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During the greater part of this time very free communication was kept up between the castle and the outer world, and more particularly with Pontefract Castle, which was also garrisoned for the king and besieged by the Roundheads, for on the 15th May, Thomas Hanson went back to Pontefract with despatches, from which place he had arrived three days earlier, and on the following day he returned to Sandal, going again to Pontefract on the 22nd; thus the besieged would know the course of events in the country, and constantly hear of the defeats of their own party.
On Friday, May 23rd, Captain Washington and Lieut. Wheatley left Pontefract Castle by night for Sandal, where their safe arrival was notified by a great bonfire, which was answered by another from Pontefract, in token that the signal was understood. Bonfires as signals between the two castles were of very frequent occurrence. The two officers remained over Whit Sunday and Monday at Sandal Castle, but on the evening of the latter day, Captain Washington returned to Pontefract. On the Tuesday evening, Lieut. Wheatley left Sandal Castle with forty or fifty cavalry to guard a herd of 120 or 130 cattle, which they wished to convey to Pontefract, according to a plan previously arranged upon; on the way they met with two of the enemy's scouts, who were captured along with their horses. On arriving at Baghill, the Sandal soldiers delivered up the cattle to Captain Joshua Walker and twenty men, and all but ten or twelve of them returned to Sandal; these latter assisted in getting the herd into Pontefract Castle, but owing to some hurry and confusion, only 97 of the cattle were secured. Bonfires announced the success of this expedition to those at Sandal. Towards the end of June, a troop of 300 dragoons, under the command of Colonel Morgan, blockaded the castle, and the besieged were in much distress for want of fodder for the horses.42 On the 8th of July, the dragoons withdrew, whereupon the Royalists sallied out as far as Wakefield, and were surprised on their return by a force under General Poyntz, who took three of them prisoners, with sixteen horses and arms; 43 and on the 18th. he captured 26 head of cattle which belonged to the castle.**
41 Drake's Journal.
42 The True Informer, June 28, 1645. 43 The Kingdome's Weekly Intelli
gencer, July 15, 1645.
44 Mercurius Civicus, July 24, 1645.
On July 20th, Pontefract Castle surrendered, and on the next day the following summons was despatched to Sandal Castle:
For the Commander in Chiefe of Sandall Castle, and the Gentlemen and Officers there.
You cannot be ignorant that Pontefract Castle is yielded unto us, and the Castle of Sandall having been verie vexatious to these parts of the Countrey, wee are constrained for the preservation of the wellaffected people, who complaine much of their sufferings by it, to sit downe with our Forces before it, intending by God's assistance, not to rise thence till wee have carried that place yet neverthelesse, because our resolutions are to yeeld honourable courses, to avoyd the effusion of Christian bloud, which if that place be taken by force, must of necessitie be shed on both sides. We have therefore thought it most convenient to send you this Summons, requiring you to deliver up unto us the Castle, with all Armes, Ammunition, and provisions of War within it, to be disposed of by the King's Supreme Councell, the Parliament. And wee assure you, that there shall be such honourable termes given unto the Gentlemen, Souldiers, and others resident in that place, as (your present conditions considered) can be expected by rules and customes of War; unto which we shall expect your present answer, before Wee make any further attempt by force to reduce that place, and remaine
Your humble Servants
Yorke, 21 of July, 1645.
Francis Pierpoint, Thomas Maliner,
On receipt of this, the officers assembled at Sandal drew up the following answer :—
You must beleeve, that the taking of Pontefract Castle cannot take away our Allegeance, but shall contract it, and adde vigour to it. For the preservation whereof we are instructed with this hold as it Sanctuarie, and shall maintaine it equally with our loyaltie. And whereas you object the Countries clamour as an argument to condemne us of oppression; we know our justice to have been so innocent, as wee dare appeale to it as an argument of God's protection over us for the future. For our feares of your power against us, they are lesse than when you were remoter from us. This being read, you must credit our resolutions most peremptorie and unalterable, for the maintaining of this Castle against all those who shall summon it from any other authoritte than his Majesties Signet.
God save the King.
Your humble Servants
George Bonivant, Roger Portington, Henry Gascoigne, Richard Horsfall, William Paulden, Tobias Swinden, Henry Ramsden, John Benson, Robert Benson, Timothy Paulden.
Sandall Castle, July 22, 1645.5
45 The True Informer, Aug. 2, 1645.
Early in September, the Parliamentarian forces of ColonelGeneral Poyntz, under the command of Colonel Robert Overton, laid siege to Sandal Castle,46 and planted four great batteries around it, with which they opened a heavy fire on the fortress. During an interval in the cannonade a duel was fought between Thomas Naylor of Wakefield and Ferdinand Blacker of Blacker Hall, Crigglestone, Captainlieut. in Sir John Savile's troop of horse; the antagonists met on horseback, swords and pistols were the weapons used, but, unfortunately, the result of this contretemps has not been handed down to us. Previously to the combat, Captain Blacker made his will on September 19, which, however, was not proved until February 25, 1650.
The castle was well provisioned and garrisoned by a force of one hundred officers and men, who were described by The Parliament's Post, a Commonwealth paper, as "a packe of as bold and desperate fellowes as any that were in all that Country, or peradventure in the Kingdome." After the great guns had played for several days on the walls, several breaches were made in them, which the besieged endeavoured to repair with sods and earth. In the afternoon of Tuesday, September 30th, Colonel Overton drew up his forces to storm the breach, which his batteries had made in the curtain wall, when the besieged sent out a flag of truce desiring a parley. The Parliamentarian commander gave them the choice of yielding themselves prisoners or abiding the hazard of a storm; to this summons Colonel Bonivant gave a very decided answer, that before they would lose their liberty they would risk the chances of war. Thereupon Colonel Overton, as he wrote to the Committee of War at York," condescended to a parley; for the avoyding the great danger of an uncertaine and desperate attempt by storme, which could not in all likelihood have been effected without great losse and hazzard." A herald was then sent to the castle with the following summons :
For the Governour of Sandall Castle.
Sir. In behalfe of our Countrey (which we serve) I summon you to render this Castle into our hands for the use of the publique. And though our neglect of this place hitherto hath occasioned your Honour, and some effusion of blood, be advised to close with the Almighties
46 The True Informer, Sept. 6, 1645.