English Civil War 1642 - 51

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Summary of Events

The First Civil War 1642-1646

  • Battle of Edgehill, 23 October 1642

  • Battle of Turnham Green, 13 November 1642

  • Capture of Bristol, 26 July 1643

  • Scotland joins Parliament against Charles II, January 1644

  • Battle of Marston Moor, 2 July 1644

  • Creation of the New Model Army, January-March 1645

  • Battle of Naseby, 14 June 1645

  • Charles I surrenders to Scottish forces, 5 May 1646

Interlude, 1646-1648

  • The Scottish give Charles to Parliament for 400,000 pounds, January 1647

  • Charles escapes to the Isle of Wight, November 1647
  • Parliament renounces its allegiance to Charles, January 1648

Second Civil War 1648-1651

  • The Scots, who are now loyal to Charles, invade England, July 1648

  • Battle of Preston, Oliver Cromwell defeats the Scots, 17-19 August 1648
  • Trial and execution of Charles I, 30 January 1649

The Commonwealth, 1649-1660

  • Cromwell made Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, February 1649

  • Irish Rebellion, 1649-1650
  • Naval Reform, 1649-1652
  • First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652-1654
  • Creation of Army Military Districts, 1655
  • Richard Cromwell succeeds his father as Lord Protector, 3 September 1658
  • Restoration of the Monarchy, May 1660

The Reign of Charles II, 1660-1685

  • Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-1667

  • Third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672-1674
  • Death of Charles II, 6 February 1685

The Uneasy Truce, 1685-1687

  • James II, a Catholic and absolutist, ascends the throne, 6 February 1685

  • Monmouth's Rebellion, 6 July 1685
  • James attempts to restore Catholicism in England
  • Third Civil War: Glorious Revolution and the Primacy of Parliament
  • Invasion of England by William III of the Netherlands, November 1688

  • James is defeated with little bloodshed and flees to France, 11 December 1688
  • William and his wife Mary (daughter of James II) declared joint rulers of England, establishing the primacy of Parliament over the monarchy.
  • Parliament passes the Mutiny Act, which established Parliamentary control over the military, April 1689

On the 20th May 1642, at the outset of the Civil War, Royalist Traitors Whose Estates were confiscated during the Commonwealth were revealed. The Lands and Estates of these people forfeited for Treason, were to be sold. These included Ralph Rishton Senior,  of Whiteash, his son, Ralph Rishton junior, also of Whiteash, Edward Rishton of Michaelhaies (Mickyheyes), and William Rishton of Ponthaulgh.


Huncoat shared in the outstanding events of the seventeenth century, particularly the great Civil War, which devastated the district for so long. Local families of that period played their part for King or Parliament. To the events leading up to the Civil War it is sufficient to state that King Charles IV. raised his standard at Nottingham, the signal for hostilities all over the country. This occurred on the 22nd of August, 1642. At that time there was no regular army in England. Bodies of men, known as trained bands or militia, assembled at least once a year in their respective districts, went into training as soldiers, and after a short time went back to their work. If war was imminent they were called out and formed into regiments to proceed to the scene of operations.

Many leading men in East Lancashire desired to hold a meeting with a view to keeping neutral during the war, but the proceedings were stopped and both sides set about preparing for the coming struggle, in which Lancashire played a very active part, waged mainly among her own people. The Hundreds of West Derby, Leyland, Amounderness and Lonsdale, were strongly Royalist, while the Hundreds of Salford and Blackburn were equally as strong for Parliament. But no line could be strictly drawn, as there were adherents of both sides in all parts.

Parliament found its strength among the Puritans and the King among Anglicans and Romanists. Among the members of the Long Parliament were two Richard Shuttleworth's, father and son, of Gawthorpe, the former M. P. for Preston, the latter for Clitheroe. Having done their utmost to secure the liberty of their country by voice in Parliament, they returned to Lancashire to arm their tenantry and to prepare by personal service for the threatening war. Colonel Shuttleworth, the father had four sons, all of whom became distinguished officers in the Parliamentary Army. Richard, the Member for Clitheroe was among the first to equip his men. He died young, exhausted with the fatigue and anxiety of Parliamentary and military service. Nicholas Shuttleworth became a colonel and commander of cavalry in General Lambert's army. Ughtred also became a colonel of infantry in the same army of Lambert's command. William, the youngest son, was killed in defending Lancaster against the forces of the Earl of Derby. The father was High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1618 and 1638. The family originally branched from Shuttleworth Hall in Hapton to Gawthorpe.

The Asshetons had two representatives in the Long Parliament. Ralph, of Middleton, was one of two members for the Shire and represented the Presbyterian interest in Parliament. He was regarded as the head of the older branch of the Assheton family, and at the outbreak of the Civil War commanded the Parliamentary forces in Lancashire and was leader of the cause in the county. Ralph Assheton, of Whalley Abbey, was Member of Parliament for Clitheroe along with Richard Shuttleworth, junior. The Braddylls, of Portfield, were closely associated with the Asshetons. Colonel Braddyll's eldest son, John, killed during a fight at Thornton Hall in Craven, was interred in Whalley Church, July 27th, 1643.

The Starkie family of Huntroyde, near Padiham, were allied with the Shuttleworths of Gawthorpe as leaders of the Parliamentary cause. Colonel John Starkie and Colonel Shuttleworth were colleagues in arms and recognised leaders of the Parliamentary forces in East Lancashire. Captain Nicholas Starkie, son of Colonel Starkie, was at the first capture of Preston. He was killed along with forty of his men by an explosion of gunpowder at Hoghton Tower after its surrender.

Nicholas and John Cunliffe, father and son, of the Hollins, were also active for the Parliament, the latter having served with and a particular friend of Major General Lambert. Robert Cunliffe of Sparth was an M. P. in Cromwell's Parliament of 1653. The Rishtons of Antley, the Rileys, Ormerods, and others of the lesser gentry and yeomen families also took part in the struggle.

The King had also a considerable following among the local gentry. Prominent among the Royalists in Huncoat was Thomas Birtwistle, of Huncoat Hall. He was born in 1599 and married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Clayton, of Church Hall, which still exists in Dill Hall Lane, and which must have often been passed by Thomas Birtwistle on his way to Church or Blackburn, from Huncoat. A Roman Catholic, he came under the law as a recusant, and in 1630 compounded by an annual fine of £10 for two-thirds of his estate liable to sequestration for recusancy. His mother, Dorothy, at the same time compounded for £4. The Birtwistles in spite of such drastic treatment remained loyal to their faith and their King. It was only the year before the commencement of the Civil War that Huncoat Hall afforded safe refuge to the mother's kinsman, John Worthington, a hunted priest, and no doubt to other members of the family who were priests and often in hiding. The family of Thomas Birtwistle were John, the heir, James, Joseph (married Ann Rowson), Margaret, and Theodosia.

The Roman Catholics were supporters of the King to a man. In 1642 the recusants in Lancashire petitioned the King for permission to take up arms for their own safety, which was readily given, so that when the war commenced they were prepared.

A notable Royalist family were the Nowells of Read Hall, whose picturesque old mansion was pulled down to build the present residence early in the nineteenth century. Roger Nowell's name appears in the Royal Commission of Array published in June, 1642, just prior to the war. He was a party to an effort made four months later to effect a pacific understanding between the rival factions in East and Central Lancashire, but events had gone too far. They were of a Protestant family and Captain Nowell (later Colonel) along with his brother, set out with the Royalist Lancashire Regiments to join the King's Army and fought at the battle of Edge Hill (October 23rd, 1642). He was with Lord Strange (later Earl of Derby) at the siege of Manchester. Colonel Nowell was one of the defenders of Lathom House, when that stronghold was besieged by the forces of the Parliament. The first siege is famous in Lancashire history on account of its defence by Charlotte, Countess of Derby. Accrington Museum, Oak Hill Park, has included in its historic and local collection a striking picture, a reproduction of an incident during the defence, showing the heroic Countess assisting to lash the Royal Standard to the mast on the top of the Eagle Tower so that it could not be hauled down. It was relieved by Prince Rupert when on his way through Lancashire to relieve York.

The second siege of Lathom House was as stubbornly fought as the first, and continued longer. The command was under Colonel Rawsthorne of New Hall, Edenfield. It is interesting to note that this famous soldier is interred within Haslingden Parish Church, but one is disappointed to find no memorial of him in the Church-not even his gravestone is marked, although the position of the family vault is known. Surely Haslingden will endeavour to rectify this, as befitting one of the most famous men to find a resting place in their historic church. Lathom House was not surrendered until the garrison was at the last extremity. In the terms of surrender (concluded December 2nd, 1645), of which Colonel Nowell was signatory, one of the conditions was that the latter and Colonel Edward Veare "shall march away to the garrison of Aberconway (Conway Castle) with two horses and trappings for the same, together with five pounds each in money."

His brother, Henry Nowell, was Deputy Governor of the Isle of Man during the Civil War when the Earl of Derby was King of Man.

Huncoat witnessed the passing of armed forces through the village and the men were called upon to take part in the great struggles. Neighbours and kinsfolk were arrayed against one another in the most terrible of all wars-that between the country's own people. And they had the horrors of it at their own door, for Huncoat was in the zone of war during the battle of Whinney Hill, and its inhabitants suffered, especially those on the losing side. Prominent among local families who were Royalists was Charles Towneley, of Towneley Hall and Hapton Tower. He assisted at the defence of Preston when it was captured by the Roundheads, as the Parliamentary troops came to be named, on account of their bobbed hair in contrast to the Royalist Cavaliers who had long flowing hair. Charles Towneley managed to escape, although he was captured at Preston. He was in hiding on Whalley Nab and later at Hapton, where he joined Prince Rupert's army. He was slain at the battle of Marston Moor.

Sir Thomas Barton, held possession of Oswaldtwistle Manor in 1636-7 during the reign of Charles I. He was the last of the male line, leaving a daughter, Grace Barton as heiress. She married Henry Belasye, son of Thomas, first Viscount Fauconberg, and conveyed Oswaldtwistle into that family. Smithells Hall, claimed to have been a royal residence of the old Saxon King Egbert, was extended by the Bartons. When Henry Belasye died, his eldest son, Thomas Bclasye, second Viscount Fauconberg, inherited the Manor of Oswaldtwistle. He supported the Parliamentary side in the Civil Wars and was a member of the Upper House of Parliament during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. He married Mary, one of the daughters of the Lord Protector. This brought about the association of Mary Cromwell’s name with Oswaldtwistle.

Nicholas Banastre, of Altham Hall, and Thomas Whitaker, of Simonstone Hall, both of whom refused the honour of knighthood in 1631, were Royalists, also Richard Grimshaw, of Clayton Hall. These families were associated with Huncoat as owners of land and property. Three Ralph Rishtons, respective heads of the families at Ponthalgh in Church, Stanhill and White Ash in Oswaldtwistle were Royalists and Romanists, as well as Christopher Hindle, of Aspen, in Church. Joshua Nuttall, of Dyneley Hall, Church, was also a Royalist and a Protestant, as were the Nowells of Read. The Kenyons, of Milnshaw and Park Head, were on the Parliament side, as was Christopher Heys, of Shuttleworth Hall in Hapton. Richard Walmeley, of Dunkenhalgh, was too young to take part, and was smuggled abroad. Christopher Hindle, of Cowhill, vicar of Ribchester, was a staunch Royalist, while Nicholas Rishton, of Antley, was for the Parliament.

As the district was decisively for the Parliament, all that the local Royalists could do to actively assist in the War was to get to the nearest Royalist centre at Preston, leaving their homes and estates to the mercy of the opposing party. The first blood in the Civil War was shed at Manchester on July 4th, 1642, on the occasion of a banquet to Lord Strange, when a man was killed during a riot in the streets. Preparations were made on both sides, and Lord Strange mustered a considerable force at Warrington for the King. Manchester was regarded as a Parliament centre, and news reached the town at ten o'clock on the night of Saturday, September 24th, that the force was on the march to attack the town. The force arrived on the following day, and was estimated at over 3,000 horse and foot. Word had been sent in the meantime from Manchester to Colonel Richard Shuttleworth to prepare his force for eventualities, and he collected his men at Padiham, advanced by way of Altham and Huncoat, and, no doubt, halted there to refresh and recruit, preparatory to their march over the ancient highway, which was in as bad a state of repair as when John Wesley travelled over it a century later. Colonel Shuttleworth's force arrived at Haslingden, and remained stationed there until the position of Manchester was ascertained. Colonel Holland was in command there. His daughter, Anne, married the Rev. Edward Kenyon, second son of Roger Kenyon, of Park Head, near Whalley.

Huncoat soon afterwards witnessed more stirring scenes when it was the centre of military operations and when the horrors of war were brought to its doors in the fight on Henfield Moor, known locally as the battle of Whinney Hill. It was an important, stirring event, and marked an epoch in local history, as it meant the invasion of North-East Lancashire by a hostile force, and memorable as being the first occasion on which the district felt the effects of battle during the Civil War. Fear and apprehension as to what would happen if the invading force should be victorious is evidenced by the fact that the sturdy churls of Pendle and Rossendale resolved to fight it out rather than have their beef and fat bacon eaten by the invaders. Sir Gilbert Hoghton had set his beacon alight on the top of Hoghton Tower, the signal to the country around for the men to join up on the Royalist side, whereon great numbers mustered at Preston. The beacon would likewise be observed from the Hameldon hills and Colonels Shuttleworth and Starkie were promptly informed. They sent out messengers in all directions, and collected the men from Clitheroe, Burnley, Colne, and the two Forests of Rossendale and Pendle, as well as those in the immediate neighbourhood. They assembled a strange army, with all sorts of weapons, on Whinney Hill (Henfield or Enfield Moor). Thomas Jesland, the writer of a special edition of "War News," then described as a War Tract, gives an account of the battle stating that the number of Colonel Shuttleworth's force was 8,000 men.

This estimate has been doubted, but as this was the first occasion for a military muster the full strength of the local Parliamentarians would be available. Whinney Hill was chosen as the gathering ground of the force by reason of its central position, 'and on account of its strategic importance, being an eminence from which movements of troops could be observed. It commanded the main highway that crossed East Lancashire, which then came nearer the crest of the hill than the present road between Blackburn and Burnley. Thus troops passing along this road could be intercepted by an opposing force posted on the higher ground of the moor, then more open and unenclosed, and afforded every facility for a mobile force to move down on the invading enemy, or take up a strong defensive position. It commanded the roads from Accrington and Whalley, which came almost to the crest of the hill from Dyke Nook on one side, and Sparth on the other, as well as the present Whinney Hill road from Huncoat and Church Lane. The latter road would, no doubt, be used by the Royalists as well as the Clayton road from Rishton.

The Altham and Huncoat roads would be good means of communication for the Parliamentarians, with Huncoat village as a base of operations, and the old Hard Farm (which dates back to 1611) as headquarters for Colonel Shuttleworth. Huncoat, then, would be thronged with soldiery from over the Rossendale hills and surrounding district. Details of the battle are scanty. Sir Gilbert Hoghton's Royalist force came into conflict with Colonel Shuttleworth's army on Henfield Moor, when, after a fierce fight, the latter prevailed and put the Royalists to flight, took away many of their arms, and pursued Sir Gilbert so hotly that he quit his horse, leaped into a field, and by the coming on of night escaped through the bushes and by-ways to Preston. There was jubilation that night in Huncoat upon being saved from despoilation. The account by Thomas Jesland is dated December 2nd, 1642, from which this information is gathered.

"Lancashire's Valley of Achor" is the title of another Civil War Tract, which makes reference to Whinney Hill as the place of muster for the Parliament troops. On this occasion Sir Gilbert Hoghton is stated to have surprised Blackburn and occupied it with 300 armed men, besides clubmen, armed with whatever they could get hold of, and sent a party to Whalley. Colonels Shuttleworth and Starkie assembled their forces on Whinney Hill, and immediately marched or rather ran to Blackburn, shouting and singing. They met with stout resistance, but eventually dislodged the Royalists.

There is a tradition respecting the battle on Whinney Hill which is here repeated for what it is worth. When Colonel Shuttleworth was riding from Huncoat to the muster along the still existing highway he was accosted by a well-known youth of Huncoat, somewhat demented, named Mat, who cried out "A penny for luck." The Colonel reined up his horse, put his hand in his pocket and drew out a coin. Mat went to the side of the Colonel's horse to receive it when a couple of shots came whistling past his ear in quick succession, taking away a portion of the Colonel's fore-finger and the coin, and the other striking his spur and breaking it. Mat saw a little cloud of smoke rising from behind a hedge and drew the Colonel's attention to it. The latter galloped to the spot, but no one was to be seen. After the Colonel and his force from Huncoat had passed on, Mat saw his own father creep out of a drain with a gun. The father, to silence his son, contrived his death. After Whinney Hill battle had been won the Colonel made enquiries about Mat, and was informed that he had died suddenly: The Colonel went to the house of the poor lad and his suspicions were aroused. Further enquiries made it clear that the boy's father had fired the shots, having been bribed to do so by a personal enemy of the Colonel's, and that he had caused his son's death. The father paid the penalty in a summary manner, being shot.

Another tradition is that Huncoat received its name on this occasion, as the soldiers to prepare themselves for battle were ordered to "uncoat," that is take off their coats. There is no truth in this tradition, of course, as the name Huncoat existed from Saxon times.

The Lords and Commons proceeding jointly, appointed on April 1st, 1643, a committee for sequestrating notorious delinquents' estates in Lancashire. For Blackburn Hundred the following were appointed upon the committee: Sir Ralph Assheton, Bart., of Whalley Abbey; Ralph Assheton, of Downham; Richard Shuttleworth, of Gawthorpe; John Starkie, of Huntroyd; Nicholas Cunliffe, of Hollins; Nicholas Cunliffe, of Sparth. To execute upon the estates of their neighbours and former friends the confiscatory edicts of a Government controlled by the victorious party in a Civil War must have been a most odious duty for those who were commissioned to do it, no matter how keen their partisanship. Little was done to give effect to the orders of sequestration during the two years following the appointment of the committee, because the issue of the war in Lancashire remained doubtful, its fortunes fluctuating month by month until in 1645 the Royalist interest was completely, defeated or suppressed. Then the confiscations commenced in earnest, and were generally enforced upon heads of families of estates who had been in any way conspicuous or zealous on the King's side. The unfortunate Royalists, for the most part, in this district, were allowed to compound for their estates by paying a definite proportional amount of their value as a fine to the Government. These fines provided the sinews of war, paying the soldiers and prevented opposition.

Thomas Birtwistle, being both a Royalist and recusant, had his estate sequestered, though he protested that he had never borne arms against the Parliament and the rents from his estates were paid to the Government commissioners. His lands were charged with an ancient copyhold rent of seventeen shillings and three pence per year, and the proportional part of the £4,833 for Huncoat Hall estate was £27 12s, This copyhold rent was claimed from the commissioners who refused to pay without a special order from Parliament. A petition was presented to the committee for compounding of the estates in London on January 7th, 1652, begging them to make an order for payment. The committee referred the matter back for report to the Lancashire commissioners and in due course Robert Cunliffe, of Sparth, Clayton-le-Moors, and George Pigott, examined witnesses at Blackburn in reference to the customary rents from the lands at Huncoat.

The examination was sworn to on February 27th, 1652. Another petition was presented in June, 1653, and Richard Sherwyn, auditor, gave certificates of the annual value of the copyholds in question. On August 20th, 1653, a clear statement of the case was submitted to the court, upon which presumably judgment was given and an order made for the money to be paid.

Richard Birtwistle passed through his troubles during the Commonwealth period, and lived to see the King restored in the person of Charles II, but had to suffer penalties for recusancy, although he regained his estates. On August 27th, 1649, Parliament appointed another committee for the County of Lancashire, to meet monthly at Preston to assess the county by the rule of assessing, called the Soldiers' Ley, to reduce the military forces in Lancashire.


During the seventeenth century there was no regular English army, but only trained bands of local militia. In north-east Lancashire the old church towers were links in a chain of fortifications and were often occupied by military forces as convenient watch towers. Church Kirk tower was used for such a purpose. When the Civil War actually commenced, although the Hundred of Blackburn, which comprised north-east Lancashire, was strongly for the Parliament, there were quite a number of Royalists among the families of Church and Oswaldtwistle. The branches of the Rishton family were divided in their allegiance. Those of Lower Antley and Jackhouse were for the Parliament, while the Rishton’s of Ponthalgh, Church, White Ash and Stanhill Hall, in Oswaldtwistle were for the King. In March, 1642, Thomas Walmsley, of Dunkenhalgh, died and the estates came to his grandson, Richard Walmsley, aged eleven years. A licence was obtained from the authorities in London for the boy to be taken to France with his mother. Thus, Dunkenhalgh Hall came to be unoccupied, except for the faithful old steward, Adam Boulton, who records that "the young Master and My Lady were driven out of the shire, and Dunkenhalgh was left to the mercy of rough soldiers". Dunkenhalgh was quickly seized upon by the Parliamentary local authorities as a garrison house for their troops, being situated on the main highway across East Lancashire, and convenient for the passage of soldiery. Church Kirk, with its tower, which could be used for observation purposes, was a strong place for defence in case of need, and for the storage of arms.

The Reverend T. F. Collins in the brief history of Church Kirk which he wrote in 1881, mentions an old tradition that Oliver Cromwell held a Council of War in Church Kirk. Since we have no record that he was ever nearer to Church Kirk than the bridge at Lower Hodder, this cannot be true. But what is true, is that Church Kirk was occupied by Cromwellian troops, and many a council of war would be held within the church to plan the course of action, particularly late in 1642, when the Royalist, Sir Gilbert Hoghton, of Hoghton Tower, invaded the district and was defeated on Whinney Hill, then known as Enfield, or Hinfield Moor. Church Kirk was well within the zone of the conflict, and that the tower, garrisoned by the Parliamentarians, was subject to assault, there is no room for doubt. It was contended for in November, 1642, an account being published in the Civil War Tracts on December 2nd, 1642.

There was formerly at Church Kirk a large stone which unmistakeably showed traces of where the Roundheads sharpened their (words, pikes, halberts and other weapons. The garrison of Dunkenhalgh and Church Kirk were soon called into action again, for Sir Gilbert Hoghton still hoped to gain East Lancashire for the King. From the Royalist base at Preston, he marched on and seized Blackburn, and sent a force to disarm Whalley, which had been fixed upon for a central depot of arms. The flying attack made there by Sir Gilbert Hoghton came to be known as the first battle of Whalley. The Roundhead leaders, Shuttleworth and Starkie, collected and assembled an army on Hinfield Moor and marched on Blackburn. At first they were repulsed, but later, assisted by the Puritan inhabitants, they drove out the Royalists. On December, 24th 1642, the Royalists of Preston, with a force of 5,000 men and three cannon, under Sir Gilbert Hoghton, made a formidable attach upon Blackburn, but after summoning the town to surrender, withdrew, the soldiers wishing to spend Christmas at home, and probably in fear of attack by the mobile force at Dunkenhalgh, and that of Colonel Shuttleworth at Padiham.

The nuclei of the garrisons at Dunkenhalgh and Church Kirk were composed of local yeomen or their servants who possessed their own horses, of troops of sixty horses. Their intrepid commander is only known to us by his initials, E. F. He took a prominent part in the second battle of Whalley. The Royalists foraged and plundered the district. The first intelligence of the occupation of Whalley by the Earl of Derby was made known to the commanding officer at Dunkenhalgh by his scouts, and he instantly communicated the information to Colonel Shuttleworth, who ordered the Dunkenhalgh troops to fall back to Padiham. The force here numbered 500 and a messenger was despatched to Colonel Assheton for assistance. In the meantime, it became known that an advance guard of Royalist cavalry, under Sir Thomas Tyldesley, was making its way by Read Old Bridge. The Royalists were so overwhelmingly superior in numbers that Shuttleworth and his captains refused to engage them, and ordered a general retreat towards Padiham. The Dunkenhalgh troopers, however, led by their resolute and daring commander, took matters into their own hands and posted musketeers behind the walls on Read old road. Before the Royalist cavalry arrived at the place of ambuscade, the Dunkenhalgh officer showed himself in the road and was immediately pursued, with the result that the Royalists were met by a fire of arms from behind the walls which threw them into confusion and emptied many Royalist saddles. The Dunkenhalgh troops of horse which had retired beyond the line of the ambuscade, and which had been held in reserve, then charged down the lane on to Read Old Bridge, led by their bold commander, when a desperate struggle ensued. The Royalists were not able to withstand the onslaught of the Parliamentarian troopers and Sir Thomas Tyldesley failed to rally his men, who broke and fled towards Whalley, with their opponents in hot pursuit. Sir Thomas Tyldesley escaped, and by way of Asterlee farmyard managed to get back to Whalley, but the Royalists lost. A good many were wounded, forty taken prisoners, and a number of horses and sixty muskets were captured. That there were several killed has been ascertained by Dr. Whitaker, as they were buried in Hammond’s field close by. There seems no doubt that in this now secluded and very beautiful lane, the decisive encounter of the Civil War in Lancashire began.

This fight at Read bridge was the prelude to the second battle of Whalley. The Roundheads pursued the Royalist advance guard to the near proximity of Whalley, then, while awaiting reinforcements, began the siege of Whalley. Upon the arrival of Colonel Assheton with a large force, the Parliament troops, led by Colonel Shuttleworth, closed in on the Royalists in Whalley, and after desperate fighting in the main street by the bridge and around the Abbey, dislodged the trained bands from the Church tower and pursued the raw levies to Langho Green. The pursuit continued as far as the Ribble at Sale Wheel, where many of the Royalist fugitives were drowned in crossing the river. The Earl of Derby with his principal officers and most of the trained soldiers, managed to escape.

Colonel Assheton pursued the fleeing Royalists to Wigan, where under Sir Thomas Tyldesley, they essayed to make a stand, but they broke and fled to Latham. Colonel Assheton demolished the gates and fortifications of Wigan, occupied Preston, and drove the Royalists out of the county.

The fortunes of war turned for a time in 1644, when Prince Rupert with an army of 20,000 men invaded Lancashire, and Colonel Shuttleworth’s forces, which included the Dunkenhalgh troops, were defeated at Blackburn. Prince Rupert then set out to relieve York, but was severely defeated by Oliver Cromwell at Marson Moor. Prince Rupert returned through East Lancashire and his broken and dispirited army laid waste the countryside. The distress in Lancashire was so great that collections were made in the churches of London and Westminster to clothe and feed the starving people. These were distributed later in I 644, under the direction of Mr. Hepworth, the minister of Whalley. The first Civil War was over by 1645, and King Charles I was a prisoner in the hands of the Parliament army. In 1648, the Scots, under the Duke of Hamilton, and the Royalists, under Sir Marmaduke Langdale, invaded Lancashire. On August 16th, 1648, Oliver Cromwell, with General Lambert, arrived with an army at Lower Hodder Bridge where a council of war was held. Oliver Cromwell, the same evening, crossed the bridge and occupied Stonyhurst. Major General Assheton with six Lancashire regiments fought under Cromwell the following morning, at the battle of Ribbleton Moor, when the combined armies of the Scots and Royalists were driven into Preston. They finally surrendered at Warrington Bridge. The remnants of the Royalist army made a last stand at Lancaster, and Generals Assheton and Lambert were entrusted with the task of driving them out of the county. They were forced to surrender in Westmorland, and for the second time, though with great loss and suffering, Lancashire was set free from distress of war.

In 1650, Prince Charles with a Scottish army entered Lancashire. General Lambert joined by Major-General Harrison and their combined forces of 12,000 men were in Accrington on the 13th of August but left the next day. They disputed the passage of the Royalist army at Warrington Bridge, but drew off to join Cromwell at the battle of Worcester where the Royalists were routed and Charles went into hiding.

The Reverend Chris Hindle of Cowhill, Rishton, a staunch Royalist was ejected from the Vicariate of Ribchester by the Parliament authorities and was dropped down the pulpit steps and thrown into the churchyard. Church Kirk register records his burial there on August 29th, 1657.

After the death of Oliver Cromwell and the resignation of Richard Cromwell, a rising of Royalists took place in Cheshire under Sir George Booth.

Major-General Lambert marched into Lancashire to put down this insurrection in 1659, and part of his army occupied Dunkenhalgh whilst he himself stayed with John Cunliffe at the Hollins, Accrington. Sir George Booth’s rising was crushed by Lambert at the battle of Winnington Bridge, on Friday, August 19th, 1659


Rawcliffes Family Tree Website. (Website no longer exists - http://www.rawcliffes.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/weblocal/civilwar.html)

A History of the Parish of Saint James, Church Kirk, by The Reverend R. J. W. Bevan and Victor G. Palmer, 2nd Edition 1989.