Bourne Archive: FNQ: Civil War           Latest edit 19 Oct 2009.   

Interactive version ©2006 R.J.PENHEY

The Bourne Archive


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

Part 41. April 1899.

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 Civil War.

760. Civil War, 1642.1 The following cuttings are from Mercurius Aulicus2 for the above year.

‘It was advertised this day from Peterburgh, that Colonell Cromwell had bestowed a visit on that little City, and put them to the charge of his entertainment, plundering a great part thereof to discharge the reckoning, and further that in pursuance of the thorow Reformation, he did most miserably deface the Cathedrall Church, breake downe the Organs, and destroy the glasse windowes, committing many other outrages on the house of God which were not acted by the Gothes in the sack of Rome, and are most commonly forborn by the Turks when they possesse themselves by force of a Christian city.’  (Friday, 28 April.)

‘A like successe was also certified to befall his Majesties [forces]3 not farre from Sleyford a Town in Lincolnshire where his Majesies Forces took no fewer than 140 of the Rebels Horse, who in great Bodies had been ranging about the Country, the best escaping by quicke flight to Nottingham, to which the whole Bodie of them came on Saturday from a town called Worton,4 but came not thither with such safetie, but that Sir Richard Byron killed 32 of them upon their passage, and lost but one man of his own though they made many shot at him.’ (Thursday, 22 June)


1.       1642 is the year stated but 1643 may be thought to fit the circumstances more convincingly. For example, Cromwell is called ‘Colonel’ but was promoted to that rank only later in the year 1642.  Compare also, reports for April 1643, from other sources.

Also, the Mercurius Aulicus began publication only in early January 1643. See the British Civil Wars timeline. However, the present quotation could be from a retrospective compilation, looking back over the year 1642. It does include items said to be from both April and June 1642. A picture of a later edition of the publication may be seen here.

More information on Civil War propaganda sheets is here. The question of printers’ difficulty with handwriting rises again in FAQ 1113. The War Games site gives a chronology for 1643, giving both dates and days of the week. It has 28 April 1643 falling on a Friday and 22 June on a Thursday, as stated in the present text. This means that 28 April 1642 would have been a Thursday.

2. ^   Mercurius is Mercury, the winged messenger and aulicus means belonging to a princely court. We therefore have the Court Mercury; royalist propaganda. RJP

3.       FNQ’s brackets

4. ^   It is hard to find a Worton in a likely place, they being in Wensleydale, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. The best candidate would appear to be Morton (SK8863) though it is nearer to Lincoln than Sleaford and it has the tidal river Trent between it and Nottingham. Certainly, it would have been within range of a foray from Newark but the date given was very early in the war. It was not until two calendar months later in 1642 that the King formally opened the war by raising his standard at the same Nottingham as that to which these Parliamentarians had retired.  Newark was garrisoned in the December 1642.

Chronology, Civil War in Lincolnshire