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Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681). Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. 1906.

Appendix XXIX: Plot to Betray Nottingham Castle

The Moderate Intelligencer, No. 17, gives an account of the plot, probably based on the letter of Poulton’s which was read in the House on the 13th of June:

‘The first thing that offers itself unto view is the long intended and late acted design upon Nottingham Castle, in brief thus:—The royal party in that country taking advantage of some discontents lying upon the governor, Captain Poulton, occasioned by some, no friends, violent solicitations to the army to eject him, which in part was effected, though soon after recalled. In steps Gilbert Biron, (upon premeditated advice of a royal committee met for this purpose), and aggravates the endeavours of that discourtesy to the highest of incivilities, and at a second meeting makes an overture of a considerable gratuity in hand; with the annuity of £300 to be settled upon him and heirs for ever; and to this, the honour of knighthood, and now was the time to make a revenge and to regain the favour of his Majesty. The governor’s modesty, or rather integrity, admits at present but of a dubious response, and defers his further resolution herein to second thoughts. The gentleman desired no delay, for that it was in order to a further design of his Majesty, which was within six weeks to be put into execution. The governor imparting all this discourse to a member of the House then resident there, desires his advice to lay the bait, well knowing the greediness of the creature would soon gorge it; upon debate their result was to carry the thing modestly, and to give him some encouragement of possibility of an assent, that thereby the secret of the grand design of his Majesty might be discovered with the chief actors thereof in that county. The governor now comes to an inclining condition, and the royal friend is free in opening the secrets of the design, which was that Kent, Surrey, Essex and that association, should, upon the House’s denial of their petition, rise as one man, in order to which a subscription went through the kingdom of such as would appear herein; the governor giving notice hereof to Derby House, and promising to betray the castle on such a night to the gentleman, who was to bring fifty men to enter, casts in the bait, which the cormorants coming to take are caught in a net, and lie at mercy to a party of horse and foot, which surprised them, and are now imprisoned in Nottingham gaol’.

The member of the House of Commons referred to was most likely Colonel Hutchinson. This account, however, differs considerably from that in the Memoirs, which was written much later. The editor of the Moderate Intelligencer (if the same as the editor of The Moderate, impartially communicating martial affairs to the kingdom of England) was Gilbert Mabbot, whom Mercurius Elenticus (No. 44) terms ‘the cobbler’s son of Nottingham’. If this conjecture is correct it would account for the excellence of his intelligence from Nottingham.

Another attempt against Nottingham Castle is described under the title of ‘A dangerous fight near Newark between the Parliament’s forces and the Scotch cavaliers, and how they would have surprised Newark and Nottingham Castle’.