Monday 15 October 2012

The Tyldesley Monument—Wigan Lane

(click image for larger version)
Baines [FN1]:
Three years afterwards, when the hopes of the royalists were once more revived by the appearance of Charles II. in the field, despatches were sent by that prince to the earl of Derby, summoning him from the Isle of Man, to join the royal standard. Having landed at the mouth of the Wyre, in the Fylde, at the head of 300 troops, his lordship marched to Preston, whence he sent precepts, requiring the inhabitants of the county to join him at that place in arms. This call was but feebly obeyed ; and when his lordship marched from Preston to the south, the number of his troops did not exceed 600 [1]. Manchester was at that time occupied by the Cheshire and Lancashire militia, and Colonel Lilburne, who had arrived from York with ten troops of dragoons, to join the army of Cromwell, which was daily expected from Scotland, advanced at the head of his forces to Wigan, for the purpose of intercepting the march of the earl of Derby. Having posted his horse in Wigan Lane, and lined the hedges with his infantry, the earl of Derby on his approach (August 25, 1651) was saluted with a galling fire of musketry. Astonished but not dismayed by this reception, the earl halted, and dividing his small force into two bodies of 300 each, he took upon himself the command of the van, giving the rear to Sir Thomas Tyldesley. A charge was then sounded, and this gallant little band twice cut their way through the main body of the enemy, but, attempting it a third time, and being environed and oppressed by unequal numbers, the Lord Wicldrington, Sir Thomas Tyldesley, and many other brave and worthy men, were slain. Sir Robert Throgmorton, knight marshal, was left also for dead upon the field, but, being taken up by a poor woman, and consigned to the care of Sir Roger Bradshaigh, he recovered [2]. After displaying prodigies of valour, the earl of Derby, who was wounded, and had had two horses shot under him, took refuge in a house in the market-place at Wigan, from whence he escaped the same night, and pursued his route towards Worcester, attended by three faithful followers. His lordship, on his departure, left behind him a brass plate with the arms of Man, encircled by the garter, and this plate remained in the same house (the Dog Inn) till the year 1824, when it was sold to the earl of Derby by a descendant of the family that afforded refuge to his noble ancestor. A monumental pillar in Wigan Lane marks the spot upon which the gallant Sir Thomas Tyldesley fell, and records his military achievements in these appropriate terms :— 
An high Act of Gratitude, which conveys the Memory of
To posterity,
Who served King Charles the First as Lieutenant-Colonel at Edge-Hill Battle,
After raising Regiments of Horse, Foot, and Dragoons,
And for
The desperate storming of Burton-upon-Trent, over a bridge of 36 arches,
He afterwards served in all the wars in great command,
Was Governor of Lichfield,
And followed the fortune of the Crown through the Three Kingdoms,
And never compounded with the Rebels, though strongly invested ;
And on the 25th August, A.D. 1651, was here slain,
Commanding as Major-General under the EARL OF DERBY,
To whom the grateful Erector, ALEXANDER RIGBY, Esq. was Cornet;
And when he was High Sheriff of this County (A.D. 1679)
Placed this high obligation on the whole Family of the Tyldesleys,
To follow the noble example of their Loyal Ancestor. 
1. In Whitelocke's Memorial, p. 504, it is said that the earl of Derby had got together 1500 men; Secombe, in his History of the House of Stanley, says "about 600."
2. According to Whitelocke, p. 505, the earl of Derby lost on this occasion in prisoners, five colonels, the adjutant-general, four lieutenant-colonels, one major, four captains, two lieutenants, and 400 men; and had slain Lord Widdrington, Major-General Sir Thomas Tyldesley, one colonel, two majors, and divers others of quality. So highly did the Parliament estimate the " victory of Wigan Lane," that they voted to Colonel Lilburne £500, and £200 per annum as a mark of honour for his services, with £100 to the lieutenant who conveyed the despatches; and public thanksgivings were ordered to be offered up in the churches of London and Westminster for this victory.

1. The History of the County Palatine and Duch of Lancaster, Edward Baines, John Harland, Brooke Herford, 1870 (Vol II p179)