Sir Marmaduke Rawdon, c.1582-1646

A wealthy merchant who supported the King and successfully directed the defence of Basing House during its first two sieges.

Portrait of Sir Marmaduke RawdonMarmaduke Rawdon was born at Brandsby in Yorkshire, the younger son of a minor gentry family. At the age of sixteen, he was sent to London and apprenticed to Daniel Hall, a merchant who exported cloth and imported wine from France. Rawdon acted as Hall's agent in Bordeaux until 1610 when he returned to London and set up in trade for himself. He became a freeman of the Clothworkers' Guild and a member of several overseas trading companies. In 1611, he married Elizabeth Thorogood, an heiress who reputedly brought him a dowry of £10,000 and with whom he had sixteen children

During the 1620s and '30s, Rawdon emerged as one of the leading merchants of the City of London and was elected to the Common Council. In addition to his interests in the wine and cloth trades, he acquired extensive property holdings in London and owned shares in several ships, including privateers. In 1628, he was a member of a syndicate headed by the Earl of Carlisle for the plantation of Barbados. In the same year, he was elected MP for Aldeborough in Suffolk. Rawdon was an active member of the Honourable Artillery Company and stood against John Venn for election as captain-leader of the company in 1631; both were disappointed by the impositon of a candidate favoured by the Crown.

In 1642, Rawdon was elected Master of the Clothworkers' Guild and became involved in negotiations with the Long Parliament, which demanded contributions from City institutions to fund its war-effort against the King. Rawdon was also commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Red Regiment of the London Trained Bands, and may have been present at the stand-off at Turnham Green in November 1642, where the King's march on London was blocked. Rawdon supported the peace proposals advanced by the City of London during the winter of 1642/3 but when the negotiations broke down he left London and went to join King Charles at Oxford. In April 1643, Rawdon raised a regiment of foot at his own expense and took command as its colonel, despite his relatively advanced age of sixty.

In July 1643, Rawdon's regiment was sent to garrison Basing House in Hampshire. Rawdon was appointed its military governor and supervised the construction of an extensive system of defensive earthworks. Rawdon successfully resisted Sir William Waller's besieging army during the first siege of Basing House in November 1643, for which he was knighted the following month. Local Parliamentarian commanders co-operated to mount the second siege of Basing, which lasted from June to November 1644. Once again, Rawdon's defence was successful, but the garrison had become internally divided on religious grounds. With the encouragement of the Marquis of Winchester, Basing had become an important refuge for Roman Catholics. The Marquis raised his own regiment from the Catholics who sheltered there, aided by Rawdon's lieutenant-colonel Robert Peake, who had quarrelled with Rawdon. The Marquis petitioned the King to have all Protestants removed from the garrison. Rawdon marched away with his regiment in May 1645.

Rawdon was next appointed governor of Faringdon House, one of only three Royalist strongholds left in Berkshire, which commanded the road between Oxford and Bristol. Rawdon directed raids on Parliamentarian positions in the surrounding area until early 1646 when local Parliamentarians blockaded Faringdon. The siege was intensified with the arrival of a detachment of the New Model Army. Rawdon fell gravely ill with pneumonia during the siege and died on 28 April 1646. He was buried in All Saints Church, Faringdon. A Parliamentarian mortar shell exploded in the church shortly after the ceremony, killing three soldiers.


John C. Appleby, Sir Marmaduke Rawdon 1583-1646, Oxford DNB, 2004

Richard Dace, "Who lieth here?" - Sir Marmaduke Rawdon (1582-1646)


Basing House website

Sir Marmaduke Rawdon's Regiment of Foote ECW re-enactment group