The Battle of Ormskirk was fought on 20 August 1644 during the First English Civil War it was a decisive victory for a Parliamentarian (Roundhead) force commanded by Major-General Sir John Meldrum over a Royalist (Cavalier) force commanded by Richard, Lord Byron.
After their defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor (2 July 1644) what was left of the Royalist cavalry fled the battle field. Prince Rupert went to Chester and it was agreed that Ricard, Lord Molyneux and Sir Thomas Tyldesley would venture north into Lancashire on a recruitment sweep. While there they were joined by Royalist stragglers including Lord Byron, Gorge, Lord Goring and Sir Marmaduke Langdale until they numbered a force of some 2,500 horse (cavalry). However they were tracked and harried by mixed force of Lancastrian Roundhead infantry and horse under the command of Sir John Meldrum who finally caught up with the Cavaliers on Aughton Moor (or Aughton Moss), on the hill to the south-west of Ormskirk in Lancashire on 20 August 1644.
The Cavaliers, forced to make a stand, stood in battalia upon the Moor. The Roundhead infantry advanced and fired a volley upon which the Cavaliers retreated in disorder, and were then routed by a charge from the Parliamentarian horse; about three hundred prisoners were taken.
The Royalist commanders Lord Byron and Lord Molyneux were forced to leave their horses and hide in a cornfield. Had it not been late in the evening there would probably have been a greater victory for Meldrum; as it was, the scattered fragments of the defeated party made their escape into Cheshire.[lower-alpha 1]
Lord Byron, attributed the defeat on the poor performance of Lord Molyneux's regiment:
‘S’r Marmaduke had sent most of his owne horse before, and the retreat beeinge to bee made by my L’d Molyneux his brigade, they (accordinge to their accustomed manner), upon a volley of musket shott from the enemy, fell foule in such fury upon my regiment, that they utterly routed it; and the enemy’s horse, takeinge advantage of the disorder, charged into the lane (through w’ch wee were to pass), tookeand killed some, and stroke such a terror into the rest that they could not bee stopped till they came to Liverpool.
The Perfect Diurnal (a contemporary Parliamentary supporting newspaper) said of the battle:
The 20 of this instant the Lancashire forces near Ormeskirke beat the whole strength of the eneraie, took about 300 prisoners, 500 horse, killed about 100, and forced the rest into Cheshire, intending to follow them: have taken Colonell Hervey, besides 7 Captains and many other considerable prisoners, and Sir Thomas Tilsley and Colonell Preston are either killed or fled privately, for except their corps, were among the dead, and being stript, not known, which may be, we cannot tell what is become of them.
Another account from a letter in Perfect Occurrences, dated Manchester four days after, had the following:
It is to be observed that the same day and at the very same time that the Cheshire forces were engaged at Tarvin, the Lancashire forces had a great victorie over the enemie. Our Major Generall Meldrum having notice of the enemy, marched towards Ormskirk, made fast after them, overtook them on Tuesday in the evening on a moor neer Ormskirk, where they stood in batalia, and upon the first charge of our Musquet, they fled, whereupon our Horse bravely fell upon them, and totally routed them. In the pursuit they took about 800 horse; some letters report a 1,000, and 300 prisoners. By reason of the night we could not improve the victory as wee otherwise might have done. The Lord Byron and the Lord Molleneux were forced to leave their horses, and to hide themselves in a corn field.
The letter is followed by "A List of the names of such persons of Quality as were taken near Ormskirk":
Colonel Sr James Prestwich, Lieut. Col. Cottingham; Captains Eccleston, Atherton, Butler, Brooks & Lea; M' Worthington, Esquire, Abraham Langton, Esquire, Lieutenants John Sturbane, Gent. Thomas Mossoike, Walter Chamberlaine, John de Hurst, John Morgrow, Nathan Jones; Coronets, William Johnson, Edward Stanley, Rich. Wright, Gent., Henry Gelibrand; Gentlemen, Peter Bland, William Scot, Thomas Sherburne, -- Marshall, Arthur Butler, James Noricon, Thomas Wotton, & John Fox; John Fulme, clerk, James Bould, clerk; two quartermasters, one servant, and about 250 common souldiers.
Baines, Edward (1836). "History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster". In William Robert, Whatton. Fisher. pp. 237–238.
- Gratton, J.M. (1984). "The Military Career of Richard, Lord Molyneux, C. 1623-54". http://www.molyneuxs.com/64415/64854.html.
- Hamilton, William Douglas, ed (1888). "Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles I, 1644". pp. 387–465. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=53898.
- Sanders, Francis; Irvine, William Fergusson; Brownbill, J. (1883). "The Cheshire Sheaf ...: Being Local Gleanings, Historical and Antiquarian, Relating to Cheshire ...". Chester: The Courant Steam Printing Works. pp. 134–135.
- Newstead, G. Coulthard (1893). "Gleanings towards the annals of Aughton, near Ormskirk". Liverpool: Ratcliffe. p. 14.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Farrer, William; Brownbill, J., eds (1907). "A History of the County of Lancaster". pp. 284–291 British History Online. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41335.
- English Heritage. "Field Of Ormskirk Fight, 1644 (Monument number 40154)". Pastscape.
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