Numerous records survive detailing the amounts spent on constructing fortifications during the Civil War. In the majority of cases, the costs were borne by the citizens of the various towns, although money was forthcoming from Parliament in cases where places were considered of national importance such as Reading and Weymouth. In Canterbury, money was raised by subscription and £2(X) was issued by the city treasurer on account for fortifying the place in November 1642. At York, £12 was received weekly from the various parishes in the city 'for making bulwarks'.

London Corporation had the authority from Parliament to tax the suburbs to raise money for the forts; £12,(XX) was advanced as early as 1643. A Committee of fortifications was responsible for overseeing the works. In December 1644,

The representation of a coastal fort on the Solent in the 16th century. While this is dominated by a tall, circular tower, an angular lower defence is clearly visible.

Parliament passed an ordinance 'for the raising of money to pay the charge of the fortifications and guards ... for the safety of the City, anil parts adjacent, within the Lines of Communication'. The City had to raise £5,482 4s. 3d., Westminster £616 l()s. 8'/2d„ Tower Hamlets £419 4s. 7d. and Southwark £369 18s SV-ici. per month for six months, back dated to November. This was done by a weekly assessment levied on tenants and landlords. If this was not done, the ordinance outlined the steps that would be taken towards delinquents. While the corporation was eager to raise the money, it was not always forthcoming in paying its bills as the city records contain several complaints for late payment. For instance John Young, a freemason, was still owed £3 in March 1646 for repairing the stonework at the breach by the Pindar of Wakefield Fort, a bill submitted 18 months earlier. Two carpenters, Bevis Piggott and Henry Glvdd, were owed money for work done at several forts, while the merchant John Freeman was owed £33 for supplying fir timber to be used as palisades on the London fortifications.

In Cambridge, the committee for the defence of the town issued an appeal that was read in all the churches on Sunday, 12 March 1642/3:

Whereas we have been enforced, by apparent ground of approaching danger to begin to fortify the town of Cambridge, for preventing the Enemy's inroad, and the better to maintain the peace of this County ... now standing in need of your further assistance to the perfecting of the said fortifications, which will cost at least two thousand pounds ... we desire the free will offering of a liberal contribution from you.

That money was forthcoming and the defences built is suggested by a report sent to Parliament by the governor of the town on 12 July 1643 stating that 'our town and castle are now very strongly fortified being encompassed with Breast Works and Bulwarks'. However, a letter dated 7 October 1643, written from Cambridge Castle contradicts this by saying 'our ditch goes very slowly'. The ancient cathedral city of Salisbury asked for the loan of money in August 1642 towards the fortifying of the place 'either by trenches, chains or otherwise'.

At Nottingham, finances during 1645 continued to present difficulties due to the 'great charges the town hath lately been at about the bulwarks and other such things'. Some towns, such as Boston in Lincolnshire, ended up in arrears after building fortifications and applied to Parliament for financial help. In fact, the construction project at Boston had been so extensive that the resulting fortifications were considered unwieldy and, as the town had seen little action, the earthworks began to deteriorate, as the Committee of Both Kingdoms reported in August 1645:

The fortifications are ver)' large and irregular, so as not to be defensible but by a very great garrison if it should be attempted by an enemy, besides that the works are also at present in very great decay.

The Committee urged the commander of the garrison to:

cause the works thereof to be viewed by some skilful engineer, that they may be both contracted and reduced to such regularity and artificial perfection as to be defensible with a small force.

On 11 October 1642, the council of Gloucester ordered that:

two greate guilt bowles with covers, one guilt tankard, one silver cann, one greate silver beare bowle and one lesser silver bowle, fower old maces, and one old seale of mayoralty, being plate belonging to the Chamber of this city, shalbe forthwith sould ... and the money to be disposed of toward the charge for the fortifications of this city.

Plate was similarly sold at Plymouth, while Oxford taxed its colleges: on 18 January 1643, the city ordered a weekly contribution of £40 from the University for 20 weeks, to be levied on the colleges and halls, towards 'the great and chargeable design of new fortifying Oxford against the Rebels'.

In the case of Barnstaple, Devon, Parliament voted £200 to the mayor for the defence of the town on 23 January 1643. A 'Summarie of Disbursements made by the Inhabitants ... in Plate and Money for Fortifying the Said towne' includes the following expenditures:

In disbursements for Materials and Wages to build the

Fort in which were mounted 28 pieces of ordnance £1,120 0s. Od.

For entrenching the town £ 450 0s. Od.

In Fortifying the Castle, building 3 defensible

Gates and making 16 platforms £ 66. 0s. Od.

Tools used in fortification, from John Muller's 1747 treatise. Attack and defence of fortified places. Blinds and mantelets provided cover for digging, while gabions protected the cannon. Defensive features include the 'chauss trap', a metal spiked implement to hinder horse and infantry, and the 'chevaux de frise'.

The corporation of King's Lynn, Norfolk, petitioned the House of Commons for ten pieces of ordnance and for an allowance of £500 in order that the fortifications might be finished in December 1642, even before the town had taken sides. Like other communities it had to pay a weekly assessment determined by Parliament to pay for supplies, soldiers and other essentials, and the corporation felt justified in applying for this grant to finish the defences.

Fearing a Royalist attack from Cornwall, the Commons issued a series of orders to the Devon Committee to prepare Exeter for defence. It authorised £300 of public funds for city fortifications and repairs to the castle, and gave the mayor and deputy-lieutenants full power to organise resistance to any Royalist threat. The same was true elsewhere in the country and there is considerable documentary evidence describing the efforts of individual towns to defend themselves. At Chichester, Sussex, '|l'arliament| gave full Power anil Authority to the said Inhabitants, to make any such Fortifications in or about the City, for the Security thereof, as they in their Discretions should think fit.'

Some idea of what the money was spent on can be gleaned from the records of Exeter. The account books state that a total of £4,374 1 Is. 3'/2cl. was spent on fortifications between November 1642 and 31 August 1643. This was for:

carriage of Turf, lime, sand, stones, earth, clay, straw, slate, mortar and helingstones, sawing of planks and timber, felling of trees, Muandes, Basketts, Dealboards, tools, shovels, wheelbarrows, spukes |sic| and other iron-work, work done at various places, for pioneers, for a rope at the castle well and the cleaning of it, work on the castle walls, for payment to various women, for carriage of stones to the Citty walls ... willowes to bind faggots for fortification ... for demolishing howses, making and grindinge of Tooles, Deale Boardes for platforms, for Laughts and Nailes, for service for fireinge on of the Enemies works ... for drawing downe of Theight howses that endangered ye Citty ... for filling and Leavelling the Trench ... for carrying of water, for making of Salt Peter, for repairing of Boates, for making Handmills ... for slightinge the hedges ... carrying of wooll to make Batteryes, for seventeene packs of Wools ... used for the Baracadoes and fences uppon the bridge and other places for defence of the Citty ... for tymber to make Carraiges for the greate Gunns, Turnepikes, platforms, drawbridges, Caskes and other works.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment