Myddelton, Thomas (1586-1666) (DNB00)
|←Myddleton, Thomas (1550-1631)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39
Myddelton, Thomas (1586-1666)
MYDDELTON, Sir THOMAS (1586-1666), parliamentarian, born in 1586, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Myddelton [q. v.] and nephew of William Myddelton [q. v.] and of Sir Hugh Myddelton [q. v.] Thomas matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, on 22 Feb. 1604-5, and became a student of Gray's Inn in 1607; he was knighted on 10 Feb. 1617, and was M.P. for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 1624-5, and for the county of Denbigh in 1625 and 1640-8. He showed from the first a strong puritan temperament. In the summer of 1642 he was sent to his constituency to exercise his influence on behalf of the parliament, and accordingly, in December 1642, he addressed to his countrymen a 'menacing' letter to submit to and assist parliament. Thereupon, by the king's order, Colonel Ellis of Gwesnewydd, near Wrexham, seized Myddelton's residence, Chirk Castle, in his absence in January 1642-3. A garrison was placed there under Sir John Watts.
By a parliamentary ordinance, dated 11 June 1643, Myddelton, who had by that time returned to London, was appointed sergeant-major-general for North Wales. On 10 Aug. he reached Nantwich in Cheshire, where he was joined by Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) [q. v.] They proceeded on 4 Sept. to Drayton, and on 11 Sept. to Wem, which they seized, garrisoned, and made their Shropshire headquarters. While they were still engaged in fortifying Wem, Lord Capel, with reinforcements from Staffordshire, marched on Nantwich, but was signally defeated outside Wem in two separate conflicts, on 17 and 18 Oct. (ib. i. 176-8, ii. 86-8). After this victory 'Brereton the general, and Myddelton, his sub-general,' as they were styled by the royalists (see Carte, Life of Ormonde, v. 514), left Nantwich on 7 Nov., were joined at Stretton by Sir George Booth with troops from Lancashire, and crossing the Dee at Holt, entered North Wales, where Wrexham, Hawarden, Flint, Mostyn Mold, and Holywell were taken in quick succession. But all were abandoned precipitately after the landing at Mostyn on 18 Nov. of some 2,500 royalist soldiers from Ireland (Phillips, ii. 101-2). This hasty retreat was condemned by writers of their own party: 'they made such haste as not to relieve Hawarden Castle,' and 'so many good friends who had come to them were left to the mercy of the enemy' (Burghall, Providence Improved, quoted by Phillips, i. 186). Myddelton's troops were raw militiamen, while his opponents were trained soldiers.
In February 1643-4 Myddelton's command in North Wales was confirmed by a fresh commission 'vesting him with almost unlimited power as to levying contributions and sequestrating estates of delinquents' (Phillips, i. 219). He left London about the end of May 1644, and marched to Nantwich, and thence to Knutsford, where a muster of all the Cheshire forces was intended, so as to carry out a 'great design' of 'going against Prince Rupert into Lancashire' (ib. ii. 175; Hist. MSS. Comm. iv. 268). But the royalists, to the number of about four thousand, laid siege to Oswestry, recently won by the parliamentarians, and Myddelton, hurrying to the scene before the arrival of his colleagues, raised the siege by a brilliant action on 2 July (ib. ii. 179-88). Returning to Nantwich, Myddelton for some time watched Prince Rupert's movements, making occasional raids into Montgomeryshire. On 4 Sept. he captured the garrison at Newtown, and the same day advanced to Montgomery, and without any resistance the castle there was surrendered to him by its owner, Edward, first lord Herbert of Cherbury [q. v.] (Hist. MSS. Comm. vi. 28; Archaeologia Cambrensis, 4th ser. xii. 325). Thereupon Sir Michael Ernely, who was in command of the royalist forces at Shrewsbury, marched upon Montgomery to recover it–a manoeuvre anticipated by Myddelton, who sallied out to collect provisions in the neighbourhood so as to victual his men in case of a siege. Ernely, however, intercepted his return, and defeated him outside the town. Myddelton's foot-soldiers, under Colonel Mytton, succeeded in re-entering the castle, which Ernely at once besieged; but Myddelton retired to Oswestry, and after obtaining reinforcements from Lancashire returned, accompanied by Brereton and Sir William Fairfax. They arrived on 17 Sept. in sight of Montgomery, where the whole strength of both parties in North Wales and the borders was now assembled. After a desperate conflict, in which the issue long remained doubtful, and Fairfax was mortally wounded, the parliamentarians completely routed their opponents. The royalists regarded their defeat as the deathblow to their power in North Wales (see the despatches of Myddelton and others in Phillips, ii. 201-9; Autobiography of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, ed. Lee, pp. 281-91). Myddelton was left for a time in command at Montgomery, but after capturing Powis Castle on 3 Oct. (Phillips, ii. 212-13) the county generally declared for parliament, and Myddelton was therefore able to turn to Shrewsbury, where he captured most of the outposts, and blocked the passages to the town (ib. i. 266-7). Intending to keep Christmas in one of his own houses, Myddelton appeared on 21 Dec. 1644 before his own castle of Chirk, still held by Sir John Watts, who after a three days' siege was able to write on Christmas day to Prince Rupert that he had beaten Myddelton off (the original letter is now preserved at Chirk Castle, see Memorials of Chirk Castle).
By the self-denying ordinance Myddelton was superseded and the command was transferred to his brother-in-law, Colonel Thomas Mytton [q. v.] When, however, there was a general reaction in the county in favour of the king in 1648, Myddelton was one of the persons to whom the principal inhabitants of Flintshire and Denbighshire, in their fidelity to parliament, entrusted the management of their county affairs (Phillips, i. 409, ii. 371, cf. pp. 399-401). On 14 May 1651 Myddelton was ordered by the council of state to enter into a bond of 10,000l. for his general good behaviour, and having received the security it was further ordered on 16 May that the garrison should be withdrawn from his house.
In 1659 Myddelton joined Sir George Booth's rising in favour of the recall of Charles II, and went to meet Booth and others at Chester. Issuing a declaration ' in vindication of the freedom of parliament,' Myddelton marched back into Wales. After defeating Booth, General Lambert besieged Chirk Castle and compelled Myddelton to surrender on 24 Aug. 1659 (Lambert's despatch on the surrender and articles of capitulation are printed in the Public Intelligencer, 22-9 Aug. 1659). One side of the castle was demolished, and the trees in the park were cut and sold (Yorke, Royal Tribes in Wales, pp. 94-6). Charles II is said to have subsequently shown his gratitude towards Myddelton by bestowing on him 'a cabinet of great beauty, said to have cost 10,000l.,'and still preserved at Chirk Castle, where there are also a large collection of muskets used in the civil war, and other relics of the period (Gossiping Guide to Wales, large ed. p. 123). Myddelton died in 1666.
Myddelton's religious character is strongly impressed on all his despatches, in which he freely bestows the credit for his own successes on other officers, or ascribes them to the bravery of his own men, for whose safety he shows the greatest solicitude. His peaceable disposition and his aversion from unnecessary bloodshed are revealed in the 'friendly summons' to surrender which he addressed to the governor of Denbigh Castle, a former acquaintance of his (his letter, dated Wrexham, 14 Nov. 1643, is printed in Memorials of the Bagot Family, App. i., and in Parry, Royal Progresses, p. 350). The almost unlimited powers of sequestering estates which he possessed as major-general for North Wales he exercised with very great moderation, and the most serious charge brought against him by his enemies consisted of such alleged acts of vandalism as breaking up the fine organ of Wrexham Church for the sake of supplying his men with bullets.
He married, first, Margaret, daughter and heiress of George Savile of Wakefield in Yorkshire, by whom he had no issue; and secondly, Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Napier, bart., of Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, by whom he had seven sons and six daughters. The eldest, Thomas Myddelton (d. 1663), who was created a baronet in 1660, and was besieged by Lambert in Chirk Castle in August 1659, left two sons, Thomas (d. 1684), M.P. for Denbigh, and Richard Myddelton (d. 1716), M.P. for Denbigh 1685-1716, both of whom succeeded in turn to the baronetcy. Sir Richard's son, William Myddelton, fourth baronet, died unmarried in 1718, when the baronetcy became extinct and the estates reverted to Robert Myddelton of Llysvassi, a son of the parliamentary general's third son Richard, from whom Mr. Myddelton-Biddulph, the present owner of Chirk Castle, traces descent. A daughter of Myddelton, Ann, married Edward, third lord Herbert of Cherbury, grandson of the first lord.
[The chief authority is J. Roland Phillips's Civil War in Wales and the Marches, vol. ii. Among the collections of private pedigrees in the possession of the Heralds' College are several illustrative of the Myddelton family; see also Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations, ii. 334-5; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Gray's Inn Register.]