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History
VOICES OF THE POWERLESS - READINGS FROM ORIGINAL SOURCES
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THIS PROGRAMME - THE SIEGE OF CHESTER DURING THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR.
Thursday 22 August 2002, 9.02 am - 9.30 am.
Melvyn Bragg follows his long historical exploration of the Routes of English with Voices of the Powerless, in which he explores the lives of the ordinary working men and women of Britain at six critical moments across the last 1,000 years.

READINGS FROM THE CIVIL WAR AND THE SIEGE OF CHESTER
The extracts of documents that may be read on this page are:


READING: Cheshire Civil War Trackts XIV

September 23rd 1642
Good Sir
The latter end of your letter is somewhat comfortable in that you write there are some Dragoons coming into Chester for our relief, but surely they are not come, and now will come too late for we are all plundered and undone; I only desire you to pray for us and let us hear from you; the Lord fit us for these ill times, and worse which I much fear, … To hear the pitiful shrieking, weeping and howling of women and children, did more trouble me than any thing else; God grace? I never hear the like.

READING: FROM Richard Gough's History of the Parish of Myddle, in Shropshire. C. 1700.

Some accidents which happened in the Parish of Myddle in the time of the wars. First, Thomas Formeston, of Marton, a very hopefull young man, but at what place he was killed I cannot say. Secondly, Nathaniell, the son of John Owen of Myddle, the father was hanged before the wars, and the son deserved it in the wars. Owen was mortally wounded by some of his own party, in an alehouse quarrell.

Eighthly and ninethly, William Preece of the cave, (who was commonly called Scogan of the Goblin hole) went for a soldier in the king's service and three of his sons Francis, Edward, and Willliam, two of them Francis and William were killed at High Ercall. The old man died in his bed, and Edward was hanged for stealing horses.

Thirteenthly, an idle fellow, who was a taylor and went from place to place to worke in this parish, but had no habitation. These four last named went for soldiers, when the King was at Shrewsbury, and were heard of no more, so that it was supposed that they all died in the wars. And if so many died out of these three towns, we may reasonable guess that many thousands died in England in that war.

READING: Randle Holme

1645 Oct 10th

" By this time our women are all on fire, striving through a gallant emulation to outdo our men and will make good our yielding walls or lose their lives. Seven are shot and three slain, yet they scorn to leave their undertaking and thus they continue for ten days space. Our ladies likewise like so many exemplary goddesses create a matchless forwardness in the meaner sort by there dirty undertakings. "

1645 Dec 10th

Eleven huge granadoes like so many tumbling demi-phaetons threaten to set the city, if not the world, on fire. This was a terrible night indeed, our houses like so many split vessels crash their supporters and burst themselves in sunder through the very violence of these descending firebrands.

... another Thunder-crack invites our eyes to the most miserable spectacle that spite could possibly present us with - two houses in the Watergate skippes joint from joint and creates an earthquake.. in a word the whole fabric is in a perfect chaos lively set forth in this metamorphosis. The grandmother, mother and three children are struck stark dead and buried in the ruins of this humble edifice, a sepulcher well worth the enemy's remembrance. But for all this they are not satisfied, women and children have not blood enough to quench their fury, and therefore about midnight they shoot seven more in hope of greater execution, one of these last light in an old man's bedchamber, almost dead with age, and send him some few days sooner to his grave then perhaps was given him "

December 17th, 1645

Poor in very great want and many that have lived well formerly go a begging - little bread or beer left. The Welsh soldiers almost famished. Not above 20 cattle in City. They are expecting relief and they will shortly make a sudden sally out through the Eastgate and Northgate and their sally port under the Sadler's Tower. 3,000 fighting men in City, one half Welsh, about 50 horse. The poor people and soldiers willing the city should be delivered up. I believe that if you summons the town once more, the common soldiers will force their officers to yield.

READING: Capt Thomas Sandford, March 5th 1641-4

"Some of my soldiers for entreating billet were threatened, others sent to the gaol with much abuse and sufferance. Above 50 of my men want quarters, and abundance are lodged among extreme poverty and infection of the Pox, and many are so cruel that they thrust my men out of doors to perish in the streets. Money is wanting and none will credit or deliver a pint of beer or a penny loaf to a soldier without payment for the same. I endeavour to suppress disorder amongst my distressed men and their cruel landlords."

READING: 1646 January 4 - Lt Philemon Mainwaring, taken prisoner at Eccleston, October 15th

The town is in as ill a condition as almost you would wish. On Thursday last in evening at the Parade 300 Welshmen laid down their arms and told Lord Byron unless he would afford them more meat they would do no more duty, but rather choose to stand to the mercy of the enemy then to be starved in town.

Listen Live
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LISTEN AGAIN
l - Castles and Cruelty - extracts on programme page.
2 - The Peasants' Revolt - extracts on programme page.
-3 - The Reformation - extracts on programme page
4 - The Plantation of Ulster - extracts on programme page
5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester - - extracts on programme page
Listen to Melvyn Bragg talk about Voices of the Powerless
Listen to Simon Elmes, executive producer, give an unigue insight into the programme.
Listen to the signature music
VOICES OF THE POWERLESS PAGES
Go to - Homepage.
Go to Prog l - Castles and Cruelty
Go to Prog 1 - Biography of Orderic Vitalis
Go to Prog 2 - The Peasants' Revolt
Go to Prog 3 - The Reformation
Go to Prog 3 - The Reformation - Key Events
Go to Prog 4 - The Plantation of Ireland in the Counties of Armagh and Tyrone.
Go to Prog 5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester
Read The Sources
Go to Prog 1 - Castles and Cruelty
Go to Prog 2 - The Peasants' Revolt
Go to Prog 3 - the Reformation
Go to Prog 4 - the Plantation of Ulster
Go to Prog 5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester

DON'T MISS
In Our Time
Thursday 9.00-9.45am, rpt 9.30-10.00pm. Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas. Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.
RELATED PROGRAMMES
This Sceptred Isle
USEFUL LINKS
BBC History - Plantation of Ireland
PRESENTER
Melvyn Bragg
Melvyn Bragg presents In Our Time for BBC Radio 4, a series where he and his guests discuss the "Big Ideas" of cultural or scientific significance.

He also presented The Routes of English, his millennial series celebrating 1,000 years of the English language.

Melvyn Bragg was born in 1939 in Wigton, Cumbria - where many of his books are set. He won a scholarship to Oxford to read history, and in 1961 he gained a coveted traineeship with the BBC.

He has presented a number of television series including: Read All about It, Two Thousand Years, and Who's Afraid of the Ten Commandments? and createdThe South Bank Show.

Melvyn presented Start the Week between 1988 and 1998. In his 1998 series On Giant's Shoulders he interviewed scientists about their eminent predecessors.

As well as presenting for Radio 4, he is Controller of Arts for London Weekend Television. In 1998 he was made a life peer. He's written 17 novels, the latest of which, The Soldier's Return, won the WH Smith Literary Award.

Melvyn Bragg was made a Life Peer in 1998 and he took the title of Baron Bragg of Wigton in the County of Cumbria.

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