The ‘Roundhead’ Conspirators of Aylesbury
|Wed, 8 Oct 2008 11:43
|At the outbreak of the (English) Civil War in 1642, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire became the focus of the most active Parliamentary preparations, and was notorious in the land for its disloyalty to the King. At the centre of this activity was a group of ‘Roundhead’ (republican) zealots who were key conspirators in plotting the demise of the monarchy and the execution of King Charles I which took place at Whitehall in 1649. One of the members of this group was SIMON MAYNE (1612-61) of Dinton Hall:
Simon had inherited the Manor of Dinton on his father’s death in 1617. He was a lawyer, became MP for Aylesbury SP8113 and was a friend of OLIVER CROMWELL. He sat as a judge when the King was tried in the Painted Chamber at Westminster and was among those who signed his death warrant. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Simon hid in a secret room under the eaves of Dinton Hall to avoid arrest for High Treason, but was eventually tried, found guilty and sent to the Tower of London:
where he became ill and died.
In an obituary this regicide was unkindly described as “A great Committee man, wherein he licked his fingers; one of his Prince’s cruel judges and a constant rumper to the last.” His funeral was ordered to be ‘without ostentation’, and Simon was buried quietly at Dinton parish church:
Although his grave was unmarked, his and his sister’s names appear in the church on his parents’ memorial brass of 1628:
Two of Simon Mayne’s fellow conspirators were near neighbours, the SERGEANTS of Aston Mullins SP7608 and “honest Dick” INGOLDSBY of Waldridge Manor:
RICHARD INGOLDSBY (1617-85), a cousin of Oliver Cromwell, was a soldier in his New Model Army and MP for Wendover SP8707. Although he took no part in the King’s trial, he did sign his death warrant and, with Simon Mayne, was part of the Aylesbury conspiracy. But, unlike Simon, “honest Dick” became reconciled to the new regime and received a full pardon. He continued in politics and was later made a KCB. He died aged 68 and was buried at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Hartwell:
which now stands derelict in the grounds of historic Hartwell House
Both Mayne and Ingoldsby shared a clerk by the name of JOHN BIGG (1627-96). It is believed that he was the masked executioner of the King. His subsequent behaviour certainly indicates an unquiet conscience, and portraits of him include an axe and skull in the corner of the picture. After the arrests of his two employers in 1660, Bigg grew melancholy and adopted the life of a recluse, living in an underground cave at Dinton. He became known as “the Dinton Hermit” after whom this inn at Ford was named:
He clothed himself entirely in a patchwork of leather for which he begged, hanging three bottles from his belt – for strong beer, for weak beer and for milk. Most days he would walk the eight miles, past this inn at Ford, to Hampden House:
to get food from the family of the late JOHN HAMPDEN
The hidden retreats and secret passages which are sometimes discovered in the district where Simon Mayne and the other Aylesbury conspirators lived, remind us of the fear they felt after the Restoration in 1660. Recently part of an underground passage - probably a bolt hole used by John Bigg - was excavated in these woods near Lower Cadsden:
beside Bigg’s route between Dinton and Hampden House.
Among relics of the Civil War kept at Dinton Hall is one of John Bigg’s big leather shoes. With it is Cromwell’s sword which was given to his friend Simon Mayne when he stayed with him at Dinton in the 1640s:
The last two of the Aylesbury conspirators had been students together at Magdalen College, Oxford. They became politicians and then fought alongside each other in the early years of the Civil War. ARTHUR GOODWYN became MP for Aylesbury, while his friend JOHN HAMPDEN (1592-1643), Cromwell’s cousin, was one of John Pym’s closest political allies in the Long Parliament. John Hampden is famous for standing up to King Charles, who in 1642 attempted to arrest him after he had refused to pay Ship Money. It was a tragedy for the King that he should alienate such a man whose integrity, tolerance and moderating influence might have prevented the later struggles becoming so brutal and unprincipled. At Honor End, a mile from Hampden’s home, is a memorial to the stand he took over Ship Money:
It reads: “By resisting the claim of the King in legal strife he upheld the right of the people under the law and became entitled to grateful remembrance”.
Sadly John Hampden, fighting alongside his friend Arthur Goodwyn, died of his wounds in a skirmish at Chalgrove in 1643. His statue, sword in hand, now stands in Aylesbury market square:
Hampden House, his family home in Buckinghamshire, is now the offices of an insurance company:
During the 20th century 'Hammer House' horror films were made here:
John Hampden, his death much lamented in parliament, was buried on his estate among his family’s memorials in the church of St Mary Magdalene, Great Hampden:
His biography is at http://www.johnhampden.org/biog1.htm
After this talk of High Treason, for which some of these Aylesbury conspirators were arraigned, there is on Dinton village green near the church gate a reminder of how less serious crimes were dealt with in the 17th century:
|Thu, 24 Dec 2009 02:08
Another reminder of Simon Mayne and the ‘Roundhead’ conspirators of Buckinghamshire is this fine tomb in Beaconsfield in which Simon’s sister Colubery is interred with her husband Thomas Bulstrode, both supporters of Cromwell’s commonwealth.
Please see "Simon Mayne and the Dissenters of Aylesbury" pp. 32-41 at: