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"Taking of Preston" Topic


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LtJBSz Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2016 9:34 a.m. PST

As I wait for the release of "the Pikeman's Lament" I have been exploring some interesting sources on smaller actions in the ECW. Broxap's book on the Civil War in Lancashire and the "True Relation of the Taking of the Towne of Preston…" both mention the make up of the Parliamentary force that took Preston in February 1642.. Broxap says 1000 men in 3 companies from Manchester, 3 companies from Bolton and 4 or 5 other companies as well as 600 "clubmen", but he does not further describe the units. In the True Relation Tilsley, an "eyewitness", says the Parliamentary Troops are about "900 or 1000 firemen(?) of horse and foot and about 600 Billmen, Halberdiers and Clubmen." I am surprised by the mention of billmen and by the apparent lack of pike, unless they were deliberately left behind since these troops were off to attack a fortified town. I wonder what the horse would consist of, are they dragoons or actual horse and if so how are they armed? And since the "Clubmen" are listed with the polearms are they to armed with melee weapons? Any thoughts?

Timbo W30 Dec 2016 11:39 a.m. PST

Hi Lt,
interesting account, I haven't got around to reading Broxap yet.

Here are a few notes on the storm of Preston in Feb 43 (new style)

Royalists commanded by Sir Gilbert Houghton
3 companies of foot Tyldesley's?
2 troops of horse Anderton's (of Tyledseley's Rgt) and R Houghton's
2 regiments (?) of dragoons Sir Gilbert Houghton's & Tyldesley's

Parliamentarians commanded by Seaton
1600 under Seaton, Maj. Sparrow and Birch
Upto 2500 altogether including those from Blackburn and Bolton

Foot regiments: Holland, Assheton and Booth? The Blackburn men might have been Starkie's Blackburn Lancashire trained band?

Seaton and Sparrow had recently been sent north from London to reinforce the Lancashire Parliamentarians with experienced officers. Seaton left (most or all?) of his dragoon regiment behind in the south, where it was taken over by George Melve.

And here's a link to the Houghton's re-enactment regiment link

I like the 'billmen, halberdiers and clubmen' I'd guess that these were the irregular volunteers ie clubmen, but some were armed with bills and halberds. It certainly seems suspicious that the 1000 men from Manchester were in only 3 companies, so perhaps a core of 'regular' foot plus a mob of clubmen?

As for the mounted men, dragoons were still quite popular at this time, so some seem likely, and Seaton had been a dragoon colonel…. A few troops of horse also seems likely. Perhaps at this stage a bloke on a horse was viewed as a cavalryman if he had a sword, a dragoon if he had a musket the Lancs forces seem to have struggled with equipment on both sides, much seems to be ad hoc and organised 'on the fly' in the first 6 months of the war.

By the way 'firemen' meant men armed with firearms, so generally means musketeers, perhaps also includes dragoons and 'trotters F' in this context?

LtJBSz Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2016 2:14 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info and the link. I believe the 1000 man total is meant to include all 10 or 11 companies mentioned, with the 600 others in addition. And yes it was 1643 not 42.

Timbo W30 Dec 2016 4:26 p.m. PST

That sounds more reasonable indeed Lt. Also could be the 'regular' foot took bills etc instead of pikes as more useful in a town? The 2 Royalist dragoon Rgts seem to have been quite weak, in the process of being raised.

Elenderil30 Jan 2017 9:19 a.m. PST

Stephen Bull's recent book on the Civil War in Lancashire is worth a look. If you go online and search for the Cheatham Society they have a lot of scanned period tracts covering the war in Lancashire. Broxup seems to have used the collection for the basis of his research. Probably my favourite source is Robinson's Discourse upon the war in Lancashire written around 1653 by a Parliamentarian officer who lived and fought in Lancashire.

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