John Poyer – Starting the second civil war in Wales

This is the incredible but true story of John Poyer of Pembroke. Poyer’s early years are obscure but he rose from poverty to become mayor of the isolated and poor town of Pembroke in the farthest reaches south west Wales.

When civil war broke out in 1642 Poyer seized the town and castle for Parliament although in common with most of Wales, it was surrounded by Royalists.  He then successfully held this  strategic foothold of Parliamentary power in the west until summer 1645 despite repeated attempts by larger forces to regain control.

But after the King was captured Poyer believed his contribution to the cause was grossly undervalued by a distant Parliament in London and he became deeply angered when they accused him of drunkenness and embezzlement and then refused to recompense him for the monies he said he and his soldiers were owed.

In 1648 out of patirence, Poyer responded by violently driving out Pembroke’s Parliamentary garrison and refusing to return the town and its castle to Parliament until he had been paid.  Receiving no satisfactory response Poyer switched sides and lead a force of Royalists and disaffected Parliamentary soldiers in the Rebellion which became known as the Second Civil War.  An angered Parliament sent detachments from New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell to put down the uprising but it took until the 11th July to force Poyer to surrender by which time Cromwell had left Pembroke.  Poyer was taken for trial in London where he was eventually executed by firing squad in Covent Garden on the 25th April 1649.

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The World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down - The British Civil Wars 1638-1651
John Poyer - Starting the second civil war in Wales
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Lloyd Bowen

Reader in Early Modern and Welsh History

Dr Bowen is a Reader in Early Modern History at Cardiff University and a Co-Invenstigator on the ‘Civil War Petitions’ project. He has published a number of…

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