A Shattock in the Border Wars: Hero or Villain?

Sir Robert Cecil probably had more important matters to consider. There was the menace from the Spanish for example...

In an archive of British "Border Papers" dated in the year 1600, there is an interesting correspondence about a soldier with the name of Shattock or Shadock. Apparently he was a career soldier who was eligible for promotion into the ranks. But there seems to be two vastly different opinions about his character. The incident they speak of occurred at a military garrison in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, near the Scottish border. The garrison at Berwick was crucial to the defense of the border with Scotland, and it had passed back and forth between the Scottish and English in a previous war.

The dueling narratives about Shattock are between Sir John Selby (c.1574-1636) of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, captain of the garrison at Berwick, and the 13th Lord Willoughy of Eresby, governor of Berwick. The recipient of the letters in London was the secretary of state, Sir Robert Cecil (1563-1612). He reported to the Queen, that is, Queen Elizabeth I.

  • Oct. 13. Entery 1251. Willoughby to Cecil. This gentleman [Shattock] recommended by the lord Gray from you and of my own knowledge, a man of good desert in sundry place's and foreign services I thought him fit for the vacant office of Captain Selby's lieutenant having these precedents. Captain Seiby's own step over others' heads and ray predecessor's appointment of one Lyndley and often shunning that dangerous practice of serving men who have bought such places being put in.
  • But I found great opposition : " first is the party himself," who has never seen service, yet " did not stick to answer me in my chamber," that if I denied him the place, he would have it otherwise. And since then, he is violently seconded by others, whom I need not name" for their mediations will discover them. He has also " most mutinously '' drawn his sword and fought with his captain, and menaces any man's life who gets the place—a most dangerous consequence in a town of war. This affronts my reputation, as I think the like has seldom been heard of and if they find any favour against me, it were better I resign the place than suffer such contempt. I must not omit to let you know that they practiced with the captains of the town to accost me in my chamber at 1 1 o'clock at night and expostulate; bat I refused to see them at such unseasonable time, even had there been cause. I am sorry to trouble you, yet have offered in all reason to justify myself by the establishment, propounding to them by the mayor, that he and the chief preacher of the town should decide, whether my construction or theirs were the better: but they passed it over, and I could hardly "persuade" that my lord Admiral and yourself should determine the cause : such are the humours of some set to assist me, who oppose me in every way, though treated with all courtesy. Berwick. Signed : P. Willoughby. Upp. Addressed. Indorsed. Wax signet : a quartered shield: over all a bend dexter charged mith o fishes (?)
  • Oct. 14. 1600 Entry 1255. "William Selby [junior] to Cecil. Soon after my Lord Governor came hither, I sued him that my brother captain. John Selby might by the laudable custom here, appoint to the place of his lieutenant, dead a year and cpiarter since, one if Shattock his " enseigne bearer."' He replied he could not, having promised your honor the place for another. I said, if your honor had known Shattick's valour and worth, you would not have prejudiced him. and begged his lordship to stay proceedings till I might sue your honor with his good leave for Shattock. He said I might, and he would write al.-o, but wiietlier for or against Shattock, I did not understand.


Where the garrison stayed in Berwick, when they were not carousing about the town. Where do you think "Game of Thrones" got its northern wall and castle from?

  • I beg your honor to believe I would not be unthankful, or cross any wish of yours here, but knowing your desire to do every man right without other respect, I will state the case and leave it to your consideration. When my brother's lieutenant died, the Governor asked the place for one Marshall his servant, said never to have served in war. My brother showed Shattock's long service of I8 years, his worth, and the reproach he would receive by being passed over. My lord desired my brother to stay it till he was made "privy therewith": and though my brother has done so this year and a quarter, attended his lordship to London, and was with him till near the time of his coming down, yet neither my lord nor John Parker, for whom your honor intreated, told him thereof, nor was it known here till I moved my lord as aforesaid. Lord Gray on asking my brother for Parker, and hearing Shattock's sufficiency, desisted: if my brother had known your privity with it, he would have in his duty waited on and informed your honor of the cause. My lord alleges Shattock's undutiful behaviour to himself, and his " affray " on Parker.
  • Shattock says he only intreated his lordship's favour as best he could: and confesses the affray, as he heard Parker sought his place, but no harm was done, and such are punished by 8 days' prison. This is the second interference by a lord governor with a lieutenant's place, since her Majesty's reign bega : the other was by my lord Chamberlain to prefer a brother of Sir Henry Lynlaes, at the request of the Earle of Essex," which bred much speech among the soldiers." Here they think it as wrong to take away the places they have served for, as if their inheritance were taken without suit of law ! Beseeching your honor to pardon my long letter, in a matter of so small moment. Berwick. Signed : Will'm Selby.
  • If I may speak without offence, his lordship had " a farder reache" than " pleasuring " Parker: for being grieved at the refusal of his man Marshall, and desiring absolute power to give all places hereafter, which he well knows would not be yielded without express authority, got your honor to request for Parker, knowing that to me and mine that would be as a commandment: and so Parker, being placed without the captain's privity, would afford a precedent in future. Closely written. Addressed. Indorsed.

This was the opposition across the border: the earliest known woodcut of Scottish soldiers wearing tartan dated about 1631.

Obviously this Shattock was no ordinary soldier. I suspect he came from a good family in Staplegrove, and a wealthy one to boot. He would have been born around the middle of the 16th century to have served in the army for 18 years. But not everybody thought him a great soldier.

  • Nov. 22. Entry 1290. Willoughby to Cecil. I have written more largely than I shall need here, in answer to my Lord Admiral's and your letter: but I only take leave to acquaint you with my letter in my own justifying to her Majesty: since I see she is acquainted with the case, which I leave to your honorable favor. I will follow your order in Parker's matter: I have deprived no captain of his rights, "unless the denying of such a lewd fellow, as said he would have the place whether I would or noe, be of that nature? . . . For this Shadock can no more be termed a soldier for his 20 years service here, then a mumbler of mattins in Queen Maries tyme, a learned doctor in this flourishing age: havin' never done any thing singular in his life, but swaggering, as Sir John Carey can witness, during the wars here."
  • Though in general captains ought to choose their own officers, yet when a governor has charge of a town "for his life and head," the chief officers and keepers of gates should be of special trust with him: lest being mean poor men, they might be practised with: "as I have known some in my own time at Bergis * . . . Yfycly in my power to do for Parker (who deserves well in himself) or the meanest spaniell that comes from you, he lives not that shall be ready to perform it then I." Berwick. Signed : P. Willoughby.1 p. Addressed to Cecil. Indorsed by Cecil : " My L. Willoughby to my L. Ad. and me. Remember to write to the mayor of Berwick, and send Gr. writing." Fragment of wax signet.

Have you decided yet which point of view to take about the character of Shattock? Now read what the Parliamentary Papers have to say about the incident and the people doing bureaucratic warfare with a quill, paper and wax seal.

Fortress detail at Berwick.Wikipedia: During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, vast sums – one source reports "£128,648, the most expensive undertaking of the Elizabethan period"– were spent on its fortifications, in a new Italian style (trace italienne), designed both to withstand artillery and to facilitate its use from within the fortifications. "Game of Thrones?"

  • Born at Berwick, Selby belonged to a local gentry family long associated with the defense of the Anglo-Scottish border. His grandfather, father, uncle (Sir William Selby I) and eldest brother all held the post of gentleman porter of Berwick, while his father also served as deputy warden of the East March. Selby’s patrimony amounted to just £30 a year and a small amount of property, obliging him to seek employment. Doubtless through his family’s influence, he secured a captaincy at Berwick while still in his early twenties, but he chafed at the constraints of garrison life, ‘keeping profane and loose company’ to relieve the tedium. Possibly aware that his uncle William had helped to transmit covert correspondence between the Scottish Court and the 2nd earl of Essex, Selby also made at least one unauthorized visit to Edinburgh in May 1600, apparently with a view to offering his services to James VI. By now he was at odds with the governor of Berwick, the 13th Lord Willoughy of Eresby, over the appointment of a new lieutenant in Selby’s company. [Shattock] In October 1600, after an 18-month impasse, Willoughby finally handed the post to a nominee of the secretary of state, (Sir) Robert Cecil. Selby, believing that his own authority had been undermined, first wrote to Cecil to protest at his treatment, and then abandoned his command to pursue his case personally in London.
  • Once in the capital Selby attached himself to Essex’s circle. According to his brother William, he was pursuing a wealthy widow related to the earl. However, his disaffection with the government offers an equally plausible explanation, and like many similar young gentlemen he joined Essex’s abortive rebellion in January 1601. As a minor player in the rising, he escaped with a fine of 100 marks, but Willoughby seized his opportunity to dismiss him from his captaincy. Now in financial difficulties, Selby initially returned north, but by the following year he was back in London, mixing with renegade soldiers ‘of the worst sort’.

Made your mind up?

It is interesting to note that Queen Elizabeth was acquainted with the dispute. Did she speak the Shattock name?

Also interesting to note is the variance in the spelling of the surname in the document: Shattock and Shadock. "Shattock" helps identify our man as being from Somerset. Shadock is close to the form of the name ("Schadock") found in modern Germany.

Who Was Shattock? The Answer is William.

It does appear that Shattock fought in the earlier border war from the letters. There is a record of Shattocks who joined the army to defend England against a threat from Spanish. I write about them in a page about Shattocks defending the West Country against the Spanish Armada.

We actually do know the name of the Berwick Shattock. It was William Shattock. There are records of William Shattock baptizing children in Berwick beginning in 1683: Eleanour (1583), Roger (1589), and Bridget (1592). He appears to have had a son William who married in Berwick in 1619. He had children or grandchildren, twins, born in Newcastle Upon Tyne with the last name of "Shatticke" in 1638. No male children are recorded.

The names "Roger" and "William" are interesting because these given names are commonly found among Shattocks in the Stogumber area of west Somerset.

There was a William Shattock baptized Aug. 27, 1565 in the Stogumber church. Interesting to note is he had a twin Johane. (Fraternal twins run in families so the fact William of Berwick had twin grandchildren may be significant.) But he would have only been 18 to have a child in Berwick in 1683. Possible, considering he was a soldier who may have entered the service when he was a young teenager. Perhaps a better theory is that he was baptized in 1565 but was actually born one or two years earlier.

There was a William Shattocke born Oct. 14, 1549 in Milverton to John and Joan. He would be fifty-one by 1600, perhaps too old, but possible?

If William the soldier's first child was born in 1683 in Berwick that would place him in the garrison town about 17 years before the correspondence over his promotion in 1600...about the length of his service. So we can be reasonably sure the Shattock who was the subject of the letters was probably named William. If he was born in 1565 he would have been thirty-five years old in 1600.

John Shattock Comments

John Shattock, who I try to separate from all the other John Shattocks I write about by calling him "John from Leicester," wrote a very interesting comment to this story that fills in the background to the events on the border:

"The Cecil family were Earls of Exeter and Salisbury in the South of England respectively but as you know were a powerful family throughout the Country. William Cecil and son Robert Cecil ran a secret service and spy network of code breakers for Queen Elizabeth I. Robert Cecil was the man who persuaded Elizabeth to sign the death warrant for her sister Mary Queen of Scot’s execution when there were Catholics who wanted Catholic Mary to take the throne in place of her Protestant sister.

They were not the most powerful force in the North of England and the Scottish borders but did associate with the family that were. In the North, occupying the mighty Alnwick Castle (pronounced Ann – Ick, Berwick pronounced Bear- rick) in Northumberland, were the Percy family. They were reputed to be the most powerful family next to the Crown. These were the Dukes of Northumberland but also had family interests way down South in the Dukedom of Somerset.

The Percys and the Cecils originated from Norman France and came to England after the Norman Conquest. As you know, members of both families were involved in some way in the Gunpowder plot of 1605.

Maybe this Shattock is the real Knight! The soldier, with the title in it’s original meaning. As you say, he was no ordinary foot soldier. Foot soldiers or lower ranks were just “pawns” and would never be mentioned by name so he would be definitely be a high ranking commander, of a fighting force to be recognised, judging from the compliments made about him in the document. Shattock is mentioned as an " enseigne bearer." This was an honourable but extremely dangerous position to have. The ensign or standard bearer had their own separate bodyguard because they were largely unable to defend themselves. The ensign they carried was the main target for the enemy and I guess that this is what is being mentioned when Selby was talking of prejudicing the safety of Shattock when they clearly identified him as a man of honour and valor.

The picture at left is an illustration of Sir Percival Thirwall at the battle of Bosworth, in Leicestershire. He was the ensign bearer for King Richard III. It just gives an imaginary impression of what Shattock may have looked like as the “enseigne bearer”.

What maybe interesting, if we could get more information, is that there is a possible marriage link with: the Percy family; the Duke of Somerset; and Henry Chattock of Dorset, who is reputed to have married a member of the Percy family. Apparently this is covered in Hutchins History and Antiquities of Dorset, author Rev John Hutchins 1698-1773, and connects a marriage with the 16th Century Percy family, the Seymours, Henry Chattock of Dorset, and the Shattocks of Somerset. Unfortunately I don’t believe there is an online copy of this book available, apart from parts of it that are for sale at extortionate prices. I wish I could get a look at this book because it may hold a few links, so maybe a trip to the British Library next time I’m in London.

BTW – To put things in perspective. The Percy family owned over 98,000 acres of land in Northumberland – there are 640 acres in a square mile. They also owned land elsewhere in the South of England."

There is one last interesting clue in this story. It is found in the book "Fairbank's Crests of the Leading Families In Great Britain and Ireland" by James Fairbairn (New York, 1911) plate 94 crest 13. The hand rising from a rope-like wreath of twisted silk is very common in heraldry, and specifically grasping an object.

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. Of course if he was wearing such a coat of arms, it suggests he was a knight. Here is another oddity. The coat of arms is attributed to a Wiltshire family of Shattocks. I have no records of Shattocks in Wiltshire...but then this crest may be very, very old.

Was this worn by Shattock, who failed to be promoted to lieutenant, but he did have the honor of being his regiment's standard bearer?