The diary of John Evelyn

Regular posts from the diary of John Evelyn

Year: 1642

Wednesday 7 December 1642

I went from Wotton to London, to see the so much celebrated line of communication1 , and on the 10th returned to Wotton, nobody knowing of my having been in his Majesty’s army


  1. A line of fortifications commissioned by Parliament and built around London between 1642 and 1643 to protect the capital from attack by the Royalist armies of Charles I – GS/Wikipedia 

Wednesday 12 November 1642

The 12th of November was the battle of Brentford, surprisingly fought; and to the great consternation of the City, had his Majesty (as it was believed he would) pursued his advantage. I came in with my horse and arms just at the retreat1; but was not permitted to stay longer than the 15th, by reason of the army marching to Gloucester; which would have left both me and my brothers exposed to ruin, without any advantage to his Majesty2


  1. Charles had taken Brentford on the 12th; but being-faced next day by Essex at Turnham Green, he retreated through Reading to Oxford, which he reached 29th November –AH 

  2. The introduction to Bray gives the following background: [Evelyn] set out,  intent to join King Charles I. at Brentford; and subsequently desisting when the result of that battle became known, on the ground that his brother’s as well as his own estates were so near London as to be fully in power of the Parliament, and that their continued adherence would have been certain ruin to themselves without any advantage to his Majesty. In this dangerous conjuncture he asked and obtained the King’s leave to travel.. 

Saturday 4 October 1642

and hence the next day to see the siege of Portsmouth; for now was that bloody difference between the King and Parliament broken out, which ended in the fatal tragedy so many years after. It was on the day of its being rendered to Sir William Waller; which gave me an opportunity of taking my leave of Colonel Goring, the governor, now embarking for France. This day was fought that signal battle at Edgehill. Thence I went to Southampton and Winchester, where I visited the castle, school, church, and King Arthur’s Round Table; but especially the church, and its Saxon kings’ monuments1 , which I esteemed a worthy antiquity.


  1. Probably refers to a number of mortuary chests containing the remains of Saxon kings which are now present in Winchester Cathedral -GS 

Friday 3 October 1642

To Chichester,

Sunday 19 January 1642

I went to London, where I stayed till 5th March, studying a little, but dancing and fooling more.