Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

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paulgooch
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Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby paulgooch » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:35 pm

Hi everyone, I hope that it's ok to make my first post a plea for help.
I'm writing a novel about the English civil war and I'm struggling to comprehend the road transportation system during this period. Two of the three main characters are travelling from London to north Norfolk, and I have provisionally described the journey as being made on horseback, with each rider leading a pack horse. I gleaned this info. from watching 'Witchfinder General', where the main character Matthew Hopkinson (the witch finder), is seen travelling in Suffolk on horseback, leading a pack horse.
I am of the impression that the roads basically consisted of tracks, not even rutted roads, in this period.
Am I on the right track, so to speak?



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Merlon. » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:32 pm

Roads do exist at this time, some of them heavily rutted. In fact some of the ruts are so deep people drown in them according to period texts.
For more details check the folowing books:-
Crofts J Packhorse Wagon And Post Land Carriage And Communication Under The Tudors And Stuarts Routledge Keegan Paul 1967
Hey David Packmen, Carriers & Packhorse Roads Leicester University Press 1980




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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby GOK » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:41 am

Public Transport in England and Wales 1580–1642 - Robert Morris - £6.

You can buy it directly from Stuart Peachey: http://www.stuart-hmaltd.com/tudor_stua ... ulture.php

Or see if Caliver Books or Paul Meekins has it. :P



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby paulgooch » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:52 pm

Thanks Gok, might take the well-trodden route to the public library first, see if they can get it, and take a look at it before buying it, I've bought quite a few English civil war books already.
I only need enough info. about the roads for a few lines of description, or enough for a bit of description filtered into the narrative, for example 'she rode the mare by the side of the road rather than on it, afraid that the mare would stumble and break a fetlock in the deep, sun-baked ruts.'
I haven't written the above into the story yet, it's just a possibility.
Does anyone have any thoughts whether a woman, even a well-armed woman, would travel alone through eastern England during the English civil war period? Apparently the roads were 'dirty and dangerous', with 'footpads and discharged soldiers' preying on travellers.



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby GOK » Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:39 pm

paulgooch wrote:Thanks Gok, might take the well-trodden route to the public library first, see if they can get it, and take a look at it before buying it, I've bought quite a few English civil war books already.
I only need enough info. about the roads for a few lines of description, or enough for a bit of description filtered into the narrative, for example 'she rode the mare by the side of the road rather than on it, afraid that the mare would stumble and break a fetlock in the deep, sun-baked ruts.'
I haven't written the above into the story yet, it's just a possibility.
Does anyone have any thoughts whether a woman, even a well-armed woman, would travel alone through eastern England during the English civil war period? Apparently the roads were 'dirty and dangerous', with 'footpads and discharged soldiers' preying on travellers.


I'm not sure your library would have it - it's more a booklet than a book! You could just give Stuart Peachey a ring, or drop him an email (include your phone number because he doesn't really do tech!). I'm sure he'd be able to answer your questions, or point you in the right direction if not!

As for a woman travelling alone - I have no idea but I'd say that a) it would depend upon her status (middle-class, gentry, peasant, nefarious character etc) and b) the situation (are there no other options? Does she have to travel alone? Are there any carriages/coaches?). I can't imagine that any woman would willingly elect to travel alone in such troubled times....but then perhaps I've seen far too many films! :D

Do let us know your findings, won't you?



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Merlon. » Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:15 am

If the woman has the wealth and status to be able to ride a horse, then there will be servants accompanying her. A decent mare plus tack costs in excess of four pounds, so its a quite a declaration of wealth. A sole horse rider would be regarded as an easy target of opportunity for any banditry in the area.

A poor person would travel with a Town or Common carrier either in the wagon or even cheaper just pay to walk with the carrier on the premise of safety in numbers. John Taylors "The Carriers Cosmographie" (1637) lists the routes and timings of the carriers, this is the primary source for Stuart's primary source for his Public Transport pamphlet. During the war years some of the carriers convoys were even given military escort.

Intrigued by your comment on a “well armed woman” a single person or small group can easily be picked off. Where will this woman pick up the skills to defend herself, its not impossible, just quite unusual. Unlicensed firearms can carry up to a £10 fine plus a couple of months delay while the case gets to the Assize.

There are also the boring issue of needing licences to travel, hostelry costs, daily notifications to the JPs etc. These requirements are not new to the Civil War era, but go back into Tudor times.



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby paulgooch » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:20 pm

Thanks for the replies, my local library has ordered this publication 'Hey David Packmen, Carriers & Packhorse Roads Leicester University Press 1980 for me, but can't get the other one that was recommended to me.
By well-armed I was thinking of a sword and a couple of pistols, she would be accomplished in using these weapons due to her background. Also, she is prosperous so can afford to buy these plus a horse and pack horse.
The bad news for me is there were legal requirements surrounding independent road travel: licences, notifications to JPs etc.
Road travel in this era sounds very Soviet Russia, with its restrictions! I just wonder whether anyone actually adhered to these restrictions, whether they were obeyed or ignored.
Anyway, thanks for bringing them to my attention, Merlon.
The woman travelling alone scenes aren't an essential part of the story, but I would like to write them. Possibly I could mention the restrictions in the story - have the woman aware of them, but also have her ignoring them. It would be easy to conceal a sword and brace of pistols under a cloak. Ok, women in this era didn't habitually wear cloaks, but I think I can safely have her wearing a travel cloak.



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Merlon. » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:43 pm

The licences to travel and notifications to local JPs of any strangers staying in the inns by the innkeeper are elements of Tudor legislation still on the books.

The order books of Regional Committees are full of the issue of letters to travel and free passes without let or hinderance during the war years. You had to attend an interview to justify the issue of them though. So I think it is still very much active in the 1640s, even possibly in a more enhanced terms.

Francis Walsingham and John Thurloe ran exceptional internal security and counter terrorist organistations - to use the modern terminology. So comparisons with Soiviet Russia are not that far of the mark

Have you tried to hide a pair of pistols and a sword under a cloak without it being obvious you are trying to hid something? If you can do it you are a better man than me gunga din. There are likely to be a number of protuberances that would be hard to miss.



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Phil the Grips » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:49 pm

Merlon. wrote:The licences to travel and notifications to local JPs of any strangers staying in the inns by the innkeeper are elements of Tudor legislation still on the books.

There were still traces of such in Scotland's licencing laws, until the major revison in the late 80s, whereby people had to declare themselve as "Travellers" in writing in order to be served alcohol in guest houses &c. so that they could be traced if any crime occurred.


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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Nigel » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:11 pm

A BIG HINT LISTEN TO PAUL he knows waht he is talking about

re pistols they were carried in holsters at the front of the saddle for a reason that being they were large and you couldnt stick em in your pockets as they had a habit of going off

and swords have a horrible habit of sticking out from under a cloak

actually thinking Iam not certain if a woman would have the control in her wrists to fire a civil war pistol (thinking proper ones here)


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby guthrie » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:27 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:
Merlon. wrote:The licences to travel and notifications to local JPs of any strangers staying in the inns by the innkeeper are elements of Tudor legislation still on the books.

There were still traces of such in Scotland's licencing laws, until the major revison in the late 80s, whereby people had to declare themselve as "Travellers" in writing in order to be served alcohol in guest houses &c. so that they could be traced if any crime occurred.

Yes, I know people who reminisce about the good old days when you were encouraged to drink and drive. They didn't usually need something in writing, just your car keys to prove you had travelled a distance to get there.



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Sophia » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:38 pm

Nigel wrote:actually thinking Iam not certain if a woman would have the control in her wrists to fire a civil war pistol (thinking proper ones here)


Nigel, I would be careful about making claims like this, many women have very strong wrist muscles, particularly if they do a lot of manual work, sewing or knitting. Just ask Debs how much effort is involved in sewing for hours on end (the repetitive nature of the action, manouevring large sections of garment about, etc.). What is more probable is that anyone without experience would have trouble controlling a hand gun of any period, regardless of gender.


aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Merlon. » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:51 pm

The butt design of an ECW pistol makes it difficult for either gender to fire one properly. It puts a massive strain on the wrist.
Its not just about strength, as female bones tends to be smaller, the turning moment around radius, ulna and carpal bones will be greater for a female skeleton.

The usual recommendation was to put the muzzle against the target before pulling the triggeer



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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Nigel » Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:31 pm

Merlon. wrote:The butt design of an ECW pistol makes it difficult for either gender to fire one properly. It puts a massive strain on the wrist.
Its not just about strength, as female bones tends to be smaller, the turning moment around radius, ulna and carpal bones will be greater for a female skeleton.

The usual recommendation was to put the muzzle against the target before pulling the triggeer


cheers matey took me 4 shots before I could control Mikes and I ahd an idea of what was coming first shot and pistol literally flew over my head

Was it atkins who did that to Waller popiing a pistol onto his helmet

Sophi hear waht you say but speaking generally and from experience many women have problems with hand guns


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:02 pm

[quote="Nigel"Was it atkins who did that to Waller popiing a pistol onto his helmet[/quote]
Keith Piggot tells that story as if he was the one that did it- assuming it was the same occasion.


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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby John Waller » Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:27 pm

It was Sir Arthur Hasilrige/Haslerigge/Hazelrigg (you choose!) who was shot at not Waller. Richard Atkyns wrote in his book Vindications :-

Twas my fortune in a direct line to charge their general of horse [Sir Arthur Hesilrige], which I supposed to be so by his place; he discharged his carbine first, but at a distance not to hurt us, and afterwards one of his pistols, before I came up to him, and missed with both: I then immediately struck into him, and touched him before I discharged mine; and I'm sure I hit him, for he staggered, and presently wheeled off from his party and ran.When he wheeled off, I pursued him, and had not gone twenty yards after him, but I heard a voice saying, ''Tis Sir Arthur Haslerigge follow him'; but from which party the voice came I knew not they being joined, nor never did know till about seven years since, but follow him I did, and in six score yards I came up to him, and discharged the other pistol at him, and I'm sure I hit his head, for I touched it before I gave fire, and it amazed him at that present, but he was too well armed all over for a pistol bullet to do him any hurt, having a coat of mail over his arms and a headpiece (I am confident) musket proof, his sword had two edged and a ridge in the middle, and mine [was] a strong tuck; after I had slackened by pace a little, he was gone twenty yards from me, riding three quarters speed, and down the side of a hill, his posture was waving his sword on the right and left hand of his horse, not looking back [to see] whether he were pursued or not, (as I conceive) to daunt any horse that should come up to him; [in] about six score more I came up to him again (having a very swift horse that Corner Washnage gave me) and stuck by him a good while, and tried him from head to the saddle, and could not penetrate him, nor do him any hurt; but in this attempt he cut my horse's nose, that you might put your finger in the wound, and gave me such a blow on the inside of my arm amongst the veins that I could hardly hold my sword; he went on as before, and I slackened my pace again, and found my horse drop blood, and not so bold as before; but about eight score more I got up to him again, thinking to have pulled him off his horse; but he having now found the way, struck my horse upon the cheek, and cut off half the headstall of my bridle, but falling off from him, I ran his horse into the body and resolved to attempt nothing further than to kill his horse; all this time we were together hand to fist

I have one of those big nasty indian made horse pistols and damned inaccurate they are even under ideal range conditions. Trying to hit a moving target from a moving platform would be very difficult indeed. Which explains why some used a multiple load - sort of buck and ball - to improve the odds and, as was said previously, it was recommended to get as close as possible to your target.


Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

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Re: Help needed with writing a novel about the English civil war

Postby CFury » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:45 pm

I'm currently reading Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill, which as well as being absolutely terrifying, is all about the period and area you are writing for. There is loads of information on things like Assizes and gaols which might not link exactly to your story but provide plenty of local colour. Reading about the general lawlessness pervading England at this time, and the paranoia/agression of everyday folks is quite an eye opener. Its quite enjoyable and not at all dry either. You can get it on Amazon (I'm not specifically endorsing them, thats just where I got it from!!!)




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