Friday 26 October 2012

So much barbarity...Lichfield 1646

In January 1646, Sir Thomas Tyldesley 1612-1651 was appointed Governor of Lichfield. The city was taken by the Parliamentarians under Sir William Brereton in March 1646, leaving the Royalists confined to the cathedral close. In the siege that followed Brereton targeted the main spire of the cathedral, which after 5 days of bombardment collapsed on 12 May 1646, damaging the choir and nave. 

Brereton employed other tactics. On 27 May 1646 he turned certain women and children out of their homes in the city and drove them into the cathedral close. There they would be a drain on the Royalists' dwindling supplies. In addition, there was a suspicion that some were suffering from the plague. On 28 May 1646 Sir Thomas Tyldesley wrote a letter of protest to Brereton:
Sir THOMAS TILDSLEYES and Colonell Baggots to Sir William Brereton, touching the Woemen that were sent to their Husbands in the Close. 
YOur last nights night worke which might well be ashamed of the light is an act of so much barbarity so remote from Nature, Lawes, Christianity, and so dangerous to your Soules, that we cannot suffer you to sleepe in it another, and pray you may not harden your hearts to Counterfeit it for our parts we are secure that neither the blood of those Innocents if shed can be said to· our Charge nor dare we faile to let you understand to whom it must be imputed. 
You have turned out of their Habitations sundry poore Woemen and their Innocent Children whom you should have rather relieved) upon us that are now freed from all Obligations to relieve the Harbourlesse, or feed the Hungry, It is not unsuspected also that Gods visiting hand is upon some of them, which if being true their houses are fittest for them as is by Law appointed and we have no better warrant to entertaine them then to be desperate, and tempt God. Our Resolution is neither to receive these nor any others, you are unchristianly resolved to expose to death, we are all absolved from the dutie and the sinne that may grow by the neglect of it, and advise you to think upon it seriously with a beleif of a time when God will make Inquisition for blood. And soe we recommend them to your reception or other disposall upon more Christian thoughts. And we further wish you to take of the vicessitude of subblnary affaires, and that your party may be capable for though we will not menace to be your imitators in so bad an example, yet we will not for our better discharge omit to tell you, that there has bin knowne many an Adombethed in the world, and the just God hath his wonderfull just retaliations· And soe having done our duty both to the miserable exposed and your Soules, we pray God to keepe you from so mercilesse unreasonable and wilfull a wretchednesse as you are acting upon those innocent Woemen (who upon our engagments as we are Gentlemen and Souldiers) have not done any thing this siedge prejuditiall to your Cause by intelligence, or otherwise that we know of. If this may not satisfie you we shall send two or three Gentlemen to meet the like number of yours to discusse the businesse by word of worth, least this extreamity should be· occasioned by some mistake, in the meane time remaining 
Your servants.
Tho. Tildsley.
Her. Baggot.
Litchfield Close May 28. 1646.