> > > Summary of Events

First Civil War 1642-1646

Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642
Battle of Turnham Green, 13 November 1642
Capture of Bristol, 26 July 1643
Scotland joins Parliament against Charles II, January 1644
Battle of Marston Moor, 2 July 1644
Creation of the New Model Army, January-March 1645
Battle of Naseby, 14 June 1645
Charles I surrenders to Scottish forces, 5 May 1646

Interlude, 1646-1648

The Scottish give Charles to Parliament for 400,000 pounds, January 1647
Charles escapes to the Isle of Wight, November 1647
Parliament renounces its allegience to Charles, January 1648

Second Civil War 1648-1651

The Scots, who are now loyal to Charles, invade England, July 1648
Battle of Preston, Oliver Cromwell defeats the Scots, 17-19 August 1648
Trial and execution of Charles I, 30 January 1649

The Commonwealth, 1649-1660

Cromwell made Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, February 1649
Irish Rebellion, 1649-1650
Naval Reform, 1649-1652
First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652-1654
Creation of Army Military Districts, 1655
Richard Cromwell succeeds his father as Lord Protector, 3 September 1658
Restoration of the Monarchy, May 1660

The Reign of Charles II, 1660-1685

Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-1667
Third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672-1674
Death of Charles II, 6 February 1685

The Uneasy Truce, 1685-1687

James II, a Catholic and absolutist, ascends the throne, 6 February 1685
Monmouth's Rebellion, 6 July 1685
James attempts to restore Catholicism in England
Third Civil War: Glorious Revolution and the Primacy of Parliament

Invasion of England by William III of the Netherlands, November 1688
James is defeated with little bloodshed and flees to France, 11 December 1688
William and his wife Mary (daughter of James II) declared joint rulers of England, establishing the primacy of Parliament over the monarchy.
Parliament passes the Mutiny Act, which established Parliamentary control over the military, April 1689


by R. Ainsworth

Huncoat shared in the outstanding events of the seventeenth century, particularly the great Civil War, which devastated the district for so long. Local families of that period played their part for King or Parliament. To the events leading up to the Civil War it is sufficient to state that King Charles IV. raised his standard at Nottingham, the signal for hostilities all over the country. This occurred on the 22nd of August, 1642. At that time there was no regular army in England. Bodies of men, known as trained bands or militia, assembled at least once a year in their respective districts, went into training as soldiers, and after a short time went back to their work. If war was imminent they were called out and formed into regiments to proceed to the scene of operations.

Many leading men in East Lancashire desired to hold a meeting with a view to keeping neutral during the war, but the proceedings were stopped and both sides set about preparing for the coming struggle, in which Lancashire played a very active part, waged mainly among her own people. The Hundreds of West Derby, Leyland, Amounderness and Lonsdale, were strongly Royalist, while the Hundreds of Salford and Blackburn were equally as strong for Parliament. But no line could be strictly drawn, as there were adherents of both sides in all parts.

Parliament found its strength among the Puritans and the King among Anglicans and Romanists. Among the members of the Long Parliament were two Richard Shuttleworths, father and son, of Gawthorpe, the former M.P. for Preston, the latter for Clitheroe. Having done their utmost to secure the liberty of their country by voice in Parliament, they returned to Lancashire to arm their tenantry and to prepare by personal service for the threatening war. Colonel Shuttleworth, the father had four sons, all of whom became distinguished officers in the Parliamentary Army. Richard, the Member for Clitheroe was among the first to equip his men. He died young, exhausted with the fatigue and anxiety of Parliamentary and military service. Nicholas Shuttleworth became a colonel and commander of cavalry in General Lambert's army. Ughtred also became a colonel of infantry in the same army of Lambert's command. William, the youngest son, was killed in defending Lancaster against the forces of the Earl of Derby. The father was High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1618 and 1638. The family originally branched from Shuttleworth Hall in Hapton to Gawthorpe.

The Asshetons had two representatives in the Long Parliament. Ralph, of Middleton, was one of two members for the Shire and represented the Presbyterian interest in Parliament. He was regarded as the head of the older branch of the Assheton family, and at the outbreak of the Civil War commanded the Parliamentary forces in Lancashire and was leader of the cause in the county. Ralph Assheton, of Whalley Abbey, was Member of Parliament for Clitheroe along with Richard Shuttleworth, junr. The Braddylls, of Portfield, were closely associated with the Asshetons. Colonel Braddyll's eldest son, John, killed during a fight at Thornton Hall in Craven, was interred in Whalley Church, July 27th, 1643.

The Starkie family of Huntroyde, near Padiham, were allied with the Shuttleworths of Gawthorpe as leaders of the Parliamentary cause. Colonel John Starkie and Colonel Shuttleworth were colleagues in arms and recognised leaders of the Parliamentary forces in East Lancashire. Captain Nicholas Starkie, son of Colonel Starkie, was at the first capture of Preston. He was killed along with forty of his men by an explosion of gunpowder at Hoghton Tower after its surrender.

Nicholas and John Cunliffe, father and son, of the Hollins, were also active for the Parliament, the latter having served with and a particular friend of Major General Lambert. Robert Cunliffe of Sparth was an M.P. in Cromwell's Parliament of 1653. The Rishtons of Antley, the Rileys, Ormerods, and others of the lesser gentry and yeomen families also took part in the struggle.

The King had also a considerable following among the local gentry. Prominent among the Royalists in Huncoat was Thomas Birtwistle, of Huncoat Hall. He was born in 1599 and married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Clayton, of Church Hall, which still exists in Dill Hall Lane, and which must have often been passed by Thomas Birtwistle on his way to Church or Blackburn, from Huncoat. A Roman Catholic, he came under the law as a recusant, and in 1630 compounded by an annual fine of £10 for two-thirds of his estate liable to sequestration for recusancy. His mother, Dorothy, at the same time compounded for £4. The Birtwistles in spite of such drastic treatment remained loyal to their faith and their King. It was only the year before the commencement of the Civil War that Huncoat Hall afforded safe refuge to the mother's kinsman, John Worthington, a hunted priest, and no doubt to other members of the family who were priests and often in hiding. The family of Thomas Birtwistle were John, the heir, James, Joseph (married Ann Rowson), Margaret, and Theodosia.

The Roman Catholics were supporters of the King to a man. In 1642 the recusants in Lancashire petitioned the King for permission to take up arms for their own safety, which was readily given, so that when the war commenced they were prepared.

A notable Royalist family were the Nowells of Read Hall, whose picturesque old mansion was pulled down to build the present residence early in the nineteenth century. Roger Nowell's name appears in the Royal Commission of Array published in June, 1642, just prior to the war. He was a party to an effort made four months later to effect a pacific understanding between the rival factions in East and Central Lancashire, but events had gone too far. They were of a Protestant family and Captain Nowell (later Colonel) along with his brother, set out with the Royalist Lancashire Regiments to join the King's Army and fought at the battle of Edge Hill (October 23rd, 1642). He was with Lord Strange (later Earl of Derby) at the siege of Manchester. Colonel Nowell was one of the defenders of Lathom House, when that stronghold was besieged by the forces of the Parliament. The first siege is famous in Lancashire history on account of its defence by Charlotte, Countess of Derby. Accrington Museum, Oak Hill Park, has included in its historic and local collection a striking picture, a reproduction of an incident during the defence, showing the heroic Countess assisting to lash the Royal Standard to the mast on the top of the Eagle Tower so that it could not be hauled down. It was relieved by Prince Rupert when on his way through Lancashire to relieve York.

The second siege of Lathom House was as stubbornly fought as the first, and continued longer. The command was under Colonel Rawsthorne of New Hall, Edenfield. It is interesting to note that this famous soldier is interred within Haslingden Parish Church, but one is disappointed to find no memorial of him in the Church-not even his gravestone is marked, although the position of the family vault is known. Surely Haslingden will endeavour to rectify this, as befitting one of the most famous men to find a resting place in their historic church. Lathom House was not surrendered until the garrison was at the last extremity. In the terms of surrender (concluded December 2nd, 1645), of which Colonel Nowell was signatory, one of the conditions was that the latter and Colonel Edward Veare "shall march away to the garrison of Aberconway (Conway Castle) with two horses and trappings for the same, together with five pounds each in money."

His brother, Henry Nowell, was Deputy Governor of the Isle of Man during the Civil War when the Earl of Derby was King of Man.

Huncoat witnessed the passing of armed forces through the village and the men were called upon to take part in the great struggles. Neighbours and kinsfolk were arrayed against one another in the most terrible of all wars-that between the country's own people. And they had the horrors of it at their own door, for Huncoat was in the zone of war during the battle of Whinney Hill, and its inhabitants suffered, especially those on the losing side. Prominent among local families who were Royalists was Charles Towneley, of Towneley Hall and Hapton Tower. He assisted at the defence of Preston when it was captured by the Roundheads, as the Parliamentary troops came to be named, on account of their bobbed hair in contrast to the Royalist Cavaliers who had long flowing hair. Charles Towneley managed to escape, although he was captured at Preston. He was in hiding on Whalley Nab and later at Hapton, where he joined Prince Rupert's army. He was slain at the battle of Marston Moor.

Nicholas Banastre, of Altham Hall, and Thomas Whitaker, of Simonstone Hall, both of whom refused the honour of knighthood in 1631, were Royalists, also Richard Grimshaw, of Clayton Hall. These families were associated with Huncoat as owners of land and property. Three Ralph Rishtons, respective heads of the families at PonthaIgh in Church, Stanhill and White Ash in Oswaldtwistle were Royalists and Romanists, as well as Christopher Hindle, of Aspen, in Church. Joshua Nuttall, of Dyneley Hall, Church, was also a Royalist and a Protestant, as were the Nowells of Read. The Kenyons, of Milnshaw and Park Head, were on the Parliament side, as also were Christopher Heys, of Shuttleworth Hall in Hapton. Richard Walmeley, of, DunkenhaIgh, was too young to take part, and was smuggled abroad. Christopher Hindle, of Cowhill, vicar of Ribchester, was a staunch Royalist, while Nicholas Rishton, of Antley, was for the Parliament.

As the district was decisively for the Parliament, all that the local Royalists could do to actively assist in the War was to get to the nearest Royalist centre at Preston, leaving their homes and estates to the mercy of the opposing party. The first blood in the Civil War was shed at Manchester on July 4th, 1642, on the occasion of a banquet to Lord Strange, when a man was killed during a riot in the streets. Preparations were made on both sides, and Lord Strange mustered a considerable force at Warring-ton for the King. Manchester was regarded as a Parliament centre, and news reached the town at ten o'clock on the night of Saturday, September 24th, that the force was on the march to attack the town. The force arrived on the following day, and was estimated at over 3,000 horse and foot. Word had been sent in the meantime from Manchester to Colonel Richard Shuttleworth to prepare his force for eventualities, and he collected his men at Padiham, advanced by way of Altham and Huncoat, and, no doubt, halted there to refresh and recruit, preparatory to their march over the ancient highway, which was in as bad a state of repair as when John Wesley travelled over it a century later. Colonel Shuttleworth's force arrived at Haslingden, and remained stationed there until the position of Manchester was ascertained. Colonel Holland was in command there. His daughter, Anne, married the Rev. Edward Kenyon, second son of Roger Kenyon, of Park Head, near Whalley.

Huncoat soon afterwards witnessed more stirring scenes when it was the centre of military operations and when the horrors of war were brought to its doors in the fight on Henfield Moor, known locally as the battle of Whinney Hill. It was an important, stirring event, and marked an epoch in local history, as it meant the invasion of North-East Lancashire by a hostile force, and memorable as being the first occasion on which the district felt the effects of battle during the Civil War. Fear and apprehension as to what would happen if the invading force should be victorious is evidenced by the fact that the sturdy churls of Pendle and Rossendale resolved to fight it out rather than have their beef and fat bacon eaten by the invaders. Sir Gilbert Hoghton had set his beacon alight on the top of Hoghton Tower, the signal to the country around for the men to join up on the Royalist side, whereon great numbers mustered at Preston. The beacon would likewise be observed from the Hameldon hills and Colonels Shuttleworth and Starkie were promptly informed. They sent out messengers in all directions, and collected the men from Clitheroe, Burnley, Colne, and the two Forests of Rossendale and Pendle, as well as those in the immediate neighbourhood. They assembled a strange army, with all sorts of weapons, on Whinney Hill (Henfield or Enfield Moor). Thomas Jesland, the writer of a special edition of "War News," then described as a War Tract, gives an account of the battle stating that the number of Colonel Shuttleworth's force was 8,000 men.

This estimate has been doubted, but as this was the first occasion for a military muster the full strength of the local Parlia-mentarians would be available. Whinney Hill was chosen as the gathering ground of the force by reason of its central position, 'and on account of its strategic importance, being an eminence from which movements of troops could be observed. It commanded the main highway that crossed East Lancashire, which then came nearer the crest of the hill than the present road between Blackburn and Burnley. Thus troops passing along this road could be intercepted by an opposing force posted on the higher ground of the moor, then more open and unenclosed, and afforded every facility for a mobile force to move down on the invading enemy, or take up a strong defensive position. It commanded the roads from Accrington and Whalley, which came almost to the crest of the hill from Dyke Nook on one side, and Sparth on the other, as well as the present Whinney Hill road from Huncoat and Church Lane. The latter road would, no doubt, be used by the Royalists as well as the Clayton road from Rishton.

The Altham and Huncoat roads would be good means of communication for the Parliamentarians, with Huncoat village as a base of operations, and the old Hard Farm (which dates back to 1611) as headquarters for Colonel Shuttleworth. Huncoat, then, would be thronged with soldiery from over the Rossendale hills and surrounding district. Details of the battle are scanty. Sir Gilbert Hoghton's Royalist force came into conflict with Colonel Shuttleworth's army on Henfield Moor, when, after a fierce fight, the latter prevailed and put the Royalists to flight, took away many of their arms, and pursued Sir Gilbert so hotly that he quit his horse, leaped into a field, and by the coming on of night escaped through the bushes and by-ways to Preston. There was jubilation that night in Huncoat upon being saved from despoilation. The account by Thomas Jesland is dated December 2nd, 1642, from which this information is gathered.

"Lancashire's Valley of Achor" is the title of another Civil War Tract, which makes reference to Whinney Hill as the place of muster for the Parliament troops. On this occasion Sir Gilbert Hoghton is stated to have surprised Blackburn and occupied it with 300 armed men, besides clubmen, armed with whatever they could get hold of, and sent a party to Whalley. Colonels Shuttleworth and Starkie assembled their forces on Whinney Hill, and immediately marched or rather ran to Blackburn, shouting and singing. They met with stout resistance, but eventually dislodged the Royalists.

There is a tradition respecting the battle on Whinney Hill which is here repeated for what it is worth. When Colonel Shuttleworth was riding from Huncoat to the muster along the still existing highway he was accosted by a well-known youth of Huncoat, somewhat demented, named Mat, who cried out "A penny for luck." The Colonel reined up his horse, put his hand in his pocket and drew out a coin. Mat went to the side of the Colonel's horse to receive it when a couple of shots came whistling past his ear in quick succession, taking away a portion of the Colonel's fore-finger and the coin, and the other striking his spur and breaking it. Mat saw a little cloud of smoke rising from behind a hedge and drew the Colonel's attention to it. The latter galloped to the spot, but no one was to be seen. After the Colonel and his force from Huncoat had passed on, Mat saw his own father creep out of a drain with a gun. The father, to silence his son, contrived his death. After Whinney Hill battle had been won the Colonel made enquiries about Mat, and was informed that he had died suddenly: The Colonel went to the house of the poor lad and his suspicions were aroused. Further enquiries made it clear that the boy's father had fired the shots, having been bribed to do so by a personal enemy of the Colonel's, and that he had caused his son's death. The father paid the penalty in a summary manner, being shot.

Another tradition is that Huncoat received its name on this occasion, as the soldiers to prepare themselves for battle were ordered to "uncoat," that is take off their coats. There is no truth in this tradition, of course, as the name Huncoat existed from Saxon times.

The Lords and Commons proceeding jointly, appointed on April 1st, 1643, a committee for sequestrating notorious delinquents' estates in Lancashire. For Blackburn Hundred the following were appointed upon the committee: Sir Ralph Assheton, Bart., of Whalley Abbey; Ralph Assheton, of Downham; Richard Shuttleworth, of Gawthorpe; John Starkie, of Huntroyd; Nicholas Cunliffe, of Hollins; Nicholas Cunliffe, of Sparth. To execute upon the estates of their neighbours and former friends the confiscatory edicts of a Government controlled by the victorious party in a Civil War must have been a most odious duty for those who were commissioned to do it, no matter how keen their partisanship. Little was done to give effect to the orders of sequestration during the two years following the appointment of the committee, because the issue of the war in Lancashire remained doubtful, its fortunes fluctuating month by month until in 1645 the Royalist interest was completely, defeated or suppressed. Then the confiscations commenced in earnest, and were generally enforced upon heads of families of estates who had been in any way conspicuous or zealous on the King's side. The unfortunate Royalists, for the most part, in this district, were allowed to compound for their estates by paying a definite proportional amount of their value as a fine to the Government. These fines provided the sinews of war, paying the soldiers and prevented opposition.

Thomas Birtwistle, being both a Royalist and recusant, had his estate sequestered, though he protested that he had never borne arms against the Parliament and the rents from his estates were paid to the Government commissioners. His lands were charged with an ancient copyhold rent of seventeen shillings and threepence per year, and the proportional part of the £4,833 for Huncoat Hall estate was £27 12s, This copyhold rent was claimed from the commissioners who refused to pay without a special order from Parliament. A petition was presented to the committee for compounding of the estates in London on January 7th, 1652, begging them to make an order for payment. The committee referred the matter back for report to the Lancashire commissioners and in due course Robert Cunliffe, of Sparth, Clayton-le-Moors, and George Pigott, examined witnesses at Blackburn in reference to the customary rents from the lands at Huncoat.

The examination was sworn to on February 27th, 1652. Another petition was presented in June, 1653, and Richard Sherwyn, auditor, gave certificates of the annual value of the copyholds in question. On August 20th, 1653, a clear statement of the case was submitted to the court, upon which presumably judgment was given and an order made for the money to be paid.

Richard Birtwistle passed through his troubles during the Commonwealth period, and lived to see the King restored in the person of Charles II, but had to suffer penalties for recusancy, although he regained his estates. On August 27th, 1649, Parliament appointed another committee for the County of Lancashire, to meet monthly at Preston to assess the county by the rule of assessing, called the Soldiers' Ley, to reduce the military forces in Lancashire.

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