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Rich the Rebel
Nov 05, '20

My Kind of Man

Colonel Nathaniel Rich (died c. 1701) sided with Parliament in the English Civil War. He was a colonel in Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army.

Origins and education

Nathaniel was the son of Robert Rich of Felsted, Essex, the younger son of Richard Rich, illegitimate son of Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich. His father having died before 1636, when Nathaniel was still in his minority, his uncle, the Merchant Adventurer Sir Nathaniel Rich (who died in that year) left him the manor of Stondon Massey in Essex. Rich was educated at Felsted School (1632-1637) under the care of the godly minister Samuel Wharton, and at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (where he matriculated in 1637), and was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1639.

Civil War career

At the start of the Civil War, like many other young gentlemen from the Inns of Court, he entered the lifeguards of the Earl of Essex. In the summer of 1643 he received a commission as Captain, raised a troop of horse in the County of Essex, and joined the Earl of Manchester's army. In December 1644 he held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was one of the witnesses on whom Cromwell relied to prove his charges against Manchester. When the New Model Army was formed, Rich, in spite of some opposition from the House of Commons, became Colonel of a regiment of horse. He fought at Naseby, and distinguished himself in an attack on the royalist quarters in March 1646 when he led a party of horse and dragoons that routed a royalist outpost at St Columb Major, Cornwall. He was also one of Thomas Fairfax's commissioners at the surrender of Oxford.

In the quarrel between the army and the parliament Rich at first discouraged petitioning; afterwards, however, he made himself the mouthpiece of the grievances of his regiment, and strongly opposed disbanding. He took part in drawing up the 'Heads of the Proposals of the Army,' and in the negotiations with the parliamentary commissioners. In January 1648 Rich's regiment was quartered in London at the Mews to guard the parliament, and on 1 June it formed part of the army with which Fairfax defeated the Kentish royalists at Maidstone. Rich was then detached to relieve Dover, and recover the castles on the coast which had fallen into the hands of the royalists. He retook Walmer Castle about 12 July, Deal on 25 Aug, and Sandown a few days later.

During the political discussions of the army in 1647 and 1648 Rich was a frequent speaker. He was in favour of the widest toleration, but had scruples about manhood suffrage, and feared extreme democracy. He had doubts about the execution of the King, but appears to have held it necessary that he should be put to trial, and approved of the establishment of the republic. His own religious views inclined towards those of the Fifth-monarchy men. In February 1649 Rich was admitted to parliament as member for Cirencester, having been elected two years previously, but hitherto excluded in consequence of a double return. In December 1650 he was charged with the suppression of a royalist rising in Norfolk.

For Protectorate Restoration Family

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Eltham Palace

In 1648 Nathaniel Rich purchased Eltham Palace and the lands attached to it. By this time the parks had been broken up and the deer destroyed. A few years later in 1656 John Evelyn wrote in his Diary: "Went to see his Majesty's house at Eltham; both the palace and chapel in miserable ruins, the noble wood and park destroyed by Rich the rebel." After the Restoration, the manor of Eltham was leased by Charles II to Sir John Shaw.

Colonel Nathaniel Rich’s Regiment of Horse

Service History


April: Formed from the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Horse supplemented by a troop from Colonel Oliver Cromwell’s Regiment of Horse

14th June: Battle of Naseby

June: Siege of Leicester

July: Battle of Langport

July: Siege of Bath

August to September: Siege of Bristol


February: Battle of Torrington

March: Skirmish at St Columb

May to June: Siege of Oxford


August: Refuse to disband

August: March into London under Fairfax


April - May: Garrison in London

April: Put down riots in London

May: Taking of Dartford

1st June: Battle of Maidstone

June: Relief of Dover

July: Siege of Walmer Castle

July: Skirmish at Kingston (2 troops)

August: Siege of Deal Castle

August: Skirmish at Deal

August to September: Siege of Sandown Castle

December: In London, guarding Parliament


Quartered in the South East


December: Suppress Royalist rising in Norfolk


April: Ordered North

July: At Nottingham, march to Lancashire

13th August: Skirmish at Warrington Bridge

3rd September: Assist in pursuit after the Battle of Worcester


Quartered in South East


October: Sent to Scotland (Maj Knight)


Serving with Morgan in the Highlands

July: Skirmish at Dalnaspidal (2 troops)

October: Skirmish at Drummond (1 troop?)

Mortally wound Wogan at Drummond & Wemyss

December: Defeat Lord Kinnoul (Lisle t)

December: Capture Kinnoul and Dudhope at Glamis (Lisle t)

December: Rich imprisoned for opposing Cromwell

December: Officers implicated in ‘Overton’s plot’


Serving in Scotland

January: Command passed to Charles Howard

September: Howard resigns, replaced by Richard Ingoldsby


Serving in Scotland

October: Return to England


Serving in England


Serving in England


April: In London, the Colonel’s troop supports Richard Cromwell, the rest support Fleetwood

April: Ingoldsby relieved of command, John Okey appointed Colonel temporarily

July: Rich appointed Colonel again

December: Sent to reduce Portsmouth, which had declared for the Long Parliament under Hesilrigge

December: Rich and five of six troops join Hesilrigge

December: Return to London


January: Quartered at Ipswich, Colchester, Norwich, Bury St Edmunds and Yarmouth

February: Muster under Rich at Bury St Edmunds

March: Ingoldsby replaces Rich

Captain Timothy Clare's troop joins Lambert

April: Ingoldsby leads 5 troops to capture Lambert at Daventry

5th December: Disbanded at Northampton


Nonington and The Kentish Rebellion and Second English Civil War of 1648

The following article is in brief the parts played in the Kent Rebellion, a precursor to the short lived Second English Civil War of 1648, by those with connections to Nonington.

The rebellion had its origins in part in the Canterbury riots of Christmas Day, 1647, which began when the Puritan Mayor and officials of Canterbury tried to forbid traditional Christmas celebrations.

Rich for God, Parliament and People

Parliament dispatched troops of the New Model Army under the command of Colonel Nathanial Rich and Colonel Birkhamstead to retake Sandown, Deal and Walmer castles, and raise the siege at Dover. Colonel Birhamstead’s troops relieved Dover Castle on 6th June and it remained in Parliamentary hands until the Restoration of the Monarchy in May of 1660 when Charles II landed at Dover en route from the Continent to London to reclaim the Crown.

Colonel Rich began to besiege the smaller castles. Walmer surrendered on 12th July, but the other withstood his efforts for some time as Royalist forces attempted to lift the sieges from the sea.

After the end of the Siege of Donnington Sir John Boys of Bonnington in Goodnestone near Wingham, who should not be confused with his distant kinsman Major John Boys of Fredville in the adjoining parish of Nonington, was reported to have gone to Holland. Sir John returned by sea to East Kent in August of 1648 with some 1,500 Dutch and Flemish mercenaries and took part in several skirmishes with Parliamentary forces near Deal in a vain attempt to relieve the sieges at at Deal and Sandgate castles. During one of the later skirmishes Sir John was slightly wounded, it was recorded that he was “shot in the belly, pricked in the neck and wounded in the head with the end of a musket”. Fortunately a sword belt buckle absorbed most of the force of the musket ball and Sir John survived his wounds after taking refuge in Sandown Castle.

Deal Castle surrendered on 25th August after the garrison had received news of Cromwell’s victory at Preston by means of a message attached to an arrow shot over the castle walls. Sandown Castle, about a mile up the coast from Deal Castle, held out until 5th September when the garrison, including Sir John Boys, surrendered. Colonel Rich then served as Captain of Deal Castle from 1648 to 1653.

Eltham Palace

May, 1984

“With my TR7, at 29 years of age, full of confidence, I went up to Sandhurst, the famous Army Head Quarters in Surrey for an interview. The week previous, I had already been for an interview for the Service Children‟s Education Authority at Eltham Palace on the outskirts of South East London. I had had an Interview Board, which comprised of an Admiral, a General and an Air Commodore. Their first question to me as I sat there was, "Have you got a hobby?"

"Do you really want to know my hobby? It will take a bit of time to explain", I replied with a smile.

"We‟ve got all the time we want, so fire away", came the decisive invitation.

I then went on to tell them all about the adventure games that I had organised.....”

Excerpt from “Rebel Spirit” Published 2001

A Past Life Reveal

The Downs

Before leaving for Essex, Fairfax delegated command of the Parliamentarian forces to Colonel Nathaniel Rich to deal with the remnants of the Kentish revolt in the east of the county, where the naval vessels in the Downs had gone over to the Royalists and Royalist forces had taken control of the three previously Parliamentarian "castles of the Downs" (Walmer, Deal, and Sandown) and were trying to take control of Dover Castle. Rich arrived at Dover on 5 June 1648 and prevented the attempt, before moving to the Downs. He took almost a month to retake Walmer (15 June to 12 July), before moving on to Deal and Sandown castles. Even then, due to the small size of Rich's force, he was unable to surround both Sandown and Deal at once and the two garrisons were able to send help to each other. At Deal he was also under bombardment from the Royalist warships, which had arrived on 15 July but been prevented from landing reinforcements. On the 16th, thirty Flemish ships arrived with about 1500 mercenaries and – though the ships soon left when the Royalists ran out of money to pay them – this incited sufficient Kentish fear of foreign invasion to allow Sir Michael Livesey to raise a large enough force to come to Colonel Rich's aid.

On 28 July, the Royalist warships returned and, after three weeks of failed attempts to land a relief force at Deal, on the night of 13 August managed to land 800 soldiers and sailors under cover of darkness. This force might have been able to surprise the besieging Parliamentarian force from the rear had it not been for a Royalist deserter who alerted the besiegers in time to defeat the Royalists, with less than a hundred of them managing to get back to the ships (though 300 managed to flee to Sandown Castle). Another attempt at landing soon afterwards also failed and, when on 23 August news was fired into Deal Castle on an arrow of Cromwell's victory at Preston, most Royalist hope was lost and two days later Deal's garrison surrendered, followed by Sandown on 5 September. This finally ended the Kentish rebellion. Rich was made Captain of Deal Castle, a position he held until 1653 and in which he spent around £500 on repairs.


So that Nathanial guy was a leader and an individual. I have had a lot of army lives and that clearly gives me focus, leadership and a rebellious streak.


Nov 05, '20
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