The Civil War Visits of Warwickshire Troops to Ashby Parva
Troops from the Warwickshire garrisons made frequent forays into Guthlaxton Hundred in the Civil War, gathering tax levies, horses and provisions from Ashby Parva, Leire, North Kilworth and the surrounding villages. Some of the claims for compensation, made by the constables and submitted to the County Committee have survived and are now kept among the State Papers as part of the Exchequer accounts in the Public Record Office. One very interesting list of claims described as, “A charge expressing particularly what free quarter, horses and other goods have been taken from any of the forces under the Parliament’s Command within the County of Warwick so far as at present can be found out” (SP 28/161) refers to troops from the parliamentary garrisons at Coventry, Tamworth, Astley, Warwick and Edgbaston. The claims were submitted to the Warwick county committee in June, 1646. Most of these entries relate to Sparkenhoe Hundred, but there are further entries for villages in Guthlaxton, East and West Goscote. The claims for Guthlaxton Hundred are from troops belonging to the Coventry and Warwick garrisons, and mainly refer to horses taken "upon pretence of public service” and for free quartering of troops passing through the area. There is one charge of plundering at North Kilworth, but no mention of compulsory levies, ransoming or monetary fines.
The earliest claim relating to the Coventry garrison dates from around May 1642 when a hundred men and their horses from Coventry stayed three hours at Ashby Parva “to refresh themselves with meat, drink and provinder” worth £2. At North Kilworth Coventry troops under the command of Captain Flower and Captain Blyth were accused of taking horses, “upon pretence of public service”. Mr Cotton claimed £7 for a mare and a colt taken by a trumpeter and £11 for a mare and a gelding taken by Captain Blyth. William Page claimed £37.10 for four horses taken by Coventry soldiers, including a soldier called Neale in Flower’s troop. Mr Belgrave from North Kilworth delivered a bill to the Inquirors declaring that captain Flower and captain Blyth “did pillage his house of saddles, bridles, boots, spurs, swords, sword hilts, daggers and belts” worth £1.10. At Frolesworth there was a claim for £4 for quartering the Earl of Denbigh with four carriages and thirteen soldiers of his retinue.
There were also claims from soldiers garrisoned at Warwick. About March 1644 about 60 men and horses under the command of Captain Wells of Warwick, apparently availed themselves of free quarter in Ashby Parva for two days and nights, their “diet and horsemeat” amounting to £10. Seventy-two soldiers under Wells’ command were charged for staying three nights in Frolesworth, one of the villagers,Thomas Townsend, claiming 8s for forty nine pounds of cheese sent off to Warwick. At North Kilworth Captain Hawkesworth of Warwick was charged with taking two black geldings worth £12. Mr Belgrave and William Hallby claimed for requisitioned horses including a black mare worth £3.10 taken by a soldier identified as Woodcock belonging to the Warwick troop. John Burdett lost a horse worth £5, William Holland sen., a grey mare worth £5, taken by a trumpeter. The constables of Swinford claimed 11s 8d, for having to carry provisions to Leire “compelled by warrant from the quartermaster of Killingworth [Kenilworth] Castle, Mr Mills, under command of Warwick forces”. The constables at Ashby Magna claimed £15.11.8 for quartering fifty five soldiers under the command of Captain Potter for four nights. At Bilston John Jarvis claimed that Captain Ashenhurst of Warwick had taken a horse on 25th June 1643, which cost him 10s to get back. Henry Sealie asked for £4, declaring that, on 16th June, 1644, Captain Bridge’s soldiers had taken his horse, leaving a lame one in its place
These entries help to throw some light on the inflictions by parliamentary garrisons on Guthlaxton Hundred villages in the Civil War. Of course these were only a few of the claims from southwest Leicestershire, Eusaby Cradock, the clerk to the Warwick county committee, advising that "much more … will be charged upon the several garrisons so soon as the Country Books of Accounts come in". Further accounts of forced contributions, ransoms and plundering by the Warwickshire garrisons can be found in P.R.O. Exchequer Accounts, SP 28/161. cf. R.E. Sherwood’s, Civil Strife in the Midlands, 1642-1651 (1974), Andrew Hopper, ‘Tinker Fox’ and the politics of garrison warfare in the west midlands, 1643-50’, Midland History, xxiv (1999), Ann Hughes, ‘Parliamentary Tyranny? Indemnity Proceedings and the Impact of the Civil War: A Case Study from Warwickshire’, Midland History xi (1986). Transcripts of musters, accounts and claims for the Coventry garrison, relating particularly to Sparkenhoe Hundred, can be found at: www.coventryweb.co.uk/editorials/history/CoventryGarrison.html
© Alan Roberts, 2003.