Open main menu

Cholmley, Hugh (1600-1657) (DNB00)

CHOLMLEY, Sir HUGH (1600–1667), royalist, son of Sir Richard Cholmley, born at Roxby in Yorkshire, was educated at Beverley free school and Jesus College, Cambridge. Leaving Cambridge, be entered Gray's Inn in 1618, and married, four years later, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Twisden of East Peckham, Kent. He represented Scarborough in the last parliament of James and the first two of Charles, and sat for the same constituency in the Short and Long parliaments. In 1639 Cholmley refused payment of ship-money, 'which carried the whole liberty of Whitby Strand after my example,' and was in consequence put out of all commissions and slighted by Strafford, 'with some scorn, which my nature could ill digest' (Autobiography). He was, moreover, 'called before the council, and having also drawn up, with Hotham and Bellaais, a remonstrance on behalf of the Yorkshire gentry, was personally threatened by the king. The king told Cholmley and Hotham that they had been the chief causes and promoters of all the Yorkshire petitions, and that if they ever meddled or had a hand in any more he would hang them. In the Long parliament Cholmley formed one of the section termed by Clarendon 'the northern men,' active against Strafford, and for the suppression of the Court of the North. This suggested him to parliament as one of the commissioners sent to the king at York in May 1642 ('Letter of Commissioners,' signed by Cholmley, Rushworth, iv. 620). He was also nominated one of the committee appointed with Lord Holland to wait upon the king at Beverley, but disliking the employment took no part in the interview. However, he raised a regiment for the parliament, which served at Edgehill. Cholmley thus explains the views with which he took up arms: 'I was urged,' he says, 'by the Earl of Essex and others to go into Yorkshire, and to draw my regiment together for the securing of Scarborough, which at first I refused; but after being much importuned, conceiving these preparations of war would end in a treaty, and that myself desired nothing but that the king might enjoy his just rights, as well as the subject theirs, and that I should in this matter be a more indifferent arbitrator than many I saw take arms, and more considerable with my sword in my hand, and in better capacity to advance a treaty than by sitting in the House of Commons, where I had but a bare vote, I accepted this employment.' With what troops he could raise Cholmley joined Fairfax in cooping up the royalists in York; but he disobeyed Fairfax's orders to oppose Newcastle's entry into Yorkshire, and did not come to the aid of Fairfax when he was attacked at Wetherby. Nevertheless, in a letter of 26 Jan. 1643, Lord Fairfax says: 'In the North Riding Sir Hugh Cholmley hath carried himself very bravely, giving several defeats to the enemy near Malton,' mentioning also Cholmley's defeat of Colonel Slingby at Guisborough on 16 Jan. (Rushworth, v. 125). But the queen's landing determined Cholmley to desert the parliamentary cause. He came to York, kissed the queen's hand, and declared for the king (20 March 1648, Mercurius Aulicus, 26 and 31 March; Green, Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria, p. 176; Rushworth, v. 269). The Marquis of Newcastle gave Cholmley, in addition to other commissions, the command of all maritime affairs from the Tees to Bridlington Bay, and he became one of the most formidable enemies of the trade of the parliamentarians. After the battle of Marston Moor, Newcastle urged Cholmley to fly with him, but he refused, and held out until 22 July 1645, when he surrendered, obtaining liberty to go beyond seas (articles for surrender of Scarborough, Rushworth, v. 118). He spent his exile chiefly at Rouen, but in 1649 returned to England, and was allowed to compound for his estate for 450l. In 1661 he was arrested on suspicion and spent eight weeks in prison. He died on 30 Nov. 1657, two years after the death of his wife (18 April 1655). During those two years Cholmley wrote the memoirs of his life, addressed to his sons, chiefly 'to embalm the great virtues and perfections' of their mother, but partly also to vindicate his own conduct.

[Memoirs of Sir Hugh Cholmley, printed from manuscripts in tbe possession of Nathaniel Cholmley of Whitby, 1787. The second volume of the Clarendon State Papers (ii. 181) contains a long memorial by Sir Hugh Cholmley on the conduct of the Hothams; and other papers relating to the civil war in Yorkshire, written for the use of Lord Clarendon in compiling his history, are mentioned in the Calendar of the same collection (i. 238, 250). The following pamphlets relating to Cholmley were printed in 1642 and 1643: News from York, being a True Relation of the Proceedings of Sir Hugh Cholmley, &c. (January 1643), being letters of Cholmley's. defending his diaobedience to the orders of Fairfax; A True and Exact Relation of all the Proceedings of Sir Hugh Cholmley (April 1643). Letters from Sir John Hotham and Captain Bushell. giving an account, of his defection; two letters from Sir Hugh Cholmley to Captain Goodrick, persuading him to quit Wressel Castle (July 1643).]

C. H. F.