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Towcester in the 17th Century
DateEvent Related to Towcester
1604Thomas Shephard born in Towcester. He was a puritan preacher who emigrated to America and became the first chaplain of Harvard University. (Towcester Rural District Guide c1961)
1608Plague in Towcester. Thomas Shephard was sent to Foscote to escape it. (Towcester - The story of an English country town. p.107)
c.1609 Free school run by Mr Rice, a Welshman who was "exceeding curst and cruel" according to Thomas Shephard (Towcester - The story of an English country town. p.107)
1627Henry Newby of London built a gallery in the church. He was son of George Newby a Woollen Draper of the town. (Baker p.329)
1630Samuel Stone held the post of puritan lecturer in Towcester. He was visited by Thomas Hooker who was completing his plans for emigration. The officials of the High Court of Commission had Hooker under surveillance and went to Stone's house. Hooker was hidden and Stone, with pipe in hand, told the officials that he had seen Hooker an hour previously in another house in town and advised them to go there. (Collingwood)
1633Samuel Stone accompanies Hooker and John Cotton to America.
1635Thomas Lord (aged 50) with his family left Towcester to emigrate to America. (Towcester - The story of an English country town. p.111)
1637Houses and cottages on the south side of the churchyard were erected within memory of man, having a pathway through the churchyard with "much filth and dirt thrown onto the same". The Church porch was being used by 'beggars' who, by sleeping there overnight, stopped parishioners getting to 6 am prayers. (Church survey 1637 p.51)
1639Thomas Cleaves gave £50 to buy land to provide 13 penny loaves to be distributed weekly to 13 poorest persons who attended church. (Baker p.337)
1640Chancel roof put up by Sir Robert Bonastre. (Baker p.329)
1641Robert Stichberry, the Church Warden, destroyed all the painted glass in the church leaving it unrepaired. The people of the town asked the church patron to reglaze the windows but he refused and said that the person who pulled it down should make it up again and so it remained unglazed. Within two days Mrs Stichberry had considerable pains in her limbs and died painfully in October 1641. Robert went mad and raving and couldn't be restrained by 5 or 6 men. He howled, made noise and continued that way until he died in December 164. Ann Stitchberry, Robert's sister tore up the book of Common Prayer and then her hands began to rot, the flesh flying from the bones. She was removed by her neighbours to a mile out of town. (Baker p.329)
1643 FebruaryPrince Rupert and his brother Maurice entered Northamptonshire and plundered Towcester and neighbourhood, then proceeded to Warwickshire (Baker p.322)
1643 AugustWithin a mile of Towcester. Thirty horse from Banbury under Captain James Chamberlain met 120 Parliamentarians under Captain Lawson. Chamberlain charged through them and maintained sharp conflict for half and hour but was shot in the head. 5 parliamentarians were killed and 20 severely injured. Parliamentarians had 2000 men at Northampton and also at Newport Pagnell. A section of the ./textRoyalist Army was quartered at Towcester. The parliamentarian Newport Horse surprised Towcester one night, slew the sentinels and about 30 men, took two colours and twenty prisoners to Newport. (Baker p.322)
1643 NovemberPrince Rupert, based at Easton Neston, sent out a proclamation to all the local villages demanding labourers with shovels to fortify the town. The forces were increased by a further 14 regiments from Oxford. Towcester "Tossiter" was mainly cavalry whereas Northampton was mainly infantry. 300 horse scoured the countryside in all directions for provisions and disrupted the provisions being taken to Northampton. Greater number of horse kept back and 7 pieces of ordnance. Value of pillaging and forced contributions reckoned at £1000 daily. Rupert advanced to Northampton on the 15th November with ten troops. A skirmish occurred outside town. Fearing an ambush Prince Rupert retreated. (Baker p.322)
1643 DecemberPrince Rupert, having made Towcester very strong by constructing water filled ditches, moved to Oxford but left a strong force at Towcester. Northampton forces then attacked quarters at Duncote killed 20 and returned with 30 prisoners. Skippon, who thought that the town was not completely fortified, advanced from Newport to Towcester with two troops of horse and 400 foot joining with Colonel Whitam from Northampton with 1400 horse and foot. Discovering that the town was in an efficient state of defence with 2000 foot and 8 pieces of ordnance they attacked Grafton instead which surrendered on the 24 December. (Baker).
1644 Jan 18Royalists sighted the works at Towcester and abandoned the town to join the army at Oxford. The Governor of the Northampton garrison heard of the departure and sent a party of horse to the town under Major Lawson. They fell upon the rear of the enemy as they were marching out the town and drove them back into it taking several prisoners, one of whom still had a pistol which he fired into Lawson's arm. Lawson subsequently died of haemorrhage within two miles of his return to Northampton. (Baker p.323)
1644 July 2ndWaller (A Parliamentarian) after a damaging skirmish at Cropedy Bridge met up with Major General Brown for several days at a common within a mile of Towcester and entered Northampton the following day with 7000 horse and foot. (Baker p.324)
1645 June 12thPrior to Naseby, Sir Thomas Fairfax sent a detachment of horse forward to Towcester under Colonel Butler to cover the advance to Kislingbury. (Baker p.324) (Foard 181)
1646 JanuaryTowcester was head quarters for Colonel Whalley's Brigade of Horse along with Norton, Slapton and Bradden. A foraging party from Banbury was captured. The prisoners were brought to Towcester and informed Colonel Whalley that three contingents of troops had left Banbury for Oxford. Whalley and others then attacked Banbury and took the town. (Baker p.324)
1647Mr. Lockwood, the Rector of Towcester, returned wounded from the Battle of Naseby and was replaced by the Puritan Ralph Punne (Towcester - The story of an English country town. p.127)
1655Vicarage valued at £24 yearly (Baker)
1662Hearth Tax introduced
1665Plague hits Towcester (NRO 329p/175)
1668Thomas Davie and Robert Bridges were supervisors for the highways of Towcester and Wood Burcote. 85 people of Towcester, including widows, had to work for 6 days collecting stone for road repairs. 15 men provided teams of horses for a total of 96 days. £4 6s 10d was spent on acquiring and transporting stone and gravel and 3s 4d on beer. Works included 'casting up the river at the Great Bridge, repairing Mill Lane plankes and rails, scowering the ditch at widow Hooton's, mending Spittle Bridge, mending rails and posts against John Lees doore, repairing Herbert's meadow plank.(From Transport folder by NRO)
1669Trade tokens of Thomas Clarke Draper were produced to ease a lack of small change.
1675The Bell Inn (182 Watling Street) built with stabling at the rear. (Ref 10).
1676Fire destroys 85 bays of building (TLHS Journal 2)
1678Trade tokens produced by William Bell, dyer.
1684Charles II granted Sir William Farmer a weekly Tuesday market and 3 fairs to be held on the Feast of St Lawrence, Shrove Tuesday and the 22nd March (Baker)
1688Ducking stool repaired to duck Alis Gones. (The Towcester Constables account)
1693Paid a man for guarding impressed man. (The Towcester Constables account)
1695Thomas Bickerstaff of London, a native of Towcester, gave the 3 almshouses he had erected to the Sponne Charity. He held the land on a lease for 500 years from Lord Lempster from 1693. Also £250 as an endowment to purchase the fee simple, build a wall around Blackwell and provide an iron dish for poor wayfaring people to drink out of. The 3 ancient men or women were allowed £3 per annum and each to have a gown with TB in brass letters.(Baker p.336). The almshouses stood beside the Silverstone Brook, and were demolished in 1970.
  1. Baker "The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton" by G.Baker 1822 and 1836 (two volumes) London.
  2. Church Survey 1637.
  3. FH Calendar of Medieval Documents (Northamptonshire Record Office).
  4. NRO National Records Office.
  5. "Father of American Democracy - William Hooker 1586-1647" D.Collingwood 1995.
  6. Towcester and District Local History Society Journal, Issue 2.
  7. "Towcester - The story of an English country town" Towcester and District Local History Society 1995, ISBN 0-9524619-1-9
  8. The Towcester Constables Account.?? tba
  9. Towcester Rural District Guide c1961
  10. A Towcester Trail, The Towcester Local History Society, 1983.
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