Charles I (1600 - 1649)

Early Colenso Families 

The earliest Colenso person found so far is a Sybille Colenso paying a hearth tax in 1327.
After that there is a gap of over 100 years before we meet a Reynold Kelensoe who could be father or brother to a Thomas Kellensow (possibly my 13G Grandfather) who is cited on a military survey of 1522 in Saint Paul Cornwall and later cited on a Tinners Muster Roll of 1535. Then there is a Jenken Colenso (possibly my 12G Grandfather) on a Subsidy roll of 1545 in Uny Lelant Cornwall who could be father to Alan, John and Henry who you will meet in more detail later on. It is their children and grandchildren who were caught up in the Civil War outlined on this page.


Background Charles I 1600 - 1649

 Charles I came to power at a difficult time. His father James I, was the first king to rule England, Scotland, and Ireland which had created suspicion in all three countries as to their future. The English people were still adjusting to the breakaway from 'Rome' as instigated by Henry VIII, and continued to develop severe anti-catholic feelings, particularly as James I made no secret of his intent to conciliate the Roman Catholic powers of Europe.

For a young prince this created a number of problems when thinking about marriage - not least of all that the prospective candidates would, of course, be Catholic. Marriage for royalty was always seen as a way of creating 'alliances' and 'friends' and it never hurt to be 'friends' with your nearer neighbours. From about 1617 James I had been negotiating with the Spanish royals for a marriage between Charles and Maria. National anxiety ensued when it was known that Charles had travelled to Madrid in 1623 with George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (James I's favourite adviser). The country's relief at the failure of the final negotiations was very shortlived as in 1624 Charles became betrothed to Henrietta Maria of France.

In 1625 Charles I succeeded to the throne and was married. Things went downhill from there as disaster followed disaster. It must be remembered that Charles firmly believed that he was King by 'Divine Right', and that the decisions he made came 'directly' from God.


  • Buckingham had negotiated as part of the marriage agreement that England would help France in a war with Spain.
  • The situation degenerated with the result that England was at war with France as well as Spain and Charles amassed huge amounts of debt.
  • Buckingham was assassinated in 1629 and Charles dissolved a chaotic Parliament vowing never to meet them again and withdrew to concentrate on his marriage.
  • Charles solutions to the general unrest that followed did nothing but antagonise different groups of the population:-


Reissuing his father's Book of Sports in 1633 authorising some Sunday pastimes upset the vast majority of Sunday worshippers and fostered anti-Arminian feelings.


Allowing the reclaiming of land from Catholics for the Crown and Church upset any number of well-to-do landowners.


Having no interest in affairs in his own native Scotland upset those north of the border and doubly so when he tried to introduce an English - style prayer book without going through the Scottish Parliament.


Suffering two defeats by Scottish armies Charles was forced to recall Parliament from 13th April 1640, but was so heavily criticised that he dissolved it by 5th May which probably upset anyone that was left by then.


Charles could not continue without Parliament which he recalled in November 1640. After many negotiations he was forced to agree to many concessions to prove his intent to rule wisely, which included agreeing to the execution of Thomas Wentworth, who had been at the forefront of the land reclamation.
In return an oath was drawn up (see below). The purpose of the oath was to secure support for the Crown from those in official positions, to make clear the stand against Catholicism, and to provide a united and trusting front to the people.



Protestation Returns Cornwall 1641

The oath was originally drawn up and taken by the members of the House of Commons on 3rd May 1641.

On 4th May 1641 protestant peers in the House of Lords also took the oath.

However, this was not enough to pacify King Charles, who was growing ever more concerned about a possible Catholic rebellion threatening his right to the throne. So the House of Commons passed a resolution on 30th July 1641 that all who refused the Protestation were unfit to hold office in Church or Commonwealth. In the end all males over the age of 18 had to be registered and witnessed in their taking and signing/marking of the oath. A team or bench of local dignitaries (constables, magistrates, clergy, overseers etc) who would know of most inhabitants of their parish heard each man take the Oath and witnessed it. A valid reason had to be given for any person who was unable to participate.

The Oath

In Cornwall all Parishes are included, except : Jacobstow, St. Austell, Truro, St. Neot, and the Isles of Scilly.

This means that a record of some 30,000 names remains intact.

For the 'Colenso' family it shows that there were not even a half dozen families in 1641. Cornwall generally portrayed as a united community was completely divided over support for the King or Parliament. However, there is a sense at the very south-western end of Cornwall that feelings ran in support of the King. Therefore I do not think that those in the list below would have had any qualms about swearing their allegiance in this way.

Colenso signees


According to current thinking, Jenken Colenso is my 12G Grandfather.
He is probably the father of Alan 1545 my 11G Grandfather, John 1548 and Henry 1550 (12G Uncles).
As far as can be reasonably ascertained, all UK Colensos descend from here and consequently those further afield too!


Jenken Colenso
ca1523 -




Alan Colenso
1545 -1597

1555 -

Ann 1570 -

William 1579 -

Thomas 1580 -

* John 1581 -

Margerys 1572 -



* Jane 1595 1624


Thomas 1580 is the eldest of the Colenso Protestation signees and my 11G Uncle.
His younger brother John was father to *William 1603 , and younger sister Jane was mother of *Thomas 1614 who were also signees.


John Colenso
1548 -1586

- 1607



William Colenso
1568 - bef 1641

Seblye Michell


William 1602 -

Margaret 1808 -

Richard 1612 - 1689

Joan 1616 -

Peter 1605 - aft 1641

Grace 1610 - 1670

Wilmot 1615 -

Anne 1619 -

John 1607 - aft 1641





Peter, John and Richard are my 2C11R along with William and Thomas mentioned above and Thomas in the table below.


*Henry Colenso
1550 -1602




James Colenso


Margaret Topp


*Thomas 1611 - 1653






Selected Civil War Battles

Battles were fought in Scotland, Ireland, Wales as well as England. The first major encounter was in October 1642 at Edgehill on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border. It was a bloodbath. Neither side gave in. All continued fighting, if they were able, until exhaustion took over and where eventually 3,000 lay dead and many more wounded. The Royalists just about won a technical victory but were in tatters. Charles would have liked to have taken his remaining troops to advance on London, but they were exhausted and needed time to regroup. Later when he did get the chance, having secured Oxford as his capital, he was beaten back by an untrained 'army', but nevertheless large in both number and enthusiasm wielding weapons of pitchforks and the like. He realised that if victory was to be his, he would have to do battle in the tougher strongholds of the north. There were many battles, seiges and attacks. The King's cousin Prince Rupert appears to have saved the day many times around the country with timely cavalry charges. Troops and supporters massed northwards as York became the important focal-point for both sides. The setting was Marston Moor 2nd July 1644. About 40,000 faced each other. Once started the battle lasted but 3 hours in sharp contrast to the prolonged slog at Edghill. 6,000 died, Oliver Cromwell was victorious and the King's own Infantry wiped out. The Duke of Newcastle who had funded the army went into exile with just £90 that was left of his wealth. It seems the only shining light that the King had left was in Cornwall - and what a tale there was to tell there! Charles had already expressed his thanks and recognition of the support that he had recieved from the people of Cornwall by declaring that such a notice be read out and displayed in all churches.



Battle of Lostwithiel 31 Aug 1644

The following account of events after the Battle of Lostwithiel shows at least two things. Firstly, a strong level of support for King Charles, and secondly the strength of character of local people indicating the extent of their intolerance towards the 'enemy'.

map showing location of civil war battles mentioned

On the back of the victory at Marston Moor, the Earl of Essex took command of the troops and led them into Cornwall but met stern opposition. Charles led the campaign against him. The result being that 10,000 Roundhead men were contained on a small piece of land between Lostwithiel and Fowey on 31 August 1644. Charles offered the Earl of Essex an opportunity to join forces with him against Scotland but the offer was turned down and the Earl was able to escape by boat - the only way out - and left the remaining troops marooned. After extensive negotiations the Roundheads were allowed free passage along the south coast to Poole. The local population had different ideas. By all accounts 6,000 men started on that trek to Poole. A Royalist soldier watching witnessed them pressed close together like sheep 'so dirty and dejected as was rare to see'............. because they had been stripped of clothes, boots and food having suffered terrible attacks by the country people, in particular the women. Disease, starvation, and wounds that had become severely infected through inattention were contributory to many of the deaths. One survivor who made it back said that he could remember being 'inhumanly dealt with, abused, reviled, scorned, torn kicked and pillaged'.
From the 6,000 that started out only 1,000 made it to Poole.

  Source details and location:

A printed collation of work by R.M. Glencross & H.L. Douch, edited by T.L. Stoate in 1974 entitled "Cornwall Protestation Returns" is available at the Cornwall Record Office, Truro. I used the copy at Birmingham Central Library, England.

International Genealogy Index online, and on microfiche at Birmingham Central Library, England.

Who's Who in British History edited by Juliet Gardiner

(1)A History of Britain 1603 - 1776 Simon Schama

The Penguin Atlas of British and Irish History


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