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Part 9

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The Business of Yorkshire - Part 9.

In March Sir Thomas received a dispatch from Colonel Lambert in Bradford saying,

“We all, in these parts, exceedingly long for and desire your appearance here, which, I am confident, were enough to clear these parts, if the opportunity be not slipped.”

Soon after Sir Thomas was ordered back to Yorkshire by his father and he rode back into the county at the head of 2000 cavalry. Lord Fairfax ventured from Hull with his force and headed for Ferrybridge. Here he met Sir Thomas and his large force.

They were joined by Colonel Lambert who had marched his army from Bradford and Sir John Meldrum and 2000 infantry from the Midlands Association

11th April 1644 - The 4 combined to attack Selby on the. The result was a devastating defeat for the Royalist’s. Belasyse was significantly outnumbered and lacking the support of General George Porter and his men who were still absent.

The Parliamentarians attacked at 3 points and, after some resolute defence by the Royalists, swept into Selby killing or capturing most of the Royalist infantry and taking Balasyse prisoner. The Royalist cavalry fled back to York. Sir Thomas was unhorsed and again wounded in this encounter.

With York now under serious threat from Yorkshire Parliamentarian forces Newcastle withdrew his troops back to York.

18th April 1644 - The armies of the Scots and the Fairfaxes joined forces and begin the siege of York.

3rd June 1644 - They are reinforced on the by the Parliamentarian army of the Eastern Association which completes the encirclement of York.

The King ordered Prince Rupert to march his army to York and relieve the city and defeat the Scots and Parliamentary forces.

Prince Rupert - King Charles’ nephew - General and Commander of Royalist cavalry

26th June 1644 -  Prince Rupert with a Royalist army of 14,000 men marched into Yorkshire after a successful campaign in Lancashire during the previous 4 weeks. After resting his army in Skipton for 3 days Prince Rupert led his men down the Wharfe valley. He spent the night in Lord Fairfax’s house at Denton Hall near Ilkley. Rupert was familiar with the Fairfax family. Several of Lord Fairfax's brothers had fought for Rupert's mother early in the Thirty Years' War and two had died in her cause. There was a story that his recollection was stirred by seeing a picture of one of the deceased Fairfax men and Rupert gave explicit orders that the house should not be touched or pillaged by his men. Next day Prince Rupert headed for Knaresborough.

The prospect of such a large Royalist army with the formidable general, Prince Rupert, at its head within a day’s march of Bradford must have been the cause for some alarm in the town. However Prince Rupert was intent on more important matters, namely the relief of York and defeat of the Scots and Parliamentarians in the field.

The march was a triumph for Prince Rupert who completely outwitted the Allies.

Shocked at the approach of this large Royalist force the Allied Scots and Parliamentarian generals withdrew their armies from their siege lines around York and took up positions on Marston Moor, 6 miles west of York. They had expected Prince Rupert to approach from the west but were outflanked as the Royalist army crossed the rivers Nidd and Ouse further north.

The Allied generals became concerned that Prince Rupert would again slip past them and threaten their supply lines from the south. They decided to withdraw to Tadcaster whilst their cavalry remained on Marston Moor to cover their retreat.

On the 1st July the Royalist cavalry commanded by Lord Goring reached the outskirts of York and entered the city. The Prince marched his main army on to Marston Moor for battle. The Allied generals accept the challenge and ordered their army back to Marston Moor.


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