Planet 234

Stephen K. Roberts
John Poyer: the Civil Wars in Pembrokeshire and the British Revolutions
by Lloyd Bowen

by Lloyd Bowen

University of Wales Press, £14.99

John Poyer was in his own words, ‘once low’, but ‘came to be very high’. His fame, or notoriety, rests on events in Pembrokeshire in the episode known as the second civil war, when he was a leader of a revolt against parliament. With the formidable fortress of Pembroke castle as his headquarters, Poyer commanded the region from December 1647, but on 10 July 1648 was eventually obliged to surrender to the New Model army under Oliver Cromwell. Subsequently tried by martial law with two other leaders of the revolt, Poyer was executed by firing squad in London’s Covent Garden, after a curious incident. As an act of clemency, the New Model army commander-in-chief, Sir Thomas Fairfax, determined that only one of the three rebel leaders should die. Three sheets of paper were prepared, two with ‘Life given by God’ written on them, and one left blank. A child, an innocent, was brought in to hand the papers to the prisoners. Poyer was given the blank.

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