Pontefract Castle – 17th Century

3/1/1696On 3rd January 1696, the Calendar of State Papers of the Reign of William III recorded: ‘Proceedings upon the petition of Thomas Sayle, mayor of Pontefract, and Hastings Sayle, alderman of the same place. They show that they are prosecuted by the Attorney-General upon an information for altering an assessment on the said town for the quarterly poll, in the third year of the King’s reign, and pray for an order to the Attorney-General to enter a Nolle Prosequi (to be unwilling to pursue) upon the said information. Referred to the Attorney or Solicitor-General for his report.’
6/1/1649On 6th January 1649, Cornet John Baynes wrote from the besieging forces at Pontefract Castle to Captain Adam Baynes in Gray’s Inn Lane, London: ‘COUSEN……There’s nothing here of concernment yet happens. The Guns will be here next week. Our men are raising new batteries….The Major-General (Lambert) is not yet returned to Pontefract from reducing parts of the Militia. All good people here are glad, and desire to hear of speedy justice, delays being often dangerous…’. The latter sentiments relate to the impending trial and execution of the King and ‘the delays’ to justice being denied on (Royalist) Sir Marmaduke Langdale’s escape from gaol.
6/1/1649On 6th January 1649, Cornet John Baynes wrote from York to Captain Adam Baynes in Gray’s Inn Lane, London: ‘…Pontefract Castle yet in Capacity to dispute with us a longe time. They devise new waies to p’iudice us, & doe us much harme, but att last I hope we shall pay them home for all. Many men not satisfied with the Army’s proceedings…..’
6/1/1649On 6th January 1649, Thomas Margetts wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London from Pontefract using the once-a-week post: '…..We have lately had several Councils of war here for the trial of offenders, wherein we have proceeded to the execution of exemplary Justice upon some, to the great satisfaction of the country and reformation of the army here……The well-affected in these parts do greatly rejoice (the malignants are as much troubled) a. t your gallant proceedings against Charles Stuart……….We would fain be doing something in these parts while we are together; when we are gone into larger quarters (as when this Castle is taken)….The poor people in these parts are afraid of Jocky (Scots) again, hearing rumour as if they were preparing for a second Invasion; And I perceive that is the great hope of this besieged enemy….’
8/1/1645On 8th January 1645, Pontefract Castle’s governor, Sir Richard Lowther, sent 140 horsemen to Newark to conserve supplies of food and fuel at the besieged garrison and employ them more usefully elsewhere.
10/1/1649On 10th January 1649, after Oliver Cromwell had written the previous November to the Committee of the Lords and Commons, regarding Pontefract Castle’s situation and request for his besieging forces of further arms and ordnance, ‘six good battering guns, of no less calibre than demi-cannons, with match, powder, bullets and three of the biggest mortars, with shells’ plus other materiel arrived.
13/1/1649On 13th January 1649, Thomas Margetts wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London from Pontefract: ‘ The Ma. General lately returned hither from the disbanding of two Militia Regiments of Horse, and is now gone to the disbanding of Coll. Bethel and the foot regiments lately before Scarborough……The Enemy is yet resolute and keeps us upon hard duty…..Our guns and mortar pieces, together with the ammunition, is now come into this Town, and they will play very shortly. They now and then drop away out of the Castle, but are still very active with their great and small shot to prevent our work. The proceedings in relation to Charles Stuart are well enough resented by the well-affected in these parts, and are glad the business goes on so fast, as it probably tends to the preventing of malicious designs and loss of Justice….Coll. Lilburne (later a regicide) gone to London and most of the other officers out of town, except Coll. Bright (who you know dissents)……’
15/1/1645In January 1645, Colonel William ‘Blowface’ Forbes of the besieging Parliamentary forces around Pontefract Castle was injured. A Parliamentarian newspaper reported: ‘Pontefract Castle is still closely besieged by the L Fairfax his forces: Sir Thomas Fairfax was lately in great danger of being shot by a canon (sic) bullet from the castle which came between him and the Colonel Forbes; the waft of it feld Sir Thomas to the ground and spoyled one side of the Colonel’s face and eyes. Our forces are in great probability of taking it and will be able no doubt speedily to requite those in the castle for their obstinacy and insolency.’ Soon after recovering, Forbes married Mary, a woman twenty years his junior and the daughter of Pontefract’s former Royalist governor, Sir John Redman.
16/1/1645On 16th January 1645, Nathan Drake's detailed accounts of the siege of Pontefract Castle recorded that when the besieged heard that the besiegers were about to plant their ordnance 'against the Piper Tower and betwixt that and the Round Tower, where there was a hollow place all the way down to the well, the gentlemen and souldyers fell all upon carrying of earth and rubbish, and so filled up the place in a little space, and we rammed up the way that passed through Piper Tower, with earth four or five yards thick. The beseeged playd 1 cannon into the closes below the Towne amongst the cutters up of clothes, but what was killed is not knowne, but they came there no more.'
17/1/1645Cannon Balls found at the castleOn this day in 1645, the first serious action of the first siege at Pontefract Castle began. Parliamentarian gun batteries started an intense bombardment of the castle. Cannon fire lasted five days and in this time 1367 shots were fired at the defenders. Here is a photo of two of the cannon balls found over 360 years later, still lodged in the castle walls!
19/1/1645On 19th January 1645, Nathan Drake recorded that the  Piper Tower was beaten down by the besiegers 'about 9 of the clock, there having beene 71 shott made that morning, before it fell'.
19/1/1654On 19th January 1654, Sir Ferdinand Leigh, Royalist officer (colonel of troop), died and was buried at St Giles and St Mary, Pontefract. In 1625, he had been Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Man under his relative, the Earl of Derby and also a gentleman of the king’s privy chamber having contributed 100 shillings (£1210 in today’s money) to the Royalist cause when Charles I assembled the gentry of Yorkshire at York.
21/1/1645For the 21st January 1645, Nathan Drake, diarist, recorded: ‘Captin Browne was killed in the Barbican with a muskitt bullitt from the beseegers. About that time was one John Spence killed in the barbican by overcharging his owne muskitt wch burst & killed him.’
21/1/1645On 21st January 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘about 11 a Clock, there came a Drumme to the gates from Forbes and Beate a parly. word was brought to the Governor who sent to know his business. He tould them he had a letter from Coll. Forbes to the Governor. The governor returned answer, he would receive no letters…unlesse they would sease battering..’
21/1/1652On 21st January 1652, it was reported by The Parliament Committee for Advance of Money (set up in November 1642, and ceasing in 1656, to produce voluntary loans and subsequently compulsory assessments for the fight against Charles I and from 1645 to uncover the concealed resources of Royalist ‘delinquents’) that Lady Savile, widow of Sir William Savile of Thornhill, ‘went to Sheffield, then a King’s garrison, contributing money, horses, and arms and encouraging the soldiers to fight against Parliament, and stayed there till its surrender. Also that she was privy to the design of betraying Pontefract Castle to the King in 1648, and much assisted the enemy. Also that her late husband was a commander under the Earl of Newcastle, and a notorious delinquent.’
22/1/1645On 22nd January 1645, the English Commissioners with the Scotch (sic) Army wrote from Grantham to Lieutenant-General Leslie: ‘We have received very sad complaints of horse lately quartered at Stayncross and those parts in Yorkshire under Major Blair, how they took clothes and free quarter, and assessed great sums of money, take horses and when the owners redeem them for money take both horses and money, and that one of them committed a rape ; some said the Reformadoes of your army, com¬ mitting many oppressions at Tickhill, were taken by the inhabitants to Pontefract Castle, of whom those of the Scotch nation the Committee have written to you shall be sent to receive justice at your hands, and the English Irish and French shall receive the punishment appointed by Parliament…..’
23/1/1600On 23rd January 1600, Alexander Keirincx, a Flemish landscape artist, was born in Antwerp. He was commissioned by Charles I of England (probably to note the king’s visit to Scotland in 1639) to paint a series of ten or more paintings of royal castles and places in England and Scotland and it is believed his depiction of the grandeur of Pontefract Castle was done in 1640. He died in Amsterdam on 7th October 1652.
23/1/1643On 23rd January 1643, the Marquess of Newcastle retreated from Pontefract when Parliamentarian Sir Thomas Fairfax threatened his lines of communication having already taken Leeds and Wakefield from Lord Savile.
27/1/1649On 27th January 1649, lawyer Thomas Margetts wrote from Pontefract to Captain Baynes (Parliamentary army officer and later MP for Leeds during the Commonwealth, being the city’s first MP) concerning the third siege of Royalist Pontefract Castle by the Parliamentarians: ‘…only Wednesday the enemy made a sally upon our nearest guard to them, beat them up, took 14 prisoners and killed 3 or 4, and then were forced in again. Mr Beamond (sic), Parson of Kirby, is apprehended for holding a secret cypher intelligence with the enemy in the Castle….I think the gallows will shortly have him…’ Reverend George Beaumont was cousin to Thomas Beaumont of Lascelles Hall. When Major-General John Lambert was made aware of Beaumont’s activities, Beaumont was tortured to reveal his cypher and colleagues (which he did not do) and then hanged from the walls of Pontefract Castle with reputedly one of his relatives forced to assist at his execution.
2/2/1626Charles IOn 2nd February 1626, Charles I was crowned King of England which would ultimately lead to the English Civil War and the besieging of Pontefract Castle in December 1644. The image is a painting of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck, 1633.
2/2/1649On 2nd February 1649, after the execution of Charles I on 30th January 1649, the besieged Pontefract garrison immediately declared his son as Charles II with ‘siege coins’ struck in his name and likeness and used to pay its troops, buy and sell food within the castle and reward people gathering food outside. The coins’ legend (the motto of the town) ‘POST MORTEM PATRIS PRO FILIO’ ('After the death of the father for the son') clearly indicates the garrison’s loyalties. The earliest siege coins were made on a flange, cut by hand from silver plate or pewter, bearing the initials of the castle and the Latin legend ‘DUM SPIRO SPERO’ ('Whilst I Live I Hope'); ominous in that Charles I had already been captured and imprisoned at that time.
3/2/1649On 3rd February 1649, after the execution of Charles I and during Pontefract Castle’s last desperate holding-out against reinforced Parliamentary besiegers, a heavy bombardment commenced.
3/2/1649On 3rd February 1649, Cornet John Baynes wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London: ‘ COUSIN..That the king is executed is good news to us; only some few honest men, and all the Cavaleirs bemoan him. They of this Castle do us daily some harm…All our guns are not yet in a capacity of battering; only one or two play now and then at the battlements. The rogues within have no shells for their mortar-piece, but yesterday they shot out of the same piece a very great stone, which fell into the next chamber to the Major-0General’s but hurt none….’
3/2/1649On 3rd February 1649, lawyer Thomas Margetts wrote from Pontefract to Captain Baynes (Parliamentary army officer and later MP for Leeds during the Commonwealth, being the city’s first MP) concerning the third siege of Royalist Pontefract Castle by the Parliamentarians: ‘ Little news here. Malignants talk much of the King’s death: well affected are well satisfied. Malignants plot privately to relieve this Castle, and are gathered together in woods as we are informed, but we have sent Parties to apprehend and prevent them. The enemy hold out resolutely in hopes of relief, but I believe would come to fair terms for they would have another summons. The Major- General hath now done disbanding…. Yesterday the enemy sallied forth to beat us out of our Trenches near Swillington tower, killed us one man and were beaten in again. Our mortar pieces have made some work among them….They have heard of the King’s death, and seem to be more resolute upon it, but I believe it will make some of them slink.’
7/2/1645On 7th February 1645, Parliamentarian commander Lord Fairfax sent a thousand of his cavalry across the Pennines to assist in the siege of Chester with about half of these forces, under Sir Henry Constable and Colonel Sir Thomas Norcliffe, from Pontefract. Fairfax was relieved somewhat to lose such men that he could not pay for their services. However, the Pontefract besiegers were reinforced with around 250 infantry.  
8/2/1696On 8th February 1696, orders were received to raise recruits for Thomas Farrington’s Regiment with one company rendezvousing at Wakefield and one at Pontefract along with companies at seven other locations in the North. At this period Regiments were called after their Colonel, to wit, ‘Farrington's Regiment’; when on parade, they appear to have taken precedence according to the seniority of their respective Colonels. For this year the Regiment ranked 46th, and in 1698 as the 28th Regiment of Foot.
10/2/1649On 10th February 1649, , it was reported by The Parliament Committee for Advance of Money (set up in November 1642, and ceasing in 1656, to produce voluntary loans and subsequently compulsory assessments for the fight against Charles I and from 1645 to uncover the concealed resources of Royalist ‘delinquents’) that Lady Savile, widow of Sir William Savile of Thornhill, ‘sent 12 and Lady Hutton (widow of Sir Richard Hutton) 8 men and horses to Pontefract Castle to the King and that Captain John Hopton was in Pontefract Castle against Parliament.’ Later recordings showed Lady Savile as having ‘got 20 cases of pistols, made at Newark, to raise the siege of Pontefract Castle, and had ordered 20 more.’
10/2/1649On 10th February 1649, Parliament’s newspaper The Kingdome’s Faithfull and Impartial Scout (February 2 to 9 1649) gave a contemporary account of obtaining Pontefract siege money: ‘ Munday, Feb 5. The Intelligence from Pontefract is this: the besieged have lately made two sallies forth, but repulsed without any great losse to us; in the last they killed but one man of ours, and we took two of theirs prisoners, one of which had a small parcel of silver in his pocket, somewhat square; on one side thereof was stampt a castle with P.O.  (sic) for Pontefract, on the other side was the crown with C.R. on each side of it (sic). These pieces they made of plate which they get out of the country, and pass among them for coyn. They cry they will have a king whatever it cost them.’ No coin is known to have been in existence during Pontefract Castle’s first siege of 1644-45 albeit Sir Gervase Cutler had brought in a quantity of silver for such purposes.
19/2/1624In the February 'Happy Parliament' (Faelix Parliamentum as referred to by Sir Edward Coke due to the three previous acrimonious parliaments) of 1624, the borough of Pontefract was represented by Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford and later Lord Deputy of Ireland, President of the Council of the North and Lieutenant General of Charles I’s forces. Sitting from 19th February to 29th May 1624 and with repeated prorogations thereafter, the fourth and last Parliament of James I was dissolved on the king's death on 27th March 1625.
20/2/1645On 20th February 1645, Nathan Drake, diarist, recorded: ‘…one of our men was shott throrough both the Cheekes in the barbican but not kild..’
20/2/1676On 20th February 1676, Charles II granted a new charter to the borough of Pontefract which confirmed all the rights, privileges and immunities of former charters excepting the election of Town Clerk and Recorder which he reserved for himself and successors. The town’s mayor could nominate them but only under royal mandate. Two new fairs were also granted within the town; one on the Saturday next following the Thursday next before the purification of the blessed Virgin Mary; the other upon the Saturday next following the Wednesday next after the feast of St Hilary. The buying and selling of all manner of beasts, cattle, wares and merchandizes were authorised.
21/2/1609On 21st February 1609, John Bramall, later archbishop of Armagh, who had been baptised at Pontefract in 1594, his father being Peter Bramhall of Carleton near Pontefract, was admitted to Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, at not yet fifteen years old.
24/2/1645On 24th February 1645, Nathan Drake, diarist, recorded: '..the beseegers kild one of our men in the barbican being shott thorow the head with a muskitt bullitt and Captin Smith had his lippe Cut wth a stone wch was broke with a muskitt bullitt, but very little hurt..’
24/2/1649On 24th February 1649, Thomas Margetts wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London from Pontefract: ‘We perceive there are long demurs in the execution of Justice upon the rest of the great and notorious offenders….These parts are yet quiet, and we hope will be kept so till this Castle be taken…we hope will not be long……Besides the standing army, I think …it would much conduce to the preservation of the peace of this nation if an act of Parliament were past for the calling in and seizing on of all malignants’ arms, and for the preventing and punishing all disaffected priests that, in their preaching, meddle with civil affairs, thereby stirring up and provoking the people to contention, division, parties, and factions, and so demonstrating themselves the greatest…..Incendiaries of the people…’
26/2/1682On 26th February 1682, physician, political theorist and antiquarian Nathaniel Johnston first met antiquarian Ralph Thoresby at Pontefract where Johnston had his medical practice.
28/2/1645On 28th February 1645, Nathan Drake, diarist, recorded: 'the beseegers fired Elizabeth Cattell’s howse & the howses below Munkhill, and…the besieged shot 4 Cannon into the Markitt place & is thought did great execution. That night the beseegers tooke away all their Cannon & marched over Ferry brigge…………having shott 1406 Cannon against the Castle’ .
1/3/1645Marmaduke LangdaleOn 1st March 1645, the first siege of Pontefract Castle ended when Sir Marmaduke Langdale defeated the Parliamentarian army at the Battle of Chequerfield. Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded that the Royalist forces ' beat them quite away towardes ferry bridge.....there being left dead and wounded upon the ground about 160 men..........Followed them in Chase betwixt Shearburne & Tadcaster, killd 140 of their men (as is reported) in the Chase, tooke 600 prisoners, Commaunders & officers, 57;.....we lost not above 20 men in all the fight, the enemy being allmost 6 for one...'
2/3/1605On 2nd March 1605, James I confirmed the corporate charter of Pontefract. This charter sought to remove the uncertainties and disturbances around Henry VII’s charter’s means of electing the town’s mayor by acclamation (by the burgesses). A form of secret ballot of the burgesses was enacted resulting in the annual election of the town’s mayor on the 14th September.
2/3/1644On 2nd March 1644, Ferdinando, 2nd Lord Fairfax of Cameron, a commander in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War and father to Thomas Fairfax (commander of the New Model Army) wrote to Hugh Lord Montgomery: 'I hath pleased God to suffer the enemy to give my forces a verie great defeat at Pontefract. About three thousand horse and one thousand dragoons under the command of Sir Marmaduke Langdale and Sir Thomas Blackwell, came so verie fast upp, as that I could not get my forces from the several places they were to come from to resist them……..I am afraid wee have lost verie many foot…..I intreat your lordship to draw upp your regement…..and give notice to others which are neare you to draw theirs with all convenient speed towards Burrow Briggs, whether I shall rally and advise with your lordship what may best be done for annoying the enemy, and securing this city and the passage to Scarbrough.’
2/3/1648Race Horse Painting by StubbsThe earliest evidence of racing in the Pontefract area was in March 1648 when races took place near Pontefract Castle. Captain Baines, in charge of Cromwell's soldiers which had besieged the Castle, questioned whether he should ride his brother's grey mare in one of the races.
3/3/1645On 3rd March 1645, Sir Marmaduke Langdale returned south from Pontefract having relieved the castle’s first siege there two days before. His 2800 strong force (2000 horse and 800 infantry) had come to Pontefract via Northampton, Melton Mowbray and Wentbridge and, after his victory at Chequerfield near the castle and chasing of the Parliamentary troops all the way back to Tadcaster, left 160 enemy dead and wounded on the field and another 140 at Ferrybridge. Over 600 prisoners were taken, including Colonels Thornton and Maleverer.
3/3/1649On 3rd March 1649, Thomas Margetts wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London from Pontefract: ‘ …This day we enter into a Treaty for the surrender of this Castle. They were not summoned: the overture was made by them…….Morris, in his letter of overture saith, they are not ashamed to live, nor afraid to die, and they give out they will die with their swords in their hands like men, but certainly they are brought into a low condition…’
7/3/1649A document dated 7th March 1649 by Major General Lambert was fastened to a stone and thrown over Pontefract Castle’s walls. Lambert was seeking the surrender of the castle under terms he considered reasonable and honourable. It stated: ‘ Gentlemen, Yo’r owne condicon is best knowne vnto you within. I conceive you cannot be ignorant how improbable it is you should have releife from without, which beinge seriously considered you cannot but as reasonable men judge how preiuditiall yf not destruction vnto yo’selves the wilfull and obstinate keepings of this Castle against all visible authority in the kingdome will be to the great oppression of the Country the dayly losse of Christian blood which doubtless will cry loud for Justice….upon surrender of the Castle, (some few p’sons not above sixe excepted) who have beene faithless to their former trust or guilty of other notorious and bloody crymes) I thought fit to vse those meanes to lett you know my intentions, and once more to make you an offer of faire termes which yf they shalbe by you neglected or refused you may both before god & man appears to be guiltye of yo’r owne destruction…’ Terms included: freedom to march away with their goods and possessions; not be pillaged or plundered; and ‘...That all others who shall oppose deliu’y therof shal be deliu’ed to mercy, and satisfye for all the blood which hath beene vnnecessarily spilt…’
9/3/1649On 9th March 1649, Robert Baynes wrote to his brother, Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London from Pontefract: ‘ …. They are this day to parley for the surrender of the castle: I hope they will agree about it, for the soldiers and gentlemen will have good terms, they surrendering 6 to mercy..’ ‘Mercy’ in this context signified ‘Justice’ (the hangman’s rope) for the six besieged persons, including Colonel Morris, who were excluded from the general pardons granted to the garrison’s personnel.
10/3/1645After Sir Marmaduke Langdale’s relief of the castle, on 10th March 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘From the 1th March to the 10th there was but little done in Pontefract Castle but fetching in of Provition & other necessaryes for the use of the Castle..’
10/3/1649On 10th March 1649, Colonel Bright wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes: ‘…It’s hoped this castle will not hold out; some papers were thrown in which have begot some divisions amongst them. This day we are to meet and resolve to insist upon six persons to be delivered up to justice. Both our Mortar pieces have played this week; little execution to any within the castle, saving the ruining of some Rooms, by which means firing is more plentiful among them as usual; in truth, so extreme strong is the castle timber, that if our granadoes break through one story it goes no further….’
10/3/1649On 10th March 1649, Cornet John Baynes wrote from the besieging forces at Pontefract Castle to his cousin Captain Adam Baynes in London:’ …This day the Castillians’ commissioners and ours do treat about a surrender…I only wish that some of these cavaliers may go the same way (living and dying) with Goring, &c; for that they have loved a life to be with their comrades rather in Hell (as some have said) than in Heaven with the Roundheads…’
10/3/1649On 10th March 1649, Thomas Margetts wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes in London from Pontefract: ‘ …I acquainted you by the last that we were upon treaty with the Castillians then, but 6 being excepted to be delivered to mercy, they refused to treat any further, since which time we threw some papers tied to stones over their walls, to put all the unexcepted persons upon a way to redeem themselves by delivering up the castle and the 6 prisoners within 14 days……..They pretend honour and conscience will not let them deliver up any: it will be murder they say…and the first precedent of that kind in England……but I think the business will be done, though indeed they are able, if resolute, to hold out a great while still….’
11/3/1645Pontefract castle RuinOn 11th March 1645, the second siege of Pontefract Castle began. The Parliamentary besiegers had a starvation policy and, on 19th July 1645, the Royalist garrison made an honourable surrender to Parliament's Colonel General Poyntz and was allowed to march away to Newark.
13/3/1645On 13th March 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ 20 or 30 of our Gentlemen went down to Turnebridge, and brought in Leiutenant Collonell Lee, and Leiutenant Colllonell Ledger, and 3 gallant horses..’
15/3/1645On 15th March 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ there went out a p’ty towards Dauncaster and…they mett with Collonell Brandlin’s regiment and routed them, tooke one Major, one Captin, one Leiutenant, 3 officers, 67 Souldyers and about 100 horse…’
16/3/1684On 16th March 1684 (some say May 1684 or 1685), burial records testify that William (or John) Nevison was hanged at the Knavesmire and interred at St Mary’s Church, Castlegate, York after being captured at the Three Houses Inn in Sandal Magna. His crime was the murder of a constable who had tried to arrest him near Howley Hall, Soothill, Batley. Born in 1639, in 1676 he supposedly rode his horse 200 miles from Rochester to York in a day to establish an alibi for a robbery, citing York’s Lord Mayor as a witness. It was rumoured Charles II nicknamed him Swift Nick on account of this alleged feat, later attributed to Dick Turpin in the 1834 novel Rookwood. Nevison’s Leap, a cutting through Ferrybridge Road, Pontefract, is the legendary place William Nevison spurred his horse to jump over to escape pursuing constables.
17/3/1649On 17th March 1649, Cornet John Baynes wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes: ‘ COUSIN, - This is the last day of treaty with this enemy. Yesterday they concluded upon a surrender upon Monday next, but could not well agree about delivering the six excepted persons to mercy. The Castillians propound to leave the said six in the Castle…….They are not yet nominated to their Commissioners, but it is concluded that, after the Sealing of the Articles, they shall know them by names…..Morris is one of the excepted..’
17/3/1649On 17th March 1649, Thomas Margetts wrote to Parliamentarian Captain Adam Baynes: ‘…We are just now going to treat with the Castillians, and this day (I think) we shall either agree or break off the Treaty..’
18/3/1649According to the notes of Royalist, Captain Thomas Paulden, on 18th March 1649 Colonel John Morris, Cornet Michael Blackburn and Ensign John Smyth escaped from Pontefract Castle before its surrender six days later. Smyth was killed in the attempt.
20/3/1649On 20th March 1649, Major General Lambert wrote to Parliament: ‘ Mr. SPEAKER After a long and heard winter Seige against the Castle of Pontefract, with great difficulties to the Soldjo’s, and heavy burthens upon the poore Country, I have thought fit to agree for the Rendicon of the said Castle upon the Articles and tearmes inclosed…….I have likewise taken upon mee the boldnes to p’sent unto yow the humble desires of the Majo’, Aldermen and well affected Inhabitants of the Towne of Pontefract, who earnestly pray for the demolishing of that Castle……and that this Castle hath beene occacon of ruine to diverse Families in that Towne, besides the great losse and p’judice to the Country adjacent…..’
21/3/1645On 21st March 1645, the Parliamentary forces besieging Pontefract Castle captured the upper town at Pontefract and entrenched at Baghill, Monkhill and New Hall. The Royalist forces sallied forth to attack these entrenchments.
22/3/1645On 22nd March 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘..we shott 15 Cannon to sevrall places & we had a woman shott thorow the hand, and a man shott thorow the thigh wth the same bulllitt upon the toppe of the round tower (but neither killd). The enemy fell a trenching in divers places about the towne but espetially before Allderman Lunnes howse..’
24/3/1649On 24th March 1649, Colonel Robert Lilburne wrote to Captain Adam Baynes: ‘….The chief news is now that the grand jury at York, the judge, and committee, and all most all this county, are about petitioning to get this castle pulled down. Our forces are sent several ways to quarter….’
24/3/1649Pontefract Castle was the last Royalist stronghold and fell on 24th March 1649 when Major General Lambert took possession of the castle.  Ironically, Lambert became the Member of Parliament for Pontefract in early 1659.
24/3/1660On 24th March 1660, the Registers of North Luffenham, Rutland recorded: ‘Collected then at North Luffenham (Rutland) towards the building of ye Church at Pontefract Yorkeshire sume of fowreteene shillings (£144 in today’s money) and five Collector. Ri : Clerke’
25/3/1649According to the notes of Royalist, Captain Thomas Paulden, on the night of 25th March 1649 Lieutenant Allan Austwick, Major Alexander Ashby and Lieutenant Floyd (Flood) escaped from Pontefract Castle the day after its surrender, having hidden under stones and rubble.
27/3/1649After the surrender of Pontefract Castle to Major General Lambert of the Parliamentarian forces, a meeting of the townsfolk of Pontefract was held in the Moot Hall, under the presidency of Edward Field, the Mayor. A petition was drawn up and addressed ''To the supreme authority of England, the Commons assembled in Parliament." It set forth that since the beginning of the wars the town had been greatly impoverished and depopulated. Two hundred dwelling- houses had been '’utterly ruinated." Many persons and families had been totally undone and the place of public worship had been sadly devastated. Altogether, the borough had suffered damage to the extent of over £40,000 (£7.5 million today) . Therefore, so that the true cause of all these troubles might be removed, the petitioners prayed that the castle should be ''wholly razed down and demolished" ; that a certain amount of its lead and timber should be devoted to the repairs of the church and the re-edifying of a house for the minister, and that a sum of £1000 (£187,000 today) should be handed over to the town. This petition was consigned to Major General Lambert at the Parliamentarian headquarters at Knottingley and by him duly sent forward to Westminster. On the 27th March 1649 the assembled Commons resolved "That the Castle of Pontefract be forthwith totally demolished" The formal order for the demolition was made a week later by the West Riding Justices sitting at Wakefield, and its execution was entrusted to Edward Field, the Mayor, and certain other prominent townsmen.
31/3/1645Even though Parliamentary troops had re-entered the upper part of Pontefract town on 21st March 1645, Pontefract Castle’s garrison was sufficiently confident to make sallies on 31st March and in the early days of April.  
1/4/1645Sir Thomas Fairfax In the first week of April 1645, Parliament's Sir Thomas Fairfax entrusted the siege of Sandal to Sir John Savile of Lupset. While the Parliamentary besiegers were at prayer one day in April, the castle garrison attacked them killing 42 men, taking more than 50 prisoners and capturing many weapons. Sir John was so dejected by this reverse that he lifted the siege and joined the main Parliamentary force in Yorkshire then engaged in the siege of Pontefract Castle. The picture is of Sir Thomas Fairfax in Cassell's Illustrated History of England published 1865, which was taken from an authentic portrait.
1/4/1649According to a manuscript by Royalist, Captain Thomas Paulden, written not long after ( probably early April that year) Pontefract Castle’s final surrender in 1649: ‘ Of some 600 that wee entered into the Castle there came out betwixt six & seuenscore, & many of them sicke & lame hauing beene besieged almost 7 monneths..’
3/4/1649A letter from Colonel Robert Lilburne (one of the regicides who signed the death-warrant of Charles I) from York dated 3rd April 1649, referred to news of Colonel Morris, his servant Peter and Cornet Blackburn who had escaped from besieged Pontefract Castle the previous month: ‘ Morrise & 2 more (being going to ye Ile of Mann) was taken & are now att Lancastr The Scotts are of Laite much spoken off, yt they are p’pareing many forces, & speakes big words, & people begin to feare them……..I am told p’paracon is making to begin to pull down Pontefr’ some day this weeke, w’ch is glad newes to very many…’
4/4/1645On 4th April 1645, three companies, consisting of thirty Royalist men each, sallied forth from the castle and attacked the besiegers. The Parliamentary besiegers had converted different houses and barns in the town, and the houses of the aldermen, who had fled to the castle, had been occupied. In this successful sally forth, Alderman Rusby's house and barn were assaulted and one captain and three privates were killed. The rest dispersed and the house and barn were set on fire while sentries near the low church were also attacked and compelled to retreat with the loss of one taken prisoner. Following this, the besiegers drew up their forces and lined the hedges from the park to Denwell with infantry. Their standards were erected at the top of Skinner Lane and the castle garrison, seeing this, directed its cannon against them and beat them down.
4/4/1649Pontefract Castle KeepOn 4th April 1649, days after the surrender of the castle, Parliament issued an order for the castle's immediate demolition. John Harrison was paid £80 (over £14,000 in today's money) to demolish the Round Tower and £34 (£6,000) for demolishing the two skreens from the Gate House to the Round Tower, and thence to the Treasurer Tower. Other payments included: Thomas Thurston £10 (£1800 now) for levelling Neville’s Mount; Thomas Tayler £35 2s 6d (£6300) for taking down the timber in the Constable Tower and the Chapel; Simon Procter £104 5s 6d (£18700) for demolishing The King’s and Queen’s Towers, Edward Harrison thirty shillings (£270) for taking down a screen; George Rennard ten shillings (£90) for pulling crooks out of the walls. The selling of the various materials (lead, wood, iron, glass etc) raised £1779 17s 4d (£320,000) out of which the commissioners paid a total for the demolition of the castle of £777, 4 shilling, 6 pence (nearly £140,000 in today's money). The commissioners handed over £1000 (£180,000) to the Mayor and Corporation for the purposes specified in the petition: St Giles’s Church was repaired and refurbished with a new vicarage and the Government received a balance of £2 12s 10d (£467). Unfortunately for All Saints’ Church, damaged during the sieges of the castle and most probably ‘the place of public worship’ mentioned in the town’s petition, no monies were forthcoming from this process.
5/4/1645On 5th April 1645, a party of horse under the command of Washington and Beale, and forty musketeers, under the command of Captain Smith, attacked the Parliamentary forces besieging the castle. The horses compelled the Parliamentarians to retreat into the town and to double the number of their cavalry and return and renew their attack, supported by 100 musketeers lining the hedges. Though the Parliamentary forces kept up heavy fire, the royalist party stood its ground and captured two butchers coming into the town loaded with meat for the market, thus providing the castle with fresh meat.
6/4/1645On 6th April 1645, the Royalist garrison, having attended divine service on Easter Sunday, was ordered to arms (Nathan Drake, a contemporary chronicler of the siege, must have used the Julian calendar as in the Gregorian system Easter Sunday would have been 16th April). Strong parties were sent in different directions to make a combined and general attack on the enemy's positions. Captains Washington and Beale commanded the horse attended by fifty musketeers under Captain Munroe. Captain Flood commanded another body of fifty musketeers. To each of these bodies were added twenty-five men, volunteers who served under the four colonels within the castle. The first party sallied forth out of Swillington Tower, up Northgate and made a long and desperate attack upon the enemy's positions which were bravely defended. The other party went out of the lower gate to the Low Church and, having dispersed the guards, it turned up the south side of the town by the Halfpenny House to the enemy's trenches where an attack was made. While these parties were engaged with the enemy they were partly protected and assisted by the fire of their friends in the castle. The principal loss fell to the besiegers, having 130 killed besides the wounded. The besieged had only two men killed and two wounded and took one prisoner, a quantity of muskets and swords and one drum. On the same evening, a party of 100 men sallied forth up Northgate and thence into the market place where they kept up a severe fire, blowing up about twenty men, many of whom were killed and the rest so badly burned that there was little chance of recovery.
7/4/1645On 7th April 1645, the Royalist garrison made another sally to Baghill where it killed one man and took another prisoner plus two horses. The musketeers from the castle protected them and by a vigorous fire killed eight or ten men in the trenches. The following day, the garrison repeated the attack against the Parliamentary works at Baghill, but on the whole were unsuccessful. The besiegers, having reinforced their numbers, compelled the party from the castle to retreat, which they did without loss. Lieutenant Moore was wounded by a shot in the arm. At this time, a body of troops, under the command of Sir John Savile, which had been at Sandal Castle, came to strengthen the besiegers. They were principally stationed at the New Hall and during the remaining part of the siege suffered a great deal from the sallies and the fire of the garrison.
9/4/1617On 9th April 1617, King James I, on his progress to Scotland, rested at Pontefract for two nights at the New Hall, a mansion of Edward, Earl of Shrewsbury. During his stay, he inspected the College of St Clement recently established in the castle, for a Dean and three Prebendaries.
10/4/1645Even though Sir John Savile arrived with reinforcements the Parliamentarians could not  mount a close siege of the castle. The besieged Royalists at the castle continued their attacks on the besieging forces on the 10th April 1645. About twenty Parliamentarians were killed during the day and in the night the cannon was discharged twice, loaded with grape shot, into the trenches at Baghill where the cries of the besiegers indicated the slaughter inflicted. While standing near the gate of the of the Barbican, Alderman Thomas Wilkinson was killed by a Parliamentarian shot from Baghill.
12/4/1687On 12th April 1687, Nathaniel Johnston M.D. was created a Fellow and admitted to the Royal College of Physicians by the charter of James II. Born in 1627, Johnston practised at Pontefract, but took up the antiquities and natural history of Yorkshire and was a political theorist and High Tory pamphleteer. He was a great friend and correspondent of antiquarian Ralph Thoresby whom he first met at Pontefract on 26th February 1682. Johnston died in 1705 and his property at and near Pontefract was sold by the Court of Chancery in 1707.
13/4/1645On 13th April 1645, Parliamentary forces besieging the castle  were observed to have drawn up three or four troops of horse as if they intended to form a body for some important enterprise. In spite of heavy losses, it seems that the besiegers were steadily increasing their strength through reinforcements. Shots were fired killing two men and wounding four others. The besieged were endeavouring to protect their cattle, which they sent out to graze in the adjoining meadows, by firing from the towers while the besiegers shot at the cattle compelling them to be driven back into the castle again for security. The cattle would be a means of fresh meat and milk for the Royalists and so the longer they were kept alive the better. A party of Parliamentarians attacked Swillington Tower but  heavy fire of musketry from the tower compelled it to retreat and  the cattle were secured.
14/4/1645On 14th April 1645, three wagonloads of ammunition were brought to further strengthen the position of the Parliamentary besiegers of Pontefract Castle. At the time, the Treaty of Uxbridge between King and Parliament had failed and it was believed that it was Charles I’s intention to raise the siege at Chester and to detach a part of his forces to recover his authority in Yorkshire. An army of 3,000 Scots lay at Leeds, thirteen miles away, and a general engagement was expected in this part of the country between the Parliamentary forces and the Royalists under the command of Prince Rupert, nephew of Charles I. Parliament had made an alliance with the Scottish covenanters, having accepted the Solemn League and Covenant towards the end of 1643. It was accepted that the Scots at Leeds were prepared to join the other Parliamentary forces, drawn from Knaresborough, York, Cawood, Selby and Pontefract. Also on the 14 April, a party of twenty Royalist musketeers without any formal commander, except one of their companions William Wether, attacked a barricade, which the besiegers had erected near the New Hall, driving the men away. The attack began to demolish the structure and continued until the the enemy's cavalry were seen ready to charge. The party retreated to the castle without loss. The same night, William Wether, with six of his companions, fell on Parliamentary trenches near Broad Lane end and killed three men and an officer in a black coat and buff scarf, supposed to be Colonel Eden. They dispersed the rest and returned safely to the castle.
15/4/1645On 15th April 1645, various attacks were made by the garrison but without much loss to the Parliamentary besiegers. On this day, the Royalist garrison suffered the loss  of Colonel Tindall, Lieutenant Colonel Middleton and other officers as well as many soldiers of lesser rank.
16/4/1645A vigorous and successful sally was made on the 16th April 1645. Two parties of fifty Royalist musketeers went out; one, under Captain Hemsworth, went out of the lower gate to the trenches near Alderman Lunn's house and the other under Captain Munroe went from Swillington Tower up Northgate to the enemy's upper trenches. Fifty volunteers drawn from four divisions assisted these. A party of horse under Captain Beale and Cornet Speight (a cornet was the lowest commissioned officer in a cavalry regiment) was stationed near Baghill to prevent the horse of the Parliamentarians giving any assistance to their infantry during the attack. The two parties assaulted their enemy's trenches and compelled them to retreat to another trench near the bridge. The loss to the besiegers was about fifty men killed, wounded or taken and the next day the Parliamentarians were seen to carry away seven wagons loaded with wounded men.
18/4/1645Scots and English armies embraceOn 18th April 1645, Parliamentarian reinforcements of 600 Scottish troops, under the command of Colonel Montgomery, arrived at Pontefract Castle to assist with the ongoing siege. The garrison kept up heavy fire from the castle; several were killed including Captain Hamilton and several officers. The day was market-day and the besiegers drew out a considerable body of cavalry and musketeers on Baghill to protect the butchers and others coming into the town and also to prevent the garrison obtaining a supply of fresh provisions. The  besieged Royalists, however, by  well-directed fire from the towers dispersed these men who quit their station. The same day, a party of Scots from Monkhill was unsuccessful in driving away a party of musketeers sent from the castle to protect the grazing cattle. The besieged discovered about forty oxen and cows belonging to the enemy, grazing in the fields. A body of men under Captain Beale and Cornet Speight and another infantry under Majors Bland and Dinnis sallied forth, seizing all the cattle and returning to the castle without any loss. The picture is of unknown source but was published in The Story Of Scotland, First Press and Scottish Daily Record Group, 1999-2000.
19/4/1603On 19th April 1603, according to the historian Richard Holmes in his book 'Pontefract: its Name, its Lords, its Castles', King James I, on his journey from Edinburgh to London to claim his throne, came to Pontefract. The castle was included in jointure property (reverting to a wife after her husband's death) of his wife, Anne of Denmark. Anne, unfortunately, did not survive James. Holmes remarks: 'As was the case in other places where he stayed, the dirty habits of his followers seem to have brought upon the town a visitation of the plague, which broke out on September 2nd 1603, as is marked by an entry in the church books "Plague begonne" . The plague gradually increased in virulence during September (10 deaths/vs 11 in same month the previous year), raged violently during October (57/11), November (67/7) and December (32/8), then somewhat abating in January (18/7) and February (10/6) and nearly died out in March (13/9).' 
19/4/1645On 19th April 1645, the besieged Royalists set fire to the lower side of Monkhill and at three different times compelled the Parliamentarians to retreat from their positions.
20/4/1645On Sunday 20th April, the Scots supporting the besieging Parliamentary forces set fire to the upper part of Monkhill and began entrenchments from Bondgate Mill towards their barricades at Cherry Orchard Head and from thence raised several strong works to the top of Monkhill. The besieged, in order to annoy the enemy on Baghill, began to raise a mount within the Barbican which became known as Neville's Mount. On this they intended to plant the only large cannon they possessed. The besiegers, seeing this structure, continued a steady fire against the men but the work continued and was completed without suffering any damage on this and the following day. The besieged fired several cannon on this day, one of which shot through the Parliamentary barricade behind the School House where it was supposed to have done much damage. By mistake, the Scots took a party of their own men to be Royalists and fired upon them, killing a major before realising their mistake.
22/4/1645On 22nd April, the Scottish troops aiding the Parliamentarians marched away through the Park and were replaced by troops commanded by Sir John Savile. From this time, the besiegers regularly brought up parties to Baghill putting them behind hedges and in trenches. Keeping a constant watch on the garrison, they poured in their shot and opened fire at every available opportunity, which the besieged, in like manner, returned. In these attacks, lives were lost on both sides but it does not appear that the besieged  Royalists were ever able to sally beyond the enemy's positions as, from this time, they were completely surrounded.
23/4/1643On 23rd April 1643, Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, wrote to Charles: ‘My dear heart, …..Having heard that Pontefract was besieged, our army advanced, as soon as money could be got to make it march: they set off, and by the road, I gave six thousand pieces, for without that, they could not have marched; but this truth should not be known by every body. The army marched to Pontefract; I hear that the rebels quitted the place, and went to Leeds to join the rest of Fairfax’s forces: our troops followed them, and it was resolved to besiege Leeds……but when our cannon came to play, it produced no effect, on which a council of war was called…..’
23/4/1645On 23rd April 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded:' …came the beseegers from the upp’ towne to baghill wth 50 musketeres, 7 lined the hedge 7 the dike wth them; they played very soare against the Castle but did no harme, onely a young maid was Drying of Clothes in Mr Taytons Orchard (Close by the lower Castle gate). She was shott into the head whereof she dyed that night…’
24/4/1645On 24th April 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ in the afternoone, at the burial of the maid, a few of our musketeers attended the Corpes to the Church, & gave a valley of Shott, wch gave the beseegers in the upp towne an Allarum…’
25/4/1645In late April 1645, on receiving information that the King had raised the siege at Chester and obtained some advantage over his enemies, the besieged Royalists in Pontefract Castle began to hope that they would  be speedily relieved. What bolstered this hope was the information from a woman who had been taken to William Wether. She said that the besiegers would remain only two or three more days before the castle and that the troops of Parliament would be collected together to watch the approach of the royal army. It seems unlikely that a woman would have information on the plans of the besiegers but the besieged were eager to believe her and had high hopes that the siege of Pontefract Castle would be raised in the near future. This information was true as regards Chester but the conclusions drawn from it were never realised and the besiegers continued to surround the castle.
26/4/1645The Parliamentary besiegers received a reinforcement of 150 men on 26th April 1645. They came by way of Ferrybridge to the New Hall where they kept up a strong guard. During the night, they sent 100 men from the upper town to Baghill where they 'threw up' a trench. While the besiegers were employed in preparing for their own security, the besieged sallied forth in large parties to prevent them. About sixty men, commanded by Captain Smith and Lieutenant Savile, sallied forth out of Swillington Tower, up Northgate where they greatly alarmed the Parliamentarians who took to arms, both in the town and through all their trenches. A brisk fire was kept up on both sides for half an hour and the besieged retreated without any loss. At the same time, another party sallied out of the east gate and drove the besiegers from their sentries to their works near the New Hall. The besiegers carried on their works on Baghill and kept a hundred musketeers stationed there; they were regularly relieved by the same number from the upper town. The fire of the besiegers was so vigorous and constant that the besieged were closely confined. They could not send their cattle to graze without extreme danger. The garrison now began to suffer and fresh meat was a luxury. Some of the besieged seeing three hogs, which had strayed from Broad Lane, rushed out of the garrison and drove them into the castle. Men were willing to risk their own lives to gain a little fresh meat. During the night, the Parliamentarians worked in completing the trenches. A hundred men were replaced by a hundred and fifty from the town the following morning and they continued with the same work the whole of the day.
27/4/1645On 27th April 1645, a party of the Parliamentary besiegers horse assembled about noon and marched through the Park to Ferrybridge. On seeing this, a party of brave men led by a soldier called Lowder rushed out of Pontefract Castle without a formal commander and assaulted the Parliamentary troops  under the command of Sir John Savile. Having killed or wounded as many of the enemy as equalled their own number of men they retreated safely back to the castle.
27/4/1645On 27th April 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ Sunday the beseegers Came againe from the upp’ towne to Baghill about 8 a Clocke, & there Continued all the day, shooting very hard at any they Could see either wthn or about the Castle wth about 100 musketeres, so that we Could not put forth our Cattell to grasse. in the fore no one there Came downe 3 very good hoggs downe at brode lane end, towards the Castle, and our Souldyers seeing them (out of Barbican) went out and fetcht then in wch was a good booty for the Souldyers…’
28/4/1645During the night of 28th April 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers employed at least 300 men on their entrenchments at Baghill. The next morning, the Royalist garrison, hoping to keep some of their cattle alive, put them out to graze but were compelled to drive them back in with the loss of one cow and two horses. The governor of the castle hearing nothing satisfactory of the King's affairs, and seeing the increasing force of the enemy, decided to send four of his officers to Newark to inform his majesty of the state of the garrison and to obtain, if possible, some relief.
28/4/1648Royalist Sir Marmaduke Langdale, having seized Berwick on 28th April 1648 and in anticipation of the Duke of Hamilton’s invasion of England from Scotland in support of Charles I, assembled a force of some 3,000 in Cumberland and Westmorland. The plan was to march south and link up with forces commanded by Colonel Morris who was to seize Pontefract Castle days later.  
29/4/1645During the night of 29th April 1645, four  Royalist officers departed from the castle, accompanied by twenty musketeers, and attacked the enemy along part of Northgate while their friends pushed forward and cleared the lines.
30/4/1645On 30th April 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers of Pontefract Castle relieved the guard at Baghill with at least 150 men and through the day a heavy fire was kept up on both sides. The besieged Royalists had one horse killed in the Barbican and the enemy had several men killed and wounded by the musketry from the Round Tower. During the night, the besiegers burnt two houses; one at Monkhill and a smaller one by the castle walls.
30/4/1646On 30th April 1646, it was resolved by the House of Commons that Royalist Sandal Castle should be made untenable as a military garrison having being besieged three times in 1645 by Parliamentary forces.
1/5/1645Civil War cannon ballOn 1st May 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers, having  relieved their guard at Baghill,  began to erect a strong triangular work which they walled with stone and filled with earth. The besieged Royalists planted their cannon against this work and, by well-directed shot, greatly annoyed the Parliamentarians. Several sallies were made by small parties against the besiegers at Monkhill and the troops of Sir John Savile were driven from their positions several times during the day, with the loss of some killed and more wounded. In the afternoon, three of the garrison (without orders) sallied forth against the Parliamentarians and continued their assault until the enemy began to retaliate and they retreated. One of them, Nathaniel Sutton, a barber, was shot dead, another received a fracture to the skull but recovered and a ball entered the doublet of a third who had stooped to avoid the fire of the enemy. The photo above is of a 3kg cannon ball fired from a medium-sized cannon used during the Civil War.
2/5/1645On 2nd May 1645, at night, the Parliamentary  besiegers cut down branches of trees and made blinds at the end of their works on Baghill, where they placed a long drake (small piece of artillery) belonging to Sir John Savile's troops. The following morning, they opened fire upon the castle but having fired eight times the drake was moved again. The besiegers had twenty men, either killed or wounded; the besieged Royalists had one man killed and one of their oxen shot by the enemy but they managed to retrieve it.
3/5/1645On 3rd May 1645, there was firing on both sides. The Parliamentary besiegers kept close in their trenches and the besieged in the castle. A deserter fled into the castle  the following day and gave the besieged Royalists information as to the state and numbers of the enemy. A number of Royalists who had been taken prisoners at Newark and brought to Pontefract were exchanged for an equal number of Parliamentarians who had been kept as prisoners in Pontefract Castle.
5/5/1645On 5th May 1645, and the following days there was little firing on both the Royalist and Parliamentarian sides. There were not more than thirty or forty Parliamentarians on guard at Baghill.
6/5/1645On 6th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘…There Came in this Day a horselitter from Ferrybrigges into the towne, wch went away next morning….We supposed did Carrye away summe wounded officer in it…….This night there Came into the Castle a Sargient from the enemy, wch tould us summe newes of the enemyes p’ceedings in the towne..’
7/5/1645On 7th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ This morning the enemy shott of theire drake from Baghill to the Castle (it was loaded with Case shott) 7 scarce hit the Castle, for summe p’te of it hit the Stable, & summee the Battlementes of the Castle, & the rest flew over the Castle, but did no hurt at all…’
8/5/1645On 8th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘…this night Captin Horsfold (wth his man) went forth to Sandoll Castle, and allso Bellwether was sent againe towards newarke…’
9/5/1645On 9th May 1645, each party recommenced fire. The besieged Royalists in Pontefract Castle shot an officer and one soldier at the works at the top of Broad Lane. About four o'clock, the besieging Parliamentarians set fire to several houses and barns in different parts of the town.
10/5/1645Swillington Tower, Pontefract CastleOn 10th May 1645, the besieging Parliamentarians made a new work on Monkhill. The work was in the form of a half moon or crescent shape and afforded protection to the besiegers but constantly annoyed the besieged Royalists. If they made a sally up Northgate, they were exposed to the fire from the Parliamentary forces from Monkhill. The following day, a strong fire was kept up on both sides. The besieged observed the enemy send three or four wagons loaded with goods in the direction of Ferrybridge. This led them to believe the besiegers were getting ready to depart. Strengthening their belief was the sight of sheep and cattle being driven along the same road the following day. It was found afterwards that the wagons and animals were being sent to York to supply the troops there. The besiegers received on the same day a reinforcement of a troop of horse from Doncaster, which joined the main guard at the New Hall.
11/5/1645On 11th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘This day being Sunday, we had 2 learned Sermonds, the one by Doctor Bradlay, the other by Mr Oley (as we have everySonday 2)…..allso we had one of our men was looking out of a Porthole on the Round Tower (A wright by trade), & seldome using to Come thether, but he was shott thorow the Arms, and though at a weekes end full of payne yet there is no signe of his death. We had also a boy about 9 yeares of age (as he was getting of greene sawse (a type of sorrel chewed by children and also used medicinally) without Swillington Tower) was dangerously shott in the Belly from their works at Munkhill.’
13/5/1645On 13th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: 'This day we kill one of the Enemyes upon Baghill, and 2 from the Round Tower, and divers more were hurt.They grow now so fearfull that they will scarcely looke out of their Trenches…’
14/5/1645On 14th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded:’ This morning the enemy drive both sheepe and Cattell towards Ferry Brigge. Somme thought it was to victual Yorke, others thought it was to p’vent our Army from having any victual, for they fecht them from the townes nere about Pomphrett…….This night, Captin Benson, with his man & two more, went to Sandall Castle, and we see divers Fires this night, but we know not the Occation thereof.’
14/5/1666In May 1666, controversial Archbishop of St Andrews, James Sharp, Primate of Scotland, stopped at Pontefract on his way to London from Edinburgh. His secretary, George Martin, recorded his travels in some detail stating the Edinburgh to Pontefract journey of 210 miles on horseback took six days with charges of £140 11s 4d (nearly £34,000 in today’s money). The Pontefract to London ‘leg’ of 185 miles by ‘coatch’ (sic) took five days at a cost of £179 7s (£43,000).
15/5/1645At midnight on 15th May 1645, William Wether, who had been sent to Newark seven days before, returned and brought letters back to the castle  from His Majesty containing joyful news to the besieged Royalists. Boothroyd is of the opinion that the letters had reference to the fact that the king now had a respectable army and was pushing forward into the southern counties where it was believed he would possess a distinct superiority.
16/5/1645Pikeman's HelmetThe good news of the king's impending 'superior' forces seems to have inspired the  Royalist garrison with fresh courage for on 16th May 1645 a vigorous sally was made to Monkhill and the Parliamentarians were driven from their works to their main guard at the New Hall. Another party attacked the works below the church and, seeing the enemy draw about thirty men from the barn, commenced a brisk fire upon them. The party from the castle retired to a dense orchard close by, returning the fire for half an hour and then retreating to the castle. In the night, another party went from the castle intending to destroy a new works at the bottom of the abbey close. However, the Parliamentary besiegers had received information about their intentions and had lined the hedge with infantry. From the moment the party sallied out of the garrison they were met by brisk fire, which they returned for some time and then retreated to the castle with two of their men wounded. It was believed that a woman going out of the castle had passed the information to the besiegers.
17/5/1645A report, issued on this day, 17th May, in 1645, said the number of Parliamentarian troops besieging Pontefract Castle now numbered 8000 men.
18/5/1645On Sunday 18th May 1645, after prayers and sermon all men in the Royalist garrison were ordered to arms. Major Warde was ordered to stand on Neville's Mount to see that no one gave any type of signal from the towers informing the besiegers of the proceedings in the castle. Meanwhile, Captain Smith with thirty men went out of the castle, up Denwell Lane to the outskirts of the back of Monkhill. They beat the enemy from there and cleared the trenches as far as the lowest works. Captain Flood and Ensign Killingbeck charged up to the top of Monkhill where they fired the houses and demolished the works of the enemy, being joined by Captain Smith and his men. Another party under Captain Munroe, consisting of seventy men, sallied out to the lowest works of the enemy and beat them from there. They next proceeded towards Monkhill, after having killed some of the enemy, and joined the other parties at Cherry Orchard Head near the New Hall. Lieutenant Gilbreth and seventy men were stationed at the Low Church and Major Warde and forty men lined the walls in the low barbican. These men were prepared to assist their friends in case the besiegers from the town and Baghill made an attack. The different parties succeeded in every direction and drove the enemy from all their trenches over St. Thomas' Hill towards Ferrybridge. In this attack, the Parliamentarians lost about sixty men and as many wounded. By their return to the castle, the party had seized the hats and arms of those they had slain. They rifled their pockets and brought to the castle a quantity of swords, muskets, halberts, drums, saddles, spades etc. and in every trench was found a bag of powder and some match left by those who had fled. Although about sixty men were killed and the same number wounded on the side of the besiegers, there was only one dead and one taken prisoner on the side of the besieged. That night, the besiegers were observed to send two wagon loads of wounded men to Ferrybridge. The besiegers had their losses soon repaired by the arrival of considerable reinforcements both of foot and horse.
18/5/1648Royalist Colonel John Morris (he served on both sides during the Civil War)  made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the castle by means of a scaling ladder on 18th May 1648. This 'reckless' endeavour failed, however, as Morris's confederate, Corporal Floyd, had not, as promised, put a friendly guard on duty. The castle governor, Cotterell, subsequently pulled in those of the garrison who were sleeping in the town, and issued warrants for beds for a hundred men. Morris and Captain William Paulden then came up with a plan to disguise themselves and eight other soldiers as bed delivery-men and gain access and control of the castle . It worked and the castle guard were shut in the ‘dungeon’ on 3rd June. The only casualty was a wounded Governor Cotterell. A force of 300 men quickly garrisoned the castle.
21/5/1645The 21st May 1645 remained quiet until the afternoon. A party from the Royalist garrison was fired upon whilst collecting wood and had to retreat. Five hundred men marching to the New Hall from the Park with drums beating and colours flying relieved Sir John Savile's Parliamentary troops.
22/5/1645On 22nd May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘This morning one Kerbyes Sonne, Going to get grasse for his Fathers horse, was shott wth a muskitt bullitt…also our Governor had letters from his Matie & Sr Marmaduke Langdall that a Royall Armey was advancing towards us for our releeefe, (a Comforth long expected & Joyfully accepted)….this night also Came Hanson wth letters from Sandall Confirming the formr rapoart…’
23/5/1633On 23rd May 1633, Charles I stayed at Pontefract Castle as part of his ‘Great Progress’ to Scotland for his coronation in Edinburgh at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on the 18th June. Charles I of England. Reigned from 1625 until his execution in 1649 ...
24/5/1645Pontefract All Saints ChurchOn 24th May 1645, a  Parliamentary gun battery opened up against the Castle keep. Colonel General Poyntz took command of the attack and in a few days the church tower of the neighbouring All Saints Church was battered down and the post abandoned. At three o'clock in the morning, the besiegers commenced fire against the Round Tower; this fire continued for most of the day. The besieged Royalists were in suspense not knowing whether the enemy was preparing to take the castle by storm before the army of the king came to their assistance. However, they resolved to defend the castle as long as possible and to surrender it only with their lives. The besiegers received letters the same day stating that the army of the King consisting of 15,000 men was divided and that half, under Prince Maurice, was marching to relieve Carlisle and the other half was coming to relieve Pontefract. The enemy continued its fire all night and the next morning blasted in whole volleys of shot from every quarter against the castle and cried “a Cromwell, a Cromwell" The besiegers had received information that Cromwell was marching to the King's rear and so the hopes of both parties were alternately encouraged and depressed. The great gun in the castle was removed from the mount before the gates and placed on the platform where it discharged against the sentry house near Alderman Rusby's. The shot struck the house with great force and forty to sixty men ran out. A drake  (small artillery piece) was placed by the besieged on Swillington Tower and played against the enemy's guard at Paradise Orchard. Also, on this day, a man called Will Tubb and a boy, along with others, went out of the castle to cut grass for the cattle and ventured too near the enemy. The boy was wounded with a ball and the man was taken prisoner. The enemy seeing that he was a simple man gave him ale until he was nearly drunk and then tried to obtain from him an account of the numbers at the garrison, the quantity of their ammunition, provisions etc. Tubb either gave an exaggerated account or evaded the questions and as the enemy was taking him to the guardhouse at the New Hall he slipped away and got back to the castle.
26/5/1645On 26th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘This day, being whitson Munday……..Jubbe & a boy went out of the Castle to fetch in some grasse for the horses and Cattell….but, they being too negligent to looke well about them, the boy was shott in the mouth side, & thorow the Cheeke, but not any mortall wound, and Jubbe was taken prisoner & Caryed up into the towne, where, they finding him to be a simple man, many Came about him & gave him good store of stronge Ale till the had soundly foxt him, thinking then to have gott good Intelligence out of him, and in the night brought him towards Newhall (there to be examined)…but he tooke his opportunety & slipt away from them & Came into the Castle againe before 11 aClock. This night also Came in Captin Washington from Sandall, who went thither the Fridday night before, and brought good newes of the Princes good p’ceedinges….’
27/5/1643On 27th May 1643, Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, wrote to Charles: ‘…I have consulted with the Earl of Newcastle and General King upon the state of this army, and the means there were for me to come to you. The conclusion has been that the Earl of Newcastle should give me two thousand foot men, twelve companies of cavalry and two hundred dragoons. For arms you must not expect them at present, for I have been constrained to give them, to arm the new men. I shall set out the 31st of this month, and that it may not be hindered, I keep it very secret. I pretend only to go to Pontefract, during the time they are besieging Leeds, which will not be, being impossible, bringing you the forces which I do.’
27/5/1645The besieged Royalists (at Pontefract Castle) played their cannon against the enemy on 27th May 1645 and on the same night, about twelve o'clock, Lieutenant Wheatley arrived. He had been sent with Captain Worthington a few days before, to Sandal Castle. He had brought with him forty or fifty horses and on the way had taken two enemy scouts prisoners. They had also met with one hundred and twenty or thirty head of cattle, which they had driven before them. They had to get them into the castle which was no easy task because of the Parliamentarians' strong works and guards with which the castle was surrounded. Wheatley had left the cattle at some distance while he went on to the castle and it was agreed that the cattle should be brought from the Chequer Field by way of Carleton and on to the public road to Baghill, and that when he came near he would cry out“ a prince! A prince! To arms! To arms!” All was ready in the castle an hour before the cattle arrived. On arrival of the cattle, a cannon was played against the besiegers' works and different parties sallied out aid in bringing in the cattle. The different parties reached their stations and fully succeeded in checking the Parliamentary forces. Captain Joshua Walker with about twenty men went to Baghill to collect the cattle. Anxious to place the cattle in safety and before the Parliamentarians could  collect together in large numbers to prevent this, they drove the cattle down the hill with such force that they lost thirty or forty into the hands of the besiegers. However, the garrison managed to get ninety-seven cattle safely into the castle. Once the cattle were in the castle, the drums beat a retreat and all the different parties of the garrison returned without loss of life and only one man wounded. The besieged Royalists now gave vent to their joy; they lit bonfires on the tops of all the towers of the castle and commenced a heavy fire against their enemy works in all directions. Heavy fire against the castle was commenced the next day by the besiegers. They told their commander that five hundred men had escorted the cattle into the castle as an excuse for their failure in not stopping the cattle going into the castle.
28/5/1645On 28th May 1645, Overton the commander of the Parliamentary besiegers sent a drum and three women, who were owners of part of the herd of cattle taken by the Royalists, with a letter to Governor Lowther in the castle asking him to either give back the cattle or to pay for them. Governor Lowther replied to Overton "if he could take the castle, he should have the cattle, otherwise he should not have the worst beast brought in, under forty pounds” . In the night, the men who had come from Sandal attempted to return but were unable to get past the besiegers. Also the besiegers had raised a strong barricade across the lane leading to Baghill to prevent the garrison sallying forth in that direction. The garrison was no longer able to send its cattle out to graze without great risks. The governor allowed four pence to each man who cut and brought into the castle a load of grass. One of the garrison was killed while collecting his seventh load. The Parliamentarians relieved their guard at New Hall with 300 men from the town. During the night, they erected a new triangular work in the upper closes above Denwell and near to Swillington Tower. This was to check the garrison from sallying forth from that quarter. On the following day, the besieged fired their cannon against the works and forced the Parliamentarians to flee to their trenches. They returned in the night to repair the damage done to their works.
29/5/1645On 29th May 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ This day Some of our Souldyers went forth to Gett grasse for the Cattell & horses, and one Covetous man, having been 6 times before (and had 4d for every burthen) went out for the 7th time, and would not Come away wth the rest of his Fellowes, and so was shott by the enemy. And after they had taken him & given him quarter, another of the enemyes runne him thorough & so killd him quite out…..’
31/5/1645Musket BallsOn 31st May 1645, a woman was unfortunately killed in Pontefract Market Place by a musket ball that was fired from the Round Tower at the castle. A musket ball in the Civil War had a lethal range of 300- 400 yards.
31/5/1668On 31st May 1668, Sir Thomas Beaumont of Whitley Hall, Kirkheaton, died. He had been a commissioned major in the Royalist infantry regiment commanded by Sir William Saville, Deputy Governor of Sheffield until he surrendered the town in August 1644, and wounded at the 1645 siege of Pontefract Castle. On the Restoration of Charles II, he was knighted.
1/6/1645The 1st June 1645 was a joyful day for the garrison. The governor informed it that he had received letters which contained information that Sir Marmaduke Langdale had summoned the enemy at Derby to surrender and that the King and his friends were successful everywhere.
2/6/1645On 2nd June 1645, Royalist Governor Lowther sent a messenger, Mr Massey, into the town to Governor Overton to propose and agree concerning the exchange of prisoners who had been taken at Hull and other places. Overton granted all that was demanded and sent for them at great speed. In the night, the Parliamentarians threw up another work in the closes below Baghill, against the Low Church in the shape of a half moon. They had now formed double lines around the castle and were kept on such constant duty that a spirit of disaffection prevailed and many deserted.
3/6/1643On 3rd June 1643, Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, wrote to the Earl of Newcastle: ‘ Cousin, Seeing that my journey is the cause of many distractions in your army, ….I am induced to beg you to please to assemble to-morrow, at Pontefract, a council of war, in which that affair can be freely discussed; and I will venture to say that what I desire will be judged to be for the king’s service, and the preservation of all this country…….and of all joining in the defence of the public cause, which will certainly suffer, unless we do so….It will not be needful for you to come to the place where I am to sleep; for, if it please God, to-morrow I shall pass by Tadcaster to go to Pontefract.’ There was a great reluctance by the northern Royalist army to provide an escort for the Queen’s journey southwards as it would have meant reducing its forces.
3/6/1645The governor of the castle received letters on 3rd June 1645 conveying information of the king's success at Leicester. An immense booty had fallen into the Royalist hands and the loss of the enemy had been great, many prisoners having been taken. The hopes of the garrison at Pontefract were highly raised at news of this splendid victory.
3/6/1648Pontefract Castle dungeonOn 3rd June 1648, Colonel Morris and Captain Paulden tricked the Parliamentarian guard at Pontefract Castle by posing as delivering mattresses, in which they had hidden weapons. Once inside, they gained control of the castle, imprisoning the Parliamentary defenders and, thereby, leading to the third and final siege. Roger Preston, a gunsmith, not a soldier, was captured with the rest of the Parliamentary Pontefract garrison . There is a letter about him that has survived and is now kept at the British Library in London. The letter is to Parliament's Colonel Thomas Fairfax from Nicholas Walton, the minister of Kirkley. Walton informed Colonel Fairfax that Preston's wife was pregnant and asked Thomas to do his best to arrange Preston's release.
4/6/1645On the night of 4th June 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers began another work at a little distance from the former. It was at the top of Mr Stable's orchard, which may have been behind the houses to the south of the church. This was the 27th work of the besiegers. Also on that night, the besieged Royalists , seeing a fire on Sandal Castle, answered it by another from the Round Tower assuming that the King's forces had obtained another victory.
4/6/1648On 4th or 5th June 1648, soon after Royalist John Morris had gained entry to Pontefract Castle (presaging its third and final siege), Parliamentarian forces plundered his house at East Hague, South Kirkby taking away goods and stock totalling over £1000 (£140,000+ in today’s money) as well as £1800 ((£250,000+) in bonds and bills.
5/6/1645On 5th June 1645, there was heavy fire on both Royalist and Parliamentarian sides and a boy from the garrison was wounded while cutting grass.
6/6/1645The Parliamentary besiegers received reinforcements on 6th June 1645 from Doncaster. The Royalist garrison discovered four of the enemy stealing iron from a mill under the castle. Three men fled and one was taken prisoner. The prisoner told the garrison that a body of the king's troops had already reached Tuxford and that the troops of Parliament were retreating and would probably assemble in the neighbourhood where a general engagement was expected.
7/6/1645On 7th June 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘…but about 10 a Clock our men espied a souldier of the enemies Coming downe from Munkhill to the mill, where 2 of our men went out: one was Jonathan (Sir Jarvis Cuttler’s man) the other was Rich. Laipidge. Jonathan tooke him and brought him into the Castle & eased him of his money, but he Confessed little for he was then drunke…’
8/6/1645On 8th June 1645, about four hundred Parliamentary horse quartered at Tickhill, Rossington and other places beyond Doncaster, had moved to Pontefract. Some troops of these horse were stationed at Cridling Stubbs and Knottingley and a part went over Methley Bridge towards Leeds.
9/6/1645On 9th June 1645, the besieged Royalists heard the firing of cannon, which they supposed to be near Sheffield, and concluded that their friends were drawing near. The besieging Parliamentarians kept a strong guard at New Hall which they relieved in the evening. At the same time, two horsemen brought letters to Parliament's Governor Overton and a drum reported that the King and his troops had taken Derby.
10/6/1645The Parliamentarians began another work on 10th June 1645 in a close near Baghill, called Moody's Close. This was designed to check the  Royalist garrison and prevent any relief being afforded. They began another work nearer Swillington Tower but the fire of the besieged compelled them to flee to their other works. The besiegers also received a reinforcement of eight troops of horse from Doncaster. These drew up in a body at Carleton, one troop marched to South Hardwick, another came from Darrington and marched into the town and a third came from Ferrybridge and marched into the Park.
11/6/1645Pontefract All Saints ChurchOn 11th June 1645, about two o'clock, all the men in the Royalist castle were ordered to arms by the governor. After receiving their orders, they sallied forth in different directions. Their attack was centred mainly on the work around the church. Captain Joshua Walker and twenty men sallied with the first party into the church where they were to remain for twenty-four hours. They took with them sufficient match powder and ammunition. Entering the steeple they kept up fire against the enemy at every opportunity. All Saints Church (Low Church) was still held by the besieged because no major Parliamentary works separated it from the castle. After Captain Flood had taken the works, a party of the Parliamentary forces came down to reoccupy it, whereupon they were fired on from the steeple, killing twelve men among whom were three officers, and wounded several others. The sally was supported by cannon shots from the castle and the besiegers lost forty men killed, eleven taken prisoner and a considerable number wounded. A quantity of muskets, pikes, powder, match and ammunition was taken into the castle. The siege of Pontefract Castle had now been carried on for several months and there did not appear to be any prospect of it being taken by storm or surrendered by capitulation. The Parliamentary high command was dissatisfied with the commanding officer and the way in which the siege had been conducted. An order came to Lord Fairfax to remove Sands and to appoint Colonel General Poyntz to the command.
12/6/1645General PoyntzOn 12th June 1645, Parliament's  Lord Fairfax and Colonel General Poyntz came from York with a guard of four troops of horse but returned back to York in the evening. The besieged Royalists kept possession of the Low Church, regularly relieving the guard. The next day, Colonel General Poyntz came to Pontefract again and took command. The besieged Royalists, in order to relieve their guards at the Low Church without danger, began a trench from the East gate and continued it down the churchyard. They also made blinds of boughs and sods from the church to Mr Kelham's house to the south of the church. Under cover of this, they cut grass for their cattle bringing in a hundred burdens into the castle. The besiegers relieved their guard at the New Hall the next day with three hundred and twenty men from the town.  Poyntz  would eventually accept the garrison's surrender.
13/6/1645On 13th June 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ This day the new generall Poyntes Came from Yorke poaste againe, we supposed it was to draw up all theire horses to be neare together. …we drue down a trench from the lower Castle gate, through Mr Taytomes Orchard, to the Church, for the safeguard of our men thither, wch we almost finished; & made blindes of bowes & soddes, wch the enemy had gott, from the Church to Mr Kellomes, for our men to get gras that way…’
14/6/1645Charles_Landseer_Cromwell_Battle_of_NasebyOn 14th June 1645, at the Battle of Naseby the Royalist forces were defeated. Following this battle, an offer of surrender terms was put to the Royalists at Pontefract Castle but was refused. The garrison continued to receive letters that a Royal army was coming to relieve them.
15/6/1645On 15th June 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ This day, being Sunday, at afternoon the enemy went downe boanegate with a troop of horse, wch we espying from the Kinges tower, we plaied the Cannon from thence, wch light amongst them, where we see 3 horses & men lay killd……we playd also another Cannon up the towne, wch went through the howses against Mr Rusbyes, but what hurt was done we know not…..Captin Cartwright releeved the Church wth 26 men till the next releefe…’
15/6/1655On 15th June 1655, administration of goods left in her husband’s will was finally granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury to Margery Morris, widow of Colonel John Morris, last Governor of Pontefract Castle during its third siege. Morris had been executed as a traitor six years before.
16/6/1645On 16th June 1645, there was great rejoicing among the besiegers on hearing the news of the Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Naseby. A letter was sent from Parliament's Colonel General Poyntz to Governor Lowther at the garrison  to inform him of this event and to summon him to surrender the castle, whilst there was yet time for mercy. The governor of the castle replied that he neither feared Colonel General Poyntz's forces nor valued his mercy.
16/6/1648On 16th June 1648, Royalist Governor John Morris of Pontefract Castle, elected as such by the garrison’s soldiers, granted a safe escort to Mr Tennet (Ferrett), the minister to depart from the town, with Mr Charles Davison officiating in his place.
17/6/1645On 17th June 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers of the castle enlarged the works, begun on 10th June, which were east of Baghill in the closes, south of the church where they had lost many men. This work was designed to check the Royalist garrison and prevent any relief being afforded. The Royalists had already received information that the king was at Melton Mowbray and intended marching north, and in the space of ten days, if all went well, would relieve the castle of Pontefract. In the afternoon, the besiegers received a considerable body of forces and continued a brisk fire against the castle. The besieged sent Captain Smith with twenty musketeers to relieve their guard in the church.
17/6/1648On 17th June 1648, having taken Pontefract Castle by deceit earlier that month and consigned Parliamentary Governor Cotterell to the makeshift dungeon, Colonel John Morris appointed a Council of War with himself as president; albeit nominally, congenial but ineffective Sir John Digby, Colonel General, was in charge. Eight Articles of War were agreed and officers were appointed to command infantry and horse soldiers within the castle and in the town itself where Royalist troops were to be garrisoned. The articles ended with a warning: ‘If any officer, gentleman, or soldier be negligent upon any duty…or go from guard without order, he shall forfeit a day’s pay, and be disarmed at the head of the troops, or company wherein he serves, and shall be imprisoned twenty-four hours, and the day’s pay be disposed to his fellow soldiers.’  It is noteworthy that on the Council was George Bonevant, former Governor of Sandal Castle which had surrendered nearly three years before.
18/6/1645On 18th June 1645, two letters were received by the besieged Royalist garrison. They were dated the 15th June from Newark  and stated that the king, at the head of his army, was at Melton Mowbray, as mentioned before and that he intended to be at Newark the following Tuesday and then to march forward to the relief of Pontefract. Boothroyd suggests that this might have been a trick by the castle's governor to keep up the spirit of the garrison but some letters must have arrived from Newark because they brought information about the dissension in Parliament and in the City of London.
19/6/1645On 19th June 1645,  Colonel General Poyntz and Colonel Overton, Governor of Pontefract, returned from Doncaster and drew up their Parliamentary forces  in the Marketplace. Captain Washington and Lieutenant Empson went out of the castle to Newark, most probably to obtain correct information and ascertain whether anything could be done for the relief of Pontefract Castle.
20/6/1645Parliament's Colonel General Poyntz called a council of law on 20th June 1645 in the town. In the afternoon, there arrived several loaded wagons at the New Hall in which in one of these there was a cannon. A party of infantry played their cannon without doing any damage. On the following day, Parliamentary forces began to form a platform at Monkhill for the cannon. Efforts by the Royalist garrison in firing at them were unsuccessful for the works they had already raised protected the opposing forces. The following night, the cannon was brought from New Hall and placed against the church. The guard was relieved at the church and a deserter came into the castle and informed the besieged Royalists that the Parliamentary troops, unsuccessful against His Majesty, had since been routed.
21/6/1645On 21st June 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded:' …we had a poore manwho before this Seege dwelt at Munkhill and having his howse burnt by the enemy Came into the Castle for suckor, & going forthis morning to get grasse for the Cattell by Munkhill mill, was there shott dead upon the place where he was getting of it & fetcht in at night & buryd…’
22/6/1645Leather CannonOn 22nd June 1645, as soon as the day dawned, Parliamentary forces made a strong attack upon the guard in the Low Church, which they entered with a hundred men. Another party went up the trenches of the besieged Royalists and so to the castle. The guard in the church compelled those who entered to retreat and those in the steeple gave the alarm to the Royalist garrison by ringing the bell. A continuous fire from the steeple and from the East Tower of the castle rendered the attempt of those who had entered the trenches useless and so they retreated to their works, carrying their dead and wounded with them. After some time, the cannon planted at Monkhill, and carrying a ball of eighteen pounds in weight, began to aim against the lantern of the steeple. In about an hour and a half, they aimed thirteen times but did no damage. The besieged Royalists, in order to preserve the church and to protect their guard, played their cannon from King's Tower against the enemy's works at Monkhill and at the fifth discharge dismounted the cannon of the Parliamentary forces. The remainder of the day was spent by the Parliamentarians remounting their cannon and throwing up works for its security. In the afternoon, the besieging Parliamentarians relieved all their guards and in the evening the besiegers conversed freely with the besieged and informed them of Cromwell's success and the almost final destruction of the forces belonging to His Majesty. The besieged Royalists considered this information as designed to induce them to surrender and still hoped that they should soon be relieved.
23/6/1643On 23rd June 1643, Queen Henrietta, wife of Charles I, left Pontefract Castle having landed at Bridlington with troops and arms on her return from Europe raising money for the Royalist cause. She met her husband at Kineton, near Edgehill, on her way to Oxford. Henrietta was the last royal figure to be entertained at the castle.
23/6/1645On 23rd June 1645, the besieging Parliamentary forces played their cannon against the church as early as 2 o'clock in the morning and continued fire against the lantern of the steeple until 6 o'clock, when a breach was made and a part of it fell down. Fire was discontinued until the afternoon when the steeple was so badly damaged that the besieged Royalists considered it no longer tenable. However, they sent twenty musketeers to relieve the guard but only two or three men were allowed in the church; the rest were ordered to occupy the houses around the church. The Royalists concluded that their opponents would make an attempt in the night to gain possession of the church and had loaded their cannon with grapeshot. As expected, at one o'clock, the enemy made an attack on the church; the besieged fired upon them and the enemy were forced to retreat to their works.
24/6/1645Few shots were fired on 24th June 1645 until the evening when the different guards were relieved. It was expected that the besiegers (Parliament) would make another attack in the night and the governor ordered Lieutenant Otway and two files of musketeers, who had been sent down to relieve the guard, to return to the castle at the beating of the tattoo. The Parliamentarians, as was expected, entered the church and the lower part of the town at about one o'clock. Finding nobody to resist them, they remained in possession. They were greatly annoyed by fire from the garrison and the besieged Royalists played their cannon from the King's Tower against the steeple of the church and fired five shots from the garden into the body of the church. It appears that the body of the church was damaged and the interior wholly destroyed.
24/6/1648On 24th June 1648, Parliamentarian Colonel Sir Edward Rossiter wrote from Lincoln to the Committee at Derby House: ‘The late riseing of the disaffected party with Styles and Hudson neer Stamford was happily supprest before mv comeing downe, yet was not this country therby freed from danger, the enimye much increasing at Pontefract, wherby their partie in these partes were incouraged to list men, and the better to carry on their designe, the most active of them had very frequent meetings in divers parts by which the peace of this county was much indangered. To prevent which I have with the assistance of the committee compleated a troope of horse ; save onely for armes, for supply whereof I humbly crave your Lordshipps’ order, and by these I hope the country wilbe continued quiet within itselfe, though not protected from the growinge enimy, who is so increased at Pontefracte, as that he may without interrupcion march into any parte of this county.’
25/6/1645On 25th June 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ This morning about 1 a Clock the enemy entred the Church, & the lower end of the towre, there beeing none to resist them, at wch time our musketeers from the Castle shott very hard at them, and likewise we playd 5 peeses of Cannon from the Kinges tower to the Church steeple…….the enemy keeps digging up dead men’s Corpes, & making a worke in the Church……This day morning, that worthy knight Sr Gervis Cuttler dep’ted this life, the enemy not suffering any fresh meate ever to be brought to him since he fell sick, onely one Chickin & one poore Joynt of meate his lady brought wth hur 2 daies before he dep’ted, neither will the enemy suffer him either to be buryed or Convyed to his owne habitation to take place with his Auncetors…’
26/6/1645The besieged Royalist garrison suffered the loss of Sir Jarvis Cutler, who died from a fever. The Parliamentarians would not let fresh provisions to be brought to him from the town and his wife was allowed to visit him only once, bringing a chicken and a joint of meat. When dead, he was not allowed by the enemy to be buried in the church or among his ancestors. On 26th June 1645, he was buried in the chapel in the castle and after the funeral his wife was not permitted to leave the castle. The besieged began to suffer severely from lack of fresh provisions and desertions became frequent. In the night of 26th June, a man, named Metcalf, deserted and informed General Poyntz that the surgeon who attended the wounded in the castle communicated information to the garrison and supplied them with tobacco and other articles, in consequence of which the man was imprisoned.
27/6/1645On 27th June 1645, the besieging Parliamentary forces of Pontefract Castle had a Day of Thanksgiving for the late success and victory over the king at the Battle of Naseby. They then fired volleys and played their cannon on the besieged Royalists.
28/6/1645On 28th June 1645, news was received by the castle garrison of a Royalist success at Newark. On this day, permission was given to Lady Cutler to leave the castle, after being trapped there attending the funeral of her husband, Sir Jarvis Cutler. However, the besieging Parliamentary forces seized her and  along with her maid, chaplain, and accompanying  tenant they were searched to see if they were carrying any letters. She was kept till the following day when she returned to the castle. Here she was refused admission and remained in the street until 10 o'clock with her maid and chaplain. They were then permitted to go into the town where they remained until the next day and then departed.
29/6/1645On 29th June 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘..a little after no one, the Enemyes Genrall (Poyntes) Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded sent down the Lady Cuttler wth hur waytingmaid to the Barbican gates againe, she having not had any meate of 24 howers. Our Governor of the Castle would not suffer hur to Come into the Castle againe, because they had sent for hur out & given hur free liberty to goe home to hur Children, therefore he thought it sttod not wth his honor to be so Fooled by them, and by that meanes the poore Lady wth hur maid & hur Chaplin staid starving in the streetes till about 10 a Clock in the night, at wch time the Enemy sent for hur up into the Towne, & for any thing we heare, she sent for 2 horseyes that night, & so went away the next day. There was this night 2 Boan fires…made upon Sandoll Castle and we answered it wth one heare upon the Round Tower. We supposed to be good newes because of 2 Fires.’
30/6/1645On 30th June 1645, the besieging Parliamentary forces had a general rendezvous on Brotherton Marsh of all their horse in the area, which amounted to a thousand. They departed then in companies to different villages. The besiegers relieved their guard at New Hall with at least 600 men and different bodies of infantry moving in all directions. This led to the governor of the castle to conclude that the enemy seriously intended to assault the castle and he gave orders that the guard should be doubled and strict watch kept.
30/6/1648On 30th June 1648, a report was made to the Commons that: ‘The enemy at Pontefract Castle still go on at pleasure, taking and plundering whom they please, and yet please to deal so with none but those who have been most active for the Parliament. Having quitted the Isle of Axholme, they came towards Lincoln, and yesterday entered the city, plundered the house of Capt. Pert, who is now in arms in Northumberland for the Parliament…..They have prisoners Capt. Bees, Capt. Fines, and others….They went further on, and took prisoner Mr Ellis; they brag they have 3000 listed in Lincolnshire…’
1/7/1645On 1st July 1645,  the besieged Royalist garrison saw the Parliamentarians  carrying faggots and scaling ladders down to the church which raised their suspicion of an intended assault. The guards were then doubled and at about 12 o'clock most of the troops were under arms, ready to receive any attack made by the Parliamentary forces. However the opposition remained in their works during the night. The number and strength of the besiegers rendered any sally by the garrison more dangerous to themselves than to the Parliamentary forces and from this period the besieged made no sallies against the enemy's works. On the other hand,  Parliament's Colonel  General Poyntz did not wish to expose his men to danger and so each party watched the other rather than carry on any vigorous enterprises.
2/7/1637On 2nd July 1637, Sir John Jackson, MP, died. Knighted on 19 April 1619, in 1624, Jackson was elected Member of Parliament for Pontefract in the Happy Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Pontefract in 1625, 1626 and 1628 and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.
2/7/1644Battle_of_Marston_Moor,_1644On 2nd July 1644, Cromwell was victorious at the Battle of Marston Moor at Tockwith, near York. Some of the Royalist survivors escaped the battlefield and took refuge at Pontefract Castle where they joined the garrison under the command of Sir Richard Lowther.
2/7/1645On 2nd July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ in the Afternoone our dutchman playd his Cannon from the Platforme by Treasurers Tower into the Markitt place, where we saw 2 or 3 kild dead..’ The unnamed ‘dutchman’ is first mentioned in the diaries on 10th June this year, most probably associated with his countrymen’s draining operations in the east of Yorkshire under the patronage of King Charles I.
3/7/1645On 3rd and 4th July 1645, and at different times, a brisk fire of musketry was maintained on both Parliamentary and Royalist sides. Towards evening, the  Parliamentary forces' horse, which had been drawn up in the West Field for most of the day, began to depart to their quarters. However a considerable body remained all night and kept up considerable fire.
4/7/1645On 4th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘This morning the enemy had an allarum, but we knew not where, but all the horse that went out last night Came in againe very yearely to the Towne, & the drew up about 400 foot into the upper Markitt olace & stood to theire armes wth theirs knapsacks on theire backes: and about 12 a Clock all the horse wch was about towne drew towards wentbridge and appeared in 2 bodyes upon the hill top on this side wentbridge……..’
4/7/1648On 4th July 1648, it was reported by The Parliament Committee for Advance of Money (set up in November 1642, and ceasing in 1656, to produce voluntary loans and subsequently compulsory assessments for the fight against Charles I and from 1645 to uncover the concealed resources of Royalist ‘delinquents’) that Captain William Armitage of Netherton had raised forces and money for the King at Pontefract Castle. He had been taken prisoner to Featherstone by Sir Henry Cholmley’s regiment along with thirty men and horse.
5/7/1645On 5th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ …The enemy also brought into the Towne this morning a Small dimiculvarin or some other smaule feeild peese wch was said thay Caryed up into the west field. And about 3 a Clock the enemy shott of theire Cannon againe to the lower Castle gate & shott thorough the draw bridge, & so fell betwixt the bridge & the gate….’
5/7/1648On 5th July 1648, a report was made to the Commons that: ‘ Colonel Rossiter met with the Pontefract forces upon their return after their plundering voyage (see the entry for 30th June), and engaged them at a place called Willoughby Field, routed their whole party, consisting of about 1000, took the commander-in-chief and all his officers – the rest routed but not many slain. Colonel Rossiter unhappily wounded in the thigh. List of the prisoners:- Sir Philip Mouncton, General; Sir Gilbert Byron, Major General……….4 cornets, 2 ensigns, 24 gentlemen of quality….about 500 prisoners taken, who were all horse, except 100 dragoons…..8 carriages taken with arms and ammunition: Colonel Pocklington and Colonel Cholmeley slain, with many others not yet found, because the fight was in the corn-fields; all their colours, bag and baggage taken.’
6/7/1645On 6th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ …This night we saw 2 boanfires betwixt wentbridge & dauncaster, we supposed they was for horse gaurdes. This night also we had a letter Came into the Castle from the 2 went out 4 daies since to the Kinges Army, wth good newes ‘
6/7/1648On 6th July 1648, Parliamentarian Colonel Sir Edward Rossiter wrote from Nottingham to William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons: ‘It hath pleased God to give us a seasonable victory over the Pontefract forces, an increasing, active, and resolved enemy. . . The timely advance of Sir Henry Cholmely with those under his command — stopping their retreat by his lying on the North side Trent — gave us this opportunity of fighting them. My present indisposition occasioned by my wounds received in this sharp engagement will not give me leave to present you with an account thereof in writing. I have therefore sent my Captain- Lieutenant to give you a full narrative of the whole business.’. The Commons Journals also noted that on 6th July 1648: ‘A letter from Colonel Edward Rossiter ….giving notice of the great victory it has pleased God to bestow upon the forces under his command against the Pontefract forces under the command of Sir Philip Mouncton (sic), general, on the 5th July 1648, in Willoughby fields.’ The battle in Nottinghamshire, close to the Leicestershire border, had seen Royalist soldiers from Pontefract Castle on their way to relieve the siege of Colchester, defeated by a combined Midlands’ force of Parliamentarians.
7/7/1645On 7th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ This morning about 8 a Clock there Came in 200 horse Thorough the Parke and they drew up into the west field. We supposed they came from Sandoll, for the seege is raised from thence. This day also Came in the Scottes both horse & foot, for so enemyes Souldyers out of theire quarters tould us….’
7/7/1648On 7th July 1648, Parliamentarian Sir John Bourchier wrote to William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons, desiring that two of the collectors of the Revenue might be credited in their accounts with two sums of £59 (£10355 in today’s money) and £50 (£8800) respectively advanced by them for setting forth the Yorkshire forces sent against the enemy at Pontefract.
8/7/1645On 8th July 1645, Parliament's  Colonel General Poyntz went down to the Barbican and asked to speak to the governor of the garrison. The governor's son said his father was not there. General Poyntz demanded the surrender of the castle and said that if they did this within three days they would obtain honourable terms. If they delayed eleven or fourteen days, they might expect nothing but to walk with a white rod in their hands as soldiers did in the Low Countries. The governor's son replied 'that the castle be kept for the King and that if they stayed 14 days and 14 after that, there were as many gentleman in the castle as would make many a bloody head before they parted with it'. Soon after this, General Poyntz said goodnight and went away.
9/7/1645On 9th July 1645, the besieging Parliamentary forces began a fence from their works opposite Swillington Tower, along the hedge to Denwell Lane and from this position they greatly annoyed anyone coming from the castle to cut grass.
10/7/1645On 10th July 1645, the besieged Royalist garrison received an account of the engagement between Sir Thomas Fairfax and General Goring, when it was said that Goring routed Sir Thomas and that Taunton was taken. A drum came from Newark to know whether the castle had surrendered as the Parliamentary forces had spread the rumour that Pontefract Castle had yielded to them. The drum had been kept a prisoner overnight in the house of a Mrs Washington whose husband was in the castle. The drum and Mrs Washington went to the castle where the message was passed on and Mrs Washington, while pretending to shake hands with an acquaintance, gave him two letters. These letters named the day and hour when Sir Marmaduke Langdale intended to come to the garrison's relief and confirmed the account of Goring's victory over Sir Thomas Fairfax. Thus the garrison was encouraged and still continued to annoy the Parliamentary forces as much as possible.
11/7/1645On 11th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ ….This evnings there was 2 boanfires made upon Sandoll Castle, wch we answered wth one from the Round Tower. This day the 2 men wch we sent out 10 daies since to Newarke Came againe to towne, & though they Could not get into the Castle to us yet they Showed forth such signes as we knew we had good newes towards us. This night 2 of those men we sent out 2 nightes before to Sandoll cami in againe.’
11/7/1656On 11th July 1656, Mary Fisher of Pontefract, and another preacher, Ann Austin, were the first Quakers to visit the English North American colonies arriving in Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Colony on board the Swallow. Having already converted the island of Barbados’s Lieutenant Governor to Quakerism, their reception by the New England Puritans was decidedly more hostile and they were imprisoned for five weeks, undressed in public and examined for signs of witchcraft with their books and pamphlets burned, then deported back to Barbados. A 1658 mission ‘testifying to the Universal Light’ (her words) to the Ottoman Empire to explain Quakerism to Sultan Mehmed IV was received attentively and ‘he was very noble unto me and so were all that were about him’.
12/7/1645On 12th July 1645, Royalist troops received a letter that Sir Marmaduke Langdale had set off with his own forces and 4,000 Irish to raise the siege of Pontefract Castle. The letter was designed to raise spirits and produced the effect intended and the castle agreed to suffer any privations rather than submit to disgraceful terms. If relief did not come, they would consume all food in the castle, set it on fire and either cut their way out through the enemy or nobly fall. After this, two flags of defiance were flown, one from the King's Tower and one from the Round Tower.
13/7/1645On 13th July 1645, letters were received from Sandal Castle, which gave news of Marmaduke Langdale's approach. The Parliamentary forces had raised some fortifications near Ferrybridge, on Brotherton Marsh and some cannon were taken there to secure the pass. The Parliamentary forces  had an alarm in the night and both horse and foot remained under arms till morning. About four o'clock, they were seen in the West Field drawn up as though ready for an attack. This was the direction in which Langdale had come before to relieve the castle and it was hoped that he was approaching. At this time, the plague prevailed in the town and, as a result of this, Parliament's  General Poyntz withdrew his troops from the town and formed a camp in the West Field, where the general himself henceforth always slept. News that the Skipton horse had pushed through Wakefield and by Sandal in order to join Sir Marmaduke Langdale gave alarm to the Parliamentary forces.
14/7/1645On 14th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ …the enemy…sending out stronge p’ties of horse towards Dauncaster & to Sandoll………It was tould us also this evening by the enemyes owne Souldyers that there was 5 Souldyers buryed this day of the Plague: they dyed in the howses in the Barly markit place…’
15/7/1645On 15th July 1645, rumours of impending relief reached the Royalist castle and some of the garrison ventured into the orchard obtaining a considerable supply of apples. Two were killed and others wounded on this venture. In the afternoon, a drum was sent to the castle saying that General Goring and Langdale were routed, and that Cromwell, Fairfax and Rossiter were coming to the besiegers' assistance. The last hope of the garrison was now destroyed and they found themselves surrounded by enemies it was impossible to vanquish.

On 16th July 1645,  Parliament's Colonel General Poyntz sent a letter to the governor of the castle, again summoning him to surrender the castle, and that if he did he might gain honourable terms. The honourable terms were to this effect “That whereas they had heretofore sent to summons the castle which was still rejected, but now taking into consideration the great care and love so many gentlemen soldiers in the castle, and the misery they lived in, the effusion of so much innocent blood which was likely to be made, and many a sackless man in it, they thought once more to summons them, and give them to understand that if they pleased to come to a treaty about surrendering the same they would treat them upon honourable terms with conditions fitting for such a garrison and would give hostages for the same" To this, the governor replied “That it was a matter of too great consequence to treat or give answer at first but he would confer with the knights and the gentlemen of the castle and return an answer as speedily as possible”

17/7/1645On 17th July 1645, Royalist Colonel Lowther sent a letter to Colonel General Poyntz that they were ready to discuss surrender as soon as the place and time was appointed. The besieging Parliamentary forces decided to take their time about discussions as they heard from a garrison captain that the castle had provisions for only 5 days or slightly more. The besiegers intended to starve out the garrison, then to strip the soldiers and pillage the castle.
18/7/1645On 18th July 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘This day, before 10 a Clock, Genrall Poynte Sent in a letter wth a Trumpitt to our Governor to give notise at what time and place the Treatye should beginner…..wch Trumpitt staid whilst servise was done in the hall & then tooke his answer backe…..they sett up a Tent in the Bottom Cloase under Baghill a little above Brode lane end wch they made Ready; and about 4 a ClockTheirs Genrall wth Collonell Ouerton & 9 offcers more Came wth him to the Barbican Gates where they met wth our Committies….The Committeyes for our p’ty was Sr Richard Hutton, Sr John Romsden, Sr George Wentworth, Leiutenant Collonell Gilbreth, and Mr Hirst….for them was MrWasthill, a lawyer, CollonellBright, Leiutenant Collonell Fairfax, and Leiutenant Collonell Copplay. They treated there….till about 9 a Clock, but Concluded upon Nothinge, but deferred it of till about 9 a Clock of the next day…….during that time Genrall Poyntes & Collonell Overton Came into the Tent & drunke wth them…’
19/7/1645On 19th July 1645,  Parliament's Colonel  General Poyntz, Colonel Overton and nine officers came to the Barbican Gate and the committee from the castle (including Sir Richard Hutton, Sir Thomas Bland and Sir John Ramsden) went with them to a tent located at a close under Baghill, a little above Broad Lane End. At length, the committee of the besieged Royalist garrison  declared that they were determined to fight it out rose and departed. The besieging Parliamentary forces hoped that an adjustment would be made the next day.
20/7/1645On 20th July 1645, the Royalists and Parliamentarians met and a treaty was made and signed for the surrender of Pontefract Castle. The siege had lasted nearly five months and the besieged Royalists had shown great courage. The treaty stated that 'the castle is to be delivered up to the parliament tomorrow at 8 o'clock with everything therein, save that the officers are allowed to carry away what is properly their own, so that it exceeds not what a cloak bag will contain, and the garrison are to march to Newark'. Thus ended the second siege of Pontefract Castle during which the Parliamentarians lost 469 soldiers whilst the besieged lost 99 persons. The local gentry who had assisted in the defence of the castle obtained permission to return to their homes, but continued to be closely watched by the Parliamentarians and were all heavily fined for their obstinate adherence to the Royalist cause.
20/7/1648On 20th July 1648, a Council of War at Pontefract Castle agreed: These ensueing orders are agreed vpon att a Councell of Warr in Pontefract Castle July 20th 1648. First Itt is ordered & agreed vpon that after the armeinge of the Goun, Coll John Marris his regmt of Foot that Coll Vernon shall haue the supernumerary fixt armes for the armeinge of his regmt for the vse of this Garryson & to redeliu them fixt againe to the said Coll Vernon. 2dly Itt is agreed vpon & ordered that May0 Edward Goare compound as mayor of all the horse blonging this Garryson & that he shall have Authorizmt from vs for that purpose. 3dly Itt is agreed vpon & ordered that Capt Willm Goure compound as Mayor of all the Foot quartered in the Towne of Pontefract for the defence of the same And that the said Capt. William Goare shall have Authorizmt from vs for that purpose. 4ly Itt is agreed vpon & ordered that noe Constables or Countryeman brought into this Garryson for want of his or their assessmts shall be detained by any reason nor p’tence whateu’ they haueinge giuen satisfaction to the treasurers for their or his assessmts without speciall order from vs for that purpose. 5ly Itt is further ordered & agreed vpon that noe man whatever bringeinge into this Garrison any man for the want of his assessment or shall receave any moneys from any man or towne for thuse of this Garryson but that he or they giue account therof within four howeres to the Goun or Treasurers appointed for that affect. 6ly Itt is further ordered & agreed vpon that Sir Hughe Cartwright be muster minster of all horse & foote belonginge this Garryson & that he shall haue power for that purpose from vs. 7ly Itt is ordered that Coll’ Roger Portington & Coll’ James Washington be assistinge to the Treasurers Sir Hughe Cartwright & Mr Nevile for the receivinge all moneys brought in for thuse of this Garryson all acompts therevnto belonginge. 8ly Itt is further ordered & agreed vpon that if any officer, Gent' or souldier shall be found negligent vpon any dutye comaunded him by his superyor officer or shall goe off his gaurd without order from his Comaund or any wayes be disabedyent to him in his Lawfull martiall Comaunds that he the offender shall forfeite one dayes pay be disarmed at the head of the troop or foote Companie wherin he serveth & shall be imprisoned for foure & twentye howers & his dayes pay be disposed of to his fellow souldrs of that troop or Companie wherein he serveth. John Harris        Roger Portington            Wm Gower V. Cromwell       Ed. Gower                          Fran. Reresby Rich. Byron       Vriah Legh                         Edw. Bond E. Vernon          Radcliffe Duckenfeild      C. Congreve
21/7/1627On 21st July 1627, John Savile was created 1st Baron Savile of Pontefract. He had been MP for Lincoln, Sheriff of Lincolnshire, Knight of the Shire for Yorkshire, custos rotulorum of the West Riding of Yorkshire (principal justice of the peace in an English county), Privy Councillor, Comptroller of The Household and receiver of the revenues from recusants in the north. He had a long-standing feud with Thomas Wentworth (later Earl of Strafford) which included a famous dispute in Parliament. Savile built Howley Hall in Batley (he was buried in Batley Church in September 1630) and tradition says that Rubens stayed there and painted a view of Pontefract for him.
21/7/1645On 21st July 1645, Pontefract Castle was surrendered to Parliament by its Royalist garrison.
22/7/1679On 22nd July 1679, after the passing of the Act of Uniformity (1662) against popish recusants intent on re-establishing Roman Catholicism and conspiring against the life of Charles II, an affidavit was presented to the Sessions at Pontefract: ‘As for Mr Thomas Hippon and Alis Hippon, they become bound before Mr Whyte to appear at this Session, as popish recusants. As for Mr John Hippon, Margaret Thimbleby and Alis the wife of John Spinke, they are non est Inuentus’ i.e. not yet found in this jurisdiction.
24/7/1645Thomas Fairfax On 24th July 1645, there was the first mention of Pontefract Castle in the Journals of the House of Commons when Colonel General Poyntz's letter was read announcing its capture. A debate followed, concluding with Sir Thomas Fairfax being ordered by the House to be made military governor.
28/7/1645On 28th July 1645, Pontefract was mentioned in Parliament when papers and letters taken at the castle were referred to the Committee for the King's Cabinet letters.
31/7/1648On 31st July 1648, the Proceedings of the Committee of both Houses of Parliament at Derby House recorded: ‘The same to Sir Henry Cholmeley. We are informed that the (enemy’s) garrison of (Royalist) Pontefract make incursions far into the surrounding country for spoil and plunder, and that many who thought themselves secured by our forces employed in blocking it up are taken and made prisoner by that garrison. We desire you to improve, with your best care and diligence, all the forces there under your command in order to straiten the enemy and secure our people in the parts adjacent from the danger of their incursions.’
8/8/1649The will of executed Colonel John Morris, last Governor of Pontefract Castle, dated 8th August 1649 included: ‘…I give and bequeath in manner following, vizt. All my Lands, tenements and hereditaments which now I have, or of right ought to have, I give and bequeath to Robert Marris, my eldest sonne…….that he shall pay to his Brother Castilion, and to his sister, Marye, the Sume of Three hundred pounds a piece of good and lawfull money of England. And if it happen that my now wife shall have another child, Then my mind and Will is that my said Sonne, Robert, shall pay unto Castilion and Mary…but two hundred pounds a piece; And other two hundred pounds to that Child which shall please God, my Wife shall bring forth…..my Will is that the Third part thereof shall be unto my Wife, Marjory (Jur) Morris and the residue equallie to be divided amongst my said youngest Children……….And if the Bond of Mr Ridges be recovered, That then my Brother Edward, my Sister Elizabeth, my Sister Anne, and my Cosen Anne Burbridge, shall have out of the same bond Twentie pounds a piece…’
10/8/1618On 10th August 1618, Ben Jonson, poet and dramatist, visited Pontefract on his accompanied walk from London to Edinburgh. After feasting on venison with the Pontefract Aldermen, on walking back to his lodgings, he was mobbed by ‘dancing giants’ (this may have been arranged to welcome Johnson though it may just have been that his arrival coincided with feast day of St Lawrence) . Processional giants, built on wicker frames and covered with cloth were sometimes carried in medieval English towns and cities in midsummer festivities and often represented religious figures. It is suggested that these giants were stored at the castle. Over four hundred years later, in September 2021, artists Matthew Rosier and James Bulley created the Pontefract Giants’ immersive experience’ at the castle exploring the history of the site.
15/8/1645On 15th August 1645, Royalist Colonel Sir Richard Lowther, ex-Governor of Pontefract Castle, who had surrendered it only three weeks before, died of consumption at Newark.
16/8/1649On 16th August 1649, Colonel John Morris, who in June 1648 had taken control of Pontefract Castle from Parliamentary forces, with men pretending to deliver mattresses and bedding, was put on trial at York, indicted under the Treason Act 1351 for ‘levying war against the late king and the parliament.’ Morris, like Charles I, questioned the authority of the judging body: ‘My lords, under correction, I conceive this court hath not the power to try me in this case; I being a martial man, I ought to be tried by a council of war.’
17/8/1654On 17th August 1654, John Evelyn FRS, writer, gardener and diarist whose works encompassed art, culture and politics including the execution of Charles I, rise and death of Oliver Cromwell and the Great Plague and later Great Fire of London, visited Pontefract. He noted: ‘the castle, famous for many sieges both of late and ancient times, and the death of that unhappy King murdered in it (Richard II), was now demolishing by the rebels: it stands on a mount and makes a goodly show at a distance. The Queen has a house here, and there are many fair seats near it, especially Mr Pierrepont’s, built at the foot of a hill out of the castle ruins. We all alighted in the highway to drink at a crystal spring, which they call Robin Hood’s Well; near it, is a stone chair, and an iron ladle to drink out of, chained to the seat.’ (The reference is to the one-time Robin Hood’s Well just south of Barnsdale).
21/8/1649A letter from Cornet John Baynes (now kept in the British Museum) dated from York 21st August 1649 stated: ‘ Morris and Blackburn were near escaping last night; they had got over the Castle wall, but were taken ere they got over the moat. Tomorrow they are to be executed with about thirty other prisoners’. Albeit Morris’ execution actually took place on 23rd August there could have been a delay in the expectation of a reprieve or because Morris’ fellow escapee, Blackburn, broke his leg during the escape attempt.
23/8/1648On 23rd August 1648, Oliver Cromwell wrote to the Honourable Committee at York: ‘ GENTLEMEN I have intelligence even now come into my hands, That Duke Hamilton with a weary Body of Horse is drawing towards Pontefract where probably he may lodge himself, and rest his Horse: - as not daring to continue in those Countries whence we have driven him; the Country-people rising in such numbers, and stopping his passage at every bridge. Major-General Lambert, with a very considerable force, pursues him at the heels. I desire that you would get together what force you can, to put a stop to any further designs they may have; and so be ready to join with Major-General Lambert, if there shall be need. I am marching Northward with the greatest part of the Army; where I shall be glad to hear from you. I rest your very affectionate friend and servant.’ Hamilton led a large force from Scotland into England in support of Charles I on 8th July 1648. He was defeated by Cromwell at Preston 17th-19th August and captured two days after Cromwell’s letter above, suffering beheading on 9th March the following year.
23/8/1649Colonel John Morris, who in June 1648 had taken control of the castle with men pretending to deliver mattresses and bedding, was hanged, drawn and quartered, as a traitor by Parliament, at York on 23rd August 1649, having been on-the-run for ten days. He was buried, at his request at Wentworth near the grave of Lord Strafford who had been executed on Tower Hill in May 1641.
25/8/1645Around St Bartholomew’s Day, on 25th August 1645, the rump of the Long Parliament which had begun in 1640, passed an ordinance meaning a year’s imprisonment would befall anyone using the Book of Common Prayer at any time, including private or family prayers. Up to eight thousand Church of England clergy were expelled from their homes including Dr Bradley, Rector of Ackworth, near Pontefract.
26/8/1648Historian, George Fox, noted that on 26th August 1648: ‘ ..the governor of … castle (Pontefract) agreed with the mayor and aldermen of the town about the corn, “that the castle should have a seventh part, and the townsmen to bring it near to the castle” and the governor imposed upon the town to quarter 1000 men, or pat for each four-pence per day. He was compelled to levy this heavy charge; for although the horse had been sent away on the 3rd July with sir Philip Monckton and other commanders into Lincolnshire, where they were routed by the forces of col. Rossiter, and had sustained a great loss; yet, such great numbers flocked to him, that he could not provide for them so well as he could when the horse attended him, as they assisted him greatly in procuring provisions and gathering contributions.’
29/8/1637On 29th August 1637, Sir Thomas Yarborough, High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1673 and MP for Pontefract 1685-86 was baptised in Snaith, Yorkshire. He had been born on the 19th of the month and died on 8th January 1709. He was also Receiver of Rents and Revenues for Queen Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II.
31/8/1624On 31st August 1624, James I of England issued a proclamation to the inhabitants of Pontefract prohibiting them from conveniently grinding their corn at the mills at Pontefract to the detriment of the revenue derived from the royal mills at Knottingley. In 1623, the Duchy of Lancaster had complained about this practice of by-passing the Royal Duchy Mills (formerly the ancient Soke Mills).
3/9/16481648 On 3rd September 1648, Royalists Sir Hugh Carteret and Sir John Digby were allowed to go on parole to confer with Sir Marmaduke Langdale, held prisoner at Nottingham, regarding the surrender of Pontefract Castle. Negotiations failed and the castle held out out for a further six and a half months.
7/9/1619On 7th September 1619, Parliamentarian Major General John Lambert was born at Calton Hall, near Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire. He was promoted Commissary General of the Northern Association in January 1645, effectively deputy to Thomas Fairfax, Captain-General and commander of the New Model Army. Lambert was wounded during the first siege of Pontefract Castle when Marmaduke Langdale’s Royalist relief force made the Parliamentarians retreat. He was a leading figure in the compilation of the Instrument of Government, the ‘constitution’ of Cromwell’s Protectorate in England, and on Charles II’s Restoration was exempted from execution as he had not participated in Charles I’s trial due to his absence at the third siege of Pontefract Castle.
8/9/1661On 8th September 1661, Ribchester Parish Church collected six shillings and eight pence (£64 in today’s money) for ‘the re-edifying of the Church of Pontefract…payd (sic) over to Mr Dayton, Vicar of Blackborne (sic)’
9/9/1648Royalist, Captain Thomas Paulden, noted that on 9th September 1648 ‘ the Enemie marched quietly into the towne…the same day they brought downe some foote w’thin Carabin shott of the Castle & there made a Baricade, & planted 3 foote Colours & brought a horse guard vpon the south-west side of ye Castle, & placed them vpon Bag-hill.’ This dates the start of the castle’s third and final siege, three weeks after Crowell’s overwhelming victory at the Battle of Preston thereby releasing his time and energy and Parliamentary forces to ‘deal’ with the problem of Pontefract Castle.
10/9/1648Royalist, Captain Thomas Paulden, noted that on 10th September 1648 : ‘…wee made a sally w’th 100 foote & 40 horse, the feote vpp to their Barricade & ye horse towards their horse guard. The foote…Kill’d some, tooke others & their 3 colours, & beate them vpp to the market place…..’
26/9/1644On 26th September 1644, Royalists billeted infantry and cavalry troops in Pontefract. The cost on the town can be deduced from contemporary records to be around £21. 13s. 4d. (£2547 in today's money) for one day and night. This would be a huge expense for the town if troops were there for extended periods.
29/9/1644For 29th December 1644, Nathan Drake, diarist, recorded: ‘those 11 men & boyes having been 5 daies in the steeple without meat or drinke (both being left in the Church by the beseegers suddeyne approach) they Came all down the west end of the Church by a roape at wch time Joshua Walker (their Captin) was shott into the thigh (but since recovered) and one other of them killed in the Churchyeard. All the rest escaped without any hurt at all….’
1/10/1674On 1st October 1674, Lieutenant-General George FitzRoy, was created Earl of Northumberland, Baron of Pontefract and Viscount Falmouth. He was the third and youngest illegitimate son of Charles II and Barbara Villiers (and Charles’ fifth of eight illegitimate sons).
4/10/1648Parliamentarian Robert Brier was a prisoner at Pontefract Castle in early October 1648. Brier was released on parole in November, but refused to surrender himself again.
4/10/1683On 4th October 1683, George Shillitoe was buried in Pontefract. He had been besieged in Royalist Pontefract Castle in 1644-45, Alderman of the town in 1662, Mayor in 1662 and 1680 and by deed dated 12th September 1654 had acquired forfeited Royalist estates in Purston, Featherstone, Pontefract and Ackworth. His will, dated 31st July 1683, left to his son, Richard, tenants’ right in the Lease of the Lands and Tenements belonging to University College, Oxford.
5/10/1671On 5th October 1671, an order of sessions fixed the fees payable to the gaoler by the prisoners (debtors) kept at Pontefract Castle’s Main Guard (outside the present main entrance) according to their status: Knight, Esquire, Yeoman or Artificer. The Main Guard was, a century later from 1763, used as a place of detention for French prisoners of war.
9/10/1648On 9th October 1648, Parliamentary troops, under Sir Henry Cholmley, (JP for the West Riding of Yorkshire, commissioner for the militia in Yorkshire and colonel of foot in the Parliamentary army) entered Pontefract, having previously occupied the villages of Ackworth, Featherstone and Ferrybridge.
11/10/1619A manuscript dated 11th October 1619 declared: ‘ Out of Queen Anne her Joynture. The King (James I) granted &c. and all o’r mann’r of Pontefract in the county of Yorke & other counties wheresoever that hon’r extendeth……..’ A jointure was an estate settled on a wife for the period during which she survived her husband, in lien of a dower. Anne had died in March of that year.  
14/10/1663On 14th October 1663, Colonel John Frescheville wrote to the Marquis of Newcastle after the Stuart restoration: ‘I am commanded by my Lord Duke of Buckingham to give your Lordship this intelligence, that his Grace is now at Pomfrett, with 1500 foot, and 500 horse, which consists of trained bands and volunteers, all but the two troops under my command. Sir George Savill, and the rest of the most considerable persons of this country are here, and the confirmed intelligence both from the west and north of Yorkshire gives assurance that a party of rebels are drawing together, and Skipton is one place of their ren- dezvous, and North Allerton another….’
15/10/1645On 15th October 1645, the King sent his forces, under Marmaduke Langdale and Lord Digby, to join Royalists from Scotland. They went to cross at Ferrybridge and encountered the Parliamentarian forces sallying forth from Pontefract Castle.
23/10/1648Robert Greathead carvingIn late October 1648, Parliamentarian Captain Greathead was taken prisoner by Captain William Paulden and put in the dungeon (magazine) at Pontefract Castle. Once in captivity, however, he managed to hide the fact that he was an officer. He may well have been from Nottinghamshire and when Colonel Morris ransomed him in January 1649 he was still under the impression that Greathead was still a trooper.
28/10/1631On 28th October 1631, Sir Richard Beaumont died. He had been knighted by James I on 23rd July 1609, had been given a commission to command two hundred soldiers by James in 1613 and in 1618 was a justice of the peace and treasurer in aid of lame soldiers in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1625, he was returned as MP for Pontefract and in 1628 created a baronet by Charles I. His estates, including Whitley Beaumont and Sandal Castle were bequeathed to his cousin.
28/10/1648A letter dated 28th October 1648 from York gave a graphic account of the siege and the Royalist activities at Pontefract Castle: ‘….They are very strong in Pontefract Castle, and go where they list; they are some 500 foot, and 140 horse; some 30 of them ride armed cap-a-pe. They are desperate men, and fall often on our guards; they have wounded Capt. Clayton…they have fallen on Major Ivers, wounded his lieutenant dangerously, killed ten on the place, took both horse and men, fell upon Capt. Greathead….They have since I came from London taken at least 200 head of cattle, above 100 oxen frm grasiers. They sound a parley for a cessation, and make a fair of their horses near the castle, and sell them to Sir Henry Cholmley’s troopers and in the cessation they drink to one another. …..They have and do take much salt, corn, beasts and horses from the country; they prepare for a better siege; ‘or this day Lieut.-General Cromwell is expected to come with forces to block them up…’ The tenet of this letter reflects very much feelings amongst many Parliamentarians that Colonel Cholmley was conducting the siege inadequately albeit his militia forces were mostly raw and untrained, with the castle’s major besieging forces having been re-assigned to assist Cromwell and Lambert in Lancashire.
29/10/1648Thomas Rainsborough On 29th October 1648, Parliamentarian Vice Admiral Thomas Rainsborough died. In October 1648, Rainsborough was sent by his commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax, to the siege at Pontefract Castle. Whilst he was in nearby Doncaster, he was killed by four Royalists during a bungled kidnap attempt. Some historians dispute this, favouring  Cromwellian complicity in his death as, at the time, Rainsborough was at odds with certain sections of Parliament. The site is still marked today by a plaque outside of the House of Fraser. A quote by Rainsborough, which is an excerpt from the Putney Debates of autumn 1647, is in St Mary's Church in Putney  The full quote arguing for universal suffrage states: 'I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.' Rainsborough was a Leveller, which was a political movement campaigning for people's equal rights.
1/11/1648John GrantParliamentarian John Grant was in charge of the artillery at Pontefract Castle. He was described as an 'expert siege gunner', who was in charge of a 'great iron gunne' at the battle of Chequerfield in March 1645. When the castle and the artillery were seized by Colonel Morris, Grant was imprisoned in the dungeon and could have been there for months. Grant's wife was allowed in twice to see him in November 1648.
3/11/1648On 3rd November 1648, Oliver Cromwell came back to Pontefract (where he had been around the 10th of August) during its third siege, fresh from his victory at Preston (17th-19th August) over Royalist and Scots’ forces commanded by the Duke of Hamilton. His main aim was to prevent any more sallies from the garrison by Royalist forces. He spent about two weeks there before being called south on matters concerning the king’s trial.
4/11/1648Byram HallOn 4th November 1648, during the third siege of Pontefract Castle, Cromwell took up headquarters at Byram Hall at Brotherton. (The hall is now mostly demolished apart from a service wing which is grade II listed)
7/11/1648On 7th November 1648, a Council of War at Pontefract Castle determined: 7th die Novembr’ 1648 By Col: Marris Governor & Presidt., Jo: Dygby Kt., Hugh Cartwright Kt., Col: Washington, Mr Roger Portington, Col: Wheatley, Col: Portington, Lt. Co. : Ashton, Mr Thimelby, Mr Bently, Mr Rearesbie, Capt. Wm Paulden, Capt. Benson, Capt. Wentworth, Capt. Ashbie, Capt. Marris. It was debated whether the Garrison of Newhall bee tenible, or noe, being putt to Vote it was carried in the negative, and it was further Ordered that it bee sett on fire, and made vnserviceable for the enimie and that this night followeing Mr Thimelby stay in the house wth sixteene or twenty souldjers : that Col: Wheatley draw forth the rest to Monke-hill ; and if there bee any app’ache of the enemie that they draw off to this Garrison. THE RULES FOR THE GARRISON. First. That ye Governor wth all other ye Ofiicers, Soldiers. Gentlemen & there servants and all others wthin this Castle haue passes wth free liberty to march away wth there horses pistolls & swords wth Bagg & Baggage to there severall habitations, there to remaine wth protections & freed from all Oaths & Covenants which they shall conceave contrary to their Consciences. 2 That the Governor, Officers, Soldiers, Gentlemen or any others belonging to this Castle shall not bee sued or molested either att ye Common law, Civill or Marti all Law for any Acts or words said or donne vnto any person or persons in relation to these vnhappy differences since the year 1641. 3 That ye Governor, Officers, Soldiers, Gentlemen or others beelonging to this Castle shall not bee sequestred in there lands or goods, and yt if any of them bee sequestred yt ye sequestration bee taken of imiately vpon ye Surrender of this Castle. 4 That ye Governor, Officers, Soldiers, Gentlemen or any others beelonging to this Castle vpon any of there desiers shall haue liberty wth passes to goe beyond the seas, and to take wth them, if yt please, there wifes & children and there owne goods anytime wthin six monethes after the rendeldo' of this Castle. 5 That all Officers & Soldiers beelonging to this Castle vpon the delivering vp of there armes shall receave a moneths pay to beare there charges home or els to haue free quarter by ye way, and yt noe foote bee compelled to march aboue 8 miles in one day in his iorney. 6 That all wounded or sick person who are not able to march, haue quarters assigned to them, wth allowance for maintenance of free quarter vntil they shalbee able to march and then to have passes wth mony of free quarter in there iorney as in the former Article. 7 That ye Governor's wife wth his children & family, wth all other gent'women, women, children & weak person haue passes to goe to there severall habitations wth there Baggs & Bayggage the day beefore the rendition of the Castle and yt they haue a convoy appointed y'em to secure there passage home. 8 That all prisoners on Pomphrett or els wheare taken since this seege for any thing in relation to this garrison shalbe sett att liberty vpon the rendition thereof and haue the benifitt of these articles. 9 That vpon Complaint made to a major General Lambert hee is to take order that restituition & satisfaction bee made to any person damnified or prediudiced contrary to ye true intent & meang of these Articles. And if ye breach of any Article bee laid vpon the person or persons offending and not imputed to there whole party. 10 That every Townsman of Pontefract or other Gent: or Contriman may haue leave the day before the rendition of ye Castle, to come to, receave there bedding or any other there goods in ye Castle and yt yy may take the same away. 12 That hereupon the Castle of Pomphrett wth all ye Cannon, Armes, Ammunitions together wth all other ye provisions bee delivered to Maior Generall Lambert or to such as ye Parlament or hee shall appoint att or vpon the feast of St John Baptist comonly called Midsomener day next, if in ye meane time wee bee not released by an Army.  
9/11/1648On 9th November 1648, Oliver Cromwell sent a summons to Colonel John Morris, leader of the besieged Royalist forces within Pontefract Castle, to surrender or see the castle stormed: “Being come hither for the reduction of this place, I thought fit to summon you to deliver your garrison to me, for the use of the Parliament. Those gentlemen and soldiers with you may have better terms than if you should hold it to extremity. I expect your answer this day”.
10/11/1649On 10th November 1649, Lieutenant-General Thomas Fairfax, Commander-in-Chief of the New Model Army during the English Civil War, appealed to the Committee of the West Riding of York on behalf of a Mr Stringer for losses occasioned by the ‘Forces’ in the third siege of Pontefract Castle.
11/11/1633On 11th November 1633, George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax, was born in Thornhill, West Riding of Yorkshire. His father, Sir William Savile, 3rd Baronet of Thornhill, had distinguished himself for the Royalists in the Civil War, but was killed in action near York. George Savile was elected as MP for Pontefract in 1660 in the Convention Parliament and in the same year made Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Yorkshire and Colonel of a foot regiment in the Yorkshire Militia.
11/11/1648On 11th November 1648, during the third siege of Pontefract Castle, Oliver Cromwell wrote a letter to Colonel Morris asking permission for a Mrs Gray to enter the castle to visit her sick brother: 'Sir - the bearer Mrs Gray is desirous to goe into ye castle to see a brother of hers who lyes sick in ye castle; I desire you would give her your pass to returne within a limited time, I rest, Sr. yr. very humble servt.. O. Cromwell'.
15/11/1648On 15th November 1648, during the third siege of Pontefract Castle, Oliver Cromwell wrote to the House of Commons describing the detailed situation at Pontefract. ‘For the Right Honourable the Committee of Lords and Commons sitting at Derby House Knottingley, near Pontefract So soon as I came into these parts, I met with an earnest desire ……to take upon me the charge here, for the reducing of the Garrison of Pontefract……things are so represented, as if the Siege were at such a pass that the prize were already gained….I thought fit to let you know what the true state of this Garrison is; as also the condition of the country….. My Lords, the Castle hath been victualled with Two-hundred and twenty or forty fat cattle, within these three weeks; and they have also gotten in…..salt enough for them and more. So that I apprehended they are victualled for a twelvemonth. The men within are resolved to endure to the utmost extremity; expecting no mercy, as indeed they deserve none. The place is very well known to be one of the strongest inland Garrisons in the Kingdom; well watered; situated upon a rock in every part of it, and therefore difficult to mine. The walls very thick and high, with strong towers; and if battered, very difficult of access……The County is exceedingly impoverished…..nor well able to furnish provisions….my duty to represent unto you…. That moneys be provided for Three complete regiments of Foot and Two of Horse……..Five-hundred Barrels of powder…Six good Battering-guns, with Three-hundred shot to each Gun, be speedily sent down to Hull…We desire also some match and bullet….and two or three of the biggest Mortar-pieces with shells. …this place hath cost the Kingdom some hundred-thousands of pounds already…….And indeed I would not satisfy myself nor my duty to you and them, To put the poor men, at this season of the year, to lie in the field: before we be furnished with shoes, stockings and clothes, for them to cover their nakedness…’ On 18th November 1648, an order of the House, in reply to Cromwell’s 15th November request for money, materiel and provisions to continue the siege of Pontefract Castle, gave not ‘Five-hundred Barrels of powder’ but ‘Two-hundred and fifty’. The lack of provisions for the Parliamentary besiegers was one reason for the castle holding out for another four months!
16/11/1633On 16th November 1633, there was the earliest record of a performance, at court, of Shakespeare’s Richard III during the reign of Charles I. The play had been written sometime between 1591-93 and had received regular performances by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men into the 1600s. The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers’ Company on 20th October 1597. Earl Rivers’ makes a memorable reference to Pontefract’s historic role in his impending execution and in English history in Act III, Scene III: “O Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison, Fatal and ominous to noble peers! Within the guilty closure of thy walls Richard the second here was hack’d to death; And, for more slander to thy dismal seat, We give thee up our guiltless blood to drink.”
20/11/1648On 20th November 1648, Oliver Cromwell wrote from his Knottingley quarters to Robert Jenner and John Ashe: ‘GENTLEMEN, - I received an order from the Governor of Nottingham, directed to him from you, To bring up Colonel Owen, or take bail for his coming up to make his composition, he having made an humble Petition to the Parliament for the same. If I be not mistaken, The House of Commons did vote all those to be Traitors that did adhere to, or bring in, the Scots in their late Invading of this Kingdom under Duke Hamilton. …this being a more prodigious Treason than those that had been perfected before; because the former quarrel was that Englishmen might rule over one another; this to vassalize us to a foreign Nation………….But now, when you have such men in your hands, and it will cost you nothing to do justice; now after all this trouble and the hazard of a Second War,- for a little more money, all offences shall be pardoned!....’
25/11/1648On 25th November 1648, , Oliver Cromwell wrote from his Knottingley quarters to Thomas St Nicholas in London: ‘ I suppose it’s not unknown to you how much the Country is in arrear to the Garrison of Hull: - as likewise how probable it is that the Garrison will break, unless some speedy course be taken to get them money; the soldiers at the present being ready to mutiny, as not having money to buy them bread; and without money the suborn Townspeople will not trust them for the worth of a penny……’
30/11/1646On 30th November 1646, a letter was read out in the Commons related to an attempt alleged to have been made to ‘surprise’ Pontefract Castle during its second siege. The persons concerned in this venture were named as ‘ the Lady Savile, Phillip Ann, Esquire, Mr Michael Ann, Lieutenant-Colonel Morris and Mr Samuelle Savile’. An order was made on 12th January 1647 ‘That those that are sent up as having an hand in betraying Pontefract Castle be referred to the examination of the Council of the Northern Association’ but on 21st January Lieutenant-Colonel Marries (as he was called during the proceedings) was able to convince the House that he was innocent and was discharged, paying no fees.
30/11/1648In late November 1648, Oliver Cromwell reported to Parliament on the status and defensive capabilities of Pontefract Castle: “My Lords and Gentlemen I have had sight of a letter to the House of Commons wherein things are so represented, as if the siege were at such a pass that the prize were already gained….I thought fit to let you know, what the true state of this garrison is, … My lords, the Castle has been victualled with 220 or 240 fat cattle, within these three weeks; and they have also gotten in, as I am credibly informed, salt enough for them and more. So that I apprehend they are victualled for a twelvemonth. The men within are resolved to endure to the utmost extremity; expecting no mercy, as indeed they deserve none. The place is very well known to be one of the strongest inland garrisons in the kingdom; well watered; situated upon a rock in every part of it; and, therefore difficult to mine. The walls are very thick and high, with strong towers; and, if battered, very difficult of access, by reason of the depth and steepness of the graft.” Cromwell quickly ordered that monies be made available for three full regiments of foot and two of horse and that 500 barrels of gunpowder and six ‘good battering guns’ be speedily sent by sea to Hull, which must all be at least ‘demi-cannons’. Also, that ‘match and bullet’ and three of the biggest mortar pieces be supplied.. Finally, Cromwell asked that the Parliamentary forces at Pontefract be provided with shoes, stockings and clothes, for them to cover their nakedness… and remarked that anyone under-estimating the castle’s importance and significance should bear in mind that “ place hath cost the kingdom some £100,000 (£10.4m in today’s money) already, and for all I know it may cost you more, it be trifled with”
2/12/1644On 2nd December 1644, Parliamentarian Lord Fairfax wrote that although he was being urged to put pressure on Newark, all his resources were being deployed to contain the garrisons of Pontefract and Knaresborough. It is noteworthy that four days later, the (Parliamentary) Committee of Both Kingdoms recommended the foundation of an army of 22,000 men under a central commander, comprising eleven regiments of horse, each 600 strong, one regiment of dragoons, 1,000 strong and twelve regiments of foot 1,200 strong. This was to be the New Model Army.
4/12/1648Major John LambertOn 4th December 1648, Major General Lambert was appointed to the chief command of the besieging Parliamentary forces (at Pontefract Castle), which numbered about 5,000 men.
7/12/1628On 7th December 1628, Sir Patience Warde, later to be MP for Pontefract in 1678 and 1680, was baptized at Pontefract. Warde was Lord Mayor of London in 1681 and his portrait is in the Hall of The Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, London, one of the 110 livery companies of the City of London.
7/12/1642On 7th December 1642, the Marquess of Newcastle, having routed a Parliamentary force under Lord Fairfax at Tadcaster, occupied Pontefract.
8/12/1658On 8th December 1658, Nathan Drake, diarist of the sieges of Pontefract Castle during the Civil War, died at Pontefract and was buried in the parish church the following day.
14/12/1648On 14th December 1648, lines of encirclement were drawn around the castle by the Parliamentary forces and were around 3,300 yards in length. These consisted of two earthen ramparts and a ditch, and there were also 14 redoubts with guards commanding every approach to the castle.
15/12/1642In December 1642, after Charles I had raised the royal standard at Nottingham on 22nd August that year, effectively starting the English Civil War, Colonel Sir Richard Lowther, a former MP from Ingleton in North Yorkshire, seized Pontefract Castle for the Royalists. This followed Royalist general’s, Marquess of Newcastle, driving out of Parliamentary forces from Tadcaster, less than twenty miles away. Pontefract was a strategic location from which to control the surrounding countryside and Lowther sallied forth during the early stages of the war to attack Leeds and Bradford.
20/12/1648The third siege of Pontefract Castle progressed slowly but, on 20th December 1648, £2,000 (£351,000 in today's money) was ordered to be raised 'for the relief of the forces of Pontefract and Scarborough'. On January 2nd 1649, £2,500 (£449,000 in today's money) was especially ordered to be levied 'upon the county of Lincoln, for the relief of the forces before Pontefract'.
21/12/1648On 21st December 1648, an Order by the Committees of the Ridings recorded on behalf of Parliament: ‘Petition of Captain Francis Wilsford and eight others serving under him to the gentlemen of the Committees of the several ridings of co. York. That petitioners have been in this service before Pontefract (Castle) ever since 24 June last, and are now disbanded. Pray that they may receive a fortnight’s pay according to the last establishment, and that they will accept the same in full for their whole pay since this service.’
25/12/1644On 25th December 1644, the first siege of Pontefract Castle began. Nathan Drake, a diarist and gentleman volunteer, wrote: 'Uppon Christmas Day 25th December 1644, Pontefract Castle was besieged and the towne taken that day by the beseegers, and the beseeged played 3 cannon against them.' The Royalist garrison consisted of the remains of 23 reduced/broken regiments. Its governor, Colonel Sir Richard Lowther had the services of seven colonels including four known Yorkshiremen: Sir George Wentworth of Woolley, Sir Richard Hutton of Goldsborough, Sir John Ramsden of Byram Park and Sir Henry Vaughan of Whitwell.
28/12/1644On 28th December 1644, All Saints Church, located in a strategic position next to Pontefract Castle, was taken by Parliamentary forces but its Royalist defenders climbed up into the steeple and escaped back into the castle the following day by way of the belfry rope. One of the escapees was killed whilst crossing the churchyard with their leader, Captain Walker, sustaining a wound to the thigh albeit he recovered.
28/12/1645Pontefract All Saints ChurchOn 28th December 1645, the Parliamentarians stormed and took the nearby Church of All Saints, which had been incorporated into  Pontefract Castle's defences. Eleven men and boys from the garrison were inside and escaped into the bell tower but were trapped for five days. Eventually, they cut the bell ropes, crept along the church roof at night, scrambled down the wall and escaped back to the castle, but the Parliamentarians spotted them, shooting one Royalist dead and wounding another.