This post is part of a series of letters from parliamentary soldier Nehemiah Wharton during the English Civil War, which will be posted on the anniversary of the day they were written. For more information see the introduction. To find the rest of the series, use the “wharton letters” tag. The original of this letter is held by the UK National Archives, reference SP 16/492/2, ff. 3-4. The text of the letter is out of copyright. Images are available for non-commercial use only at Flickr (click on folio numbers for individual page images).
This week, Wharton moves from Coventry to Northampton, witnesses carnivalesque mockery of authority figures, suffers illness, and drinks strong beer, plus the usual pillaging and poaching.
North hampton september the 3 1642
Noble S[i]r Munday august the 29 before we had marched 2 miles towards the Cavalleeres wee were informed by the post that 60 of them weere taken and imprisoned in northhampton and the rest fled wherupon wee returned unto Coventry and our company were immediately commaunded to guard part of the City and a gate called Newgate about midnight our soildiers on the wall discovered fier in the City neare St mary hall our magazene which accidentally began at a bakery house and in 3 or 4 howers was quenched and no greate harme done but the Citizens were much affrighted
Tuesday morninge we officers weet our halberts with a barrell of stronge beare called ould hum which wee gave our soildiers this day Mr Jephcot feasted mee and severall of my Company in Coventry this even our soildiers brought a cart loade of armes from S[i]r Robert Fishers some 6 miles from Coventry with his owne picture standinge very stately in the cart
wensday wee kept the fast and heard 2 sermons but before the third was ended wee had an alaram to march presently by ten of the clock wee got our regiments together and kept our randevow in the City untill midnight and about two in the morninge marched out of this City towards Northampton this City hath 4 steeples 3 Churches 2 parishes and not longe since but one preist but now the world is well amended with them
this morne I was exceedinge sick and the pallet of my mouth fell downe but Captaine beacon my lovinge frend upon our march sent a mile for a little pepper and put it up againe
This day our souldiers brought with them 3 asses which they had taken out of the Lord Dunsmores Parke which they loaded with their Knapsackes and dignified them with the name of the Lord Dunsmore this day beinge Thursday wee marched over dunsmore heath neare 12 miles without any sustenance insomuch that many of our soildiers dranke stinkinge water untill wee came unto Barby in Northampton shire where the cuntrey accordinge to their ability releived as many of us as they could our soildiers pillaged the parson of this towne and brought him away prisoner with his surplasse and other relicks from hence wee marched 4 miles further unto Longe Bugby where we had very hard quarter in somuch that many of our Captaines could get no lodginge and our soildiers were glad to dispossese the very swine and as many as could quartered in the Church but here your man Davy ridinge before our foote companies got mee both foode and lodginge
this towne hath for 2 sundayes together bin so abused by the rebels that both men women and children were glad to leave the towne and hide themselves in ditches and corne feilds
Fryday early in the morninge fryday morning early [sic] a messenger came to our Colonell that in the Kinges house called Homby 3 miles distant there were 500 musketters to cut of all our [f. 3v] Our straglinge soildiers wherby wee prevented them this morninge our soildiers sallyed out about the cuntrey and returned in state clothed with a surplasse hoode and cap representinge the Bishop of Canterbury from hence wee marched 2 miles wher Homby house stands very stately upon a hill and the Lord of Northhamptons house and parke neare unto it but we could not restraine our soildiers from entringe his his parke and killinge his Deare and had not the lord Gray and our sargent major Generall withstod them they had pillagd his house
this even we marched unto Northampton where the townesmen hearinge of our cominge marched marched out into the Cuntrey to prevent the commission of aray intended to be setled by the Lord Mountagu and others which Mountagu they brought prisoner unto north hampton and prevented his deseigne this eveninge 7 troopes of horse came unto us this night the Lord of north Hampton by stealth came into the towne veiwed our horse forces and in the morninge descovered but immediately escaped
Saturday morninge the Lord munioz and his sonne were taken ridinge through the towne this eveninge all the Sargeants of our Regiment met together and out of 23 chose 2 for stewards for a supper and other more weighty affaires and chose mee for one of them which place is exceedinge troublesome unto mee
this day came S[i]r arthur Hasleriges and other troopes into our towne this day our soildiers brought in much venison and other pillage from the malignants about the Cuntrey this eveninge we feasted all our Sergeants with some other superior officers which is very troublesome and chargable and I cannot avoide this night I invited your man Davy and his Comrade and made them welcome
Thus with my hu[m]ble service to you my mist[r]is and your Childere and my love to all my fellow se[r]va[n]ts in extreme hast I rest
Your serv[a]nt till Death
I pray let me heare from you by this berer
To his much Honored Frend Mr George Willingham Marchant at the golden Anchor in St Sweethins Lane give these
No funny transcription errors to report this week. Also, having looked at the CSPD version more closely I can see that they are more or less complete transcripts and more accurate than Ellis’s efforts, although there are still some issues with spelling and punctuation.
Homby House is now known as Holdenby House, although it was also traditionally spelt Holmby. This is where Charles I was kidnapped by Cornet Joyce in 1647.
Spencer Compton, 2nd Earl of Northampton, had fought alongside George Goring and Prince Rupert in the Thirty Years War. In 1642, the King put him in charge of raising forces in Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire. He was defeated at the battle of Southam (mentioned in Wharton’s letter of 26 August). In 1643 he was killed at the battle of Hopton Heath. His main estate was at Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire, but I think it’s a different house and park referred to here.
Lord Dunsmore is Francis Leigh, later 1st Earl of Chichester. He had been an ally of Lord Brooke and opponent of Charles I, but by 1642 he had gone over to the King, which made him very unpopular with supporters of Parliament. His park was at King’s Newnham, between Coventry and Rugby.
There were several different peers called Montagu, but the one mentioned here is probably Edward Montagu, 1st Baron Montagu of Boughton. After trying to execute the Commission of Array in Northamptonshire, he was sent to the Tower of London, where he died in 1644.
Next letter on 7 September.