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The Stuarts and the Civil War - 1603AD to 1644AD

Plagues, witch trials and fires are familiar aspects of Elizabethan and Stuart life but the greatest disruption was caused by the Civil War in the mid-1600s. In 1640, Charles I summoned Parliament to raise funds for a war against the Scots but Parliament , not called for 11 years, naturally refused. Charles was defeated by the Scots at Newburn on Tyneside in 1640 and the Scots seized the North-East. This increased the tension between King and Parliament which resulted in the English Civil War.


James VI of Scotland becomes James I King of Scotland and England following the death of the childless Elizabeth I.

November 1605 - GUNPOWDER PLOT (London)

Guy Fawkes of York is chief among those implicated in a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Fawkes is tortured and executed.

1606 - REIVERS TRANSPORTED (Northumberland)

King James begins the transportation of Border Reivers to Ireland. The Border raids will come to an end over the next five years.


The Liddel family have purchased the estate and castle of Ravensworth near Gateshead.

1607 - SKINNINGROVE MERMAN (Cleveland coast)

A merman is swept inshore by storms and caught by fishermen - reputedly.


Around 14,700 tons of coal a year is being exported from Sunderland to London but following a petition from Newcastle, the King orders that part of Sunderland's coal revenue must be paid to Newcastle's merchants.

1620 - SCARBOROUGH SPA (Scarborough)

Scarborough's development as a holiday resort begins with the discovery of a spa.

1625 - CHARLES I

Charles I becomes King

1636 - NEWCASTLE PLAGUE (Newcastle)

5,037 die of plague at Newcastle after the contagion spread from North Shields in 1635. Grass is said to grow in Newcastle's streets.


Charles I, who became King in 1625, strengthens Newcastle's defences against the Scots whom he believes are plotting against him. The following year he makes peace with the Scottish army near Berwick but on his return to London, skirmishes continue in th e north between his troops based in York and the Scots.


On August 20, Scots under General Alexander Leslie invade England and cross the Tyne west of Newcastle. King Charles' army is defeated. English losses are light but the men flee and desert the garrison at Newcastle.

August 29-30, 1640 - SCOTS SEIZE NEWCASTLE AND DURHAM (North-East)

Newcastle and Durham are seized by the Scots. The Newcastle coal trade ceases and shops in Durham and Newcastle are looted. Charles negotiates a truce at York and the Scots disband when they are paid 60,000 in 1641.

January 14, 1643 - COAL SHIPS BANNED (Newcastle)

Last year Hull came out in support of the Parliamentarians and banned Charles from visiting it. Parliament has now banned London coal ships from sailing to Newcastle unless the city agrees to support the Parliamentarians.

June 30, 1643 - BATTLE AT ADWALTON MOOR (West Yorkshire)

Parliamentarian troops under Fairfax are defeated by Royalists despite support in Leeds and Bradford. Royalists now control all Yorkshire except Hull.

1644 February 3-6, - SCOTS REACH NEWCASTLE (Alnwick)

In January, Scots under General Alexander Leslie invade England again. They encamp at Corbridge and outside Newcastle. Heavy ordnance is delivered to the Scottish camp at Newcastle via Blyth.

February 22-March 8, 1644 - SCOTS MOVE TO SUNDERLAND (Sunderland)

The Scots leave six regiments at Newcastle while the rest make their way to Sunderland where there is Parliamentarian support. They camp temporarily at Ebchester and Chester-le-Street before entering Sunderland on March 4. Four days later, a skirmish takes place near Sunderland, possibly at Boldon, between Scots and Royalists under the Marquis of Newcastle but the rough terrain prevents a full-scale battle.

March 13, 1644 - SCOTS BESIEGE SOUTH SHIELDS (South Shields)

Part of Sunderland's Scottish garrison moves towards Durham City seeking food in the countryside but finds the land destroyed by Royalists. The garrison is struggling because provisions delivered from Scotland are being captured and forced into the Tyne. The Scots turn their attention to South Shields and capture the town after a siege on March 19.

March 24, 1644 - SCOTS WON'T FIGHT (Sunderland)

After marching from Newcastle to Durham, the Marquess of Newcastle's Royalist soldiers fail to engage the Scots in battle at Hylton. Cannon is fired but the Scots remain at a safe distance. On returning to Durham the Royalist rear is attacked by a small party of Scots, possibly on Gilesgate Moor. In April the Scots extend their quarters south to Quarrington Hill and Easington.

April 11 - 20, 1644 - ARMIES JOIN YORK SIEGE (York)

Parliamentarian troops besiege the Royalist garrison at York and the Royalist troops of the Marquess of Newcastle move south to defend it. They travel via Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle and Piercebridge. At the same time, Scottish troops in east Durham head south via Ferryhill. Skirmishes occur near Darlington during the journey. On April 20, the Marquess arrives at York while the Scots join the Parliamentarian troops of Fairfax at Tadcaster.

July 2, 1644 - MARSTON MOOR (Near York)

Parliamentarians and Scots inflict a heavy defeat on the Royalists in a night battle at Marston Moor. Three thousand Royalists are killed. On July 16, York is taken by Parliamentarians after a long siege.

August to October 1644 - NEWCASTLE AND SUNDERLAND RIVALRY (Newcastle)

The Scots, fresh from Marston Moor, capture and occupy Stockton Castle. Other Scots head for Newcastle, which falls under siege. The town is defended by the mayor John Marley. The Parliamentarians of Sunderland, who assisted the blew cap Scots, were resented by the Royalists of Newcastle - especially as they were challenging Newcastle's coal monopoly. A Newcastle Royalist rhyme of the time shows this resentment:

Ride through Sandgate, up and doon

There you'll see the gallants fighting for the croon

And all the cull cuckolds in Sunderland toon

With all the bonny blew caps cannot pull them doon.

After a ten week siege, Scots capture Newcastle, penetrating its walls with gunpowder on October 20. Marley in the castle surrenders two days later. Tynemouth castle also surrenders on October 27. Newcastle's coal trade comes to a standstill.

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