|CIVIL WAR | A twist in the tale of the siege|
Plymouth is a town built on the scene of bloodbaths
and killing fields, yet few know the true extent of Plymouth’s loss
during the Civil War over 350 years ago.
The English Civil War immersed the South West, and nowhere was the loss
of life as great as in Plymouth. To mark the anniversary of the end of
the Civil War, Inside Out reveals a new twist in the tale of the siege.
When war swept through the South West, Plymouth came under
attack because it sided with parliament against King Charles I.
John Sym's diary
|The death toll
in Plymouth was the highest in the South West|
John Syms was a puritan minister who sought sanctuary
in Plymouth. His diary sheds new light on the town’s steadfast resolve
in their fight against the Royalists.
The people of Plymouth were faced with a stark choice
of seeing their town burn to ashes or surrendering to the enemy. They
chose to fight.
The people of Plymouth signed a solemn covenant to fight
to the last man and indeed facing the Royalist army may have proven the
lesser of two evils.
John Syms’ diary reveals that failure to keep the oath
lead to punishment and even death.
of the army were punishable by death|
Extracts from Syms’ diary state, "George Henwood of Plymouth
and one of the captain’s troop were executed on the Hoe for deserting
the Parliament’s army after their covenant… The renegade committed a barbarous
cruelty on two of our soldiers going out to the country enforcing one
to hang the other."
Syms’ revelations do not end there however. His diary
tells of a betrayal which could have been the end of Plymouth.
Commander Alexander Carew plotted to give up Drake’s
Island to the enemy camped over at Mount Edgecumbe. Thankfully Carew was
caught before the plot was carried out. He protested his innocence all
the way to the gallows.
Syms' diary reveals new details of Plymouth's role in the Civil War|
King Charles took up headquarters at Widey House believing
Plymouth ready to surrender. With their refusal, the King dared not risk
his 15,000 strong army against Plymouth and the task fell to others.
Sir Richard Grenville amassed a formidable force in the
last major attempt to break the resistance. Thousands of soldiers surged
towards Plymouth and its badly armed defenders.
The Plymothians displayed astonishing bravery and by the
end of the fighting it was the blood of Grenville’s men that was shed.
Plymouth stood firm for nearly four years and with the
King finally defeated, they found themselves on the winning side.
Their triumph however was short lived. The monarchy was
restored and the new King, Charles II exacted revenge for Plymouth’s resistance.
Many of its heroes were imprisoned on Drake’s Island, some until their