Website of the Laceby History Group

Civil War

Civil War broke out in August 1642, between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists . Lincolnshire was not involved in armed conflict until the beginning of 1643. Lincolnshire and it is probable Laceby were for Parliament with pockets of Royalists based in the main, at Newark. There is little evidence that the bloody conflict that occurred in many parts of the county ever actually touched Laceby, but there is recorded a skirmish just dowm the road at Riby. It seems that the Royalist garrison at Newark had been a thorn in the flesh of the Roundheads for some years, at every opportunity they scoured the surrounding countryside for corn, cattle fodder, horses and money. When the Battle of Naseby was beginning to form army commanders of the Roundheads from many garrison towns were called to the West, including the Lincolnshire regiment of Cavalry under the command of Colonel Edward Rossiter. Rossiter and his regiments departure, therefore, was an ideal opportunity for the Royalists as now the whole of Lyndsey was at their mercy.

It was in the second week of June 1645 when Captain Wright left Newark wth 250 seasoned Royalist troops to make many raids throughout the countryside. Before the days of adequate drainage, travel in Lincolnshire was difficult. There was no bridge on the Trent lower than Newark and a little to the east the Witham ran through Swampy and largely flooded lowlands. Thus, a narrow route of dry land ran north of Newark with the Trent on one side and the Witham Marshes on the other. This was the route taken by Wright and his troops; one barrier was in his way - the Fossdyke. It was bridged only at Lincoln and Torksey but, both these Wright had to avoid as both would still have been garrisoned by the Roundheads - so it is probable that he crossed somewhere near the road at Saxby. At this time it is known that it had been raining for some weeks and the Fossdyke was in full spate, it was crossed with some difficulty and though some of the riders were drowned the bulk of the force got through. They then went North crossing Lyndsey harsh to Caistor with considerable loot and a number of prisoners. It is probably that, satisfied with their success they thought of Sir Edward Ayscough.

Sir Edward Ayscough was a prominent member of the County Committee and so an important Parliamentarian, because of this Wright would have considered him to be fair game. The Ayscoughs had many properties but, their family seat was at Stallingborough. Wrights men set off there and successfully attacked and ransacked the home of Sir Edward, it would seem that they decided not venture into Grimsby as it would be too strong for them, so they turned about to make for places south.

By now news of their plundering had reached a certain Colonel John Harrison who hastily got together a band of horsemen and went looking for Wright and his men.

He came upon then just a mile or so from Laceby, somewhere near Riby Crossroads. The road passed through a shallow valley, the Ordinance Survey map near that time has the name Riby Gap, although this name is no longer used. It would seem a reasonable place for Harrison to choose to ambush the enemy, who would be laden with booty. However, Harrison and his men were lucky, they were only 150 men to Wrights nearly 250, moreover, the Cavaliers were hardened, experienced soldiers, while Harrisons men, at best, would be part of the 'Trained Bands', the 17th century Territorials, or at worst a bunch of unwilling, landworkers mounted on horseback and armed with any odd weapons that came to hand.

It was June 18th 1645, and the first charge settled the matter, the raw Roundheads being no match for the seasoned Royalist Troops - so Wright had an easy victory. Harrison and many of his men were killed, nine were buried with him in Stallingborough Churchyard and more at Riby. One Royalist was left behind by the Cavaliers and died later, he too was buried at Riby.

Wright then continued his raiding and decided to return triumphantly to Newark, but now the Battle of Naseby had been fought and won by the Roundheads and Colonel Edward Rossiter had returned to his Lincolnshire station and heard of Wrights Royalist force in his county and decided to lay in wait for Wright.

He did not have to wait long for he caught the raiders on June 21st with just 8 miles to go before Wright and his force reached Newark and safety.

Rossiters puritans fell on the Cavaliers, outnumbered and outclassed Wright and his men "dug in their spurs" and made for Newark, a running fight soon developed into a hasty retreat and then a route. Leaving their loot and abandoning their prisoners the Cavaliers desperately tried to reach Newark, only 40 of them made it. Many were killed and many wounded, Wright himself was run through the face with a sword and so ended the man who led the Royalist forces in the "Battle of Riby Gap".