Bampton's History

The Civil War in Bampton


Civil ar - Tiverton CastleDuring the Civil War, the farmers and citizens of Devon formed themselves into branches of the Devon Club Movement, the Clubmen, arming themselves with clubs, cudgels, pitchforks and the like, in order to protect their property from Royalists and Parliamentarians alike. The headquarters of the movement was at Bampton which, with the rest of north Devon, was strongly Parliamentarian. After the defeat of the Clubmen by the Royalist forces in a battle at North Molton in August 1645, a delegation was sent from Bampton on 2nd September to Major General Massey of the Parliamentarians for help. The General rode to Bampton that day from his camp at Milverton, Somerset, entering the town by Ford Road - the only way in from the east - and left a force of 60 cavalrymen to support the Bampton Clubmen. General Goring, Commander-in-Chief of the Royalist forces, marched to Bampton on 29th September from Tiverton, taking advantage of the fact that the main Parliamentary force was miles away. He travelled into Bampton along Stony Lane, then the only way into the town from the south, and met Massey’s resistance “on the outskirts of the town”, allowing most of the Clubmen to escape. Some fled to the church for cover, but were soon routed and defeated. General Goring and his men stayed in Bampton for six days, looting, murdering, and leaving as much of Bampton as they could on fire. Brook Street was greatly altered in appearance after this fire. Behind the houses on the east side of the street are remains of the older ones, now forming outbuildings, sheds and the like, which date from before the civil war. The new replacement houses were built in front of the ruins, narrowing the street considerably, although it is still exceptionally wide. The site of the original confrontation has yet to be discovered.

Not all of the Bampton men were against the king, as is witnessed by a Petition which went to the Justices of the Peace at Exeter on February 20th 1666. Robert Ware “...a soldier in the Service of the Late Kings maijestie of happie memory...” had become maimed during his service and had been receiving a pension, but for the year ending 25th March he had received none of it, and was “very much impoverished and is like to perish for wante thereof” and “...would your Worships take the cause of your poore petitioner to your seriouse considerations...” The letter contained twenty three signatures. Other Royalists on record are: Thomas Awbrey, Arthur Culme; Richard and his brother Thomas Stuckey, who lost their lands of Duvale Barton; John Bennett; Peter Carew father & son; John Snow; Matthew Coleman; John Hill senior; Robert Melton; Thomas Tristram; John Williams.

On 28th November 1648 a petition was presented to the Justices by the then vicar of Bampton, Rev. James Style, concerning the fate of the three children of one Humphrey Glasse - Henry, Mary, and Thomasine. Humphrey was the town and borough constable, and “… as he was executinge his office of Constable for the saide Towne & Burrow of Bampton by suppressing tumults & preserving peace accordinge to his dutye was there barborouslye slayne & murthered by a certaine Trooper or souldiere of his majesties Armye …” about four years previously. It seems that Humphrey had not made a Will, and certain of the local population who were in debt decided to manufacture a “nuncupative Will” – one made verbally. Those named in the petition as being involved with the deception were Thomas Langswell, Robert Tristram, Thomas Tristram alias Dyer, Joan Hill of Doddiscombe (in Shillingford). They took the matter to Oxford with the help of the then vicar of Morebath, Rev. William Scott, in the hopes of being granted probate, but even with the offer of bribes, they failed in their attempt. However, they had more success at Exeter General Sessions, and were granted powers to sell such of the estates and household goods which were still left of the late Humphrey, and a grand sale was held in Bampton over some days for the future security of his three orphaned children, all under the age of twenty one. Four years later, the children still had not seen a penny, by which time the proceeds of the sale had diminished somewhat – not helped by the fact that a lot of what was sold went for less than the market value – and no trace could be found of any accounts pertaining to the sale, hence the petition.

For the defence, Joan Tristram stated that she knew nothing of any accounts, but that some three years earlier her house had been “… plundered often & severall times per the Kings souldiers, whereby all her whole family & household were enforced to leave their house to the meschiefs of the souldiers by the space of sixe days together & espetially per the souldiers under the command of my Lord Goring …” The other witnesses stated that since the plundering of Joan Tristram’s house, none of them had seen any books or accounts. The end of the matter is not known.

Tom McManamon


Bampton Heritage & Visitor Centre