The Siege of King’s Lynn 1643 (3) – Ending

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Lynn's complete legal establishment enter tough negotiations.

“In our passage through the towne, not one man appeared, only women, who for the generall cryed, God blesse us, whether for fear or love, you may guesse.”

Anonymous Parliamentarian pamphleteer

Ending the Siege

(September 15-16, 1643)

On the morning of Friday 15 September 1643 the leader of the Parliamentarian forces, the Earl of Manchester, received a letter from the town indicating a willingness to capitulate. Sir Hamon L’Estrange and the town governors were hoping to avoid further destruction. Despite a considerable gap between the two sides, a truce was arranged and the talking started.

Eight commissioners were appointed for each side. Lynn’s complete legal establishment – Francis Pallet (Recorder), William Leeke (Town Clerk), and Walter Kerbio (attorney) were in the town’s team. Discussion began at 7:00pm and continued through the night.

Gaywood River (diverted during the siege) and Red Mount Chapel. Photo © James Rye 2021

The Royalist town governors wished:

1) the town to be left in its former state,

2) to have any notion of it having caused offence to be dismissed,

3) with people free to come and go,

4) and with any ships, goods, and personal estates to be returned (or restitution made).

For the Parliamentarians, the Earl of Manchester replied that:

1) the town had offended,

2) had not supplied its part of the money and horses that should have been weekly contributions to the Parliamentary cause and was in considerable debt.

3) The town had refused to obey the order to capture and imprison key known Royalists,

4) had not given up the town,

5) had used arms against the Parliamentarians, and

6) had imprisoned the two town MPs.

He also pointed out that the town could not expect to be free from the parliamentary laws, and that they could not expect compensation for their losses because they had been the cause of their own sufferings by their resistance.

After long and stormy discussions the terms finally agreed were:

  • King’s Lynn (with all its weapons and ammunition) to be delivered to the Earl of Manchester who would be given entry to the town.
  • “Gentlemen strangers” (Royalist supporters who had come in from outside) in the town to be allowed to leave with their horses, swords, and pistols.
  • The town to continue to retain its privileges and free trading rights, consistent with the law.
  • All prisoners on both sides to be set free.
  • Parliament and the Lord Admiral to be petitioned for the return of the town’s ships.
  • Nobody to be held accountable for anything done before or since the arrival of the Parliamentary forces.
  • In order to prevent looting the town would pay recompense to the troops under the Earl’s command – ten shillings for each foot soldier and two week’s wages for each officer.
  • Sir Hamon L’Estrange, Sir Richard Hovill, Captain Clinch, Master Recorder, Master Dearing, and Master William Leeke to be held as hostages until conditions were met.

At the Gate

Horse’s Head, Belvedere, Vienna.
Photo © James Rye 2021

Once the agreement had been reached, the Parliamentarians nervously approached the East Gate on the Saturday evening only to be told that it was too late to open the main gate and that the troops would have to enter one by one through a “wicket”. Inside the wall a large crowd had gathered threatening to to ignore instructions from the Mayor and claiming that they had not been consulted.

The Parliamentarians wisely refrained from going through the narrow gate. Apparently no shots were fired, but when a command ‘Shoot! Shoot!’ was given from inside the town, some Parliamentarian soldiers on horseback fell off their mounts into a ditch “so terrible was the word, Give fire”.

Eventually the crowd was pacified and dispersed. One can only assume that more information about the agreement that had been reached filtered through and that tempers and fears had time to calm. The troops entered the town and marched through to their quarters at the South Gate. “In our passage through the towne, not one man appeared, only women, who for the generall cryed, God blesse us, whether for fear or love, you may guesse.”

On the morning of Sunday 16 September 1643 the Earl of Manchester entered the town with his Life Guards and attended a service at St Margaret’s Church. He set up his headquarters with Thomas Toll at his house.

Colonel Valentine Walton, a Parliamentarian officer who had been captured at the Battle of Edgehill, was given the honour of being left as governor of the town. Commenting on Walton’s appointment one anonymous pamphleteer wrote: “Thus we see how Providence orders; he that was lately locked up three days and three nights at Oxford in a poor chamber without food, is now governor of as great and strong a town as Oxford.”

Previously

Sources

  • Flintham, D. (2018) Richard Clampe, Fortress Engineer, c1617-1696, FORT vol.46, pp.3-14.
  • Hillen, H.J. (1907) History of the Borough of King’s Lynn, Vol.1, EP Publishing Ltd.
  • Holmes, C. (1974) The Eastern Association in the English Civil War, Cambridge University Press.
  • Ketton-Cremer, R.W. (1985) Norfolk in the Civil War: A Portrait of a Society in Conflict, Gliddon Books.
  • Kyle, C. (accessed April 2021) https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/member/lestrange-sir-hamon-1583-1654
  • Yaxley, S. ed. (1993) ‘A briefe and true Relation of the Siege and Surrendering of Kings Lynn to the Earle of Manchester’. In Yaxley, S. (1993) The Siege of King’s Lynn 1643, The Larks Press.

© James Rye 2021

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