The Penruddock uprising was one of a series of coordinated uprisings planned by the Sealed Knot for a Royalist insurrection to start in March 1655 during the Protectorate of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
There were plans to seize Salisbury, Newcastle, York and Winchester and instigate smaller uprisings in Nottinghamshire and Cheshire. The New Model Army garrison in Winchester was reinforced shortly before the uprising so plans to attack it were abandoned. No men answered the call in Cheshire, but risings did take place in the other places. However, at all of the locations except Salisbury, the Royalists disbanded without a fight due to lack of support.
The York uprising, the rendezvous point for which was on Marston Moor, was notable for the presence of the Earl of Rochester who had travelled from the exiled court of Charles II to take part. The rising was put down by Colonel Robert Lilburne, Governor of York, and on its failure Rochester fled the country.
Colonel John Penruddock along with Sir Joseph Wagstaffe organised and led the Royalist uprising in the West. On 11 March Penruddock, with between 300 and 400 other Cavaliers, took Salisbury and raised the Royal standard. The next morning he led his followers out of Salisbury, heading west through Blandford, Sherborne and Yeovil in the hope of picking up more supporters, but a single troop of horse of the New Model Army under Captain Unton Crook defeated them after a three-hour street fight in South Molton in Devon on 14 March. Most of the Royalists either fled or were killed but Crook captured Penruddock and the other ringleaders.
Trials of the leading insurgents for high treason were held at Exeter on 18 April 1655. The first was against Penruddock, Hugh Grove, Richard Reeves of Kimpton, gent, brothers Robert and George Duke of Stuckton, gents, Francis Jones of Beddington, gent, Francis Bennett of Killington, gent, Thomas Fitzjames of Hanley, gent, Edward Davy of London, gent, and Thomas Poulton of Pewsey, innkeeper, all of whom were convicted except Bennett. The second bill named Edward Willis, innkeeper of New Sarum, Nicholas Mussell of Steeple Langford, yeoman, William Jenkins of Fordingbridge, gent, Thomas Hillard of Upton, yeoman, William Stroud of Wincanton, gent, Robert Harris of Stanford, cordwainer, John Bibby of Compton Chamberlain, gent, and John Cooke of Potterne, along with John Haynes, "the Sherriffe of Wilts' trumpeter who went along from Salisbury". All were found guilty, Jenkins having pleaded guilty.
The third bill named four men who claimed they had received articles of surrender from Captain Crooke: brothers Henry and Joseph Collier of Steeple Langford, William Wake of Blandford, gent (the father of future Archbishop William Wake), and Christopher Haviland of Longton, labourer. It was argued that they had instead simply been promised "fair quarter", upon which they confessed the indictment. Also arraigned were James Horsington, gent and John Giles, yeoman, of New Sarum, who it was claimed had been held in Salisbury jail for robbery and had been freed by the insurgents, Abraham Wilson, cutler, Richard Browne, Nicholas Broadgate of Blandford Forum, yeoman, and another trumpeter, a Dutchman called Hans Styver. Broadgate was acquitted, and the rest found guilty. A further man, Marcellus Rivers, gentleman, of Benstead, received a "no true bill" verdict. Sir William Clarke commented that although Grove, a gentleman with an annual income of 400 pounds, was a "dareing and resolute person", the most unrepentant were Reeves and Hilliard, "the most ancient of them", who openly admitted their actions and said that "they owed not obedience but to Charles Stuart".
Ten men (Penruddock, Groves, Reeves, Davy, Poulton, Willis, Hillard, Haynes, Horsington, and Giles) were executed at Exeter - Cromwell commuted the usual sentence to beheading in the case of Penruddock and Groves, and hanging in the case of the remainder. The others, including those claiming to have been given articles by Crooke, were said to have been reprieved and pardoned, such as Wake, who after a time in Exeter jail was released and went on to live until 1705.
Up to seventy insurgents still held in Salisbury, of a range of social classes and occupations, were subsequently transported to Barbados as indentured labours. They were transported aboard the John of London to be sold for fifteen hundred and fifty pounds of sugar each. They arrived in Barbados on the 7 May 1656, where they were sold as the goods and chattels of Martin Noell, MP, Major Thomas Alderne of London, and Captain Henry Hatsell of Plymouth.:284 The prisoners included the previously-acquitted Nicholas Broadgate and Marcellus Rivers, who along with another transportee called Oxenbridge Foyle or Fowell, was in 1659 was to submit a petition to Parliament in pamphlet form complaining about the prisoners' barbaric treatment at the hands of the planters who had bought them. Rivers added that one man, a Mr. Diamond of Tiverton - probably the William Deyman of Tiverton, gent, recorded as a prisoner at Exeter with Penruddock - had been transported despite being 76 years old and merely having expressed a wish to join the rebels. Although it is unknown whether Foyle returned to England, Rivers certainly returned at the Restoration, submitting a further petition that Martin Noell as being responsible for his deportation should be excluded from the general amnesty extended to Parliamentarians.
- Firth 1899, pp. 35–36.
- Firth 1899, p. 36.
- Cobbett's State Trials, Bagshaw, 1810, pp. 790-791
- Sykes, N. William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1957, p.8
- Oliver, The History of Exeter, 1821, p.101
- Ravenhill 1874, p. 44.
- Schomburgk, Robert Hermann (1848). The history of Barbados; comprising a geographical and statistical description of the island; a sketch of the historical events since the settlement; and an account of its geology and natural productions. London, Longman.
- Ravenhill 1875, pp. 153–154.
- Firth, C.H, ed. (1899), Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, 3, London: Longmans, Green, and Company, pp. 26–27, 33–34
- Plant, David (21 August 2008), "Penruddock's Uprising, 1655", British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate project
- Biography, archived from the original on 13 February 2005 of Henry Wansey who was in Salisbury at the time of the uprising
- timeline: 12 March 1655 Penruddock's Rising, Channel 4, 2002, archived from the original on 23 July 2011
- Ravenhill, W.W. (1874), "Records of the Rising in the West, A.D. 1655 (part 3)", in Goddard, Edward Hungerford (ed.), The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine, 14, London: Devizes, for the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, p. 44
- Ravenhill, W.W. (1875), Records of the Rising in the West, A.D. 1655, H.F. & E. Bull, pp. 153–154
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Penruddock, John.|
- "Cromwell and the insurection of 1655", English Historical Review: 323 ff., 1888 and 1889 pp. 313 ff.
- Birch, Thomas, ed. (1742), "State Papers, 1655: March (7 of 8)", A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe (December 1654 – August 1655), 3 (British History Online ed.), London: Fletcher Gyles, pp. 295-310
- Durston, Christopher (2009), "Penruddock, John (1619–1655)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21893(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)