This Day in History: 1645-05-24

Pontefract 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.