Today is the anniversary of the ‘battle’ of Guisborough in 1643. I’ve used inverted commas because there is some debate amongst historians whether it was indeed a battle or just a mere skirmish. Apparently, a battle requires some sort of planning. But a battle is good enough for me and a good enough excuse to head up the Hanging Stone which overlooks the town.
I’ve posted about the battle before. Colonel Guilford Slingsby was a Royalist landowner from Hemlington and in 1643 was stationed at Guisborough with 500 men (although I note I wrote 700 in my previous piece).
The English Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists arose as a consequence of King Charles I’s demands to raise taxes for a standing army, and the imposition of his religious views. The North Riding of Yorkshire tended to be loyal to the King because of traditional allegiances as well as Catholicism. Further south, Leeds and Hull were more Protestant. In Guisborough though, the Chaloner brothers supported Parliament which is probably why Colonel Slingsby had troops stationed in the town. In fact, Thomas Chaloner would be a Judge at the trial of the King and a signatory to the Royal Death Warrant. But that is a few years off yet.
On the 15th, Slingsby’s commander, the Earl of Newcastle, had ordered him to occupy Whitby, a port through which the Royalist could be supplied with arms from Europe. At around the same time, this intelligence reached Sir Hugh Cholmeley, the Parliamentarian commander in Scarborough although at the time he was in Kirbymoorside supporting Colonel Sir Thomas Fairfax. Cholmeley had lands in Whitby and must also have felt concerned for his own family so, disobeying his orders, Cholmeley with his Regiment of Foot immediately set off across the moors to intercept him.
The die was cast and the two ‘armies’ met just outside of Guisborough. No one knows for sure where. Some say it was in a field which at one time was called “War Field” but which is now a small housing estate to the west of the town’s Lawrence Jackson School. Another suggestion is a field off Butts Lane.
Slingsby and his Royalists were resoundingly defeated by Cholmeley with both sides have minimal casualties. Poor Slingsby however lost both legs and died three days later. I was once told, quite authoritatively but without any evidence, that ‘Stump Cross’ in Guisborough in named after Slingsby’s unfortunate maiming.
Within a month Sir Hugh Chomeley had turn-coated to swear allegiance to the King which was ultimately not a good move as it upset quite a few people. He should have stuck to the winning side. After the war, he spent the rest of his life in exile.