Colonels Francis and Robert Hammond-updated biographies

The 1555 purchase by John Hammond began an ownership of the St. Alban’s estate by the Hammond family which continued until the late 1930’s, during which time the family continued to acquire additional land and property in Nonington and in neighbouring parishes.  By the time the St. Alban’s Court estate was sold off in 1938 it amounted to just over 1,000 acres in Nonington and Chillenden parishes.

John Hammond was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward, and he in turn by his eldest son, William, who was knighted by King James I in 1608, the same year as his eldest son, Anthony, was born. When Sir William Hammond died in October of 1615 Anthony Hammond was a minor and the family property and land was held in wardship until 1633 when Anthony came into possession in his own right.

Colonel Francis Hammond. The portrait hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery.

Two of Sir William’s younger brothers had become adventurers and notable soldiers. Francis, born in 1584 and Robert, born in 1587,  both joined Sir Walter Raleigh, who held them both in high regard, in his second South American expedition to search for the fabled city of Eldorado which Raleigh believed to be in Guyana. However, the quest failed and, whilst Raleigh was suffering from fever, men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost which outraged the Spanish authorities. Consequently Raleigh was arrested on his return to England and was beheaded in 1618 to appease the Spanish. The brother do not appear to have suffered any punishment for taking part in the expedition but at least one of them may have thought it wise to enter military service on the Continent.

 Francis served in the “German Wars”, the bloody Thirty Years War of 1618-48 fought in central Europe largely between the Catholic southern and Protestant northern states of the Holy Roman Empire which eventually encompassed most of the states of Europe and caused the deaths of millions of people and laid waste to entire regions. During his service, presumably on the Protestant side and possibly with renowned cavalry commander Prince Rupert of the Rhine later commanded the Royalist cavalry for his uncle King Charles I during the English Civil War. During his German service Francis Hammond reputedly fought fourteen single-handed combats.

Colonel Francis Hammond was obviously a fearless man who enjoyed fighting and although well advanced in years, he was in his late fifties, took part in the English Civil War. During the early part of the Civil War Francis fought for the King and commanded a regiment under the command of the Earl of Northumberland in the Scottish Expedition of 1640 and later led the Forlorn Hope at the Battle of Edgehill in Warwickshire on Sunday, 23rd October, 1642. The Forlorn Hope were the first troops to attack an enemy position and subsequently had only a slight chance of surviving an action. Francis also joined his brother and nephew in the East Kent Royalist’s rebellion of 1647-48. He survived the Civil War and was said to have ended his days quietly living the life of a country gentleman at Nonington and adding to the buildings there.


Colonel Robert Hammond. The portrait hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery.
Colonel Robert Hammond. The portrait by Cornelius Jansen hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery. The painted inscription in the top left corner reads:”Col Robt. Hammond-nat 1587. Raised regt. 1000 men in the Kentish Insurectn. in favour of K Ch 1st-Slain by Cromwell. Corn. Jansen”

Robert Hammond, Francis’s younger brother, was christened 23rd June, 1587, at St. Mary’s Church, Nonington.  What he did after his return from Raleigh’s failed expedition until 1648 is unknown, there is no evidence so far come to light of his having served in the Thirty Years War.

Robert took part of the 1648 Kentish revolt, which had its origins in part in the Canterbury riots of Christmas Day,1647, caused when the Puritan Mayor and officials of Canterbury tried to forbid traditional Christmas celebrations. The people of Kent had petitioned Parliament in May of 1648 and when their petition was rejected they rose up in revolt in support of the King and the Royalist Commissioners for Kent commissioned Robert to raise a Royalist force. Colonel Robert Hammond raised a body of foot soldiers  and assembled on Barham Downs with 300 well equipped and turned out foot soldiers , also present was Colonel Robert Hatton with 60 horse troopers. After some initial success campaigning in the East Kent area against the Parliaments supporters Colonel Hammond’s forces increased to around 1,000 men and he further campaigned throughout Kent and beyond in the Royalist cause.

The small coastal defence castles Sandown, Deal, and Walmer, originally built by Henry VIII as defence against French invasion, at were quickly captured by the East Kent rebels and some ships belonging to the English fleet lying in the Downs off the coast of Deal and Walmer also joined the rebellion.  Anthony Hammond of St. Alban’s Court in Nonington, Colonel Robert Hammond’s nephew and a magistrate, and Captain Bargrave went to Deal to negotiate with the fleet.

Dover Castle remained in the hands of the Parliamentarians and to remedy this situation Sir Richard Hardres of Hardres Court near Canterbury, one of the rebellion’s leaders, gathered some 2,000 men and went to lay siege to castle. The East Kent Royalists quickly seized the castle’s Mote Bulwark where they found stores of ammunition which they used to bombard the castle. One of the Hammond brothers, possibly Francis as Robert was in charge of 300 foot soldiers, was said to have commanded the artillery that fired 500 cannon balls at Dover Castle which, despite this bombardment, withstood the siege.

Parliament sent troops of the New Model Army under the command of Lord Rich and Colonel Birkhamstead to recapture Sandown, Deal and Walmer castles, and raise the siege at Dover.  Colonel Birhamstead’s troops relieved Dover Castle on the 30th May whilst Lord Rich retook the three smaller ones.

Dover Castle then remained in Parliamentary hands until the Restoration of the Monarchy in May,1660, when, ironically, Charles II landed at Dover en route from the Continent to London to reclaim the Crown.

Later that year Colonel Robert Hammond took part in the defence of Colchester which was besieged by Parliamentarian forces from July, 1648, until the defeat of Royalist forces at the Battle of Preston (17th-19th August, 1648) meant there was no hope of relief for the besieged garrison and they accordingly laid down their arms on the morning of 28th August, 1648. The terms of surrender stated that “the Lords and Gentlemen (the officers) were all prisoners of mercy”, and that the common soldiers were to be disarmed and given passes to allow them to return home after first swearing an oath not to take up arms against Parliament again. The people of Colchester paid £.14,000 in cash to protect the town from being pillaged by the victorious Parliamentarian forces. Within a year or so Robert broke any parole given to obtain his release as a “prisoner of mercy”  when he took up duties as the Royalist governor of the castle at Gowran in Co. Kilkenny in Ireland. Cromwell began a campaign in Ireland against Royalist forces in the autumn of 1649 and on 19th March, 1650, Gowran was surrounded by Cromwell’s troops. Robert Hammond refused Cromwell’s generous terms of surrender which forced Cromwell to deploy his artillery and begin a siege. When the castle walls were breached on 21st March, 1650, Colonel Hammond asked for a treaty, which Cromwell refused to give the Colonel. However, Cromwell did offer the ordinary soldiers quarter for their lives which they promptly accepted and the officers were subsequently handed over to the Parliamentary forces. Cromwell ordered the summary execution by firing squad of all but one of the officers, this one exception was a priest captured in the castle who had been chaplain to the Roman Catholic members of the garrison-and he was hanged!

Colonel Robert Hammond of St. Alban’s Court should not be confused with his name sake Colonel Robert Hammond (1621– 24 October 1654), best known for acting as Charles I gaoler at Carisbrooke Castle from 13 November 1647 to 29 November 1648, for which service Parliament voted him a pension. He served an officer in Cromwell’s New Model Army during the early part of the Civil War  and sat in the House of Commons in 1654.


  • Sam Hammond

    This has been one of the coolest discoveries my family has made. We began tracing back our ancestory a few days ago and have found a direct connection to this Hammond lineage. Learning of our family history has been very eye opening.

  • admin

    Anthony Hammond of St. Alban’s Court was the son of Sir William Hammond, the brother of Col. Francis Hammond and therefore his nephew. Anthony Hammond inherited the St. Alban’s estates and other property on his majority in 1633, Sir William Hammond had died in 1615 when Anthony was very young. His descendants owned St. Alban’s Court until the widow of Captain Egerton Hammond sold the estate in 1938. Egerton Hammond’s only legitimate son and heir, Douglas, died in action in 1915 aged 18. Annis (Anne) Juxon was buried at Nonington on 25th October, 1664
    [Recorded in the Nonington parish register as:- 1664 25-Oct Annis? Juxon The Lady, wife of Sir George Juxon & formerly Ms. Annis Hammond, wife of Anthony Hammond Esq of St Alban- ]

  • Carol Reinhart

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate your looking to see what you have and appreciate your info on Frances after the war. Best, Carol

  • Elizabeth Ann Smith

    Thank you for sharing.. Anne Digges/Hammond/Juxon was my Gran. Anthony Hammond was Francis’s brother. I wonder about her life in those times and what became of her 12 children. The branch that was there until 1930 I dont think are from AnthonyHammond. I am looking for Annes burial site it is supposed to be in Nonnigton. Maybe her children went to the Americas. Her brother Edward Digges was a gov in Virginia

  • Carol Reinhart

    A correction to my previous post. The social encounter was feb. 1649/50.

  • admin

    Thanks for your interest. All the records I have seen say that Francis Hammond retired to St. Alban’s Court, one source says that he became a Roman Catholic, which would have been after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. I do not know if he was married or not. He is also mentioned in a St. Alban’s estate record of November 1649, which is after the date of Manwarring Hammond’s landing in Virginia. There is no close connection between the St. Alban’s Hammonds and Manwarring Hammond. Hammond’s are found in various parts of England, especially East Anglia, and Francis was a common name at this time.
    I may have some further info of Hammond’s in the New World. I’ll have a look and give you what I have.

  • Carol Reinhart

    I enjoyed your article! I am wondering about Frances’s life after the war. The article states that it “was said” Frances spent the remainder of his life quietly in Nonington. Is there any proof of this? Is it possible that he went to America?

    In Mar of 1649 Manwarring Hammond, esq., arrived in Virginia bringing 63 persons with him. He received a headright grant of land for this transport on March 15, 1649. The usual practice was to name all 63 persons in the grant. Only Manwarring’s name appears. In 1654, a grant of land was issued to Manwarring and his brother Frances Hammond. Frances dies after 1654 and before 1660. In 1660, Manwaring applies to have title to the land in his name only, his brother having died. The general belief is that the 63 persons transported by Manwarring were fugitive Cavaliers. This belief stems in part from an account of a Feb 1649 social encounter written about by Col. Henry Norwood some time later. Shortly after he arrived in America, as he was making his way to Virginia, he “learned that Captain Wormley (of his Majesties’ Council) had guests at his house (not a furlong distant from Mr. Ludlow’s) feasting and carousing that were lately come from England, and most of them were my intimate acquaintance. I then took leave of Mr. Ludlow and thrust myself among Captain Wormley’s guests and had a kind reception from them all. Sir Thomas Lundsford, Sir Henry Chickley, Sir Phillip Honeywood, and Colonel Hammond were the persons I met there.”

    Is it possible that the “Colonel Hammond” mentioned by Norwood is actually Col. Frances Hammond in your above article? In addition, is there any record that Frances had brothers besides William and Robert? Any indication that Frances was married and had issue?

    I would be so interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

  • admin

    I think the 1647-8 Kent Rebellion was more important and more complex than appears at first sight. I’ve looked at your site and I look forward to getting hold of a copy of “For The King”. I’m “well in” to historical fiction especially any concerning East Kent so I also look forward to the novel about the Kent Rebellion. I’m be only to pleased to assist in any way, so please contact me via [email protected] if you think I may be able to assist. In the meantime, I’ll forward any more info I find to you.

  • Evelyn Tidman

    Thank you so very much about confirming 1648 as the date of the siege, as I thought I was on the wrong track! And the article in the Gentleman’s Magazine is priceless, and gives me extra names of some of those involved in the Kentish uprising. My work in progress follows the adventures of Roger L’Estrange and his involvement in the Kent uprising, and is a follow on from my first novel about him For The King, which I have just released. I have to say, when I first thought of this project, I did not realise just how involved the Kentish Revolt was, a much larger subject than I first anticipated! If you are interested, you can see my novels on my website You have been a great help, and I am impressed by the clearer explanation of what happened at Dover. If you do have any more information on the subject I would be so pleased to hear from you and you can contact me through my website.

  • admin

    Many thanks for pointing out my error. I had confused the 1642 taking of the castle by a handful of Dover townsfolk with the 1648 siege during the rebellion. I’ve corrected this error and amended the blog with some new info I’ve found. I’ll update it fully with the new info concerning the rebellion ASAP. It appears in The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1797
    page 1104 onwards.
    I’ll be happy to share any info I have that may be relevant to your work.

  • Evelyn Tidman

    An excellent article. I am a writer of historical fiction and my current project is about the Kentish Revolt of 1648, and since Colonel Robert Hammond figures in it, I was researching to find out more about him when I came across your blog. I’m puzzling over the date of the siege of Dover Castle which you have as 1642. I know Sir Richard Hardress was at another one in Dover in 1648 during the Revolt, or could it be the same one, I wonder? More research on my part necessary, I think. My source so far has been Matthew Carter’s A True Relation of the Siege of Colchester, which also deals with the Kentish Revolt, and in which Colonel Hammond figures prominently.

  • admin

    Thanks for the portrait, I’ll include it on the site. There is a lot of info online for the Hammonds. There is some research being done locally on the pre-St. Alban’s Hammonds, they appear to have moved from being free-holders at Crixhall in Goodnestone parish to to tenants at St. Alban’s Court. There are mentions of Hammonds going back into the 1300′s in the area around Nonington and possibly Sandwich but no definite genealogy has been established. They appear to have been well-to-do farmers and possibly trades-men.

  • Eliazabeth Smith

    Hello, I apprciated your blog about Nonnigton! My ancestors were Anthony Hammond Anne Digges
    I heard AH portrait is at Cantebury Museum I found Annes portrait would love to see them reunited! I wonder about their 12 children and any stories about this Family from Kent that reveals so many intriging connections.

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