in Triscombe in July.
A clash with Goring's troops and the Clubmen in North Molton in August led later to a bloody coming together in Bampton on the 29th September. The Clubmen at Bampton had earlier, on the 2nd September been in talks with parliamentarian troops gathered in near by Milverton, under the command of Edward Massey. Massey had agreed to leave 60 of his troops in Bampton after this meeting.
Bampton in Devon
With Fairfax occupied in the siege of Bristol, Goring was free to set upon the Clubmen in Bampton and Massey's 60 troops. Heading from Tiverton along Stony Lane the resistance from Massey's troops was dealt with near the town and the quashing of the Clubmen ensued. Some fled for the church as Goring went about firing the houses along Brook Street where he then spent 6 days in town plundering what was to be had by force.
Triscombe Stone, Quantocks
Paying of quarter.
Somerset and Devon Clubmen