Sir Bevil Grenville, Civil War Commander

Sir Bevil Grenville, Civil War Commander

Sir Bevil Grenville Born 1596 near Withiel, west of Bodmin, and a grandson of Sir Richard Grenville, captain of the Revenge

Sir Bevil Grenville was educated at Exeter College, Oxford. Became member of Parliament, first for Cornwall, then for Launceston. In 1639 he went to the Scottish War in the train of Charles I.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he proclaimed the kings Commission of Array at Launceston assizes, and also persuaded the grand jury of the county to declare their opponents guilty of riot and unlawful assembly. In 1642 he raised an army in Cornwall to fight for the King. When the Parliamentarians crossed the Tamar his army fought a number of battles and threw them out of Cornwall.

He won battles at Braddock Down near Lostwithiel, in January 1643, in which Grenville led an uphill charge that won the battle for the Royalists.

And on 16 May 1643 at Stratton Hill near Bude. The Earl of Stamford had led a Parliamentarian invasion of Cornwall and took up a strong defensive position at Stratton. Grenville's knowledge of the terrain enabled Hopton to mount a surprise dawn attack on Stamford's position. After a struggle, the Royalists succeeded in defeating the Parliamentarians, leaving 300 dead on the field, and taking 1700 prisoners, among whom were Major-General Chudleigh and thirty other officers.

He then led his men on a victorious march through Devon into Somerset.

In July 1643 the Royalists won a battle at Lansdown Hill outside Bath, but Bevil Grenville was mortally wounded. Hopton had marched against Sir William Waller's army which occupied a commanding position on the top of Lansdown Hill. Grenville's Cornish infantry stood firm even when the Royalist cavalry was routed in the early stages of the battle, then Grenville led a counterattack against the Parliamentarian position at the top of the hill. The Cornishmen succeeded in gaining the hilltop and forcing Waller to withdraw, but Grenville was killed in the assault.

His Cornish soldiers refused to fight under any other leader and returned home, carrying the body of Sir Bevil. It was buried in a tomb in Kilkhampton Church.

A monument to him has been erected on the field of Lansdown to commemorate the heroism Sir Bevil Grenville and his Cornish pikemen at the Battle of Lansdown, 1643.

 

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