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It would appear that most if not all of the action
involving Pembrokeshire in the Civil Wars was concentrated in the south of the
No record of personal bravery can be attributed to
those who commanded or led for the King within the county - with the sole
exception of that of John Gwyn, governor of Tenby, who paid for this dubious
distinction with his life. He was, in any case, a Carmarthenshire man.
It is no less obvious that when the forces of the
Parliament were confronted by a more professional soldiery under Colonel Gerard
they were marked by a similar lack of determination, a deficiency minimised in
their case by the greater experience and commitment of Rowland Laugharne and a
few of his officers, and by the possession of defensible towns in Pembroke and
Tenby, on which they could fall back.
The Parliamentary cause was supported in Pembrokeshire
principally by a group of men motivated mainly by what may be called
'anti-Popery and the experience of Ireland'. . Irish immigrants were already
concentrated in that part of the county which was most vulnerable, near the
chief ports, and doubts had plainly been raised in some minds about their true
John Wogan, in his old age, was one of two members of
Parliament for Pembrokeshire firmly associated with the Parliamentary cause. At
no time did he sign any kind of declaration in favour of the King (a fact
sufficient to distinguish him from almost all his fellow-gentry); his mother was
Sybil, daughter of Sir Hugh Owen of Orielton. He was educated, like Sir James
Perrot, at Jesus College, Oxford (as, incidentally, was Nicholas Adams); his
wife was Jane Colclough of Tintern. His sons, Rowland and Thomas, served as
colonel and captain, respectively, in the army of the Parliament, the latter
earning a very special and in some quarters hated name as one of the regicides
In the vicinity of, and within the town of Pembroke,
prominent families which included
Parliamentry supporters were: Meyrick’s, Adam’s, Powel’s, Cheere’s,
Shakerlyne’s, Lynche’s, Marychurch of Manorbier and Cuny of Welston. The
Meyrick’s fought for the Parliamentary side but not in Pembrokeshire.
1635, the King demanded ship money from the County of Pembroke. It was raised
and the High Sheriff personally conveyed the specie to London, but was
unfortunately drowned with his followers while crossing Ensham Ferry about the
1st of February 1636 and
part of the money lost. The money had to be raised again.
Presbyterians of Scotland became so aggressive that it
was necessary to send an armed force to the north. This consisted of 6000 foot
and a like number of horse. It was raised early in 1639, the Earl of Arundel
receiving the command, the Earl of Essex being nominated Lieutenant-General. The
latter according to Clarendon was "The most popular man in the kingdom, and
the darling of the swordsmen." The army for service in Scotland was raised
by general levy, towards which the County of Pembroke contributed 150 men. Two
demonstrations were made against the Scots but not a single shot fired or a man
injured on either side. On June 18th peace was signed and the armies disbanded.
Charles was terribly pressed for ready money. Indeed so
great were his difficulties that after a lapse of more than eleven years he
summoned a Parliament to meet him on April 13, 1640. In this assembly John Wogan
of Wiston represented the county. Sir John Stepney of Prendergast was elected
for the Pembroke Boroughs, and Sir Hugh Owen of Orielton for Haverfordwest. This
Parliament for once and all declared that the levying of ship money was illegal.
12 May the Earl of Strafford was executed and on 23
October following, the Irish of Ulster rose in revolt, claiming an intent to
rescue the King from his Parliament and confirming in the minds of all Puritans
the suspicions they had had of Strafford's activities in Ireland and the
involvement of the King in his plans. The Commons, appealed to by the King for
money to strengthen Ormond's army in Ireland against the rebels, resolved to
raise 8,000 men but also to select such officers for service in Ireland as they
could trust. Sir John Meyrick of The Fleet, Monkton, and member for Ashton, was
one of the first three chosen
The Earl of Essex informed the House of Lords that he
had been commanded by the King to attend at Hampton Court in his office of Lord
Chamberlain and Groom of the Stole. It was resolved by the House not to dispense
with his presence, and he was bidden to inform His Majesty of their decision.
The King again repeated his command and again the Lords declined to let the Earl
go. A third time the King bade his Chamberlain attend and in return received a
somewhat insolent resolution from both houses, "That the Earls of Essex and
Holland did not disobey the King by attending to their Parliamentary
duties." The King then as was but natural, deprived the Earl of all office
and command. This royal order marks the rupture between King Charles I. and the
colonists of South Pembrokeshire. So long as the Earl served the King they were
prepared to do the same, and put up with a great deal of aggravation from the
high churchmen, but now that the Earl whom they knew to be a most moderate man
had broken with the King the outlook was hopeless.
Sir Hugh Owen had laid Poyer's reports about possible
French aid for the Irish rebels before the Commons, who directed that Poyer, in
his capacity as mayor of Pembroke, should 'stay' ships from Ross, Wexford,
Kilkenny and other ports and examine both merchants and goods thoroughly.
John Poyer informed Sir Hugh Owen (for transmission to
the House of Commons) that since his last letter of 18 January 'there have been
hundreds of poor English landed in Milford stript by the rebels, who do increase
daily. If aid be sent to the rebels it is very likely some of them may be driven
or willingly will come into the river of Milford, where 500 or 1000 are armed
men, as I conceive, may possess themselves of the whole country, and fortify
Pembroke town with the castle and other strong places in the said county which
will not so lightly be regained'.
He also asked Sir Hugh Owen to make plain to the
Commons the sad disarray of the trained bands in Pembrokeshire, not two hundred
of whom could be armed adequately to repel invasion, he went on: “We have not
in this brave river of Milford one piece of ordnance mounted, the trained bands
are not exercised, arms provided or power granted for punishing of persons
refractory in this service”.
Poyer, himself a merchant trading to Ireland, was
profoundly nervous about all ships coming in from that country. There were
refugees from Ireland for whose relief the member for Pembroke, Sir Hugh Owen,
was in February 1642 authorised to spend £100. 3 8. And there were travellers who might not
be genuine refugees, about whom John Poyer was especially concerned. Delegates
from Lords and Commons together discussed the defences of Milford Haven, long
decayed; dilatorily enough, they concluded that the only defence possible at
short notice lay in an adequate naval force. The vulnerability of Milford and
the southern Pembrokeshire ports induced Sir Hugh Owen to be more active in the
House of Commons than he had ever been before.
Owen was by January 1642 authorised to formulate instructions to the
mayor of Pembroke (none other than that same John Poyer) about the detention of
Irish ships, their goods and the merchants aboard them as they lay in harbour.
These instructions were part of Parliament's measures to counter what was
announced as a Popish plot, expected to culminate in an invasion from Ireland.
Magistrates were ordered to set watches, secure magazines and hold fast all
Poyer, whose continued pressure had been instrumental
in obtaining precise instructions from the Commons, co-operated with John David,
mayor of Haverfordwest, in February 1642 in seizing a number of Catholics, some
of them unexplainedly itinerant officers from Ormond's army, and on 31 March was
thanked by the House for his services.
Both Houses drew up a Militia Ordinance, nominating
Lords lieutenant to command forces in the shires. A few months later the King
answered this with his Commissions of Array, attempting to secure the same
The Commons had formed a Committee of Safety and
resolved to raise an army of 10,000 men from London and its vicinity.
After a long debate, the two Houses of Parliament
“Did choose the Earl of Essex to be Captain-General of such forces as are or
shall be raised for the maintenance and preservation of the Protestant religion,
the King's person, the laws of the land the peace of the kingdom , the liberty
and property of the subject, the rights and privileges of Parliament, and this
house doth now declare that they will maintain and adhere to him the said Earl
of Essex with their lives and estates in the same cause”.
Lord Essex selected his tried old friend Sir John
Meyrick to be President of the Council of War and Adjutant-General, or as it was
then called Serjeant-Major General. Meyrick was M.P. for Newcastle-under-Lyne,
nephew of old Sir Gilly Meyrick and son of Francis
Meyrick of Fleet, in the parish of Monkton, Pembroke, and uncle of Colonel
Rowland Laugharne of St. Bride's. Sir John was already colonel of a regiment and
among those serving in it as captains are to be found the names of his father
Sir Francis Meyrick and Thomas Laugharne of St. Bride's. Also serving in it were
young Gilly Meyrick and Thomas and Miles Button
(Rowland Laugharne's brothers-in-law).
The King had raised his standard at Nottingham and a
state of war existed.
The King was at Shrewsbury and the men of North Wales
had been summoned to his banner; in South Wales nothing had happened except the
apparently bloodless surrender of Cardiff Castle to the Royalist commander, the
marquis of Hertford, who had crossed the Bristol Channel from Somerset. Within
the next few weeks, however, Hertford rode west to Carmarthen.
At Carmarthen, Hertford summoned the gentry of
Pembrokeshire to meet him. Some, like Roger Lort, who was commissioned to raise
a regiment for the King, obeyed with alacrity; others, like his brother Sampson,
and John Eliot, followed. Sir Hugh Owen, John Wogan and Sir Richard Philipps of
Picton, on the other hand, are known to have refused.
Support for the King was sufficient, nevertheless,
especially with the greater numbers from Carmarthenshire, to form a Royal
Association which, as winter came on, made surreptitious moves against the
One of these was Captain Crowe's cattle raid on the
lands of Lamphey Court, the home of that Major John Gunter who was known to be
serving with the Parliamentary army and whose house was the property of the Earl
of Essex. Here was maintained a garrison separate from, and apparently not
subject to, the local Parliamentary command.
John Poyer, Mayor of Pembroke, put the town in a state
of defence for Parliament. (Records of 1595 show that the town walls and castle
were in substantial repair though the latter was unroofed and dismantled; but as
no repairs had been made since that date Mayor Poyer must have expended a
considerable sum of money). Pembroke, which he rendered impregnable to aught but
famine. Probably most of this money came [from his personal resources. Cenquest. Ed].
We do not know anything of John Poyer's early days, but
Clarendon states: “Had from a low trade raised himself in the war to the
reputation of a very diligent and stout officer, and was trusted by the
Parliament with the government of the town and castle of Pembroke”.
According to Carlyle he was given to brandy, and there
is reason to suppose he was not particularly straightforward in money matters,
He had acted as bailiff for Tenby in 1639, and a vessel belonged to him; so
probably he was a merchant. The mayor of Pembroke was ably seconded by Rowland,
son of John Laugharne of St. Bride's, who had served under the Earl of Essex as
a volunteer in the Netherlands in 1614 and Rice Powell. Powell is spoken of as a
veteran "that came from Ireland to endeavour the relief, and not like many
others the destruction, of his bleeding country." He was a soldier of
fortune, and was probably that Sergeant Major Powell who served for the King
under the Earl of Northumberland in Colonel Lundsford's regiment in 1640.
Colonel Powell proved a great acquisition to the Pembrokeshire Roundheads.
The King's party fearing lest Tenby should follow the
example set by the sister town of Pembroke, directed Richard Vaughan Earl of
Carbery (the Royalist Commander-in-Chief in South Wales) to occupy the place
forthwith. The fortifications of Tenby were probably in a better state of repair
than those of Pembroke; at all events they were restored in 1588. The people, if
we are to judge from subsequent events, were at heart Parliamentarians; however
they offered no opposition to the Earl, who was a popular man and well-known in
Pembrokeshire as a nephew of old Sir Gilly Meyrick.
In August there were two Royalist men-of-war in Milford
Haven: the Fellowship of Bristol, 400 tons, 24 guns, with four captains on board
- Captain Barnaby Burly, Captain Brooks, Captain Will Hazle and Captain Richard
Nelson; and the Hart frigate, Captain Nesson. The captains of the Fellowship had
called together the gentlemen of the county and assured them that His Majesty
had taken Bristol and that the war was over.
They were attacked by the Roundhead Captain William
Smith in the Swallow, one of the Parliamentarian ships which was blockading the
Irish coast. Captain Smith took the Fellowship without any loss on either side,
and also captured her consort the Hart. In the frigate two men were killed, the
first blood shed in Little England. Admiral (Captain) Richard Swanley in the
Leopard, with the Prosperous, the Providence, the Crescent, and a merchantman
known as the Leopard then came into the Haven. Captain Swanley determined to
bombard Tenby. They opened fire on the castle but with little effect.
“Eight ships presently rode before the town and made
at least one hundred shots against the inhabitants, but one of the Milford
cannon shot one of the best ships through and through, and so set the rest
apacking - Whereby the good people of Tenby received no prejudice. The design
was to have besieged Tenby by land with forces from Pembroke town, but the
beacons being fired, the good honest old way in times of rebellion many in
Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire
arose heartily to join with the noble Earl, whereby as the letter says, Tenby
was settled with thunder and lightning in despite of all the Pembrokeshire
This ill-fated ship may have been lying off the Sker
Rock; as a large gun was dredged up
at this place and is now in the Tenby Museum.
Lord Carbery, Sir John Stepney, Mr Roger Lort of
Stackpole, and Archdeacon Rudd of St Florence, all prominant Royalists then
erected a fort near Pill Priory, strengthened the defences at Carew and
Manorbier and Mr Lort put his “Strong” house at Stackpole into a state of
Lord Carbery went to Haverfordwest were he was welcomed
by the gentry and the trained bands, the mayor and aldermen pledged never to
receive a hostile garrison in the town. They also gave a large sum of money for
the King. Thus the whole of Pembrokeshire except for Pembroke supported the
In January Roche castle was fortified by the Royalists.
Ships were brought round from Bristol with ordnance and stores to fortify the
Haven, a work that was undertaken by one Captain Richard Steele of Oxford (a
great talker, who pretended to be an engineer).
The Bristol fleet captured the little ship which
“Captain" Poyer had fitted out at his own expense with eight guns, in
order that she might run to the Downs and beg aid from the Parliamentary fleet.
(From a pamphlet printed in London 25th July 1644).
“The Earl of Carbery having voted that after the
harbour was fortified he would plunder the town of Pembroke and the houses of
the gentlemen who had adhered to that party, and that their persons should be
put to death by cruel tortures. The Mayor of Pembroke they said should be put in
a barrel of nails and brought to Prick’s pill and from the top of a hill
should be rolled down into the sea. This report so terrified the gentlemen that
they fled from their houses and hid
themselves in obscure places in disguise, and sent their wives and children to
Tenby where his Lordship the Earl of Carbery then lay, humbly to supplicate his
Lordship to be pleased to grant them protection that their houses might not be
plundered, nor their persons abused by the rude soldiery among whom there was a
reverend and aged gentlewoman, the wife of Mr. Griffith White, who had in
her house (Henllan) eight sons and eight daughters, who were virgins, and four
small grandchildren, in all twenty in number, with divers servants both male and
female. This gentlewoman pressing his Lordship to commiserate her sad state in
case her house should be plundered desired his protection, assuring his Lordship
that whensoever he would be pleased to give her husband leave to wait on him she
did not doubt but that her husband would give his Lordship ample satisfaction in
all his lawful demands. His Lordship replied he would find a time to speak with
her husband but as for protection would grant her none. The gentlewoman with
tears in her eyes desired his Lordship to look to her children who in point of
honour he stood engaged to protect, as also the chastity of matrons and virgins
the which without his Lordship's protection she said must be undoubtedly
violated and her family perish to which his Lordship answered with divers
reproaches and some jests, that it were better her children and family should
perish than that the King should want means to perfect his design. To which she
said the King could not want if his Majesty would be graciously pleased to be
content with what God and the laws of the land had provided. At which his
Lordship flung out of the room, leaving the gentlewoman with tears in her eyes,
and so she departed to her house full of grief and pensive thoughts.”
Rowland Laugharne who was in command at Pembroke
sallied out with certain troopers and a few foot towards Carew. His men were
dispersed (probably foraging) when the captain in command at Carew attempted to
surprise Laugharne and seven troops who were with him but these latter routed
their opponents, took twenty prisoners,
among whom was a Lieutenant Jones, who afterwards joined the Parliamentarians.
This action was said to have been fought "between
two garrisons of the enemy not much more distant from earshot." One of
these must have been Carew Castle, the other the Fortified Rectory.
Parliamentary Ships entered the Haven, Admiral Captain
Swanley in the Leopard and Vice-Admiral Captain Smith in the Swallow sailed into
the Haven. Laugharne and Poyer at once boarded the Swallow and explained the
state of matters.
The Royal ships from Bristol, Globe and Providence, ran
under the guns of Pill fort for safety.
borrowed a hundred and fifty sailors from the Parliamentary ships and with these
and his own Pembroke troopers took Stackpole with its little garrison of sixty
men. The owner hiding (perhaps in the cave known as Lort's Hole). Laugharne then
moved on to Trefloyne, which was held for the King by Mr Thomas Bowen. Lord
Carbery made sortie from Tenby to relieve him, but was driven back in confusion
and lost part of his force in crossing the Marsh. Trefloyne was taken. Then it
was decided to attack Pill Fort and Haverfordwest.
“Whereupon the little army, consisting of about 250
foot, half seamen, and half soldiers
with 60 horsemen and a demi-culverin (fired a ball about 9 pounds) with a sacre
(had a bore of 3 ½ ins shot weight
about 5 lbs) and 5 small field pieces, made a resolute adventure over the water,
animated and encouraged by the presence of a good hearty old gentleman, Mr John
Laugharne, Colonel Laugharne's father, who had long before left his country
habitation, and with his whole family, a few servants excepted, betaken himself
to the town of Pembroke. His interest and fair noble carriage had always engaged
unto him the affections of many in that part of the county we were set upon
called Roose. It was God's will our landing was not interrupted, and our horse
immediately dispersing abroad to bring in men, cattle, and other necessaries to
draw our carriages found the country willing and ready which so expedited the
work that the demi-culverin and sacre were early in the evening planted in a
hedge that within a short distance overlooked the fort, and presently played
effectually upon it. Hereupon 20 musketeers were placed in Stainton, a steeple
seated on a hill that oversees most of that country, and thereabouts the horse
presently ranged to hinder correspondence between Pill and Haverfordwest, and
took some straggling soldiers and some messengers and put them in the church. We
saw no body of the enemy till a little before night. Sir Francis Lloyd with
about 60 horse and some foot descended a hill from Johnson, but they being, as
we conceived, afraid of our artillery never touched the ascent of Stainton,
where our horse were drawn, but retreated to Haverford.” (Simon Thelwall's
Letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, April 1, 1644).
On the following day Pill Fort capitulated. There were
taken at that place, Mr. John Barlow, Master of the Ordnance; five captains,
certain inferior officers, thirteen great guns, six field carriages, 300 common
soldiers, the two Bristol ships, wherein were twelve pieces of ordnance and six
barrels of powder. The loss of the fort created a panic at Haverfordwest; a herd
of cattle frightened by the cannonading at Pill stampeded, and these being seen
by the Haverford garrison were mistaken in the gloaming for Roundhead troopers,
both commanders and commanded incontinently fled.
Sir Henry Vaughan, Major-General of the army; Sir John
Stepney, Knt., and Baronet, Governor of Haverfordwest; Sir Francis Lloyd, Knt.,
Commander-in-Chief of the Horse; Lieutenant-Colonel Butler, High Sheriff of the
County; James Martin, Captain of Horse; Captain John Edwardes, Commissioner of
Array; Captain Hull of Bristol, and one hundred sailors disgracefully bolted.
Laugharne and his men occupied Haverford on the day after the capture of Pill,
and in two days "Roche Castle, a very considerable stronghold had it water,
was summoned and delivered."
The Roundhead force then marched to Pembroke, and
obtained another gun proceeded to Tenby. To which place Lieutenant-Colonel
Thomas Butler the High Sheriff of the County had retreated with eighty men from
Haverfordwest. Vice-Admiral William Smith in the Swallow, Captain Gettensby in
the Prosperous, and the Crescent frigate, preceding the land force had opened
fire on the town. When the latter arrived they:
“Placed their demi-cannon on a hill within musket
shot, (Greenhill) a demi-culverin within half a musket shot, the small field
pieces being set to scour the guard wings and hedges lined by the enemy; our
foot men having also drawn down, and armed hedges and a good strong house within
pistol shot, and there continue in this posture, hot pelting between the small
shot from Thursday two of the clock, till Saturday evening, and battered many
houses in the town, but had not all this while impaired the town wall, except
only the most necessary part there the great gate our only place of entrance.
This gate Governor Commissary Gwynne (who in his actions show of a soldier), had
strengthened with dung and rubbish”.
The gate was stormed and taken. Commissary Gwynne was
mortally wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Butler the High Sheriff Colonel David
Gwynne, Captains Lewis and Mitholl, non-commissioned officers and 300 men with
their arms were taken.
Very soon after the capture of Tenby, Carew Castle
surrendered to Poyer, on condition that the officers were to march out with
their swords and common soldiers with their muskets, and bags and baggage.
Captain Richard Swanley was sweeping the seas between
Milford Haven and Ireland. He captured a troopship under the command of a
Royalist, Colonel Willoughby, with about one hundred and fifty men on board
bound for Bristol, and actually compelled seventy men and two women to walk the
Colonel Gerard, a favourite of Prince Rupert and an
accomplished commander, was sent o South Wales.
Gerard retook Haverfordwest then
Picton Castle, which the Parliamentarians had made a very strong
stronghold, about twelve o'clock at night he fell on and stormed it, and
mastered it in l hour with the loss of nine common soldiers hurt and taken, but
not one officer, only Colonel Butler gentleman received a shot whereof he is now
past danger. In the castle were found three barrels, 150 arms, Baronet Phillipps'
son and two of his daughters. A good round sum of ready money and 12 trunks of
plate besides 500 pounds more of money. The castle itself is very strong and in
good repair General Gerard placed a sufficient garrison and next day marched to
Carew Castle near Pembroke, which was also taken, the remnant of the rebels
being now driven to their last state, at Pembroke and Tenby.
Gerard retook Roche Castle early in July, 1644,
capturing at that place 500 oxen and sheep. He was then recalled to headquarters
1645 July 28.
According to Rowland Laugharne:
The enemy's (Royalists) main body being at
Haverfordwest, we drew forth out of garrisons of Pembroke and Tenby with 550
foot and 200 horse and dragoons (being the most that could be spared with
security out of the towns), and two small guns and marched that day to Caneston,
within five miles of Haverfordwest; there met 7 of the enemies scouts, killed
one, took the other six. That day Captain Batten arrived at Milford; and by
Divine ordination above our hopes, landed 150 seamen to increase our force. We
kept the field until the 1st of August no enemy appearing. Then Major-General
Stradling and Major-General Egerton drew forth out of Haverford with 450 horse,
1100 foot and four field guns into Colby Moor, three miles from Haverford and
there put themselves in array for fight. A small party of our horse guarded on
both sides with 150 musketeers charged their whole body, began the encounter
about six of the clock in the afternoon, and continued very fierce and doubtful
many an hour, but in the conclusion the enemies horse were totally routed, the
residue of our horse fell on some part to do execution upon the foot, the other
to pursue the horse speeding upon Haverford. We killed of the enemies 150, took
about 700 prisoners, four guns, five barrels of powder, near 800 arms, all their
carriages and provisions and chased them home to their garrisons. The night then
approaching we might not beset the town to keep in their horse, but drew back to
the field, so that in the night the enemy deserted the town and fled leaving a
garrison in the Castle. Saturday we entered the town and besieged the Castle,
began our battery on Monday, but spent much ammunition to little purpose.
Tuesday giving over we find the outer gate, and scaled the walls, gained the
castle, took prisoners 120 common soldiers and near 20 commanders and officers
one piece of ordnance, 150 arms, some pillage to the soldiers besides the
provision. Yesterday being the 8th of August we had a day of publique
humiliation and thanks giving in Pembroke and Haverford and the League; this day
we drew our force of horse and foot before Carew Castle and are drawing up our
ordnance to plant them before the Castle relying upon the Lord of Heaven for a
blessing in all their actions; we bless God, we lost but two men and about sixty
wounded, none mortally.
Carew and Picton Castles respectively belonging to Sir
George Carew the Royalist and Sir Richard Philipps the Roundhead, were still
garrisoned by the King's men. According to the newspapers Manorbier (probably a
mere shell) was also held by the Cavaliers.
to have capitulated; Picton stood a three week siege.
and his troops followed up their success and drove the Cavaliers out of the
county of Carmarthen. This was accomplished in October, 1645.
In February, 1646, the Pembroke shire troops relieved
Cardiff, and the April following captured Aberystwith Castle; and in January,
1647, put down a serious insurrection in Glamorganshire.
Rowland Laugharne had been rewarded for his valuable
services by Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, who on the 4th of March,
1645, settled on him and his heirs the Slebech estates of John Barlow who had
made himself peculiarly hateful to the Parliamentarians by his loyal service to
the King under the Marquis of Worcester and Lord Glamorgan.
A part of the Parliamentary side under Cromwell,
determined to get quit of Lord Essex, who led the Presbyterians.
April zzzt, 1645, the Earl
of Essex resigned his commission so all came under the command of Sir Thomas
His resignation was accepted, but a portion of the army
by no means approved. "There have been great mutinies and discontents among
his (the Earl's) soldiers, in so much as they have refused to march with Sir
William Waller." Among the discontents was Sir John Meyrick, who had
already suffered for his loyalty to the Earl, for in 1643, he was superseded
from his post of Sergeant-Major General of the Army to make way for Skippon and
was nominated General of Ordnance. Sir John sent in his resignation at the same
time the Earl gave way to Fairfax, and we may be certain these matters were
discussed in Pembrokeshire and had not a little to do with subsequent events
that came about in that county.
the 14th of September, 1646, Lord Essex died in Essex House, it is said, of
fever brought on by over exertion in a stag hunt at Windsor. A public funeral in
Westminster Abbey was decreed for him, both Houses of Parliament attending. Sir
John Meyrick carried his gorget. Lord Essex was buried in St. John Baptist's
Chapel. He had taken for his second wife Elizabeth daughter of Sir William
Paulet of Edington. This marriage, like the former, had ended in disaster and
separation. The only child died in infancy. Sir Walter Devereux, Bart., of
Castle Bromwich, succeeded as fifth Viscount Hereford, and Lady Hertford to
Lamphey Court and the Pembrokeshire estate, which was shortly afterwards
purchased by the Owens of Orielton, in whose possession it remained until the
year 1821, when the manor passed by purchase into the hands of Charles Mathias,
Esq., of Llangwarren, who built the modern house.
"Master Gunter" seems to have been the last
resident at Lamphey Court. During his occupation it was most likely rendered
uninhabitable, for numerous cannon balls found in the vicinity prove the old
house suffered a bombardment.
The Royalist party had been suppressed throughout West
Wales, and a victorious triumvirate composed of Laugharne, Poyer and Powell
ruled Little England in the name of Parliament.
The Presbyterian faction, to which Pembrokeshire men mostly belonged,
gradually became more and more bitterly opposed to the Independents, who were
represented by Cromwell and the army. In February 1647, the Scotch Presbyterians
sold King Charles to the English Parliament for £400,000, and the Presbyterian
majority in the latter body, considering that as the Royal person was now safe
in the keeping of Parliament, there was no further necessity for a standing
army, and that the majority should be disbanded, thus saving England from a
military despotism. But the army declined to disband and while the matter was
under discussion Cornet Joyce stole the King away from Holmby House and brought
him as a captive to head-quarters at Saffron Waldron.
The army remained un-disbanded.
Taking advantage of these dissensions certain Royalists
now in Glamorganshire declared for the King and Sir Thomas Fairfax. They stated
that they would be very glad to hear how Rowland Laugharne looked upon their
proceedings. Laugharne forwarded the letter to the Speaker of the House of
Commons declaring: "I shall (God willing) never desert my first principles
for the Parliament of England," and then marched on Cardiff. The
insurrection melted at his approach.
It would seem from Laugharne's protestations that his
good faith was doubted by the Parliamentarian party as early as June, 1647. It
is difficult to discover what grievance could have rankled in his mind if it was
not the Presbyterian feud. He was Major-General of the District, had been
rewarded with the valuable estate of Slebech and was held in high esteem by the
whole Parliamentarian party.
According to Claredon:
The Pembrokeshire leaders communicated their
discontents to each other, and all thought themselves ill requited by the
Parliament for the service they had done and that other men (especially Colonel
Mytton) were preferred before them and resolved to take the opportunity of the
Scots coming in, to declare for the King upon the Presbyterian account.
Powell seems to have been a free lance who followed the
fortunes of his leader without consideration, deeming it was a soldier's duty to
In Poyer's case the causes of disaffection may be
readily discerned. He commenced life as a merchant, and had prospered in some
trade, which he threw over, and took up first politics, then war, as a means of
livelihood. His business was sacrificed and his capital squandered. To redeem
the latter he availed himself of opportunities afforded by his position as
Parliamentarian Commissioner, and was openly accused of dishonesty by his
On January 3rd Sir Thomas Wroth proposed in the House
That the King should be laid by, and the Kingdom
settled without him; that some other government should be formed he cared not
what, so that the ruling power be neither king or devil. This motion was carried
by 140 against 92, and forthwith sent up to the Lords. The upper house after a
protracted debate, and two adjournments adopted the motion on January 15th.
Royalists and Presbyterians in England and Scotland were rebellious, and a
portion of the fleet revolted. It was in Pembrokeshire that the disaffection
came to a head.
The leaders of the Independent party seem to have been
kept well informed of what was passing in West Wales, for an order was forthwith
given that the army of South Wales under the command of Major-General Laugharne
should be disbanded, a few soldiers being retained to garrison the fortresses of
Cardiff, Swansea, Carmarthen and Pembroke.
Laugharne not withstanding his protestations is said to
have been imprisoned and Poyer was superseded in favour of Colonel Fleming.
This thoroughly roused Poyer who was threatened by some
of his neighbours (probably Roger Lort of Stackpole and Griffith White of
Henllan in Castlemartin) with a lawsuit for misappropriation of funds as a
Commissioner. Poyer entrenched himself in Pembroke Castle which he garrisoned
with a mixed force of Presbyterians and Royalists in number about 500.
Some time before March 13th Fleming occupied Pembroke
town, where he awaited orders from Cromwell. When these arrived he held a
council of war and sent a summons to deliver up Pembroke Castle within twelve
hours, or Poyer and all with him to be proclaimed rebels.
Poyer was willing to agree subject to being paid 1000
pounds plus his arrears of pay and the arrears of pay of his men.
Colonel Fleming offered him 200 pounds and laid down
conditions regarding disbanding the forces.
Colonel Poyer answered this appeal by opening fire on
the town: several houses were battered down, and eleven soldiers wounded, some
Then Colonel Fleming, who appears to have been most
anxious to avoid proceeding to extremities, thinking perhaps it was a dread of
the lawsuit hanging over Poyer's head that rendered him desperate – “with
the advice, and upon the desire of the gentlemen of the county . . . . . .
offered he should have the security of the gentlemen of the county whom he hath
much oppressed that they would relinquish all suits and actions at law against
But all these offers from Colonel Fleming and the
gentlemen of the county “could not prevail upon Poyer but he put out his flag
of defiance and will not yield”.
News arrived in Pembroke that the detachment of
Laugharne's men in Tenby were prepared to revolt from Parliament, but on the
other hand the garrison of Carmarthen declared that neither they nor their
comrades in Tenby had any sympathy with Poyer. From what followed, it would seem
that this letter was intended to put Fleming off his guard, for two hundred of
Laugharne's men with the cognisance of Poyer, made a forced march on Pembroke;
when near at hand Poyer, who could see them from the castle before Fleming's men
were aware of their approach, sent out instructions by a messenger. He then
sallied forth and attacked Fleming in his quarters; the latter gallantly
defended himself, and indeed seemed to be getting the best of the fight, but
Laugharne's troopers coming up and taking him in the rear utterly routed the
Parliament forces, killing and wounding many, capturing twenty or thirty
prisoners and two great culverins, with all arms and ammunition. Laugharne's men
must have entered by the east gate which no doubt was opened to them by
confederates in the town. Poyer was now master of Pembroke and the surrounding
district. He fortified and victualled the town in anticipation of a siege.
Captain Henry Addys, one of those of Carmarthen
who had signed the false declaration, joined him with one hundred men,
and he proceeded to raise foot and horse, pressing the country people,
collecting arms of all sorts and provisions. He imprisoned Messrs. Sampson Lort
of East Moor, Thomas Bowen of Trefloyne and
David Poyer; his brother, they paid ransoms but subsequently joined the
'Hearing that two companies of foot sent from Bristol
to join Fleming had landed near Pwllcrochan, Poyer sallied out with a hundred
men in pursuit. The Parliamentarians had however fortified the Church, and from
thence it was impossible to
dislodge them, so Poyer agreed they should retire to their ships on
condition they left the Haven and did not return.
Poyer then proceeded to Henllan House, where were Mr.
Griffith White the staunch old Parliament man, the owner of the house; Mr. Roger
Lort of Stackpole; the Royalist Adjutant-General Fleming; Mr. John Lort of
Prickeston; and several other gentlemen and commissioners; these also escaped by
water. It is said that while flying from Poyer, Mr. White dropped a number of
gold pieces which have from time to time been picked up near the ruins of
Henllan. Matters had now become very serious. Poyer had between 1200 and 1300
men under arms, and the country was rising in his favour. Sir Henry Stradling
Major-General John Stradling, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Stradling,
Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler, Colonel Morgan (Governor of Gloucester), Colonel
Richard Donnel (late Governor of Swansea), all joined the rebels. The Earl of
Carbery however would have nothing to do with them. On the 9th of April Poyer
held a great review on Colby Moor. He then marched to Carmarthen where he was
joined by Powell. The Parliamentarian leaders had by this time recognised the
extreme gravity of the situation. The fire that self-seeking Mayor Poyer had lit
in West Wales kindled every disaffected spirit in the realm. Colonel Horton was
directed to march westward with all speed, and a detachment of Colonel Reade's
force at Bristol, under Colonel Overton, was ordered to proceed to Pembrokeshire.
In April Horton overpowered the disaffected garrison at Brecon and shortly
afterwards disbanded certain local troops at Swansea. Meanwhile Poyer and Powell
had pushed on to Lampeter with a body of English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh.
Recruits for the King's army were hurrying forward from all parts; not only the
country gentlemen and their followers, " but divers porters, butchers, and
such rascally fellows come hither (to Carmarthen) from London." Besides
this Welsh army the Scotch were causing great anxiety to the Parliamentarians,
for it was an open secret that they might rise any day. The Royalist cause was
About the beginning of May Horton entered
Carmarthenshire. The Pembroke men had broken down the bridges, and were now
camped near the Towy river. Captains Cozens and Addys of Laugharne's horse, were
despatched to fortify Newcastle in Emlyn; there was some slight skirmishing
between the two armies, but without serious result. At length Poyer entrenched
himself on a hilltop near Llandilo Fawr and so strong was his position that
Horton feared to attack. Colonel Fleming was ordered to make for a pass in
Poyer's rear, where he was met by Major Roach in command of a troop of Powell's.
The latter retired and was pursued by Colonel Fleming, who fell into an ambush
prepared for him in the town of Llandilo Fawr, where his force was cut in two.
The Colonel with one hundred troopers fled to the church which Poyer's men
stormed and there either by accident or intent Fleming shot himself. So terribly
were the Parliamentarians affected by Fleming's tragic end that Horton fell back
on Neath to await reinforcements under Colonel Okey, from whence he retired to
Brecon, the people showing hostility on the whole line of march. The House of
Commons fully realised the gravity of the situation. On the 1st of May, Fairfax
informed Mr. Speaker that Cromwell and a sufficient force had been despatched
Poyer had marched through Carmarthen and proceeded
towards Cardiff, with a view to raise Glamorganshire and Monmouth. Colonel
Horton having obtained reinforcements and ammunition, retraced his steps with
all speed that bad roads, unseasonable weather, and lack of accommodation for
man and beast allowed. On the 4th of May he camped at St. Fagans on the little
river Ely. Poyer's men were at St. Nicholas.
Laugharne probably joined Poyer on his march at the end
“It is reported that Major-General Laugharne is come
unto Poyer; whether it were he or not we cannot tell but the Welsh shot off all
their guns lately to welcome some person of quality.”
He certainly was with them when they reached St.
Nicholas. On the evening of Sunday Laugharne and Poyer advanced towards St.
Nicholas about 8000 strong, and on Monday, May 8th, about seven in the morning
attacked Horton's force. After a stubborn fight the Pembrokeshire men were
driven back from hedge to hedge until they arrived at bridge where were their
reserves; at length Horton's horse crossed the stream and flanked the Welshmen,
who then gave way and fled panic-stricken. Horton's horse pursued them for eight
or ten miles. Major-General Rowland Laugharne was wounded, and his brother
Thomas was among the slain, who were so numerous that the river Ely ran red from
St. Fagans down to Penarth.”
Three thousand prisoners were taken, with 2000
firearms, with pikes, Welsh bills, 50 colours, 360 horse, and all the
ammunition, bag and baggage. Among the prisoners were Major Addys, the same who
joined Poyer in Pembroke; Thomas Bowen of Trefloyne; James Lewis of Kilkyffeth;
Lieutenant-Colonel Wogan of Wiston (?); Captain William Button, and Mr. Devereux
Grafton of Carew. On Horton's side were Thomas Wogan, M.P. for Cardigan
Boroughs, sent hither by the House of Commons, and subsequently distinguished as
one of the regicides; and Captain Jones, captured by Laugharne at Carew, who on
that occasion turned coat. This man again changed sides, for deserting Poyer
with a troop of sixty horse he joined Horton. The defeated army of Royalists and
Presbyterians fled to the westward, Laugharne and Poyer making good their
retreat to Pembroke, while Powell with a hundred troopers took refuge in Tenby.
To these shortly afterwards came in many fugitives, who straightaway set to work
preparing for a desperate resistance.
Colonel Horton proceeded to take vengeance. Eleven of
the principal prisoners were brought on board the Admiral Crowther man-of-war
then lying at Cardiff, and tried by court martial: Major-General Stradling,
Major Phillips, Captain Thomas Matthews, Captain Button (Laugharne's
brother-in-law), Mr. Miles Matthews, Lieutenant-Colonel Hopkin Popkins,
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Morgan, Colonel Arthur Harries, Captain Edward Walker,
Captain Rich Cradock, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis Thomas. Of these three were
shot and one hanged. This excessive
severity was perhaps necessary, for the insurrection was spreading. The number
of prisoners, said to have been 3000, was so great that an application was made
to the Parliament by Prince Charles Lodovict to have permission to transport
some of the prisoners to Italy. This was granted with the proviso that they
should be volunteers and confined to the common people of Wales. Any from
outside Wales were to be transported to the West Indies.
Colonel Horton did not waste time; he followed up his
victory and must have reached Tenby close behind the fugitives under Powell. The
victory at St. Fagans was won on Monday, May 8th. On the Sunday Colonel Horton's
men attempted to storm the town of Tenby but were repulsed. The Parliamentarians
subsequently attacked again and took a certain work with thirty prisoners and
some slain. Disconcerted by this further misfortune; the besieged humbly desired
permission to march out upon conditions.
But our honourable Colonel Horton would give no ear to
them. The seige continued.
On Wednesday, May 31, 1648, the garrison of Tenby under
Colonel Powell desired that. Colonel Horton would take them into protection and
mercy. The conditions of surrender were as follows:
1. That the besieged delivered up all the ordnance,
arms and ammunition of the Castle, to Lieutenant-General Cromwell for the use of
2. That the common soldiers be permitted (those who
will) to be transported into Italy.
3. That those soldiers who desire to go home may be
permitted, taking an oath never to engage against the Parliament hereafter.
4. That all the officers surrender themselves
prisoners, their lives and estates to be at the mercy of the Parliament.
These latter were: Colonel Rice Powell, Colonel Edward
Kemeys, Colonel Richard Donnell, Sergeant-Major Vaughan, Captain Beale, Captain
Addys, Captain Powell, Mr. Thomas Basset and thirty others. One hundred soldiers
agreed to go abroad. Twenty pieces
of ordnance, three hundred arms, four barrels of powder that had been partly
used, forty horses only five colours and the standard of Tenby
Castle; all their ammunition, provisions, bag and baggage were captured. Though
the town of Tenby probably did not suffer so severely during Horton's siege in
May, 1648, as when Laugharne operated against it in April 1644, yet perhaps we
should ascribe certain wanton mischief which some evil persons perpetrated in
the Church of St. Mary's to the Independents commanded by Horton. The west
window of the north aisle was once filled with fine stained glass, but it has
been utterly destroyed, perhaps at this time; the only relics of its former
grandeur being a few fragments round the edges. And on William Risam's monument
referred to above there is a mark which tradition has always attributed to a
musket ball aimed at the benefactor’s effigy by one of "Cromwell's
To return to
General Laugharne and Colonel Poyer: After the disastrous fight at St. Fagans
they retreated to Pembroke and prepared for the mighty adversary who was slowly
advancing to try conclusions. Oliver Cromwell appeared before Pembroke about the
24th of May. Tradition relates that he formed his camp on the hill to the south
of the town, near Underdown. (Pistol and musket balls have been found on the
site)The General himself, who was suffering from an attack of gout, took up his
quarters with Mr. Walter Cuney at Welston, a house which stood to the north-east
(in Carew Parish) of Lamphey, and was pulled down early in 1800’s. Fenton
states that in his time there was:
counterpane white lined with crimson that covered Cromwell's bed, still in the
possession of a lady, a descendant of that house (Cuney), stained with ink
spilled as he was writing one of his dispatches during his confinement (from
that by the time he reached Pembroke a battery of siege guns from Wallingford
would have awaited his orders in Milford Haven, but through an accident at
Berkeley the vessel in which they were shipped seems to have foundered, and as
westerly gales prevailed, when the guns had been recovered it was impossible to
deliver them in Pembroke until the beginning of July. The besiegers would have
been checkmated had it not happened that the Lion, a Parliamentarian warship,
came into Milford Haven. Cromwell
despatched the notorious Hugh Peters, who had accompanied the expedition , to
see what guns could be spared from the Lion; two culverins (18 pounders), two
demi-culverins, and two drakes were obtained from this source. The first
operation essayed by the besiegers was an attempt to storm the town one day
about the 4th of June, but the scaling ladders were too short. A few men were
lost; Major Grigg's lieutenant and ensign among them, Captain Flower of Dean's
regiment was injured and Captain Burgess wounded and very sick; but Cromwell
consoled himself in his confidence that the enemy had lost many more. On the 9th
of June Cromwell wrote to the committee at Carmarthen:
Desiring we may
have your furtherance and assistance in procuring some necessaries to be
cast in the iron furnaces in your county of Carmarthen, which will the
better enable us to reduce the town and castle of Pembroke. The principal things
are: shells for our mortar piece, the depth of them we desire may be 14inches.
That which I desire at your hands is to cause the service to be performed, and
that with all possible expedition; that so if it be the will of God, the service
being done, these poor wasted counties may be freed from the burden of the Army.
In the next place we desire some D cannon shot and some culverin shot may with
all possibility be cast for us and hasted to us also”
On the 13th
Cromwell had planted two little guns with which he calculated he should take
away their mills in twenty-four hours. The mills were probably those at the
bottom of the Dark Lane, and the guns must have been placed on the other side of
the water. The loss of these mills would prove very important to the besieged,
who began to suffer greatly from famine; indeed the hungry garrison were already
mutinous, saying: "Shall we be ruined for two or three men's pleasure;
better it were to throw them over the wall," This occurred on Sunday. On
Saturday night Poyer had told the mutineers if relief did not arrive on Monday
they might hang him. No doubt Colonel Poyer remembered how closely he had been
pressed by the Royalists in 1644, and how triumphantly he had been relieved by
Swanley's fleet; he was in hourly expectation that Prince Charles and Lord
Jermyn would send the squadron to his aid. On one occasion, the besieged
garrison believed that the Royalist fleet had actually arrived, for guns were
heard down the Haven. It turned out however, to be the Parliamentarian fleet
firing a salute on account of good news from Kent, Pembroke was not victualled
for a siege. This had not entered into Poyer's calculations. There were probably
in Pembroke Castle only surplus stores such as had remained unconsumed when
Fleming was forced to raise the siege. These, originally intended for the castle
garrison, proved quite insufficient now Poyer had to feed the town as well. At
the very beginning of the siege we find fodder was so scarce that horses and
cows were fed on thatch stripped from the cottages. On the 14th of June the
mutinous garrison was put on reduced rations: half-a-pound of beef and half a
pound of bread per day to each man. The civilians in the town doubtless were
very hardly pressed. Tradition avers the town and castle relied on two wells for
their supply of water: one called Norgan's, in Monkton; the other in the Woogan
under Pembroke Castle. Earthenware pipes three-and-a-half inches in diameter had
been laid in cement from Norgan's well, nearly a mile distant, passing over the
bridge, up the face of the cliff under an archway in the Monkton tower of the
castle. According to tradition this pipe was pointed out to the besiegers by a
man named Edmunds, and cut through where it passed over the bridge. Edmunds'
cottage was still pointed out in Monkton village in the 1890’s, and his
descendants bore the nickname of "Cromwell" in remembrance of the
treason of their ancestor, until they became extinct a hunded years ago.
Tradition says also that Edmund was killed by the Cromwellian soldiers and
buried in the hole dug to cut the pipe. Part of the pipe is in Tenby Museum and
another part used to be in the wall of the old school in Monkton.
Concerning the Woogan well, Cromwell writes: "We can take away his
water in two days by beating down a staircase, which goes into a cellar where he
hath a well”.
Cobb has pointed out that the staircase leading to the Woogan was not beaten
down, and there can be little doubt that the besieged had an uninterrupted
access to this well. On the night of the 13th Cromwell got two small guns to
bear on the Pembroke flour mills and set on fire certain houses in the town.
On the 19th the
besieged were sore pressed by famine, and Poyer tried to keep up the spirit of
the soldiery (who now despaired of relief from Prince Charles) by assuring them
that Major-General Langdale was marching to their assistance with an army of
North Welshmen, and would be at Pembroke before the week went by.
had breached the wall, and about the 19th date another storming party was told
off. These made an attempt to gain the town, but were repulsed, twenty-three
being slain, Poyer's men only losing four. By this time General Laugharne had
recovered of his wounds received at St. Fagans and determined on sallying forth,
probably with the hope of obtaining food. He does not appear to have been very
successful, and was driven back with a loss of nine killed and twenty prisoners.
Oliver Cromwell candidly acknowledges:
“Here is as I
have formerly acquainted your Excellency (Fairfax) a very desperate enemy, who
being put out of all hope of mercy, are resolved to endure the uttermost, being
very many gentlemen of quality, and men thoroughly resolved, they have made some
notable sallies upon Lieutenant-Colonel Reade's quarter, to his loss. We are
forced to keep divers posts or else they would have relief or their horse break
away. Our foot about them are 2400; we always necessitated to have some in
garrison. The country since we sat down before this place have made two or three
insurrections, and are ready to do it every day, so that what with looking to
them and disposing of our horse to that end, and to get us in provision, without
which we should starve, the country being so miserably exhausted and so poor,
and we no money to buy victuals, indeed whatever may be thought it is a mercy we
have been able to keep our men together in the midst of such necessity, the
sustenance of the foot for the most part being but bread and water.”
beginning of July a storming party managed to get into the town and drove the
besieged up to the castle walls, killing about one hundred of them. But
Laugharne with a troop of horse out-flanked the intruders, and getting on their
rear cut them up, killing thirty and driving the rest over the breach. In this
fight Colonel Horton again distinguished himself.
The siege battery
had at last arrived, and the fire on the town became consequently distressing.
Many desertions took place and a mutinous spirit again broke out, one hundred
and twenty of
Poyer's men laying down their arms, vowing they would fight no more but the
Colonel quelled the unrest, he and Laugharne promising if relief did not
come days they might hang their leaders. "The mortar pieces played hard
against the town and battered down many houses, killing some thirty of the
inhabitants, for though they could effect little or no damage on the castle, the
cottages yielded to the small projectiles”. The besiegers feared Laugharne;
Poyer and such troops as they could rely on would remove all provision to the
castle, retire to the fortress and allow the townsmen to surrender.
the latter sent his ultimatum in the
I have together
with my Council of War renewed my propositions, I thought fit to acquaint you
with these alterations, which if submitted unto I shall make good. I have
considered your condition and my own duty, and (without threatening) must tell
you that if (for the sake of some) this offer be refused and thereby misery and
ruin befall the poor soldiers and people with you, I know where to charge the
blood you spill. I expect your answer within these two hours. In case this offer
be refused, send no more to me about this subject.
July 10 at 4
o'clock this afternoon, 1648.
I rest your
besieged took a night to think over Oliver's letter, and on the next day
surrendered the town and castle on the
1. That Major-General Laugharne, Colonel Poyer, Colonel Humphrey Mathews, Captain William Bowen and David Poyer do surrender themselves to the mercy of the Parliament.
That Sir Charles Kemeys, Sir Henry Stradling, Lieutenant-Colonel
Laugharne, Lieutenant-Colonel Brabason, Mr. Gamage, Major Butler, Major Francis
Lewis, Major Mathews, Major Hamick, Captain Roach, Captain Jones, Captain Hugh
Bowen, Captain Thomas Watts and Lieutenant Young do within six weeks next
following depart the kingdom, and not to return within two years from the time
of their departure.
That all officers and gentlemen not before named shall have free liberty
to go to their several habitations, and there live quietly submitting to the
authority of Parliament.
That all private soldiers shall have passes to go to their several houses
without being stripped or having any violence done to them; all the sick and
wounded were to be carefully provided for till able to go home.
That the townsmen shall be free from plunder and violence, and enjoy
their liberties as heretofore they have done, having freedom to remove
themselves and families whither they shall think fit &c.
6. That the town and castle of Pembroke, with all the arms, ammunition and ordnance, together with the victuals and provisions for the garrison be forthwith delivered unto Lieatenant-General Cromwell, or such as he shall appoint, for the use of the Parliament.
by OLIVER CROMWELL.
a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, written immediately after the
surrender, Oliver Cromwell explains the first clause in the articles of
persons excepted are such as have formerly served you in a very good cause; but
being now apostatised I did rather make election of them than of those who had
always been for the King; judging their iniquity double, because they have
sinned against so much light, and against so many evidences of Divine
Providence, going along with and prospering a just cause, in the management of
which they themselves had a share.”
Thus ended Pembroke leaguer. The defenders had fought with dogged
desperation, and had they not been deserted by the Royalist party it seems
possible Cromwell himself might have been baffled by their tactics. We can fancy
Poyer standing on the old donjon looking away to the westward with despairing
eyes, keeping watch in vain for the Royalist squadron that never came. Arnulph
de Montgomery's stronghold was impregnable in the 17th century, as it had proved
in the 12th; famine alone opened its gates, for Cromwell's shot and shell
the old limestone walls like hailstones; in the town
his projectiles did much damage, but proved impotent when applied to the castle
masonry. Very many cannon balls fired from Royalist and Parliamentarian guns
have been collected in Pembroke, Tenby, Carew and Lamphey, and an interesting
series of these projectiles will be found in the Tenby Local Museum. The weight
of these shot is as follow: 32lb., 18lb., 9lb., 6lb., 3lb., and 2lb. They are
all of solid cast iron. Laws said that “There are preserved in Pembroke and at
Lamphey Court some curious stone shot the size of eighteen pounders, though of
course weighing much less; these were no doubt makeshifts when the ammunition
ran short”. The Pembroke specimens were found by Mr. Cobb within the castle
walls; those at Lamphey were discovered on the top of the hill three-quarters of
a mile from the Old Court, at a farm-house known as "Old Windsor," and
are doubtless relics of one of the uprisings noted by Cromwell. In the Tenby
Museum will be found also a very curious gun (Both the breech and muzzle are
lost. It seems to have carried a 9lb. shot, and is built up of iron pieces,
banded together by eight rings. At the breech it has been strengthened by a
flap, which was welded on to the gun. It is on an oak carriage nine feet four
inches in length. Such was the ordnance used and the castles certainly beat the
guns; very few, if any, of these were taken except by storm or famine.
The castles having proved so formidable, Cromwell
decided on their destruction. Roger Lort, John Lort and Thomas Barlow were
formed into a committee for this purpose. Cromwell himself perhaps undertook the
destruction of Pembroke, the roof of its vaulted Barbican tower has been split
in by gunpowder, and this must have been accomplished subsequently to the
surrender of the fortress.
It would be curious to know what work the committee of
demolition performed. Not very much at Haverfordwest or Pembroke; nothing at
Carew or Narberth; the former being inhabited in 1689, the latter in 1676; or
Picton, which never lost its roof. Manorbier was already a ruin. Perhaps Lamphey
suffered. Tenby Castle was the principal victim; though it is by no means
improbable the smaller fortifications such as Newport, Roche and Benton were
more or less destroyed under this commission, the inhabitants finding that the
demolition of the unoffending castlets was cheaper than the raising of Pembroke
It was probably on Sunday, July the 16th, that Oliver
Cromwell invited the Rev. Peregrine Phillips, Vicar of Monkton, St. Mary's
(Pembroke), and Cosheston, to preach before the officers under his command.
Phillips must have been well known to most of them, for notwithstanding the
inconveniences of the siege he preferred to reside in his parish of Monkton
rather than in the comparatively peaceful Cosheston. Peregrine Phillips was the
son of that Vicar of Amroth who declined to read the Book of Sports, and
suffered accordingly; probably in consequence of the father's firmness the son
found friends. Sir Hugh Owen had given him the preferment of Monkton; Roger Lort
that of St. Mary's, Pembroke; and he obtained Cosheston through the interest of
Sir John Meyrick. He had been chosen one of
committee to inquire into the conduct of ministers ; but all this availed him
nothing during the siege, for the hungry Parliamentarian troopers searched his
house so diligently that he was obliged to secrete his scanty stock of flour in
the bolster of his bed. Yet Phillips stood to his post, and with him remained a
certain plucky servant-maid who was in the habit of milking the parson's cow,
caring nought for the storm of shot and shell which hurtled overhead. A gable
end in the village of Monkton marked the site of Phillips' old vicarage.
By Monday, the 17th, Cromwell must have pretty well
accomplished his work, the hostile troops were disbanded, the fortifications
sentenced to destruction, and the prisoners despatched to their various
destinations. He left Colonel Horton, the victor of St. Fagans and the captor of
Tenby, in command of the district, with his (Horton's) regiment of horse, a
troop of dragoons, and two companies out of Colonel Pride's and Colonel Deane's
regiments". Laugharne, Poyer and Powell were sent up to the Tower, from
whence they seem to have been removed to Windsor Castle. Their trial was
postponed until the following spring, when Laugharne, Poyer and Powell were
found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to death. This seems to have been
a somewhat unexpected conclusion. The exiled King (Charles II.) threatened
reprisals, and Poyer, who was evidently astonished, on April 16, 1649, presented
a humble petition to Parliament which declared that:
He was one of the first that appeared in armies in
South Wales against the Common Enemy for the defence of his own and the people's
best liberties; and being Mayor of the towne of Pembrock and captayn of the
trayned band did freely and of his own accord fortifie the Castle of Pembrock,
which was then his own habitation and kept the same against the King's forces,
and did for the space of five years several other good services, but that being
wrongly proclaimed Traitor, he did, for his owne securitie and for the securifie
of those who were with him and for no other end, keepe the said Castle, which
was surrendered to Lieut. General Cromwell, upon articles of mercy, which could
not be mercy in taking away his life.
But it was felt that public security demanded a victim.
Laughame, Poyer and Powell were bidden to cast lots for life. The actual drawing
was done by a child, There were three lots. On two was written, " Life
given of God," the third was a blank; this fell to Colonel Poyer, who was
duly shot in the Piazza, Covent Garden, on April 21st 1649.
Poyer's daughter married one Nash, a Swansea glass manufacturer, and by him
became mother of a son Richard, afterwards known as Beau Nash, "King"
General Laugharne in due time returned to his home.
Powell too escaped and founded a family. Lieutenant-Colonel Laugharne passed
over to Ireland. In the spring of 1650 he again fell into Oliver's hands at the
taking of Cahir, and "was shot to death."
The fate of Colonel Humphrey Matthews gave rise to some
discussion. He was released on paying compensation, a decision Cromwell in no
Sir Charles Kemeys of Cefn Mabley, besides his two
years' exile, was fined. Colonel Thomas Stradling forfeited and fined. Miles
Button escaped with a small fine.
War effected a great change in West Wales. The district
was exhausted; the towns of Pembroke and Tenby were so utterly ruined that
henceforth they ceased to have any political influence. The former remains a
seventeenth century fossil, in much the same condition as on the morning John
Poyer rode through its street to meet his doom in Covent garden, Tenby gradually
became ruinous; but in course of time, thanks to tourism
now enjoys some prosperity as a resort,
but commercial and military Tenby has disappeared for ever.
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