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club-men

club-men. Not all Englishmen were keen to fight in the Civil War and by 1644 the depredations and extortions of each army had become unbearable. Groups of country folk, particularly in the royalist south and west, began to band together against troops from either side. Armed mainly with clubs, scythes, and spades, they were still formidable, and local commanders tried to enlist their help and turn their animosities against the other side. The Wiltshire club-men were hostile to Parliament, while their neighbours in Somerset were hostile to the king. Cromwell had to deal with 2,000 of them on Hambledon Hill near Shaftesbury: his cavalry dispersed them with some loss of life, but he wrote to Fairfax for permission to send the ‘poor silly creatures’ home. Rupert tried to instil better discipline in the border counties in 1645, and it was in part to reduce looting and appease the club-men that Parliament strove to pay the New Model Army regularly.

J. A. Cannon

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