chapter  12
9 Pages

Maurice, Byron and Gerard

Such delicacy was possible in an area where the Royalists were masters of the field. In the Northern Marches and in Worcestershire, areas where the local Royalists were exhausted and harried by their enemies, more ruthless tactics were employed. There, during the winter, power was transferred openly to two experienced strangers, John Lord Byron, and Sir Gilbert Gerard. Both were members of distinguished military families, the Byrons of Newstead in Nottinghamshire and the Gerards of Halsall in Lancashire. Three of Byron’s brothers fought for the King with him, and Sir Nicholas was his uncle. At least six members of Gerard’s family served alongside him in the royal army. Byron certainly, and Gerard probably, learned soldiering in the Netherlands, and both served Charles against the Scots in 1640.6 Byron was made, as said earlier, the colonel of the first horse regiment raised for the royal army in 1642, and for his services as a cavalry commander the King rewarded him and his heirs in October 1643 with the peerage which was to end two centuries later at Missolonghi.7 Sir Gilbert raised a foot regiment, led it to the royal army and made his name there by his defence of the Buckinghamshire outpost of Brill.8 Both were protégés of Prince Rupert, and in November 1643 Rupert recommended them to the King as suitable for two commands in the provinces which the King was now seeking to fill. His suggestions were accepted. Gerard was made governor of Worcester, in place of Russell and to the exclusion of his rivals. Byron was sent north with an army to reverse the disasters resulting from the Earl of Derby’s defeat and reconquer Lancashire.9 Their respective fortunes may now be examined in detail.