This is the second in our three part blog series about Skipton Castle during the English Civil War, if you missed the first part you can read it here. The previous article discussed the history of the castle during the early part of the English Civil War up to when York surrendered on the 15th of July and Skipton was agreed to by the signatories to be the garrison that the Royalists would be escorted to.
The first to go was Tickhill castle on the 26th of July after falling for a bluff by Colonel John Lilburne of the Eastern Association. Then Sheffield castle in August was taken after Major General Crawford used a culverin brought from York to create a breach in the wall. Our Regiment participated in this siege as one of the signatories was the Lt. Colonel. The next castle to be taken was Helmsley which fell on the 22nd of November after a two-month siege during which Sir Thomas Fairfax was badly injured.
Since the siege of York, Skipton garrison had trouble obtaining food as most of the cattle etc. had been plundered by the Scots and Parliamentarians. Sir John Mayney had been recruiting Royalist horse in the Furness area. The original plan had been for Mayney to ride in aid of Carlisle castle however this proved impossible. So on the 10th of September Mayney and his horse then headed towards Yorkshire with the 1,000 cattle they had collected. They arrived at Skipton having defeated some Parliamentarian troops at Ingleton. Leaving some of the cattle for the garrison they headed towards Pontefract defeating a small Parliamentarian force near Bradford. They surprised the small force besieging Pontefract, delivered the cattle to the garrison and then left to join the main Royalist garrison at Newark. I’ve often thought that this ‘raid’ would make a very good film along this lines of Hollywood’s Red River or TV Series The Lonesome Dove.
Around the same time as Mayney was undertaking his ‘raid’ Sir Thomas Glenham the Royalist commander of Carlisle castle being totally surrounded had sent his 400 cavalry under Lt. Colonel Edward Grey away to Skipton. This now gave Mallory enough troops to go on the offensive. On the 26th of September Colonel Grey and Major Hughes (of the garrison) led 160 cavalry north towards Ripon and defeated around 400 Parliamentarian cavalry getting ready to besiege Knaresborough. They captured the Colonel, James Mauleverer, 37 troopers, 150 horses, 8 colours and much needed arms, powder and match cord.
Parliament wanted its revenge! On the 7th of October Lord Fairfax’s cavalry and three regiments of dragoons under Colonels Lambert, Sandys and Morgan advanced towards Skipton. They captured the garrison’s outpost at Bolton Bridge and this force of 5,000 then advanced to Halton (now Halton East) where Mallory’s dragoons were behind barricades. Colonel Sandy’s dragoons pulled the barricades down and the remaining Royalists retreated down the slope to Halton Hall. Here they were quickly surrounded, and the 50 defenders had to surrender. Lord Fairfax then led the rest of the force to Carleton where Colonel Grey was based. However Grey and his cavalry had gone back into Cumberland the day before.
The 4th of November saw some of the garrisons’ horse and foot link up with a detachment from Knaresborough. The objective of the combined force was to relieve Helmsley castle. The Royalists were initially successful and took prisoners but probably did not reach the castle although they claimed to. The Parliamentarian force at Helmsley reformed and routed the Royalists capturing 50 Officers and men, 80 horses, corn, meal, salt and the other provisions – which indicates to me that the Royalists had not reached the castle. On the 20th of November Helmsley castle surrendered and the remaining 100 troops marched out with all the honours of war to join the garrison at Scarborough castle.
The cannon used at Helmsley were now sent to Knaresborough which surrendered on the 20th of December. 120 of the Royalist garrison chose to march to and join their colleagues in Skipton. Few castles now remained in Royalist hands – Scarborough, Pontefract, Bolton, Sandal and Skipton
The final article in the three part blog series is now available here.