Penruddock uprising

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The Penruddock uprising was one of a series of coordinated uprisings planned by the Sealed Knot for a Royalist insurrection to start in March 1655 during the Protectorate of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

The rising

There were plans to seize Salisbury, Newcastle, York and Winchester and instigate smaller uprisings in Nottinghamshire and Cheshire. The New Model Army garrison in Winchester was reinforced shortly before the uprising so plans to attack it were abandoned. No men answered the call in Cheshire, but risings did take place in the other places. However, at all of the locations except Salisbury, the Royalists disbanded without a fight due to lack of support.

The York uprising, the rendezvous point for which was on Marston Moor, was notable for the presence of the Earl of Rochester who had travelled from the exiled court of Charles II to take part. The rising was put down by Colonel Robert Lilburne, Governor of York, and on its failure Rochester fled the country.

Colonel John Penruddock along with Sir Joseph Wagstaffe organised and led the Royalist uprising in the West. On 11 March Penruddock, with between 300 and 400 other Cavaliers, took Salisbury and raised the Royal standard. The next morning he led his followers out of Salisbury, heading west through Blandford, Sherborne and Yeovil in the hope of picking up more supporters, but a single troop of horse of the New Model Army under Captain Unton Crook defeated them after a three-hour street fight in South Molton in Devon on 14 March. Most of the Royalists either fled or were killed but Crook captured Penruddock and the other ringleaders.

Oliver Cromwell appointed the judge Sir Hugh Wyndham to the commission of oyer and terminer charged with dealing with the Penruddock uprising.


Trials of the leading insurgents for high treason were held at Exeter on 18 April 1655. The first was against Penruddock, Hugh Grove, Richard Reeves of Kimpton, gent, brothers Robert and George Duke of Stuckton, gents, Francis Jones of Beddington, gent, Francis Bennett of Killington, gent, Thomas Fitzjames of Hanley, gent, Edward Davy of London, gent, and Thomas Poulton of Pewsey, innkeeper, all of whom were convicted except Bennett.[1] The second bill named Edward Willis, innkeeper of New Sarum, Nicholas Mussell of Steeple Langford, yeoman, William Jenkins of Fordingbridge, gent, Thomas Hillard of Upton, yeoman, William Stroud of Wincanton, gent, Robert Harris of Stanford, cordwainer, John Bibby of Compton Chamberlain, gent, and John Cooke of Potterne, along with John Haynes, "the Sherriffe of Wilts' trumpeter who went along from Salisbury".[1] All were found guilty, Jenkins having pleaded guilty. [2]

The third bill named four men who claimed they had received articles of surrender from Captain Crooke: brothers Henry and Joseph Collier of Steeple Langford, William Wake of Blandford, gent (the father of future Archbishop William Wake),[3] and Christopher Haviland of Longton, labourer. It was argued that they had instead simply been promised "fair quarter", upon which they confessed the indictment. Also arraigned were James Horsington, gent and John Giles, yeoman, of New Sarum, who it was claimed had been held in Salisbury jail for robbery and had been freed by the insurgents, Abraham Wilson, cutler, Richard Browne, Nicholas Broadgate of Blandford Forum, yeoman, and another trumpeter, a Dutchman called Hans Styver.[1][2] Broadgate was acquitted, and the rest found guilty. A further man, Marcellus Rivers, gentleman, of Benstead, received a "no true bill" verdict.[2] Sir William Clarke commented that although Grove, a gentleman with an annual income of 400 pounds, was a "dareing and resolute person", the most unrepentant were Reeves and Hilliard, "the most ancient of them", who openly admitted their actions and said that "they owed not obedience but to Charles Stuart".[1]

Ten men (Penruddock, Groves, Reeves, Davy, Poulton, Willis, Hillard, Haynes, Horsington, and Giles) were executed at Exeter - Cromwell commuted the usual sentence to beheading in the case of Penruddock and Groves, and hanging in the case of the remainder.[4] The others, including those claiming to have been given articles by Crooke, were said to have been reprieved and pardoned, such as Wake, who after a time in Exeter jail was released and went on to live until 1705. [5]However up to seventy insurgents still held in Salisbury, of a range of social classes and occupations, were subsequently transported to Barbados as indentured labourers. These included the previously-acquitted Nicholas Broadgate and Marcellus Rivers, who along with another transportee called Oxenbridge Foyle or Fowell, was in 1759 was to submit a petition to Parliament in pamphlet form complaining about the prisoners' barbaric treatment at the hands of the planters who had bought them. Rivers added that one man, a Mr. Diamond of Tiverton - probably the William Deyman of Tiverton, gent, recorded as a prisoner at Exeter with Penruddock - had been transported despite being 76 years old and merely having expressed a wish to join the rebels. Although it is unknown whether Foyle returned to England, Rivers certainly returned at the Restoration, submitting a further petition that the merchant and MP Martin Noell responsible for his deportation be excluded from the general amnesty extended to Parliamentarians.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Firth, C. H. (ed.) Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899), p.81
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Cobbett's State Trials, Bagshaw, 1810, pp. 790-791
  3. Sykes, N. William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1957, p.8
  4. Oliver, The History of Exeter, 1821, p.101
  5. See Ravenhill, W. Records of the Rising in the West, AD 1655, 44-45


Further reading

Durston, Christopher (2009). "Penruddock, John (1619–1655)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21893.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)