Middlewich In The Civil War

A tale of two battles of great consequence

This category contains research from various authors and edited by Kerry Fletcher. The research was in support of Middlewich Town Council's Civil War event. It is spread across Four articles looking at 'What Started The English Civil War', 'The First Battle of Middlewich', 'The Second Battle of Middlewich' and 'Who's Who'.

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What started the English Civil War?
Middlewich in the Civil War

A tale of two battles of great consequence

A beginners guide to… What started the English Civil War?

Charles I believed he should govern the people by Royal rights without the advice and consent of Parliament.

Parliament insisted in a necessary role in Government particularly in taxes and grievances of the people towards their King.

Charles I forced loans and taxes to raise revenue (especially for war purposes) and imprisoned those who refused to pay.

Parliament wanted to raise these issues with the King.

Charles I dissolved Parliament for 11 years and governed the country himself.

In November 1640 Parliament was re-instated

The following year there was a grand remonstrance (petition) against Charles I activities passed in the commons.

In January 1642 Charles I entered the commons, fully armed, to arrest 5 members of the House, who had already fled.

By March 1642 the Militia Ordinance bill passed establishing Parliament control over the County Militias. Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham thereby starting the English Civil War.

Charles I was defeated in June 1646

Although under arrest forces still fought for Charles I, battles continued in areas of Wales, Scotland and Ireland until 1651.

Charles I faced charges of tyranny and treason, he challenged the courts authority and its right to try him. The trial started on 9th January 1649 and the death sentence was proclaimed 27th January.

The First Battle Of Middlewich

The Loss of over Five hundred prisoners and the flight of Sir Thomas Aston – The making of Sir William Brereton


A Great Victory by John, 1st Lord Byron

A Presentation of historical snippets from initial research into the Civil War at Middlewich, an arrangement of our resources and places of further information.

On The First Battle of Middlewich

Aston was told unmistakably that he must prevent Brereton from spreading his power:  he broke up one parliamentary rendezvous at Tarporley and when Brereton rode off with his horsemen to recruit in Northwich he followed to Middlewich.  There he had three cannon, his own horse and over a thousand of the trained bands of the Broxton and Wirral hundreds, and hoped to bring in more from the tenants of Lord Brereton, whose main estate lay a little to the south-east.  But he was in an open town and Brereton, sensing an opportunity, sent to Nantwich for foot to co-operate in a two-pronged dawn attack.  At the appointed hour on 13 March they were not there; nevertheless Brereton probed with his horsemen all-round the western approaches to the town.  He was easily held but when, a few hours later, the Nantwich foot came marching up Booth’s Lane from the south, the effort to change front to meet a fresh attack was too much for Aston’s inexperienced forces’. 

R N Dore, the Civil Wars in Cheshire pg. 26-27

The Second Battle Of Middlewich

The evitable second battle of Middlewich…, Account of the Second Battle of Middlewich 1643 by Allan Earl

 Kinderton Hall was the opening scene of the next battle, a Royalist household in a Parliamentarian controlled area.

Kinderton Hall at Middlewich had been a refuge and rallying point for a number of Mid-Cheshire families with Royalist sympathies. Peter Venables, Baron of Kinderton (1607 – 1669) married for his first wife Mary, daughter of Sir Richard Wilbraham of Woodhey. For his second wife he married Frances younger sister of Sir Robert Cholmondeley of Cholmondeley (Bart)

Peter and Mary had one son Thomas (the heir apparent) who died before his father, but he had married Grace Daughter of Sir John Fenwick of Northumberland. Peter’s marriage to Francis (his second wife) produced 6 children.

Early on the morning of 26th Dec the first stage of the battle took place, Peter Venables, 2 of his sons and 1 of his daughters plus approx. 26 of his servants were in the Hall; earlier on in the year his friend William Leversage (of Betchton and Wheelock) and his wife Elizabeth, his brother Randle and his sister Frances, sought refuge at Kinderton, they had arrived with their cattle, horses and a number of servants. Also at the hall at this time was Elias Ashmole, he organised any army resistance that would be necessary should the parliamentary forces approach the moated hall. After giving instructions as to how the building was to be defended he left the hall to see the County Sheriff at Chester. Soon after his departure a large party of parliamentary soldiers from Middlewich came to the hall demanding food and other provisions, at this juncture William Leversage took over Ashmoles’s command and directed how and when his men should fire on the enemy should the parliamentary soldiers fire first. Some sources say that 400 men of the Parliament forces came to the hall that morning, and demanded of Raphe Lingard, who was the cook and servant of the Baron of Kinderton, more than he could provide in the form of victuals. They threatened to kill him if he could not provide the food they wanted. The atmosphere was beginning to intensify and in fear of his life Raphe and the butler Israell Yatts crept away from the hall as soon as they could, first to Kinderton Lodge and then to ask for help from Lord Byron’s army at Sandbach Heath.

Who's Who

To unpick the records of who fought whom, their status, who switched sides and who was informing on who becomes difficult. The best book to help with this we’ve found is R N Dore, The Civil Wars in Cheshire.

‘Those who took commissions served in the committees alongside those who did not.  Indeed it is often difficult to tell from the records whether a man was a soldier or a civilian.  At the beginning of the war Hyde of Norbury, Ralph Arderne, Thomas Marbury, all apparently raised companies of foot or troops of horse.  But later in the war they are never referred to by military titles and appear on the committees as civilians.  When or why they gave their commissions up we do not know, but presumably it was not for anything so striking as bad relations with the commander-in-chief, as it seems to have been in the case of young George Booth, whose resignation was noted but appears to have been withdrawn later.  This interchangeability does not mean that the usual jealousy and mistrust between soldiers and civilians in war time was altogether avoided.  In Cheshire it seems chiefly to have been concentrated against Brereton, a squire of no more than 3,000 acres who had never been granted one of those major-generalships reserved originally for the parliamentary nobility, but who had become by 1645 the effective commander of one of the largest local armies in the country.  The Self-Denying Ordinance provided a splendid opportunity for getting rid of him and, using the prestige of old Sir George Booth of Dunham Massey, prominent committee men like Philip Mainwaring of Peover and Stanley of Alderley gathered in large numbers of backwoodsmen, who never otherwise appeared, to present a petition to replace him by a professional soldier.  This meant that in all but purely military operations the committee would be restored to full control, but this kind of watered-down command and the removal of an officer so vigorous as Brereton was of course the opposite of what the promoters of the Self-Denying Ordinance intended and, despite the protests of the committee, Brereton was eventually restored to his command’.

                ‘This dispute linked with others, regional, personal and ideological.  Although old Sir George seems to have tried to keep up good relations with Brereton (his former son-in-law), his grandson and heir, young George, and his second son, John, were almost open in their opposition.  Probably they felt that Brereton owed his early rise entirely to the support of their family, and resented his attempt to dominate them all the more because he had now married a wealthy Staffordshire heiress and was using her relatives to gain the same kind of control in yet another county.  In 1645 practically the whole family, including its womenfolk, suspected him of suppressing the writs for a new county election to replace the royalist Peter Venables, because young George Booth would have been the sole nominee and would have broken his monopoly of parliamentary contacts’.

R N Dore, the Civil Wars in Cheshire pg. 60-61



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