From Sheffield Independent
The Siege of Sheffield Castle, 1644 (by R.E. Leader)
Printed in two parts on 9th and 16th February 1901
Some time age, while conducting his researches, our townsman, Mr. Charles Harding Firth, of Oxford, discovered a pamphlet containing an account of the siege of Sheffield Castle by the Parliamentary forces in 1644. This gives fuller particulars of that event than any hitherto obtainable. While confirming the accuracy of the more condensed narrative quoted by Hunter (Hallamshire, Gatty’s edition p.141) from Vicar’s Parliamentary Chronicle, it adds many graphic touches to that general description. And, apart from the military details, it is of especial interest, first, as throwing light on the hitherto somewhat obscure topography of the Castle, and, second, as indicating very vividly the attitude of the townsfolk to the Royalist fortress which harried and oppressed them. Through the courtesy of Mr. Firth I am able to lay before modern Sheffield this account of the last (perhaps the only) warlike operations the town has seen.
A few words on the two points just named may, by way of introduction, be permitted. As to the Castle, we knew little beyond the fact that it stood on the right angle formed by the confluence of the Sheaf with the Don, protected on the north by the latter, and on the east by he former river, and guarded by a broad dry trench on the west (Waingate) and the south (Castlefolds). At the last was the entrance gate, protected by a drawbridge. We can now add that there was a small fort, or tower, at the north-east angle, where Don and Sheaf meet, protecting the two faces; and before the main gate on the north, a large Fort (hereafter called a half-moon work), itself surrounded by a deep trench, and separated from the Castle by palisades and a breastwork within the trench. Notwithstanding this, at the outbreak of the civil wars, the Royalists had hesitated to garrison the Castle; had indeed left it to be occupied by the local Parliamentarian sympathisers. But these being driven out, it had been so strengthened by additional palisades and ramparts, and by damming up the Sheaf to deepen the water on the east, that when Major-General Crawford, after the rout of the King’s forces at Marston Moor, was sent to reduce it, he liked its looks so little that he drew off to take counsel with his superior, the Earl of Manchester.
We see, then, Crawford again advancing from the north, not crossing the Don, but keeping to the east of that river, and approaching by the primeval way of the Manor and the Park. After firing a few shots from the Park hill, he sent a party of horse and foot into the town, over the Sheaf bridge but the ordnance, taken by a wider circuit, probably by Heeley bridge, entered at the upper (south) end of the town amid demonstrations of joy and helpfulness on the part of the populace. No wonder the soldiers had a hearty reception, for, apart from the sympathies of the people being with the Parliamentarians, they had suffered cruelly from the oppression of the Royalist garrison. The letters of Sir William Savile, Governor of the Castle, to his deputy, Major Beaumont, are full of directions to extort money from rich and poor, by threats, or seizure, by the dungeon or by torture. “Bee sure,” he said, “you want not any money, neither for yourself nor your friends, so long as any Roundhead hath either fingers or toes left, within tenn myles of the Castle.” So the inhabitants gleefully drew the cannon of their deliverers to the Market place, and cheerfully helped to build a battery opposite the Castle gate, on the site of the present New Market Hall. Another was erected on the Waingate side. Colliers were impressed to endeavour to mine under the Castle, and the neighbouring iron foundries were requisitioned for ammunition.
The besieged held themselves so bravely, “sniping” at reconnoitring parties and at gunners, and sending occasional cannon shots into the houses and the church yard, that the people began to fear the siege might be abandoned, and themselves be left to the cruel retaliations of the garrison. But the Earl of Manchester, giving his word of honour that they should not be deserted, sent larger siege pieces, and with these the Castle walls were so effectually shattered that the defenders, seeing their assailants preparing to storm the breach, despatched messengers of peace, and capitulated on honourable terms.
Lady Savile was in the besieged castle with her children, and a Royal partisan (quoted by Hunter, p.142) charges the Parliamentarians with showing cruel discourtesy. She was hourly expecting her confinement, and this writer alleges that “she was brought to bed the night after the castle was surrendered.” But the articles of capitulation were signed on the 10th August (they are dated the 11th in Hunter), and on the 11th “Lady Savile, with her retinue, marched forth of the castle with her coach to Woodhouse” – which she could hardly have done if she had just given birth to a child. The “barbarity” charged against the besiegers must therefore be either a fiction, or an exaggeration. The fact is, all the garrison met with chivalrous treatment. Even Kellam Homer, plumber and armourer, who had early in the war secured the castle (in the absence of its Lord) for the King, and who must have been very unpopular with his neighbours in the town, was guarded by a special clause in the treaty.
With this preface the narrative, with all its peculiarities of punctuation, may be left to speak for itself:-
A true and exact
RELATION OF THE
Severall passages of that party of the right Honourable the Earle of Manchesters Army, sent from Doncaster to reduce to the obedience of the King and Parliament, the astle of Sheffield, under the command of the ever honoured Major-generall Craford. (1644)
History, saith Citero, is the witness of the times, the life of memory, and light of verity: I have therefore undertaken to testifie that whereof I was an eye-witnesse, and to give light unto the truth of all the following passages, which otherwise might be obscured or prejudices, by the reception of the first, and none of the truest Newes.
August 1st, Thursday. The Major-generall drew out of Doncaster and the adjacent Villages, to the east end of the said Town, his own Regiment, Colonell Pickerings and Colonell Mountacute their Regiments, in all not above 1000 marching men : Lieutenant-Colonell Rich drew out his Colonell, Colonell Sidney his regiment of horse. And thus with a great deal of patience we marche dthrough a very rocky, and almost inaccessible countrey, in and about Conisburough, and old ruinous and strong Castle, where our Ordnance were ever like to be overturned. Our foot came at night to Rotheram, our Ordnance and Carriages were left behinde with a sufficient guard to follow us, who came to Rotheram about mid-night. The same day the Major-Generall omitted no opportunity, went the nearest way from Doncaster to Sheffield, being accompanied with Colonell Bright, who at first valued not the Castle; but when the Major-Generall had viewed it, he found it to be a very considerable strength, both for naturall scituation, being in a triangle with two rivers, the water deep in the West and East sides of the Castle, flackered on all sides, a strong Fort before the gate pallisade’d, a Trench 12 foot deepe and 18 brad about the Fort, and other parts of the Castle, and a Breast-works pallisade’d within the Trench, betwixt it and the Castle. The Major-Generall returned at night to Rotheram, and sent the Earle of Manchester a draught of the Workes, and his opinion of the place desiring his Lordships further orders. The said Colonell returned the next morning, August 2, with a Letter from the Earle of Manchester, wherein the Major-generall was left to his own discretion, with this proviso, not to indanger men : which letter the Major-generall did communicate to the rest of the Officers, who were very willing to goe on in tht enterprise, and to be directed to him : And thereupon they marched on towards Sheffield, and Colonell Bright went to Yorke, to bring two battering-peeces from thence (as he did undertake) against Sunday night, we to Sheffield Mannor, being welcomed and received with great acclamations, and the many prayers of that well-affected people. In the edge of the Parke we planted the Culverin (having before sent a party of horse and foot into the Towne) and there did discharge three great shot with great dexterity into the Castle, one whereof shot through the Governour’s chamber : and thereafter we marched through the upper part of the Parke, and drew a great circumference with our Ordnance, to eschew the danger of the Castle, and entred at the upper end of the Towne, where the Towns-men with great joy drew down the Ordnance to the market-place : and thereafter the Major-generall summoned them by a Trumpeter in the Earle of Manchesters name, to surrender the place into his hands for King and Parliament : but they discharged three shot at the Trumpeter, who could not get audience. All this night all degrees and sexes with all cheerfulness cut fads (faggots), and brought them to make the battery crosse the street within forty yeards of the Castle, where the carefull and vigilant Major-generall was himselfe working, incouraging others with his presence, cheerfull words, and example the battery was well nigh perfected this night.
August 3. Captaine Sands captaine of the Pioneers, and the master Gunner, attended the Major-generall to view the little Towers by the River, that flauncked two quarters of the Castle, and the mount before the Gate, to the end that they should finde out some convenient place to raise a battery to beat it downe, which might be very advantagious for us, to the gaining of the castle. Whereupon the Captaine and Gunner were both shot, the one through the theigh, and the other through the shoulder, whereof they both after dyed, they were shot in a place which was out of all view of the Castle, having both houses and hay betwixt them and it, this night we helped and raised the battery made the Platforme, and the Major-generall, with Major Hamilton, went to view the Castle more narrowly.
August 4. After two Sermons this day, all the people went to erect a new battery, and at night the Major General accompanied with major Forbus and major Hamilton, went to view a sluice that was stopt to keep the water deep about the east side of the Castle, which he thought to draine the mote to facilitate his businesse, this night was spent by him with great toile, and no small danger, the Ordnance were planted without all hurt.
August 5. The Ordnance began to batter, which made the besieged more milde than they were before, and their Governour received our summons, and returned us answer that the Castle was intrusted unto him by his Majestie, which trust he valued more than his life : at night the Major General by threates, promises and money, got together some Colliers to myne the Castle which they found not feasible, it being builded on a rock. This day the Major generall wrote to the Earle of Manchester, that Ammunition and Ball was likely to be wanting, and the Major generall went to the Iron Mills, and set men a work to make moulds for to cast Balls for our pieces, which was forthwith done; this night the Major generall attempted to break up the Sluce through the Dams, to let out the water of that corner against the Orchard, on the east side of the Castle, which could not take effect. And this night we perfected the battery and platforme that flauncked the draw-bridge of the Castle, with our intention to beare it downe with one of our Sakars [small pieces of artillery], whereby they might not have passage to relieve the fort from the Castle.
We left Major-General Crawford investing Sheffield Castle, but unprovided with sufficient force, either of men or artillery, to justify a determined assault. The place was not strong enough to hold out when reinforcements sent by the Earl of Manchester arrived, and the anxiety of the townspeople lest the siege should be raised and they left to the vengeance of the garrison was quickly relieved. The narrative goes on:
August 7. This day we received some powder from the Earle of Manchester, some Sakar shot from the Iron works, and newes of Coll. Bright that he was on his march with 500 foot, 300 horse to convoy an Iron Demicannon and the Queenes Pocket Pistoll to us. Wherupon the Major generall sent to hasten their march, and this day the towne of Sheffield sent a petition to the Earle of Manchester, desiring his Honour to continue his Forces with them, until the Lord should be pleased to deliver it into our hands, otherwise of all men would be the most miserable; for if they aboad after our departure, their consciences would be over-burthened, their estates plundred. And themselves become subject to all slavery and misery, or otherwise they would be necessitated to follow the Army, hereupon his Lordship was pleased of his owne goodnesse, to take into consideration their present condition, and the ensuing dangers of so good a people, and did grant a positive to reduce the Castle, and not depart from it until it was surrendrd. And this night the Major-generall raised a new battery against the west side of the Castle, and then placed the Culvering which made a small breach the next day.
August 8. Our Sakars beat downe the Battlements, and a part of the Towne that flauncked that quarter of the Castle, and dismounted a Drake planted thereon. This day the enemy shot some Granadoes into the Towne and Church-yearde, which did no execution; the same day two Gunners were shot through the Port-holes, in the fingers by the enemy, the Major general sent Major Alford to conduct the ordnance with four Troopes of Horse from Doncaster to us, hearing that the 500 foot were diminished to one, and that the horse were not above two hundred in all He likewise sent to the adjoining Constables, to provide fresh draughts to further the Ordnance speedy march.
August 9. This day at six o’clock in the evening, the Ordnance came to us, and the Major-generall both day and night with indefatigable paines, did see the battery raised higher, the Port holes mended, the ground levelled, the platforms made, and the Ordnance planted.
August 10. This day the Culverin, Demicannon, and Pocket-pistoll plaid at the breach, the Sakars at the battlements very soundly, which made a good breach, and thereafter summoned them a second time to yeeld the place for King and Parliament : in answere whereto they desired a parley; which was granted, and the Commissioners authorised by the Major-generall were Colonel Pickering, Lieutenant-Colonell Drames, and Major Hamilton : and for them were Cap. Heinsworth, Mr.Samuell Savill, and Mr.Robson : which parley continued till six of the clock at night without effect, but that Cap.Heinsworth with his associates desired that they might acquaint the Governour with the debates controverted ; which was granted and that they should returne an answer within a quarter of an houre, or otherwise stand to their hazzard. And they returning no answere within the time prefixed we discharged six shot more, which brought them to desire a continuation of the Treaty; which was continued till night, and thereafter agreed on those Articles inclosed, and they sent out hostages to us for performance of the Articles, vis. Sir John Key and Captaine Heinsworth.
Articles of agreement between the Commanders authorised by Major Generall Craford and Major Thomas Beaumont Governour of Sheffield Castle for surrendering the said Castle to the right honourable the Earle of Manchester upon conditions following.
1. That the Castle of Sheffield with all their fire Armes, Ordnance, and Ammunition, and all other furniture of Warre, with all other provisions theirin (excepting what is allowed in the following Articles, be delivered up to Major Generall Craford to morrow in the afternoon by three of the clocks being the eleaventh of this instant August without any dimnuation or embezzlement.
2. That the Governour and all Field Officers, Captaines, Lieutenants and Ensigns shall March out of the Castle upon the delivery thereof, with their Drumes and Colours and each his owne horse, Sadle, Sword, and Pistolls to Pontefract Castle or such other place as they shall desire, with a sufficient Convoy or passé for their security, and the Common Souldiers with the Inferiour Officers, to march out with their swords and Pikes, each to his owne home or where else they please.
3. That all such Officers and Souldiers as march out upon this agreement shall have liberty to carry with them, their Wives, Children, and servants, with their owne goods property belonging to them, and have all convenient accommodation for carieing of the same.
4. That the Lady Savile with her Children and familie with her, and their owne proper goods, shall make passe with Coaches, Horses and Waggons to Fromehill, or else where a sufficient guard befitting the quality of her person, without injurie to any of their persons, or plundering of their goods, or otherwise she or they or any of them to goe or stay, at their owne pleasure, until she or they be in a condition to remove themselves.
5. That the Gentlemen in the Castle, being no Souldiers shall March out with each his own horse, Sadle, Sword, and Pistolls, and shall have liberty to remove their Goods, and to live at their own houses or else where without molestation, they conforming themselves to all Ordinances of Parliament, and that they shall have protections from the Earle of Manchester or Lord Fairfax for the same, and all Officers and Souldiers who desire to lay downe Armes shall enjoy the same protection.
6. That the Governour, Officers, Souldiers, Gentlemen and all others, who are by this agreement to carry their goods with them, shall have sixe weekes time for removing of them and in the meane time they are to be left in the Castle and they secured from imbezeling and this Article is to be understood of all such goods as are at present either with in the Castle, or under the absolute Command thereof.
7. That Kelme Homer now dwelling in the Castle shall have liberty to remove his goods into the Towne or else where without molestation.
8. That all Officers and Souldiers Gentlemen, and other persons shall according to the Articles above mentioned march out of the Castle with out any injurie or molestation by plundering stripping or otherwise.
9. That hostages (such as Major Generall Craford shall approve) be delivered by the Governour, upon signing of these Articles for the delivering up of the Castle, which shall be returned safely upon the performance thereof, unto such places as they shall desire.
Signed by us the Commissioners authorised by Major Generall Craford at Sheffield this 19th day of August 1644.
I.Pickering Marke Gryme William Hamilton
Signed by us the Commissioners authorised by Major Thomas Beaumont Governour of Sheffield Castle at Sheffield this 10th day of August 1644.
Gabriell Heinsworth Samuell Savile Thomas Robson
I do hereby ingage my selfe to the faithfull performance of the Articles above mentioned agreed upon by the Commssioners authorised by me,
I do hereby ingage my selfe to the faithfull performance of the Articles above mentioned agreed upon by the Commssioners authorised by me,
August 11. This day, after solemn thanks performed, the Lady Savile with her retinue marched forth of the Castle with her Coach to Woodhouse, whether she was safely conveyed by a Lieutenant of our horse. The Governour being 200 strong marched out of the Castle and those few (not being in all 30) that had no desire to lay downe their Armes, were to be convoyed to Pontefract by Captaine Gothericke, one of the Lord Fairfax his Captains of horse who expected them all day at the Bridge under the Castle, but they came forth so drunk, that they were not apprehensive of danger, nor capable of any thing but evill and raising speeches, whereof they were very lavish, which cost some straglers their cloaths, who went not with the Convoy. The Governour, Captaine Heinsworth, and many others received Protections, to live in the country, they submitting themselves to all the ordinances of Parliament. We got in this Castle abundance of provision, which was sold for the use of the Army, to the Towne of Sheffield, for 200 li. We found many hundreds of Granado’s, and many hundreds of round shot from the Cannon to the Minion, ten barrels of powder, eight Iron peeces, five hundred Armes, and some other provisions, and necessaries for the Castle two Mortor-pieces.
Here ends the quaint account of the only time when, so far as we know, Sheffield, which has so largely provided the munitions of warfare for others, has heard the clash of arms and the roar of artillery at her own doors. The fortress remained in possession of the forces of the Parliament during the remainder of its existence. In 1646 the House of Commons ordered the place to be made untenable, and a few months afterwards directed its demolition. This was carried out in August 1648, and the material was sold as set forth in the schedule of break-up prices printed by Mr. Hunter. In 1649 the Earl of Arundel, having made his peace with the Commonwealth, gave instructions for such parts of the Castle as remained standing to be repaired and made habitable. But the work of destruction had gone too far. The ruins, used as a sort of quarry, were gradually carted away for the use of builders, and the site in course of time was given up to very different purposes, including ignoble slaughter-houses. For many years there was a bowling green in the old Castle yard, and a century ago the Castle hill remained as an open space, where the ardent patriots of the period incurred the wrath of the authorities by holding public meetings in denunciation of the Government’s doings.