Battle of Ormskirk

The Battle of Ormskirk was fought on 20 August 1644 during the First English Civil War it was a decisive victory for a Parliamentarian (Roundhead) force commanded by Major-General Sir John Meldrum over a Royalist (Cavalier) force commanded by Lord Byron.

Battle of Ormskirk
Part of English Civil War
Date20 August 1644
Result Parliamentarian victory
Parliamentarians Royalists
Commanders and leaders
Sir John Meldrum Lord Byron
Viscount Molyneux
Casualties and losses
100 killed
300 prisoners


After their defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor on 2 July 1644, what was left of the Royalist cavalry army abandoned the city of York to its fate and retreated over the Pennines. Prince Rupert went to Chester and it was agreed that Ricard, Lord Molyneux and Sir Thomas Tyldesley would venture north into Lancashire on a recruitment sweep. While there, they were joined by Royalist stragglers including Lord Byron, Gorge, Lord Goring and Sir Marmaduke Langdale until they numbered a force of some 2,500 horse (cavalry).[1] However they were tracked and harried by mixed force of Lancastrian infantry and horse under the command of Sir John Meldrum who finally caught up with the Cavaliers on Aughton Moor (or Aughton Moss), on the hill to the south-west of Ormskirk in Lancashire on 20 August 1644.[1][2]


The Cavaliers, forced to make a stand, stood in battalia upon the Moor. The Roundhead infantry advanced and fired a volley upon which the Cavaliers retreated in disorder, and were then routed by a charge from the Parliamentarian horse. About three hundred Royalist prisoners were taken.[1][2]

The Royalist commanders Byron and Molyneux were forced to leave their horses and hide in a cornfield. Had it not been late in the evening there would probably have been a greater victory for Meldrum; as it was, the scattered fragments of the defeated party made their escape into Cheshire.[2]

Byron attributed the defeat to the poor performance of Molyneux's regiment:

‘S’r Marmaduke had sent most of his owne horse before, and the retreat beeinge to bee made by my L’d Molyneux his brigade, they (accordinge to their accustomed manner), upon a volley of musket shott from the enemy, fell foule in such fury upon my regiment, that they utterly routed it; and the enemy’s horse, takeinge advantage of the disorder, charged into the lane (through w’ch wee were to pass), tooke and killed some, and stroke such a terror into the rest that they could not bee stopped till they came to Liverpool.[3]

The Perfect Diurnal, a contemporary Parliamentarian newspaper, said of the battle:[4]

The 20 of this instant the Lancashire forces near Ormeskirke beat the whole strength of the enemie, took about 300 prisoners, 500 horse, killed about 100, and forced the rest into Cheshire, intending to follow them: have taken Colonell Hervey, besides 7 Captains and many other considerable prisoners, and Sir Thomas Tilsley and Colonell Preston are either killed or fled privately, for except their corps, were among the dead, and being stript, not known, which may be, we cannot tell what is become of them.

Another account from a letter in Perfect Occurrences, dated Manchester four days after, had the following:[4]

It is to be observed that the same day and at the very same time that the Cheshire forces were engaged at Tarvin, the Lancashire forces had a great victorie over the enemie. Our Major Generall Meldrum having notice of the enemy, marched towards Ormskirk, made fast after them, overtook them on Tuesday in the evening on a moor neer Ormskirk, where they stood in batalia, and upon the first charge of our Musquet, they fled, whereupon our Horse bravely fell upon them, and totally routed them. In the pursuit they took about 800 horse; some letters report a 1,000, and 300 prisoners. By reason of the night we could not improve the victory as wee otherwise might have done. The Lord Byron and the Lord Molleneux were forced to leave their horses, and to hide themselves in a corn field.

The letter is followed by "A List of the names of such persons of Quality as were taken near Ormskirk":

Colonel Sr James Prestwich, Lieut. Col. Cottingham; Captains Eccleston, Atherton, Butler, Brooks & Lea; M' Worthington, Esquire, Abraham Langton, Esquire, Lieutenants John Sturbane, Gent. Thomas Mossoike, Walter Chamberlaine, John de Hurst, John Morgrow, Nathan Jones; Coronets, William Johnson, Edward Stanley, Rich. Wright, Gent., Henry Gelibrand; Gentlemen, Peter Bland, William Scot, Thomas Sherburne, -- Marshall, Arthur Butler, James Noricon, Thomas Wotton, & John Fox; John Fulme, clerk, James Bould, clerk; two quartermasters, one servant, and about 250 common souldiers.[5]


    1. Gratton 1984.
    2. Farrer & Brownbill 1907, pp. 284-291.
    3. Gratton 1984 cites: Sanders, Irvine & Brownbill 1883, pp. 134; Hamilton 1888, pp. 442–443
    4. Newstead 1893, p. 14.
    5. Baines 1836, pp. 237–238.


    • Baines, Edward (1836), William Robert, Whatton (ed.), History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster, Fisher, pp. 237–238
    • Gratton, J.M. (1984), "The Military Career of Richard, Lord Molyneux, C. 1623-54", Transaction of The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 134
    • Hamilton, William Douglas, ed. (1888), "Charles I - volume 502: August 1644", Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles I, 1644, pp. 387–465
    • Sanders, Francis; Irvine, William Fergusson; Brownbill, J. (1883), The Cheshire Sheaf ...: Being Local Gleanings, Historical and Antiquarian, Relating to Cheshire ..., 2, Chester: The Courant Steam Printing Works, pp. 134–135
    • Newstead, G. Coulthard (1893), Gleanings towards the annals of Aughton, near Ormskirk, Liverpool: Ratcliffe, p. 14
    • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Farrer, William; Brownbill, J., eds. (1907), "The parish and township of Aughton: Introduction and church", A History of the County of Lancaster, 3, pp. 284–291 British History Online

    Further reading

    • English Heritage, Field Of Ormskirk Fight, 1644 (Monument number 40154), Pastscape

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