The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:

(3rd Edition published 1868)

Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2010



Civil War 1642-1651
Pages 341-344

Lord Clarendon says(1), when the great rebellion broke out, a place more entirely disaffected to the King, England had not. It was the magazine whence the other places were supplied with principles of rebellion, and was a considerable place, and seat of great malignity. Though not strong by nature, nor capable of being made so by art, that defect was supplied by the spirit and obstinacy of the inhabitants. It was early fortified against the King by some leaders of the faction.. Some entries taken from several old minute books of the corporation, serve to illustrate in some degree the progress of affairs in the town and neighbourhood at this stirring period, and show the temper of the inhabitants, and their uncompromising adoption of the Parliament cause.
    A noate of the stoare of powder in the magazine in the Shire-hall, taken by Mr. William Joliff and Mr. Joseph Paty, 27 Sept. 1639: The county powder: A list of 37 casks, containing together 39 cwt. 18 lbs. There are also 3 barrelles of the towne store marked B.D. with tare and all. 1 is 112, 2 is 162, 3 is 100 (lbs.) July 1, 1642: It is agreed that the Towne powder in 3 barrelles shall be removed to the counting house in the towne brewhouse, and the lead that belongs to the towne, and the loose parcell of match that belongs also to the towne.
    Novembris 8°, 1641: It is agreed in regard of these dangerous tymes that there be window leaves made by the steward of the borough for the windowes of the back partes of the Shirehall and gaol place there, and set up in the inside speedily, and also for the small window next Mrs Hiatts, or walled up, and that there shall bee a constant watch till further order within the towne in every night of xii. whereof iii. shall watch about the Sheerehall and betwene the Shirehall and Mr. Churchilles howse; and that one discreete person shall every Lord's day during service and sermon watch on the towre of Peter's and view the country round about. And that the townesmen shall bee moved to provide all their armes in readines for defence of the towne.
    January 11, 1642: Keiers for the Gate. It is ordered that the Keyers of all the gates shall wayt at the 3 severall maine gards from the time of the discharging of the ward until the watch come in place, and so likewise in morning to stand at the gates betwixt the watch and the ward, and not to deliver the keyes to any unles to the captaine of the watch or to the rounders or by their appointment.
    January 16, 1642: It is agreed that the townesmen of this borough doe raise or contynue a convenient number of souldiers armed for the defence of this towne to be in weeklie paie, and and the number is agreed to bee 160 at least besides officers.
    January 11, 1642: Agreed that there shall be two companies raised in the towne contayning in each company 80 men, whereof as many musketeers as may be, and one of Cap. Churchilles company to be under the command of Cap. Jos. Paty, the other under Cap. John Seaward, and every man to be paid 2s. weekely. These souldiers to watch every third night, and to appeare at theire colours to be exercised one afternoone in a weeke, and to be paid 12d. a day, and after that proportion during such time as any such souldiers shall doe constant service, and so for every halfe day.
    Captain Mr. Joseph Paty. ; Lieutenant Josiah Terry. Ensign. John White. Serjeants. Walter Huett; and Nicholas Stone; Drum — Perrin.
    Captain John Seward. ; Lieutenant. Edward Brag; Ensign.Edward. Dashwood; Serjeants. William Butler; William Loder; and Thomas Philippes Drum — Hillard.
    January 24th: By accompt taken it is found that there are already listed for the towne fowrce, for 2s. apeece wages weekly, 140, whoe are to watch in theire turne every third night; and by accompt it is found that, beside these that were in that pay and those that contribute to their payment, there are in. severall houses fitt to watch by seven in the night at the bow-guard, and nine in the day to ward, 230, which bowguard watch and town ward are appoynted to be warned by the constables, of which two to ward at every towne gate, one at Glippath, one at the gallows, and one upon the tower; and upon every saboth day and fast day two on the tower, and those days the ward to consist of ten.
    Tertio Februarii, 1642 Forasmuch as there being a rate made for payment of 160 souldiers of this townesmen to beare armes for defence of the towne, and doing their duty on watch at night, and mustering one afternoon in the weeke, for which every of them were to receive 2s., which having contynued two weeks, many of the townesmen that were rated have refused, some of them to pay anything at all, others to pay for more than one week, whereupon it is agreed that that payment shall cease, and that now the constables shall againe Warne both watch and ward, and that from henceforth those souldiers which now before listed be not disbanded, but be mustered once a week, Thursday, it may be, or else Friday, and shall be paid 8d. a peece weekely for their mustering.
    February 8th, 1642: It is agreed that, whereas there was £10 and upwards laid out by Thomas Clench, scoutmaster, for one month last past for messengers and scoutes, and there being now noe money to be had of the Commisary for the present, and Mr. Hill having money in his hands promised to be lent to the Parliament, out of which Mr. Hill is content to pay xl. to Thomas Clench to be repaid him by the towne unles the same be allowed out of the money lent to the Parliament. This company doth agree to see Mr. Hill repaid unles it be allowed as aforesaid.
    February 10th, 1642: Whereas £3 was paid out last week to Mathew Morton for three weeks past out of moneys given by the townesmen towards the fortifications, and now there is £4 18s. 8d. left of that money given, and yet more money is to be advanced to pay workmen about the fortifications this week. It is now agreed that the said money now to be advanced shall be paid out of £14 to be paid in to-morrow towards £24 for Peter Standish's standing, and all to be paid out of the towne money to be demanded out of the severall contribution money in the Comisary's hands.
    And that William Hillett and John Vincent of Chardstock coming to towne to serve under Sir Walter Erle desire now to be billited till Sir Walter comes. It is agreed they shall (have) 68. a week for their billet, every of them; and for that they are to doe duty and work at the fortifications, which it is agreed the brewhouse shall pay, the said Hillett and Vincent to bring their muskets into towne.
    17th Feb. 1642: It is agreed that Philip Cornew, coming from Taunton hither upon the consideration of Mr. Newton, shall be entertayned as a souldier, being furnished with a musket and sword, and to have 6s. a week paid by the brewhouse.
    24 Feb. 1642 : And to the three captaines of the towne to pay theire souldiers that served the two daies this weeke in muster in the common armes £6.
    Josiah Bishop of Bridport.
    John Hallett of Chardstock. Mr. Seaward's armes.
    John Vincent of the same. Sick at Mr. Laurence.
    Christofer Maraker of Wambrooke. Gone home—to returne.
    Humfry Staple of the same. Armed with musket of his owne.
    Edward Crandon of Netherbrie. No armes.
    Hugh Munden of the same. Mris Stoughton's armes.
    Miles Priday of Netherbury. Mris Stoughton's armes.
    William Munden of Netherbury. His owne armes.
    William Morris of the same. Mr. Whiteway's armes.
    William Wilson late of this towne, stuff-weaver. A sword and no other armes.
    Henry Dunne of Bridport. His owne armes and musket.
    Moses Colefox of Bridport. Mr. Will. Joliffe's armes.
    Edward Pitfold of Allington. No armes.
    John Grant of Loders. Mr. John Bushrode's armes.
    William Case of South Bowood. A musket, no sword nor bandileers.
    John Lovelase of Bridport. Mr. Dashwood's armes.
    William Parsons of Bridport. No armes.
    John Holmead of Bridport. No armes.
    John Colborne of Corfe Castle. No armes.
    Nicholas Smith of Marshwood. A sword.
    Nathaniel White of Osmington. Mr. Blackston's armes.
    Richard Tawnton, late Mrs. Waye's servant. No armes.
    Richard Morse of Martinstowne. Thos. Adams' armes.
    Thomas Baily of Hinton Martyn. Armed.
    James Outen of Wareham. Mr. Hille's armes.
    Thomas Sheppard of Bridport, drummer.
    Philip Cornew of Tawnton. His owne armes.
    17th March, 1642 : A Pre was read, wherein William Collins writes to Mr. John Seaward to know yf the towne will entertain him for a gunner. Mr. Seaward is desired to write he shall have an answeare next week, when the deputy Lieutenants can be spoken with. Robert Burt brought in his noate for worke he did in making chests for muskets for Sir William Waller, wherein, by leaving three chests made and unmade on his hands he desires to have 10s. allowed him for his losse, which this company will consider off. It is agreed that the towne shall take off the chest that is made, and that the steward shall pay him for it to Robert Burt nyne shillings.
After a few other entries in one of the Books the following ominous one appears:-
    "By reason of the warres this booke was discontinued for fower yeares, and another booke was made use of for the towne business'
The affection of the townsmen of Dorchester was soon to receive another severe test:-
    The Coppy of a letter from William Lenthall, esq. Speaker of the Howse of Commons, unto Mr. Henry Maber, then Major of the Borough of Dorchester, bearing date May 24th, 1642.
    I am, by order and command of the Howse of Commons, required to write to you this ensuing letter, and to intreate you take the same into your present care, which much imports the safety not only of your Borough, but of the whole Kingdom. It cannot be unknowne to you in what dangers, distempers, and under what heavy burthens this Kingdome groaned in the beginning of this Parliament, for the releife whereof they have been enforced to charge the subject (much against their wills and desires) with many great and pressing taxes, which have beene all carefully disbursed for the common good, and would have beene accompanyed with advantages of much greater value and importance if the malignant and wicked spiritts of men, incited and fomented by the Popish faction (many of which are in great power about His Majestie), would have suffered the Kingdome to have enjoyed that reformation, peace, and prosperity which the Parliament had designed, endeavored, hoped, and almost procured; the full accomplishment of which hope hath beene hitherto hindred by the manifold, succeeding, multiplied, and renewed plotts against them, by the rebellion in Ireland which evidently appeares to be a concurring designe with the ill-affected partie of this kingdome, by the false accusation of divers members of Parliament, and many aspersions and scandales upon their proceedings, by labouring to make a partie in most counties and cities of the Kingdome against the Parliament, by withdrawing the King's presence into the northerne parts and alienating his affections from them, and (which is, most grievous and mischievous) by abusing His Majesties countenaunce and authority to the raising of forces against his Great Counsell, and thereby to put the whole Kingdome into a miserable flame and combustion; the evill effects and consequence of all which malicious attempts have consumed much of their time, exhausted great quantity of treasure, hindred the examination and censure of divers pernicious grievances and the punishment of many great delinquents, interrupted the supplie of Ireland, upheld the confidence of the rebells notwithstanding the manifold overthrowes they have had and God's wonderfull blessing of the English forces there, and would long before this time have brought this Kingdome into confusion if the Citie of London had not by their faithfullnesse and constancy to the publicke good, and by their large bounty and supplyes of money and other assistance exceedingly supported and enabled them; yet soe vast is the charge of the army in Ireland and other most necessary disbursements for the defence of the Kingdome, that the House is forced at this time to desire from the citizens of London another great loane towards the present payment of the army, which are even ready to mutiny for want of money, and for the provision of that summe of one hundred and ten thousand powndes which is shortly to be paid to our Brethren in Scotland. And resting assured that your Borough hath the like affections for maintenance of the religion, lawes, libertyes, and peace of the Kingdome, though hitherto they have forborne to presse you in this kind, necessitie doth now inforce the Howse to desire you to lend some such considerable summe as may be answerable to the abilitie and good affections of the inhabitants there, and to the great occasions for which it is propownded, the which summe is to be certified to the House as speedily as you can, and to be sent up to the Chamber of London at or before the 20th day of June, which shall be truly repaid unto you with eight in the hundred for interest within a yeare, and for your security you shall have the publicke faith of the Kingdome, than which there can be noe better securitie in these doubtful and distracted times, and they—that God, who bath hitherto soe wonderfully preserved and blessed this Parliament, will not forsake his owne cause and his owne worke, but will bring it to such perfection that the benefitt and comfort which you shall receive thereby will farre exceed any charge you have beene at, and make this theire desire pleasant and acceptable, and not burthensome or unwelcome to you. This I am to pray you in the name of the Howse of Commons to take into your serious consideration, and to send a speedy answer to
    Yor very lo: friend
    W' LENTHALL, Speaker.
The Parliament did not neglect to encourage their zealous partizans.
    19 July, 1642 : Copie of an Ordinance of Parliament.
    On Tewsday the nyneteenth day of July, 1642, the Ordinance. of Parliament heere under writen was brought to Mr. Maior of this borough from Postmaster of Shaston. It is ordered this day by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, that the maior, aldermen, and capitall burgesses of the towne of Dorchester, in the county of Dorsett, or any three of them, shall have power to assemble and call together all and singular the inhabitants of the said towne and liberties of the same, or any other that shall offer themselves as voluntiers, that are meete and fitt for the warres ; and them array, weapon, traine, exercise, and put in readines, and them to leade, conduct, and imploy, soe arrayed and weaponed, for the suppression of all forceable attemptes that shall bee made against the said towne, and to hinder the surprisall of the ordinance and magazine there.(2)
The Sheriff of Dorset, Sir A. A. Cooper, seems to have been opposed to these directions of the Parliament, as appears by the following letter:
    Mercurii, 3° Aug. 1642 : Whereas the high sheriff of the countie of Dorsett hath presumptuously and illegally by his letter directed to the maior and aldermen of Dorchester, required the said maior and aldermen to desist and forbeare the trayning and mustering of such well affected persons, as voluntarily offered themselves to be prepared and exercised in armes for the defence of the magazine and ammunition now remayning in the said towne, and to demollish all such works, by him supposed to be fortifications, as they had erected for the better preservation thereof, whereto they were authorised by order of the Lords and Commons in Parliament. Now therefore it is declared by the said Lords and Commons, that as they shall severely call the said high sheriff to accompt for such his affront and contempt to His Majestys authority, expressed in the orders of both Houses of Parliament, soe they approve and command the endeavours of those persons aforesaid, which have contributed their assistance in the lawfull execution of the same, as persons well deserving and desirous to preserve the safety of His Majesty, the peace of the Kingdome, and Prosperitie of True Religion. And to th'end that the said maior and aldermen, and other persons that are or shal be volunteers in the service aforesaid, may be encouraged to proceed in soe laudable an undertaking, it is further ordered and declared by the said Lords and Commons, that they and every of them shal be protected, kept harmless, and indempnified for what they have don, or shall doe in lawfull pursuance of the said order, and that all others that shall assist the said persons in trayning, and exercising, and defending the said towne and magazine as aforesaid, shal be held by both Houses of Parliament to doe a service acceptable and beneficiall to the King and Kingdome ; and shall have the authority of both Houses of Parliament for their indempnity in soe doeing.
    Jo. BROWNE, Cleric. Parliamentorum"(3)
There are several entries about this time, directing watch and ward to be kept, and,
    Oct. 7, 1642, Henry Bushrode is appoynted to kepe the keys, and to see the two east gates and that on Gallows Hill shut at night and opened in the morning, and is to have for his paines 6s. 8d. a quarter. They are to open all the gates at break of day, and to shut all the back gates at candle lighting, and the east, west, and south mayne gates betwene 8 and 9 at night.
By the account of Richard Burie, treasurer for the county, during the time this town was fortified and made a garrison, we have the following particulars of the expense to carry on the work. August 10, 1642, there was borrowed of John Fitzjames, esq. £1,300. at 8. per cent. for which Sir Thomas Trenchard, Sir Walter Erle, John Browne, esq. and Mr. Dennis Bond were bound. And they then received from Guildhall, London, by order of Parliament, £800 more ; and contributions from several persons, amounting to £70. 5s. The treasurer's receipts, from November 13, 1642, to July 20, 1643, amounted to £14,689. 11s. 10d. ; whereof was borrowed of William White, merchant, £1,100. at 8 per cent. ; of John Browne, esq. £420.; of John Michel, esq. £500. ; of several others, £1,147. generally at the same interest. The other moneys were received of their collectors. The disbursements came to £19,067. 18s. 5d. from July 20, 1642, to August 4, 1643. The fortifications were begun July 20, 1642, and carried on briskly all the month of August; and continued at several times till May, 1643, in which year, from May 29 to June 3, they worked day and night on them, in more than ordinary haste. Several bulwarks and forts are mentioned; also a fort and platform at the South gate; a platform for ordnance at the West gate; works, and a court of guard, at the East gate; works at the North gate, at the Priory, and at Maumbury. From May 27 to June 1, 1643, is said to be an extraordinary time of danger. June 14 and 20, perhaps on the advance of some of the King's party, twenty-four gunners and their mates were in the town, and four pieces of ordnance brought from Weymouth. July 22, the companies of the colonel, Sir Walter Erle, who seems to have been governor, and the Captains Whiteway and Seward, besides the garrison, which probably consisted of the townsmen. In 1643, after Bristol was taken, the Earl of Carnarvon marched with near 2,000 horse and dragoons into, Dorsetshire, two days before Prince Maurice moved with his foot and cannon. Many of the Parliament party who came hither so magnified the courage of the Cavaliers, that resisting them began to be thought a matter impossible ; and, when the Earl came near the town (as the Microchronicon relates), they sent commissioners to treat with him; and upon articles of indemnity, that they should not be plundered, nor suffer for any ill they had done, delivered up the town, with all their arms, ammunition, and ordnance. When Prince Maurice came up, the soldiers took advantage of the malignity of this place and Weymouth, and used great licence. And, little care being taken to observe the articles, the Earl so much resented it, that he quitted his command, and returned to the King at the siege of Gloucester. Sir Walter Erle the governor and Colonel. Strode left the garrison to make their own composition, and fled by sea to Southampton.' (4) The town being reduced, it was not thought necessary to be made a garrison; neither was it so afterwards, but lay open to the mercy of those who were masters of the field.(5)

June 28, 1644, intelligence came to the Parliament that the country 20 miles round were summoned hither, and told that all who desired a pass to Bristol or Exeter, or any of the King's quarters, would have it; but, by means of a sermon preached by Hugh Peters, none accepted it.(6) July 11, Colonel O'Bryan, or Lord Inchiquin (as Whitlock), sent out a party of 240 horse and foot from Wareham to Dorchester, who faced the town several hours; but the inhabitants sent to the Parliament garrisons at Weymouth, &c. for relief; on which Colonel and Major Sydenham came with their forces, put them to flight, and pursued them almost to Wareham, took a waggon laden with plunder, slew 12, and took 60 horses, and made 160 men prisoners; eight being natural Irish, seven of them were hanged here, and the other spared for doing execution on his fellows. The Irish were hanged in revenge of 14 Parliamentarians, said to be clothiers, hanged at Woodhouse, in Wilts, this year, which occasioned the hastening of the ordinance for erecting court martials.(7)

The following is a more circumstantial account of this action from Mercurius Civicus "(8)
On Tuesday, July 16th, it was certainly advertised out of Dorsetshire by Mr. Ellis Everard, scoutmaster-general for that county, that on Thursday last, July 11, Lieutenant-Colonel Brian, governor of Wareham, sent forth a party of 240 horse and foot towards Dorchester, who came about seven of the clock that morning within three miles of the town, and continued facing it till two of the clock in the afternoon, of which when the town had intelligence they sent to the Parliament garrisons at Aderbury (Abbotsbury), Weymouth, and other places neare them, and also immediately gathered themselves together to the number of 3000 men, women, and children. Upon the enemies first returne into the towne, they fired the courts of guard and came up a little way into the towne, but were there so bravely received by the inhabitants, not only of the men but also the women thereof, who did now the second time behave themselves as gallantly as they did lately when they beat out the French by pelting them with stones, and defending themselves with their spits and other such like weapons, but, although the enemy discharged furiously amongst them, yet they forced them to retreat back out of the towne as far as ffarrington (Fordington), by which time Colonel Sydenham, Major Sydenham, Captaine Star, and another cantaine there of his excellencies horse, and Capt. Alexander Culliford, Captain Henry Culliford, Capt. Yardley, Capt. Langford, and Capt. Batten, came in with theire foote to their reliefe, and having forced the enemy to fly pursued them to their very workes at Wareham, and in that pursuit slew twelve of them, tooke sixty horse, and 160 prisoners, whereof eight were a company of natural Irish commanded by a captaine formerly imployed by the Parliament in Ireland, : seven of these eight were presently executed and the other spared, for in regard be did execution upon his fellowes. Captain Sydenham, who had been a long time the enemies prisoner in Exeter, behaved himself very bravely in this action, which was performed with the loss of only one man, who, being taken prisoner by the enemy in the towne as they were carrying him away, one of them rather than he should escape butchered him. The intention of the enemies coming was (as is confessed by the captaine of the Irish and others) first to have summoned the town to pay £1,000 or upon refusal to have plundered them, and afterwards have fired their houses. They pressed divers wagons and carts to carry away the plunder, which were all taken, with three barrels of powder and some store of shot, and above eighty cattle, which they had plundered from the countries thereabouts, rescued.

July 15, the Earl of Essex took possession of Dorchester.(9) August .., Colonel Todington made an attempt on this town with a party, but was repulsed by Major Sydenham.(10) Nov. 21, intelligence came that Sir Lewis Dives went from Sherborne to dislodge a party from Poole, &c. who had posted themselves at Blandford; whither he returned, and after a week's stay there marched to Dorchester; and, understanding that four troops of rebel horse lay near, he intended to beat up their quarters, but was betrayed by the townsmen, who sent for assistance two hours before. He charged them with a small party of horse, and they fled instantly. Next day Sir Lewis retired to Sherborne, having increased his strength by this march; besides those horse, arms, and prisoners taken from the . rebels.(11)

Nov. 30, or December, Sir Lewis Dives being here, sent 300 horse and dragoons to face Poole, and retreated hither in the night. Major Sydenham followed him, and, with about 60 horse, beat his regiment twice through the town. At the third charge, seeing at the head of the King's troops Major Williams, who had formerly killed Sydenham's mother, he came up to him, slew him, and put his men to flight, driving them through the town, and returned to Poole. Sir Lewis Dives was wounded; many were slain and taken prisoners.(12)

March 29, 1645, Cromwell lying here with all his own horse, and the united forces from Taunton, Poole, and. Weymouth, 4,000 in all, General Goring had notice of it, and advanced towards them with 1,500 horse, the rest of the army and cannon being ordered to follow, for securing the retreat. Eight hundred of the rebel horse disputed a pass upon a little river; but some of Goring's horse facing them there, whilst others got in behind them, they presently quitted the pass and fled, and, his lordship following them almost hither full four miles, took many, with two colours of horse, with great store of carbines and pistols, and killed more. Their forces were so beaten and scattered, that, of 4,000 at first, they durst not next morning draw out of the town against 1,500 of his lordship's horse, though his other horse, foot, and cannon were full six miles behind.(13)
Genealogical Notes:-
(1). Vol.ii. p.335-339.
(2). Minute Book of Dorchester Corporation
(3). Clarendon, vol.ii. p. 334, 335
(4). Mercurius Aulicus
(5). Clarendon, vol.ii. p. 33
(6). Vicars, Parliamentary Chronicle, Part III. p 261
(7). Rushworth, Part III, vol.ii. p. 685. Whitlock, p 91. Vickars, Part III. p.286
(8). No. LX.579, 580
(9). Rushworth, ibid. p 683
(10) Whitlock, p 24
(11) Mercurius Aulicus
(12) Whitlock, p3. Vicars, PartIV. pp.72,73
(13) Mercurius Aulicus

John Hutchins Index Page     Fordington Page      OPC Page