Tag Archives: Civil war

When the Civil War came to Chichester

Exterior view of Cawley Almshouse

It is said there is no war worse than a civil war, with communities and even families being divided against each other.

In December 1642, civil war came to Chichester. As King Charles I sought to wrest control of his kingdom from a rebellious parliament, armed conflict broke out across the country.

Chichester was a city divided, with prominent citizens taking up the cause of king and parliament respectively. One of the city’s MPs, William Cawley, well known in Chichester for establishing almshouses for the poor, was a stern critic of the king. Henry Chitty was another parliament man and Captain of the Trained Band of Chichester – a seventeenth century version of the Home Guard. Ranged against them were Sir William Morley, who lived in the Cathedral Close, and Sir Edward Ford, the High Sheriff of Sussex, who had only recently being elevated to his position by King Charles.

An uneasy truce between the two factions broke out into armed conflict and lead to the city being besieged and under bombardment for several weeks. Sir Edward Ford, who lived at Uppark, raised the county militia, in an effort to dislodge the parliamentary forces in Chichester. Although he was initially successful, his victory was short lived, as a superior force under General William Waller laid siege to the city.

The story of those frantic days in December 1642 forms the basis of the 6th Chichester Heritage Trail. For more information click here

Chichester during Civil War 1642-1646 – Flow chart and references

The Society has published Heritage Trail No.6 Chichester during the English Civil War available for download here. It describes the beginnings of the  Civil War and in particular the impact it had on Chichester and the roles played by these individuals.  Four of the main buildings and locations involved in this event are cited and form a trail that can be followed from the North to the East and finally to the South finishing at the Cathedral.

 Physical copies of the leaflet and all previous trails are available from Chichester Library, The Tourist Information Centre at the Novium, West Sussex Record Office and The Council House (City Council offices) in North Street. 

For details of all  Heritage Trail leaflets see here.

The information provided here supplements that in the Trail leaflet.
It comprises:
  • a flow chart of the main events in the form of a timeline (see below) which can be printed off (click the image) or downloaded as a pdf for offline reference when walking the Trail
  • additional information (below the flow chart) about the personalities and events  including links to other posts and sources – these will be added to where relevant.
































Henry Chitty
Little seems to be known about Henry Chitty despite the important local role he played in the Civil War. Some information about his personal background was found in a genealogical study on the Chitty name here.

Henry Chitty – Roundhead in the Civil War in Chichester

Henry Chitty (sometimes spelt Chittey) was the captain of the local militia, known as the trained band at the time of the Civil War. He was central in the defense of the City in 1642 as described in our Heritage Trail Leaflet No.6.

A Puritan Roundhead

Little other information is known about him except for some personal details from a genealogical study of the Chitty Name from which the following is culled with thanks.

Henry’s father was Richard Chitty, the second son Henry Chitty a mercer Richard migrated to Chichester where he set up as a weaver. He was aged ‘four score and three years’ when he made his will in 1635, and it was proved 1637. Besides his own house he left one in Godalming, but his will names only his wife and daughters and their children. (He seems to have had two married daughters named Martha, among others). The baptism of only one of his children has been discovered (dated 1577) and if he had a surviving son it is odd that no such man appears as beneficiary, witness, executor or overseer; yet it is tempting to suppose that Richard was the father of the Roundhead Henry Chitty.

This Henry Chitty of Chichester married at New Shoreham in 1605. In 1614 he was named as ‘late servant’ (probably meaning apprentice) in the will of Alderman William Holland of Chichester. By 1623, Henry was himself an Alderman and was engaged in a lawsuit regarding property which he had bought in Canterbury.

In 1628 he and one of his daughters were named in the will of Alderman Augustine Hitchcocke of Chichester, and in 1632 Henry was sessor in goods and Mayor of Chichester, and took a lease of the Dolphin Inn, which he sold in 1637 (perhaps he was too busy and too prosperous for Richard to trouble him with duties or leave him a share in his own, smaller, estate). He appears as a J.P. in the West Sussex Protestation Returns in 1641/2, and was Captain of Train Bands in Chichester in 1642. Next year he was captain of a Company of Foot in the Parliamentary interest in Portsmouth Garrison. In 1614 he was described as a merchant, but his precise trade is not known. His will (1644/5) names only daughters and his property included his dwelling in West Street near the High Cross, and leases at Bosham and North Vallence* .

*could this be North Pallant?