short history of a Scots professional soldier in Cheshire
Having come from London, Sir William
Brereton of Handforth, MP for Cheshire rode down from the
Pennines into Congleton on the evening of 27th Jan 1643.
He had with him his own troop of horse and 3 companies of
dragoon’s. One of which although raised in Cheshire,
had already seen service against Prince Rupert at Brentford,
under its commander John Brumhall. In Congleton they were
joined by another locally raised troop of horse. The total
force numbered more than 500 men. Brereton had arrived to
organise the local parliamentary sympathisers; he brought
with him a case of Drakes (small cannon) and 700 muskets
in his baggage train. Most importantly, an experienced Scots
professional, Major James Lothian (sometimes spelt LoUthian)
came with him, to train recruits for the cadre of a foot
regiment of which he was to be colonel.
Brereton sent Major Lothian, Brumhall
and about 50 dragoons to occupy Nantwich early on 28th Jan
1643.They got in just ahead of the Royalist commander for
this area Sir Thomas Aston, newly arrived from Oxford, who
had with him a troop of horse and some companies of Shropshire
dragoons. Lothian’s professional skill (it’s
presumed) kept them out of the town. As dusk was falling
the royalists withdrew eastward down Hospital Street. There,
in a narrow lane, they bumped into the remainder of Brereton’s
force. In the farcical battle that followed between these
two amateur armies, Brereton won. This victory and the skilful
defence by Lothian and Co of Nantwich, led to some local
squires coming to join Brereton at Nantwich with 2000 followers.
From now on till the fall of Chester in 1646, Nantwich became
the headquarters of the Cheshire parliamentary party.
At the battle of Middlewich 13th March
1643, Major Lothian marched up Booth Lane from Nantwich
with the foot, to attack from the south of Middlewich as
Brereton attacked from the west with the cavalry. Aston’s
troops who had stood against Brereton now collapsed when
the foot attacked from the south, most of Aston’s
army fled east, but a large body of men fled into the church.
Lothian, however, briskly blew in the main church doors
with a petard upon which, the royalists inside surrendered.
Col Ellis, Major Gilmore and many Cheshire officers and
0ver 600 soldiers the bulk of them the Cheshire trained
band were taken prisoner. A short time after this battle
Brereton was made commander of all the Cheshire forces.
Major Lothian continued to train and
advise the Cheshire (and Shropshire) forces to be Parliamentarians.
He was not heard of again until 17th Dec 1643, a Sunday.
When a royalist raid led by Col John Marrow (the commander
of the Chester garrison horse) brought the garrison captains
of Nantwich rushing from their sermon. Although the raiders
were driven off, the invaluable Lothian, who had been left
by Brereton (who was elsewhere in the county) as chief military
adviser to old Sir George Booth the governor, pursued too
far and was captured at Burford. This was a bitter blow
in view of the siege of Nantwich by Lord Byron that was
about to fall. After the battle of Nantwich, 25th Jan 1644,
Major Lothian was exchanged - date unknown.
During the early months of 1645, the
Cheshire Roundheads went on the offensive and laid siege
to Chester and Beeston Castle. Beeston was effectively cut
off, but Chester’s supply line from Wales was still
open. On 3rd April 1645, Brereton learnt of a convoy of
ammunition from Anglesey was on its way to Chester. He matched
into Flintshire to capture it, but the royalist’s
hearing of his approach took the convoy into Hawarden castle.
Lothian was left to capture the place
by under mining the castle in the hope of securing the good
store of ammunition within, as it would be of great use
in the siege of Chester. Lothian was at the siege of Hawarden
castle, which stood on sandy soil, for several weeks mining
the place, which must have caused some problems shoring
up the mine. Michael Jones, who was the overall commander
of the Cheshire horse, as Lothian was of the Cheshire foot,
also watched this side of the River Dee.
At the time of 3rd April we know the
following about Lothian and his own regiment only: -
Col James Lothian
Lt Col Gilbert Gerrard of Crewwood
A report by Brereton to Parliament
at the end of May reported that the siege along with those
of Chester and Beeston was progressing well, and that he
had high hopes as long as there was no outside Royalist
aid. Unbeknown to him Charles 1 was on his way. The sieges
continued until the king was at Market Drayton. The Roundheads
in the area around Cheshire and Shropshire now manned their
garrisons, awaiting the storm that must follow and Brereton,
with his remaining troops, withdrew behind the Mersey River.
But Charles turned towards Leicester and his subsequent
defeat at Naseby 14th June. Brereton now reinvested Beeston
Castle and concentrated on the outright besieging of Chester.
At this point, Brereton had again to return to Parliament
to get his commission extended because of the self-denying
ordinance. Whilst he was away, the Siege of Chester was
taken over by the local committee.
The foot was commanded overall by Col
Lothian and the horse overall by Col Michael Jones.
On 20th Sept 1645, Lothian and Jones
sent a forlorn hope against Chester’s outworks they
got over the walls and opened the gates. The Parliament
forces now poured in, though the royalists managed to set
fire to the bulk of the buildings, after a bitter fight,
the outworks and suburbs were captured.
It was only by the narrowest of margins
that the parliament soldiers failed to get through one of
the city wall gates. News now arrived that the king was
on his way but his whereabouts was unknown. On the 22nd
September, a breech was made in Chester’s East Wall,
but a storming party failed to exploit this. At this point
Charles was only at Chirk Castle, and his army was on its
way to the relief of Chester. Late on 23rd Sept he arrived
in Chester. On 24th September, the battle of Rowton Moor
was fought, between the cavalry of the royalist Langdale
and parliaments cavalry under Poyntz. Jones with Col Booth
now went to the aid of Poyntz, whilst Lothian held Chester’s
suburbs against any aid from the royalists inside Chester,
trying to come to Langdale’s aid. At this point, just
prior to the city’s royalists starting to come out
of the North gate, Charles had been watching the start of
the battle from the top of the cathedral tower. When a cannon
shot from one of the siege guns fired at Charles and took
the head off the officer standing next to him, who was at
the time pointing things out to him. Charles now retired
to watch the remainder of the battle from the phoenix tower.
In the royalist defeat that now followed,
the parliamentarian troops in the suburbs did great execution
on the royalists fleeing into the city. With Lothian’s
guard inflicting heavy losses against royalists trapped
against the city wall. A few days later, Lothian and Jones
borrowed experienced troops from the siege of Chester, who
could only be spared for a very short duration, as their
position was temporarily filled by inexperienced auxiliary
troops until their return was secured. Lothian and Jones
arranged to meet with Gen. Mytton, along with troops from
Wem and Oswestry. Together, they attacked Col Vaughan at
Denbigh, who was arranging a relieving force for Chester,
before his army was at full strength. Brereton now arrived
from London with his commission extended (like Cromwell)
gave his agreement to his officers. The battle of Denbigh
Green was a decisive win for Mytton. Lothian and Jones now
returned back to the siege of Chester as quickly as possible.
The next reference to Lothian by name
is in 1648 when Hamilton invaded England. Cheshire started
to raise three foot regiments. Each to be 600 strong, the
commanders to be Col Lothian, Col Massey, and Col Croxton,
under the over all command of Col Duckenfield, military
governor of Chester. After Hamilton’s defeat at Preston,
Lothian’s regiment (that took no part) was dispatched
to assist Major-General Mytton in suppressing the rising
The fact that Lothian a professional
Scots Soldier turned Cheshire Land owner. Would be fighting
against his compatriots did not seem to worry the government,
as the most notable of the covenanting generals had refused
to take the "Engagement".
Whilst with Major-General Mytton, Col
Lothian and his regiment fought at the battle of Beaumaris,
1st Oct 1648, at 3pm. Lothian’s regiment being given
the task of taking the church.
Reference to Lothian and his regiment,
is given in an account of the battle by the schoolmaster
Williams as follows:
"Major Pennant (R) and his troop
of horse charged the enemy, in the lane coming down from
the park towards Mr Richard Vaughan’s house, and was
like to take Col Lothian prisoner. Captain Lloyd of Penhwnllys
(R) having guard of the church. Did lock his men in, and
ran away with the key. (until his dyeing day was ever after
known as Capt. church) These men firing from the steeple
and leads and some others firing from Court Mawr garden.
Played very hotly upon the enemy and killed several especially
Capt. Hancock of Col Lothian’s regiment his Lieutenant
and Ensign in the clay pits and back lanes".
It was said of the Anglesey Islanders,
that they were so full of disorder and confusion in the
fight as to be easily routed, and the battle was an affray
or a scuffle. If that was the case, they did well to "SCUFFLE"
for well over two hours. Col Lothian appears to have come
across one of the strongest defended positions at Beaumaris.
Parliament lost 40 men killed and many
sore wounded. Royalists lost 30 men killed and over 400
prisoners. No mention is made of Col James Lothian in the
1651 invasion of England, in fact, he is not heard of again.
Yours in the cause
Garry Scott, Ensign. Crawfords.
At the battle of Rowton Moor some accounts
say it was Jones and Adjutant-General Lothian that went
to Poyntz’s aid, and not Jones and Booth.
On 20th June 1643, some of the Nantwich
horse and dragoons to Hamner (Nr Wrexham) believing the
royalists to have ammunition hidden there. They were ambushed
there by the royalists and routed. Among the parliament
prisoners taken was a Scots Lieutenant-Colonel FLAGGE or
Nothing is heard of him again.
Nor have I found anything else about him as yet.
There are gaps in the history of Col James Lothian but I
hope when I get more time, I can fill these gaps in.
Main books used for reference were
"THE CIVIL WARS IN CHESHIRE" by R.N.Dore
"NORTH WALES IN THE CIVIL WAR" by N Tucker
"FIRE AND SWORD ALONG THE MACHES" by J Lewis
Author Garry Scott, Loudoun's Regt.