The Attempt, March 11. 1655

An account of the attempts to secure the Kingdom for the Scotch King by divers parties of Cavaliers in March 1655

from Covent Garden, March 11. 1699 (ns)

My lord,

In my last, I gave you some account of the design of the King. I shall now give you details of the events as they transpired across the Kingdom. These risings had been planned to take place on March 8, at 8 O’clock in the morning. With each association working independently, to ensure that if any one plot failed or was discovered it would not stop the rest of the project.

The first was for Sir Thomas Harris to rise in Shropshire and take Shrewsbury. To do this three parties of cavaliers were to secure that garrison. The scheme was for some few men to enter the castle in women’s apparel and overcome the guard. Once they had seized the gate, others drinking in local ale houses would then take the castle. Finally, a party of 20 horse, with arms laid privately near the town, were to ride in and take over the governance of Shrewsbury, but they were discovered, and all were secured. In the search of Sir Thomas Harris’s house, Oliver’s men found a barrel of powder and 80 pairs of pistols.

Sir Thomas Middleton was to rise in North Wales and secure Chester. However, only days before, a large force of New Model veterans did arrive from Ireland. With this news, the 800 cavaliers that had gathered disperse and the endeavour was never begun. Although, a great number of the plotters were overcome and arrested by Major General Reynolds.

In Nottinghamshire, about 500 cavaliers gathered in the forest of Sherwood, yet they then scattered after 4 or 5 hours; the reason was that they found no leaders. Later, Colonel Hacker sent 3 troops of horse to discover them but found only a cart load of ammunition.

At this time London was full of conspirators, including Mr O’Neil and Sir Tom Armstrong, although none rose, and the Sealed Knot didn’t try to take any dwellings. Lord Tuston, son to the Earl of Thannet, was taken in London with this buff coat, suit of arms, and pistols. He was going to raise the county of Kent but quickly found himself in the tower. Others to rise were Sir Hugh Pollard in Devonshire and Mr Arundel in Cornwall, whilst Sir John Grenville was to secure Plymouth, yet none of these made any attempt. In Portsmouth, Sir Humphrey Bennett was arrested before he could put any plans into motion.

In Yorkshire, about 60 cavaliers gathered together upon Hexham Moor under Sir Richard Mauleverer of Allerton but finding themselves to be alone they dispersed. Only later in the day, Lord Wilmot and a second party mustered on the Moor. Finding the numbers so low, Wilmot dismissed the cavaliers and made his way back to London. Afterwards, there was a great number apprehended and brought as prisoners to York. These included Sir Richard Mauleverer, Sir Henry Slingby, Sir William Ingram, Colonel Brandling, Colonel Darcey, Squire Hutton, Mr Loftus, Andrew Hales of York, and divers others. Colonel Lilbourne thereafter discovered 200 arms, one barrel of powder, and several horses on Hexham Moor.

On Friday night, March 9, a party of cavaliers got together within 3 miles of Newcastle. Under the command of Colonel Grey, brother to Lord Grey of Wark, they intended to assault two places. The first was to take Newcastle. Here the cavaliers were to enter as a wedding party and then fall upon the garrison in the dead of night. Then they were to ride and seize Tynemouth. However, on receiving intelligence that their plot was discovered, they rode south into Yorkshire. Colonel Howard secured about eighty of the rebels in Northumberland and sent ten of them to Tynemouth Castle and sixty more to Carlisle.

Then on the night of March 11, a party of eighty cavaliers gathered at Clarendon Park, near Salisbury. This group had not been told of the earlier uprising date. They were under the command of General Wagstaff and Colonel Penrudduck. In the dark they waited for comrades to arrive from Somerset and Dorset. My lord, in my next, I shall give a full account of this association’s brave actions.

Yours in the cause of Liberty,

William Savage