Chudleigh, James (DNB00)


CHUDLEIGH, JAMES (d. 1643), parliamentarian major-general, was third son of Sir George Chudleigh, bart. [q. v.], of Ashton, Devonshire (Burke, Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, p. 115). At the commencement of the civil war he and his father took up arms on the side of the parliament. On 20 March 1640–1 the officers in Yorkshire despatched a letter to the Earl of Northumberland detailing their grievances. This letter was brought to London by Captain Chudleigh, who remained in town for nine or ten days, during which time he was in constant communication with Suckling, and he was sent back to the north with instructions from Jermyn and Endymion Porter to urge the officers to accept Goring as their lieutenant-general, and to be ready to march southwards in case of need.' On 8 April 1641 Chudleigh convened a meeting of officers at Boroughbridge. They drew up a letter to Goring, and Chudleigh brought it to London on the 6th, and finding that Goring was no longer there, he followed him to Portsmouth. On 13 Aug. 1641 the House of Commons examined Chudleigh in regard to the part he had acted as intermediary between Suckling and the troops in the first army plot (Gardiner, Hist. of England, ix. 314, 324, x. 2).

In the west of England he was successful as major-general of the parliament forces, and struck great terror into the Cornish royalist army in a night skirmish at Bradock Down near Okington. In May 1643, while the king's troops were at Launceston, few in number and very short of provisions, the Earl of Stamford, the parliament's general in the west, entered Cornwall with an army of seven thousand men. He posted himself at the top of a hill near Stratton. On the 16th Sir Ralph Hopton, who commanded for the king at Launceston, approached the hill and ordered an attack on the parliament forces at four several places. The latter, under the command of Chudleigh, were defeated after gallantly sustaining the charge for many hours. In this action the Earl of Stamford had only three hundred men killed, but he left seventeen hundred in the hands of the enemy. Among these was Chudleigh, who was conveyed to Oxford. Stamford openly complained that Chudleigh had betrayed him, and, turning against him in the heat of battle, charged him with the body of troops under his command. Clarendon states that this accusation was false, though he is constrained to admit that the fact of Chudleigh joining the king's cause ten days after he was taken prisoner gave some countenance to the reproach that was first most injuriously cast upon him.

In the royalist army he held the rank of colonel. On 30 Sept. 1643, in an action between the garrison of Dartmouth and the besiegers under General Fairfax, he received a musket shot which caused his death a few days afterwards. This, says Clarendon, was 'a wonderful loss to the king's service.' The following civil war tracts have reference to him: 1. 'A most miraculous and happy Victory obtained by James Chudleigh, Serjeant Major Generall of the forces under the E. of Stamford, against Sir Ralph Hopton and his forces,' London, 29 April 1643, 4to. 2. 'Exploits Discovered, in a Declaration of some more proceedings of Serjeant Major Chvdley, generall of the Forces under the Earle of Stamford: against Sir Ralph Hopton,' London, 2 May i&43, 4to. 3. 'A Relation of the great defeat given to the Cornish Cavalliers, by Sergeant Major Generail Chudley. Confirmed by divers Letters from those parts to severall Merchants in London,' London, 3 May 1643, 4to. 4. 'A Declaration of the Commons assembled in Parliament,' London, 10 May 1643, 4to, contains 'some Abstracts of credible Letters from Exceter, who give a further Relation concerning the late Expedition under the command of Sergeant Major James Chudleigh against the Cornish.'

[Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Rapin's Hist, of England, 2nd edit, ii. 478, 479; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion, edit. 1848, pp. 397, 398, 449; Rushworth's Historical Collections, vol. ii. pt. iii. p. 272; Warburton's Memoirs of Prince Rupert, ii. 100; Lysons's Devon, ii. 17, 166.]

T. C.