Captain Francis Hammond of St. Alban’s Court: The Thirty Years War & The Bishops Wars
Francis and Robert Hammond were members of Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition to Guyana [Guiana], now a part of Venezuela, that left England in June of 1617 in search of El Dorado, the fabled South American city of gold. The expedition was a complete failure and Raleigh was arrested on his return to England in mid-1618 and executed at the Tower of London in October of that year on the orders of King James I for breaching the king’s instruction that Raleigh’s expedition must not be involved in any fighting with the Spanish. At present, nothing is known for certain of either Francis or Robert Hammond’s activities for the six years or so after their return to England in 1618.
However, by 1624 Francis Hammond was serving as a captain in Sir Charles Rich’s Regiment and was destined for service in the Thirty Years War as part of “The Mansfeld Levy”. The Thirty Years War, also referred to as The German Wars, was a series of bloody religious wars between the Catholic southern and Protestant northern states of the Holy Roman Empire beginning in 1618 and ending with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Initially the fighting was within the bounds of the Holy Roman Empire but it eventually became a European wide conflict with Sweden, England and France supporting the Protestant cause against the central European Hapsburg Empire and Spain, also ruled by a branch of the Hapsburg family. The Hapsburg Emperor was also the Holy Roman Emperor, an elected post the family had held since 1438. Catholic France was ruled by King Louis XIII, but from 1624 onwards was controlled successively by Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin who supported the Protestant cause and so France fought against the Hapsburg Empire and Spain in an effort to protect France and her European interests. France was bordered to the north by the Spanish Netherlands and had long been supporting the Dutch Republic in its long fight against Spain. These thirty years of religious wars resulted in the deaths of millions of people from disease and famine and laid waste to entire regions of continental Europe.
Peter Ernst, Graf von Mansfeld, was a mercenary leader who, although a Roman Catholic, fought for the Protestant princes from very early on in the Thirty Years War and was one of the Protestant alliances foremost commanders. In 1624 he visited England to petition King James I for men and money to continue the fight against the then dominant Catholic forces in Europe. James I was the father-in-law of Frederick V, the Elector Palatine and head of the Protestant Union, who had recently lost his lands to the Spanish and James I happily furnish Mansfeld with men and money for the recovery of the Palatinate. However, raising the men took some time and it was not until January of 1625 that Mansfeld and his army of “raw and poor rascals” known as “The Mansfeld Levy”, sailed from Dover to the Netherlands to relieve the siege of the town of Breda, an endeavour in which they failed. Breda was taken by the Spanish , who also had some English soldiers in their besieging army, in June of 1625 and the town remained in their possession until its recapture by the Dutch in July of 1637. Mansfeld’s forces managed to briefly retake part of the Elector Palatine lost lands but on 23rd February, 1623, Ferdinand II, the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor awarded Frederick’s electoral title to Maximilian of Bavaria, who then became Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria along with the Upper Palatinate. The remainder of the Frederick’s lands were awarded to Wolfgang William, Count Palatine of Neuburg.
The Protestant campaign was renewed in 1625 under the leadership of Christian IV of Denmark, but on 25 April 1626 Mansfeld’s army, which included Sir Charles Rich’s regiment, was heavily defeated at Dessau by Catholic forces commanded by General Albrecht von Wallenstein.
After this overwhelming defeat Captain Francis Hammond and possibly some other surviving soldiers of Rich’s regiment joined Christian IV’s army where Captain Hammond appears to have served in the Bergenhus Regiment after its formation in 1628 rather than with the main English contingent under Sir Charles Morgan. The Bergenhaus Regiment was nominally recruited in Norway, then ruled by Denmark, but most of its soldiers were non-Norwegian mercenaries.
Denmark’s engagement in the Thirty Years War ended with the Treaty of Lubeck signed at Lübeck on 22nd May, 1629, by General von Wallenstein and Christian IV of Denmark. After the treaty Captain Francis Hammond returned to Denmark to seek the back pay owed to him and some of his fellow officers who had served with him in the Danish Army asked if he could also recover the back pay owed to them.
After his service in the Danish army Captain Hammond is believed to have served from early 1630 as captain of a company in the army of James, Marquis of Hamilton, which had been raised in England and Scotland to support of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolfus in his campaign in Germany. Francis Hammond is thought to have stayed in Swedish service for several years.
In early 1635 he joined Colonel Thomas Culpepper’s 1st Regiment, one of the regiments forming the Anglo-Dutch Brigade which was an infantry brigade of the Dutch States Army first formed in 1586 comprising of recruits from Scotland and England. It was also known as The Scots Brigade or The Anglo-Scots Brigade.
Francis Hammond was permitted to recruit for his company in Kent, Surrey, Berkshire, Norfolk and Oxfordshire, so it’s very likely that men from Nonington and surrounding parishes were recruited by Captain Hammond and saw service alongside him in the Thirty Years War. Some of these local veterans may have later re-joined with Francis and Robert Hammond during their English Civil War campaigning in support of King Charles I, or even served with the opposing Parliamentarian Puritan forces supported by the Hammond family’s direct neighbours, Sir Edward Boys and Major John Boys of Fredville Park in Nonington.
In July of 1637 Captain Francis Hammond and his company were at the Siege of Breda as part of Colonel George Goring’s Regiment. Breda was a strategic town that had been captured by the Spanish in June of 1625 despite the efforts of the Mansfeld Levy, in which Francis Hammond then served, to break the Spanish siege. George Goring was the eldest son of a Sussex gentleman who later became the first Earl of Norwich. In 1629, the younger Goring married Lettice, daughter of Richard Boyle, the very wealthy Earl of Cork. The marriage brought a dowry of £10,000 which the newly-wed promptly spent on gambling & debauchery. In 1633 the Earl of Cork bought his dissolute son-in-law a colonelcy in the English forces serving the Prince of Orange in the never ending war of independence by the Dutch against the Spanish which had drawn the Dutch into the more widespread Thirty Years War.
The now Colonel Goring proved to be a brave and capable soldier and a popular commander and Francis Hammond would have no doubt been happy to serve under him. During the siege of Breda in 1637 George Goring’s ankle was shattered by a musket ball, a wound that caused him pain and ill-health for the rest of his life. Colonel Goring left the Dutch service in 1639 and returned to England, where he was appointed Governor of Portsmouth.
Francis Hammond must have left Colonel Culpepper’s regiment at some time in the late 1630’s as by early 1640 the now Colonel Francis Hammond served under the command of the Earl of Northumberland in the Second Bishops War against Scotland of 1640.
An inscription in the top right hand corner of Francis Hammond’s portrait in the old Beaney Institute on Canterbury High Street, now The Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Institute, records that during his service in “The German Wars” Francis Hammond reputedly fought fourteen single-handed combats.
The First and Second Bishops Wars, a family adventure.
The Bishops Wars were two conflicts between England and Scotland in 1639 and 1640 caused by fierce Scottish reaction against King Charles I’s attempt to reform the Scottish church. After the implementation of the Scottish National Covenant against the King’s reforms in 1638, the Covenanters became the dominant political and religious force in Scotland. Charles I was determined to assert his authority and in order to do this planned an ambitious military campaign against the Covenanters.
The First Bishops War came to a rapid conclusion because when the English army finally mustered on the Scottish border in mid-1639 was proved to be untrained, ill-equipped, and clearly no match for the opposing Scottish Covenanter forces. The English army’s serious shortcomings persuaded the King to agree to negotiate a truce and the First Bishops War ended in an inconclusive treaty known as the Pacification of Berwick.
In the Second Bishop’s War of April to September of 1640 the English army was to be under the command of the 10th Earl of Northumberland with the rank of Captain General, but due to ill health the Earl remained on his estates in Northumberland and in his absence the army was commanded on the field by “The Right Honourable Edward, Lord Viscount Conway, Captain General of the Horse” [Sir Edward Conway, 2nd Viscount Conway], who, as his title states, was originally just to be the cavalry commander under the Earl of Northumberland as Captain General. The now Colonel Hammond’s old commanding officer from his service with the Dutch, George Goring had been given command of a regiment of foot in the First Bishops War and was given command of a brigade in the Second Bishops War.
Colonel Francis Hammond was commissioned to raise his own troop or regiment of horse. Contemporary records list his having recruited some 200 men from Sussex, 700 from Kent, 300 from the Cinque Ports, 100 from Bedfordshire, and 100 from Buckinghamshire. Once again, some of Colonel Hammond’s men would most likely have been East Kent militiamen drawn from Nonington and surrounding parishes. Two of Francis’s close family were on the troop’s strength, his younger brother Robert served as the troop’s lieutenant colonel and his nephew Edward Hammond held the rank of captain. Colonel Hammond’s troop of horse were designated XXI of the thirty-five troops of horse under the command of Lord Conway.
The English troops destined for service against the Scots were in the main drawn from militias in Southern England and were poorly equipped, unpaid and without any enthusiasm for fighting. A lack of supplies for the English forces on the march north led to looting by English soldiers resulting in widespread disorder and a breakdown of discipline to the extent that at least two officers suspected of being Catholics were murdered by their own men who then deserted.
There was only one real significant action during the short lived Second Bishops War of 1640 and that was the Battle of Newburn, also known as Battle of Newburn Ford. This engagement took place on 28th August at Newburn, a village situated at a ford over the River Tyne just outside of Newcastle
General Alexander Leslie and the Scots army had circumvented the English border defences and marched the main Covenanter army into England to advance on Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Leslie’s army of some 20,000 men engaged Viscount Conway’s force of 5,000 or so in order to ford the River Tyne at Newburn and defeated them fairly easily due to superior numbers and tactics with the result that the English abandoned Newcastle to the Covenanters and fell back to Durham, and then to York. The port of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was of great economic importance as at that time it provided the bulk of London’s coal supplies.
Colonel Hammond’s troop would have almost certainly been present at, and probably took part in, the Battle of Newburn Ford but there is at present no known record of their part in the engagement. However, there is a record of the muster at York after the defeated army’s retreat there in which “Francis Hamond, Colonel, Robert Hamond, Lieutenant Col.,” and Captain “Edward Hamond” are recorded as being present and in apparent good health.
Colonel Francis Hammond was awarded payment of £1,246.00 for his service in the Second Bishops War, presumably to help defray the cost of his having raised a troop for service in the war. Soon after the ignominious conclusion of the Second Bishops War the ongoing disputes between King Charles I and Parliament became an armed conflict where both Francis and Robert Hammond fought for the Royalist cause.