Tinker Fox

Last updated

Colonel John "Tinker" Fox (1610–1650), confused by some sources with the MP Thomas Fox, [1] was a parliamentarian soldier during the English Civil War. Commanding a garrison at Edgbaston House in Warwickshire – a location that guarded the main roads from strongly parliamentarian Birmingham to royalist Worcestershire – Fox operated largely independently of the parliamentarian hierarchy, all factions of which tended to view him with suspicion. Though lauded by the parliamentarian press for his "continual motion and action", to royalist propagandists Fox became an icon of dangerous and uncontrolled subversiveness, being decried as a "low-born tinker" whose troops "rob and pillage very sufficiently". By 1649 Fox's notoriety was such that he was widely, though wrongly, rumoured to be one of the executioners of Charles I. [2]

Contents

Life and career

Fox was baptised in the parish church of Walsall, Staffordshire on 1 April 1610 and is recorded marrying in the same church 1634. [3] He probably worked in the metal trades of nearby Birmingham – the origin of his caricature as a tinker – before serving as a captain in the Roundhead cavalry under Lord Brooke from February 1643. [4]

By October 1643 Fox had recruited a garrison to occupy Edgbaston Hall, to the south east of Birmingham, a town whose puritan traditions had made it a bastion of support for Parliament, [5] and whose metal trades provided Fox with a fertile recruiting ground. [6] Fox was commissioned as a colonel by the Earl of Denbigh in March 1644 to command the regiment at Edgbaston, which by June 1644 consisted of 256 horse, dragoons and scouts, and by July was made up of three separate troops commanded by Fox himself, his brother Reighnold and his brother-in-law Humphrey Tudman. [7] The royalist newspaper Mercurius Aulicus quickly sought to capitalise on Fox's background:

one Fox, a tinker of Walsall, in Staffordshire, having got a horse and his hammer for a poleaxe, invited to his society 16 men of his brethren … marched seven miles to Birmingham in Warwickshire near which Towne they fortified a house called Edgebaston House … In this house they have nestled so long that their 16 are swollen up to 200, which rob and pillage very sufficiently.

Fox's garrison was highly active: his men probably took part in the attack on Aston Hall on 28 December 1643, removing the main royalist base in the Birmingham area, [8] and Fox's troops would regularly patrol local roads to intercept merchants heading towards royalist areas [9]

On 22 March 1644, his brother led a raid in which they captured Stourton Castle. The royalists lay siege to the castle, so Fox led a relief column, but it was intercepted and routed by royalists under the command of Sir Gilbert Gerard, the Governor of Worcester, in an action on Stourbridge Heath. With no hope of relief the Parliamentary garrison of Stourton Castle surrendered on terms. [10]

Undaunted on 3 May 1644 — in an escapade that in the opinion of historian J. W. Willis-Bund "reads far more like an incident out of 'The Three Musketeers', or some other of Dumas' novels than an actual event" [11] — sixty of Fox's troops raided the royalist garrison at Bewdley, taking forty prisoners including Sir Thomas Lyttelton, the royalist governor. [12]

Fox also had a very capable intelligence network which regularly passed timely information onto the Earl of Denbigh: predicting Prince Rupert of the Rhine's rendezvous at Bloxwich and subsequent move to Newark on 18 March 1644 and passing on the location of the King himself on 8 July. [13] In December 1644, Fox raided Dudley a matter of hours after the departure of its royalist garrison. [14]

That September, Fox headed the list of officers appointed to the County Committee for Worcestershire, a county still largely in royalist hands. They were authorised to meet at Hawkesley House (in Kings Norton), a new garrison established by Fox. [15]

Throughout his occupation of Edgbaston, Fox seems to have been ill-provided with money to feed and pay his troops. He was accused of having unruly soldiers and of embezzlement, but his lack of funding from the Warwick County Committee makes the behaviour hardly surprising. He died in 1650 in great debt, and leaving his children impoverished and dependent on his brother-in-law, Humphrey Tudman. [16]

See also

Notes

  1. Hopper 1999 , p. 99
  2. Hopper 1999 , p. 98
  3. Hopper 2004
  4. Hopper 1999 , p. 100
  5. Hughes 2002 , pp. 9–10
  6. Hopper 1999 , pp. 100–102
  7. Hopper 1999 , pp. 102–103
  8. Hopper 1999 , p. 102
  9. Hopper 1999 , p. 105
  10. Willis-Bund 1905, p. 121.
  11. Willis-Bund 1905, p. 122.
  12. Hopper 1999 , pp. 107–8
  13. Hopper 1999 , p. 106
  14. Hopper 1999 , p. 106
  15. Hopper 1999 , p. 106
  16. Hopper 1999 , p. 109

Related Research Articles

Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 1st Baronet

Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 1st Baronet was an English Royalist officer and politician from the Lyttelton family during the English Civil War.

Basil Feilding, 2nd Earl of Denbigh

Basil Feilding, 2nd Earl of Denbigh was a diplomat, politician and parliamentarian army officer during the English Civil War. He was the eldest son of William Feilding, 1st Earl of Denbigh and Susan Feilding, Countess of Denbigh.

The city of Birmingham, in England, has a long military history and has been for several centuries a major manufacturer of weapons. It may have been between Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Edgbaston Hall

Edgbaston Hall is a country house in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, England.

Stourton, Staffordshire Human settlement in England

Stourton is a hamlet in Staffordshire, England a few miles to the northwest of Stourbridge. There is a fair amount of dispute over the pronunciation, being pronounced 'stower-ton', 'stir-ton' or 'store-ton' by different people from the area. The nearest sizeable villages are Wollaston and Kinver, the nearest hamlets are Prestwood and Dunsley. It lies on the River Stour. The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and Stourbridge Canal meet at Stourton Junction, which places Stourton on the Stourport Ring, a navigable waterway popular with narrowboat holidaymakers.

Sir Edward Littleton, 1st Baronet

Sir Edward Littleton, 1st Baronet was a 17th-century English Baronet and politician from the extended Littleton/Lyttelton family, the first of a line of four Littleton baronets with Pillaton Hall as their seat. He initially joined the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. Having tried unsuccessfully to find a third way, he switched his support to the Royalist cause – a decision that led to his financial ruin, as large debts made it impossible to redeem his estates from sequestration after the victory of Parliament.

Worcestershire in the English Civil War

Worcestershire was the county where the first battle and last battle of the English Civil War took place. The first battle, the Battle of Powick Bridge, fought on 23 September 1642, was a cavalry skirmish and a victory for the Royalists (Cavaliers). The final battle, the battle of Worcester, fought on 3 September 1651, was decisive and ended the war with a Parliamentary (Roundhead) victory and King Charles II a wanted fugitive.

Battle of Camp Hill Battle in the first English Civil War

The Battle of Camp Hill took place on Easter Monday, 3 April 1643, in and around Camp Hill, Warwickshire, during the First English Civil War. In the skirmish, a company of Parliamentarians from the Lichfield garrison with the support of some of the local townsmen, approximately 300 men, attempted to stop a detachment of 1,400 Royalists under the command of Prince Rupert from passing through the unfortified parliamentary town of Birmingham.

William Vaughan (Royalist)

Sir William Vaughan was a cavalry officer in the armies of Charles I of England. Initially serving in Ireland during the Confederate Wars, the outbreak of the First English Civil War led to him being sent to England in 1644, at the head of an Anglo-Irish cavalry regiment, to reinforce the Royalist army.

Thomas Mytton Welsh [[Puritan]], soldier and politician (ca.1597-1656)

Major General Thomas Mytton, also spelt Mitton, 1597 to November 1656, was a lawyer from Oswestry who served in the Parliamentarian army during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and as MP for Shropshire in the First Protectorate Parliament.

Governors of the city of Worcester, England, include:

Battle of Kings Norton

The Battle of Kings Norton was fought on 17 October 1642. The skirmish developed out of a chance encounter between Royalists under the command of Prince Rupert and Parliamentarians under the command of Lord Willoughby. Both forces had been on their way to join their respective armies which were later to meet at Edgehill in the first pitched battle of the First English Civil War. The Parliamentarians won the encounter and both forces proceeded to join their respective armies.

Battle of Tipton Green A skirmish that took place in 1644 during the First English Civil War

The Battle of Tipton Green was an indecisive engagement fought during the First English Civil War in the area of Tipton Green, about one mile from Dudley Castle on 12 June 1644. The battle occurred when Royalist troops arrived from Worcester to break the Earl of Denbigh's siege of the castle. The battle itself was indecisive, as both sides withdrew from conflict. This granted the Royalists a tactical victory, as they forced the Parliamentarians to lift the siege.

This is a timeline for the English Civil War in Shropshire.

Colonel Sir Gilbert Gerard was a Royalist officer during the English Civil War.

Robert Porter was a sword-cutler in Birmingham who supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War.

Battle of Ripple Field A Battle that took place in 1643 during the First English Civil War

The Battle of Ripple Field, fought on 13 April 1643, was an engagement in the First English Civil War. In the battle, a Royalist calvalry force led by Prince Maurice routed Parliamentarian cavalry and infantry forces led by Sir William Waller.

Battle of Stourbridge Heath A small battle that took place in 1644 during the First English Civil War

The Battle of Stourbridge Heath was a skirmish that took place during the First English Civil War, in which a Parliamentarian contingent under the command of Colonel "Tinker" Fox was defeated by a larger Royalist force under the command of Sir Gilbert Gerard, Governor of Worcester.

Siege of Worcester (1643)

The short siege of Worcester was conducted by a Parliamentary army of about 3,000 under the command of Sir William Waller. They failed to capture the city, which was defended by about 1,700 Royalists under the command of Colonel William Sandys the acting governor, and retreated back to the Parliamentary stronghold of Gloucester.

Siege of Lichfield

The Siege of Lichfield occurred on 8–21 April 1643 during the First English Civil War. During the military action, the Royalists under the command of Prince Rupert successfully besieged the Parliamentary garrison of Lichfield in Staffordshire under the command of Colonel Russell.

References