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Subject: [CLOUGH-GENEALOGY] Denbighshire History...Colonel William Salesbury...
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 17:11:51 EDT


'Old Blue Stockings':
Colonel William Salesbury (1580 - 1660)

The face which stares squarely from William Salesbury's portrait leaves no
doubt that he was, as an opponent complained, 'A very wilfull man.' When it
was painted in 1632 he had already led a full and active life, serving during
his twenties as a privateer in the West Indies aboard the 'Barque Wylloby.'
He returned to unexpectedly inherit his family estates around Bachymbyd
(between Ruthin and Llanrhaeadr) and Rug, near Corwen. He found them run
down and in debt - even the mansions were mortgaged - and it took him thirty
years of hard work and frugal living to recover them.

A plain man, as his countrified clothes and his nickname 'Old Blue Stockings'
declared, he was sustained by the devout piety proclaimed in the portrait's
Welsh motto: 'A vynno dew dervid' - 'What God wills shall come to pass.' His
few leisure hours were spent in writing religious verse, and among his first
actions after recovering Rug was to build the lovely and virtually unaltered
chapel still to be seen there.

But the greatest test of Salesbury's 'wilfullness' was still to come when the
portrait was painted. At the beginning of the Civil War in 1642, although by
then into his sixties, he took command of Denbigh Castle - which he had
repaired at his own expense - for King Charles I. There he received the King
in 1645, treating him to two hours of 'plain speaking' which made Charles
ruefully remark, 'Never did a prince hear so much truth at once.' And there,
between April and September 1646, he held off a much superior force of
Parliamentarian attackers in an epic six month siege.

With 'hearts as hard as the very foundations of the castle, being an
unpierceable rock,' Salesbury and his garrison defied cannon bombardments,
attempts to cut off their water supply, and polite but increasingly
exasperated demands for surrender. Only when he received a direct royal
command did 'Old Blue Stockings' at last march out with the honors of war,
from one of the very last fortresses in Britain to hold out for the King.

Places to Visit

Rug Chapel commissioned by 'Old Blue Stockings' in 1637.


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