The English Civil War formally commenced when Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642.
However, as has already been noted, Sir Thomas Tyldesley 1612-1651 may have been responsible for the first death of the conflict a month earlier on 15 July 1642. And on 20 June 1642, Sir Thomas was present at a Commission of Array on Preston Moor where he urged those attending to declare for the King. A report of the gathering was sent to Parliament by Alex Rigby [FN1] (a Parliamentarian who should not be confused with the Alexander Rigby who erected the Tyldesley Monument). Of those on Preston Moor he described Sir Thomas as amongst "the most busie and active":
MAster Shutleworth and my selfe, being in obedience to the commands of both Houses in our way to Lancashire, and hearing as we found it true, that by colour of a Letter from the King to Sir John Girlington the high Sheriffe of that County, publik Summons was given through all or most part of the County, that all the Protestant Subjects therein, should the next day appeare at Preston, to heare read the last Lancashire Petition to the King, and his Answer thereunto, and his Majesties 2. last Declarations to that of both Houses of the 19. and that of the 26. of May, we by the way discharged some, with whom causually met of their appearance, & willed them to do the like to their neighbours, and from the Constable of Standish, wee tooke a warrant directed to him alone, for the summoning of all within that Township, which warrnat had that very day being Sunday, beene published in Standish Church, by Master Chaddock the Parson thereof; and we did that night repaire to Preston, whither the next morning being the 20. of this instant Iune, the high Sheriffe accompanied with the Lord Strange his eldest son a child, the Lord Mollineux, son in law to the Lord Strange, and divers other Gentlemen resorted, and thither also then came about five thousand persons upon the said Summons, whom the Sheriffe did then draw out to a great Moore adjoyning, called Preston Moore, but before the Sheriffe went forth, we, who by the shortnesse of time could conven no other of the Committee, or of the rest of the Deputy-Lieutenants, acquainted the Sheriffe, that we with others, as a Committee of both Houses, wereby them sent downe for the preservation of the peace of the County, and shewed him such parts of our instructions as enjoyned his obedience thereunto, and conduced to the present occasion, and we demanding, he acknowledged that he, upon the said Letter, had caused the people to be summoned and convened to the purpose aforesaid, and shewed us the Letter, but not the Declarations, we told him we feared the publishing of the Declarations might tend to the raising of a faction or party against the Parliament, and we therefore admonished and advised him to forbeare the doing, publishing, or dispersing any thing of that nature, & we further demanding, he told us that he had a Commission of Array, directed to the Lord Strange, to himselfe, to Sir George Midleton, now lately made Baronet at Yorke, Sir Alexander Radcliffe, Master Tildesley of Mierscough, Master William Farington, and others, and that when the people were drawne together, he would acquaint them with that Commission, and that he would also proclaim the Kings Proclamation, of 27. of May, which as hee affirmed, he had already caused to be proclaimed in many places, we thereupon wished him to forbeare it, and afterwards according to our instructions, we tendred unto him, and required him in the name of the Lords and Commons, to read and publish to the people, severall Bookes conteining the Declaration of the Lords and Commons, concerning the said Proclamation, and the supposed Statute, d. 7. Edw. 1. as also the Votes of both Houses, made the 20. of May last, with sundry Articles or Acts of Parliament, to confirme the same; but he refused to publish them or to receive them from our hands, and when the people were assembled, he and his under Sheriffe, Master Thomas Danfon; and Robert Male, a Popish Recusant, and others, did then read unto them the said Letter, Lancashire Petition and answer, the two last Declarations of the King, and the Sheriffe himselfe shewed unto them the Commission of Array, under the great Seal of England, but before these passages were ended, the assembly went away, except as we beleve about 6, or 700, persons, in whose presence we call'd to the Sheriffe, and told him that we were to speake unto him, in the name of the Lord· & Commons assembled in Parliament, and were to acquaint him with our instructions, concerning his Commission of Array, and his intermedling with the Militia of the County, but he refused to stay to heare them, and then according to our instructions, we did in the name of the Lords and Commons of England, require and command him to deliver unto us that Co~mssiion of Array, to be by us sent to the Parliament, or to give us his answer, and thereupon hee denyed to deliver that Commission, & Master Tidlesley of Mierscough told us we should receive an answer from Yorke, we also in the name of the Lords and Commons commanded the Sheriffe and all his fellow Commissioners in that Commission of Array, to forbeare the execution thereof, and all the people to forbeare to obey the same, at which the Sheriffe departed, and he and divers about him cryed out, all that are for the King goe with us, crying For the King, for the King, and so about 400. persons, whereof very many, and as we beleeve the greater part were Popish Recusants went with him, and rid up and down the Moor, and cryed, For the King, For the King, but the rest then staying with us, we proceeded and declared unto them, that we and others were sent downe by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, for the preservation of the peace of this County, and that both Houses and our selves in particular, ever had done and ever would doe, all things tending to the safety honour, and peace of the Kings person, & his Kingdomes, and nothing to the contrary, and wished them not to divide betweene the King and Parliament, but to stand for the King and Parliament, whereupon with a generall acclamation, they prayed for the King and the Parliament, we then wished all high Constables, and petty Constables, and others then present, to be attentive, and we read unto them such parts of the instructions as were applicable to the present passages, and the Militia of the County, concerning which we told them, that all the Deputy Lieutenants appoynted by the Parliament, were forthwith to meet, and therefore we but being two, would give no further direction therein till that time, and then they should receive further advertisements how to behave themselvs, and in the mean time we advised them not to suffer themselves to be drawne into Armes without direction from the Parliament, and so we dismissed the assembly, Sir George Midleton, and Master Thomas Tildesley of Meriscough, and Master Thomas Prestwiche, whose wives are Popish Recusants, and Master William Farington a Justice of peace, were in our judgements, the most busie and active, and they assisted, countenanced, & abetted the Sheriffe in all the aforesaid passages, and therein pressed and urged him forward, who of himselfe was thereunto sufficiently enclined, and whilst these things were in acting upon the Moore, Will. Sumpner, servant to Master William Farington, who during his late Deputy Lieutenancy, had placed in a private house in Preston, about 13. barrells of Gunpowder, and some quantity of Match, did secretly convey away about 6. barrells thereof, in Packcloathes upon Packhorses, and the next morning about 6. of the clocke and before, we had notice in whose house that Powder and Match was lodged the Sheriffe did convey away out of the Towne and Liberties of Preston, the residue of the said Powder and Match, which being made knowne to me, I forthwith repayred to the Sheriffe, and shewed him the Order of the Lords and Commons, made the 10. of May last, for the disposing of the Magazines, and also a deputation from the Lord Wharton, authorizing his Deputy Lieutenants, or any two or more of them, to dispose of the Magazines of Lancashire, and then desired him to cause that powder to be returned to Preston, but he answered that he would not returne it, but would keepe it and defend it with the power of the County, and the Sheriffe and Sir George Midleton then said, that that Order should not be obeyed, and I thought it not meet for so small a quantity of Powder and Match, though indeed a very considerable quantity for the time and place, to endeavour a returne thereof by force, so that it now remaineth unknowne to me where they (who tooke it) have disposed it: in the last place I make bold to present my opinion, that the Malignant party could not by any passage at the assembly on Preston moore, distinguish that the affections of any considerable part thereof, inclined unto them, and I verily beleeve that we lost not, but gained by that dayes worke, for the safety and peace of the King and Kingdome, yet concerning the Sheriffe, I considering the man, and the command incident to his place, the great number of Papists, the great store of Horses for service, now amongst them, the many Popish Protestant Professors and other Malignant persons, you may peradventure feare, that thereby we shall receive discouragement, unlesse your timely and full assistance be extended to us, & the other here intrusted by you, but however I trust in God, with the issue & sequel, his Majeststy shall find the loyalty, and you the fidelity, and industry of
Your humble servant, Alex. Rigby.
1. Severall letters from the committees in severall counties to the honourable William Lenthall Esquire, speaker of the House of Commons, read in both Houses of Parliament, Iune 27, 1642 : wherein, amongst divers other passages very remarkable, is related how the townsmen of Manchester put themselves into arms, and stood upon their defense against the Lord Strange and his forces, who came to seize on the magazine : with an intercepted letter from Sir Edward Fitton, to Sir Thomas Aston at York, discovering a fowl designe of the malignant party: whereunto is added severall votes of both Houses, Ralph Ashton, 1642.