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Castle Warfare Part III: Death at Innerwick - Life at Thornton 1547*


edward seymour
Edward Seymour

Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford has been encountered on this site a number of times. Suffice to say that after the death of Henry VIII in 1547, he was appointed ‘Lord Protector’ and adopted the title of ‘Duke of Somerset’ – a position more in keeping with his lofty status.

Still intent in forcing the marriage of Prince Edward to the infant Mary Queen of Scots, he left Berwick with an army of 10,000 foot, 6,000 horse and 1,400 pioneers and took the east coast route to Edinburgh.

The Scots manned their strongholds and fell back before him. Somerset avoided their main strengths such as Dunbar – which cannonaded him on his approach – and instead attacked their lesser houses of which Thornton Castle and Innerwick Castle were the first.

Both were well situated upon crags and separated from each other by a steep ravine. Their position was strong but their defences were weak and their garrisons miniscule.

Somerset had them ‘summoned’ i.e. capitulate or face the consequences.

Thornton was held by 16 men and Innerwick by nine – it was madness to refuse but they did!

Innerwick-side
Innerwick Castle: the side facing the ravine

A battery of four cannon fired on Innerwick while ‘hagbutters’** kept up a brisk fire at its windows and loops. A party then rushed to the door only to find that the Scots had blocked the entrance passage with earth and taken to the battlements. The hagbutters forced their way inside and fired the building whereby being greatly troubled with smoke and smother and in desperation of defence they called pitiful for mercy.

Whereby being greatly troubled with smoke and smother and in desperation of defence they called pitiful for mercy
Innerwick-walk
Innerwick Castle's wall walk carried on continuous corbelling

They did not get it. The hagbutters got up and killed eight of them aloft. One leapt over the wall and running more than a furlong was slain in a water.

The hagbutters got up and killed eight of them aloft. One leapt over the wall and running more than a furlong was slain in a water

Meanwhile at Thornton:

‘Our assault and their defence was stoutly continued but well perceiving how on the one side they were battered, on the other mined and all around our hagbutters, some of whom occupying the house under them, plucked in a banner that afore they had set out in defiance and cried for ‘Mercy’. But having been answered ‘Traitors’ they cried again ‘Mercy’ and our answer ‘Nay, nay, look never for it’.

‘Spying an Englishman in a red doublet they begged him for my Lord’s Grace. They humbled themselves before him whereupon, without more hurt they were commanded to the Provost Marshall’.

‘The house was soon after so blown with powder that more than one half fell straight down to rubbish and dust, Innerwick*** was burned and all the stacks of corn about them both’.

innerwick vaulted
Innerwick Castle's vaulted interior

A fragment of Thornton existed in 1800 but now nothing remains. Innerwick, on the other hand, is well preserved though uncared for. It stands in a nature reserve but is difficult to reach.

As for Somerset he had further work of this kind to do.

TO BE CONTINUED...


* The Expedition into Scotland of the most worthily fortunate Prince Edward’ reprinted ‘Tudor Tracts 1532-1588’ A E Pollard 1903

** hagbutters: A firearm smaller and lighter than the later musket

*** Innerwick is scheduled for a SCA visit

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.


Date posted: 02 Dec 2016Last updated: 23 Jan 2017