Landscape, Memory and Protest in the Midlands Rising of 1607
In the early summer of 1607, a large group of perhaps as many as a thousand men, women and children assembled at Newton (Northamptonshire) and began digging up hedges. The hedges surrounded enclosures recently put in place by the local landowner, Thomas Tresham of Newton, a cousin of the much more famous Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton. Arriving at Newton on 8 June, the deputy-lieutenant of Northamptonshire, Sir Edward Montagu, twice read out a royal proclamation demanding the rioters disperse. When they did not, their forces charged the crowd. After initially putting up fierce resistance, the crowd fled as the mounted horsemen charged for the second time. Forty to fifty of the rioters were killed in the field and many more captured, some of whom were later to be executed and have their mutilated bodies displayed at Northampton, Oundle and other local towns. The events at Newton were the culmination of more than a month of unrest in parts of Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire, much of it focused on the issue of agrarian change – specifically the enclosure of common field arable land and its conversion to sheep pasture – and recorded either in government papers and letters or in subsequent court cases, many of them pursued in the court of Star Chamber.
Research for the chapter was undertaken as part of a project entitled ‘Experiencing the landscape: Popular geographical imaginations in the English Midlands, 1450–1650’ and funded by the British Academy (Small Grant no. SG140176). We are especially grateful to Amanda Bevan and staff at The National Archives who were kind enough to make a working database of parts of STAC 5 available. We are also grateful to all those who offered comments on earlier versions of the paper including the audience and speakers at the International Conference of Historical Geographers held in London in July 2015.