When the civil war broke out in 1642 Southampton was in a precarious position. To the west much of the country was royalist, to the east the country was solidly parliamentarian. Local opinion in the town was similarly divided, with a majority leaning towards the parliamentary cause. In November 1642, after some local royalist resistance, a parliamentary warship, The Charles, moved to Southampton and its commander, Captain Swanley, demanded the surrender of the town. When this was concluded in December, a parliamentary garrison commanded by Major Peter Murford occupied the town. In 1643 a West Country royalist army under Sir Ralph Hopton advanced as far as Winchester and occupied Romsey. A few weeks later Hopton succeeded in breaking down one of the bridges at Redbridge thus cutting off Southampton’s land communications with the west. Southampton itself was now threatened, but after the royalist defeat at Cheriton in March 1644, Hopton retreated to the west, and although a royalist garrison remained at Winchester, the threat to Southampton was removed.

Further reading:
Civil War in Hampshire, by Tony MaClachlan. (H/h)
Civil War in Hampshire, by G. N. Goodwin. (H/h)
'Southampton in the 17th Century', by L. A. Burgess in Collected Essays on Southampton (Morgan), p70-72. (HS/h)


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