Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 08.djvu/162

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and examined as to the stores lately conveyed into the fortress. ‘He gave so full answers to all the questions asked of him, that they could not but dismiss him’ (Clarendon Rebellion, 154 a), but he refused to leave the Tower without the king's order. The peers refused to concur in the address for his removal, and it was therefore presented by the commons alone (27 Jan.). The king at first declined to comply, but Byron himself begged to be set free ‘from the vexation and agony of that place.’ On 11 Feb. 1641–2 Charles sent a message to the House of Lords consenting to the appointment of Sir John Conyers in Byron's place.

When the war broke out, Byron was among the first to join the king at York, and marched with him to summon Coventry (20 Aug. 1642, Dugdale, Diary, p. 17). Thence he was despatched by Charles to protect Oxford. At Brackley (28 Aug.), while refreshing his troop after a long march, he was surprised, and forced to make a speedy retreat to the heath. In the confusion a box containing money, apparel, and other things of value was left in a field of standing corn. He wrote to a Mr. Clarke of Croughton for its restitution, which he said he would represent to the king as an acceptable service; if not, he continued, ‘assure yourself I will find a time to repay myself with advantage out of your estate.’ The houses took notice of this letter, in a joint declaration, retorting on Byron ‘the odious crime and title of traitor’ (Declaration of the Lords and Commons, 11 Sept. 1642). In a contemporary tract (Brit. M. E. 117, 11) the value of the spoil taken is estimated at not less than 6,000l. or 8,000l., and the prisoners taken by the parliamentarians are said to have been searched, despoiled, and thrown into the Tower, where they might have starved but for charity (cf. Bailey, Nottinghamshire, ii. 669, 672).

Byron reached Oxford 28 Aug., and remained there till 10 Sept. After leaving Oxford he arrived at Worcester about 17 Sept. He had been pursued by Lord Say, and had to fight on the road. He gained a victory over the parliamentarians at Powick Bridge (22 Sept.), but found it necessary to evacuate Worcester, which he had not fortified, on the following day.

At Edgehill (23 Oct. 1642), when Rupert's charge had scattered the enemy, Byron joined in the chase with the reserve of the right wing—his own regiment of horse. When Rupert returned he ‘found a great alteration in the field, and the hope of so glorious a day quite vanished’ (Clarendon, 309 a). For Byron had left the foot, whom he had been posted to protect, to be taken in rear by the enemy.

After Edgehill, Byron's regiment quartered a while at Fawley Court. His orders against plunder were disregarded, and the owner, Bulstrode Whitelocke, laments the wanton destruction of property, the writings of his estates, and many excellent manuscripts (Memorials, p. 65). Byron's regiment of horse was quartered at Reading in December 1642 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. ii. 433 b), and he probably commanded the horse of the garrison there. Reading not long after (26 April 1643) capitulated to Essex, but Byron was in Oxfordshire during the spring of this year. On 6 May he defeated a party of roundheads at Bicester, and on 12 July was sent west with Prince Maurice to relieve Devizes. The great victory of Roundway Down, near Devizes, on 13 July, was chiefly the work of Byron, whose charge turned to flight the ‘impenetrable regiment’ of Haslerig's cuirassiers. But his men were always ready to desert or to mutiny for plunder's sake, and on the day of the surrender of Bristol to Rupert, Byron writes in haste to beg the prince to give them assurance that they shall have their share—‘some benefit from your highness's great victory.’ On 20 Sept. Byron commanded the horse of the right wing at the first battle of Newbury, and Lord Falkland fell fighting in the front rank of Byron's regiment. Byron wrote a full account of this battle for Lord Clarendon's use, and long extracts from his original manuscript are given by Mr. Money in his ‘Battles of Newbury’ (pp. 44, 51, 56). He himself received what reward the king had to bestow, being created Baron Byron of Rochdale (24 Oct. 1643), with limitation of the title, after his own issue, to his six loyal brothers, Richard, William, Thomas, Robert, Gilbert, and Philip. He willingly accepted Rupert's offer of the sole command in Lancashire, if the county would agree thereto (7 Nov.), but wished first to make sure of the appointment of governor to the Prince of Wales, ‘an employment likely to continue to my advantage when this war is ended’ (Add. MS. 18980, f. 147; Warburton, Prince Rupert, ii. 329).

By the cessation of arms granted by Ormonde, the troops raised for the king's service against the Irish rebels were set free for other employment, and detachments came over at intervals to join the force under the command of Byron, whose whole army is described as ‘rolling like a flood’ up to the walls of Nantwich, the only parliament garrison left in Cheshire. Byron defeated Brereton at Middlewick, and captured Crewe House.