‘A giddy-head faction…’
‘Poor silly creatures…’
‘like weathercockes they will turn this way and that with every blast’
If the Clubmen rising ‘had not been crushed in the egg, it had on an instant run all over the kingdom and might have been destructive to the Parliament’


Figure 1: The War begins – Edgehill, 1642

The First Civil War effectively started on 22nd August 1642, when Charles I raised the royal standard at Nottingham Castle. (15) The major battles between Royalist forces and those of Parliament were Edgehill (23rd October 1642), the First Battle of Newbury (20th September 1643), Marston Moor (2nd July 1644), the Second Battle of Newbury (27th October 1644) and Naseby (16th June 1645), and the War ended in May 1646 when the King surrendered to the Scottish army at Newark. (15) In December 1647, Charles signed the ‘Engagement’ with the Scots, in which he promised to impose Presbyterianism in England in exchange for a Scottish army to regain his throne. (15) During 1648, a number of revolts against Parliament broke out in England and Wales with demands that the King should be reinstated to power. (15) Cromwell marched to suppress the insurgency in Wales while Fairfax marched against the Royalists in Kent and Essex. (15) Fortunately for Parliament, the ‘Engager’ invasion from Scotland was badly co-ordinated with the uprisings in England and Wales. (15) After Cromwell had defeated the Welsh insurgency, he marched north to defeat the Engagers at the battle of Preston (17-19 August 1648), effectively bringing the Second Civil War to an end. (15)

The impact of war on the people
In the 1640s and into the 1650s, as many of us were taught, England was torn apart by the Civil Wars between Parliamentary and Royalist forces. (9) <[OR]> Although commonly called the English Civil War, Wales, Scotland and Ireland were all involved in what should properly be called the British Civil Wars. (15) Taxation was a burden on all (13,15) and trade was severely affected (15) as levies were extracted by both sides. (13)

Figure 2: The New Model Army

At any time, war is devastating and disruptive, but this was especially true in the period between the invention of gunpowder and mechanization. (9) Needing a constant supply of food and other resources to keep fighting, armies moved across the landscape like locusts, leaving villages and farmland stripped clear. (9) Starvation and disease followed in their wake. (9) It was a particularly bitter and bloody struggle that devastated the countryside. (15) There were relatively few major battles, and the casualties of these battles were relatively few, but a greater proportion of the population was killed in these wars than in the First World War. (15) In the latter, there were 1 million casualties – with a population of 42 million, this means that 2.4% of the population died in the war. (15) In the British Civil Wars, out of a population of 7 million, 868,000 died (190,000 in England, 60,000 in Scotland and 618,000 in Ireland), meaning that 12.3% of population died in the wars. (15) The fluctuations in fortunes of both sides meant that armies were constantly on the move through areas. (15) Until the creation of the New Model Army early in 1644, (15) these armies were for the most part ill-paid (13,15) (if at all) (15) ill equipped, (13) and poorly disciplined. (15) They therefore lived off the land. (15) Soldiers in both armies, (13,15) passing through, (12,15) raided the inhabitants of these counties and plundered small communities in their path. (13,15) The population was expected to accommodate and feed any occupying troops, and also had to put up with plundering, the taking of livestock and the destruction of homes and crops. (15) The countryside was ravaged and manpower reduced by pressing men into army service or forced labour (for example to work on fortifications). (15) Armies tended to move on, but even if there were no armies on the move, (15) each county had to deal with garrisons of troops being quartered on them. (12,15) They demanded payment for their protection, and for the most part took what they pleased. (15) These remained in place to continue their plundering for a period of time. (15) Nobody was spared. (13,15) and it made little difference which side people were on – friend was as likely to be looted as neutral or enemy. (15) On 4 July 1645, Fairfax described Beaminster on Dorset as ‘a place of the pittifulest spectacle that man can behold, hardly a house left not consumed with fire; the town being fired by the enemy in five places at once, when Prince Maurice was there, by reason of a falling out between the French and the Cornish’. (15) An old labourer listed his household goods, stolen by parliamentarian soldiers: 7 pairs of sheets, 3 brass kettles, 2 brass pots, 5 pewter dishes, 4 shirts, 4 smocks, 2 coats, 1 cloak, 1 waistcoat, 7 dozen candles, 1 frying pan, 1 spit, 2 pairs of pot hooks, 1 peck of wheat, 4 bags, some oatmeal, some salt, a basketful of eggs, bowls, dishes, spoons, ladles, drinking pots, and whatsoever else they could lay their hands on. (13) Houses were taken over as army quarters, and their original inhabitants ejected; crops were trampled down by marching men or eaten by cavalry horses; women had been violated and the rapists haphazardly punished. (13) It is therefore not surprising that men in these ravaged villages formed the Clubmen associations in an attempt to stop the atrocities. (13) There were numerous incidents of civil unrest during the War, and sporadic violence against soldiers in many parts of England. (15)

The emergence of the Clubmen
As the conflict wore on and the devastation increased, countrymen began to organise themselves into associations, and called themselves Clubmen. (15) What the Clubmen all had in common, and what one of their banner mottos, sums up, ‘If you offer to plunder or steal our cattle, be assured we will bid you battle’, was a demand for the end of the continuing plundering. (12) Their goods and land produce stripped from them, their lives affected by the imposition of sums of money, combined with the loss of order from undisciplined troops, the Clubmen’s desires for peace between King and Parliament had by 1645 come to a head. (12) We see an early reference to a lack of an association (Clubmen) from a reference to plunder in Hampshire from February 28th 1642. (12) The lack of a forming of an association is the root cause why Prince Rupert’s forces were so easily able to attain provision at will in Hampshire. (12) During (2,11) <[OR]> at the height of (5) the first (2) English Civil War (1,2) <[OR]> Wars (10) 1642 (4,14) <[OR]> 1643 (10) – 1651) (4,10) a series of regional uprisings occurred in the counties of western England (5,15) and Leicestershire (15) and south Wales. (5) They were carried out by ‘Clubmen’, (1,2) as contemporary observers called them. (5) What can be seen as a peaceable army, (12) a neutralist approach or localism through association, we see at the beginnings of the English Revolution in 1642. (12,14) <[OR]> Uprisings by local populations were nothing new. (15) Just a few years before, between 1626 and 1632, there were massive anti-enclosure riots in western England, mainly by landless peasants who relied on the forest and its raw materials for subsistence. (15) These riots, collectively known as ‘The Western Rising’, occurred in Gillingham Forest on the Dorset-Wiltshire border, and also in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Leicestershire, all those areas where the Clubmen rose in the Civil War. (15) It is possible that the Clubmen had their origins in these or earlier uprisings. (15) It is also possible that there was a Masonic connection [Endnote 1]. (15) Fletcher says that in Worcestershire in 1642 (14) <[OR]> in 1645, (3,5) the ‘predominant mood was localist: men were concerned above all for their lives, their property and the security of their immediate communities.’ (14) In many local counties; in fact a total of 22 counties in all developed pacts to demilitarise the inhabitants within. (12) These groups of middle gentry, priests, yeomen, keepers of the peace and local folk came to be known as, Clubmen. (12) The Clubmen felt that they were ‘piggies in the middle’ of the two sides in the Civil War. (9,15) Faced with this prospect, many civilians elected to choose one side over the other, setting aside some of their harvests, or selling at reduced prices to keep armies moving, hopefully away from them. (9) This had the danger of reprisals, as territory was gained and ceded over the years. (9) Others, equally frustrated at the behaviour of both sides, chose to take up arms and defend themselves against anyone who threatened their livelihood, or their lives – these were the Clubmen, (9) who practised ‘armed neutrality’. (11) Their demands differed according to the association concerned but generally they wanted an end to plundering, and a return to the days before the war – as this meant a return to the King and Anglicanism, the Clubmen were seen to be Royalist in sympathy. (15) However, most of the Clubmen uprisings were against Royalist troops. (15) They were war-weary (7) countrymen (1,2) who spontaneously (4) <[OR]> under the leadership of (1,4) minor (6) local gentry and clergy (1,4) <[OR]> the middling sort of people, yeoman and husband men. (6) They took up arms and (7) banded together into local associations (1,2) often of entire groups of villages (10,15) to protest (1,2) and try to protect their localities. (4,15) However it should be noted that the Clubmen do not appear either in the relevant volume of the Oxford History of England, nor in a more recent major survey of Britain 1588-1688 by Cambridge historian Clare Jackson.

The name ‘Clubmen’
The Civil Wars gave rise to many factions within local community and society such as the Levellers, Ranters, and Diggers to name but a few. (12) It is not clear when or why these people

Figure 3: Contempt shows in these models of
‘Clubmen’, made for a modern war game

became known as Clubmen. (15) They were mostly armed with clubs (4,8) pikes, (9) flails, (4) pitchforks, (10,15) bills, (15) scythes and other bladed implements (4,8) such as sickles fastened to long poles (4) as their choice of weapon. (9) They were otherwise unarmed. (4) <[OR]> some groups had guns and horses. (9) Some believe (9) that the rudimentary nature of their arms (10) explains their name. (4,8) <[OR]> The word Clubmen is a description of a forming of an association and not of a description of carrying a club. (12) <[OR]> it was not until after the Civil War, that the word ‘club’ meant an association or collection of people with a common interest, so it appears that the Clubmen gave a new meaning to the word ‘club’. (15) <[OR]> As the conflict wore on and the devastation increased, countrymen began to organise themselves into associations, and called themselves Clubmen. (Also 15!) Many trades, such as stone masonry, tin mining and metalworkers had their own charters and guilds, and members of those guilds were sometimes referred to as ‘clubmen’. (Also 15!) Their only pretence to a uniform was that they wore (10) white ribbands, (4,12) <[OR]> a white cockade in their hats. (10) This was a symbol of the Clubmen’s neutrality. (12,15) The first [Endnote 2] appearance of Clubmen was in Shropshire during the winter of 1644-45. (8,10) <[OR]> towards the end of 1644. (7) Then they were seen in Worcestershire, (2,3) and Herefordshire (3,5) in early 1645 (7) <[OR]> They are known to have existed Monmouthshire, Devon, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, (5) Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, South Wales (3,5) Berkshire, later in the same year. (3),

War Aims
They were a group, even perhaps an early form of a movement, with beginnings of a view that stable governance (as opposed to state interference) and peace within state as a goal, could not only be achievable, but profitable and sustainable. (12) The Clubmen were of a third party, neither Royalist nor Parliamentarian, (4,8) <[OR]> many of the Clubmen groups favoured one side or the other: (7,13) Because the objective of the clubmen was to neutralize conflict, they had to direct their efforts against Royalist occupiers in the early 1640s. (14) On the other hand, this in no way made the clubmen parliamentary supporters. (14) Seeing the parliamentary cause as divisive and radical, their campaign ‘was intended to ‘tame’ the royalists, force them to respect the wishes of the inhabitants and restore local civilian control. (14) Thus, ‘both parliamentarians and Royalists found Worcester initially unreceptive to their advances,’ according to Howell, who drew largely on Royalist and Worcestershire resident Henry Townshend’s contemporary diaries. (14) the clubmen in Dorset were overtly pro royalist and those in Somerset pro parliamentarian (7) but a preference for King or Parliament did not preclude a preference for peace above both. (13) <[OR]> Although some have tended to equate pastoral region clubmen movements (such as those on the Welsh border) with pro parliamentarian feelings, and lowland, arable region movements as essentially pro loyalist, it seems to have been the case that the border Clubman were merely defensive (7) trying to keep the war out of their regions (8) and wishing to be out of the war. (7) Primarily conservative (7,12) and intensely localist (7,13) these ‘local defence vigilantes’ (4,8) took up arms to defend themselves (7) against the excesses (3,4) of the unruly soldiery (3,4) in the armies of both sides, Royalist and Parliamentarian, (1,2) in the war. (3,4) The desire for war was now seen among many as unnatural and an intrusion (12,13) by the state (12) on localities, (12,13) upon local traditions and customs that they held dear and wished to continue unimpeded. (13) Peace was seen as desirable and more beneficial to local communities. (12) Their petitions clamoured (13) for a diverse range of administrative, religious and political changes: (5,13) restoration of normal government: the abolition of new taxes and the county committees (13) and extension of associational authority over county administration. (5) They wanted a return to a more Elizabethan governance by raising of taxation for local purposes. (12) Morrill characterized the clubmen as individuals who were ‘concerned to protect those traditional rights and generalized notions of liberty’ and, thus, emerged as the true champions of a ‘fully developed provincialism and conservatism. (14) They sought to prevent their wives and daughters being raped by soldiers of both sides, themselves being forcibly conscripted to fight by one side or the other, their crops and property being damaged (4) or plundered (1,2) by the armies and their lives threatened or intimidated by soldiers, battle followers, looters, deserters or refugees. (4) They represented a broad spectrum of contemporary political activism. (5) The Clubmen as a political public tried to win the peace through settlement, and in keeping with their struggle within the locality, showed they knew where their power lay. (12) They were prepared to cooperate with king or parliament but on their terms for a change. (7) individual associations issued autonomous petitions and articles of association which contained a The These programmes were centred upon a series of institutional appropriations and structural reconfigurations which were seen as necessary to manage the impact of armed conflict upon the fabric of the parish community. (5) This attempt of the Clubmen to appropriate what they viewed as legitimate military and civil authority can be viewed as a distinct ‘moment’ of contemporary socio-political activism. (5) They called for the restoration of jury trial and ancient local institutions, and measures to restore regional economies. (13) As the Civil War continued, the Clubmen began to grow increasingly impatient by the lack of seriousness in the approach of both King and Parliament to signing any relevant or significant peace treaty. (6) Even after Charles I lost his head at Whitehall in January 1649, his heir Charles II continued the fight until being routed at the Battle of Worcester. (9) The longer the war continued, the more substantial the negative impact on local communities, via plundering and heavy taxation. (6) As well as in physical demonstrations (6) they expressed themselves in print, (5,6) particularly in pamphlets. (6) The Dorset declarations wanted a push towards a resolution to the war: ‘an end to this civil and unnatural war within the Kingdom’, (12) A peace treaty was highly sought after by ordinary people (6,12) and so parliament and Charles I’s failure in establishing one only served to increase tension and give further motivations and aims to the clubmen. (6) When life and property were under threat, having the right to defend themselves. (12) Book 12 says that ‘loyalties to either side in general, among this growing body of Clubmen, were across the counties neutral in nature’. (12) The made clear their neutrality and called for, as stated by them, foreseeing that ‘famine and utter desolation will immediately fall upon our wives and children’. (12) The declarations have at their core the principles put down by the Protestation of 1641-1642: ‘to defend our ancient rights and liberties and show an active citizenry’. (12) As this shows, the keeping of the peace and having the right to police their own localities against garrisons based there, and against the passing through of soldiers, represents a conflict between what is desired of locally and the actions of the state. (12) It is a total reversal with the state of top-down political stability now being seen as anarchical and bottom-up localities filling the void with local governance. (12)

Impact on the War
They became a force which both sides in the war had to take into account (4,8) when planning a campaign and garrisoning some areas, particularly in the south and west. (4) ‘The division of King and Parliament’ (gave the local areas) ‘far greater power than they, or their Forefathers had for many years.’ (12) The main protagonists ‘simply couldn’t rely on the locals to give up their food without some sort of fight.’ (9,12) They wore white ribbands, (4,12) a symbol of the Clubmen’s neutrality. (12) The Clubmen fast became a focus for both Parliamentarian and Royalist armies alike. (4,12) They were repressed severely by the authorities on both sides. (4)

Figure 4: Wem, Shropshire

Regular payments made to what was the beginnings of a professional army in the form of the New Model Army produced disciplined soldiers and reduced plundering, to the cost of the Kings Army in keeping the provinces on side. (12) Though Lord Fairfax met with clubmen and negotiated with them, eventually he moved against them. (4) The Clubmen are often regarded as something of a footnote in the history of the Civil War, but their threat was far from underestimated at the time: in the words of General Fairfax’s chaplain, Joshua Sprigg, if the Clubmen rising ‘had not been crushed in the egg, it had on an instant run all over the kingdom’. (10)

Welsh Borders
Clubman uprisings tended to occur in areas that had suffered badly from plundering, free quartering of troops and other depredations of the war. (2,8) They were particularly strong in numbers across the south-west and Welsh borders, where the wars had fiercely raged. (9) Clubmen were countrymen (7,8) farmers, craftsmen and a small number of local gentry who refused to be drawn into the wider conflict and armed themselves against any force approaching them. (9)

The first (15) Clubmen uprising was in Shropshire in December 1644. (12,15) Shropshire was through the Civil Wars heavily garrisoned with troops, Royalist and Parliament and as such saw a Clubmen presence. (12) On December (8,15) <[OR]> on 18th September (7) 1644, 1,200 (7,8) countrymen assembled to protest against plundering by Royalist garrisons at Stokesay Castle and Lea Hall (7,8) led by Colonel Vangelis. (7) They were led by the parson of Bishop’s Castle and local minor gentry, (8) assembled at Wem (7,8) to protest against plundering by (8) Royalist garrisons (7,8) George Lawson was a rector from More in Shropshire and was among those affected by warring sides in the said county. (12) In his ‘Politica sacra & civilis : or, A model of civil and ecclesiastical government’, he wrote: ‘Both in the time of the Wars and after, both King and Parliament acted not only above but contrary to many of our Laws, which in the time of Peace are ordinarily observed. (12) Neither of them could give us any Precedent for many things done by them : and those few Precedents alleged for some of their actions were extraordinary, and Acts of extraordinary times. (12)

Figure 5: Stokesay Castle Today

If the Counties and People of England had not been ignorant and divided, the division of King and Parliament did give them far greater power than they, or their Forefathers had for many years. (12) The risings appear to have been aimed at the restoration of local authority and the demilitarisation of the counties. (7) during the winter of 1644-5, which was a particularly harsh one, (15) the movement quickly spread through neighbouring counties and the Welsh border, (8,10) notably south into Worcestershire. (9) There was a muster at Leintwardine in March, 1645. (7)

Worcestershire during the war

Worcestershire lies at the centre of England and was strategically vital to the Royalists, (2,14) as a bridge from Wales and Ireland back to their headquarters in Oxford. (2) It was also a ‘corridor county’ for royalist and parliamentary forces alike (14) Worcestershire also provided the Royalists with industrial capacity to produce armaments and munitions. (2) It was an intense battleground between Catholic and Puritan, Royalist and parliamentarian, and gentleman and freeholder. (14) The pressures of war created great strain on Worcestershire as a whole, as it had to sustain a large, unproductive force drawn out of its productive labour. (2) Taxation, requisitioning by armies and cross-border raids caused great deprivations, made worse by the proximity of Worcestershire to Parliamentary forces to the north around Birmingham, to the east in Warwickshire, and at certain times to the south in Bristol and Gloucestershire. (2) It is against this background that we must consider the emergence of the Clubmen in the County. (14)

The Worcestershire Clubmen
Yet Fletcher and Morrill have suggested that the county took a surprisingly inward focus that can be best illustrated by the existence of the ‘clubmen.’ (14) Many local historians, such as Anthony Fletcher, Roger Howell and John Morrill, have labelled Worcestershire a ‘neutral’ county in the conflict between Crown and Parliament during the 1640s. (14) Fletcher cited the presence of the clubmen, a localist group, as representative of the lack of concern for national political sentiment. (14) The clubmen organization, which also existed in other western midland counties, sought to maintain the status quo to ensure stability and peace within their county. (14) There were assemblies of Clubmen there (9,11) throughout 1645.

Figure 6: Woodbury Hill

(11) Groups (2) <[OR]> A notable group (9) of clubmen could be found in (9) west (2,11) Worcestershire, (2,9) around Woodbury Hill and the Malverns. (11) These were areas that had so far escaped the worst excesses of the plundering by both sides and that wished to continue to do so. (11) These Clubmen aimed at keeping both armies and their demands away from the rural civilian population, to resist despoliation and requisitioning. (2)

The Woodbury Declaration, 5th March 1645

Figure 7: Shelsley Beauchamp

A thousand (8,11) <[OR]> over a thousand (9) north-west (11) Worcestershire Clubmen held a big meeting on Woodbury Hill (2,6) on 5th (6,11) March (6,9) 1645 (6,7) under the leadership of Charles Nott, the parson of Shelsley (6,8) Beauchamp (8) and composed mainly of commoners. (11) They drew up the Woodbury Declaration, (6,8) which (6) protested at the violence of local Royalist soldiers, (8) the ‘utter ruin by the outrages and violence of the soldier; threatening to fire our houses; endeavouring to ravish our wives and daughters, and menacing our persons’. (6,11) Because of these, they were ‘now enforced to associate ourselves in (9) a mutual league (8,9) for each other’s defence’ (9,11) with the hope of ‘protecting and safeguarding our persons and estates by the mutual aid and assistance of each other against all murders, rapines, plunder, robberies, or violences which shall be offered by the soldier or any oppressor whatsoever’. (9) They made provision to rescue members who were captured. (11) Admission to the league was refused to any soldier or those marked for enlistment. (11) The Declaration also opposed taxation and the prominent role given many Catholics: they would not obey any Papist or Papist Recusant, ‘nor ought [they] … be trusted in any office of state, justice, or judicature’. (2) It was generally agreed to acknowledge only County Sheriff and the grand jury (7,11) as lawful legal authorities in the county. (8,11) They presented their declaration to Henry Bromley (6,8) (of Holt), (6,11) the Royalist (6,8) High (8,11) Sheriff of Worcestershire. (6,8) <[OR]> to Gilbert Gerard, the Governor of Worcester. (9)

Woodbury and the War
This was not a revolutionary, or even Parliamentary movement. (11) Despite their opposition to local troops, the Woodbury Clubmen professed loyalty to the King. (8,11) claiming that their league was to enforce the Royalists’ own, oft-repeated and by now discredited, proclamations to improve the discipline of the troops. (11) Despite attempts to track down the ringleaders, local constables refused to give the names of those attending. (11) In early December 1645 the Woodbury league re-emerged. (11) On 6th December they presented a new manifesto to the governor of Worcester. (11) Details were given for systems of warning of danger, arranging help for any that were wounded and declaring any that did not answer the summons as enemies who would be denied future protection. (11) Every parishioner worth £10 a year had to provide himself with a musket. (11) Lord Astley, the new Royalist commander in the county from 6th December, was ordered to ‘keep the county from rendezvous and tumultuous assemblies of men without authority’. (11)The practical consequence of this stance was, however, to oppose the Royalist occupying forces. (11) The profession of loyalty to the king was in itself a well-used convention during the war. (11) In practical terms this movement benefited the Parliamentarians, as it was the Royalists whose armies were the principal occupying power. (11) Nevertheless, the refusal of the Clubmen to offer outright support to Parliament meant that an irritated Colonel Massey in Gloucester (who supplied them with some weapons) still described them as traitorous rebels. (11) For the time, this was strong stuff, and even though they presented little threat to an organized and well-armed fighting force, both Royalist and Parliamentary forces were forced to consider them in their military strategizing. (9)

Figure 8: Tenbury Wells

Worcestershire 2, May 1645
Nothing seems to have come of this first phase of the movement in Worcestershire although the Committee of Salop wrote on 13th April that the Clubmen ‘continue resolute to oppose the King’s party’. (11) In May 1645, (8) Rupert made an abortive attempt to negotiate with Clubmen at Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire. (8,11) When this failed, (8) he ordered all Clubman associations to disband, (8,11) there is no recorded reaction to this. (11)

The Herefordshire clubmen were the most violent of the border groupings. (7)

Figure 9: Hereford

Clubmen gathered to protest at the tyranny of Sir Barnabas Scudamore, the Royalist governor of Hereford. (8) Scudamore’s soldiers had clashed with local people who refused to give supplies to the garrison, resulting in the deaths of several countrymen and others being taken to Hereford as prisoners. (8) Up to 12,000 Clubmen assembled, (7,8) some of them well-armed and mounted. (8)

The Siege of Hereford
Their activities culminated in the great siege (7,8) of the royalist city of Hereford. (7) They demanded the release of the prisoners, compensation for the families of those killed and that all Royalist soldiers should leave the county. (8) Colonel Massie, the Parliamentarian governor of Worcester, tried to recruit the Clubmen as an auxiliary force against the Royalists but his approaches were rejected. (8) Scudamore was sufficiently alarmed to agree to some of their demands. (8) Alterations in the royalist high command – Prince Rupert’s arrival as commander in chief with his brother Maurice, responsible for the border and Wales – led to gradual pacification. (7) 2,000 Clubmen who remained dissatisfied with Scudamore’s promises refused to disperse. (8) Prince Rupert sent soldiers against them. (7,8)

Figure 10: Ledbury

The Battle of Ledbury
While most of the Clubmen fled, around 200 stood firm at Ledbury and fired on the approaching troops. (8) They were quickly defeated (7,8) disarmed and arrested; a number of ringleaders were hanged. (8) The Clubmen were punished by having troops quartered on them. (7)

Dorset 1:
The War in Dorset to 1644

Dorset was an area with a history of unrest over issues such as enclosure. (7,15)

Figure 11: Dorset

During the Civil War it saw a great deal of action, (6,9) because, like Worcestershire, it was a ‘corridor county’: though no major battles were fought there, it lay between the Royalist strongholds in the south west and the King’s base at Oxford, so armies regularly passed through the county leaving garrisons at local strongpoints. (15) Both Royalist and Parliamentary forces crossed the area, (9,10) plundering indiscriminately. (10) Just across the border, Wardour Castle was besieged twice – Parliament captured it in May 1643, and the Royalists recaptured it in March 1644 after a three month siege. (15) By early 1643 most of Dorset, with the exception of the three castles, was under Parliamentarian control. (15) In the autumn of 1644, the Royalists gained control of most of Dorset after the surrender of the Earl of Essex’s Parliamentarian army at Lostwithiel in Cornwall in September 1644. (15)

Figure 12: Lord Goring

By the end of that month, the King had advanced to Sherborne, having left part of his army to besiege Taunton. (15) Sir William Waller was sent westwards to impede the Royalist advance. (15) By early October 1644, Waller had reinforced the garrisons at Weymouth, Poole and Lyme and occupied Shaftesbury. (15) Around the middle of October 1644, the King’s army marched towards Oxford. (15) As the Royalists advanced, Sir William Waller abandoned Shaftesbury and withdrew to Hampshire. (15) The year’s campaigning concluded with the indecisive Second Battle of Newbury. (15) While the main armies settled into winter quarters, there was no let up in military activity. (15) In November 1644, a Parliamentary army led by Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (the Earl of Shaftesbury) marched south from Dorchester to Abbotsbury. (15)

After a sharp battle, the Royalist garrison was defeated and the manor house destroyed. (15) From Abbotsbury, Sir Anthony marched east and the Royalist garrisons of Sturminster Newton and Shaftesbury fled at his approach. (15) The county had therefore experienced occupation by both sides. (6,9) Having distinguished himself at the Second Battle of Newbury, Lord George Goring was in the King’s favour. (15) In February 1645, he was sent to the West Country, where the Prince of Wales (Charles, the King’s eldest son aged 14) had been appointed captain-general of the West. (15) The arrival of Lord (15) Goring’s Royalist army (7,15) seems to have acted as a particular catalyst. (15) Despite his success on the battlefield, Goring had little control over his troops, and fell out with just about all the other Royalist commanders. (15) He also clashed with the Prince’s advisers and engaged in a series of counter-productive intrigues against him. (15) He was notoriously undisciplined and fond of his drink; he would frequently engage in drinking bouts in which his staff were expected to join. (15) His troops had a particularly bad reputation (7,15) for their ‘horrid outrages and barbarities’ and for their ‘continual butcheries, rapes and robberies’. (15) Even in the next century ‘Goring’s crew’ were remembered with abhorrence, particularly in Somerset. (15) Many rural communities within Dorset and surrounding counties suffered badly (10,15) as their lands and goods were affected, (10) Shaftesbury, in common with many towns in Dorset, tended to be conservative, Anglican and Royalist in sympathy and most of the leading gentry stood with the King. (15) The exceptions were areas where the clothing trade was carried on and many of the seaports, perhaps because Dorset had been highly assessed for ship-money and other taxes. (15) Poole and Lyme Regis were held by Parliament for the duration of the war, and Weymouth also firmly backed Parliament, though the Royalists managed to keep their stronghold of Portland out of Parliamentarian hands for all but two brief periods of the war, despite being hopelessly undermanned and inadequately armed. (15) The Roundheads besieged the Royalist strongholds at Sherborne Castle (8,10) and Corfe Castle. (10,15) the first two were each besieged twice. (15) Wareham, Blandford, Dorchester and Sturminster Newton changed hands several times. (15) For example, 1642 Dorchester was fortified by Parliament in 1642. (15) It was easily captured by Royalists in 1643 by Lord Carnavon and then recaptured for Parliament in July 1644 by Colonel Sydenham. (15) The presence of foreign mercenaries in both armies was also a cause of mistrust. (15) For example, in October 1644, there were reports that in and about Shaftesbury, 600 Swedes, Germans, French and Walloons “much oppressed the county and raised some … a day for their maintenance – some fined …. and if the money was not presently paid then they were plundered and made prisoners.” (15) In February 1645, agreement was reached by Parliament for the creation of a New Model Army of 22,000 men to be paid for by fixed taxes. (15) It was to be commanded by (10,15) the ‘Lord General (10) Sir Thomas Fairfax. (10,15 Over the next two months, the new red-coated army underwent rigorous training and strict discipline was imposed. (15)

The Clubmen Appear, 1645
By May (10) <[OR]> February (15) 1645 bands of Clubmen had started to appear in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. (7,10)

Figure 13: Godmanstone

Godmanstone, February
At the end of February 1645, the villagers of Godmanstone (a village a few miles north of Dorchester) killed several Royalist soldiers. (15) Next day, nearly a thousand men gathered ‘with guns and clubs to resist the French and Irish among the cavaliers’. (15) The Clubmen movement had spread to Dorset. (15) In March 1645 Oliver Cromwell was present in Dorchester. (15) At the end of April, Fairfax and the New Model Army left its base at Windsor and marched east to Newbury, Andover and Salisbury. (15) It reached Sixpenny Handley (6 May), Blandford (7 May) and Witchampton (8 May). (15) Fairfax detached a force of five or six thousand men under the command of Colonel Weldon to relieve Taunton which was being besieged by Goring’s Royalists. (15) Weldon reached Taunton on 10th May, just in time to prevent what remained of it falling to the Royalists. (15) Two-thirds of the houses had been destroyed, and the countryside devastated for miles around. (15) However, the relief of Taunton was short-lived, as the remains of Colonel Robert Blake’s garrison and Weldon’s relieving force were then besieged again by the Royalists. (15)

Arrival of the New Model Army, May 6th

Figure 14: Sir Thomas Fairfax

In the New Model Army death was the penalty for any plundering, (15) and they paid in cash for their supplies, but the Clubmen were not convinced, (7) and when the New Model Army arrived (6,7) in mid- (6,15) <[OR]> early (9) 1645, (6,9) the war-weary (10) countrymen (10,15) yeomen and farmers who made up (10) the broader Dorset-Wiltshire population, (6) came together as Clubmen (9,15) under the leadership of local gentry and clergy. (15) Entire groups of villages (10,15) formed local militias to defend their families and property (10) against marauding soldiers from both sides. (10,15) <[OR]> to keep the war out of their regions, (15) <[OR]> to end the war and get the two warring parties to return to a settled form of governance through agreement not bloodshed. (12) In written petitions and declarations (12) and at public gatherings (12,15) around the county they called for an ending to the war. (12)

Wimborne St Giles May 25th

Figure 15: Wimborne St Giles

The first notice of their acting independently was in May when, (10) on 25th May, (7) 4000 of them (10) assembled at Wimborne St. Giles. (7,10) to organise a force of watchmen to guard against marauding soldiers. (10) They established warning systems, by which they could be made ready at the approach of an army. (9) Politically neutral in the main conflict, clubmen groups gathered, as much as a show of force, or protest, rather than any serious attempt to block the soldiers’ progress. (9)

Clubmen’s Down May 25th: the ‘Desires and Resolutions’
On 25th (15) May of 1645 (12,15) about 3,000 Clubmen gathered at ‘Gorehedge-Corner’ between Shaftesbury and Blandford. (15) <[OR]> on Clubmen’s Down. (15) History does not tell us where this was, but between Compton Down and Fontmell Down, on the very edge of the north east boundary of Fontmell Magna Parish, is Clubmen’s Down. (15) Its exact location is unclear: at different locations at the top of the downs are three information boards provided by the National Trust/Dorset Wildlife Trust, and each shows Clubmen’s Down to be in a slightly different position. (15) it is reasonable to assume that it was near Gore Clump and Gore Farm, and that this part of the Downs was so-called because that is where the Clubmen met. (15) And if Clubmen’s Down is the steep side of Fontmell Down, it would have made a natural amphitheatre for large numbers to hear what their leaders had to say. (15) They listened to Thomas Young (12) reading out their ‘Desires and Resolutions’ (12,15) together with articles of covenant, and certain directions for present behaviour, and these were agreed upon. (15) Their desire was to get the two warring parties to return to a settled form of governance through agreement not bloodshed. (12) They listed measures they would take in their defence of their own ‘lives, fortunes, laws, liberties and properties against all plunders and all other unlawful violence whatsoever.’ (12) Each Parish was to have a committee of three with two constables to raise the alarm. (15)

Figure 16: Clubmen’s Down

Arms and ammunition should be stockpiled, and villages should ring church bells to warn each other of the approach of soldiers. (15) All soldiers who were caught plundering should be disarmed and returned to their army. (15) Any person assembling soldiers for the King or Parliament would not be given their protection. (15) This was described as ‘more eloquent then trustworthy’ by parliamentarian accounts, (12) but it is the most useful primary source available. (13) Historian Ronald Hutton, who has devoted much time studying the Clubmen, claims those of the Dorset-Wiltshire band to be ‘the most sophisticated of all English Clubmen associations. (13) By June of 1645 (7,8) the risings in the Welsh border counties had been overcome by Prince Rupert and his brother Maurice, (7) but unrest had grown to a pitch in Dorset, Wiltshire and east Somerset. (7,8)

Badbury Rings Early June
In early June, the Desires and Resolutions of the Clubmen’s Down meeting were embodied in a Covenant which was read (15) at Badbury Rings (12,15) (near Wimborne St Giles), by Thomas Young, attorney-at-law; (15) where there were present 4000 (12) <[OR]> ‘neere 4,000 armed, with clubs, swords, bils, pitch-forkes, and other severall weapons’. (15)

After Naseby

Figure 17: The Battle of Naseby, 14th June 1645

Following the King’s defeat at Naseby on 14th June 1645, the only effective Royalist force left was the Western army under Lord Goring. (15) Life for the local population was hard enough after three years of war but, after Naseby, it was rumoured that Goring’s periods of drunkenness became more frequent, and his troops became even more unruly and undisciplined. (15) As the summer wore on, there were fresh gatherings in many parts of North and East Dorset, as well as on Salisbury Plain. (15) Sir Thomas (7,10) Fairfax (12,15) the Lord General of Cromwell’s New Model Army, and the most accomplished Parliamentarian officer (10) received orders to retrace his steps towards Oxford which had been left with only a small Royalist garrison. (15) On 11th July Fairfax met leaders of the Clubmen and persuaded most of them to disband in return for his promise that his troops would commit no outrages against the local population. (10) The Clubmen of Dorset were not convinced and remained in arms, (10) issuing ‘The Humble Petition Of The Habitants Of The County Of Dorset’, Calling for his Majesty and the two houses of Parliament to continue once again to be restored to the blessing of peace by a happy accommodation of their present differences without further effusion of Christian blood’. (12) The petition is signed by ‘a thousand of your majesty’s loyal subjects of the county not in the armies of either parties in the present wars.’ (12) The Dorset Clubmen remained a threat. (8,10)

Sturminster Newton June 24th

Figure 18: Sturnminster Newton

On 24 June, the ‘Humble Petition’ was published at a general meeting at Sturminster Newton. (15) ‘We the miserable inhabitants of the said counties being too deeply touched with apprehension and sense of our past and present sufferings, occasioned by the Civil and un-natural wars within this Kingdom; and finding by sad experience that, by means thereof, the true worship of Almighty God and our religion are almost forgotton, and that the ancient Laws and Liberties, contrary to the Great Charter of England and the Petition of Right, are altogether swallowed up in the arbitory power of the sword’. (15) At the end of June, four or five thousand Clubmen had ‘forced the Parliament’s quarters at Sturminster Newton, divers slain and wounded on both sides’. (15) The Clubmen captured 16 dragoons. (15) Passing through the open city of Salisbury, Fairfax found the Clubmen there very confident, ‘wearing white ribands in their hats, as it were in affront of the army, not sparing to declare themselves absolute neuters, or rather friends to the enemy. (15) On 30th June, 1645, Fairfax led the New Model Army back into the south-west, taking a southerly route to avoid Royalist garrisons at Bristol, Bath, Devizes and Bridgwater. (15) He marched from Marlborough to Amesbury. (15) There Chaplain Hugh Peters urged the destruction of Stonehenge, as being one of ‘the monuments of heathenism,’ but Fairfax was keen to press on to relieve Taunton which was then being besieged by Goring for the third time (the siege was finally raised on 4 July). (15) On Wednesday, 2 July, Fairfax was back in Dorset, marching from Broad Chalke to Blandford. (15) The area had seen several outbreaks of disorder. (15) In West Dorset, near Bridport, Clubmen attacked a Parliamentarian messenger and wounded, and nearly captured the Governor of Lyme. (15) The Clubmen were also harassing the pro-Parliament fisherman of the coast. (15) Around Blandford itself, between four and five thousand Clubmen had gathered. (15) ‘They come into our quarters and steal horses where they find them at grass’ objected Fairfax, who considered them ‘abundantly more affected to the enemy than to Parliament’. (15) The two leaders, John Penruddock of Compton Chamberlayne and John Fussell of Blandford, were arrested but, in exchange for a promise that they would cease their unlawful assemblies, they were released. (15)

Clubmen Petition the King June/July
The Clubmen had prepared (very long) Petitions to both the King and Parliament, signed by ‘above ten thousand of your Majesty’s loyal subjects of this county, not in arms on either party in the present wars’. (15)

Figure 19: Compton Abbas

The Rev. Thomas Bravel, Rector of Compton Abbas, was one of the men chosen to take the Petition to the King at Oxford. (15) The others were Doctor Henry Gooch, Rector of Pulham, John Saint Lo, Peter Hoskins of Ibberton, Mr. Thomas Young of Manston, an attorney, and Mr. Robert Pawlett, gentleman. (15) The King’s answer of 8 July from Ragland Castle to the Clubmen’s Petition was ‘altogether favourable’. (15) He declared that he fully agreed with them and that he desired a cessation of arms. (15)

Clubmen petition Fairfax 4th July
On 3 July, Fairfax reached Dorchester where he was approached by a deputation of Clubmen led by George Hawles of Upwimborne, brother to him of Salisbury, and five others: Mr. Melchisedec Waltham, Mr. Richard Hooke, Rector of Durweston, Thomas Trenchard, Robert Culliford of Encombe and Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdelene. (15)

Figure 20: Upwimborne remembers the Clubmen

They presented Fairfax with the Petition to Parliament, the articles of association. (15) Hawles was ‘most peremptory and insolent in his carriage, and but for his being sent as a messenger, he had been committed, as this man is the head of that giddy-head faction in Dorset’. (15) Fairfax spoke politely to them and said that he desired peace as much as they did themselves but he could not agree to a cessation when there was a threat of foreign invasion. (15) Good discipline was all that he could promise them and with that they must be content. (15) If parliamentary troops committed disorder of any sort ‘justice shall be done and satisfaction given’. (15) Fairfax was as good as his word. (15) His men paid for their quarters, much to the disbelief of the villagers as John Lilburne reported to the House of Commons, ‘divers of them telling us that they never knew what it was to finger soldiers’ money’. (15)

Castle Cary 2nd June

In theory, the Clubmen of Dorset and Wiltshire operated as a single group, but in practice they were divided, with the Clubmen from the Langport area assisting the Parliamentarians, and explicitly dissociating themselves from other areas within the broad region. (6) On 2nd June 5000 men met at Castle Cary in Somerset. (7) Unlike their Dorset neighbours, they had only experienced occupation by the ‘underpaid and unruly royalists’ (5) of the Langport garrison. (7)

Figure 21: Castle Cary

These Clubmen targeted the Royalists. (7) Their attack on Langport’s royalist Garrison was easily fought off. (7) On 5th July, Fairfax left Dorset and, (15) on 10th July, the New Model Army defeated Lord Goring’s Royalists at Langport. (15) Lord Goring, his army shattered, fled westwards into Devon. (15) The Somerset Clubmen (7,8) proved to be the most dangerous and intractable, as shown when (10) Royalist fugitives were hunted down and killed (7,8) at leisure (7) in revenge for the depredations they had inflicted on the region (8) during the Royalist occupation. (15)

Clubmen and Roundheads, Somerset, 11th July
The victorious General Fairfax met (8,15) Humphrey Willis (7,8) and other (8) leaders of the (6,15) Somerset (7) Clubmen (6,15) at Middlezoy (15) <[OR]> Pensy-Pound on Sedgemoor (7) on 11th (7,15) July; (6,15) Willis, of Woolavington, was a former tenant of the Pyms. (7) Fairfax won them over to his side by giving an undertaking that the New Model Army would pay for all supplies and provisions. (8,15) He would not harass the local population, providing that they did not assist the Royalists. (8,15) Having suffered terribly from plundering by Lord Goring’s Royalists, the Clubmen readily agreed to the peace and order that the New Model Army promised. (15) <[OR]> They played an active part in subsequent campaigns on the side of Parliament. (7)

Dorset 2
On 23rd July, the New Model Army captured Bridgwater, and Bath fell in a surprise dawn attack on 31st July. (15) However, rather than attempting to recapture the port of Bristol, held by the Royalists since July 1643, or pursue the Royalists into Devon, Fairfax was forced to return to Dorset, where the Clubmen were less conciliatory than their Somerset counterparts. (15)

Siege of Sherborne cramped by Clubmen

Figure 22: Sherborne as it was

The 400 strong Royalist garrison at Sherborne Castle, commanded by Sir Lewis Dyve, was acting as a focus of resistance. (15) During the siege (8,10) the Clubmen were posing a significant threat to Fairfax’s communications, stopping messengers and preventing his army with being supplied with arms or food. (15) Fairfax therefore marched to Sherborne, arriving there on 1st August. (15) After the non-stop campaigning of the last months, his men were almost out of ammunition, and could not start a siege until his supply lines were secure. (15) The Clubmen of Dorset proved less conciliatory. (8,15) As soon as he crossed the border into Dorset, they swarmed around him threatening to cut off his supplies. (15) On 2nd August 1645, (6,7) Fairfax (8,10) received news that the Clubmen of Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset were to meet the following day at Shaftesbury to consult how best to interrupt or raise the siege of Sherborne. (15) He felt sufficiently threatened by the meeting to send troops under Colonel Charles Fleetwood (6,15) to arrest the ringleaders. (10,15)

Duncliffe 4th August

Figure 23: Duncliffe Hill

The same day, news came that all the country of Wiltshire and Dorset, and part of Somerset, were up in arms ‘and would have a rendezvous of 10,000 men at least’. (15) On 4th August, Lieutenant-General (15) Oliver Cromwell, (10,15) having received intelligence of some of the Clubmen’s places of rendezvous, left Sherborne (15) with about 1,000 cavalry. (10,15) As they were passing Duncliffe Hill, a mile or two to the west of Shaftesbury, they noticed some colours flying from its peak and a scout (10,15) (a lieutenant with a small party) (15) was sent to investigate. (10,15) They made the strenuous twenty-minute (10) climb to the top of the hill, ‘a place full of wood and almost inaccessible’, to find out what they were up to. (10,15) Their leader was Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdalen, and when he learnt that Cromwell himself was at the bottom of the hill, he came down (10,15) to explain that the Clubmen were only defending themselves from the continual plundering by both sides. (10) <[OR]> He told Cromwell that the Clubmen had gathered to decide what to do about their men who had been captured at Shaftesbury. (15) Cromwell replied that the men had been taken away on Fairfax’s authority to be tried judicially for raising a third party in the Kingdom and for instigating unlawful meetings. (15) Mr Newman said he would go back up the hill to tell the rest of the Clubmen; (15) Cromwell (10,15) and a small party (15) went up (10,15) with him. (15) At the top they found a mob of Clubmen. (10) Cromwell was able to pacify them, (10,15) by assuring them that Fairfax did not want them to be plundered in any way and that they could defend themselves from violence. (15) They should bring to the New Model Army anyone who did any wrong, and the culprits would be punished severely. (15) As for those captured at Shaftesbury, he said that if they were found guilty, they must suffer according to the nature of their offence; if innocent, Fairfax would acquit them. (15) Somewhat surprisingly, the Clubmen said that if they deserved punishment, they would have nothing to do with them. (15) ‘Upon this, very quietly and peacefully they marched away to their houses, being very well satisfied and contented’. (10,15)

Hambledon Hill 4th August
Later that day, (7,9) marching on to Shaftesbury, Cromwell learned that, (15) having bothered Parliamentary forces in the area for months, (9) a large group (6,8) <[OR]> a small army (10) of several (8,10) <[OR]> four to five (10) thousand (8,10) <[OR]> Cromwell thought nearly 2,000, others estimate 2,500, while Joshua Sprigg (Fairfax’s Chaplin) doubles Cromwell’s estimate (15) <[OR]> a mob of local farmers occupied a commanding position on (10) the ancient (6,9) Iron Age (9,15) hillfort on (6,9) Hambledon hill (6,7) overlooking the Blackmore Vale (10) near Shrawton (9) <[OR]> Shroton (6,10) some six miles to the south, (15) near Blandford Forum in Dorset. (9) The former fort was turned into a sea of tents, with banners flying. (9) These Clubmen were led by a group of local clergymen, including Richard Newman and Rev. Thomas Bravel of Compton Abbas, (10) (whom Parliamentarian sources described as ‘malignant priests’, (6,10) and Cromwell called ‘two vile ministers’, (10)) Vile or not, the clergymen evidently possessed some military skill, for they ordered their men to dig trenches against the advancing Roundheads. (10)

Figure 24: Oliver Cromwell

The earthworks were still formidable with a double wall and ditch, and various entrenchments guarding the entrance. (15) The Clubmen were posted behind the great earth-works, the passage through which was so narrow ‘that three horses could scarce march abreast’. (15) If Cromwell was perturbed by the sight of several thousand Clubmen dug in on the slopes of Hambledon he showed little sign of it, for he had already captured some of their ringleaders while they were holding the meeting at nearby Shaftesbury and he knew how poorly equipped and ill-disciplined they were. (10) The courage of the Clubmen was stiffened by Bravel’s promise to pistol any one of them who ran away during the coming battle. (10) They would need all their courage, for Cromwell was now determined to put a stop to the nuisance of the Clubmen and the threat they posed to his army’s supply lines. (10) Unwilling to risk any more disruptions to his campaigning (9) Cromwell sent soldiers (9,10) <[OR]> marched from Shaftesbury to Shroton, thundering through Sutton Waldron with his cavalry (9) to demand their surrender. (9)

Before the Battle
On their arrival at the bottom of the hill, Cromwell’s troops met a man with a musket. (10,15) When they asked where he was going, he replied that he was going to join ‘the club army’. (15) When questioned as to what he was going to do there, the man replied that it had nothing to do with them. (15) The dragoons demanded that he lay down his musket, to which he responded by cocking and pointing the weapon at them. (15) Before he could fire they managed to wrestle the man to the ground and relieve him of his musket, hurting him in the process but not killing him. (15) However, one person, Mr Lee, had come from the Clubmen and he was sent back to assure the rest of the peacefulness of Cromwell’s intentions and to ask them to lay down their arms. (15) After this farcical beginning, Cromwell attempted to negotiate with the Clubmen drawn up on the slopes of Hambledon Hill. (10) He sent a lieutenant and 50 dragoons up the hill to ask someone to come out to negotiate (15) but his messengers (10,15) were shot at. (9,10) A second request was spurned: (10,15) Cromwell sent Lee again to let them know that, if they laid down their arms, no wrong would be done to them, but ‘they still (through the animation of their leaders, and especially two vile ministers) refused’. (15) Cromwell then ordered Captain-Lieutenant Gladman’s troop to approach them and threaten to charge, but to spare their lives if they laid down their arms. (15) However, when they got near, the Clubmen refused to surrender, and fired a volley of shots. (10,15) Two dragoons were killed (10,15) and at least four horses, and eight or nine troopers were wounded. (15) Faced with this intransigence, Cromwell gave up any attempt at negotiation and prepared to attack. (10)

The Battle
Inevitably, the clergymen and their ragged troops proved no match for Cromwell’s tactical skill and his battle-hardened professional cavalry. (10) The Clubmen had lined up expecting a frontal attack (10) but rumour has it that there was a traitor living locally who guided (15) a troop of fifty dragoons commanded by Major Desborough around a ledge of the hill (10,15) to one of the old entrances on the Hanford side. (15) From there, they got to the top of the hill and (15) were able to charge the surprised Clubmen from behind, (10,15) while Cromwell himself led the rest of his men against their front. (10) The dragoons were ordered to use the flat of their swords, to minimize casualties. (9) This order, and Cromwell’s own advance proved unnecessary (10) The Clubmen took one look (15) the mounted (7,8) dragoons galloping towards them (10) and fled. (7,10) The dragoons put them to flight in (7,10) a brief, almost bloodless encounter (7) <[OR]> a short dispute (15) <[OR]> a skirmish (7,9) <[OR]> a serious confrontation (10) <[OR]> a bloody battle (12) <[OR]> an hour’s fighting. (6) <[OR]> the largest pitched battle to be fought in Dorset (10) and perhaps the greatest strike against Clubmen at the hands of Parliamentarian forces. (9)

Figure 25: Hambledon Hill

About a dozen (8,12) <[OR]> 12 (10) <[OR]> 60 (6) <[OR]> around sixty (6,9) Clubmen were killed (6,8) and 300 (10) <[OR]> 400, (6) <[OR]> 500 (8) <[OR]> a large number (9) were captured. (10) Many (9,10) including Bravel and Newman and the rest of the clergymen (10) escaped by sliding down the steep sides of the hill: (9,10) they ‘slid and tumbled down that great steep hill to the hazard of their necks’, (10) to disappear among the hedgerows. (9) Among the Clubmen taken were four vicars and curates, who had been ‘at no divine service I can assure you’. (15) The ‘malignant priests, who were principal stirrers up of the people to these tumultuous assemblies’ included the Reverend Thomas Bravel, Rector of Compton Abbas, who had threatened to pistol any Clubmen who ran away, John Talbot, Vicar of Milton Abbas, and Lawford, Curate of Child Okeford, who was said to be ‘worse of all’. (15) Half (6) <[OR]> around 200 (15) <[OR]> very many (10) of the prisoners were wounded. (6,10) Cromwell lost three men (one an officer, Captain Pattison), and 12 wounded. (15) Cromwell’s troops took 600 muskets. (15) The dead were buried in a long grave to the south of the old Church tower. (15)

After Hambledon
During the Civil Wars such a rout was usually followed by bloody pursuit and slaughter, but Cromwell had no desire to preside over the killing of farmers and country folk. (10)

Figure 26: ‘Imprisoned in St Mary’s Shroton’

In his report to Fairfax of the action at Hambledon Hill, he described the Clubmen as being ‘poor silly creatures’, and how his dragoons ‘beat them [the Clubmen] from the work, and did some small execution upon them.’ (10) Sixteen Roundhead soldiers who had been captured by the Clubmen (10,15) at Sturminster Newton (15) before the battle and threatened with hanging were also found and liberated. (10) Twelve <[OR]> one (9) white (15) banners were displayed, (9,10) and captured (9) There is no surviving image. (9) <[OR]> It (10) <[OR]> they (9) bore the motto (10) <[OR]> distich (15) such mottos as (9): ‘If you offer to plunder or take our cattle, be assured we will bid you battle’. (9,10) and ‘Peace and Truth’, or sentences from scripture. (15) The captives, (6,9) including vicars and curates, (6) were held (6,9) overnight (8,10) in the nearby (8) St Mary’s (10,15) church (6,8) at Shroton. (6,10) Next morning Cromwell (10,15) took a list of names (15) and the prisoners (10,15) <[OR]> the leaders (10) were formally examined. (10,15) They freely confessed that Thomas Bravell had sent out the warrants; John Rogers of Langton Long, first cousin of Richard Rogers of Bryanston, was also involved. (15) Cromwell dismissed the leaders as ‘malignant priests’. (10) Cromwell then lectured the entire group (8,10) warning them not to stop any soldier who was going about his business before sending all but a few back to their farms and villages, claiming in his report that the prisoners promised ‘to be very dutiful for time to come, and will be hanged before they come out again’. (15) Parliament had instructed Fairfax to send such of the Clubmen leaders as he thought fit as prisoners to London (15) so as they first take the Covenant, (6,15) and engage themselves to live quietly for the future’. (10,15) According to Fairfax’s instructions (15) <[OR]> when it was realised that holding them may trouble than they were worth, considering the fact that many were the local farmers who would be feeding them, (9) ‘such others, of the meaner Sort, as he shall think fit; (15) were then released (8,9) and sent back to their farms and villages. (8,10) <[OR]> The leaders (15) <[OR]> those who did not give assurances (6) were retained for trial (15) and sent to London. (6,15) Some managed to escape later but 17 were imprisoned at Sherborne. (15) Thomas Bravel appears to have been one of the most influential leaders of the Dorset Clubmen. (15) He became Rector of Compton Abbas in 1645 and had a hand in putting together the ‘Desires and Resolutions’ and articles of covenant put to the Clubmen in May. (15) He was also one of those who presented the Petition to the King in July. (15) Avoiding capture at Shaftesbury, he was the leader of the Clubmen on Hambledon Hill. (15) Following that defeat, it appears that Thomas Bravel was one of those imprisoned in the Church, and was probably sent to Sherborne and then London, possibly remaining a prisoner until the end of the war. (15) In 1646, he was ‘sequestered’ (sacked) as Rector of Compton Abbas, probably for his association with the Clubmen. (15) The minutes of the Dorset Standing Committee of 14 October 1646 record that ‘Uppon information given unto this Committee against Mr Bravel for words spoken in abuse of the favour of this Committee towards him, it is ordered that the said Mr Bravel shall not officiate in any Cure within this Countie until further ordered’. (15) On 28 October, he was given 20 days to leave the parsonage with his wife and family, and he was replaced by Mr Ed. Wooton, a ‘godly and orthodox divyne clerk’. (15) However, it appears that the parishioners refused to pay their tithes and taxes to this particular gentleman, and Thomas Bravel was reinstated at Compton Abbas after only six months’ absence. (15) Thomas Bravel remained Rector until 1655, when he died at the early age of 39. (15) There were further Clubmen risings in the following months, (8,10) but Hambledon Hill marked the last time the Clubmen would pose a serious threat to either Royalist or Parliament troops. (15) It was reported that after Cromwell’s victory ‘a man might ride very quietly between Sherborne and Salisbury’ through the areas that had been the heartlands of the risings. (15) With the Clubmen threat significantly reduced, Fairfax was able to get on with the siege of Sherborne. (15) On 17th August, after the castle walls had been shattered by heavy bombardment and mining, Dyve surrendered. (15) The following day, Fairfax marched for Bristol. (15) After a siege lasting 21 days, the City was captured. (15) Other than Cornwall and Devon, the west was secure for Parliament, though Corfe Castle and Portland were not captured until 1646. (15)

South Wales
Meanwhile, King Charles was attempting to raise forces in south Wales after his defeat at Naseby. (8,15) When he arrived at Cardiff to review his new recruits, however, (8) he was alarmed to find 4,000 Clubmen had assembled (8,15) under the leadership of local gentry. (8) On 1st August, these Glamorganshire Clubmen declared themselves the ‘Peaceable Army’. (8) They demanded a reduction in taxes and that English Royalist officers in the region should be replaced by Welsh gentry. (8,15) The King was obliged to grant some of their demands and to abandon his hope for raising a new army in Wales. (15)

Hampshire, September 1645
During Cromwell’s advance on Basing House (8) in September 1645, (8,15) a detachment was sent to help Colonel Norton to suppress (8) an uprising of Hampshire Clubmen near Winchester, who were encouraged by local Royalist gentry. (8,15) It was easily brushed aside. (8,15) After firing upon the Parliamentarians, the Clubmen were attacked by cavalry and quickly routed. (8) Four or five were killed, many more wounded, and the ringleaders arrested. (8)

Worcestershire 3
Bredon Meeting

Despite this ominous sign of popular revolt, the exactions of the Royalist army continued unabated. (11) In addition, there was an absence of any firm Royalist leadership in the county.

Figure 27: Brendon Hill from across the Severn Valley

(11) On 11th (11) November in the Autumn of 1645, the ultimate defeat of the Royalists was becoming evermore obvious, and this encouraged the waverers. (8,11) 3,000 men from the Evesham area met on the heights of Bredon Hill to declare formally for Parliament (8,11) and seek armed support. (11) This was a more politically-calculating movement, with a different power base, and more overtly anti-Royalist. (11) This time they were led, not by commoners, but by gentry who had realised that they had been supporting a losing cause. (11) Sir Edward Dineley of Charlton, formerly a Royalist Commissioner and then a member of the Parliamentary Committee of Sequestration (to investigate and seize the estates of proven Royalist gentry), was elected leader. (11) Their movement was short-lived. (11)

Ambush of Prince Rupert

Figure 28 : Prince Maurice

Fired with new-found enthusiasm they tried to blockade Royalist garrisons and, in early (11) December 1645 (8,11) their rash attempt to attack Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice on their way to Oxford in was easily brushed aside. (8,11) They were dispersed, at least temporarily. (11) The Committee of Salop wrote on 14th December that the troops at Evesham ‘joined with the country who rise so freely that Worcester is already much straitened for provision’. (11) The tide was now firmly with the parliamentary forces and (11) during 1646 (8) the Clubmen formed an important new militia that supported the New Model Army (8,11) by blockading Royalist garrisons to deny them supplies and provisions (8) as it regained control in the county via the sieges of the small county garrisons (8,11) from January, culminating in the siege of Worcester itself in June. (11)

In Historical Perspective
The Clubmen are often regarded as something of a footnote in the history of the Civil War, but their threat was far from underestimated at the time: in the words of General Fairfax’s chaplain, Joshua Sprigg, if the Clubmen rising ‘had not been crushed in the egg, it had on an instant run all over the kingdom and might have been destructive to the Parliament’. (15) ‘When I think of the divisions within British society – Left and Right, Leave and Remain, for example – I can’t help but think of the Clubmen. (9) While their stand against the battling forces of the English Civil Wars has been considered an ultimately futile one, the Clubmen of England are still remembered as early instigators of rebellion by the ‘common man’, a loud refusal to be drawn into the power struggles of state. (9)’ There is at least a possibility that the Cerne Abbas Giant (180 feet tall, the largest human chalk figure in Britain) was made by Clubmen. (15)

Figure 29: The Cerne Abbas Giant, Made by Clubmen?

There is no evidence that it existed before the Civil War – a detailed land survey in 1617 does not refer to the giant. (15) There is a theory that it was carved during the Civil War by servants of the Lord of the Manor, Denzil Holles, and was perhaps intended as a parody of Oliver Cromwell. (15) Cromwell was sometimes mockingly referred to as ‘England’s Hercules’ by his enemies, and the giant has similarities to depictions of Hercules. (15) At the start of the Civil War, Holles fought loyally for Parliament but soon lost his appetite for war. (15) He withdrew from the military and turned down the offer of a senior command in the Parliamentarian army. (15) During the winter of 1642-3, he emerged as a leading member of the ‘Peace Party’ in Parliament, taking an active part in the negotiations that took place between Parliament and the King. (15) Holles’s support for a negotiated settlement led to violent clashes with Cromwell, whom he hated. (15)

Although long known to historians, the Clubmen have only recently attracted their close attention, as part of the new interest in the provincial history of the Civil War. (3) In the English Civil Wars, which pitted the supporters of the King (Royalists, or Cavaliers) against the Roundhead Parliamentarians, some might point to the rise of the 1644 Clubmen in the countryside as just such a lower class, agrarian revolutionary moment. (13) It has been asked whether or not they were ‘revolutionary’. (13) Like the French and Russian Revolutions, the earlier English Revolution saw protests against the government coalesce into armed rebellion, civil war, and then the overthrow of the old order, including the execution of the monarch and establishment of the new rule. (13) In these great Revolutions, historians have pointed to revolutionary moments, such as the peasant uprisings in France in the summer and fall of 1789. (13) To Marxist historians like Christopher Hill, these peasant uprisings act as a prelude, or stepping stone, to a larger social revolution. (13) One may observe the demands and actions of the Clubmen as a test case to see if definitions of revolution apply to such a group. (13) One may also compare them to the French peasant revolts of the mid-seventeenth century, such as the Nu Pieds, in order to question the general revolutionary content of agrarian movements in the early modern period. (13) The Clubmen fulfil some of the requirements specified by historian Perez Zagorin in his broad definition of what constitutes a revolution as any attempt by subordinate groups through the use of violence to bring about (1) a change of government or its policy, (2) a change of regime, or (3) a change of society, whether this attempt is justified by reference to past conditions or to an as yet unattained future ideal. (13) The Dorset ‘Desires and Resolutions’ reveals some basic desires of the participants, but are insufficient for fulfilling Zagorin’s revolutionary scenario. (13) When compared to the French Nu-Pieds, or to the more revolutionary demands made by their fellow countrymen, the Levellers, they do not live up to revolutionary billing. (13) They were ‘more riotous than revolutionary’. (13) They do not seem to have understood the larger context as to why England was embroiled in a colossal civil war, or comprehend the loftier ambitions of the leading parliamentarians and royalists battling for control of the kingdom. (13) Historian Charles Carlton perhaps best illustrates this attitude, pointing out that during the 1640s most people in the British Isles were more concerned with the mundane happenings within their own orbits than with the earth shattering events outside. (13) They were either ignorant of, or unconcerned with, the national implications of the English Civil War. (13) H. N. Brailsford says that the great majority of the English population were political illiterates who endured the civil war as neutrals, understanding little of the issues. (13) If politics attracted more of their attention than it had before, most folk were nonetheless far more concerned with buying and selling, making love, money and marriages, having and bringing up children, seeing friends and paying bills. (13) David Underdown said that their aim was ‘the preservation of a vanished, just order of society, a mythical merry England in which landlords and grain dealers do not cheat or oppress the poor, and in which both monarch and gentry uphold the traditional laws and regulatory structures of the old ‘moral economy’. (13) The conservative Clubmen expressed ‘popular’ values more than the democratic Levellers. (13) Contemporary writers also conveyed the populace’s penchant for indifference and apathy. (13) Thomas Hobbes, one of the most influential authors of the period, maintained that there were few common people who cared much for either side, adding that conscripted common soldiers, ‘had not much mind to fight, but were glad of any occasion to make haste home.’ (13) John Morrill emphasizes the apathy felt by most during the conflict, arguing ‘A majority had no deep-seated convictions behind their choice of side. Many in England simply chose to support the faction they felt gave them the best opportunity to preserve the status quo; whether it be royalists, parliamentarians, or local neutralists such as the Clubmen. (13) These historians agree that many ‘ordinary’ Englishmen were unconcerned with fomenting revolutionary ideas. (13) A parliamentarian newsletter journalist stated the contrary by dismissing the Clubmen as ‘neutrals and such as like weathercockes they will turn this way and that with every blast; and will, I conceive, be ready to close in with the prevailing party, without respect to truth or justice. (13) A contemporary tale of the period further emphasizes the futility in attempting to prove commoners had a vested interest in the outcome of the civil war. (13) Such a lack of interest, according to the story, was voiced by a yokel who was plowing Marston Moor the morning before the epoch battle. (13) Told to flee because the king and parliament needed his fields to fight on, the surprised rustic asked, ‘What! Has them two buggars fallen out?’ Certainly the message of this tale is that the common man was perhaps not only apolitical but uninformed as well. (13) Clubmen movements broke out in parts of the country that, as one of their leaders put it, had ‘more deeply tasted the misery of this unnatural and intestine war. (13) One would be hard-pressed to find a group of people more adversely affected by the consequences of the bloody civil war than the inhabitants of the counties of Dorset and Wiltshire counties. (13) These two counties were located in an area where parliamentarian roundheads and royalist cavaliers battled frequently. (13) Morrill asserts that the primary task of the Clubmen was to prevent their own shires from becoming major battlegrounds. (13) This assessment is clearly stated in The Desires and Resolutions of the Clubmen of the Counties of Dorset and Wiltshire. (13) In this document the Clubmen express their desire first and foremost to end the war because of the fact that for three years the people inhabiting those counties admitted, by free quarter and plunder of souldiers our purses have bin exhausted, corn eaten up, cattell plundered, persons frighted from our habitacons and by reason of the violence of the soldiers our lives are not safe, & have noe power nor authority to resist the same, nor releeved or secured upon any complaynts whereby we are disabled to pay our rents, just debts, or to mainteyne our wifes and famylyes from utter ruin and decay. (13) Not surprisingly, the document reveals a strong desire to end the plunder by both King and Parliament so as to ‘peaceably return to their wonted habitations and to the obedience of the established laws. (13) While it may seem revolutionary to some that the Clubmen leaders enumerated their desires in such a manner, it is clear that they wish only to preserve their local situation, regardless of political happenings elsewhere in England. (13) These demands express a communal desire to return to the status quo enjoyed prior to hostilities. (13) Upon examining these resolutions, successful implementation of the Clubmen into Zagorin’s revolutionary model becomes difficult at best. (13) It is clear that violence did occur between the Clubmen and outside forces. (13) In fact, as many as six hundred were killed in the war. (13) While the Clubmen certainly aspired to change the policy of war, the resolutions make no mention of advocating a monumental change in government policy or of ending the regime of Charles I. (13) They certainly were not calling for a major change in society and spoke much to restoring obedience to preCivil War laws. (13) Underdown confirms this sentiment when he suggests that Clubmen of all areas, royalist or parliamentarian, had much in common: a firm attachment to ancient rights and customs, a vague nostalgia for the good old days of Queen Elizabeth, and an unquestioning acceptance of social order. (13) Morrill agrees with these conclusions stating, ‘the Clubmen petitions show a yearning for settlement, but had nothing new to offer. (13)

Figure 30: Hugh Peters, Chaplain of the New Model Army, urged the destruction of Stonehenge as being one of ‘the monuments of heathenism’

If Clubmen were not a revolutionary situation, one must look elsewhere to properly classify them. (13) Zagorin’s definition of a riot seems a more appropriate fit for the Clubmen occurrence. (13) Zagorin argues that riots differ from a rebellion in the following ways. (13) First, they are mostly spontaneous protests in which planning and organization are minimal or nonexistent. (13) Second, they are usually brief, lasting a day or two at the most. (13) Third, their aims, if any, are often nonpolitical. (13) Lastly, as spontaneous outbursts of popular anger, the nature of their protests predominate any instrumental purpose. (13) The actions and resolutions of the Clubmen thus satisfy the requirements of this riotous scenario better than the aforementioned revolutionary one. (13) Evidence is abundant concerning the spontaneous reaction of the Clubmen towards the war. (13) Several historians have argued that the Clubmen were purely a local phenomenon with no widespread organization. (13) Hutton says ‘when they actually rose against troops they did so in small sects of villages, under different local leaders and with no common plan of action. (13) Underdown, focusing on the three-county area of Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire, contends, that the ‘Peace-keeping associations’ of Clubmen bent on protecting their homes and communities from destruction emerged ‘spontaneously’ in all three counties. (13) These examples support the fact that little planning accompanied the creation of these Clubmen groups. (13) Although Clubmen associations existed in ten counties during much of 1645, evidence suggests that their riotous flare-ups were short lived and unsuccessful. (13) Morrill insists they were never an effective military force. (13) They were easily defeated by Cromwell at Hambledon in what was essentially a riot that lasted less than a day. (13) He wrote to Fairfax on 4th August: “We killed not twelve of them, but cut very many and put them all to flight. (13) We have taken about three hundred; many of which are poor silly creatures, whom if you please to let send home, they promise to be very dutiful for time to come, and will be hanged before they come out again”. (13) The Clubmen also seem to fit the third ingredient of Zagorin’s definition of a riot. (13) Their targets of affection, or detestation, often depended on their unique local situations. (13) This is most evident in Underdown’s ‘chalk and cheese’ theory, which he applied to Wilthsire, Dorset, and Somerset counties. (13) The historian contends that the Clubmen most friendly to the royalist forces were from the ‘chalk’ – nucleated settlements of the down lands. (13) Those most friendly to the parliamentarians were from the ‘cheese’ – fen-edge villages and clothing parishes of the wood-pasture region. (13) Historian Simon Osborne breaks down the geographic patterns even more with his in-depth study of the proximity of Clubmen associations to various garrisons in the Midlands region. (13) He claims that pinpointing areas of Clubmen strength and allegiance in the region becomes more complex when one takes into account the number of opposing garrisons juxtaposed in the hotly contested territory. (13) These arguments support the spontaneity of the Clubmen responses, suggesting they were not entirely neutral. (13) Rather, they selected their friends and foes based upon specific situations prevalent in each county. (13) Each predicament and subsequent Clubmen response could therefore change at any given moment. (13) Geography, opportunism, and self-interest then, likely led many Clubmen in England to lend their swords and talents to what looked like the stronger side at the time. (13) The had no national aims. (13) They best fit Zagorin’s definition of a riot. (13) It would also be fair to say that the associations fall short of completing the historian’s revolutionary components. (13)

Clubmen and ‘Nu-pieds’
In fact, the Clubmen were most like the Nu-Pied peasant riots occurring in Normandy, France in 1639. (13) The two movements mirror one another in many ways. (13) Historian Ronald Mousnier describes these uprisings against new salt taxes imposed by the King, and the quartering of royal soldiers who came to collect the gabelle, as primarily regional, a contention not unlike the arguments made of the Clubmen by Underdown and Osborne. (13) In fact, Underdown’s chalk and cheese rationalization applies to Normandy as well. (13) The Bocage, or cheese region, exhibited much of the topographical features that Underdown argued fomented rebellious tendencies. (13) Moreover, the Normandy inhabitants, much like their English brethren, vehemently attacked plundering soldiers that committed excesses, abuses, and malpractices against them. (13) Like the Clubmen, the Nu-Pieds attempted to form local militia associations to defend intrusions from outside their localities. (13) The Nu-Pieds formed The Army of Suffering in July of 1639, a force resembling the Clubmen’s Peaceable Army assembled in the summer of 1645. (13) Mobilization of these militia was conducted in much the same manner as bells were sounded to hastily summon them in defense of their respective village. (13) In the end however, royal forces easily defeated the Nu-Pieds, similar to Cromwell’s victory over the Clubmen. (13) Mousnier maintains that the major concern of the Nu-Pieds, like their English cohorts, was the fear of external forces. (13) In the French case this concerned an overpowering central government infringing upon their local customs and traditions. (13) In order to thwart these incursions, this riotous group not only raised a local army, but also composed poetry and compiled mottos to better inspire their ranks. (13) A popular Clubmen sonnet bluntly stated: If you offer to plunder or take our cattle, Be assured we will bid you battle. (13) A Nu-Pied verse declared: Help a brave nu-pieds, Show that your towns are full Of men of war zealous To fight under his banner. (13) You see that everything is ready For a fight to the death for freedom. (13) Like Rouen, Valognes, and Chartres, Since they treat you with severity, If you do not defend your charters, Normans you are no men of courage. (13) Despite these literary efforts, the Nu-Pieds encountered the same fate as the Clubmen and were easily routed by the King’s army by the end of 1639. (13) These riotous groups did not represent a revolutionary situation. (13)

And the Levellers
The Clubmen demands pale in comparison to those personified by their more revolutionary-minded countrymen, the Levellers. (13) The Agreement of the People, written by the Levellers in 1647, speaks to a radical change in national policy, one with more political representation by the masses. (13) Leveller spokesman Col. Thomas Rainsborough and conservative parliamentarian Henry Ireton took part in one of the war’s most spirited and revolutionary debates in October 1647. (13) The two argued the extent to which popular sovereignty should be implemented in post-war England. (13) The two also thrashed out such issues as the ‘overthrow of the fundamental constitution’ and talked of ‘avoiding’ monarchy and kings. (13) These sentiments seem more in step with Zagorin’s revolutionary scenario and seem to dwarf the requests of the Clubmen. (13) So if the conservatism of the Clubmen was to prove more characteristic of the later 1640s than the iconoclasm of the Levellers, as Morrill contends, how can one say they were revolutionary? (13)

Roundhead AND Cavalier?
Some historians see the Clubmen as being for Parliament or with Royalist sympathies and hedging their bets where their interests lay. (12) This may have been forced on them as the war drew on, and in some cases where previous alliances were held. (12) They have been seen as crypto royalists, the fact was that it was largely against royalist troops that they tried to take action, and their activities were almost wholly confined to areas under royalist military control or lying within the spheres of operation of royalist garrisons. (7) Historian Ronald Hutton theorizes that the reason for the different reactions in Dorset and Somerset is due to their differing experiences within the war. (6) Within the last few years the Clubman risings have been (3) discussed at length by Hutton, Stoyle, Jonathan Scott (5) D. Underdown (3,5) in his study of Somerset (3) and J.S. Morrill (3,5) in his general work upon the Great Rebellion and have been made the subject of a thesis by G.J. Lynch which is now considered the standard work upon them. (3) Mr Lynch and Dr Morrill differ from Professor Underdown in stressing the positive and clearsighted aspects of the Clubman movements, but all agree in emphasising their nature as one huge provincial reaction against the war. (3) The object of this study is to enquire whether this general perspective is not a distorting one. (3) The diversity of these programmes has long been acknowledged, and attention drawn to the risk of labelling individual Clubmen associations as collections of either Royalist or Parliamentarian partisans. (5) Whilst the study of the Clubmen has developed from interpretations based upon romanticised rural county neutralism and popular apathy, a disproportionate focus upon allegiance neglects the activist identities of the associations as the guarantors of the integrity of the parish community alongside the implications of their far-reaching administrative demands. (5) A community as in a County and neighbouring Counties was seen as an alliance (community) above King, Parliament and Peers as these normal structures of governance collapsed. (12) Jonathan Scott’s depiction of ‘moments’ of radical socio-political activity in seventeenth century England can be used to re-interpret the parochial activism of the Clubmen. (5)

Appendix I The Shropshire Declaration, January 1645
This extract from ‘Mercurius Britannicus’ Monday, Jan. 6, to Friday, 10, 1644-5 shows ‘an early rejection of the position now put upon the generality of civilians, in the County of Shropshire:’ ‘Out of Shropshire we hear that there are above a thousand in armes about Clun and Bishop’s Castle, standing out against both sides: neither for the King nor for the Parliament, but stand only upon their own guard for the preservation of their lives and fortunes. (12) The occasion of it was the friendly usage which they received from his Majesties officers in these parts and particularly from one Colonel Van Gore a Dutchman: they are absolutely resolved (notwithstanding all the entreaties used by Commissioners of Array) not to lay down their armes unless his Majesty grant them their own conditions which are these: (1) to have restitution of all wrongs done by Van Gore. (12) (2) to have him and all his soldiers expelled from their County. (12) (3) that the King’s two garrisons at Hopesay House, and Lay [Lea] House- shall be removed and demolished. (12) (4) that they may have commanders of their own. (12) By 1645 the Clubmen were at their most prominent. (12) Their objections to what was described by them as ‘a war most horrid and unjust’, a war which their world was ‘altogether swallowed up in the arbitrary power of the sword’. (12)

Appendix II Text of the Woodbury Declaration, March 1645
To Henry Bromley Esq., High Sheriff of the county: We having long groaned under many illegal taxations and unjust pressures and that contrary to orders presented to his Majesty by advice of the Lords and Commons assembled at Oxford And ratified and published by his Majesty’s gracious proclamation. (11) And nevertheless finding no redress of our grievances, but that we, our wives and children, have been exposed to utter ruin by the outrages and violence of the soldier; threatening to fire our houses; endeavouring to ravish our wives and daughters, and menacing our persons. (11) We are now enforced to associate ourselves in a mutual league for each other’s defence, and do declare to the world that our meetings have been, are, and shall be to no other intention or purpose than as followeth. (11) To maintain the true Reformed Protestant Religion contained in the Doctrine of the Church of England against all Popery and Popish superstitions and all other Heresies and schisms whatsoever. (11) To defend the King’s Majesty’s person, honour, and estate against all those that shall oppose the same. (11) To preserve and uphold the ancient and just privileges of Parliament and known laws of this kingdom against all arbitrary Government which shall be endeavoured to be introduced and put upon us under what pretence soever. (11) To retain the property of the subject by protecting and safeguarding our persons and estates by the mutual aid and assistance of each other against all murders, rapines, plunder, robberies, or violences which shall be offered by the soldier or any oppressor whatsoever, as is allowed by those orders lately signed by his Highness Prince Maurice as appeareth by the 5th Article of the said orders. (11) To quicken the execution of those wholesome orders abovesaid ratified by his Majesty’s proclamations as also those other orders which at several times since have been agreed upon and signed by his Highness Prince Rupert, Prince Maurice, and also consented unto by the Honourable the Governor and Commissioners for the safeguarding of this county and the great Inquest at several Sessions of the peace held for the body of the same. (11) Our resolution is not to submit to the execution of any commission intrusted upon any pretence whatsoever in the hands of any Papist, or Papists, Recusant or Recusants or any other joined in commission with any Papist, or Papist Recusant for that by the known laws of this kingdom no Papist, nor Papist-recusants ought to be intrusted in any office of state, justice, or judicature: neither to keep any arms in their houses that may be or prove offensive to any of His Majesty’s Loyal subjects. (11) Our desire is that this our Declaration and resolution may be presented to the High Sheriff of this County to whom alone as his Majesty’s Vicegerent we conceive we are bound to render an account of these our doings. (11) And further our petition is that he would be pleased to endeavour that all Popish Recusants within this County may be pressed to take the oaths of Allegiance and supremacy as by law is provided. (11) And upon refusal they may be disarmed as by law they ought. (11) That it is our request that the Grand Inquest now intrusted for the body of this County may be moved seriously to weigh and consider how they do consent to the illegancy of such Commissions as shall be committed to the hands of Papist, or Popish Recusants lest they betray our trust and so expose both themselves and us to utter ruin. (11)

Appendix III Historiographical Notes
Book 12 at the end degenerates into incoherence: “The case of influence regards their demands that were published in print had effect in the national politics. In reply against they were debated in Parliament, by those opposed to their actions. Warrant against their actions seen as unlawful in their assemblies. The sheer weight of both sides in objection to this third sort in effect saw their demise. Today we see plunder in its many guises in those opposed to in the Clubmen movement of the 17th Century.”

Book 8 has copied book 15.

Book 10 has also largely copied 15, and I have disallowed word-for-word agreements.


  1. English Freemasonry dates from 1717
  2. But in a separate context, Clubmen was also the name given to the lightly-armed, irregular troops that augmented Fairfax’s Parliamentarian army during its campaign against the Yorkshire Royalists in 1643. (8)
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