Siege of Latham House, 28 February-26 May 1644
One of the many small sieges of the Civil War. Latham House was one of the few Royalist strongholds in Lancaster in 1644, defended by the Countess of Derby while her husband was absent on the Isle of Man. The house was surrounded by a eight yard wide moat, backed by a strong palisade, behind which rose the house itself, giving the defenders a concentric defence. The countess had built up a garrison of 300, with experienced leaders and a good level of supplies before the siege began. Initially, the besieging forces were led by Sir Thomas Fairfax, who disliked the idea of attacking somewhere defended by a lady, and in a correspondence that began on 28 February even offered to allow her to move to another of her husband's houses nearby while the siege was carried out. However, the countess was determined to command the siege, and eventually it became clear that she was simply playing for time. At the start of March, Sir Thomas was ordered away to more important duties, leaving his cousin Sir William Fairfax to begin the bombardment on 12 March. He too was ordered away on 24 March, and the siege was then conducted by Colonel Rigby. However, the defences held, and by the end of May the siege was abandoned in the face of Prince Rupert, who was advancing through Lancashire. The house only surrendered on 6 December 1645, by which time the Royalist cause was in collapse. The aftermath of the siege reflects well on Fairfax. At the end of the war he was granted the Isle of Man, forfeited by Lord Derby, and in a gallant gesture, passed on the income he gained from the Island to the countess.
The English Civil War
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (23 April 2001), Siege of Latham House, 28 February-26 May 1644, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_latham.html
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