Battle of Stourbridge Heath

The Battle of Stourbridge Heath (26 March 1644) was a skirmish that took place during the English Civil War, in which a Roundhead contingent under the command of Colonel "Tinker" Fox was defeated by a larger Cavalier force under the command of Sir Gilbert Gerard, Governor of Worcester.[1]

Prelude

In 1644 Colonel Fox, had led a raid that succeeded in capturing Stourton Castle. His brother held the castle for the Roundheads (Parliamentarians) however a Cavalier (Royalist) force under the command of Sir Gilbert Gerard, Governor of Worcester, was dispatched from Worcester to laid siege to the castle.

Despite pleas for assistance Fox received no support from the Basil Feilding, Earl of Denbigh, the Roundhead commander. Colonel Fox had no choice but to lead a relief force from Edgbaston but he was intercepted at Stourbridge by the Cavaliers. Fox's forces were bolstered by the addition of 110 men from Coventry however without support from Denbigh he was in no position to match the force fielded by Gerard.[2]

Location

The exact location of the battle is unknown. The two forces met near Stourbridge on 27 March 1644.[3] Heath at Stourbridge is located in the south of the town, somewhere in the vicinity of Mary Stevens Park, however during that period Stourbridge was surrounded by heathland.[4]

The battle

The battle was a resounding victory for the Royalists. Fox's forces were routed, with the gleeful royalists claiming that Tinker Fox was the first to flee the battlefield. Exact casualties are unknown however, Royalist accounts claim that the routed Parliamentarians were pursued for three miles, with many killed.[3] Some prisoners were definitely taken by the royalist forces, as Colonel Fox was later angered that men captured by the Royalists at Stourbridge Heath were not exchanged later in 1644 for a high ranking royalist prisoner.[2] Continual disagreement and a real or imagined lack of support was a frequent feature of Fox's relationship with his parliamentary Commanders, particularly the Earl of Denbigh.

Aftermath

With no prospect of relief the Parliamentary garrison at Stourton Castle was forced to surrender. Fox never again attempted to take on a large Royalist force directly, instead achieving remarkable success, notable the sacking of Bewdley[5] and the raid on Dudley a matter of hours after the departure of the royalist forces from the town, through shrewd tactical understanding and the use of his extensive intelligence network. Fox finished the war as a senior officer appointed to the County Committee for Worcestershire. Gerard continued fighting in support of the Royalist cause, dying in 1646[6] and is buried at Worcester.[7]

Notes

  1. Reports 1919, p. 386.
  2. Hopper 1999, p. 108 (pdf 11).
  3. Willis-Bund 1905, pp. 119–123.
  4. Haden 2015.
  5. Gilbert 2010, pp. 129-135.
  6. Hutton 2002, p. 159.
  7. Robinson 1843, p. 91.

References

  • Gilbert, C.D. (2010), "A Dramatic Incident in Royalist Worcestershire: 'Tinker' Fox's Raid on Bewdley of May 1644", Midland History, 35 (1): 129–135, doi:10.1179/004772910X12629513109056
  • Haden, H. Jack (20 February 2015), About Stourbridge - this historic town in the English West Midlands, retrieved 25 August 2017
  • Hopper, Andrew J. (1999), "'Tinker' Fox and the politics of Garrison Warfare in the West Midlands 1643-50" (PDF), Midland History, Maney Publishing, 24, doi:10.1179/mdh.1999.24.1.98
  • Hutton, Ronald (2002), The Royalist War Effort 1642-1646 (2nd illustrated, revised ed.), Routledge, p. 159, ISBN 9780203006122
  • Reports and Papers of the Architectural and Archaeological Societies of the Counties of Lincoln and Northampton (Volume 35, Parts 1-2), 1919, pp. 385, 386, 387
  • Robinson, Edward (1843), Beamont, William (ed.), A discourse of the warr in Lancashire, Remains, historical and literary, connected with the palatine counties of Lancaster and Chester, 62, Chetham society, p. 91
  • Willis-Bund, John William (1905), The Civil War in Worcestershire 1642-1646 and the Scotch invasion of 1651, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Company, pp. 119–123
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