The Monmouth Rebellion- 1685
England’s West Country, including Somerset, was a Protestant stronghold at the time of the death of the Protestant King Charles II in February 1685. The new King, Charles’ brother James, Duke of York, was Roman Catholic. Charles II’s Protestant but illegitimate son, James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, got the idea that all England would support him in a Protestant rising. Monmouth landed in the West Country and encouraged a Protestant revolt with a rabble of brave but untrained West Country yokels and miners, with plans to capture Bristol and then march on London to claim the throne. The Monmouth Rebellion, which lasted all of five weeks, was
a bloodbath for the Protestant rebels, both in battle at Sedgemoor, and afterwards at the “Bloody Assizes” – the trials conducted by Chief Justice George Jeffreys. The Duke himself was taken to London and executed.
James II’s pitiless treatment of Monmouth’s followers shocked the country. Over a thousand were condemned to death or slavery in the West Indian Plantations.
James II himself was to only remain as King until 1688, when he was overthrown in a bloodless revolution. James was a Catholic King in a Protestant country. His daughters, Mary and Anne, were Protestant, and Mary was married to the Protestant Dutch prince, William of Orange. The powers behind the throne decided to install William & Mary instead of James, especially when James had a Catholic son by his second wife. The country could not face the possibility of a long line of Catholic monarchs, and James’ own men began deserting him.
The following is taken from the book “The Monmouth Rebels 1685” [See : Books]
The Monmouth Rebellion
Between 11 June 1685, when the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme in Dorset (from Holland) with a party of just over eighty men, and 6 July, when his army (estimated at between 3200 and 7000) was defeated at Sedgemoor, a significant proportion of the population of West Dorset, East Devon and Somerset rose up in arms against the Government of James II. The level of support for the cause resulted in the government’s savage treatment of the rebels, and also was the reason why so many rebels were able to disappear into a countryside ready to shelter them.
Many factors contributed to the rebellion, but it seems the major reason people got involved was the lack of freedom of worship of protestant nonconformists.
The book comprises a list of almost 4000 names of rebels, composed from various lists, some made in preparation for the Assizes conducted in the West Country in
September and October 1685. The Assizes were headed by the country’s most brutal judge, Lord Chief Justice George, Baron Jeffreys of Wem. Public hangings and subsequent gruesome burning of entrails, quartering of corpses, boiling them in salt and dipping them in pitch for long-term exhibition was designed to strike awe into the West Country.
An alternative was transportation. By the beginning of August, courtiers with business interests in the West Indies began bidding for the rebels. The Secretary of State wrote to Jeffreys early in September with his instructions:
- 200 were to be given to Sir Philip Howard, Governor of Jamaica
- 200 to Sir Richard White
- 100 to Sir William Booth, a Barbados merchant
- 100 to Sir James Kendall, later Governor of Barbados
- 100 to Sir Jerome Nipho, the Queen’s Italian Secretary
- 100 to Sir William Stapleton, Governor of the Leeward Islands
- 100 to Sir Christopher Musgrave.
These grantees were to take the prisoners from custody within 10 days to some of his Majesties southern plantations, viz. Jamaica, Barbados, or any of the Leeward Islands in America, and to keep them there for 10 years as indentured servants. A total of 890 prisoners were handed over. A change of government at home in 1689 forced a revision of policy towards the prisoners, and in February 1690 free pardons were issued. Governor Kendall of Barbados, and others were reluctant to let their prisoners go. By 1691 half the Jamaican prisoners had been released, but not given any cash reward at the end of servitude, and so were unable to return home.
However, for many rebels, all the information to survive is the village of origin and the constable’s presentment. The lack of further facts implies either that the rebel was killed and buried at Sedgemoor, or, more probably, that he managed to stay concealed until the General Pardon was proclaimed.
MERRIOTT’S MONMOUTH REBELS
Note: there are no entries in the Merriott Parish Registers between the 11th of June 1685 and the 7th of July 1685 (the period of the Monmouth Rebellion).
Durdant, John, of Merriott, rebel & not taken (CP)
French, Maurice, of Merriott, rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP)
Goodfellow, Richard, of Merriott, rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP)
Thomas, husbandman, of Merriott (TB), tried at Wells; transported for Stapleton (JR) in the Indeavour from Bristol Oct. 20, to Nevis or St Kitts (SL). Land forfeit and for sale (TB).
Lawrence, John, of Merriott, rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP). There are three John Lawrences listed. One John Lawrence was tried at Dorchester on Sept. 10 and hanged at Sherborne on Sept. 15 (JR, NL). Another John Lawrence was tried at Wells, and transported for Stapleton (JR) in the Indeavour from Bristol Oct. 20, to Nevis or St Kitts (SL). The third was tried at Wells and transported for Howard (JR), Oct. 25 to Jamaica (SL).
Lawrence alias Turke, Thomas, of Merriott, rebel and not taken (CP). A second Thomas of West Chinnock is also listed. One of these two was tried at Wells and transported for Howard (JR), Oct. 25 on the Port Royal Merchant to Jamaica (SL).
Mitchell, James, of Merriott rebel …..and not taken (CP).
Mitchell, John, of Merriott rebel …..and not taken (CP); proposed for pardon, 12 Jan. 1686 (TB).
Mitchell, Peter, of Merriott rebel …..and not taken (CP); proposed for pardon(JR2)
Moore, Robert, of Merriott, rebel …..and not taken (CP); slain in King’s Sedgemoor, being in the Duke’s service (PRO Chancery Suit, Moore, v Harvey, printed Som. and Dors. Notes and Queries xix, 515-16).
Osborne, Alexander, of Merriott rebel and not taken (CP).
Phelps, John, of Merriott rebel and not taken (CP).
Pitcher, Amos, of Merriott rebel and not taken (CP).
Share, Henry, of Merriott rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP).
Templeman, John, of Merriott rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP); proposed for pardon; rick of wheat confiscated Jan. 12 (TB); pardon of all treasons, April 14 1686 (CSPD, J2, II, 404)
Templeman, Richard, of Merriott rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP).
Templeman, Thomas, of Merriott rebel in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP).
Wansey, Arthur, of Merriott, being in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP)
Wansey, Joseph, of Merriott, being in Monmouth’s army and not taken (CP)
Whittle, Giles, husbandman, of Merriott (TB), tried at Wells; transported for Howard (JR), Oct. 25 on the Port Royal Merchant to Jamaica (SL). Land forfeit and for sale (TB).
Woodland, Nathaniel, of Merriott, rebel and not taken (CP).
Woodland, Robert, of Merriott, rebel and not taken (CP).
MONMOUTH REBELS FROM OTHER AREAS – With possible links to Merriott
Merrefeild, Robert of Woolminstone, Crewkerne, rebel in Monmouth’s Army and not taken (CP).
Templeman, Nicholas, of West Chinnock, in the late rebellion and not taken (CP)
Hooper, George, of Lopen, in the rebellion and not come in (CP).
Woodland, Matthew, tried at Wells; transported for Howard (JR), Oct. 25 on the Port Royal Merchant to Jamaica (SL).
CP: Constables Presentments of 2,611 names intended for the Assizes at Dorchester, Exeter and Taunton (also called the Monmouth Roll): British Library, Additional MS 30077
TB: Calendar of the Treasury Books (H.M.S.O.) Volume VIII pp. 2002 – 6, is a schedule of people whose lands were forfeit and in some cases were for sale.
SL: Sailing and Shipping lists: Public Record Office, Colonial Office (CO) 1/57, 58, 66. Partly printed in the Original Lists of Persons of Quality, Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels… who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700, ed. J. C. Hotten (reprinted 1974).
CSPD: Calendar of State Papers, Domestic (H.M.S.O.) C2 (Charles 11); J2 (James 11); W & M (William & Mary).
JR: Jeffreys Report to King James: British Library, Additional MS 90337; copy in Harleian MS 4689. Printed in Bloody Assize, ed Muddiman, 195 – 225.
JR2: Jeffreys later Report to King James: British Library, Additional MS 31957. Printed in Calendar of Treasury Books, VIII (H.M.S.O.), 414-425.
A list of Purchasers of the Monmouth Rebels in Barbados is given in the book.
The General Pardon
The General Pardon was issued on 10 March 1685/6. The Pardon was not extended to any person that were in actual Arms against us in the late Rebellion in the west. Who in a Traiterous and Hostile manner Invaded this Our Realm with James Scott late Duke of Monmouth and all who..were officers in his Army. A list of exceptions specifically named appears in the book.
The General Pardon was addressed to the poor Labourers and Handicraftsmen who were drawn and seduced into the rebellion by ill-disposed Persons of greater Note and Quality than themselves. The pardon was to end their fears and dispair of Our Mercy.. they may with safety return to their Obedience to Us, and to their former Habitations, Labours, and Imployments.
A second Gracious and General Pardon was issued on 2 October 1688, from which were excepted all those transported for treason, all fugitives not returning, seven named surviving rebels, and ten prominent Whigs.
Families first appearing in Merriott Records after the General Pardon
Osborne, Alexander & Mary: first Merriott record is the Baptism of daughter Mary, on 30 March 1690. (Note the record of 1690 and for many years after showed the Osborne name as Osband.) Alexander appears in the Monmouth Roll as Alexander Osborne of Merriott. Previously the family resided in Norton sub Hamdon, where Alexander was himself born.
Pattemore, Aaron & Mary: first Merriott record is the Baptism of son John on 5 September 1692. (Note the record spells the surname Pademore.)
No Pattemores/Pademores are listed on the Monmouth Roll.