A True Relation of Prince Rvpert's Barbarous Cruelly against the Towne of Brumingham

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A True Relation of Prince Rvpert's Barbarous Cruelly against the Towne of Brumingham, 12 April  (1643) 
The authors of the letters are identified by initials R.P.and R.G. Historians have postulated that they are Robert Porter the sword-cutler who fought as a cavalry trooper during the Battle of Camp Hill (3 April 1643) and his commanding officer on that day Captain Richard Greaves.

London: Printed for John Wright in the Old-Bailey, April 12, 1643. The spelling of Rupert (Rvpert) and Birmingham (Burmingham) along with some other words have been retained but are archaic. Only the first phrase of the title has been included above see the initial italic script for the full heading. The image is the Frontispiece.


  • Hutton, William & Guest, James (1836), The History of Birmingham: With Considerable Additions (6th ed.), G. Berger, pp. 42–47 
Frontispiece. Prince Rupert on a horse firing a pistol, with his dog at his horse's hooves and Birmingham on fire in the distance.

A True Relation of Prince Rvpert's Barbarous Cruelly against the Towne of Brumingham, to which place on Monday Apr. 3, 1643, he marcht with 2000 horse and foot, 4 Drakes, and 2 Sakers; where after two houres fight (being twice beaten off by the Townsmen, in all but 140 Musqueteers) he entered, put divers to the Sword, and burnt about 80 Houses to ashes, suffering no man to carry away his goods, or quench the fire, and making no difference between friend or foe; yet by God's providence the greatest losse fell on the malignants of the Town.[1]

And of the Cavaliers were slaine divers chiefe Commanders, and men of great quality, amongst whom was the Earle of Denbigh, the Lord John Stewart: and as themselves report, the Lord Digby.


Though I can write you but the same lamentation which I believe you have already heard, yet I cannot be silent to acquaint you of the truth as neere as I can; If Coventrey had sent us what helpe it might, I beleeve the enemy durst not have assaulted us, but in regard they had been in danger of cutting off by the way, in case they had been sent, I must excuse them, though it be to our owne suffering. We with the Captaines were sensible, that if the Cavaliers came, we were not likely to withstand them, they being neere 1500, and we not above 150 Musketiers, with a Troope of Horse of Captaine Greaves, which did no good but in their flight, as hereafter you will heare; but in regard the generall desire of the Towne, especially of those that bore Armes, would have them stand it out, and not march away with their Armes, as we might in time, and that both they, and the malignant would have reviled, and curst the Captaines and Majestrates of the Towne if they had left them, made the Captaines and better sort content to stay and trie the issue, rather then be so perpetually reproacht. And though the same fall hard on our side in loosing the Towne and some Armes, and about 80 Houses burnt to ashes, with all that therein was, and some fifteen men, and two women lost their lives, yet their gaine was nothing at all, yea, they count it greate losse and curse the time that ever they medled with us, for I believe they lost as many ordinary men as we, besides three men of great quality which they much lament, whereof two of them were Lords, as we have great cause to thinke, the one the Earle of Denby that's sure, the other Lord we something doubt of his name, but we heare by divers of the Cavaliers it is Digby, sure we are he is wounded; and it is as sure that some of their Collonels say it was a man of greater ranke, and more considerable then Denby; the other a chiefe Commander; Denby pursued Captaine Greaves Troope some two Miles out of Towne being at their heeles, before our Troope departed, "among whom I went away, and Captaine Greaves observing his Time betwixt two woods faced about, and charged the pursuers most valiantly as they themselves confesse, and drove them backe againe: in which charge Denby was slaine immediately, and the rest fled, and so we escaped with safety; onely Captaine Greaves received one shot in the face, and a cut in the Arme, but not mortall; in the pursuit of that troope God made a way for all our souldiers, saving some two or three, to escape most with their armes, which they threw away and hid in pits and ditches as they could, whereof the most, I thinke, the cavaleeres found not, and not one Captaine or Officer was hurt or taken prisoner, nor any considerable man, but most poore fellowes, and malignants, because they could meet with no better, and all are released saving two of the best, though of no great quality, some redeemed themselves for 2d. 12d. and 8d. apiece, and some one or two for 20s. Prince Rupert being enraged that he should take never a prisoner of so great a company, and of those not to raise 20/. when he himselfe had undergon so great a losse; and of those that were slaine [of our side were most poore malignants, some three young men of ordinary quality that bare Armes, and John Carter, and that in their flight; for but one was slaine,] and one lightly shot in the flesh; in the entrance for pillage they spared none, friend or foe they lighted of, yet for the most part those that did most against them escaped best, the same I may say of the fire, though they intended to burne the Towne utterly, as may be known by their laying lighted match, with powder, and other combustible matter at the other end, which fired in divers places, and divers was found out and prevented, so that we may truely say, that the flames, sword, pilledgers, but especially the prison, made a difference betwixt those that feared God, and those that fear him not. But this is remarkable in their vilenesse, that all these houses saving two were fired in cold blood, at their departure, wherein they endeavoured to fire all, and in the flames they would not suffer the people to carry out their goods, or to quench it, triumphingly with reproaches rejoiced that the Wind stood right to consume the Towne, at which present the Lord caused the Winds to turn, which was a token of his notice of their insultation.

For pillage I heare but of little I lost, having obscured the things I had of any valew; and for fire, God did marveliously prevent, both to me and many others, whereat the malignants are so enraged that they have since pulled down my Mill, and pretend that Prince Rupert so commanded, and threaten to pull downe my house and divers others, which I thinke they dare not, lest they build it up againe, the County having sent them admonition of their insolency.

Prince Rupert with Hastings kept their rendezvow this day, within two miles of Lichfield, as we credibly heare. what their designe is we know not, I believe they can doe no good at Lichfield; I hope their cruelty in our sufferings will provoke this unwilling kingdome to jealousy for the Parliament. I pray you when you have read this, shew it to Mr. B. and Mr. E. not onely to acquaint them with the newes, but of my being in health, with all my Company, wherein I have great cause to rejoyce in the Lord, and so I rest,

Your loving friend,

R.P. Coventry, April 8, 1643.


Being by my promise ingaged unto you, I am now to make relation of a most barbarous massacree of our townesmen of Bermingham, and of the enraged cruelty of Prince Rupert and his inhumane Cavaliers: Sir, thus it was, about three of the clocke one Munday in the afternoone, he had with neere two thousand horse and foote, foure Drakes and two Sakers, set against the towne playing with his ordnance, and endeavouring to force his way, with foote and horse, were twice beaten off with our musqueteers at the entrance of Derrington, at which many of their men fell, the townes-men held them in play above an houre, we had not above one hundred and fourtie musquets and having many entrances into the towne they were many too few, Coventry men had withdrawne their forces three daies before, all but Captaine Castledownes Dragooneers, a Troope of horse of Master Perkes commanded by Captaine Greaves being in the Towne, not fit for that service, made escape when the adversaries began to incompasse the Towne, and force the waies over the medowes, and fired the Towne in two places, and so by incompassing them that did defend the out-worke, caused them to draw inward, to other workes there in Digboth,which worke they defended to the adversaries losse, but being the enemy brake in at the Millone they were forced to leave that worke also, and so put to shift for themselves, with breaking through houses, over garden waies, escaped over hedges and boggy medowes, and hiding their armes, saved most of them, the enemy killed none, as I here in fight unlesse some three or foure, Mr. Carter, and Samuell Elsmore, being of them, some with their armes defended themselves stoutly till death, they pursued the rest in fields and lanes, cutting and most barbarously mangling naked men to the number of fifteene men, one woman, another being shot, and many hurt, many men sore wounded, and Mr. Tillam the surgeon standing in his dore to entertaine them, was most cruelly shot, having his leg and thigh bones broken, they pillaged the Towne generally, their owne friends sped worst, and one tuesday morning set fire in diverse places of the Towne, and have burnt neere a hundred dwellings the Welch end, Dale end, and More street end, Humphrey Rans, the Bell, and diverse houses thereabout, many other fires they kindled, but they did not burne, they left kindled matches with gunpowder also in other places, intending nothing lesse then utterly to destroy the Towne, but by Gods providence they whose hurt they chiefly intended by Gods hand is much prevented, the Cavaliers lye about Clanke beyond Wosall, are joyned with Hastings forces, and intend to set on the Close at Lichfield, where I feare not but they will have enough; your Father's house stands, but hath lost much, Mr. Roberts Mr. Porters, and mine be safe, but are threatned to be pulled downe, and they pretend Prince Ruperts warrant, but however its their envy to God's overruling providence hath turned the mischiefe so much on the heads of those that might with their timely helpe have prevented this mischief; I am much grieved at the losse of your brother, and many other friends, three being my honest worke-men, whose lives I would I had redeemed with mine estate. The Cavaliers have lost thirty men at least, of which there be three or foure chiefe men Earles and Lords, I beleeve you have heard them named the Earle of Denby, the Lord John Stewart, some say the Lord Digby, thirty are said to be buried and many carried away wounded, this did so much enrage them, that they appeared more like Devills then men, lamenting more their losse, then boasting of their gaine, which was much in goods and in money, its thought above two-thousand pound, thirteene hundred being taken from Mr. Peake, Mr. Jennens lost much, the which men if they had parted with little before, our fortification had been such as they could not have entred, which went on well for the time. So wishing you to have comfort in our God, who is able to turne the rage of men to his praise, and sweeten this bitter cup by some other comfort I conclude and rest,

Yours to command,

R. G.

I could wish I might heare how the City stands affected with our losse, for a little reliefe from them, might much comfort many poore people, which have lost all, and are left well nie naked and harbourlesse: it would much encourage all to stand out in the cause, that are but indifferent, a helpe to ease the better party of, the burthen of the which will be otherwaies too great for us; I would move some friends if you thinke fit, I have already put on the worke of contribution in this City.


  1. "malignant" a Roundhead term for Royalist.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.