T. Walter Hall was a Sheffield solicitor who, after his retirement, devoted much of his time to researching the Sheffield Manorial Records, which he translated from the Latin and published in three volumes. However, the records were incomplete, and he again devoted much time in trying to trace their disappearance. In Volume 1 he lays out the evidence he had found, and in the process gave a detailed description of events surrounding Sheffield and its castle in the Civil War. The following is taken from that description.
In 1606 Alethea (daughter of the last Earl of Shrewsbury and inheritor of most of his estates) had married Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, a true lover of the arts and a patron of Rubens and Van Dyck; but who were residing at the castle immediately following the death of Earl Gilbert is not clear; it is probable that for a time at any rate the dowager countess made Sheffield her home, and as we have seen the manor courts were held in her name. The castle and the Manour, a summer mansion across the Park sometimes called the Lodge, were maintained in a condition adequate for the occasional visits of members of the family…
For some years prior to 1640 the Earl of Arundel held a high military command, and he had for many years held positions of great responsibility to the State. In 1640 the king decided to send him, then sixty years of age and in failing health, to the continent to raise arms and money in readiness for the struggle with Parliament which he foresaw and did little or nothing to avert; and in 1640 the House of Lords granted Arundel permission to leave England.
The King had a double motive in sending the earl, as he was to escort Queen Henrietta Maria and Princess Mary to Holland; the y took with them the Crown Jewels on which money was to be raised through the banks of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. They sailed from Dover on the 23rd February 1641-2, and landed in Holland, where the Queen raised about £2,000,000 within 12 months. She sailed in an English ship with 11 Dutch transports laden with stores and ammunition for the King’s army, and after losing 2 transports in a storm, landed at Burlington on the Yorkshire coast. Meanwhile the Earl of Arundel and his countess moved south into France and Italy where he expended a large sum, said to be not less than £56,000 of his own money, in procuring arms and ammunition for the royal cause.
During the earl’s absence abroad prior to the outbreak of civil war Sheffield castle would be left in the charge of his chief officer and staff, but the leading families in Sheffield of that date, Brights, Spencers and Jessops, were not supporting the King, and neither the earl nor his staff at the castle could rely on them for help in case revolutionary fighting arose in Sheffield.
In June or July 1642, a month before war began, Lord Maltravers, the son and heir of the earl and an officer in the royalist army, visited Sheffield. He ordered ‘four wheel-pieces’ to be sent from the castle to Doncaster, as it had been decided that Sheffield castle could not be successfully held against an attack in strength, and strategically the position was not worth holding at any great sacrifice.
As soon as Lord Maltravers left and the guns had been sent to Doncaster, Kellam Howmer, the armourer at the castle did what he could to secure it for the King’s cause; but as soon as war began on the 22nd August 1642, the Sheffield townsmen seized the castle for the Parliament and placed it under the control of Mr. Christopher Alured. John Bright of Carbrook, after helping to secure the castle for his party, went to York to join Fairfax, where he soon rose to the rank of Colonel. In October the earl of Newcastle marched on York and Fairfax was thrown back on the manufacturing towns of the West Riding.
In 1643 the Royalists reached Rotherham and some of the Parliamentarians from Sheffield attempted to stop their progress at the bridge between Attercliffe and Sheffield, but being outnumbered they withdrew into Derbyshire, and the Earl of Newcastle took the castle without further resistance.
On the 9th may 1643 Sir William Savile, a great-grandson of George the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, was appointed governor of Sheffield Castle. He did not remain long at Sheffield as he was required elsewhere for more urgent duties, and in June 1643 Thomas Beaumont Esq. Of Whitley near Huddersfield , where the family had its seat sine the reign of Henry III, was appointed deputy governor of the castle and town of Sheffield under Sir William Savile, who left his wife at the castle under Beaumont’s protection.
In September 1643 the Earl of Manchester was ordered to co-operate with Fairfax in Yorkshire and the position of the Royalists in Sheffield Castle was threatened. In 1644 the Earl of Arundel, who was still abroad, was in great financial distress , partly through loss of income and partly through helping the King; his income which had been about £15,000 a year was reduced to £500.
Sir William Savile, for whom Beaumont acted as deputy, had died shortly before the 24th January 1643-4 and the Marquis of Newcastle had written to Major Beaumont under that date to say he intended to take over the government of Sheffield and that Beaumont would remain his deputy; after Marston Moor Newcastle left England, and without support from outside Beaumont could not hope to hold the castle against Parliamentary troops for any length of time, backed up as they were by the leading townsmen of Sheffield. Further, he had in his care in the castle Lady Savile and many other women and children who had taken shelter there when the storm broke. These were urgent considerations and the friendly approach of Major General Crawford decided Beaumont to deliver up Sheffield Castle on the best terms he could get, which were prepared after due deliberation on both sides and embodied in articles of agreement, signed on the 11th August 1644, on which day Major General Crawford took over the castle and put Colonel John Bright of Carbrook in charge as governor; but the latter was soon promoted to York as Military Governor, and Captain Edward Gill of Norton, who came of an old Sheffield family, was put in his place as governor of the castle, and his duties extended to the town and manor.
As a Royalist whose lands had been seized, the earl of Arundel, still abroad, submitted to spoliation and sale of his estates, and so forfeited the whole, except one fifth which was reserved by statute for the families of delinquents. This was the position in April 1646 when the House of Commons resolved that Sheffield castle was to be made untenable as a fortress. Shortly after this order was given, news reached Sheffield that the Earl of Arundel had died at Padua where he had his temporary home.
On the 13th July 1647 the House of Commons, not content with making Sheffield Castle untenable, resolved that it should be ‘leighted and demolished’. In March 1648-9 Major Andrew carter came from York to view the castle, which was then only partly demolished, in accordance with the first resolution of the House of Commons.
On the death of the earl, his son, Henry Frederick Lord Maltravers succeeded to the title, and under the settlement of 22nd May 1627, became lord of Hallamshire and lord of the Manor of Sheffield. On the 5th January 1649-50 he wrote to his estate agents in Sheffield, that as far as possible they were to make what was left of the castle into a ‘fitting habitation’ for him to come to; three weeks later Major Carter again visited Sheffield to see that the demolition work was being carried out to his satisfaction , and his report , after making suggestions for further destruction, concludes by saying ‘This, I conceive it, will make it as untenable as other ordinary gentlemen’s houses’.
Despite the instructions of the new Earl, it was found that the demolition of the castle had been so complete that reconstruction was impossible, and in the absence of the earl, the castle, then in ruins, was allowed to gradually disappear, the stones and timbers being carried away and used in the construction or repair of other buildings.
Countess Alethea continued to petition Parliament that she had been unfairly penalised by the seizing of her estates when she had never opposed Parliament until her death in Amsterdam on the 24th May 1654.