Bourne Archive: FNQ: C17                                    Latest edit 3 Apr 2010.   

Interactive version ©2007 R.J.PENHEY          With thanks to the trustees of the Willoughby Memorial Library.

The Bourne Archive


Fenland Notes and Queries. Edited by Rev. W.D. Sweeting, Rector of Maxey.

Part 25. April 1895.

This quarterly periodical took the form of a forum in which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the Fens and the region’s environs and others replied with some sort of answer. Some ‘answers’ seem to have been spontaneous, so qualifying as ‘notes’.

Seventeenth Century

517. Mrs. Elizabeth Hudson – The Hudson family suffered severely for their loyalty. Dr. Michael Hudson’s career is well known. He was born in Westmoreland ; in 1621, being then aged 16, he was a “poor serving child” at Queen’s College, Oxford; in 1628 he was M.A. In 1632 he was Rector of West Deeping and Uffington, co. Linc. ; the latter benefice he exchanged for King’s Cliffe, co. Northants., in 1640. In 1642, at Oxford, he was Chaplain to the King, and the degree of D.D. was conferred on him. He was known as “The Plain Dealer,” and on account of his fidelity and sagacity was chosen as scout-master to the army. In 1646 he conducted the escape of the King from Oxford :*1 arrested soon after, he escaped from prison, and returning to Lincolnshire with commission as Colonel he raised a party of horse. Withdrawing to Woodcroft House, in the parish of Etton, co. Northants., he was attacked by the Parliamentary forces under Colonel Waite. After several fruitless assaults Colonel Waite sent a small party in advance under a captain, his kinsman, to demand surrender. That officer was shot.*2 Being attacked in force, the garrison was compelled to surrender on promise of quarter. The Colonel had however given an order not to spare “that rogue Hudson.” The Doctor was thrown over the battlements into the moat, where one Egborough, a soldier, killed him with the butt-end of his musket. There occurs no reliable account of the place of Dr. Hudson’s sepulture; one states it to have taken place at Uffington ; but a later account (1708) says that it was at Denton,†1 without memorial. Anthony Wood, who was curious to find out details, relates that one Walker, a grocer of Stamford, cut out the Doctor’s tongue, and carried it about in a bottle, as a trophy. Egborough was killed by a gun accident at Cherry Orton, co. Hunts.

Elizabeth Hudson, who relates her troubles in the following petitions, was married in 1633. This entry is from the Marriage Licences of the Vicar General of Canterbury ;-“Michael Hudson, M.A., Oxford, bachr., 26, and Elizabeth Pollard, spinster, 19, daughter of Lewis Pollard, of Courtney, co. Oxford, esquire, who consents. At Newnham Courtney, or Balden, co. Oxon.”

The Petitions are four in number :-

(I) To the King’s Most Excellent Matie.

     The humble Peticon of Elizabeth Hudson the wife and of Michael Hudson the sonne of he late Mr. Michael Hudson his late sacred Maties true and faithfull servant

Most humbly sheweth

That the foresaid Mr Hudson after his conveying his late sacred Matie out of Oxford by performing many other faithful and memorable services for his said Matie was at last most barbarously slaine and left the Petnrs in a very distressed and wanting condition.

Therefore the Petnr. most humbly prayeth yor Matie in remembrance of his late sacred Matie and of the services don to and sufferinge for some reliefe and comfort unto the Petnrs; for charrity hath beene ther only livelyhood ever since his death and being now ended because all men expect as the Petnrs humbly crave yor Maties gracious compassions to provide for them by some waye or means wch to yor Maties great and royall goodness shall seeme meete.

       And the Petnr will dayly pray for yor Maties long peaceable and prosperous reign over us.

The following testimonial was annexed :-

     May it please yor Matie.

We whose names are heere subscribed doe humbly certifie yor Matie that he bearer hereof Mrs. Eliz. Hudson is the widow and Michael Hudson is the son of the late Mr. Michael Hudson who conveyed his late sacred Matie out of Oxford when it was closely beseiged and conducted his Matie safely to the Scotts and after many other faithfull and memorable services lost his life for his said Matie.

                   LINDSEY.                                        CAMPDEN.

                                                                             W. BODENHAM.

                                                                             Th. WINGFIELD.

                                                                             Jo. SLENTON.

(II) These for the Honourable Sr Edward Nicholas, Kt., humbly present.

Good Honourable Sir,

You may remember that I and my sonne received a reference of you from the King to the Lord Treasurer for a lease of one and twenty years for that little part of his Maties tenn thousand acres being in the great leavell of the fenns formerly in the possession of one Underwood*3 a pretended Collonell that butchered my deare husband : and concerning this reference granted to us wee have been at great paines and charge and have spent much tyme and omitted all other things in hopes and expectations that wee should have this conferred upon us for our relief and comfort ; and yett now att the last we are undermyned and are in great danger of losing it unless we can find a true friend to helpe and assiste us in this our time of extremity. May it now therefore please yor honor in the King’s name to favor and be a true friend to the distressed widdow and ffatherless so far as to recommend us in two or three words to the Lord Treasurer that wee may no more undergoe new sorrows and miseryes but rather that we may enjoye this compassion of his Matie towards us the wch wee have so long and so much laboured for. Now good yor Honor lett me therefore beseech you to stand a true friend to us in this business as you have promysed to doe in anything that lieth in yor power, that wee may partake of his Maties gracious grant and not be againe forced to seeke for other things now all things ells are gone : and therefore I doe presume once more to beseech yor Honor not to faile in this our fearefull and miserable condition butt to helpe and recommend us in this our busines and I shall ever continue my prayers to God for yor health and happiness and ever remayne yor Honors obliged and humble servant.

          Elizabeth Hudson.

(III) To the Kings Most Excellent Matie.

The humble Peticon of Elizab. Hudson widow of the late Michael Hudson who conveyed his late Sacred Matie out of Oxford.

Most Humbly sheweth

That the foresaid Mr. Hudson by performing many and memorable services for his late Sacred Matie of blessed memory lost his ecclesiasticall preferment of eight hundred pounds a yeare and afterwards being most barbarously slaine left the petnr in a very distressed and wanting condicon and yor Matie graciously compassionated the petnrs sad condicon and the Petnr being still destitute both of present livelyhood and of any visible hopes to give her credit for a present subsistancie.

And that whereas Major Ffancis Underwood of Whittlesey bought of the pretended Adventurers part of yor Matie's ten thousand acres in the Great Levell of the ffenns wch is now returned to yor Matie and in yor Matie's disposal and the said Ffrancis Underwood being one of the chiefe Actors in the barbarous Murder of the foresaid Mr. Hudson.

May it please yor Matie the premisses considered to grant unto the Petnr Eliz. Hudson her exors admors and assignes a lease of one and twenty years of all the lands wch the foresaid ff’cs Underwood of Whittlesey had possession of himself being parte of Yor Matie’s 10,000 acres paying unto Yor Matie the yearly rent of 2s. an acre or what other rent to Yor Matie’s Royal goodness and bounty shall seeme meete.

And the Petnr will dayly pray for Yor Matie’s long peaceable and prosperous reign over us.

(IV) To the King’s Most Excelt Matie

The humble Petn of Eliz. Hudson widdowe of the late Dr. Michael Hudson who conveyed his late sacred Matie of blessed Memory out of Oxford.

Most Humbly Sheweth

That Henry ffeild clerke who hathe been arraigned at the King’s Bench barre and found guilty and is now fined the sum of five hundred pounds for speaking and preaching seditious words agst yor Matie and the present government was the man who sequestered the foresaid Dr. Hudson’s living, keeped all the Petnrs goods, and turned the Petnr and her children out of doers, and afterwards hyred men and was himself at the murdering of the foresaid Dr. Hudson, and would never give her a farthing although she was ready to starve.

May it now please yor Matie to thinke upon the foresaid Dr. Hudson’s memorable services and great sufferings and the Petnrs miserable and distressed condicon and to grant unto the Petnr the foresaid summe of five hundred pounds wch the foresaid Henry ffeild is fined to pay to Yor Matie that she may be able to subsist and pay her debts.

And your petnr (as in duty bound) will ever pray, &c.

Before the date of the above petitions, the son, Michael, had applied for the office of Register in the diocese of Winchester, which was in the King’s gift, sede vacante. His certificate of qualification was this :-

To whom it may concern. These are to certifie that the bearer hereof Michael Hudson is a scholler sufficient (being very well learned in the Latin and Greek tongues) and writeth several good hands whereby we do certifie he is fit for and capable of any Register’s place in any of the Courts of Bishops and of Deans and Chapters.

Witness or hands, July 30, 1660.

W. BODENHAM:                  FRAN. EDWARD NOT : PUB.



     Mrs Hudson was on the Pension List in 1660 with £50 a year. There is an undated petition of 1663 or 1664, wherein she humbly sheweth that “H. Mty*4 was graciously pleased to grant the petnr a small pension of ffifty pounds a yeare onely for her present subsistence to keep her from starving untill she was better provided for, which allowance being now stopt amongst other pensions and the petnr being in debt both to her landlord and others is in a starving condicon and hath not creditt to borrow sixpence to buy selfe bread.” His Majesty had not two sixpences to rub together so this widow’s petition like thousands of others has no order indorsed. The King’s reservation in the fens which Mrs. Hudson sought to procure was also petitioned for by Alexander Downinge, a gentleman living in Whittlesey. He denounces Underwood. An indictment†2 was drawn for high treason : but the Attorney General advised that offences committed before 24 June, 1660, were covered by the Act of Oblivion. Subsequent to that date only words could be alleged, viz “what he did in the service agst the King were it to be done againe would ; And that the High Court of Justice for the tryal of the King and his friends was a legal court and a just court.”

Other counts allege that he sat as judge at Norwich when Thos. Richardson, Major Roberts, Mr. Hubbart, and Mr. Cooper, a minister, were condemned to death ; and that he gave the order for Col. Saul to be hanged.

Further, “the said ffrancis Underwood after hee had given quarter to Dr. Hudson at Woodcroft-house he commanded the sd. Dr. to bee killed and himself cutt off his fingers as the Dr held by his hands begging for his life.”

The account of Dr. Hudson’s death in Gentleman’s Magazine, 1813, vol. 83, states :-“Dr Hudson with the most courageous of his soldiers driven to the battlements defended themselves there ; but yielding upon a promise of quarter, Dr. Hudson was thrown over the battlements and when clinging to a projecting spout his hands were cut off and he fell into the moat.”


*1      Dom. Interreg. 30 May 1646. Goldsmith’s Hall “to Walford for bringing up Michael Hudson, clerk, who came with the King’ to the Scots Army, £50,”

*2     In the register book of Etton, in 1648, is the entry:- Edward Rossiter by a shott from before Woodcroft-house received two wounds whereof he presently dyed June the 5. & on the 8th day of the same was buryed at Etton.-Ed.

†1      There is a Denton in Huntingdonshire, near Stilton. I know of no record of this burial.

       Dom. Car. II. 52; 27, 28, 29. March 1661.

*3     Capt. Alexander Downing, in 1663, petitioned for the land which Underwood obtained “upon pretense of serving yor Maty yor petitioner being able to prove he never served yor Maty but was one of the cruellest and bloodiest persecutors that were agst yor Maty’s cause and friends.” Dom. Car. II. 89, 19. In the register of the parish of S. Mary, Whittlesey, there are many entries of the Underwood family:-1635 Hugh Underwood gent. burd. Dec. 2. 1637 Ann daur. of Francis Uuderwood burd. Nov. 21. From 1643 to 1660 the entries are missing.

*4     Dom. Car. II.

†2     Dom. Car., II. 96.


The scheme of symbols used for the notes was devised by Sweeting when the notes appeared at the feet of his several pages. Here, the numbers have been added, as the notes have been gathered to the foot of the whole article.

Etton is north-west of Peterborough at grid reference TF1406. It is now in the City (District) of Peterborough, in the county of Cambridgeshire but was long in the Soke of Peterborough which was included in Northamptonshire. The seventeenth and nineteenth century references are therefore to this last county (often abbreviated to Northants).

The reference to Uuderwood is probably a printer’s error.

There is related material on the following links: FNQ 108, FNQ 838, Peck’s Desiderata (fromoldbooks site).

The FNQ Home Page provides links to other Civil War-related material.

The British History Online site carries the other side of the story of the Etton events.

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