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Sheffield Past and Present – Rev Alfred Gatty, 1873

Fascinating details can be found in this transcription by Peter Bayliss

The Reverend Gatty begins by describing how, after the line of the Earls of Shrewsbury died out, the new Lords of Sheffield Manor, for various reasons, were notable by their absence, and to this he attributes the Parliamentary leanings of the locals.

“It may easily be imagined that our little town, abandoned to its own resources by the great family which had for so long presided over its fortunes, would adopt the popular side when a contest impended. The Earl of Arundel and Surrey, who was Lord of Hallamshire at this critical epoch, had chiefly resided in foreign parts; he was also a needy man as compared with his predecessors, and was therefore unable to confer much benefit on his Yorkshire tenantry, especially when both his heart and purse were engaged in the collection of classical remains. During his absence, his two mansions at Sheffield were moderately sustained by dependants, whose duty was to make the most they could of the property. Mr. Stephen Bright, of Carbrook, father of Colonel Sir John Bright, of Cromwell’s army, acted as the Earl’s bailiff. These altered circumstances would naturally alienate the people from the interest of the ruling family.

The stern preachings too of the sectaries, who advocated resistance to the Crown, and its exactions of money for royal purposes, would be favourably listened to by a population thus deserted by its leaders, and who had but little to lose or keep in the coming struggle. Two vicars of Sheffield, also, at this trying period, Toller and bright, who had been presented to the living in succession by Mr. William Jessop, held Puritan principles, and they were earnest men; so that sentiments adverse to the High Church doctrines of the Court were widely cherished. Moreover, the three gentlemen of position on the spot no less espoused the Parliamentary side: Mr. Jessop, of Broomhall, and Mr. John Bright, of Carbrook, who had succeeded his father, and Mr. Spencer, of Attercliffe. No wonder then, that when the feeling of the country was tested, Sheffield was declared to be “actively disaffected;” nor was this bias likely to be changed, when Lord Mowbray came to the Manour in 1642, and gave orders before his departure for the removal of four wheelpieces with their furniture from the castle to Doncaster, as well as that all arms which could be spared should be sent from the local armoury to Lord Savile for the king’s use.

We may notice that in all the old castles there was an armoury containing a store of weapons; and the various townships had also their stock of warlike implements, which were public property, t be used on any critical occasion. As the country became more quiet, these means of defence would diminish; and so, in the peaceable time of James I., an inventory of arms belonging to the town of Sheffield, taken in the year 1615, gives the following return;- 3 corselets, 8 head-pieces, 4 muskets, 1 caliver, 9 swords and 3 girdles and hangers, 4 musket rests, 5 bandileroes, 5 pikes, 5 flaxes, 5 touch-boxes, and 2 pairs of bullet-moulds. And of old armour, 8 daggers and 8 girdles, 3 corselets, 3 head-pieces, and 2 old calivers. Such an arsenal would afford little help at the outbreak of a civil war.

On the 25th August, 1642, the Royal Standard was uplifted at Nottingham, and was declared betwixt the king and Parliament.

The town and castle of Sheffield were at once taken possession of in the name of the Parliament, and entrenchments were cast up for their defence against attack. But the Earl of Newcastle, who commanded on the king’s side, entered Yorkshire at the head of an army of 8,000 men, and hearing, as he pursued his march southward from York, that both Rotherham and Sheffield were in the hands of the insurgents, he first visited the former place with a detachment of his men, in April 1643, and took it by storm; after which, they advanced upon our town.
In the life of William, Duke of Newcastle, the following account is given of what took place, when the royal troops moved from Rotherham to repeat at Sheffield the success which had attended their assault upon the neighbouring town.  A short respite, it will be seen was given, in which the inhabitants of Sheffield might anxiously consider whether they would resist or submit.

“After my lord had stayed two or three days there (at Rotherham), and order’d those parts, he marched his army to Sheffield, another market-town of large extent, in which there was an ancient castle; which when the enemy forces that kept the town came to hear of, being terrified with the fame of my Lord’s hitherto victorious army, they fled away into Derbyshire, and left both town and castle (without any blow) to my lord’s mercy; and theough the people in the town were most of them rebelliously affected, yet my Lord so prudently ordered the business, that within a short time he reduced most of them to their allegiance, by love, and the rest by fear, and recruited his army dailey; he put a garrison of soldiers into the castle, and fortified it in all respects, and constituted a gentleman of quality, Sir Will. Savil, kt. And bar., governour of both the castle, town and country; and finding near that place some iron-works, he gave present order for the casting of iron-cannon for his garrisons, and for the making of other instruments and engines of war.”

This Sir W. Savile was agrandson of Geopge, Earl of Shrewsbury, who had guarded Queen Mary: his daughter, Lady Mary Talbot, having married Sir George Savile of Thornhill. The mother of the governor was a sister of the Earl of Strafford who was beheaded: there would therefore be strong royalist blood in his veins. Sir William became a distinguished commander on the king’s side, and was soon called away from Sheffield for more important military duties at York, Tadcaster, and elsewhere; whilst Major Beaumont was left in charge of the castle.

The sub-governor well sustained the responsibility that was imposed upon him, and kept undisputed possession of the fortress until August 1644, when Major-General Crawford was deputed by the Earl of Manchester, who commanded the forces of the Parliament, to reduce Sheffield Castle and other garrisons in the neighbourhood.

The following letter contains the summons to surrender, after an attempt had been made before the walls to obtain a parley.

I am sent by the Earle of Manchester to reduce this place you hold, and therfor send you yet a sumons, though my trumpett was shott att, against the laws of armes, the other day. You may easily perceive I desire not the effusion of blood, otherwise I should have spared myself this labour. If you think good to surrender it, you may expect all fair respects befitting a gentleman and souldiers: otherwise you must expect those extremities which they have that refuse mercy. I desire your answer within one houre, and rest,

Your servant

L. Crawford
August 4th, 1644”

What subsequently happened is thus given in “Vicars’s Parliamentary Chronicle”.

“Aftere this, this noble and victorious General, the virtuous and valourous Earl of Manchester, advanced farther, and sent out a party of his army (consisting of about one thousand two hundred foot, and a regiment of horse, commanded by Major-General Crawford and Colonell Pckering, with three of their biggest peices of ordnance) to take in Sheffield castle, a strong hold in Yorkshire, wherein were a troop of horse and two hundred foot, strongly fortifyed  with a broad and deep trench of eighteen foot deep, and water in it, astrong brest-work pallisadoed, a wall round of two yards thick, eight peices of iron-ordnance, and two mortar-peices. Our forces being come neer this castle, sent them three great shot, which did execution in the castle, after which they sent a summons to the castle, who shot three times at the trumpeter, two of which shots came very neer, and hardly mist him: and they flourishing their swords cryed out ‘they would have no other parley.’

Whereupon ours advanced into the town, and there quartered that night, in which night and next day they raised two batteries within three-score yrds of the enemies’ outworks, whereon our ordnance fell to play upon them, and did as much execution on the walls as peices of their bignesse could doe;  the greatest being but a demi-culverin. And after about foure and twenty hours  playing and plying thus with their ordnance, and finding it would protract too much time to be thus battering with their peices, they resolved to send to my Lord Fairfax for the Queen’s pocket pistol and a whole culverin, which  accordingly were soon brought thither and presently mounted: and the next morning betimes, after their coming, those three began to play, which did very great execution upon one side of the castle, and brought the strong walls thereof down into the trenches, and made a perfect breach. And the noble Major-Generall  having prepared all things in readinesse for storming the castle, both faggots, ladders, and other accommodations thereunto, & digested the form of storming by council of warre, it was resolved to send another summons to the castle, which produced a present treaty between three gentlemen sent out of the castle, and three like men, of our party, who speedily concluded the surrender of the castle upon fair articles.

We took in this castle foure hundred armes, besides the great gunnes aforementioned, twelve barrels of powder, much match, twenty tuns of great iron shot, about foure hundred pounds worth of corn, beef, bacon,cheese and other provisions;  all which and many other things (except a hundred muskets, and a morter-peice, which were brought away) were left in the castle for supply thereof, the country thereabout giving my Lord’s soldiers five hundred pound among them for their good service against the place.”

The terms of surrender, which were most honourable to the besieged, and allowed the officers to retain their arms, and with the soldiers to retire to their homes, included an article which is interesting as having reference to the widow of the late governor.

“Art.IV. That the Lady Savile, and her children and family, with her own proper goods, shall and may pass with coaches, horses, and wagons to Thornhill, or elsewhere, with a sufficient guard, befitting her quality; and without injury to any of their persons, or plundering of any of their goods or otherwise. She, they, or any of them, to go or stay at their own pleasure, until she or they be in a condition to remove themselves.”



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