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Hullwebs History of Hull


Bulmer's Gazetteer 1892 - part 4


On Sunday, 23rd August, 1601, Lord Burleigh, the Queen's Lieutenant and Lord President of the North, accompanied by many knights and gentlemen, visited Hull, and dined with the mayor. In the afternoon they were entertained with a display of fireworks in the Market Place, which ended disastrously, for four persons were killed by the bursting of an old cannon. In February, 1602, a severe shock of an earthquake was felt here, one house being thrown down, though none of the inhabitants were injured, and in the following year the town was visited by the plague.

In the Bodleian Library, there is preserved amongst the Rawlinson Manuscripts (B 452), a list of recusants and non-communicants in Yorkshire in 1604. This MS. was published in 1872, by Mr. Edward Peacock, F.S.A., and is of interest as shewing that the inquisitorial proceeding of the government officials were not confined to persons in high positions, but that poor persons were, as much as their social superiors, the objects of strict scrutiny, and we may imagine the amount of domestic misery which the cruel Penal laws inflicted on all classes of the community. The following is the list of offenders under those iniquitous laws, "within Kingeston-upon-Hull and the Liberties" as "certified by the maior and aldermen under the mynisters, churchwardens, and sworne men" : - Ffrauncis Bullocke, laborer, and his wife, recusantes new; William Spetch, butcher, and his wife; Widdow Clarke; Michaell Thompson, butcher, and his wife; William Toppinge, glover, non-communicants. George Wolfe; John Newit, merchant; Robert Burton and William Maxwell, merchants, recusants.* Robert Bennington, yeoman, non-communicant since March last; Raiphe ffoster, yeoman, and Widdow ffree, non-communicants since 1603."

* Recusants were those who refused to acknowledged the Royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical.

The reign of James I. is almost a blank in the history of Hull. It is only mentioned that this monarch granted, or rather sold to the corporation, a charter to choose an assistant preacher in the church of the Holy Trinity, which cost the town £600. In this reign (1613), three skilful engineers, at the request of the

authorities, took a piece of ground of the town, on a lease for 100 years, at the nominal rent of 5s. per annum, and erected waterworks, from which the water was conducted by pipes to all parts of the town. In three years, these works - which stood on the east side of Engine Street - were finished "at great expense to the undertakers and to the unspeakable satisfaction of the inhabitants."* Evelyn, who was in Hull in 1654, says the "water-house is worth seeing," and Ray states that the water was drawn up by horses into two cisterns, by a device which he had never seen before. Horses were employed at these works until 1773.

* Tickell.

In 1617, died Thomas, Lord Ellesmere, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, who had succeeded Sir Robert Cecil as Lord High Steward of Hull, in 1612, and he was succeeded in the latter office by George Abbott, Archbishop of Canterbury, who held it until his death in 1633.

In 1619, the merchants of Hull erected an Exchange in High Street, on the site now occupied by the Corn Exchange. A portion of the cost of this building was borne by the king, on condition that his officers of customs should occupy certain rooms in it for the purpose of a Custom House, on a lease for 50 years, st a rental of £2 per annum. This building was abandoned by the merchants about 1780, and was solely occupied by the Customs authorities until 1855, when their lease expired. It was then pulled down and the present Corn Exchange erected. In 1622 copper farthings and tokens were coined at Hull, and candles were ordered to be hung out in the streets at night. In this year, Taylor, the "Water Poet," visited Hull, and the quaint old rhymster "took his ease" at the King's Head Inn, High Street, which still exists, and which was then the principal hostelry in the town. Taylor described his visit to Hull in a curious literary production whimsically called "A Very Merrie Wherrie - Ferrey - Voyage to Yorke for my money." The landlord of the King's Head, at that time, was George Pease, and Taylor says : -

"Thanks, to my louing host and hostess, Pease,
There, at mine inne, each night I tooke my ease;
And there I got a cantle of Hull cheese."

In a foot note the poet tells us that Hull cheese "is composed of two simples, mault and water, in one compound, and is cousin-germane to the mightest ale in England." At that time Hull was as celebrated for the manufacture of good ale as Burton-on-Trent is to-day. Ray quotes the proverb, "You has eaten some Hull cheese," as equivalent to our accusation of drunkenness. It was at this period customary for the corporation, from time to time, during the sitting of Parliament, to send its representative a present of one or two barrels of the famous Hull ale. Peregrine Pelham,* M.P., for Hull, in 1640, writing to the corporation says : - " I am much importuned for Hull ale, both by Lords and Commons, who are willing to further me in anything that concerns your towne. . . .If it please you to send me a tonne of Hull ale, and leave it to my disposeing, it will not be lost," and in another letter he tells them that the Speaker had asked for "some Hull ale."

* Chamberlain, 1680; Sheriff, 1686; Mayor, 1649-50. He was the only Mayor of Hull who was at the same time an M.P. He acted in the mayoralty by a deputy. He was one of the judges of Charles I., and died during mayoralty.

The town of Hull fills a most important page in the history of Charles I. Indeed, it was the theatre in which was played the first act of that terrible tragedy, which, after deluging the country with blood, ended in the death of that monarch on the scaffold at Whitehall, in 1649. When Charles ascended the throne in 1625, England was menaced by a war with Spain, and three ships, manned and victualled, were required of Hull towards the equipment of a fleet. There appears to have been no great readiness on the part of the town to obey the royal order, though the ships were eventually sent.

The Plague (again).

In July 1635 the Plague, which had been raging in many seaports both st home and abroad, made its appearance at Hull, and, notwithstanding, all the wise precautions taken to prevent it, spread with rapidity. The gates of the town were kept continually shut, a strick [sic] guard was placed day and night, in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in, and the watchmen were only allowed to receive provisions at places specially set apart for that purpose. All assemblies and meetings were prohibited, the churches and schools were closed; scarcely anyone walked in the streets, except those engaged in removing the dead; grass grew between the paving stones, and the place exhibited a scene of horror, silence, and despair. In 1638 sickness increased, the markets were cried down, provisions brought from the neighbouring towns and villages were delivered at the Garrison side, and afterwards forwarded on sledges to the Market Cross, to be disposed of at famine prices, and trade sank to nothing. In this deplorable situation above 2,500 inhabitants of the town were reduced to poverty. Those who could afford it were heavily taxed,- weekly, to support the poor and infected, and these contributions proving insufficient, assistance was sought from the entire county of York and other parts of the kingdom; and but for the money thus raised, large numbers of the inhabitants would have perished for want of the common necessaries of life. As Lent approached the mayor and aldermen thought it necessary to petition the Archbishop of York to grant license for the sick to eat flesh meat during that season, and dispense them from the penalties inflicted by the statute 5 Elizabeth, c. 5, sec. 15. His Grace, condoling with the inhabitants, complied with the petition. The pestilence continued to rage for three years, and 2,730 persons fell victims to it in the town, besides a number who fled into the country and there died, which, it is said, almost doubled the number, making a total equal to about one-half of the population of Hull at that period. As this dreadful pestilence disappeared, commerce began to revive, and the town in a few years attained its former prosperity. In 1639 the king levied an army to impose upon the Scots the Episcopal form of Church Government, to which they strongly objected, and to resist which they entered into their celebrated League and Covenant. The preparation for war led to a vast accumulation of military stores here, and the mayor was ordered to put the town into a posture of defence, to erect magazines, to repair the walls and gates, build drawbridges, cleanse the ditches of the town and garrison, and to have "all wayes and passages for entrance stopped, other then at the three ordinarie gates."* In the same year the king, with a large and splendid retinue, paid a visit to Hull, where he was received with much pomp and ceremony. Mr. Recorder Thorp (afterwards a bitter enemy of the king's, and one of his judges) read a hyperbolical and adulatory address, in which he assured His Majesty that it was more difficult to address him than to address the King of Kings, and that they would adhere to him against all his enemies, and to the utmost of their lives and fortunes. After reminding him of the military provisions within the town, he was told that he had here "a richer, a more noble and safe prize, even a magazine of hearts, faithful and true, rendering it stronger than if it were encompassed with walls of brass or iron." After promising "safely to keep and defend" the town to the king's use, this high falutin address concluded thus : - " May your majesty live for ever and ever, and may all the thorns in your travels grow up into crowns; may your battles be always crowned with laurels, and may good success always attend your actions and desires. May years be added to your days and length of time, till time shall be no more, and that your continuance amongst us may be still an ornament and blessing to the present age, and an eternal admiration, blessing, and glory, to all that are yet to come."
* "Hull Letters," p. 21.

After the reading of this grandiloquent address, the mayor, John Lister, whom the king knighted on this occasion, presented his majesty with a purse, of most curious workmanship, containing 100 pieces of gold and a ribbon several yards in length. The king caused the ribbon to be tied in a knot upon his hat, calling it his "Hull favour." Sir John Lister then led the way to his house, in the High Street (now standing and known as Wilberforce House, from the Emancipator of Slaves having been born there in 1759), where his majesty was sumptuously entertained. The next day he inspected the town and fortifications, after which he proceeded to Beverley, and thence to York. Before leaving, Charles presented the corporation with another sword of state. This sword bears date 1636, and is still in the possession of the corporation.

A few months after this royal visit, the Earl of Stafford, the king's favourite and newly appointed commander of the army, was made Lord High Steward of Hull on the death of Lord Coventry, the Keeper of the Great Seal, who had succeeded Archbishop Abbot in the office. Stafford held the appointment until his execution, in May, 1641, and the office was not again filled until after the Restoration.

The King and Parliament.

The differences between the king and parliament, which had for some time existed, were daily increasing, and, early in 1642, an open rupture began to appear unavoidable. After long and fruitless negociations, both parties prepared to decide the contest by arms. In this state of affairs the possession of Hull became an object of the first importance. The immense magazine of arms and ammunition collected here would give a decided superiority, at the outset, to the party that should be so fortunate as to possess the town. The king, in order to secure his "royal town," sent the Earl of Newcastle to take possession of it, but the mayor and aldermen, unmindful of their recent declaration, refused to receive the king's general. Shortly afterwards, the parliament appointed Sir John Hotham Governor of Hull. When he arrived he found the gates closed, and the town in a posture of defence, and was refused admission; but, on a threat of being deemed guilty of high treason, and after communicating with parliament, Sir John and his forces, numbering about 800 militia, were admitted. Thus was Hull lost to the king. The policy of the parliament was to have the stores of arms and ammunition removed to London, and the two Houses sent petitions to the king for permission to remove them, but Charles refused his assent.
On the 22nd of April, 1642, the king, who was then at York, sent his son, James (Duke of York), his nephew (Prince Rupert), the Lords Newport and Willoughby, and other distinguished persons to Hull. Being market day, the town was all astir with the country people, coming there to dispose of their produce, and the prince and his attendants were, it is said, allowed to enter without difficulty. It, however, appears, from a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Commons by Sir John Hotham, that these distinguished personages were expected to visit Hull on that day. Expected or unexpected, they were most hospitably entertained by the mayor, and were invited to dine with the governor, Sir John Hotham, on the following day, being the Feast of St. George. Whilst the governor and his guests were inspecting the south end fort, on their second day in the town, Sir Lewis Dives delivered a letter to Sir John from the king, informing the governor that his majesty intended to visit Hull on that day. This message put Hotham "into a great straight," and sending for Alderman Pelham, M.P., consulted with him what was best to be done under the circumstances, and the result of the conference was that a messenger was at once despatched to the king, "humbly to entreat his majesty to forbear his coming to the town," in as much as the governor "might not, without a breach of that trust committed to him, admit him and his train." This messenger met the king about three miles off, and his majesty was greatly shocked at the message he received; he, however, proceeded on his road to Hull. In the meantime, Sir John ordered the drawbridges to be raised, the gates to be shut, and the walls to be manned; and, to prevent any disturbance amongst the townspeople, the governor ordered them to keep within their houses till sunset.

About 11 o'clock of Friday, the 23rd of April, Charles appeared before the Beverley Gate, with a retinue of some 300 noble and chivalrous followers, and demanded admittance. The governor, who with the mayor was upon the walls, told the king that he was intrusted by the parliament to hold the town for the kingdom's use, and that he was resolved to keep and defend it to the same ends, and with many professions of reverence and loyalty, firmly maintained, that to admit his majesty, would be contrary to the orders of parliament. The king, having demanded to see his authority for keeping him out of the town, the governor replied, that the king's train was so great, that if he were to admit him, he should not be able to give a good account of his trust to those that employed him.

About one o'clock, the Duke of York, Prince Rupert, and the other noblemen and gentlemen with them, came out of the town and joined the king, and four hours later his majesty again called upon Sir John Hotham to admit him, with 20 attendants only, and pointed out to him that he would be responsible for all the bloodshed that might follow upon his disloyalty. The governor, falling upon his knees, invoked the vengeance of God upon himself and his family, if he were not a loyal and faithful subject to his majesty, but ended by again refusing to admit the king. Charles then gave him an hour, in which to consider his final answer. At six o'clock the king again commanded the governor to open the gates, but Sir John answered as before, adding, with much feigned loyalty and respect, "that he was sorry that he could not yield to his majesty's desires. The king thereupon ordered his heralds to proclaim Sir John Hotham a base and rebel traitor, and commanded the corporation to reject his jurisdiction, under the penalty of high treason. Drawing close up to the walls, the king commanded the soldiers to throw the traitor over into the moat. No notice being taken of his majesty's commands, he turned about with his whole retinue, and set off for Beverley, where he lodged that night.

(In that remarkable book, published at the Hague, in 1650, Eikon Basilike, Charles thus refers to this incident : - " My repulse at Hull, seemed at first view, an act of so rude disloyalty, that my greatest enemies had scarce confidence enough to abet or own it. It was the first overt essay to be made, how patiently I could bear the losses of my kingdoms. God knows, it affected more with shame and sorrow for others than with anger for myself; nor did the affront done to me trouble me so much as their sin, which admitted no colour or excuse. . . . I had the better of Hotham, that no disdain or emotion of passion transported me, by the indignity of his carriage, to do or say anything unbecoming myself, or unsuitable to that temper, which in greatest injuries I think best becomes a Christian, as coming nearest to the great example of Christ.")

On the following day the king sent a messenger to Sir John Hotham, to afford him another opportunity of admitting his majesty into Hull, and offering him a gracious pardon for his past disloyalty. Sir John again refused, and Charles returned to York. This was the first open act of hostility between the king and the parliament, and was fatal to the king's cause, for had Charles succeeded in making himself master of Hull, then the best furnished arsenal in England, it would in all probability have averted that terrible civil war, which for four years desolated England.

From York, the king transmitted a message to the two houses of parliament, demanding justice on the governor of Hull and his adherents; but the parliament had resolved on war, and the members of the lower house justified the conduct of the governor, and declared the king's proclaiming of Sir John Hotham, a. member of that house, a traitor, was a breach of the privileges of parliament.

After this the king tried to obtain possession of the town by stratagem. A Mr. Beckwith, of Beverley, had a son-in-law named Fowkes, a subaltern officer in the Hull garrison, and it was arranged that he should take steps for the delivering up of the citadel of Hull to the King.* This plot, however, failed. It now became necessary for the king to take defensive measures. He accordingly raised a troop of horse and a regiment of foot, the command being given to the Prince of Wales - afterwards Charles II. The queen, who was in Holland, there purchased 200 barrels of powder, 8,000 stand of arms, and eight field pieces, by the sale of her own and the crown's jewels, and sent them in a small ship, called the Providence, into the Humber, where, to avoid pursuit, they were landed at Keyingham Creek. Sir John Hotham, having received news of the arrival of the "Providence," sent a strong party out of Hull to seize her cargo, but the trained bands of Holderness opposed and drove back the detachment. The arms and ammunition were subsequently safely delivered to the king at York. On the 4th of July Charles removed his court to Beverley, whence he published a proclamation, which he sent to the parliament, notifying his intention of besieging Hull, unless it was delivered up to him.

* In Oliver's History of Beverley, this plot is minutely detailed. See pages 209 to 211.

Meanwhile Sir John Hotham prepared for the threatened siege. He laid the surrounding country for a distance of two miles under water, in order to render access to the town impracticable, and put the town into a state of defence. The hospital of the Charter House and several houses outside the walls were demolished to prevent their occupation by the Royalists. The fort at the south end was well furnished with iron guns and one brass basilisk, 17 feet long, which weighed 7,OOOlbs.; and the walls were well supplied with brass and iron guns, and batteries were erected before the Myton, Beverley, and North Gates. Parliament sent by sea 2,000 men under the command of Sir John Meldrum, an experienced Scotsman, to assist Sir John Hotham. Two ships of war were also sent down to scour the Humber.

Whilst the garrison at Hull was making these preparations for defence the king was not inactive at Beverley. Two hundred men were employed in cutting trenches to divert the current of fresh water which supplied the town. Two hundred horsemen were despatched into Lincolnshire to prevent succour coming to the town from that side, and two forts were erected - one at Paull, the other at Hessle Cliff - to guard the Humber, so that a complete blockade of the town was established. Notwithstanding the inundation the king succeeded in planting several guns before the walls.

Everything being now prepared Charles, to show his earnest desire for peace. offered to "grant a free and general pardon to all persons within the town, notwithstanding the provocation he had met with from the unheard of insolence of Sir John Hotham," on the town being given up to him. It was, however, useless; his request was refused, and it was left to the arbitrament of arms to decide the question of the possession of Hull. The Parliamentarians gave the signal for active operations, and the first blood that flowed in this unhappy contest was shed by Captain Pigot, the officer of one of the ships of war in the Humber. A pinnace, laden with arms and ammunition for the king, was met by the Parliamentary vessel when opposite Paull, and, refusing to strike, an engagement ensued, and after a sharp fight the pinnace sank, and all on board perished.

All negociations between the king and parliament proving fruitless, the siege was commenced and prosecuted with great vigour. Cannonading commenced by both parties, but no great slaughter was effected on either side. Sir John Hotham, in order to inflame the townspeople and the troops against the royal cause, raised a report that the king intended to burn the town, and to put every person, without respect to age, sex, or condition, to the sword. The people were aroused, and the waters being drawn off they made several sallies from the town, beat up the enemies' quarters, put them to flight, and demolished their batteries. About the end of July, Sir John Meldrum, with 500 men, made a desperate sortie, and attacked the king's forces with so much spirit that they were totally routed, several being killed and wounded and 30 taken prisoners. Elated by this success, and having been reinforced by fresh troops from London, the garrison made several other furious and successful sallies, in one of which the Royalists were driven out of Anlaby, their magazine blown up, and the village plundered. In this skirmish 48 Royalists were slain and 115 taken prisoners; and on another occasion the Earl of Newport was unhorsed by a cannon ball and thrown into a ditch, from which he was rescued with difficulty. After repeated disasters the king called a council of war, at which it was decided to raise the siege, as, having no ships of war to bombard the town from the river, the attempt to reduce it was ineffectual. The attempt on Hull having failed the king retired to Beverley, whence he proceeded with his court to York, and so ended the first siege of Hull.

It appears that in this attempt upon Hull the king relied for success less upon the efficiency of his own army than upon the treachery of the governor. Lord Digby, son of the Earl of Bristol, having been carried into Hull as a prisoner of war by one of the Parliamentarian warships, under the disguise of a Frenchman, remained for some time unknown. Pretending that he could give secret information of the king's designs he was introduced to Sir John Hotham, to whom he had the romantic hardihood to propose the surrender of the town to the king. The manner in which the governor received the overtures encouraged him to press the negociations; and it was at length agreed between them that the king, at the head of a small army, should attack the town, and that Sir John should surrender after a brief defence. Either through the pusillanimity, inconsistency, or the inability of the governor to fulfil his part of the contract, the project proved abortive. Notwithstanding the success of the garrison the town and adjacent country were in a deplorable state. In the town party spirit ran high, and those who were suspected of favouring the royal cause were imprisoned and their property confiscated. These severities did not, however, deter many of the principal inhabitants from openly espousing that cause, and from subsequently fighting under the king's banner. Indeed Tickell says that it was the general opinion that the major part of the inhabitants, had they been at liberty to avow their sentiments, would have declared for the king.

Towards the end of August, orders were received by Sir John Hotham to make frequent sallies out of Hull, with a view to harrass the Royalists as much as possible. The devastation committed by the detachments sent out in pursuance of these orders, and the damage done to the surrounding lands by the inundation's during the siege of the town, caused many families to be utterly ruined.

The appointment of Sir Thomas Fairfax to the supreme command of the Parliamentarian army in Yorkshire, aroused the jealousy of Sir John Hotham, who had aspired to that honour, and induced him to seek revenge by delivering up Hull to the king. Into this conspiracy, his son, Captain Hotham, readily entered, and became the medium for carrying on negociations with the Earl of Newcastle for the accomplishment of this design.

In February, 1643, the queen arrived at Bridlington Quay with troops from Holland. As soon as it was known that she had landed, Sir John Hotham sent his son to congratulate her on her safe arrival, and to find out what favour he and his family might receive from the king if he (the governor), should deliver up Hull to the Royalists. Captain Hotham was admitted into the queen's presence, and had a private interview with the Earl of Newcastle. Hull was to be given up to the Royalists at the first favourable opportunity. This was the decision arrived at, and until the favourable opportunity occurred, the matter was to be kept a profound secret. But secrets will ooze out, and the Parliament, long suspicious of Sir John's integrity, received information of the intended surrender from their emissaries. They at once employed a cunning Presbyterian minister named Saltmarsh, a near relative of the governor's, to discover the extent of the plot. By pretending an extraordinary zeal for the church and the king, this tool of the Parliament gained the confidence of Sir John. Believing that a man pretending such sanctity, and a near kinsman to boot, would not betray him, the governor discovered to him the entire plot, which the treacherous and insidious minister at once communicated to Captain Moyer, who commanded the 'Hercules' ship of war, then lying in the Humber. His next care was to despatch a messenger to the Parliament with intelligence, and they, for this meritorious piece of service, voted him a reward of £2,000. Sir John, ignorant of the discovery, sent his son to join Cromwell and Lord Gray, at Nottingham, where, on the night of his arrival, he was arrested, and committed to the castle. He soon afterwards found means to liberate himself, and escaped to Lincoln, and thence to Hull.

On the 28th of June, a communication was sent from Captain Moyer to the Mayor of Hull, acquainting him with the intention of the governor and his son to deliver up the town to the king. On the following day Captain Moyer landed 100 men from his ship, and seized the Castle and Blockhouses almost without resistance. About the same time, 1,500 of the soldiers and inhabitants, under the command of the mayor (Thomas Raikes), seized the main guard near the magazine, took possession of the ordnance on the walls, and placed a guard at the door of the governor's house, all of which was done in about the space of an hour, and without any bloodshed. Captain Hotham was arrested, but his father managed to escape from the town, and proceeded to Beverley, where he was seized by his nephew, Colonel Boynton, "as a traitor to the Commonwealth." Sir John and his son were afterwards sent in the "Hercules" to London, where they arrived on July 15th, and were conveyed to the tower. After a long imprisonment they were brought to trial and condemned to death. On the 1st of January, 1644-5, Captain Hotham was decapitated on Tower Hill, and on the following day, his father suffered the like penalty. The execution of Sir John Hotham and his son, recalled to the mind of the king the imprecation he uttered upon the walls of Hull, when he denied him admission into the town - " May God bring confusion of me and mine, if I be not a faithful and loyal subject to your majesty."

After the seizure of the Hothams, the custody of Hull was entrusted to a committee of defence, consisting of the mayor and ten other gentlemen. The Earl of Kingston,*1 then governor of Gainsborough, hoping that this change would be the better for the king's interest, wrote a letter to the mayor and aldermen, requesting to be admitted governor of the town, but they replied in a courteous letter absolutely " rejecting and dissenting from what he desired." This letter*2 bore date, the 4th July, 1643, but as his lordship was shot in crossing the Humber, a prisoner in the custody of Lord Willoughby, some days before, he would never receive it.

*1 Robert de Pierrepont was created Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull, by Charles I., in 1628, and obtained the title of "the Good." Evelyn, the fourth Earl (who was also Marquis of Dorchester), was advanced to the dignity of Duke of Kingston, in 1715. This nobleman, who was High Steward of Hull, Chief Justice beyond the Trent, and the father of the celebrated Lady Mary Montague, died in 1726. The title became extinct in 1778.

*2 Allen, Symons, and Sheahan say that no answer was sent, but Mr. T. T. Wildridge has since published the text of the reply in his "Hull Letters" (1886).

Soon after this, Lord Fairfax arrived in Hull, and, on the 22nd July, was constituted governor of the town. Ere two moons had waned, news came that the Earl (now Marquis) of Newcastle was marching upon the town with 4,000 horse and 12,000 foot soldiers. On the 2nd of September the Marquis arrived before Hull, and at once commenced operations against the town by cutting off its supplies of fresh water and of provisions - as far as the latter depended on the surrounding country - and by noon several batteries had been raised, and the gunners were hard at work pouring shot and shell into the town. The siege and defence were conducted with all the military skill of the period, and with that determination which generally distinguishes intestine warfare. The town guns were not slow to respond to the royalists' fire, and carried death and destruction into their camp. Thus passed the first day of the siege. On the following day (Sunday) the besiegers worked hard, and raised other works in Sculcoates, which, being finished and equipped with two pieces of cannon, began to play upon the town. To facilitate his operations, the marquis constructed a bridge of boats over the river Hull, and, after much labour and the loss of many lives, succeeded in raising a fort about half-a-mile from the town, called the King's Fort. On this were placed several pieces of heavy ordnance, together with two brass culverins, which shot balls of 361bs. weight into the town, and did great mischief there. He also constructed a large furnace for heating the balls. The firing of red-hot balls into the town threw the inhabitants into great consternation and alarm, but the prudent precautions of Fairfax prevented them from doing any very serious injury. By adding two large culverins to the Charter House battery, and by erecting another fort which flanked the besiegers, the governor succeeded in demolishing the king's fort, and depriving Newcastle of the means of firing hot balls into the town.

On the 9th of September, the townsmen made a sally, with 4,000 horse and foot, and attacked the royalists at Anlaby, but they were soon repulsed and pursued to the gates of the town. In this skirmish 20 of the garrison were slain and several captured, including a lieutenant and an ensign. Five days later, fearing that the town was in danger, the banks of the rivers Hull and Humber were cut, thus laying the surrounding country under water. The effect of this was to drive the royalists out of all their works, except the batteries erected on the river banks, from which they continued to bombard the town. On the 16th, an accident happened that nearly proved of great advantage to the besiegers. A gunner entered the ammunition room in the North Blockhouse to procure cartridges, carrying a naked light, with which he accidentally ignited some handgrenades, with the result that an explosion took place, through which a great part of the Blockhouse was destroyed, and his own life, with the lives of four other persons, were sacrificed. In an adjoining room, the door of which was burst in by the explosion, were stowed 12 barrels of gunpowder. Had these fired, the entire Blockhouse would have been destroyed, with its garrison of 300 men, besides the damage it would have done to the town.

On the 20th September, a strong party of royalists made an approach to the town on the west, and erected batteries, on which they placed heavy artillery, and on the 27th of the same month, they repaired the fort at Paull and erected another several miles above Hull, near the confluence of the Ouse and Trent, the intention of the royalists being to prevent the town receiving supplies by water. These forts were, however, soon destroyed by the ships of war which the parliament sent into the Humber, so that the attempt to cut off succour by water proved abortive. About this time, Colonel Cromwell and Lord Willoughby came to Hull, to consult with Lord Fairfax, but their stay was of short duration.

Friday, September 22nd, was, by command of the governor, solemnly kept, with humiliation, fasting, and prayer, to beseech God so to confound the royalists as to compel them to raise the siege. On the 28th September the Marquis of Newcastle's magazine at Cottingham was blown up, either by accident or treachery, by which considerable damage was done to the village, and not a few lives lost. The 30th September being, according to the ancient charter of the town, mayor-choosing day, the king's friends hoped that a gentleman favourable to their cause might be chosen; but the governor having found Mr. Raikes a faithful adherent of the Parliament, caused him to be again chosen, contrary to the charter and the traditions of the town. About this time Lord Fairfax levied an assessment of £6,000 upon the townsmen, promising them that it should be repaid after the siege, but it appears that never a single farthing was refunded. Early in October, the spring tides flooding the country, the royalists were again driven out of their works. On the 4th another sortie took place. Four hundred men sallied out of the town, and succeeded in destroying one of the enemy's forts. At the same time another detachment of the garrison attacked the besiegers' fort on the Derringham bank, and, after a sharp skirmish, captured and demolished it. Early on the 8th October the royalists cast up a new work on the west of the town, but it proved of very little service. On the 9th the Marquis of Newcastle sent a strong party, under the command of Captain Strickland, to attack the fort at the West Jetty, and the Half-moon battery near it, while another portion of the royalist force proceeded to the other side of the town, and made an attempt on the Charter House battery. Captain Strickland and his men were not discovered till they began to scale the fort, when they were met by a shower of musket-shot from the Half-moon battery. The brave and valiant Strickland, having got to the top of the battlement, called upon the garrison to surrender. He had, however, no sooner done this, than he was struck by a musket-ball and killed. The death of their leader threw the assailants into confusion, and they were driven back with great slaughter, few having the good fortune to escape. The Cavaliers on the other side of the town were equally unfortunate. Though they carried the Charter House battery, and killed the commanding officer and several of his men, they were unable to retain possession, and were driven out with great loss.

The last operation of importance which took place during this memorable siege was a vigorous and determined sortie, made by the besieged on the 11th October. At seven o'clock in the morning the whole garrison was under arms, and at nine o'clock 1,500 men, consisting of inhabitants, soldiers, and seamen, with four troops of horse, sallied out from the west side of the town with the determination of compelling the Royalists to raise the siege. The foot soldiers were formed into three divisions, one of which charged the besiegers in the front of their last erected work; the second, commanded by Sir John Meldrum, fell upon their left flank; and the third stormed the enemy's works on the banks of the Humber. These attacks were made with such determination that the besiegers were driven, first from one embankment and then from another, that they had to leave their heavy artillery behind them. At this juncture the Royalists received a strong reinforcement, which enabled them to recover some of the cannon that had fallen into the hands of the Roundheads, who were driven back with disorder. The Cavaliers did not, however, long occupy the forts they had recovered. Lord Fairfax and Sir John Meldrum now used every endeavour to inspire their men with fresh courage for a renewal of the attack. Stung by their signal failure the besieged again sallied out, and this time with such desperation that the Marquis was obliged to abandon his forts, after experiencing a dreadful loss from his own cannon, which were turned against him. On the same day a furious battle was fought at Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, where Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax obtained a great victory over the Royalists. This double blow to the king's cause disheartened the Marquis of Newcastle, and induced him to call a council of war, at which it was decided to raise the siege. This resolution was carried into effect the same night, and the marquis retreated with the greater part of his army to York, and in order to prevent pursuit cut up the canals, destroyed the bridges, and broke up the roads in his line of retreat. Thus ended the second siege of Hull.

On the following morning, when it was found that the enemy was gone, Fairfax commanded that the day, being Hull fair day, should be observed as one of general thanksgiving, and its anniversary was kept as a holiday until the Restoration. There is no record of the number slain during this six weeks' siege, but it must have been very great, as, before its close, complaint was made to the corporation, by the churchwardens of Holy Trinity Church, that the churchyard was so full of the dead that there was no room for more, and they prayed for leave to treat for a garden, in Trinity House Lane, as a place of interment. The inhabitants suffered severely during the siege, and in 1646 presented a petition to parliament praying for compensation. They stated that they had advanced, st various times, to Sir John Hotham, Sir John Meldrum, and Lord Fairfax, £90,000; that they had suffered losses in trade to the extent of £30,000, and had paid £11,000 for repairing and strengthening the fortifications; but for all this they received no recompense.

In 1645, when the Parliament abolished the liturgy of the Church of England, the soldiers quartered in Hull entered the churches, and seizing all the common prayer books, carried them to the Market Place, where these "immaculate reformers" purged them from "all Popish superstitions" in a fire prepared for that pious purpose.

The confusion and distress which was occasioned by the fanaticism of this period are well depicted in an address from the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of Hull to parliament. The first paragraph reads as follows : - " The various mutations and revolutions of late times, and the fleeting and unstable situation in which we at present remain, having well nigh brought us to the brink of destruction, make us with the children of Isræl, by the waters of Babylon, to sit down and weep, that there is as yet no balm found in Gilead to aire the fatal distempers under which we labour. The church is divided, the laws violated, the ministry and magistracy - the basis of the Commonwealth contemned, and in many pieces; nay, what is there left undone that might bring this once flourishing nation to a chaos of confusion."

Cromwell and the Protectorate.

After presenting a "dutiful address" to Cromwell on his assumption of the protectorate, in which they thanked God for making "him the ruler over them," the people of Hull followed the current of the times, and made great rejoicings on the restoration of Charles II. On this occasion the proclamation was read amid the clang of bells and the thunder of cannon, and the people rent the air with their joyful acclamations. The arms of the Commonwealth were pulled down, and afterwards exhibited on a gallows, with the effigies of Cromwell and Bradshaw, which were subsequently publicly burnt together. Another "dutiful address" was now presented to the king, and his majesty was told that the "shameful spectacle" of his royal father being refused admission to the town could never have happened "had the inhabitants been their own garrison, or had they not, by an armed power, been forced from that point of obedience, to which their affections naturally tended." This address was graciously received, and before the close of the following year, Charles bestowed a signal testimony of his royal favour, by granting a new charter to the town, which not only ratified all former charters, but conceded many new privileges. This remained the governing charter of the town, until the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.

In 1666 the king's brother, the Duke of York - afterwards James II. - visited Hull, with his duchess and several of the nobility, and was received with much ceremony. He was presented with a curious purse, containing 50 guineas, and entertained for three days by the mayor and corporation, at a cost of £170.

On the 3rd January, 1669, died the famous George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, who had held the office of High Steward of Hull since 1661, and he was succeeded in that office by Lord Bellasis, the then Governor of Hull, who held the appointment until 1673, when on the Test Act passing, he, being a Catholic, refused to take the oath required by that Act,* and resigned the office, with all his other honours and commands. The king appointed his natural son, the Duke of Monmouth, to succeed Bellasis, both as Governor and High Steward of Hull.

* This Act required every public officer to receive the Sacrament in the Church of England, and to make a declaration renouncing the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.

In 1681, the wall connecting the North Blockhouse with the castle was removed, and the citadel formed. These new fortifications were finished in 1700, and cost upwards of £100,000. The citadel was near the present South Bridge, and occupied the whole of the triangular piece of land formed by the rivers Hull and Humber, and the Victoria Dock. The angle at the north bastion included the old castle, and the South Blockhouse stood at the western bastion. The citadel was surrounded by a moat or fosse, by which it was completely insulated, and was, in its time, a place of great strength, and one of the chief strongholds of the north. The citadel was demolished in 1863.

On the discovery of the Rye-house plot, in 1682, the Duke of Monmouth was deprived of the offices of Governor and High Steward of Hull, which were bestowed upon the Earl of Plymouth. He was welcomed with great state, and was also made Recorder of Hull. This is the only instance of the three offices being held by one person.

In 1686, Judges Allybone and Powell held the assizes at Hull, and on the day following their arrival, being Sunday, the former requested the sheriff (Richard Ellis), and his officers, to attend him to the Catholic chapel. This they did, as far as the door, but they could not be prevailed upon to enter with him, and to be present at the service.(For a historic contrast, see under date, June, 1887. Post.)

The Earl of Plymouth died 3rd November, 1688, and Lord Langdale succeeded him as Governor and Recorder, and Lord Dover as High Steward of Hull. In the following September, the corporation elected Francis de la Champ as mayor, but the king objected to the election, and commanded them to continue Mr. Hoare, the late mayor, another year, and the corporation reluctantly obeyed. Five weeks later the Prince of Orange landed 15,000 troops on the Devonshire coast. Lord Langdale having expected that the Prince would enter the Humber, had caused great quantities of warlike stores and provisions to be brought into Hull, for the purpose of sustaining a siege. The, inhabitants - many of whom remembered but too well the horrors of the two former sieges - were thrown into a state of consternation. Their apprehensions were, however, removed, when it became known that William had landed at Torbay. Most of the Catholics in the neighbourhood fled from the rage of the country people to the protection of Lords Langdale and Montgomery - who were both of that faith - at Hull. The town and citadel of Hull remained in the possession of the Catholic party until the 3rd of December, when it was rumoured that a plot had been formed by the governor and his adherents to secure all the Protestant officers. Under this apprehension, Fort-Major Barratt, Captains Copley and Haurner, and other officers, consulted with the magistrates, and it was decided to call privately to arms such of the soldiers as were attached to the Protestant cause, and to secure the governor and the principal persons of his party. The measures were concerted with such secrecy, that Lord Langdale was seized at his lodgings. Nearly at the time, Lord Montgomery was secured by Captain Fitzherbert, and Major Mahony, by the Fort Major. The inferior Catholic officers were also secured, and the next morning, Captain Copley, with 100 men, marched out to relieve the guard, who were still ignorant of what had transpired in the night, and, without difficulty, seized such of the Catholic officers and soldiers as were found there. The town forts and citadel were next secured, and the anniversary of this bloodless event was long celebrated at Hull by the name of "The Town Taking day." The room to which tradition points as that in which this plot was concocted, is the magnificent old oak-pannelled room known as "The Plotting Chamber," which still exists in "Ye White Harte" hostelry, in Silver Street, which is supposed to have then been the residence of the principal plotter De la Champ, who, no doubt, entered into it in revenge for the king's action on his election to the mayoralty.

William and Mary.

After the proclamation of William and Mary, Lord Langdale was displaced, and Sir John Hotham (a descendant of the governor who refused to admit Charles I.) was appointed Governor of Hull in his stead; but the knight dying soon after, be was succeeded by the Duke of Leeds. Lord Dover (being a Catholic), refusing to take the oath required by the Test Act, the (fourth) Duke of Kingston was appointed High Steward, and the latter was succeeded in 1691 by the Marquis of Carmarthen, who held the office until his death in 1712, and no successor was appointed for a period of 54 years.

Anglo Norman - Middle Ages - Tudors - Stewarts - Georgians - Victorians

Genuki LogoTranscribed from
Bulmer's East Yorkshire, 1892.
checking and correction by Peter Johnson ©2001
scanning, OCR and formatting software by Colin Hinson.

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