Nonington: the Kentish Rebellion & the Second English Civil War of 1648

The Kent Rebellion was a precursor to the short lived Second English Civil War of 1648 and  had its origins in part in the Canterbury  Christmas Day riots of 1647 which were triggered when the Puritan Mayor and officials of Canterbury tried to ban traditional Christmas celebrations.

In May of 1648 members of the land-owning gentry and other prominent Kent citizens, amongst whom were Colonel Robert Hammond and Anthony Hammond, his nephew, of St. Alban’s Court in Nonington, and Sir Thomas Peyton of neighbouring Knolton Court,  petitioned Parliament and when Parliament rejected the petition a rebellion was raised in support of the King.

On 23rd May, 1648, a county assembly of leading Kent citizens held at Canterbury commissioned Colonel Robert Hammond to raise of force of foot-soldiers and Colonel Robert Hatton to raise a force of cavalry in support of the King. The two colonels lost no time in carrying out their commissions.  

The following day Colonel Hammond, with 300 well equipped and turned out foot soldiers, and Colonel Hatton, with 60 horse troopers,  met with other Royalist forces on Barham Downs.

Royalist cavalry were mainly raised from the wealthy local aristocracy and gentry.

After some initial success campaigning in the East Kent area against supporters of Parliament Colonel Hammond’s force increased to around 1,000 men and he further campaigned throughout Kent and beyond in the Royalist cause.

Colonel Robert Hammond of St. Alban's Court in Kent. His portrait hangs in the old Beaney Institute, now the Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery.
Colonel Robert Hammond of St. Alban’s Court in Nonington.

A few days later the garrisons of the small coastal defence castles Sandown, Deal, and Walmer, originally built by King Henry VIII to defend the East Kent coast and shipping anchored in the Downs against French invasion, surrendered to the East Kent rebels without a fight and ships of the English fleet lying in the Downs off the coast of Deal and Walmer also joined the rebels.  Anthony Hammond, the nephew of Colonel Robert Hammond and also of St. Alban’s Court in Nonington, and Captain Bargrave went to Deal to negotiate with the fleet and were assisted in their negotiations by Captain John Mennes and Captain Fogg. Captain Mennes, a noted wit and poet with various works published in the 1650’s, was a naval officer who had lost his position in the Navy because of his Royalist sympathies and after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 he became Sir John Mennes, a Vice-Admiral and Controller of the Navy. Sir John’s wife Jane died at Fredville, then the seat of Major John Boys, in 1662 and was buried at Nonington Church where there is a memorial in her memory. This has a certain irony as in 1648 Major John Boys was a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Kent whose actions were at least in part responsible for the rebellion.

Dover Castle from the south-east. A contemporary print by Wencelas Holler
Dover Castle from the south-east. A contemporary print by Wencelas Holler. The Motes Bulwark is at the base of the V shaped feature below the castle’s curtain wall.

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 who had been a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Kent in 1643 but later became a Royalist, 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, was said to have commanded the artillery that fired 500 cannon balls at Dover Castle which despite this bombardment withstood the siege.

Heavy artillery from the Civil War period. Guns similar to this would have been used to besiege Dover and other East Kent castles.

Parliament dispatched troops of the New Model Army under the command of Colonel Nathanial Rich and Colonel Birkhamstead to retake Sandown, Deal and Walmer castles, and raise the siege at Dover.  Colonel Birhamstead’s troops relieved Dover Castle on 6th June and it remained in Parliamentary hands until the Restoration of the Monarchy in May of 1660 when Charles II landed at Dover en route from the Continent to London to reclaim the Crown.

Cromwell’s New Model Army was a well trained regular force initially raised 1645 for service anywhere within the kingdom.

Colonel Rich began to besiege the smaller castles. Walmer surrendered on 12th July, but the other withstood his efforts for some time as Royalist forces attempted to lift the sieges from the sea.

After the end of the Siege of Donnington Sir John Boys of Bonnington in Goodnestone near Wingham, who should not be confused with his distant kinsman Major John Boys of Fredville in the adjoining parish of Nonington, was reported to have gone to Holland. Sir John returned by sea to East Kent in August of 1648 with some 1,500 Dutch and Flemish mercenaries and took part in several skirmishes with Parliamentary forces near Deal in a vain attempt to relieve the sieges at Deal and Sandgate castles. During one of the later skirmishes Sir John was slightly wounded, it was recorded that he was “shot in the belly, pricked in the neck and wounded in the head with the butt end of a musket”. Fortunately a sword belt buckle absorbed most of the force of the musket ball and Sir John survived his wounds after taking refuge in Sandown Castle.

A painting by an unknown late 17th century artist which is almost contemporary to the Kent Rebellion showing Walmer Castle to the right, Deal Castle in the left mid view and Sandown Castle in the far left distance. The scene would have looked very similar during the rebellion with the Navy ships anchored off-shore in the Downs.
A painting by an unknown late 17th century artist which is almost contemporary to the Kent Rebellion showing Walmer Castle to the right, Deal Castle in the left mid view and Sandown Castle in the far left distance. The scene would have looked very similar during the rebellion with the Navy ships anchored off-shore in the Downs.

Deal Castle surrendered on 25th August after the garrison had received news of Cromwell’s victory at Preston by means of a message attached to an arrow shot over the castle walls. Sandown Castle, about a mile up the coast from Deal Castle, held out until 5th September when the garrison, including Sir John Boys, surrendered. Colonel Rich then served as Captain of Deal Castle from 1648 to 1653.

Sir John Boys of Bonnington
Sir John Boys of Bonnington in Goodnestone Parish.

Sir John Boys was imprisoned for some time and then released but he continued to be at odds with Parliament until the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.  In 1659 he received another prison sentence for petitioning for a free parliament and was imprisoned in Dover Castle.

After the defeat of the Kentish rebels Colonel Robert Hammond took part in the defence of Colchester which was besieged by Parliamentarian forces from July of 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. 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.

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 and 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.

The Kent Rebellion was discussed in Parliament, the following is an extract from a record of Parliamentary proceeding for 1st June, 1648.
Farther Account of the Kent Proceedings at large.
Out of Kent came farther this Day to this purpose: ‘On Wednesday in May last, His Excellency with four Regiments of Horse and three of Foot, with some loose Companies of Colonel Ingoldsby’s Regiment, marched from Eltham (where they lay in the Fields thereabouts the Night before) to Craford Heath, where the said Forces were drawn up to a Rendezvous, and after that marched thro’ Dartmouth, and then drew up on an Heath two Miles from the Town, where His Excellency had Intelligence, That a Party of Kentish had fortified and barracadoed a Bridge which led to Gravesend: A Commanded Party was sent forth under the Conduct of Major Husbands, about 300 Horse, who mounted about 1oo Foot behind them: When they drew towards the Bridge, the Enemy fired thick upon them; our Men notwithstanding fell on, and the Horse swam thro’ the Water, and so got over by this time the Enemy perceiving in what Danger they were, fled: Major Child who Commanded them, and was very active, hardly escaped, having his Horse shot, whereupon he forsook it; his Son was shot in the Back, and taken. There were about 20 slain in the Place, divers wounded, and 30 taken Prisoners; many escaped, by hiding themselves in the Corn-Fields and Houses. The Enemy’s Party consisted of the Country-men thereabouts, the Seamen, and some London Apprentices: One Mr. Phips was very active, in setting on the Countrymen.

 After this, Major Husbands advanced with a Party two or three Miles beyond Gravesend, and had afterwards Orders to march to Maulin, towards which the Army marches this Morning from Mapham, a very small Village, (where the Lord General quartered last Night, and his Forces about it in the Fields) and will make an Halt near Maulin, where Orders will be given out. His Excellency has sent forth a Proclamation, for the Prevention of Disorders in Soldiers, or the taking of Plunder in their March, Horses or Goods, and to restore what have been so taken. There are very few Men to be seen in the Towns through which we march, but only the Women making sad Moan, fearing the ill Success their Husbands are like to have. The Enemy are very Numerous, given out to be Ten Thousand at least, amongst which a great part Cavaliers. Their principal Ringleaders are, Sir Gamaliel Dudley, Sir George Lisle, Sir Will. Compton, Sir Robert Tracy, Colonel Leigh, Sir John Many, Sir Tho. Peyton, Sir Tho. Palmer, Esquire Hales, reported to be General, Sir James Hales, Sir William Many, Sir John Dorrell, Sir Thomas Godfrey, Sir Richard Hardresse Colonel Washington, Colonel Hammond, Colonel L’Estrange, Colonel Culpepper, Colonel Hacker, Mr. James Dorrell, Mr. George Newman, once a Colonel for the Parliament, and Mr. Whelton, Treasurer for the Parliament.

Sir Rich. Hardresse forced by Major Gibbon to retreat to Canterbury.

Major Gibbon, in the Relief of Dover Castle, hath forced Sir Richard Hardresse to retreat to Canterbury, who laid Siege to that Place; and this Day we hope to be over the River at Maidstone, or Aylesford, and to force the Enemy to flight or swim, for we have left a strong Party of Horse, Foot, and Dragoons, to make good the Pass at Rochester, whilst we fall on the other side the River, and make good Maidstone and Aylesford. Major Gibbons lies towards Dover, so they have nothing but the Sea to fly to.

 Mapham, June 1. 1648″.

The following extract from an article published in “The Gentleman’s Magazine” in 1797 gives a fuller report of the Kentish Rebellion and its participants.
“I am afraid he rather temporized in the time of the Rebellion. Lloyd in his “Memoirs of the Loyalists [London fol.1668] when he gave an account of the rising in Kent, in 1648, names Sir John Roberts, with Mr. Hales, Sir William Brockman, Mr. Matthew Carter, Sir Anthony Aucker, Sir Richard Hardres, Colonel Hatton, Mr. Arnold Braime, Sir John Mynnes and Col. Hamond, who, with the rest of the county gentlemen of Kent importuned George Goring, Earl of Norwich, to accept the charge of General. But I shall take this opportunity of mentioning a few particulars of this affair from a very scarce and curios little tract, entituled “A most true and exact relation of that as honourable as unfortunate Expedition of Kent, Essex, and Colchester, by M[atthew], a loyal Actor in that engagement, Anno Dom. 1648. Printed in the yeere 1650”. The disposition of Canterbury began to shew itself, by a riot, on Christmas Day, 1647; and, disturbances continuing, the parliament sent down Col. Huson’s regiment of foot to be quartered there, on whose arrival Sir William Man, Mr. Lovelace, Mr. Savine, and Mr. Dudley Wild and others were seized, and carried prisoners to Leeds Castle. About a fortnight before Whitsuntide, the Parliament sent down Serjeant Wild and Serjeant Steele, on a special commission, of oyer and terminer, to try the insurgents upon life and death: but the grand jury would not find the bills; on the contrary, they took this opportunity to draw up a petition to Parliament, dated May 11, 1648, complaining of their grievances, and demanding, that the King should be admitted to treat, in person, both his two houses of parliament. Sir Henry Heyman and Sir Michael Livesay are stated to have been the two great opponents to this petition. The Parliament sent an order to the deputy-lieutenants, to suppress and prevent the signing of this petition; and an order was accordingly issued from some of the deputy-lieutenants, dated at Maidstone, May 16; signed, amongst others, by James Oxendon and William James. The petitioners published a vindication and answer; whereupon, the trainbands were ordered out: this exasperated the petitioners, ” who resolved, like men of Kent, to maintain, if it were possible, their antient honor and liberties, or perish in the attempt ” Lord Clarendon seems inaccurate in laying the blame on too hasty an arming, before the Scotch army had entered the kingdom, on Mr. Hales’, pushed on by the intemperate zeal of Mr. Roger L’Estrange ; for a manifesto was already drawn up and signed, in the name of “the knights, gentlemen, clergy, and franchlins of the county ;” in execution of which, they seized all the arms and ammunition at Scott’s Hall, Ashford, Feversham, and other places, notwithstanding the vain endeavour of Sir Michael Livesay, and some other deputy lieutenants, to suppress them; when Mr. Hales raised a great party, in that part of the county, to join them. There were now strong bodies assembled at Wye, Ashford, Sittingbourne, Rochester, Gravesend, &c. and on May 23,  a large county-meeting took place at Canterbury; and, after having drawn up another spirited remonstrance, complaining of the indignity with which their petition had been treated, the commissioners, entrusted for that part of the county, gave commission to Col. Robert Hammond to raise a regiment of foot, and to Col. Hatton to raise a regiment of horse: their rendezvous was at Barham-down, where, the next day, Col. Hammond came, with 300 foot, well-accoutred and armed; and Col. Hatton, with about 60 horse.

This Col. Robert Hammond was a very different person from the Governor of Carisbrooke-Castle, who married Hampden’s sister, and with whom he has been ignorantly confounded. He was uncle to Anthony Hammond, of St. Alban’s, in Nonington esq. and was afterwards governor of the castle of Gowran, in Ireland, where he was shamefully shot by Cromwell. [See the mistakes in Noble’s Memoirs of Cromwell, II. p. i22.] . Col. Robert Hatton was son of Sir Robert Hatton, of Oswalds, in Bishopsbourne, knt. who died Jan. 10, 1653, leaving also a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Sir Anthony Aucher. Col. Hatton died in 1658, and was buried at Bourne Oct. 19. From Barham-down, where most of the gentry of the county met them. Col. Hammond and Col. Hatton marched their men to quarters at Dover. “And Sir Richard Hardres, Sir Anthony Aucher, and Mr. Anthony Hammond, justices of the peace, and men as hearty, as real, and as indulgently-industrious in the propagation of the engagement as men could be, with Mr. Thomas Peake, marched to Sandwich.” Here they found an impostor, who called, himself Prince of Wales: and here they had an opportunity to send copies of their petition to the Fleet. A summons was now sent to Dover-castle to surrender, bat in vain; and the same to Deal and Walmer castles. Letters were also sent to France and Holland, to bring over 10,000 men. Now, “the commissioners, with the rest of the gentlemen, marched on towards Deal, carrying with them Col. Hammond’s regiment, being at this time completed to a thousand, well armed, and as perfectly resolved, with colours flying, of white, answerable to the candid innocence of a peace-making engagement; and Col: Hatton’s horse, with some dragooners : the gentlemen, being about forty, were orderly drawn up into a troop, and, marching thus all the way upon the Downs, gave a very handsome appearance, both to the country on one side, and the ships then riding at anchor in the Downs on the other, which gave encouragement to both, and a disheartening also to the castles, then upon a treaty for rendition.” Deal received them with joy: its castle, and that of Walmer, were delivered up, and the fleet espoused their cause. They now marched for Sandwich, leaving Mr A. Hammond and Capt. Bargrave at Deal, to manage with the fleer, for which they had also sent to Sir John Mennes and Capt. Fogg, two naval officers, who had been displaced for their loyalty. From Sandwich they marched to Canterbury; and “that night, being Sunday night, they quartered in Canterbury, not slipping any opportunity, or minute of time, without an improvement of it to the best advantage, the next day being appointed for their meeting at Rochester. Here there came in many gentlemen, and others, to join with them, that were not at all engaged before, unless against us; amongst the rest, Sir John Roberts, and one or two deputy lieutenants more, who signed to the petition, and subscribed to the loan of money, although they had before engaged themselves, with the rest of the Committee, against the petition; but rather like physicians, that out of a private interest are nimble to assist and please others, to profit themselves, than out of a cordial affection to so just and honest an enterprize.” Here Col. Hammond completed his regiment; and at this time the Earl of Thanet shewed great activity about Ashford, Hothfield, and Charing, though he afterwards apostatized. This little army now marched on to Rochester, and part even advanced as far as Dartford; when, on a rumour that Lord Fairfax was advancing against them, they returned to Rochester. The next day, the whole met at a rendezvous at Barming-down, near Maidstone, where the Earl of Norwich was chosen general, and whence they marched back into quarters, contrary to the General’s opinion, who advised that the whole should remain together in the field; but the Council of war determining otherwise, the General, with a large body, returned to “Rochester, where Sir Anthony Aucher and Mr. Hales left them, intending to return the next day: but, alas! in the night, Lord Fairfax marched down upon the party remaining at Maidstone, consisting of the regiments of Sir John Mayney and Sir William Brockman, who, notwithstanding a most gallant resistance, were beaten, before the news reached the main army; who however, on the first rumour, were drawn out, and had actually begun their march. Had the whole remained together at Maidstone, perhaps the fate of the King and kingdom might have been turned by it!  On this intelligence, Col Hammond and Col. Hatton were ordered back to Sittingbourne, and afterwards to remain at Canterbury, where Sir Richard Hardres was prevailed on to return, to secure the Eastern parts; for Major Osborn, whose name is altered by a pen, in my book to Gibbon, and whom I strongly suspect to he Mr. Thomas Gibbon the elder, of Westcliffe, an officer of the Parliament, was already in those parts, with a troop of horse, securing Sir Michael Livesay, who was raising all the force he could thereabouts. The Earl of Norwich now pushed on, with the remainder of his army, to Greenwich, whence, after some difficulties, they crossed the Thames, and got to Colchester; of which the subsequent surrender, with the melancholy fates of Sir Charles Lucas, Sir George Lisle, and the Lord Capel, are well known”.


  • admin

    My apologies for the slow reply. The only info I have is on the Hammonds of St. Alban’s Court, Nonington.

  • Bill Grayer

    Hello there – I am currently researching into a Quartermaster Anthony Hammond of Lord Hopton’s Royalist Regiment of Foot 1642-1646. He was living in Somerset in 1663. I looked onto your site I the hope I might find a connection on him. If you have anything I would be happy to hear from you. Thank you. Bill Grayer

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