Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future


Castle Warfare Part III: Death at Innerwick - Life at Thornton 1547*

edward seymour

Edward Seymour

Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, has been encountered several times on our site. Suffice to say that after the death of Henry VIII in 1547, he was appointed both Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector, making him the most powerful man in Englalnd.

Intent in forcing the marriage of his nephew, the 10 year old Prince Edward, to the five year old Mary Queen of Scots, he left Berwick with an army of 10,000 foot, 6,000 horse and 1,400 pioneers taking the east coast route to Edinburgh.

The Scots either fell back before him or withdrew into their strongholds. Somerset avoided their main fortresses such as Dunbar Castle, which cannonaded him as he passed, and instead attacked their lesser castles of which Thornton Castle and Innerwick Castle were the first.

Both were well situated upon crags and separated from each other by a steep ravine. Their position was strong but their defences were weak and their garrisons miniscule.

Somerset had them 'summoned' (capitulate) or face the consequences.

Thornton was held by 16 men and Innerwick by nine - it was madness to refuse an army but refuse they did!

Innerwick Castle
Innerwick Castle: the side facing the ravine

A battery of four cannon commenced fire on Innerwick while the 'hagbutters' (hand gunners) opened a brisk fire at its windows and loops. A party then rushed to the door only to find that the Scots had blocked the entrance passage with earth and taken to the battlements. The hagbutters forced their way inside and fired the building 'whereby being greatly troubled with smoke and smother and in desperation of defence they called pitiful for mercy'.

Whereby being greatly troubled with smoke and smother and in desperation of defence they called pitiful for mercy
Innerwick Castle
Innerwick Castle's wall walk carried on continuous corbelling

They did not get it. The hagbutters got up and killed eight of them aloft. One leapt over the wall and running more than a furlong was slain in a water.

The hagbutters got up and killed eight of them aloft. One leapt over the wall and running more than a furlong was slain in a water

Meanwhile at Thornton:

'Our assault and their defence was stoutly continued but well perceiving how on the one side they were battered, on the other mined and all around our hagbutters, some of whom occupying the house under them, plucked in a banner that afore they had set out in defiance and cried for 'Mercy'. But having been answered 'Traitors' they cried again 'Mercy' and our answer 'Nay, nay, look never for it'.

'Spying an Englishman in a red doublet they begged him for my Lord's Grace. They humbled themselves before him whereupon, without more hurt they were commanded to the Provost Marshall'.

'The house was soon after so blown with powder that more than one half fell straight down to rubbish and dust, Innerwick was burned and all the stacks of corn about them both'.

Innerwick Vaulted
Innerwick Castle's vaulted interior

A fragment of Thornton existed in 1800 but now nothing remains. Innerwick, on the other hand, lies in a nature reserve and is well preserved though totally neglected. A path leads from a side road through the woods to the castle high above the water.

As for Somerset he had further work of this kind to do which will be covered in future articles.

TO BE CONTINUED...


References:

'The Expedition into Scotland of the most worthily fortunate Prince Edward' reprinted in 'Tudor Tracts 1532-1588' by A E Pollard 1903

The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, East Lothian 1924 (description and plan)

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle



Added: 02 Dec 2016 Updated: 26 Feb 2021
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