When you read most
popular 20th century histories of the Civil War you will
find few references to the activities of the Regiment or its
personnel. However dig deeper and a rich story emerges, involving
characters that would have a lasting impact on events in the latter
half of the 17th century. In the war itself, the main
characters took part in a great many of the major incidents, and on
a smaller scale the day-to-day activities of the regiment give an
insight into general life in the Kingdom during this period of
turmoil, since the daily struggles were mirrored across the country.
This brief history should be considered a basic primer for anyone in
the current Earl of Northampton�s Regiment, for you to think about
who we are attempting to recreate.
� The 2nd Earl of Northampton Spencer Compton, a lifelong
friend of King Charles, gains military experience on the continent
alongside Prince Rupert, under the Prince of Orange. At the siege of
Vlotho, near Hanover in present-day Germany, Rupert is captured but
Spencer escapes and returns home.
� Spencer attends the King against Scottish rebels, but the King is
� Spencer executes Commission of Array in and around Warwickshire to
raise troops for the King.
� Spencer lays siege to Warwick, eventually relieved by a strong
force under Lord Brooke for Parliament. The King raises his Royal
Standard in Nottingham. Spencer�s troops are outnumbered and
defeated at Southam by Brooke�s and Hampden�s troops.
� Spencer with 100 horse are involved in the King�s victory at
Powick Bridge, taking several prisoners.
� Spencer, in command of a troop of the Prince of Wales Regiment,
and his three eldest sons (James, Charles and William) take part in
the Battle of Edgehill. James and Charles are both knighted for
gallantry. Afterwards Banbury is captured and given to Spencer to
garrison, who delegates governorship to Lt Col Sir Henry Huncks, his
most senior field officer. The Banbury Garrison quickly becomes
notorious as a �den of theeves�, due to the amount of
plundering that takes place in the local area.
� Spencer is commissioned as a Colonel General of Horse and Foot.
Parliament forces under Lord Brooke lay siege to Lichfield. Brooke
is soon killed by a boy shooting him in the eye from a cathedral
tower, but the siege continues.
� Spencer marches north to help relieve Lichfield. After closing
roads between Warwick and Lichfield he occupies Stafford. He hears
of a large rebel force under Gell and Brereton advancing from
Cheshire, and meets them on Hopton Heath. The rebels are beaten off
but Earl Spencer Compton is killed in the battle. His 20-year old
son James succeeds as the 3rd Earl of Northampton. Gell
keeps Spencer�s body as a ransom for the return of rebel artillery
pieces. However James refuses the demand.
� Cavalry under Earl James Compton defeat many rebels in a skirmish
at Middleton Cheney, just outside Banbury, capturing their arms.
James removes the Governor of Banbury, Sir Henry Huncks, on a charge
of corresponding with the enemy. Lt Col Anthony Greene replaces him.
A feud develops between James and his younger brothers William and
Charles, mainly to do with the running of the Banbury Garrison.
� James with his cavalry attends the King�s siege of Gloucester.
� James distinguishes himself as a cavalry commander at the First
Battle of Newbury, but the rebels win the day.
� Charles Compton leads a troop of cavalry under Sir John Byron, who
defeats Brereton near Nantwich in Cheshire.
� The Earl�s family home of Compton Wynyates, in Warwickshire, is
captured by rebel forces after a two-day siege. However the King
defeats the Earl of Essex�s army at Cropredy Bridge, aided by the
Earl of Northampton�s Cavalry. James and his cavalry then assist the
King in pursuing Essex all the way to Cornwall.
� The first great siege of Banbury begins. The siege severely
damages Banbury Castle and the surrounding buildings, but the
garrison valiantly hold out under the exemplary leadership of Lt Col
Anthony Greene and William Compton, though vastly outnumbered by
� The siege is lifted after James and a large cavalry force arrive
under orders from the King�s camp at Newbury. The garrison are saved
from starvation, but due to the reduction in his cavalry force, the
King marginally loses the Second Battle of Newbury. Soon after,
William Compton is knighted, and becomes Governor of Banbury
following the death of Col Anthony Greene.
� William and Charles lead a failed attempt to recapture Compton
Wynyates with over 1000 troops. At least 60 of the Banbury Garrison
are killed, and the rest are attacked by rebels from Northampton
upon retreating to Banbury.
� William and Charles rout a strong force of rebels near Daventry
who are attacking Sir Marmaduke Langdale�s troops, heading north
from Banbury to relieve Pontefract. They return to Banbury with many
captured horse, arms and colours.
- The four eldest brothers (James, Charles, William, Spencer) fight
in a skirmish at Kingsthorpe near Northampton, where they "charged
and rescued one another so often, that if any of the foure had beene
absent some of them might have fallen".
� The King leaves Oxford and heads to Cheshire with his army of 5000
foot and 6000 horse, including the Earl of Northampton�s cavalry.
Prince Rupert leads a force which includes James� cavalry that
� Earl James Compton leads a large cavalry brigade in the Battle of
Naseby, helping Rupert to smash Parliament�s left flank. However the
King�s Oxford Field Army is destroyed.
� In vindictive reprisals for the Royalist defeat at Naseby, the
Banbury Garrison destroy several great houses owned by rebel
families in the areas neighbouring Banbury. Remnants of the King�s
Army, including two troops of the Earl of Northampton�s cavalry, are
defeated at Rowton Heath in Cheshire.
� Second great siege of Banbury begins. Again the garrison is
valiantly lead by Sir William Compton, who allegedly �had Prayers
four times every day, the spiritual armes seconding the temporal, so
eminent his piety�.
� Earl James Compton is ordered by Parliament to leave the Kingdom
by 1st May or face prosecution as a spy. The King leaves
Oxford in disguise and heads for the Scots camp at Newark.
� Earl James Compton takes the National Covenant and Negative Oath
before heading overseas with 20 of his officers. The King surrenders
to the Scots at Southwell. The Banbury Garrison finally surrenders
to Parliament forces, although the record of supplies inside the
castle indicates they could have held out much longer. William and
other officers are allowed to march free with their arms, and are
given two months liberty to make arrangements to travel overseas.
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