A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SIEGE OF GLOUCESTER
Charles 1st reached Gloucester on August 1st 1643 and soon the city was surrounded by 30,000 royalist troops. On 10th August he sent a royal proclamation to the city, offering pardon to all if they would surrender at once. The reply from Robert Massie and the Gloucester forces was that Gloucester would ” Keep this city according to our oath and allegiance and doe conceive ourself bound to obey the commands of his majesty signified by both houses of parliament, and are resolved by Gods help to keep this city accordingly “. The battle of Gloucester began on this note.
The Royalists decided on a conventional siege, attacking the city from the east and south where there was good firm ground for the siege engines. King Charles was quartered at Matson House, just outside the city.The city defenders burnt down all the houses in the suburbs outside the walls, so as not to afford any cover for the attacking forces. The Kings men replied by cutting off the cities water pipes, and also diverted the Twyver streams so that the city had to drink Severn water and use horse mills to grind flour.
The royalists dug themselves in to the south of the city. Gloucester sent out several skirmishing parties that captured tools and prisoners. The city walls were bombarded with cannon fire, and the defenders continued to fill the south gate with earth, and to build a breast-work against the wall. A document from the time says ” The enemy shot divers granadoes out of their battery into the towne; wherefore about four fell upon some houses, and brake into them, but by God’s providence did no harm, and one fell into the street near the south gate, but a woman coming by with a payle of water, threw the water thereon, and extinguished the phuse thereof, so that it did not break, but was taken up whole.”
The kings army soon had more guns in place and they then started a furious battery on the south and east, but the defences stood firm. This battery killed 2 children and a pig which the Gloucester soldiers ate with great relish ( food was short ) and much jeering at the Royalists.
Meanwhile, the forces of parliament had organised a relief force led by the Earl of Essex. This force made its triumphant entry into Gloucester on Thursday 7th, but thanks in part to the skilful leadership of Robert Massie the siege had already been lifted. This was very fortunate because the gallant defenders of Gloucester were down to 3 barrels of gunpowder.