Sir Thomas Tyldesley 1612-1651

Sir Thomas TyldesleyThomas Tyldesley was the elder son of Edward Tyldesley of Morleys Hall, Astley, in the parish of Leigh, Lancashire, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Preston of Holker. He was baptised at Woodplumpton on 10 September 1612. In early life he adopted the military profession and served in the wars in Germany. Around 1634 he married Frances, elder daughter of Ralph Standish, by whom he had three sons and seven daughters.

At the outbreak of the Civil War Tyldesley was living at Myerscough Lodge, one of the estates inherited from his father. His father was at one time steward of the household of Ferdinando Stanley, fifth Earl of Derby, uncle of Lord Strange. When war seemed unavoidable, Thomas Tyldesley was one of the first to whom James Stanley, lord Strange (afterwards seventh Earl of Derby) looked for help. Ambrose BarlowFather Ambrose Barlow, a 56 year-old priest, was in receipt of a pension left by Thomas Tyldesley's grandmother to enable him to take charge of poor Catholics in the area. Thomas Tyldesley had allowed Barlow to stay at Morleys Hall and there to celebrate mass.Although Thomas Tyldesley was always firmly for the King, what happened at his home on Easter Sunday 25 April 1641 put his resolve beyond question. Butler relates the events:

Then in March 1641 Charles I (1625-49), under extreme pressure from Parliament, signed a bill which decreed that any Roman Catholic priest who did not leave the country would be arrested and treated as a traitor. At about the same time Ambrose Barlow suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralysed. Six weeks after Charles signed the bill, the vicar of Leigh celebrated Easter by arming his congregation and leading them to Morleys Hall. Ambrose Barlow had just finished celebrating Mass and was preaching to his congregation. They seized him, set him on a horse with a man behind him to prevent his falling off, and took him with an escort of sixty to a justice of the peace. The latter had imprisoned in Lancaster Castle, where he remained without trial for four months... On Friday 10 September 1641 he was taken from the castle on a hurdle to the place of execution, where he was hanged, drawn and quartered. His skull is preserved at Wardley Hall in Lancashire...

It has been suggested that Thomas Tyldesley was responsible for the first bloodshed of the Civil War, with the shooting of a linen weaver named Richard Perceval at Manchester on 15 July 1642. Certainly proceedings were begun against Thomas Tyldesley for the killing. However, on 11 August 1642 the House of Commons ordered the judges in Lancashire to cease the action:

Respiting Trials. Ordered, That the Judges of the County of Lancaster, and the other Officers whom it may concern, be required to respite the Tryal and Proceedings against Tho. Tildesley Esquire, who, as this House is informed, slew the Man at Manchester, and all other Proceedings concerning that Fact, until this House shall take farther Order herein; this Case concerning the Privilege of Parliament.

Blundell CommissionAt his own charge Tyldesley raised regiments of horse, foot, and dragoons, in command of which he served with distinction at the battle of Edgehill on 23 October 1642. A facsimile of the Captain's commission he granted to William Blundell has survived.

Thomas Tyldesley's next notable exploit was the storming of the town of Burton-upon-Trent, crossing a bridge of 36 arches whilst under constant fire. For his conduct he received from Charles I at Greenwich the honour of knighthood and was made a brigadier.

In May 1644 Tyldesley commanded under the Earl of Derby at the siege of Bolton, when, after a hot engagement, they captured the town. He was appointed governor of Lichfield in 1645, and surrendered the place in obedience to the royal warrant on 10 July 1646. He was afterwards in command of a division of the army besieging Lancaster with the expectation of a quick surrender of the place when the royal forces were totally defeated at Preston on 17 Aug. 1648.

Obliged to retreat to the north, Tyldesley joined others of the royalists at Appleby. Colonel-general Ashton, having relieved Cockermouth Castle, marched against them. Sir Philip Musgrave, the governor, and Tyldesley, finding defence impossible, surrendered at once on 9 Oct 1648, on terms which required the officers to go beyond the seas within six months, and to observe meanwhile all orders and ordinances of parliament.

Charles IIAfter the king's death in the following January, Tyldesley, unwilling to make any composition, passed over to Ireland, joining the Marquis of Ormonde; but the jealousy of the Irish officers soon obliged him to retire. He had a hearty welcome from his old commander and friend, Derby, in the Isle of Man late in 1649, and, after an expedition to Scotland, returned to the island to assist in taking over the troops to join Charles II in his advance into England. The king sent word for them to hasten to him in August 1651, when he was actually quartered at Myerscough Lodge, Tyldesley's home.

Ormerod cites a report made by one of the Parliamentarians:

...upon Tuesday [12 August 1651] the Scots King came thither and set all the prisoners in the Castle at liberty. Hee was proclaimed at the Crosse, and a general pardon to all persons except some few. That night he lodged at Aston Hall, three miles from Lancaster, being Col. Wainman's bouse, where Hamilton lodged two days before the battail at Preston, whose fate we hope attends this young man that traces him in the same steps of Invasion. Upon Wednesday [13 August 1651] he lodged at Myerscoe, Sir Thomas Tildesley's house, and from thence marched through Preston.

Although delayed by contrary winds, Derby, with Tyldesley as his major-general, landed at Wyre Water in Lancashire on 15 August, and called upon their friends, including both Catholics and presbyterians, to meet them at Preston. Before they could gather and equip an efficient force, Colonel Robert Lilburne, one of the parliament's officers, advanced against them with some well-trained troops and brought them to an engagement at Wigan Lane in Lancashire on 25 Aug. 1651. In that desperate struggle the royal army, which lost nearly half its officers and men, was totally defeated and Tyldesley was killed.

Tyldesley was buried in his own chapel of St. Nicholas in the church of Leigh. A monument covered his remains.. The Earl of Derby, who grieved much at the loss of his old companion-in-arms when himself on his way to his execution at Bolton two months later, requested in vain to be allowed to go into the church as he passed by Leigh to look upon his friend's grave.

By 1869, when the church was rebuilt, the monument had long been removed. When the restoration of the church was completed a subscription was raised, and by it a brass plate was inserted in the north wall of the chapel. The arms in the margin of the brass are Tyldesley quartering Worsley, brought in by the marriage of Thurston de Tyldesley with Margaret, daughter and heiress of Jordan de Workedeslegh or Worsley, and Leyland of Morleys, brought in by the marriage of Edward Tyldesley with Ann, daughter and sole heiress of Thomas Leyland. The inscription reads:

At the east end of the north aisle, formerly the Tyldesley chantry of St. Nicholas, within this ancient parish church, rested the body of Sir Thomas Tyldesley, of Tyldesley, Morleys, and Myerscough, in this county, knight, a major-general in his Majesty's army, and governor of Lichfield, who was slain fighting gallantly for his royal master under James, seventh Earl of Derby, in the battle of Wigan-lane near this place, on the twenty-fifth day of August, 1651.

No forfeiture is known to have followed Tyldesley's decease as far as related to his Astley and Tyldesley estates. A monument was erected in the hedge by the roadside half a mile from Wigan, where Tyldesley fell, by Alexander Rigby, high sheriff of the county, who had served under him as a cornet. The inscription reads:

Wigan Lane Monument An high Act of Gratitude which conveys the memory of Sir Thomas Tyldesley to posterity. Who served King Charles the First as Lieutenant Colonel at Edge Hill Battle, after raising Regiments of Horse, Foot and Dragoons, and of the desperate storming of Burton-on-Trent over a bridge of 36 arches, received the honour of Knighthood. He afterwards served in all the Wars in great command, was Governor of Litchfield and followed the fortune of the Crown through the three Kingdoms and never compounded with the Rebels, though strongly invested. And on the 25th August, A.D. 1651 was here slain, commanding as Major General under the Earl of Derby. To whom the grateful Erector Alexander Rigby Esq. was Cornet when he was High Sheriff of this County A.D. 1679 Placed this high obligation on the whole of the family of the Tyldesleys, to follow the noble example of their Loyal Ancestor.

Fishwick states that Mary Rigby, daughter of Alexander, married Thomas Tyldesley, son of the Cavalier.

Lady Frances Tyldesley survived her husband for many years. On 30 May 1663 she was granted a pension of £200 per annum.She died at Ince Blundell and was buried in the Tyldesley chantry at Leigh on 11 September 1691. The register entry reads "Madam Frances Leddy to Sir Thomas Tyldesley." In 1713, Thomas Tyldesley, grandson of the Cavalier, recorded in his diary that he had spent 2s 6d on the repair of the monument at Wigan Lane.

Sir Thomas Tyldesley's Regiment of Foote is part of The King's Army of The English Civil War Society

  1. Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. History of the Tyldesleys of Lancashire, John Lunn, Altrincham 1966.
  3. Butler's Lives of the Saints, Alban Butler and Paul Burnsm, 2000
  4. House of Commons Journal Volume 2, 11 August 1642.
  5. Crosby Records - A Cavalier's Note Book, William Blundell (ed. The Revd. T Ellison Gibson), 1880
  6. The Great Civil War in Lancashire, Ernest Broxap, 1973.
  7. The Finest Knight in England, Stuart Reid, 1987
  8. Tracts Relating to Military Proceedings in Lancashire during the Great Civil War, George Ormerod (Editor), 1844
  9. The History of the Parish of Bispham in the County of Lancaster, Henry Fishwick, 1887