Kings Letter to Orange – July 7, 1685

Portrait of King James II/VII
King James II

Whitehall, July 7 1685[1]

I am sure it will please you very well to hear that it has pleased God, to give my troops good success against the rebels here in England, as well as in Scotland. The Duke of Monmouth was got with all his troops to Bridgwater, and had summoned all the country to come in to him to fortify it; upon which Lord Feversham marched on Sunday last from Somerton to a village called Weston, which is within some two or three miles of Bridgwater, near which he camped, with what he had of my old troops, which consisted of about two thousand foot, in six battalions, and some seven hundred horse and dragoons, and eighteen small field pieces: the Earl of Pembroke with some horse and foot, of the militia, were quartered in a village behind him, having not tents, to camp with. On Sunday night the Duke of Monmouth came out of Bridgwater over the bridge, with all his troops, himself at the head of the foot, and Lord Grey commanded his horse, and came on with that great order and silence, that our parties which were out to see if he marched, did not hear them, and drew in battle upon the plain, and advanced straight on to our camp, hoping to surprise them, and about two in the morning engaged our foot with great vigour, and were as well received; they had but three pieces of cannon with them, which they brought up, within pistol shot of our foot.

Our horse in the mean time drew up on the right hand of our foot, the left being so covered that they could not be taken by the flank, and charged the rebel horse, which consisted of fifteen troops, and beat them, at the first charge, but did not pursue them far, but fell back into the rear of the rebels foot, which made great resistance, but at last were all cut to pieces, their cannon and two and twenty colours taken. How many we slaine of them was not then known, nor how many prisoners; just now I have heard again from Lord Feverham, of last night ten o’clock, in which he gives me an account that he was master of Bridgwater, that what horse of the rebels which escaped, had taken their way towards Bristol, that he had sent two parties of horse one to Keynsham and the other to Bradford, to see to intercept them; that as to the Duke of Monmouth, he believed he got off only with forty horse.

I have reason to believe now that the countries will rise upon them, so that he will have difficultly enough to get away. Lord Feversham has some men in Bridgwater, and is marched to Wells, where he is to be this night: ’tis so late that I can say no more, but to assure you shall always find as kind to you as you can desire.

[1] National Archive Kew, SP 8/3, ff.270-271