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 Marmaduke Langdale - The First Civil War.

At the outbreak of the First Civil War in 1642, Langdale was named as a Commissioner of Array for Yorkshire and appointed a colonel in the King's service. Together with Sir Thomas Glenham, the Earl of Cumberland, and the other leading Yorkshire Royalists he set about raising his tenantry and neighbours into a force for the King. Langdale's tenants eagerly flocked to his standard for the King's service and he was able through his own efforts to raise three companies of foot and a troop of 70 cavalry which he maintained at his own expense. Such was his reputation and standing in East Yorkshire that he raised almost the whole of East Yorkshire into a loyal force for the King.

The early Royalist encounters with the parliamentary forces in Yorkshire under Fairfaxes were largely ineffective to such an extent that the Royalist stronghold of York became threatened. The Yorkshire Royalists lost confidence in their General the Earl of Cumberland and voted to petition the Earl of Newcastle, then ensconced in Newcastle, to march south to their aid.

In late 1642 1643 Langdale and a Mr Aldburgh rode north to meet Newcastle and request his assistance and support. Langdale wrote to Sir William Saville telling him that Newcastle was unwilling to risk his honour and reputation in Yorkshire until he was sufficiently strong enough to do so. At that time he had but 3000 horse and foot but he was getting more men and horses daily and he would march south within a few days. Newcastle hoped to raise more men in Yorkshire to increase his army to 10,000. Langdale was clearly concerned at the expense and demands this would make on the Royalists in Yorkshire but opines that this would be preferable than losing all to their enemies. He comments on the Queens expected arrival with money and reinforcements from the continent and the possibilities and the arrival of foreign armies in what would be effectively an extension of the 30 Years War in Europe. This prospect clearly does not appeal to Langdale but he concludes that if they could make an end to their troubles and distractions in Yorkshire and divert the war southwards then any foreign armies would be employed further south where all their troubles began and there they would find pillage aplenty to satisfy the needs of many armies.

Newcastle marched south to York in November 1642. He defeated Sir John Hotham at Piercebridge and arrived at York to be joyfully received whereupon Cumberland resigned his command of the Yorkshire Royalists.

Newcastle rested his army for three days and then proceeded against Lord Fairfax at Tadcaster. A hard contest ensued throughout the day with the Royalists making determined assaults on the town but being repeatedly driven back. Lord Fairfax was forced to withdraw from the town during the night due to a shortage of ammunition and lack of men. The Fairfaxes headed south east to occupy Selby. Newcastle then moved to relieve the small Royalist garrison at Pontefract.

Newcastle then decided to advance into the West Riding and attack centres of Parliamentary support in the region. His main target was Bradford. Royalist forces under the command of Sir William Saville occupied Leeds and Wakefield which were surrendered with only light resistance. Saville attempted to take Bradford on the 18th December but was driven off by determined opposition of the local people.

On the 23rd January 1643 Sir Thomas Fairfax recaptured Leeds for Parliament and the Royalists withdrew to York to await reinforcements. It is not known if Langdale was active in these engagements but it seems likely that he played some role, possibly at Tadcaster.

What is known is that, on the arrival of Queen Henrietta Maria at Bridlington on the 22nd Feb, Langdale marched there with an escort. The Queen arrived with much needed finance, munitions and soldiers which greatly heartened the Yorkshire Royalists and from these supplies Langdale's own men were armed. Newcastle sounded Langdale and the Northern Horse as to their providing an escort for the Queen on her journey south. A council of war was convened to decide the matter but it ended with Newcastle's own troops providing the escort.

Newcastle and the Yorkshire Committee were desirous of gaining the support of the Hothams and the surrender of Hull without delay. Hull was a vital port and arsenal in the north and heavily fortified. A siege would have been a long, bloody and quite probably fruitless business as Parliament could easily resupply Hull by sea. Sir John Hotham and his son were thought to be amenable to this idea due to personal grievances with the Fairfaxes and Parliament.

Langdale was appointed to approach the Hothams regarding this due to his family connections. His late wife had been the sister of Sir John Hotham's wife and they were well known to each other. The Hothams were however were nervous about a public meeting with such a prominent northern royalist as Langdale and refused permission for him to enter Hull. Newcastle continued to press the matter and the Hothams remained resolute in their determined but polite refusal.

In the meantime Parliament dispatched an agent by sea to Hull. John Saltemarshe was a fanatical and dissenting clergyman who was a kinsman of the Hothams. He gained the confidence of Sir John who confided in him of his desire to surrender Hull and change sides at the right time and price. Saltemarshe informed Parliament and both Hothams were tried for treason and executed later that year.

In June Newcastle returned to the offensive and moved on the West Riding taking Howley House on the 22nd June. On the 30th June he defeated the Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor and took Bradford shortly after. It is not known if Langdale participated in this campaign but thought unlikely and that he was occupied in the East Riding with the continuing business of Hull.

On the 11th September a commission was granted to Langdale to call a Council of War. At this time his official title was Colonel of the First Brigade of Horse of the Northern Royalist Army.

The King wished that Newcastle and his army march south and join forces with him against Essex but in August he seems to have entrusted Newcastle with the duty of attacking the Eastern Association and marching south. Newcastle marched into Lincolnshire taking Gainsborough and Lincoln and threatening to raise the siege at Lynn.

The appeals of the Yorkshire Committee, the reluctance of the army to march further from their homes and the activity of the garrison of Hull in the rear persuaded Newcastle to return home and besiege Hull. Langdale forces beat off a surprise sortie by the defenders of Hull who suffered heavily for the pains.

The siege lasted from the 2nd September to the 12th October when Cromwell's victory at Winceby on the 11th Oct forced Newcastle to raise the siege and retire to York. Lincolnshire was then entirely lost to the Royalists.

On the 19th February 1644, during the Scottish invasion of northern England in support of Parliament, Langdale routed the Covenanter cavalry at Corbridge on the River Tyne. The Scots withstood 2 charges but after this determined resistance Langdale with 200 foot advanced forced the Scots to retreat and chased them for 3 miles. About 200 Scots including many officers were killed and 150 prisoners taken. Two Horse colours and a dragoon colour were taken and it is reported that Major General David Leslie, the Earl of Leven's son, was wounded.

The Scots recovered during the hard winter and advanced south in the spring increasing the pressure on the Royalist stronghold of York which then sieged by the Leven's Scots army and the armies of Parliaments Northern and Eastern Associations.

The advance of the Royalists into Yorkshire forced the Parliamentary forces to abandon the siege and the scene was set for the crucial Battle of Marston Moor on 2nd July 1644. Here Langdale's cavalry fought on the Royalist left wing with Lieutenant-General Goring, who routed Fairfax's cavalry and came close to breaking the Allied infantry. However this hard fought and close run battle turned in Parliaments favour and, in spite great gallantry by the Royalists, they were swept from the field.

After Marston Moor, Langdale took command of Newcastle's veteran cavalry regiments, which became known as the Northern Horse

After Marston Moor Langdale left Yorkshire with what was left of his division and all that was left of the Royalist army of the north and headed north into Westmoreland and Cumberland. They then turned south into Lancashire for Chester with the intention of joining Rupert. They were much harassed by Parliamentary troops along the way. Lord Byron in command in Cheshire hoped to take advantage of the presence of Langdale to force out the Parliamentary troops in the county and securely hold Chester. An unnecessary encounter at Ormskirk on the 12th August was only saved from disaster by Langdale’s skilled withdrawal. Byron wished Langdale’s Horse to remain at Wrexham but this proved impossible due to the lack of provisions and fodder. On the 26th August Langdale was attacked at Malpas and wounded. Even so he beat off the Parliamentarians and brought his horse to quarters in Monmouthshire to join up again with Rupert. In October Rupert despatched Langdale and Gerard to the King at Oxford and they assisted in the relief of Banbury Castle.

Early in 1645 Langdale’s northern horse were anxious to return north to be nearer their threatened homes and relieve their friends under siege at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire. Langdale wrote to Rupert on the 12th January on this subject.

“ I beseech your highness let not our countrymen upbraid us with ungratefullness in deserting them, but rather give us leave to try what we can do; it will be some satisfaction to use that we die amongst them in revenge for their quarrels.”

Langdale was given permission to try and headed north with around 2000 horse defeating Colonel Rossiter at Melton Mowbray on the 25th February.  Langdale was joined by 800 infantry from Newark and continued north. On the 1st March Parliamentarian forces tried to halt Langdale at Wentworth but were defeated and fled back to Pontefract. Langdale advanced to Pontefract and engaged the besieging forces under General Lambert. Supported by the forces from Pontefract Castle Langdale defeated Lambert at Chequerfield and relieved the Castle. The whole daring raid had been a considerable feat of arms by Langdale and clear testimony as to his leadership, skill and the fighting qualities of his men. It was arguably the most brilliant piece of soldiering of the entire war. The stores and munitions captured enabled the Pontefract garrison to resupply and continue to hold out when the siege resumed a month later. The Royalist reputation amongst the civilian population of the area was however tarnished by the conduct of Langdale’s troopers who left a trail of rape and pillage in their wake.

Langdale discovered on arriving at the castle that is brother in law Abraham Sunderland died during the siege. Amongst others who died in the siege was Col James Washington, son and heir of Darcye Washington of Adwick in Yorkshire. James was an ancestor of the first US President George Washington. Darcye Washington, brother of James, died at the siege of Newark and Sir Henry Washington was another prominent Royalist who distinguished himself at Bristol and Worcester

Langdale then proceeded south west to Bridgnorth and joined forces with Prince Maurice and Sir Jacob Astley.

In May the King left Oxford and headed north and Langdale’s troopers rejoiced at the prospect of a swift return to fight on their home territory. However Fairfax was moving to relieve Taunton. A Council of War was called and it was agreed that Goring should move west to check Fairfax and Rupert and Langdale would continue north. This division of forces was clearly a serious mistake.

 It was decided to siege and take Leicester. Langdale with 1400 cavalry took up position between Leicester and Coventry and drove back a body of Parliamentary cavalry attempting to break through

 Prince Rupert stormed and plundered the city on 30 May.   Any further advance northwards was checked by the news that Fairfax was now moving on and threatening Oxford.

This change of plan was greeted with total dismay by Langdale’s troopers who were close to mutiny over the issue. It was only because of the persuasive powers of Langdale and the King himself that they were induced to stay. 

The Parliamentarian army and the Royalists closed for the critical battle at Naseby. Here the Royalists were outnumbered nearly 2 to 1. The two sides were in place by eleven on the morning of 14th June. Rupert began the battle with a charge that pushed back Ireton's cavalry, some of whom fled. Seeing this, the Royalist infantry also advanced, and the Parliamentary centre was forced back. This was the high point of Royalist success. The Parliamentarian right wing of cavalry under Cromwell faced Langdale’s Northern Horse. Neither was willing to charge to the aid of their infantry while the other could threaten their flank. Eventually after an hour, Langdale’s troopers charged and Cromwell's cavalry moved to meet them. Langdale's men were not only outflanked and outnumbered two to one, but forced to charge up a slope broken up by bushes and a rabbit warren. After a brief contest they were routed.

That left the Royalist infantry exposed to Cromwell and under their pressure, the Welsh levies broke, and surrendered in large groups, leaving their officers with no choice but to flee or be captured. The only remaining Royalist forces still fighting were Rupert's Cavalry, who managed to rescue the King, and escape to relative safety in Ashby de la Zouch, some thirty miles from the battlefield. By one in the afternoon, after only two hours of fighting, the Royalists had been routed.

After Naseby, Langdale joined King Charles on his attempt to march towards Scotland to join forces with the Marquis of Montrose. The Royalists were diverted at Chester where they attempted to lift the siege. Langdale's cavalry advanced to Rowton Heath ready to attack the besiegers, but were defeated by a pursuing force of Parliamentarian cavalry under Colonel-General Poyntz.

Langdale and the remnants of the Northern Horse attempted to continue the gallant ride to Scotland under the command of Lord Digby in October 1645. Digby's advance guard surprised and captured a Parliamentarian garrison at Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, but was itself driven out in the confusion of an attack by Colonel Copley. Chased to Skipton and then across the Pennines into Cumberland, the Northern Horse were finally defeated on Carlisle Sands by Sir John Browne on 24 October 1645. Digby, Langdale and other officers escaped to the Isle of Man sailing from Ravenglass in a small boat and from there on to Ireland.

To contact David W Fell click on shovel.

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