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1640 to 1641
[Pre Civil War]
[Bess of Hardwick]
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[1618 to 1636]
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[1640 to 1641]

Sir Thomas Wentworth - Earl of Strafford and his secretary.

 William Cavendish - Marquis of Newcastle. 1640 to 1641

 The King was forced to call another Parliament in April 1640, the Short Parliament as it was known. William attended as did his brother in the Lower House. The Commons refused to support the King unless long standing grievances were addressed, an impasse was reached and Parliament was dissolved  in May.

 The situation in the country was indeed becoming more serious with a real danger of slipping further  into open conflict unless some suitable settlement could be reached. Days later the young Prince, who was approaching his 10th birthday, startled his father  by saying.

“My grandfather left you 4 kingdoms. I am afraid Your Majesty will leave me ne’er a one.”

When his outraged father demanded to know who had told him this the boy would not say.

 It was an anxious time for William with rumours of plots to kidnap and kill the young Prince. The Prince’s household moved from Richmond to the greater security of Hampden Court later that year. This period coincided with the Second Bishops War which saw the Scots advance south as far as Yorkshire. A deeply humiliating settlement with the Scots was reached in the Treaty of Ripon.

 The Treaty stipulated that Northumberland and County Durham were to be ceded to the Scots as an interim measure, Newcastle upon Tyne was to be in the control of the Scots, and that Charles was to pay the Scots 850 a day to maintain their armies there. This Treaty led to the recall of Parliament which was known as the Long Parliament and was one of the major stepping stones to the outbreak of the Civil War. The political situation was now very ugly indeed with the House of Commons, under the outstanding parliamentarian John Pym,  in full cry.

William Laud - Archbishop of Canterbury.

 By early 1641 both Wentworth ( now Earl of Strafford ) and the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, were prisoners in the Tower of London on charges of treason. In spite of the King’s feeble attempts to save them Pym was determined and, although unable to secure Strafford’s impeachment, he instigated a bill of attainder.

 Strafford’s future was indeed bleak. Many at Court seriously considered an army coup to restore the King’s authority. There was still an army in being in the north under the Earl of Northumberland. Northumberland’s younger brother , Harry Percy was a prime mover in the so called Army Plot along with Harry Jermyn,  Endymion Porter, Sir John Suckling and the syphilitic William Davenant.  The plan was to march on London, release Strafford and restore the King’s power. George Goring, a fine soldier when not drunk, was to lead this expedition.

 Northumberland would have nothing to do with it and it was thought William Cavendish would make a credible and respected substitute. Whether William agreed to this plan or even knew about it is not clear. However the scheme collapsed when Goring leaked details to the Earl of Newport who was Strafford’s enemy. Newport advised  Pym and Strafford’s fate was sealed.  Most of the plotters fled the country.

 Strafford went to the block on the 12th May to the great sorrow of the King who was reluctantly forced to sign his death warrant. William also was greatly saddened at the loss of a good friend and respected councillor and appalled at the circumstances which could have allowed this to happen.

 For a while he was under suspicion of implication in the Army Plot. However the subsequent Inquiry seems to have passed without any difficulties for William and he continued to undertake his Royal responsibilities unhindered.

 The Prince of Wales broke his arm riding in Hyde Park and was moved to join his mother for a period of convalescence. This infuriated those in Parliament who saw this as further Catholic influence over the future King. William was now more unpopular than ever with those in Parliament and it was clear to the King he would have to go. After 3 years good and loyal service he was advised his services were no longer required. He was thanked, given some honourary regal appointment  of little importance and returned home to his home in the north. During his time in London he had incurred a debt of an incredible 40,000 in the discharge of his duties.

 During this period William’s second daughter, Elizabeth aged 14, married John Egerton, aged 18, heir to the Earl of Bridgwater. This family arrangement proved an excellent match and they remained a happy and devoted couple. William then retired to Welbeck to resume family life and manage his estate.

 During the summer events stabilised with Parliament in recess and the King away in Scotland trying to appease the Scots who were much more amenable now that the hated Archbishop of Canterbury was in the Tower.

 William had never really been an active member of the King’s inner councils and was not privy to much of his political scheming. The King needed to neutralise the Scots and raise an army so he could impose his authority on Parliament once more. He would only be able to raise an army on the pretence of dealing with the Irish rebels and support of the Protestant Elector Palatine in Germany. 

 Parliament resumed in November with the King still away in Scotland and he quickly adjourned the Scottish Parliament and headed south for London. The Queen had urged all peers to attend in support of the King and it is almost certain that William heeded her appeal.

 Charles returned to London at the time of the Grand Remonstrance, effectively a vote of no confidence in his rule, which was passed by a small majority. Another crushing humiliation for the His Majesty.

 There were rumours  that the Commons would impeach the Queen herself form alleged involvement in Catholic plots. The outraged Queen is reported to have told her husband

“ pull these rogues out by the ears or never see my face again.”

 The King entered the Commons with 400 armed supporters on the 4th January 1642. It was an unprecedented act for any monarch and caused outrage and huge protest amongst his opponents in the House.  His attempts to arrest  the 5 ringleaders, John Pym, John Hampden, Denzil Holles, Sir Arthur Hazelrigg and William Strode, were r unsuccessful.  Having been forewarned the 5 had gone into hiding  and the King left empty handed with angry cries of “ Privilege !” echoing in his ears.

 The King's breach of Parliamentary Privilege inflicted great political damage to his cause. The House of Commons presented it as an armed assault on Parliament itself, and the King's reputation never recovered. Amid uproar and wild rumours of civil war, the London Trained Bands were mobilised in support of Parliament. The Commons retired to the safety of the Guildhall with London on the verge of revolution and on the 10th January the King and his family and retinue fled Whitehall for Windsor Castle.


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