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Home > The Marquess of Winchester & the first attack on Basing House

Extract from : The civil war in Hampshire (1642-45) : and the story of Basing House / by Rev. G.N. Godwin

This pleasant spot is, like many another place in Hampshire, an epitome of English history. The keep, or citadel, has been utilised in turn by Celt, Roman, Saxon, Dane, Norman, and Cavalier. King Alfred and the Danes had a fierce fight here. In a grant to the Priory of Monks Sherborne, in the reign of Henry II., mention is made of ” the old castle of Basing,” part of which seems to have been rebuilt by William Paulet, or Powlett, the first Marquess of Winchester, the son of Sir John Paulet, who was twice Sheriff of Hampshire. He was made Comptroller and Treasurer of the Household by Henry VIII., and became Lord Treasurer to Edward VI., by whom he was created Marquess of Winchester. He was a very shrewd but not a clever man, was the chief means of preserving the crown to Queen Mary, and died in 1571 at the age of eighty-seven, enormously wealthy, and leaving 103 descendants. He seems to have been remarkable for pithy sayings. Being asked how he had kept the favour of four Tudor sovereigns, he replied, ” I was born of the willow, not of the oak.” He said also ” that there was always the best justice when the Court was absent from London.” He wrote thus :

Late supping I forbear,
Wine and women I forswear,
My neck and feet I keep from cold ;
No marvel then, though I be old ;
I am a willow, not an oak ; ”
I chide, but never hurt with stroke.

In 1560 he entertained at Basing his Royal mistress, who made the full fond confession, ” By my troth, if my Lord Treasurer were but a young man, I could find in my heart to love him for a husband before any man in England.” Entertaining Royal personages was expensive then as now. The second Marquess, who was one of the judges of the Duke of Norfolk in 1572, died in 1576, bequeathing his body to be buried in the church of Basing, and ordering that his funeral should costj^iooo. The third Marquess wrote poetry, and gave large estates to four illegitimate sons. His son and successor impoverished himself by royally entertaining Queen Elizabeth in 1601 for thirteen days ” to the greate charge of the saide Lorde marquesse,” of which, did space permit, much might be told..

The fifth Marquess at first managed his estates in peace, keeping up the old customs that ” tenants were to make hedges for the wheat field by or within six days after St. Andrew’s Day, and for the barley field within six days of Maie Dale. No wheat was to be sown until within a fortnight of Christmas, and no fallowing done until within a fortnight of Candlemas.” But more stirring times were about to ruin, whilst they immortalised. Basing, and to confer upon its owner the proud title of the ” Loyal Marquess.” We have already made mention of various events at Basing during the year 1642. During the month of March 1643 some of the Cavaliers from the garrison of Reading marched to Basing House, and in the neighbourhood of Basingstoke, (another account says near Wokingham), succeeded in intercepting several waggons laden with cloth, belonging to certain clothiers of the western counties. The spoil was worth from ;^io,ooo to ;^i 2,000. The merchants went to Oxford, and petitioned the King for redress. Their prayer was heard, and on April 22 the cloth-laden waggons reached London in safety. Certain bales, however, belonging to Mr. Ash and his brother, who were both members of the House of Commons, were confiscated. The merchants who recovered their property were obliged to take the new protestation of allegiance, and to pay their fees, as if they had been prisoners, to Smith, the Provost Marshal of Oxford. This officer seems to have been terribly severe, and, in fact, most brutal in his treatment of the prisoners entrusted to his care. Frequent complaints were made to Parliament of his barbarities, and the House of Commons addressed a remonstrance to the King on the subject. My Lord General the Earl of Essex was, by a resolution of the House of Commons passed on March 16, officially informed of these proceedings, and also that certain passers-by had been fired upon from the windows of Basing House. The day of trial for ” Loyalty House ” was near at hand.

Towards the end of July the Marquess of Winchester, who since the surrender of Reading had seen his enemies increasing in numbers, and forming strong garrisons in his neighbourhood, found that Colonel Norton was threatening a visit to Basing House, ” as being a place in which he hoped to find much spoil and little opposition, for, to say truth, he is a very valiant gentleman where he meets with no resistance.” Clarendon, on the other hand, speaks of Norton as being a man of undoubted bravery. The Marquess made a journey to Court, and obtained permission to have ” one hundred musketeers of Colonel Rawdon’s regiment sent under the command of Lieut-Colonel Peake with speed and secrecy to Basing.” He then returned home, nor did he reach Loyalty House a moment too soon. Scarcely had he arrived before “Colonel Norton, with Capt. St. Barbe, of Broadlands, Romsey, with his troop of horse, and Capt. Cole, with a ragged rabble of Dragoons, begirt the house and pressed the siege exceeding hotly.” Within the walls there were, besides servants, only ” six gentlemen, armed with six muskets, the whole remainder of a well-furnished armoury.” They had already proved their prowess, for with them the Marquess ” had done so well that twice the enemies’ attempts proved vain.”

 But now surely, on this July 31, 1643, the odds are overwhelming, for see, two regiments of dragoons, under Colonels Harvey and Norton, have made their way through the park palings, and are bent upon an attack in force. Another half-hour, and the hopeless struggle will be at an end. But hark to yonder musket shots, and listen intently. Surely that is ” Rupert’s call ” from cavalry trumpets, and see how the rebels are flying in all directions. Yes, aid is at hand. Lieutenant-Colonel Peake has come from Oxford by forced marches, and is now beating the foe from Basing village, clearing house after house. For the King, hearing of Norton’s threatened attack, has, although he is about to march towards Bristol, and sorely needs the help of every available man, sent Colonel Sir Henry Bard, who disobeyed orders at Cheriton Fight, with some troops of horse to the relief of beleaguered Basing. The cavalry arrive just as the musketeers have cleared a way to “The Castle,” as Basing House was often styled by the Cavaliers. Lieut-Colonel Peake deserves full credit for his victory, for Harvey and Norton’s two regiments of dragoons ” ran quite away ” from his musketeers. Basing being thus at liberty. Colonel Norton and his allies retreated that night to Farnham, and from thence to Portsmouth, ” plaguing and plundering all the country as they passed along, for fear it should be thought that he had made so long a journey, and lain out so long, to undo nobody.” A letter was at once written by the Parliamentarian Committee at Portsmouth to the Lord General Essex, and read in the House of Lords on September 7, asking for more troops for the protection of the town, as the Cavaliers had succeeded in surprising both Dorchester and Weymouth. Colonel Norton’s repulse at Basing was doubtless another cause for alarm to the adherents of the Parliament in Portsmouth. Colonel Harvey, who aided Colonel Norton in this attack upon Basing, had formerly been a captain in one of the regiments of the London Trained Bands. He had been unfortunate in business, and is described as a ” decayed silkman.” When the war broke out he was appointed to the command of a troop of horse and of a regiment of dragoons. The women of London presented a petition for peace to the House of Commons, and, refusing to disperse. Colonel Harvey, with his troop of horse, was ordered to charge the unarmed crowd. The order was rigorously obeyed, at least two women were killed, and not a few wounded. Colonel Harvey’s standard bore the device of a Bible with the motto ” Lex Suprema ” (the supreme law !) and below a city, with the motto ” Salus Patriae ” (the safety of our fatherland). During the Commonwealth, Colonel Harvey was the temporary owner of Fulham Palace and of various revenues belonging of right to the See of London. One who knew him says ” He came off bluely in the end.”

The standard of the Marquess of Winchester was like those of other contemporary commanders, square in form, bearing a scroll with pendent ends, on which was the motto ” Aimez Loyaute.” The musketeers, who proved so timely a reinforcement to the defenders of Basing House, belonged to the Regiment of Foot commanded by Sir Marmaduke Rawdon, of whom and of the other officers of the garrison we will speak more at length hereafter. Warburton says ” During the early part of the Civil War the pikemen held the post of honour. The pikemen, as well as the musqueteers, wore a leathern doublet, steel cap, cloth hose, and square-toed shoes, with a large rosette. The pikeman, when he could get it, wore a back and breastpiece of steel, with an iron hook on the former, whereon to hang his steel cap while marching. The musqueteer wore a  bandolier ‘ or broad belt with charges of powder hung by little cords. The bullets were carried in a little bag or in the mouth for immediate use, over the left shoulder ; a sword belt over the right ; his match-lock rest was sometimes attached to his left wrist, while not in use, and sometimes he had a boy allowed him to carry this cumbrous piece of artillery for him.There were locks to the pistols and petronels (the latter so called ‘ because it hangeth on the breast ‘) of the Cavalry, but none, I think, to the Infantry musket. The former were wound up like a watch by an instrument called a spanner, and when let off by the trigger the flint was brought against a rough surface that gave the spark by friction. These were called ‘ snaphaunces.’ The charges of powder suspended from the bandolier being mostly twelve in number, were often styled * the twelve Apostles.’ ” The pay was 8d. a day for the infantry, is. 6d. for a dragoon, and 2s. 6d. for a trooper. Such were the men who manned the walls and towers of Basing House.

After the repulse of Harvey and Norton, Basing House “is then begunne, according to the quantity of men now added, to be fortified.” Cavaliers evidently knew how to use pickaxe and spade, as well as musket and pike. The whole area of the fortifications was fourteen and a-half acres, and many a now grass-covered rampart is still in existence. Whilst batteries were in course of construction at Basing, certain ships asked and obtained convoy from the Earl of Warwick, who was in command for the Parliament at Portsmouth. He thereupon ordered Captain William Thomas, who commanded the Eighth IVhelp, to escort these vessels from Southampton, Torbay, and Lynn to the coast of France, the Chariiy, frigate, being also in company. Off Brest the men-of-war were attacked by one of the ships which had gone over to the King’s party. The result of the fight was the spending of prize money at Portsmouth by Parliament men-of-war’s men. The story is a stirring one, but comes not within our province. ” Coats, shoes, caps, and shirts cost 17s. per man at their first marching ” on August 6, 1642, and ” coats, shirts, shoes, and knapsacks for 6000 men at i6s. each ” were ordered by Parliament on December 5, 1642. Dr. Firth’s ” Cromwell’s Army ” gives exhaustive details of military equipment. Andover was in safe Royalist keeping, as were also Donnington Castle, near Newbury, and Longford House, near Salisbury. These garrisons rendered communication easy between Kent, Surrey, and Sussex on the one side, and on the other Abingdon, Wallingford, Oxford, and the West. ” This House hath not onely been a great annoyance to all the country round about, but hath been a meanes to stop the trading out of the west to London by robbing and pillaging the carriers and clothiers that come from them, it standing near unto the direct road.” So speak my Lord Denbigh and Sir Thomas Middleton. The Maquess was also able to enforce the payment of the ;^i8o demanded weekly by the King from each neighbouring hundred of Hants, Berks, and Wilts. A number of women and children had found refuge at Basing House, ” wee not having lesse than seavenscore uselesse mouthes,” and many Royalists had stored their valuables within its walls. Sir William Waller had hitherto been far too busy to be able to think much of either the Marquess or his doings. But having at length returned from his campaign in the western counties, where he had most assuredly lost all claim to be styled ” William the Conqueror ” for the future, he was at liberty to turn his attention to ” Loyalty House.” The ” pure and spotless ” Lord Grandison, who had formerly done his best to protect the Hampshire fortress, had lately died of wounds received at the taking of Bristol, which surrendered to Prince Rupert on July 26, 1643.

The garrison of Basing were not taken unawares. ” Upon report of a puissant army under command of Sir William Waller, to be appointed for the taking of it in, Colonell Rawdon (or Roydon) with the rest of his Regiment (being one hundred and fifty more) is commanded thither. The Lord Marquess taking forth commissions, as Colonell and Governor, for the raising of more forces for the defence of the same.” /” Description of the Siege.”) Lieutenant-Colonel Peake was also appointed Lieutenant-Governor.

The town of Basingstoke favoured the cause of the Parliament, and on Friday, May 19, 1643, it was ordered that whenever a fast was appointed for Wednesday, Basingstoke market should be held on Tuesday. The Camden Society has published many interesting particulars concerning Colonel Rawdon, the Governor of Basing House. He was descended from the ancient family of that name near Leeds, in Yorkshire, and at the age of sixteen was taken to London by his elder brother Lawrence, who placed him in business there and laid the foundation of his fortunes. Mindful of his kindness, when in after years his younger brother died at Leeds he requested that his nephew and namesake Marmaduke Rawdon, then a boy of sixteen, might be committed to his parental care. ” When the younger Marmaduke became a member of his uncle’s household the London merchant was in the prime of life, and at the height of prosperity. He had married a wealthy heiress, and was the father of a numerous family. He enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most enterprising and successful of the English mercantile adventurers of his day. His transactions extended to almost every part of the known world. He traded largely in the wines of both France and the Peninsula through agencies or factories established at Bordeaux and Oporto. From the merchants of Holland and the Netherlands he purchased the produce of the vintages which flourished on the banks of the Rhine and its tributaries. To encourage the introduction into this country of the wine recently produced in the Canary Islands, he joined in forming an important factory at Teneriffe. He was among the earliest of the adventurers who invested capital in the cultivation of the sugar plantations of Barbadoes. This island was first settled under the authority of letters patent granted by James I. A subsequent grant was made by Charles I.” (See ” Verney Papers,” ed. Camden Soc, p. 193, note.) We learn from the ” Calendar of State Papers,” 1628-29, that Mr. W, Rawdon was either sole or part owner of the following ships in the years 1626 and 1627 : ” 1626, Sept. 15. – Owners, M. Roydon, Rowland Wilson and others. – Transport^ of London, tonn, 200. Capt. H. West. 1627, Jan. 30. – Owner, M. Roydon. – Patience, of London, tonn, 300, George, tonn, 80, Capt. Christopher Mitchell. 1626, Feb. 21st. – Owners, M. Roydon and others. – Vintage, of London, tonn, 140, Capt. R. West.” It is said that he was one of the first who rigged out a ship for the discovery of the N.W. Passage. He was a member of the Company of Turkey Merchants, and he possessed the confidence of the French merchants who traded with England. We are not surprised to be told that he was much esteemed by the Royal favourite Buckingham, and that he received marked attention from both the great Duke’s masters, King James I. and King Charles I. In the year 1628 Mr. Rawdon sat in the House of Commons as one of the representatives of the commercial and shipbuilding town of Aldborough, in the County of Suffolk, but it does not appear that he was returned to any subsequent Parliament. At an early period of his career he was made a member of the Municipal Corporation of the City of London, but upon being afterwards elected an Alderman he refused to accept the office.” He was, under Major-General Skippon, Lieut. -Colonel of the 1st Regiment of the London Trained Bands, the regimental ancestors of ” The Buffs.” The standard of this regiment is thus described : ” Gules. The Distinction Argent being Piles Wavey.” As soon, however, as Lieut. -Colonel Rawdon perceived that “the citizens were inclined to the Parliament ” he resigned his commission, and in 1643 joined the King at Oxford. He soon raised a regiment at his own cost, of which he took command. Having been ordered to Basing House, he there played a gallant part, winning for himself the well-earned honour of knighthood. His banner, square in form, bore the device of a spotted animal with a long bushy tail and an elongated snout, and the motto ” Mallem mori quam tardari ” (I’ll rather die than stop my course).Lord Capel, a relative of the Marquess of Winchester, who had large estates in Hampshire, had the device of a crown and sceptre, with the motto ” Perfectissima gubernatio ” (Monarchy the best of Governments). A hostile writer says, “Colonel Royden, a decayed merchant of London, who lived at Clerkenwell, and went to Basing to recruit, being the Governor of that Garrison.” Small wonder was it if he were ” decayed,” for the Parliament loved him not. On Friday, May 9, 1643, we hear of “a ship of rich trafique belonging to Captain Royden” being taken by the Eari of Warwick, and on Thursday, September 14, we know that his goods and those of others taken in certain ships from the East Indies were “to be sold by the candle,” and that the first ;^4000 of the proceeds were to be devoted to the maintenance of Waller’s army, which was then meditating an attack upon Basing House. Lieutenant-Colonel Peake, the Lieutenant-Governor of ” Loyalty House,” was ” sometime picture seller at Holborn Bridge,” according to Symonds, and ” a seller of picture babies,” said his opponents. His name is affixed to numerous prints and engravings, which are now rare. He was a man of venerable appearance in his later years, with a long white beard, like a ball of cotton.

Under his orders was another artist, William Faithorne, his former pupil, who had worked with him for some three or four years years previous to the breaking out of the Civil War. In the garrison was also the celebrated ” Wenceslaus Hollar,” who belonged to an ancient Bohemian family, and was born at Prague in 1607. He had been drawing master to the young Prince, subsequently Charles II. For a short period all went well with Hollar, for he now enjoyed the one fitful gleam of sunshine which illuminated his toil-worn life. He resided in apartments at Arundel House, and was constantly employed by his noble patron in engraving those treasures of ancient art still known as the Arundelian marbles. But soon the great Civil War broke forth ; Lord Arundel was compelled to seek a refuge on the Continent, whilst Hollar, with two other artists, Peake and Faithorne, accepted commissions in the King’s service.

Of Lieut. -Colonel Johnson Dr. Chalmers gives the following account (abridged) : ” Thomas Johnson, an English botanist of the seventeenth century, was born at Selby, in Yorkshire, and bred an apothecary in London. He afterwards kept a shop on Snow Hill, where, says Wood, by his unwearied pains and good natural parts he attained to be the best herbalist in England. He was first known to the public by some botanical works, published in 1620 and 1622, which were the first local catalogues of plants published in England. He soon after acquired great credit by his
new edition and emendation of ‘ Gerald’s Herbal.’ He wrote an account of the flora of the southern counties, and was one of the first to botanise in Wales and on the slopes of Snowdon. The University of Oxford, in consideration of his merit, learning, and loyalty, conferred upon him the degree of M.D. on May 9, 1643, In the army he had the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel to Sir Marmaduke Rawdon, Governor of Basing House.”

Major Cufifand, Cufand, Cuffel, Cuffles, &c. (his name is variously spelt), belonged to an ancient family, who dwelt in the old Manor House of Cuffand or Cuffell, which formerly stood at no great distance from The Vine, and of which the site is marked by an orchard, which is encircled by a brick-lined moat. On the tomb of Simon CufFand, who was interred at Basingstoke in 1619, he is described as ” Simon Cufand, of .Cufand, in Hampshire, 500 years the possession and habitation of gentlemen of that name, his predecessors.” On his mother’s side ” Simon Cufand was extracted from the Royall blood of the Plantagenets. He was a man of exemplar virtue and patience in grievous crosses, who always lived religiously.” Major Cuffand had both Tudor and Plantagenet royal blood in his veins, and was in religion a Roman Catholic. Lieutenant Cuffand also did good service. Major Langley had been “sometime a mercer in Paternoster-row.” The senior Captain in Colonel Rawdon’s regiment had been a cordwainer or shoemaker. Major Rosewell had been an apothecary in the Old Bailey. ” Captain Rowlet (Rowland), a scrivener, next door to the sign of the * George ‘ at Holborn Conduit, and Lieutenant Rowlet his brother. Lieutenant Ivory (Emery), sometime afcitizen of London, a vintner.” Ensign (Ancient) Coram was ” the son of one Coram, a Papist, in Winchester.” ” William Robinson, a Papist, was surgeon to the Lord Marquess of Winchester.” Captain Peregrine Tasbury was a Hampshire gentleman, and of Cornet Bryan we shall hear much.