The English Civil War (1642 - 1651) was a series of conflicts pitting supporters of Parliament (known as Parliamentarians or ‘Roundheads’) against supporters of the King (known as Royalists or ‘Cavaliers’).
War erupted after a period of considerable political tension between King Charles I and Parliament (on whom the King depended to raise revenue for battle, etc.).
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Although a national conflict, the English Civil War left a significant mark in Sheffield. The town fluctuated between Parliamentarian and Royalist control, culminating in a 10-day siege of Sheffield Castle by Parliamentarian forces in August 1644.
The siege resulted in the Royalist surrender of the town and destruction of Sheffield Castle. A number of local documents relating to the Civil War survive in Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library collections.
Township and ecclesiastical records, such as town trustees’, constables’ and churchwardens’ accounts, illustrate the movement of troops in the area and preparations for battle, etc.
The Civil War split prominent families in Sheffield and neighbourhood (as it did in the rest of the country) into those who supported the King and those who supported Parliament.
Important collections of papers from such families from the period survive in Sheffield Archives’ collections. Of particular significance are the papers of Thomas Wentworth (the Earl of Strafford and Lord Deputy of Ireland, and leading advisor of Charles I) which include correspondence with the King and prominent political figures, centring on key issues such as political troubles in Ireland and Scotland which formed the prelude to the conflict.