James Waylen’s History of Devizes. Published in 1859

 

This book provides fascinating details of the history both municipal and military. The extract below covers the period between the battles of Lansdowne and Rounway. It provides good details of the Siege of Devizes and some personal accounts from participants

 

THE BATTLE OF LANSDOWNE July 5th, 1643

 

Sir William Waller a knight of Kent next comes upon the scene. He brought with him into Wiltshire the knowledge of arms which ho had acquired in Foreign Service, enhanced by a reputation subsequently won in the Parliament's cause, in the counties of Hants and Sussex. In the month of March 1643 he passed through Salisbury into North Wilts, where, on the 22nd he re-took from Colonel Lunsford the town of Malmesbury; then crossing the Severn at night, captured under the walls of Gloucester the entire army of Lord Herbert.

He next surprised and took the two garrisons of Hereford and Tewkesbury; and again turning southward, marched upon Bath in order to encounter Prince Maurice, who, in conjunction with Hopton and Sir Bevil Grenville was raising for the King the counties of Cornwall and Devon.

 

By this time he (Waller) was become so great a warrior in the eyes of the Londoners that they styled him William the Conqueror, and still further testified their affection for him by equipping one of his cavalry regiments in complete armour. This was Sir Arthur Hazlerig's troop of black "lobsters," and was perhaps the only body of men throughout the war who rode completely armed; that is to say, each man had armour for the arms and thighs, in addition to the ordinary "breasts, backs, and pots." A group of these sable suits may still be seen in the Tower of London, ranged behind the equestrian row of tilting knights who occupy the centre of the room.

 

The King's western army which at this moment was advancing out of Cornwall, comprised many of his Majesty's Wiltshire adherents, such as the Marquis of Hertford, the Earl of Marlborough, Lord Arundel of Wardour, and Sir George Vaughan the Sheriff. After several skirmishes with Waller on the south side of Bath, they threw themselves upon Marshfield, north of the city. Waller, whose design was to prevent their juncture with the King's forces at Oxford, thereupon tempted them to an engagement, by shewing' himself on the ridge of Lansdowne Hill; and a fiercely contested battle was the result, fought on the 5th day of July, 1643.

 

Waller retired to Bath; and the Royalists, who claimed the victory, discovered that they had won it very dearly. The greater part of their cavalry was lost, their ammunition spent, Sir Bevil Grenville slain, Lord Arundel of Wardour and Sir George Vaughan severely wounded, the latter fatally, and Sir Ralph Hopton blinded on the following day by the explosion of an ammunition waggon. A monument stands on the spot where Grenville and so many of his brother officers fell, near the boundary line which separates the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire. In form it resembles that subsequently erected, for a more pacific purpose, on Etchilhampton hill near Devizes, except that it is surmounted by a different crest. Sir Bevil's monument was raised by his descendant, the first Lord Lansdowne, who took his title from that "well-foughten field," and from whom it has descended through a female channel to the present Marquis.

 

As Waller quitted the brow of Lansdowne, and "led back from strife his shattered bands" he had the city of Bath as a post of refuge in his rear, and a garrison of men to recruit his ranks. Here therefore he refitted his army, and borrowed moreover of Colonel William Strode the sum of £500 for present necessities, a debt which the Parliament eventually repaid, by an order of 6th September 1645. Not so the Royalists. As their only resource lay in pushing for Oxford, they broke up from Marshfield on the 8th and marched towards Chippenham and thence on the following day to Devizes; carrying Sir Ralph Hopton in a litter. Here it might at first sight excite surprise that, Oxford being their aim - they should have thought it necessary to deviate so much to the right as Devizes lay. The reason is perhaps to be found in the exposure to which their infantry would have been liable from Waller's numerous cavalry, had they traversed the then open unenclosed country between Chippenham and Malmesbury. The dangerous proximity of the Malmesbury garrison was also to be taken into account. But more likely still, (as subsequent events suggest) the desire to reach Devizes was in accordance with their own arrangement that a reinforcement of powder should advance to meet them by way of Marlborough and the Roundway-Hill route.

 

The result was, that as Chippenham was no farther from Bath than it was from Marshfield, Waller speedily came up with them, and fell upon their rear as they were quitting Chippenham, and again at Bromham House the seat of Sir Edward Baynton. From this point to Devizes a running fight from hedge to hedge was maintained by the Cornish musketeers who, under Sir Nicholas Slanning, ably kept the rear-guard and effected for the royal artillery a safe entry into the town in the afternoon of Sunday 9th July. In order to render this last movement perfectly intelligible to the modern residents in Devizes, it should be observed that Bromham Hall is not to be confounded with any building in the village of Bromham. This would have been out of the line of the army's march. The house of the Bayntons stood (indeed a fragment still stands) near that part of the parish called Netherstreet; and a portion of the ancient straight road leading thence towards the Iron-pear-tree-farm is still in existence, though not marked in the Ordnance map. It may have been by this passage therefore, rather than through Rowde, that the town was attained.

 

Waller having failed to intercept the Royalists before "they reached Devizes, encamped for the night on "a large moor near Rowde," which we may suppose to indicate St. Edith marsh and Netherstreet. Early on the next morning he led his whole army, consisting of about 5500 men of all arms, through the Roundway passes, and thus at once cut off all further retreat in the direction of Marlborough. The activity of his scouts at the same time made him aware that a large supply of ammunition was approaching the town from that quarter, to intercept which he immediately dispatched Major Francis Dowett, who in half an hour discovered the waggons approaching with a convoy of dragoons under the command of the Earl of Crawfurd. A short conflict ensued, but the Royalists being greatly over-matched, the Earl abandoned his charge and hardly escaped with his life, leaving behind him 200 prisoners and five loads of ammunition. This skirmish appears to have taken place at Beckhampton.

 

Major Francis Dowett, a London trooper, who from this time forward becomes a very conspicuous personage in Wiltshire, was a sturdy little citizen of French extraction, and an officer of great energy and skill, though somewhat erratic and insubordinate. He eventually went over to the King's army, but before that took place he was thus stigmatised by one of the Royalist journalists. “Dowett, a foreigner and a colonel fit for their cause and service, who most nobly carried Captain Fleming's colours into London along with the Earl of Essex, pretending very bravely that he took them at Newbury, till one of Fleming's troop knew the colours and challenged this as belonging to his [own] captain." {Mercurius Aulicus 25th Oct. 1643}

 

Another contemporary, speaking of Dowett, describes him as " a low man but of tall resolution," the word "low" here indicating shortness of stature; as Fuller, discoursing of "the low but learned Baconthorpe" says "I had almost overseen John Baconthorpe, being so low in stature as but one remove from a dwarf; of whom one saith— Ingenio magnus, corpore parvus erat. His wit was tall, in body small." Church History i. 402”.

 

While this was passing on the plain, Sir William drew nearer to Devizes, and perceived that a large body of the Royalists, both horse and foot, were drawn up on a rising ground east of the town, looking out for Crawfurd's approach. They had watched Waller's army descending the edge of the down, over the village of Roundway, and believing it to be their own friends, had placed themselves in battalia on the aforesaid rising ground in order to form as early a conjunction with them as possible. On discovering their mistake they retreated into the town, and Waller taking possession of the ground they had quitted, constructed on its summit a battery of seven guns and poured in his shot without intermission. The hill here alluded to is the ridge of Coate-field, a few hundred yards to the east of the Green Church (St. James Church on Devizes Green)

 

In the town meanwhile where the Royalists at once discovered that there was no sufficient accommodation for the cavalry, "it was unanimously advised" says Clarendon {History of the Rebellion} "and consented to, that the Lord Marquis [Hertford] and Prince Maurice should that night break through with all the horse to Oxford; and that Sir Ralph Hopton, (who by this time was supposed past danger of death, and could hear and speak well enough, though he could not see or stir) with the Earl of Marlborough who was General of the artillery, the Lord Mohun, and other good officers of foot, should stay there with the foot and cannon, where it was hoped they might defend themselves for a few days, till the General might return with relief from Oxford, which was not above thirty miles off. [It is nearer forty-five, Waylen]. This resolution was pursued; and the same night all the horse got safe away into the King's quarters, and the Prince and Marquis in the morning came to Oxford; by which time Sir William Waller had drawn all his forces about the Devizes." Lord Clarendon then goes on to observe that "the town was open, without the least fortification or defence but small ditches and hedges, upon which the fort were placed and some pieces of cannon conveniently planted. The avenues, which were many, were quickly barricaded to hinder the entrance of the horse, which was principally apprehended.{" History of the Rebellion ii. 287}. This assertion as to the town being destitute of fortifications is a point on which the testimony is conflicting. "Works" are certainly alluded to, when Sir Edward Hungerford held the place, (see page 152) as also in a Parliamentary version of the siege. Moreover there is extant a warrant issued in the following year, viz. in June 1644, directing the constables of Potterne and Cannings Hundred to demolish the "works and fortifications now standing about the Devizes." Yet Lord Clarendon and the author of Caroloiades' to be presently noticed, both assert the contrary; while James Heath another minor historian of the time, in allusion to this very period, styles Devizes "that untenable place." The truth seems to be, either that the earthen out-works were extremely insignificant, or that the weakest and most assailable points of entrance were artificially strengthened, the houses for the most part constituting a sufficient barrier against mere assault. Some considerable embankment must have been required on the east side of St. Mary's Church and along the north and west of St. John's; but it is hardly to be supposed that the castle-mound was included within their lines of defence, as this would have required far more than their disposable force. If the chapelry of St. James was embraced by an advanced work, this must also have greatly enhanced their difficulties.

 

The departure of the cavalry under Lord Hartford took place on Monday evening soon after nightfall, but was not accomplished without the loss of a few prisoners. Lord Clarendon, it is true, represents this movement as executed on the very night of their reaching Devizes, viz. on Sunday the 9th, and the return from Oxford and fighting the battle of Round way on "Wednesday" the 12th; but all contemporary accounts confirm the opposite view here taken, and fix the battle of Roundway on Thursday the 13th July, 1643.The horse being gone, the Cornish foot and artillery numbering together perhaps 2500 had all the work to do by themselves; while, as the historian observes, "the compass of the ground they were to keep was so large, and the enemy pressed so hard upon all places, that their whole body were upon perpetual duty together, neither officer nor soldier having any time for rest."

 

Another disadvantage under which it was apprehended they would lie was an almost total failure in the three important articles of powder, bullets, and match for the musketeers; and strange to say, these were all found in the town. "When the enemy came first before the place and the guards were supplied with ammunition for their duty, there was but one hundred and fifty weight of match left in the store. Whereupon diligent officers were directed to search every house in the town and to take all the bed-cords they could find, and to cause them to be speedily beaten and boiled, by which sudden expedient there was by the next morning provided fifteen hundred weight of such serviceable match as very well endured that sharp service." Such is Lord Clarendon's story of the manufacture of match; but something besides match was needed. It is one of the newspapers of the hour, we believe, which states that lead for the bullets was obtained from the church-roofs; and from a third source, the Caroloiades (poem –see below) of the Hon. Edward Howard.

 

We discover the Aladdin's cave, whence issued in so critical a moment that supply of powder without which all the "heating and boiling" of the good wives' bedding would have proved of little avail. Mr. Howard, who speaks of himself as being personally observant of the facts "of that western expedition' thus states the case.

 

“This exigent as Royalists deplored,

and fruitlessly had searched for powder stored,

a trusty townsman makes himself their guide

unto enough of his to aid their side.

Provided thus, with bold joy they defy

By peals of shot the daring enemy;

And with recruited fury sallies make

Where posted foes they kill, and prisoners take.

Scorning that works their valour should confine

Who durst the place defend without a line."

 

The "trusty townsman" here immortalised, Mr. Howard informs us in a note, was "one Pierce, an inhabitant of the Devizes, who discovered to the Lord Hopton where for some time he had hidden powder." This, there can hardly be a doubt, was no other than our old acquaintance Alderman and mayor Richard Pierce; to whom may therefore be indirectly ascribed the merit of the prolonged defence of the town, and as a sequence, Waller's defeat at Roundway. No wonder that he had to figure in after days at Goldsmith's Hall as a "delinquent" compounding for his estate.

 

11th JULY, TUESDAY.

During the greater part of this day the town was bombarded from the hill on which Sir William had constructed his battery, but no determined attempt was made to take the place by assault; Waller contenting himself with sending in a message to the Royalists that he had cut off their expected supplies of ammunition, and the sooner they yielded themselves up, the better it would be for them. He was so confident at this moment that they were lying at his mercy that he wrote to the Parliament to say that by the next post he hoped to forward a catalogue of the number and quality of his prisoners; to ensure which he had taken care, on entering Wiltshire, to disperse his warrants abroad, inviting all the country in to his victorious standard.

 

As to the disposition of his forces in the leaguer, we gather from an incidental notice in his autobiography that he stationed his dragoons [who numbered 500] on the side of the town farthest from Roundway, which must therefore mean the Potterne side ; that a body of horse lay on the summit of Roundway, apparently to keep a look-out; and that his own quarters as General were in the village of Roundway. [N.B. The dragoons of those days, who are always distinguished from "the horse”, were musketeers who used horses principally to carry them to the scene of action, rather than to fight riding.]

 

The personal memoranda of Sir William, referred to above, but written many years after, supply us with the following anecdote, apparently belonging to Tuesday's operations (July 11th). "On the second night after I sat down before the Devizes, having been out to visit the guards, and returning to a farmhouse at the foot of Roundway Down where I had given order to my cook that my supper should be ready against I came in; and finding my meat but newly laid to the fire, in a sudden impatience I resolved not to sup at all, and so took horse again and rode up to the top where the body of my horse (1250 cavalry men) lay. I was not gone above a musket shot, but some of the enemy, knowing the passages thereabout (which I did not) and rationally supposing I might quarter in that place in regard of the convenient situation of it, between my horse and my foot, came into the house and enquired and made a search for me. And if I had staid there as at first I intended, in all probability they might have suddenly dispatched me and retired in the darkness of the night with safety enough. {" Recollections of Sir William Waller.}

 

12th JULY, "WEDNESDAY.

 

So heavy a rain continued to fall during the morning of this day that hostile proceedings were mutually suspended for a time: but in the afternoon Waller and Dowett simultaneously led on a furious attack upon the works. After four hours fighting the outworks and guards were carried, and the Parliament's horse charged up into some of the streets. The marks of about twenty-six canister shot (still visible) on the east end of St. John's chancel plainly shew that considerable inroad was made, apparently by way of Morris's lane, and seem to indicate, as hinted above, that the church was a principal post of defence. At this crisis, Waller once more sent in a trumpet to summon them to surrender. The Royalists demanded a parley of two hours, which after some hesitation was granted; and when this was expired, as their object was to spare ammunition as well as to gain time for sleep, they induced Waller to extend it during other six hours. This was a most fatal error on his part and arose from the reliance which he placed on Lord Essex's endeavours to prevent any succour being sent out of Oxford. By repeated letters to the General he had made him fully sensible of the importance of such a precaution from the moment of the Royalists quitting Marshfield: but Essex was beginning to be chagrined at Waller's increasing popularity among the Londoners, and he was willing on the present occasion to allow his rival to shift for himself. Accordingly, though he seemed to promise assistance, he took not a single step for that purpose. "I would have you fight with the Marquis" thus he had written a few days before, "if possibly you may, not upon unequal terms; if not, to march up after him, and to hinder and trouble him in the rear as much as in you lies; and so join with this army. Otherwise, if the King send any supply of force to the enemy, then, if I have notice thereof, I shall take all possible care to supply you accordingly." Sir Arthur Hazlerig also, suspecting Essex's supineness, wrote to him with the same intent on Monday and again on Wednesday, but the Earl remained quietly stationed at Thame, a place from which it would have been impossible to make the necessary observations on Oxford, had he been so disposed, since it lay quite out of the route and was still farther fromDevizes than Oxford was.

 

A very different feeling prevailed in London. There the news of Waller's movements was daily listened to with the intensest interest. On this self same day, the 12th July, the House of Commons having first read one of his letters of the 7th, Resolved, that the sum of £10,000 should be forthwith provided and sent to him by the hand of Mr. Hodges, Mr. Stephens, and Mr. Ashe; and that letters should be sent to the Committees of Portsmouth, Dorchester, and the counties adjacent, urging them to send all the forces they could spare, to his aid. At the same time Sir Robert Harley carried up to the Lords an {Ordinance concerning the Grand Butlerage to Sir William Waller." Commons' Journals iii. 163}

 

13th JULY, THURSDAY.

 

The only incident recorded of this day's proceedings, as regarded the siege, seems to be preserved in another memorandum of Waller's own journal, following that given above. "Some days after," says he, " whilst I lay before the town, I rode with a small party about the quarters, particularly to see how the dragoons were laid on the further side of the town; and being to return back, it suddenly came into my mind to go by another way than that I came; which some of the party and some of mine own servants who staid a little behind, not observing, but taking the former way, they were almost all taken by the enemy. I came back safely.{" Recollections."}

 

Sir William began now to be very impatient to bring the affair to a conclusion, and preparations were accordingly made to take the town by storm. E'er this could be put in execution, the scouts came flying in to say that a formidable body of horse was rapidly approaching from Marlborough. This was most disastrous tidings for Waller's men; for having been now for a fortnight lying in the fields by night and fighting by day, they had hoped by one more desperate coup de main to win the repose they so much needed. Both horses and men were utterly jaded and ready to fall down for want of sleep; but now no other resource was left them but to abandon their vantage ground and advance to meet the new enemy in order to prevent his junction with the infantry in the town. In breaking up the leaguer, Waller drew off without drum or trumpet, the besieged Cornishmen remaining in ignorance of the cause of his movement and suspecting it to be only a feint to draw them out. "We must now recur to the measures by which the Marquis of Hartford had thus so suddenly changed the aspect of affairs.

 

Battle of Roundway Down July 13th, 1643

 

As described above, that active officer ( Lord Hertford) had with the cavalry quitted Devizes on the night of the 10th. He rode so rapidly that very few of these reached Oxford with him, and fewer still returned. Having had an audience with his Majesty on the morning of the 11th, Tuesday, he again started that very day towards Devizes, in company with Lord Wilmot, Prince Maurice, the Earl of Crawfurd and Sir John Byron, at the head of a considerable body of Lifeguards, whom the King cheerfully dismissed, although he was himself just on the eve of marching to meet the Queen. They took two whole days to reach Devizes; and it was not till four o'clock on Thursday afternoon that they reached the summit of Roundway down, where Waller had also drawn up his whole army to oppose their further progress. All accounts agree in showing that the battle was lost and won by the cavalry alone, and that the part which the infantry played was subsequent to the decisive stroke. In numbers.

 

The cavalry were pretty equally matched; Waller's horse, including dragoons, being 2500; the Royalists numbered, according to Clarendon, 1500; according to some of the Parliamentary prints, the same as their enemies. Waller's array exhibited his 3000 foot forming a centre, flanked by wings of horse; and backed by a reserve. He possessed also artillery, of which the Royalists were comparatively destitute. But anxiety lest the Cornishmen from the town should be upon him before the affair was brought to an issue induced him to abandon this line of battle, and to substitute a cavalry charge in order to ride down his enemies. Sir Arthur Hazlerig with the London cuirassiers led the first attack, followed by Sir Edward Hungerford and Captain Baugh at the head of the Western horse. These were all beaten back in great disorder, and the Royalists made themselves masters of four pieces of ordnance. But Sir Arthur having rallied the fugitive horse, came again to the assault, re-captured the artillery and appeared to be gaining a permanent advantage, when 500 of Wilmot's men who had hitherto acted only as a reserve, joined in the melee and put the cuirassiers to a perfect rout. But there were some other stout citizens yet to be dealt with; these were the body of trained-bands who had studied the practice of the pike to such good purpose in the London Artillery-ground that on many occasions during this war, they proved the most formidable enemies which the Royal cavalry had to encounter. While Waller himself, Hungerford, Hazlerig, and all the horse were flying down Bagdon hill, these men stood to their arms; and it was not till Lord Wilmot, aided by the Cornish musketeers who by this time had reached the scone of action, turned their own guns upon them, that this resolute corps was broken in pieces. Waller with the major part of the horse escaped to Bristol, (carrying with him a small number of prisoners, so at least says one account): others went towards Malmesbury. Another newspaper reporter writes, that the Parliament lost only 50 horse in the engagement, that the greater part of the foot were by the industry of a little Scotchman, brought off bravely; and that aa for Sir Arthur Hazlerig, he deserves a second Homer to set forth his valour. They certainly lost all their baggage and artillery; among which, if we may believe the Mercurius Aulicus, were some carts laden with manacles "for the liberty of the subject" quoth the editor. On the King's side, Lord Grandison was the only person of title who was hurt; but a band of between 40 and 50 volunteers from the neighbourhood, who joined Hartford's standard just before the engagement, fared much worse. By some accident they became separated from their allies, and were nearly all cut off.

 

A circumstance which had greatly added to the moral strength of the Royalist forces just before the battle was the unexpected arrival of Robert Dormer Earl of Carnarvon, who reaching the scene of action by chance and almost unattended, promptly offered to serve as a volunteer in Sir John Byron's regiment; but instead of his offer being accepted in this form, the chief command of the regiment was cheerfully accorded him; and it is further stated that the share which he had in the ensuing victory was owing to a judicious though somewhat novel arrangement of his force. That the success of the day was in some large measure attributable to his presence is evidenced by the position assigned him in the triumphal odes which shortly after issued from Oxford.

 

It is affirmed in a manuscript history of the war, described in the {Notes and Queries, part xxii. p. 331} that the captain who commanded the royal horse in the charge at Roundway was Sir Francis Ottley of Pitchford near Shrewsbury. Without attempting to dispute the knight's claim to a prominent share in the engagement, it may be sufficient to say, that as it was one of the most dashing affairs executed by the King's supporter in this county. After the 20th September, 1643. after the battle of Roundway he was party throughout the war, it is not to be wondered at that the aspirants to its laurels should have been numerous. Various anecdotes too, and traditions, hang about a victory which made so much noise in the kingdom.

 

And first in relation to the siege of the town. In the examination of a Wiltshire gentleman named John Thistlethwayte, three years afterwards when the Parliament having got the upper hand were compelling the Royalists to compound for " delinquency," a circumstance comes out which probably finds its place no where else in the chronicles of the time. It appears that when Sir Ralph Hopton led his victorious army to Salisbury after the battle of Roundway, he failed not to recount the successful expedient which in an hour of pressing want had replenished his musketeers' fuses. It therefore came to be a popular joke that "Hopton held out Devizes with bedcords," and a piece of hempen cord worn as a hat-band, continued for some time, among the Royalists, to be an emblem of triumph. It was tendered in evidence against Mr. Thistlewayte, that while at Salisbury he had been guilty of indulging in this suspicious looking decoration. His delinquency therefore was held to be proven. The witnesses against him were Henry Thistlethwayte and Timothy King. Sworn before the Wilts Committee at Falstone House 13th October, 1646.

 

The report touching the "delinquency" of another Royalist named Francis Barber of Burbage, furnishes also an incident. His delinquency was clear enough, in the fact that he had two sons in the royal army, and had himself even served for about three weeks. His especial enemy appears to have been the constable or tythingman of his parish, to wit Giles Davis, who impressed one of his carts for the service of Sir William Waller, when that General was prosecuting the siege of Devizes. The battle of Roundway following immediately after, threw the balance of power into the hands of the aggrieved farmer, who forthwith made his way, accompanied by his wife, into the victorious ranks of the Royalists in Devizes, where his two sons were serving under the command of Colonel Pearce, and induced that officer to march with force and arms into the territory of his neighbour Giles Davis and capture two of his horses; telling him withal that it was his full intention "not to leave him while he was worth a groat." Barber had also sufficient influence with Lord Crawfurd to obtain from him one of Sir William Waller's captured waggons, which he therefore carried off in triumph from the field of battle, as a compensation for his lost cart. Another witness against him, besides Davis, was Edmund Pearson of Burbage, who averred that one of Barber's sons would not have entered the King's army but for the father's urgency, &c., &c. Other references to the events of this period will occur when we come to notice the examination in full of Mr. Edward Knyvett the minister of Coulston, at the termination of the war.

 

The following incident, which has a touch of the Homeric about it, and which is traditionally said to have occurred in the awful interval of time immediately preceding the onset on Roundway hill, is derived from the manuscript memorials of the Wanseys of Warminster, a family who highly distinguished themselves in the Parliament's interest throughout the struggle. One of the Royalist soldiers having advanced so far in front of his comrades that the movement was regarded by the opposite party as defiant, a Parliamentary trooper named Jehu Wansey rode out of the ranks, engaged with, and slew his man. In the battle and rout which eclipsed this chivalrous commencement, Jehu, though a fugitive, contrived to save his life; being destined to receive his final bullet in one of the Irish campaigns.

 

Another tradition connected with the battle is derived from Mrs. Bevan who (in 1856) had occupied the ancient gabled mansion at Melksham Spa between forty and fifty years. This lady stated that at the time of Roundway fight, some rebels were hung on the old oak in the adjoining paddock. This is evidently a distorted version of the tragedy at Woodhouse near Horningsham, where Sir Francis Doddington hung up thirteen clothiers on one tree.

The Rowde parish register has the following entry, "1643 July 13, being Thursday, was the great fight on Roundway hill, in which William Bartlett was shot in the forehead, and was buried in martial wise at Rowde. He was chief quartermaster to the noble Colonel Sands [Sandys] and was baptised, ut patet, 26 March 1615. A cloud like a lion rampant azure was on the army fighting."

 

The Cheriton parish register has the following, "1643 July 14. William Bartlett the son of Mr. Robert Bartlett of Churton who was slain in the fight on Bagdon-hill, was buried July 14th." [These two extracts were first made public in the Devizes Gazette 25th July, 1839, by J. S. Money Esq., of Whetham. In reference to the "noble Colonel Sandys," there were so many of the name on both sides that identification is impossible.]

 

Where was the Battle? (heading put in by Alan Carter)

 

The question might here arise: What was the exact scene of the battle of Roundway? For, as Waller's manifest object was to prevent the junction of his two enemies, it might, to the modern inhabitants of Devizes, appear inconsistent with such a design that he should draw up his army on an elevated spot so far removed from the present road from Shepherd's Shore to Devizes. But this will be easily understood by recalling the fact that the branch road to Devizes quitted the old Bath road over Roundway, not as now, a mile beyond the Wansdyke, but by two or more tracks this side of the Wansdyke. The spot called "Windmill Knoll" in the Ordnance Map, a little to the right as we mount the hill by Mr. Estcourt's plantation, there can hardly be a doubt was the ground on which Waller stationed his men, lying as it does between the two tracks to Devizes, and consequently directly on the line of march. The flight and pursuit of course took the direction of the old Bath road down Bagdon (or Beacon down) hill. As for the neighbouring entrenchment calledOliver's camp, there is no reason to suppose that it was the scene of any transaction during the war.

 

Almost simultaneously with the news of Roundway fight reaching the King, he received intelligence of the success of his arms in Yorkshire against Fairfax. It was on the 13th of July also that he met the Queen on her way from Bridlington, where she had just landed from Holland, bringing supplies. Returning with her to Oxford, he found Sir Robert Welsh just arrived from Devizes with the gladsome intelligence: this was on Friday morning. Suoh a combination of pleasing circumstances forthwith elicited from the Oxford students a copious outpouring of addresses, orations, and songs of triumph, in Greek, Latin, and English.

 

The period of this victory, followed as it was by the almost immediate surrender of the city of Bristol, was the must sunshiny spot in the history of King Charles's warfare for his crown. Whatever were the subsequent disasters of the Royalists, they could always revert with a triumphant tone to the battle of "Run-away."

 

THE RESULTS OF THE BATTLE OF ROUNDWAY.

 

The victorious Royalists, leaving Sir Ralph Hopton at Devizes now determined to prosecute their advantage by attempting the reduction of Bath and Bristol. Bath quickly yielded, for its garrison had already been withdrawn for the defence of Bristol; and on the 24th July they sat down before the latter place, and held a council of war as to the best mode of attack. Meanwhile it will be proper to notice the reports which the exasperated Parliamentarians propagated touching Sir Ralph's conduct when left at Devizes. By way of punishing a population which had evinced their preference for his enemies in the hour of his defeat, he now impoverished individuals as well as communities, forcing some persons even to quit their houses. On three of the neighbouring hundreds he imposed the penalty of £1000 each, for having furnished Waller's army with provisions; and he destroyed the trade in an article called "the new draperies." Such are some of the statements supplied by the prolific press in London, in order to stimulate the people to renewed efforts. But it is now time to recur to the movements of the Parliamentary General, when retreating from the fatal field of Roundway.

 

Nothing could exceed the chagrin and dismay mutually experienced, as Waller rode into the garrison of Bristol and announced the particulars of his own discomfiture. He laid the blame of course on Essex's neglect, in allowing the Royalists to pass out of Oxford and surprise him; but after all explanations made and allowed, there is reason to think he never got over the disappointment, or could cease to remember that there was a moment in his life when assured victory was dashed out of his hands. It is thus that he bemoans the event in after years, when, though he had become a wiser and a sadder man, the irritation against his rival is manifestly a still rankling wound. He is contrasting the great reverse at Devizes with a dashing manoeuvre which had preceded it in Hampshire, " the beating up of Earl Crawfurd's quarters at Alton," an affair to which an especial air of triumph had been imparted by the after-fact that out of the large body of the Royalists taken on that occasion, five hundred joined Waller's standard and took the Covenant. "Great" says he, "was my exultation, but it had bitter endings. The Parliament wrote to Essex to join me, intending that we together should do a mighty work ; but the General would not, to their no small displeasure: for which no good reason could be given but that he would have his great name stand alone. My dismal defeat at Roundway Down was owing to those heart-burnings and jealousies; for the General suffered the enemy's horse to pass quietly and without molestation to the succour of their infantry which lay at the Devizes in miserable plight. ... I was so sure of victory that I wrote to Parliament to bid them be at rest, for that I would shortly send them an account of the numbers taken and the numbers slain. But my victory was turned into mourning. With a small number of cavalry I retired to Bristol, and there heard continually of the successes of the Royal party who took heart on this mischance of mine, that had never happened, had others done their duty."

 

In another part of his journal, under the head of " Father like chastisements " he again refers to it in the following terms. " My presumption upon mine own strength and former successes [was] most justly humbled at the Devizes by an utter defeat, and at Cropredy with a dishonourable blow. This affair at Devizes was the most heavy stroke of any that did ever befall me. General Essex had thought to persuade the Parliament to compromise with the King, which so imflamed the zealous that they moved that the command of the army might be bestowed upon me; but the news of this defeat arrived whilst they were deliberating on my advancement, and it was to me a double defeat. I had nearly sunk under the affliction but that I had a dear and sweet comforter; and I did at that time prove, according to Ecclesiasticus xxvi. 16, that a virtuous woman rejoiceth her husband: As the sun when it ariseth in the high heaven, so is the beauty of a good wife.{" Recollections of Sir William Waller.}

 

In spite of the disasters of 1643 the Londoners still seemed to think that their principal hope lay in Sir William Waller. They wanted a general whose dashing performances and personal devotion to their cause might be set off against the tardy and temporising campaigning of Lord Essex, who was half suspected (whether truly or not) of seeking to make his private terms with the King. As yet, the name of Cromwell, though beginning to be bruited in the Eastern counties, did not carry that weight which habitually "attached itself to soldiers who had learned their art in foreign warfare; and strange as it may appear, we shall find Oliver, twenty months after the present date, occupying a subordinate position in Waller's army in another engagement near Devizes. During the summer of 1643 we need not wonder therefore that strenuous efforts should be made by the Parliament to replace their favourite general on his original military footing. These efforts, it is true, were so far successful as to enable Waller again to lead a numerous force into the field, but it is equally true that the West was lost. With the exception of Taunton, all the principal towns in that part of the kingdom, including the city of Bristol, were prostrated at the feet of the King; and from this time forth, for the next year and a half we must regard the county of Wiltshire as almost entirely swayed by a committee of Royalists; Edmund Ludlow's brief tenure of Wardour castle notwithstanding.

 

Indeed, Waller's entrance into London after his escapade at Round way resembled rather the march of a conqueror than that of a fugitive. Clarendon's language is that he was "caressed with wonderful kindness and esteem," and "received as if he had brought the King prisoner with him." All the city trained bands and militia turned out to meet him on his return to London " after the most total defeat that could almost be imagined; for though few of his horse were killed upon the place, they were so ruinously dispersed, that of about 2000 there were not 300 gotten together again for their service.{" History of the Rebellion, vol. ii. p. 322.}

 

On the 27th July he was publicly thanked by the Speaker of the Commons' House "for his great and good services, and his continually approving his good affection to religion and the Commonwealth," and he was at the same time recommended to the Lord General as captain of the forces which were immediately to be raised for the defence of the capital.”

 

Bristol was surrendered by its Governor Colonel Nathaniel Fiennes on the 25th July, 1643. .