Civil War

From Historical Hastings

Ross has the following to say about Hastings during the Civil War and how it impacted on Hastings:[1]

We find that, in 1643, when Sussex felt severely the curse of civil war, that the churches of All Saints and St. Clement did not escape a sacrilegious visit.

“On Sunday morning, being the ninth of July, 1643, in time of Divine service, Colonell Morley, the crooked rebel of Sussex, came toward Hastings, one of the Cinque-Ports, but in his march being discovered, presently notice was given to Mr. Hinson, curate of All Saints, who knowing that one end of the Colonell's Sabbath Day's journey was to apprehend him, was compelled to break off Divine service in the midst, and fly into a wood near at hand, there to hide himself.

The Colonell being entered the town, scattered the body of his horse into severall parts, to intercept all passages out of the town; and having secured the ports, he summons the mayor and jurats, and demands the arms of the town, to which he found ready obedience, for presently the mayor and jurats sent their servants to command all the inhabitants to deliver up their arms, which was done accordingly, and one of the jurats, Fray by name, furnished the Colonell with a waggon.

He sent them away to Battell, being a town in Sussex, some five miles from Hastings. That might some soldiers lay in the church where Mr. Hinson officiated, when one Wicker, a common soldier, getting up into the pulpit, preached unto his fellows; and to show the fruits of so good doctrine, either the preacher or one of his auditory, stole away the surpless. Ralph Mills, the honest parish clerk, to recover it, complained to their Captain, Richard Cockeram, of Rye, but received no other answer but this, “Do not you think he loves a smock as well as you ?’”

Colonel Morley, now master of the town, demanded money from the jurats, which when they had paid, he carried them off with him to Battel, and sent them back next day with a warrant to levy money on townsmen, marked out by themselves, principally “Mr. Car, the parson of St. Clements, and Mr. Hinson.” Mr. Car had fled from home that Sunday, but thinking the storm over, on hearing that Colonel Morley was gone to Battel, was now on his return, when he fell in with Fray on the ​road​.

Fortunately he was warned by “one Mr. Breame” of his treacherous companion, and, leaving him, rode back again. “Fray, thus unexpectedly robbed of his prey, instantly informed Colonel Morley that Master Breame had frayed away the bird that was so near going into the snare. Morley sent presently some troopers to apprehend Master Breame, and at what sum he did redeem this crime is uncertain.”

On Tuesday, the jurats were compelled to take an oath to execute the warrant for levying the money, and for arresting Mr. Hinson, who was accordingly seized at his own house, and, being told “he had highly deserved it for reading the king's declaration,” was locked up in the Town Hall with Mr. Parker, who they had a little before committed, because he would not pay for the carriage of some ordnance to “Rye, a most factious town not far off.”

The next day Mr. Hinson was removed to the common gaol. “There they locked him fast up in a loath some place, where there was but one short bench, and no company but a tinker, and he none of the jovialist neither; for the stubborn sullen tinker, pleading seniority in the place, took possession of the bench, and most unsociably kept it all night, not interchanging with Mr. Hinson his repose for a walk, for variety sake, but left him one while to walk, and another while to sleep on that floor.”

After three weeks' imprisonment, Mr. Hinson was sent with a strong guard to Colonel Morley, and by him forwarded on to London, from whence he escaped to the king at Oxford.

References & Notes

  1. A Guide to Hastings & St Leonards (Thomas Ross 1835) pg.29-30 Google Books