Nonington & The Kentish Rebellion & Second English Civil War of 1648

The following is intended to be a record of the participation in the Kentish Rebellion and the Second English Civil War of 1648 of people with connections to the old parish of Nonington and not a history of those conflicts. It’s a revised and updated version of a previous article on the same subject.


The Kentish Rebellion had its origins in part in the Canterbury  Christmas Day riots of 1647 when civil disturbances broke out in Canterbury after  Parliament attempted to suppress traditional Christmas celebrations by issuing an ordinance, or order,  in June in that year declaring that the celebration of Christmas was a punishable offence. The Puritan Mayor of Canterbury in company with various Puritans in authority tried to enforce the ordinance but in doing so caused and outbreak of rioting and civil disturbance which went on for some days which forced the Mayor and his allies had to flee the city. Eventually order was restored after the Trained Bands , or local militia, were called out.

Colonel Robert Hammond, raised a regiment of 1000 men for the Kentish Insurrection in favour of Charles I-Slain by Cromwell. The original portrait now hangs in The Beaney Institute-Canterbury Museum,

To ensure that its future wishes would be complied Parliament passed an ordinance in January of 1648 to form a Committee for the County of Kent to administer the county and ensure that ordinances issued by Parliament were enforced. Members of the committee were drawn from amongst those members of the county gentry and other prominent citizens who supported the Parliamentary cause.
Amongst its members was one John Boys of Elmington, an old name for Elvington, which had been given to John Boys  of Fredville by his father Sir Edward Boys as part of John marriage settlement in 1623. Major John Boys of Fredville held the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports between 1646 and 1648.

In May of 1648 Royalist supporters amongst the land-owning aristocracy and gentry and prominent Kent citizenry petitioned Parliament calling for the return of the King and the disbandment of the New Model Army, and when the County Committee in Canterbury tried to suppress the petition an open rebellion erupted. Amongst the petitioners were Colonel Robert Hammond and Anthony Hammond, his nephew, of St. Alban’s Court in Nonington, and Sir Thomas Peyton of neighbouring Knowlton Court. When open armed rebellion broke out Edward Hales, Esq. of Tunstall, heir to what was said to be the richest inheritance in Kent, was made General of the Royalist forces raised in Kent and Sir Thomas was commissioned as the Royalist’s Lieutenant-General .

On the 23rd of  May  a county assembly attended by leading Royalist  citizens of Kent was held at Canterbury. This assembly commissioned Colonel Robert Hammond of St. Alban’s Court in Nonington to raise a of force of foot-soldiers and he lost no time in carrying out this commission. 
The following day Royalist forces began to assemble on Barham Downs, which borders the old parish of Nonington to the south-west, and Colonel Robert Hammond joined the muster with 300 well equipped foot soldiers. After some initial success campaigning in the East Kent area against supporters of Parliament Colonel Hammond’s force increased to around 1,000 men.

Open support for the King grew amongst the officers on board the fleet of Parliamentary Navy ships anchored in The Downs, a safe off-shore haven for shipping off the coast at Deal and Walmer that provided protection from bad weather in the English Channel, and a letter circulated the fleet calling on the officers and ratings to join the Royalist rebellion.  For a variety of reasons there was already widespread dissent in the English Navy at this time and on the 27th of  May the crew of the flagship “The Constant Reformation” mutinied and put Thomas Rainsborough,  a radical Parliamentarian and Puritan who commanded the fleet, ashore and refused to allow him back on board. Many of the anchored warships also changed their allegiance and the threat from the guns of the new Royalist fleet anchored off-shore persuaded the garrisons of Walmer, Deal, and Sandown Castles to surrender  without a fight. These three small castles are very close together and had originally been built by King Henry VIII to defend the East Kent coast against an invasion by the French and as protection for Navy and merchant ships anchored in The Downs. From Walmer Castle north-east along the coast to Deal Castle is around a mile and a half or so, and Sandown Castle is a similar distance to the north-east of Deal 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.

Previously the fleet had been commanded by Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, who had been made Lord High Admiral by Parliament in March of 1642 and had declared for Parliament in July of the same year taking the fleet with him. Warwick had been very popular with the officers and men but had fallen out of favour with Parliament because of some of his  views and had been replaced by Vice-Admiral Thomas Rainsborough. The restoration of Warwick to the command of the fleet was one of the demands in the letter circulated around the fleet, and Warwick was re-appointed Lord High Admiral after the outbreak of the mutiny and sent to ensure the loyalty to Parliament of the remaining ships.
Anthony Hammond, the owner of St. Alban’s Court and nephew of Colonel Robert, and Captain Robert Bargrave, who had been a naval officer in the 1620’s and 30’s and whose family owned the Bifrons estate  at nearby Bishopsbourne,  went to Deal to negotiate with the fleet and were assisted in their negotiations by Captain John Mennes and a Captain Fogg.
Captain Mennes was a career Navy officer who lost his position in the Navy because of his Royalist sympathies. He was a noted wit and poet with various works published in the 1650’s.  After the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 he became Sir John Mennes and was promoted Vice-Admiral and Controller of the Navy. Lady Jane Mennes, Sir John’s wife, died at the Fredville 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 largely responsible for the rebellion of 1648.

Although the three small castles at Sandown, Deal, and Walmer had surrendered without a fight the much bigger and better fortified strategically important Dover Castle remained in the hands of the Parliamentarians. To remedy this situation Sir Richard Hardres of Hardres Court near Canterbury gathered a force of some 2,000 men and  marched to Dover to  besiege the castle. Sir Richard was a leading rebel  who had been originally been a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Kent in 1643 but later became a Royalist.

Dover Castle from the south-east. A contemporary engraving by Wencelas Holler

In the opening stages of the siege of Dover Castle the East Kent Royalists quickly seized the castle’s Mote Bulwark where they found stores of ammunition which they then used to bombard the castle. One of the Hammond brothers of St. Alban’s Court, probably Colonel Francis Hammond, was said to have been in command the Royalist siege artillery that  fired 500 cannon balls at Dover Castle. However,  despite this heavy bombardment the castle defences withstood the siege.

The beginning of the end of the Kentish Rebellion became with the defeat of the main Loyalist force of some 3,000 or so men under the command of the Earl of Norwich in the Battle of Maidstone by Parliamentary forces led by  General Sir Thomas Fairfax. The Royalist had withdrawn into Maidstone, the county town of Kent,  and put up barricades to defend against their attackers.  In the late afternoon of the 1st of June the Parliamentarian forces began their attack in torrential rain and eventually breached the barricades and took the county town. Sir Thomas Peyton and Colonel Robert Hammond took part in the Battle of Maidstone as both were reported to have escaped capture there and joined the retreat to of the defeated Royalist forces led by the Earl of Norwich to join Royalist forces in Essex where they eventually took refuge in Colchester.

After the victory at Maidstone 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 the 6th of 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.

Colonel Rich began to besiege the three smaller castles just along the coast to the north-east of Dover and initially met with some success at Walmer, which surrendered on 12th July. However, Deal and Sandgate withstood his efforts for some time as Royalist forces attempted to lift the sieges from the sea.

Sir John Boys of Bonnington, the Hero of the Siege of Donnington Castle.

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.

Deal Castle surrendered on 25th August after the garrison had received news of Cromwell’s victory at Preston in Lancashire by means of a message attached to an arrow shot over the castle walls. Cromwell’s victory over a combined Royalist and Scottish force commanded by the Duke of Hamilton  ended any hopes of Royalist success in the Second Civil War and the fighting ceased shortly afterwards.
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 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 at Maidstone and the Royalist retreat from Kent to Essex and the unsuccessful campaign against Parliamentary forces there both Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Peyton and Colonel Robert Hammond took part in the defence of Colchester. After the Royalist were beaten by the Parliamentarian forces led by General Sir Thomas Fairfax in a bitter fight outside of Colchester the Royalists withdrew back behind the town’s walls. Fairfax immediately ordered an attack, hoping to repeat his success at Maidstone, but attackers were beaten back by the defenders. Fairfax then laid seige to Colchester, the siege lasted 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 was one of those who surrendered and swore the oath not to take up arms again, but Colonel Robert Hammond later broke this oath with fatal results when within a year or so he took up duties as the Royalist governor of the castle at Gowran in Co. Kilkenny  in Ireland. 

Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Peyton escaped capture at Colchester but was taken prisoner near Bury St. Edmunds and imprisoned for a time and then released to return to Knowlton Court where he continued to be a thorn in the side of Parliament.


Colonel Robert Hammond, gaoler to King Charles I

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 gaoler to King Charles I at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight from 13th November, 1647, to 29th November’ 1648. Parliament voted him a pension for his service as the King’s gaoler. He saw service as an officer in Cromwell’s New Model Army during the early part of the Civil War and later sat in the House of Commons in 1654.


A contemporary & a later 18th century report of the Kentish Rebellion of 1648

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 100 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”.