William Cavendish - Marquis of Newcastle. Late 1643.
With the whole of Yorkshire with the exception of Hull under his control and the Fairfaxes out of the picture for the moment William was now in a position of some strength. However in a surprise attack the Parliamentarians retook Gainsborough and William’s cousin Charles was killed in an the attempted recapture. William advanced into Lincolnshire retaking Gainsborough in a siege lasting 3 days and Lincoln without firing a shot. A desperate Oliver Cromwell pleaded for help.
“ Haste what you can. Lord Newcastle will advance into our bowels. Better join when others join ... than stay till all be lost: hasten to our help.”
William demanded the surrender of Nottingham Castle but the courageous Colonel John Hutchinson refused to submit on under any circumstances to a
“ papistical army led by an atheistical general.”
The King sent a message to William on the 19th August. In this he confirmed William’s appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Rutland, Huntingdon and Norfolk. He also suggested William and his army advance south to join a three pronged attack on London. This may have looked a good proposition from Oxford but certainly raised difficult issues for William. It was clear his army was reluctant to fight far from their home counties in the north and, at Hull, Lord Fairfax and his son Sir Thomas were in the process of quickly re-establishing themselves. The scheming and treacherous Hothams had been replaced at last. A new army was being assembled, supplied by sea, to renew the Fairfax challenge in Yorkshire and they were mounting ever more ambitious raids into the east of county. Eythin again advised that Hull must be taken and the Fairfaxes broken once and for all before any move south could even be considered.
William turned his attentions to Hull and opened with a bombardment of red hot shot which had been so effective at Gainsborough. Hull however was a much different proposition. Lord Fairfax ordered the breaching of the Humber dykes. The resulting inundation flooded much to the Royalist entrenchments and gun positions which they had put so much effort into constructing. William remained confident and wrote to the King to say he would come south as soon as he could but that his men
“utterly refused to march until Hull was taken.”
The siege dragged on into October with the attackers pinned down in their sodden entrenchments and the defenders secure within the safety and comfort of Hull’s mighty fortifications. On the 11th of the month at dawn the Fairfaxes mounted a surprise attack taking some of the Royalist forward positions after fierce fighting and turning the guns on the besiegers. As if that were not enough William’s day was spoiled further when he heard that Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax had inflicted a crushing defeat on Widderington at Winceby. With the Parliamentarians back in control in Lincolnshire exposing the Royalist flank and winter drawing in the continued siege of Hull was looking a far from attractive proposition. William decided to withdraw back to York.
On the 27th October he was made Marquis of Newcastle for his services to the Crown. However the tide was beginning to turn against him with incursions into the West Riding from the Lancashire Parliamentarians under Colonel Bradshaw and the energetic Sir Thomas Fairfax now active in Derbyshire. William sent Mackworth and Windham to Halifax to deal with the raids by the Lancashire Parliamentarians whilst he proceeded to Derbyshire in an attempt to dislodge Fairfax. As the Royalists advanced Sir Thomas retreated to Nottingham and William established his HQ at Chesterfield. Several sharp skirmishes resulted and he was able to reoccupy Chatsworth without bloodshed when the garrison surrendered.
By December Derbyshire was safe, Fairfax having withdrawn back to Lincolnshire. William recruited new regiments from the area which he put under the command of Lord Loughborough, the celebrated “Blind Harry” Hastings. After spending Xmas at Welbeck he continued to negotiate with the obstinate Colonel Hutchinson at Nottingham with no success.