Against the wishes of the Protestant majority, the Catholic James II
was crowned king in 1685. Four months later on the 24th May his nephew
the Duke of Monmouth, exiled in Holland, sailed to England hoping to raise
an army to overthrow the king. He landed on the coast of Dorset with 83
followers and began a recruitment march; he arrived at Lyme Regis on 11th
Colyton's peace and
prosperity were overshadowed by the increasing influence of Catholics and
the resulting persecution of the dissenters who were in the majority in
Colyton. In fact Colyton was one of the main areas of religious dissent in
East Devon. As a result 105 Colyton men (more than any other Devon town)
chose to follow the Protestant Duke of Monmouth. Troops loyal to the king
were also active in the town and valley trying to prevent others from
joining the rebellion.
Most of the Colyton rebels were hard working
tradesmen who would not have joined the rebellion if they had been
free to worship in their own way.
Yeoman Roger Satchel known for his strong anti-papist views emerged as
their local leader. Generally only one member of a family joined the
rebels, but exceptionally there were six Bagwells and three named French.
The youngest rebel, John Abraham aged 14 had only just married.
None had experience of battle
but they believed that widespread popularity for the cause and sheer force
of numbers would win the day. Sadly, inadequate preparation, tactical
errors and fatal misjudgements resulted in defeat at the battle of
Sedgemoor. Monmouth had failed to ensure the support of the gentry in
advance of his landing.
An unknown number of Colyton men were killed in the battle and thirty
three were taken prisoner. Those that escaped faced long lonely
days on the run, hiding in hedgerows and deserted barns.
Some made it back to Colyton but were either captured or betrayed. Zachary
Drover aged 21, was found hiding under a water wheel but was one of the
few who were pardoned. Many were hanged and others were sent into
The book The Most Rebellious
Town in Devon gives a full account of that period of history and
the rebels' individual experiences. Click the Publications button on the menu for
Click HERE for
list of Colyton rebels, their details and their fate.
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