More Like Lions than Men

Sir William Brereton and the Cheshire Army of Parliament, 1642-46

Andrew Abram

Focuses on the composition, leadership, equipping, financing and war service of the Cheshire army of parliament commanded by Sir William Brereton between 1642 and 1646.
Date Published :
March 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
33 b/w photos/ills, 3 maps, 16pp color plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781913118822
Pages : 402
Dimensions : 9.75 X 7 inches
Stock Status : Available


Based on primary archival research (much of which remains unpublished), supported by field trips to battlefields and castles, More Like Lions than Men represents the first focused and sustained study of the recruitment, organisation, payment, equipping, leadership and war service of the forces raised and maintained in the service of parliament in Cheshire between 1642 and 1646. The Cheshire army of parliament was commanded by the devout, energetic and strategically astute Sir William Brereton, MP for the county. As a important ‘regional’ force it undertook the extended war aims and strategy of the parliament in Cheshire (and in particular, its primary objective, the reduction and capture of the royalist stronghold of Chester). Led and trained by a number of officers of experience and ability (including Michael Jones, Robert Venables, and some professional soldiers, such as James Lothian), it often operated in conjunction with other forces and under various regional commands throughout the northwest, as well as the Midland counties, North Wales, Lancashire and Yorkshire, wherein its troops and companies served together or were ‘brigaded’ with others. These were bolstered in 1644 by the absorption of high quality, veteran troops of Charles I’s army in Ireland, who had been captured at Nantwich and Liverpool.

Cheshire and the northwest were no backwaters during the first civil war, and on occasion Brereton’s forces became embroiled in events of a more national complexion, such as the landing of the royalist army from Ireland in late 1643, the advance of Prince Rupert through the Welsh Marches, Cheshire and Lancashire during the summer of 1644, and the arrival of Charles I in a temporary relief of Chester 1645. Like other parliamentarian forces, the Cheshire troops were noted for their religious fervour, partly in that they were raised, shaped, motivated and led by radical independent and Presbyterian officers, as well as godly ministers. Yet despite its effectiveness and military experience, parts of the army suffered from pay arrears and subsequent mutinies, as well as organisational problems that stretched resources, and at points created breakdowns in discipline and moral. Moreover, Sir William Brereton’s authority as commander-in-chief in Cheshire came under threat in 1645 in the form of divergent war aims and rivalries among subordinates.

The Cheshire army of parliament is well served by archival sources. This includes contemporary news-books, correspondence, warrants, petitions, accounts of sequestration committees and army officers, certificates of service and illustrations of cavalry standards, contained in various repositories and private collections, but especially The National Archives and the British Library. The five surviving volumes of letter books of Sir William Brereton remain invaluable to our understanding of the scope and day-to-day operations of Sir William and his army. Such sources present an invaluable, if largely untapped source for the centralised pay, equipping and composition of the Cheshire parliamentarian forces. Split into three broad sections, this book provides three chapters outlining up-to-date research on the military role of the army in Cheshire and beyond between autumn 1642 and spring 1646; the central part offers four chapters on the composition of the Cheshire forces, including recruitment, training and leadership, as well as the ‘sinews of war’ (money, ammunition and provisions), standards, clothing and equipment. The remaining section provides in-depth information on the combat units of Brereton’s army, in addition to its ‘support arms’ of gunners, engineers, pioneers, intelligence services and chaplains.

More Like Lions than Men explores the context, nature and composition of the Cheshire forces in detail, in order to give credence to the notion that this was an effective, seasoned and important fighting force, albeit mainly on a regional stage. As such it adds significantly to our knowledge of the parliamentary war effort and civil war forces in the northwest of England and beyond, whilst appealing to anyone with an interest in military history, including academics, local historians, re-enactors and wargamers.

About The Author

Having joined the British Army in 1978 aged sixteen, Dr Andrew Abram served as a regular soldier in various theatres, including the South Atlantic. In 1997 he discovered that he could attend university, graduating with a first-class honours degree in history at the University of Wales, Lampeter three years later. In 2007 he was awarded his doctorate by the same institution, being employed there as a teaching fellow and lecturer in medieval history until 2015. Andrew has subsequently acted as an associate lecturer in history at Manchester Metropolitan University, and historical consultant to museums and local groups. He has researched, written about, and taught on medieval and early-modern warfare, and contributed journal articles and book chapters on related topics. More recently, Dr Abram’s research interests in the civil war in Cheshire, the northwest of England and the Welsh borders, as well as seventeenth-century conflicts more generally, continues, and he is currently working on a studies of the 1659 Booth Rebellion, and Charles II’s army and Tangier for Helion & Company. Andrew lives with his family in the Peak District, where he enjoys travelling, reading crime and naval adventure novels, brewing beer,climbing, hiking, and training for pilgrimages to holy sites.


‘’The opening fast-paced narrative section is followed by an exemplary scholarly analysis of all elements of the Cheshire army. The text is littered with interesting contemporary illustrations and a judicious use of quotes. The colour plate section of soldiers and flags adds to the production values of what is overall a fine book and one that sets the standard for anyone wishing to attempt the same. If diving deep into an English Civil War army appeals to you then this is a must buy; for those just interested in the ECW and how armies fought, Abram has set you up with a thoroughly engrossing read.’’

- Wargames Illustrated

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