History of the Regiment

History of the Regiment

AN OVERVIEW OF LORD HOPTON’S REGIMENT IN THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR

Following the successful conclusion of his West Country campaign at Stratton, Sir Ralph Hopton joined forces with the Marquis of Hertford and Prince Maurice at Chard in Somerset on the 4th June 1643. Here, in his native county, was the birthplace of Hopton’s own Regiment of Foote.

Formed initially of recruits from the local population and trained bands (a letter supporting Captain Charles Matthewe survives), little can be confirmed during the Lansdowne and Roundway Down campaign, but there is strong circumstantial evidence that the embryo unit helped in the attack on Windmill and Water Forts at the storming of Bristol on 26th July 1643. It is also possible that the survivors of Brutus Buck’s Regiment were also taken into Hopton’s ranks. Colonel Buck was killed in the attack on Bristol’s walls and his regiment disappeared from the army’s strength.

On 20th August, at least two companies of the now Lord Hopton’s Regiment marched under Captains Neale Mackworth and Thomas Randall to the siege of Gloucester (10th August – 6th September 1643), and from there on to the First Battle of Newbury, where Randall was killed. Five other companies left Bristol for Newbury direct, but failed to arrive in time for the engagement. Unusually for this period of history, a “training battalion” of companies remained in Bristol throughout the Royalist tenure, regularly supplying men to the campaigning division of the regiment.

In the winter campaign of 1643-4, Hopton’s own regiment formed the core of the army that relieved Basing House, faced down Sir William Waller at Farnham Castle and later garrisoned Winchester. Uninvolved in the Royalist disasters at Alton and Arundel, they had their first full baptism of fire at Cheriton (29th March 1644), forming the bulk of the left tercio on the field, where Captain Herbert was killed. Withdrawing via Basing to Reading, they joined the main Oxford Army, and presented five companies at the Aldbourne Chase muster on 10th April.

Having garrisoned Abingdon while their colonel returned to Bristol, Hopton’s Regiment joined the King for the Cropredy Bridge action (29th June), and remained within Sir Bernard Astley’s tercio for the long march into Cornwall. They saw action in the battles of Beacon Hill near Restormel Castle on the 21st August and Castle Dore on the 31st. The regiment concluded their part in the Royalist victory when they helped take Lostwithiel on the 2nd of September. Marching eastwards again, Hopton’s fought at the Second Battle of Newbury (27th October), where they were in the eastern division of the army facing the Earl of Manchester’s forces. On the 9th of November they were involved in the relief of Donnington Castle, following which the regiment wintered along with the rest of the King’s Army in Oxford.

Spring 1645 saw the unit rejoining Hopton in Bristol, most probably as part of the Prince of Wales’ escort from Oxford. Here it had a relatively peaceful time until part was drawn out to fight in Lord Goring’s campaign against the New Model Army. Several companies were destroyed at Langport on 10th July, with a series of officers killed and captured.

A second division of the regiment was in Bristol and was heavily involved in the siege, where Sergeant-Major John Garnier was killed in Fort Royal contesting Sir Thomas Fairfax’s assault on 10th September.

Hopton’s were also the garrison at Laycock House. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jordan Bovill, they attempted to hold an indefensible site. Given good terms of surrender, they marched out on 24th September supposedly to join Sir John Berkeley at Exeter.

The end of the regiment is lost in the mists of time and the destroyed documents of a defeated army. They are not recorded in the final garrison lists at Exeter, or amongst the forces gathered at Torrington, although both are possible. Jordan Bovill certainly fought at Torrington (16th February 1646), and Hopton’s colour captured there has, from the descriptions available, the appearance of an infantry ensign rather than that of the cavalry. The final record showing known members of the regiment comes from the garrison at Pendennis Castle, the last Royalist stronghold in England. Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Brockett and Captain Neale Mackworth were among the garrison that held out for five long months with only daring little ships to bring them supplies. The castle finally surrendered on 16th August 1646.

 

 

The Battles

1643

13th July: Roundway Down

Lord Wilmot vs. Sir William Waller

  • Terrain:
  • Duration:
  • Parliamentarian Army: 1,800 foot & 2,500 horse
  • Royalist Army: 2,000 foot & 1,800 horse
  • Losses: unknown royalist, 600 parliamentarian
  • Outcome: Parliamentarian defeat

26th July: Bristol

20th September: Newbury

King Charles 1 & Prince Rupert vs. Earl of Essex

  • Terrain: enclosed and open fields
  • Duration:  12 hours
  • Parliamentarian Army: 15,000
  • Royalist Army: 15,000
  • Losses: –
  • Outcome: Indecisive

27th November: Farnham

Lord Ralph Hopton vs. Sir William Waller

  • Terrain:
  • Duration:
  • Paliamentarian Army: 4,900 troops
  • Royalist Army: 8,000 troops
  • Losses: – 
  • Outcome: Royalists retreat

 

1644 

29th March: Cheriton

Lord Ralph Hopton vs. Sir Willaim Waller

  • Terrain: enclosures, woodland & commons
  • Duration: All day
  • Parliamentarian Army: 10,000
  • Royalist Army: 5,000
  • Losses: 300 Royalist, 60 Parliamentarian

29th June: Cropredy Bridge

King Charles  1 vs. Sir Willaim Waller

  • Terrain: open fields & meadows
  • Duration: all day
  • Parliamentarian Army: 4,000 foot & 5,000 horse
  • Royalist Army: 4,000 foot & 5,000 horse
  • Losses: few Royalist & 700 Parliamentarian inc. deserters
  • Outcome: Indecisive

21st August: Beacon Hill

Prince Maurice vs. Earl of Essex

  • Terrain: Enclosed hills and heath land
  • Duration: 
  • Parliamentarian Army:
  • Royalist Army:
  • Losses:
  • Outcome: Parliamentarian defeat

31st August: Castle Dore

King Charles 1 vs. Earl of Essex

  • Terrain:
  • Duration:
  • Parliamentarian Army:
  • Royalist Army:
  • Losses:
  • Outcome: parliamentarian defeat

2nd September: Lostwithiel

 ? vs. Earl of Essex

  • Terrain:
  • Duration:
  • Parliamentarian Army:
  • Royalist Army:
  • Losses:
  • Outcome: parliamentarian defeat

27th October: Newbury

King Charles 1 & Prince Maurice vs. Essex, Manchester & Waller

  • Terrain:
  • Duration:
  • Parliamentarian Army: 12,000 foot, 7,000 horse
  • Royalist Army: 5,000 foot, 3,500 horse
  • Losses: 2,000 parliamentarian, 1,500 royalist
  • Outcome: royalist defeat

9th November: Donnington Castle

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1645

 

 

10th July: Langport

General George Goring vs. Sir Thomas Fairfax

  • Terrain: open fields & enclosures
  • Duration: several hours
  • Parliamentarian Army: 10,000
  • Royalist Army: 7,000
  • Losses: few killed on both sides
  • Outcome: Royalist defeat

23rd August: Bristol

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23rd September: Laycock House

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1646

 

10th February: Torrington

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12th March: Pendennis Castle

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