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David Lesley, 1st Baron Newark

(1601-1682), Army officer

Sitter in 2 portraits

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David Lesley, 1st Baron Newark, by Simon François Ravenet - NPG D28986

David Lesley, 1st Baron Newark

by Simon François Ravenet
line engraving, 1757
NPG D28986

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Laurie Pettitt

22 March 2017, 13:47

This is a very hard man to understand. No doubt he was a good soldier who shared 'Man of the Match' status with Cromwell at Marston Moor. He also played Cromwell like a 'fish' in 1650 in the lead up to the Battle of Dunbar. But it seems the 'fish' ate him.
Guilty of a few massacres for which he blamed the Clergy and then, he blamed the Clergy for the defeat at Dunbar. One must ask, though, how it was that he had 10,000 men on the field who had bot been fed? And how was it, that leaving the field with an army which still outnumbered Cromwell, he made no attempt to rally and regain his men. My theory is that the 10,000 (ish) semi combatants on the field would have little to do with the battle, but lots to do with the disposal of English soldiers in the aftermath. If you think that impossible, you need to read up on Lesley.
His defeat was blamed on the Clergy, but I think it had more to do with the fact that Lesley was 45 days into 30 days' supplies. People call this Revisionist but that denies the fact that the History of the 1640s and 1650s were subject to a large amount of revision and destruction of records. Our job is to search through what is there and hope that we find truth to fit the available facts. I look at my 'task' as pulling the rusty nails out of the top of an ancient coffin. Each nail gets us closer to the truth.

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