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Shattocks Defending the Kingdom Against the Spanish Armada in the 16th Century

by Philip Shaddock



Illustration from "The Preparations in Somerset Against the Spanish Armada A.D. 1558-1588" by Emanuel Green (1888)

Wikipedia: "The Spanish Armada was a Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from La Coruña in August 1588, under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia with the purpose of escorting an army from Flanders to invade England. The strategic aim was to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I of England and the Tudor establishment of Protestantism in England, with the expectation that this would put a stop to English interference in the Spanish Netherlands and to the harm caused to Spanish interests by English and Dutch privateering.

In the history of local preparations for the invasion of Somerset by the Spanish Armada by Emanuel Green (1888), there is a reference to "William Shuttocke" (a common mistake in the transcription of "Shattock"). He appears in connection with John Frauncis, esq., as his commitment to the defense of the realm. William was probably his tenant. The year was 1585, three years before the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

William Shattock's role in the defense of Somerset was to act as a type of light cavalryman, who carried a petronel. Wikipedia has this entry for a petronel.

Petronel is a 16th or 17th century firearm, defined by Robert Barret (Theorike and Practike of Modern Warres, 1598) as a horsemans peece. It was the fire-arm which developed on the one hand into the pistol and on the other into the carbine. The name (French petrinel or poitrinal) was given to the weapon either because it was fired with the butt resting against the chest (French poitrineLatin pectus) or it was carried slung from a belt across the chest. Petronels are found with either matchlock or wheellock mechanisms.[1]

The sclopus was the prototype of the petronel. The petronel is a compromise between the harquebus and the pistol.[2] By extension, the term petronel was also used to describe the type of light cavalryman who employed the firearm. The petronel (cavalryman) was used to give support to more heavily armoured cavalry such as demi-lancers and cuirassiers. The petronel was succeeded by a similarly armed cavalryman called the harquebusier.

Image of a Petronel from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London


A very handsome weapon. William Shattock must have been strong and a good rider to carry and fire such a weapon mounted on a horse!




There is actually a coat of arms for the family of Shattocks in the book "Fairbank's Crests of the Leading Families In Great Britain and Ireland" by James Fairbarn (New York, 1911) plate 94 crest 13. The hand rising from a rope like wreath of twisted silk is very common in heraldry. Apparently a wreath of silk was used on the helmet of a knight to fasten the coat of arms so that in battle he was not struck down by his fellow soldiers, mistaking him for the enemy. If he was wearing such a coat of arms, it suggests he was a knight. At the very least this is clearly evidence of the stature of our family back then. Here is another oddity. It is attributed to a Wilshire family of Shattocks. I have no records of Shattocks in Wiltshire...but then this crest may be very, very old.

There is a record of the men called to arms in the defense of England against the Spanish enemy. It is called "The West County Muster Rolls for Somerset 1569." The list of able bodied men and the equipment they will bring to battle provides us with a glimpse of where Shattocks lived at this time and what kind of soldiers they were.
  • Tithing of Withycombe – John Shattock. Armour – One tithing corslet furnished, one almain rivet finished. ij pairs of almain rivets furnished.
  • Tithing of Theale – Robt. Shatocke. Ableman – Archer.
  • Tithing of Buckland & Ilbeare? - John Shattocke. Ableman – Pekeman (pikeman)
In fact there are records of a "Sir John Shattock."
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