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Monday 9 June 2008

Shake loose the border

Another beautiful summer day today, so I took off up the west coast with a friend. After a look around Millom, an astonishingly interesting little town, (reputedly the only place in England with a Salvation Army 'Fortress'!) we made our way to Muncaster. As with so many others the ancient church there is replete with reminders of an ancient history. One memorial was particularly fascinating, a reminder of the turbulent days of border warfare that ravaged Cumberland, Westmorland and Lunesdale for centuries.

In Memory of Will Penyngton Arm(?) whose fyrst Wife was Ioan Wharton daughter of Thom Lord Wharton. His secondde wyffe was Dame Bridgett Askew daughter of Sir Iohn Hudlestone By whom he had 3 sons Joseph John & William.
Will Penyngton & all his tried Horsemen were called out upon Service of the Borders
Iuorum animabus propitiehur dens ani

This brass has a companion, stylistically identical, that is dated 1801. But although retrospective it clearly commemorates the service of William Penyngton in the wars of the 16th century.

On November 24, 1542 William Pennington was with his father in law, Thomas, Lord Wharton, Warden of the English West March, at the Battle of Solway Moss where some 18000 Scots were pretty much trounced by a few thousand Borderers. After the battle Lord Wharton submitted a report to Henry VIII.

And so the Scots after a greatand long chase of our prickers at Akeshawhill [Oakshawhill], returned down towards Artureth howes, and there great numbers then perfectly in our sights and partly as we stood, with their sides towards us burning homeward, and our prickers not pricking because of their ordnance and great powers, they then something homewards, we with six standards, [that is] to say my lord Parre's in the order of my near cousin Walter Strickland and two hundred archers of Kendale with him; my cousin Sir William Musgrave's; my brother-in-law Sir Thomas Curwen's; my cousin and deputy John Lowther's; my son in law William Pennington's; and my own with the number of twelve hundred men or near thereabouts; come over the water of Levyn more than a pace on horseback to Howpsikehill full in the sight of the Scots, and there a little paused on horseback to put the six standards with those men to the most show and safety for the relief of our prickers...

What this is basically saying is that the English raised their standards on a hill above the Scots and faced them out to relieve the 'prickers' who were harassing the Scots army. The 'Prickers' were the men of the English border clans; Grahams, Armstrongs, Hetheringtons & Elliots who, mounted on their sturdy little horses, pricked their foes with their long lances. Seeing the great standards of the border lords raised on the hill above them, the Scots, under a confused and dysfunctional command lost their morale and started to collapse. The subsequent rout was total.

Within weeks the Scots king was dead & his young daughter, Mary, on the throne. In the years that followed Will Pennington was heavily involved in the 'Rough Wooing' that reduced the border to a state of bloody anarchy. Check out the English Heritage link for more information on the battle.

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