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During the First English Civil War Lincoln was besieged between 3 May and 6 May 1644 by Parliamentarian forces of the Eastern Association of counties under the command of the Earl of Manchester. On the first day, the Parliamentarians took the lower town. The Royalist defenders retreated into the stronger fortifications of the upper town, which encompassed and incorporated Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral. The siege ended four days later when the Parliamentarian soldiers stormed the castle, taking prison the Royalist governor, Sir Francis Fane, and what remained of his garrison.


Early in 1644, Parliamentarian forces besieged the Royalist stronghold of Newark-on-Trent. The commander of the besiegers, Francis, Lord Willoughby, also had command of the Parliamentarian forces in Lincolnshire and had ordered the all of the garrison of Lincoln to come to his aid.[1]

King Charles dispatched his nephew Prince Rupert to relieve Newark, ordering him to collect all the troops he could in Shropshire, Cheshire, and Wales, march into Lancashire, reinforce his troops from James, Earl of Derby's Royalist tenantry, and then march into Yorkshire.[2]

The command of the Parliamentarian forces investing Newark had passed to veteran Scottish soldier Sir John Meldrum, who chose to oppose Rupert rather than retreat. Rupert defeated him on the banks of the Trent on 22 March 1644 and relieved Newark. With the defeat of the Parliamentarians' Lincolnshire forces at Newark, the county lay open to Royalist occupation. Lincoln was occupied on 23 March, where the Royliasts found and requisitioned 2,000 muskets. The Parliamentarians abandoned Sleaford and on orders from Meldrum, Gainsborough was slighted so that it could not be garrisoned by the Royalists.[1]

However, Rupert decided that he could not consolidate the gains he had made, and after garrisoning Lincoln and placing it under the command of Sir Francis Fane, he retreated into the West Midlands. By 23 March, he was back in Oxford to report to the king.[1] A month earlier however, Parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax and Scottish Covenanters under the Earl of Leven had laid siege to York, which was defended by the Marquess of Newcastle. Early in the siege, Newcastle decided that his cavalry would be of little use within the besieged city. Commanded by Newcastle's Lieutenant General of Horse, George, Lord Goring, they broke out of the city, and escaped pursuit. They made their way to Newark, plundering as they marched.[2]

The Parliamentarian Army of the Eastern Association under the Earl of Manchester counterattacked.[2] In the last week of April Manchester was at Stamford. He ordered his cavalry under the command of Oliver Cromwell to advance. They cleared Lincolnshire of marauding parties of Cavaliers from Newark and drove them across the Trent, where they joined Goring at Mansfield.[1] Manchester then marched to Lincoln, arriving on 3 May 1644.[2]


Partial view of the Eastern Gate (to the right; the Observatory Tower is to the left)

The View from the Tower of Lincoln Cathedral towards Lincoln Castle

The View from Lincoln Castle

Manchester's army consisted of about 6,000 infantry and cavalry. The garrison of the town was about 2,000 strong.[1] On 3 May the Parliamentarians managed to capture parts of the lower town and the Royalists retreated in their upper works which surrounded Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral.[3]

On 4 May the Roundheads were unable to press their attack because it rained heavily making the mound under the castle very slippery.[3]

Cromwell posted his horse so as to cover the siege from any interruption from Goring. He made his dispositions so well that, hearing on 5 May that Goring had crossed the Trent, Cromwell's troopers were assembled and drawn up in little over an hour from the news being received. Goring, finding the outposts on the alert, fell back again.[2] A contemporary Royalist report states that that night the Parliamentarians attempted to storm Lincoln Close but were repulsed with about 60 killed.[1]

Storming of the castle and the end of the siege

The next night (6 May) the Castle was stormed with the aid of scaling ladders.[1][4] The Roundheads took about a quarter of an hour to reach the walls of the castle. The scaling ladders proved to be too short, but despite the defenders throwing boulders down upon the attackers (doing more injury than their gunfire had caused) the Parliamentarians managed to scale the walls and enter the castle. The Royalists fled from the parapets, begging for quarter, which was granted. Parliamentarian casualties were eight killed and about 40 wounded. The Royalists suffered about 50 killed with 100 officers and between 650 and 800 soldiers taken prisoner. Among the officers captured were Sir Charles Dallison, the former Recorder of Lincoln, and Sir Francis Fane.[5][6]

The Parliamentarians also captured eight cannons, and much other useful materiel.[7]


The victorious Parliamentarian troops pillaged the upper town. On receipt of Manchester's report the Committee of Both Kingdoms in London sent him their congratulations. Shortly after the capture of Lincoln, Manchester ordered a bridge of boats to be built over the Trent at Gainsborough, and Cromwell crossed with 3,000 horse, while two regiments of foot (infantry) held the bridge. Goring would appear to have had at least as many troopers as Cromwell, but the latter drove him up the Trent towards Newark, and headed him off at Mascomb Bridge, forcing him to swim the river in order to escape.[2]

Cromwell then returned to Bawtry and Tuxford (both on the Great North Road), where David Leslie joined him with a strong party of Scottish horse and placed himself under his command. Goring crossed from Newark into Leicestershire, where he commenced plundering the country up and down. The allied generals, however, refused to allow their horse to follow him, being convinced by this time that Rupert intended to relieve York. They therefore kept their horse in hand in south Yorkshire and waited for Manchester to advance with his foot.[2] Goring subsequently moved via Derbyshire to Bury in Lancashire, where he joined Prince Rupert.

Manchester himself remained in Lincoln until around 22 May when he sent a report on his preparations for his advance to link up with the besiegers of York. He joined them on 3 June. Manchester, Fairfax and the Scots ultimately won a major victory over Prince Rupert at the Battle of Marston Moor on 2 July.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Hill 1955, p. 157.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Baldock 1809, p. 138.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hill 1955, p. 157 cites Manchester's report (to the Parliamentary Committee of Both Kingdoms).
  4. Sources differ. Baldock 1809, p. 138 records this attack as taking place on 5 May.
  5. Baldock 1809, p. 138 cites Goode's True Relation, &c.; King's Pamphlets, E 47 and E 50. Inaction In Lincolnshire 139: Sir Francis Fane. 100 officers and gentlemen, and 800 soldiers being taken
  6. Hill 1955, p. 157 "Sir Francis Fane the governor, Dailston the former recorder, other officers and 650 men were taken prisoner".
  7. Bell 1832, p. 51 quotes Rushworth Historical Collections, volume 5: "Sir Francis Fane, the governor of the castle, Sir Charles Dallison, two colonels, many inferior officers, 700 soldiers, 100 horse, eight pieces of cannon, with arms, ammunition, &c."


  • Hill, J.W.F. (1955). Tudor & Stuart Lincoln. CUP Archive. p. 157. ISBN 1-00-140586-2. 
  • Bell, J., ed (January to June 1832). "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". London: Edward Bull. p. 51. 
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Baldock, Thomas Stanford (1809). Cromwell as a soldier. The Welessley Series. 5. K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & co., ltd.. p. 138. 

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