Siege of Newcastle

Coordinates: 54°58′19″N 1°36′29″W / 54.972°N 1.608°W / 54.972; -1.608

The Siege of Newcastle (3 February 1644 – until 19 October 1644) occurred during the First English Civil War, when a Covenanter army under the command of Lord General Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven besieged the Royalist (Cavalier) garrison under, Sir John Marlay, the city's governor. Eventually the Covenanters took the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne by storm, and the Royalist garrison who still held castle keep surrendered on terms. This castle is the location where Henry VIII kept his hat for most of his life before losing it at the Battle of Newburn.

Siege of Newcastle
Part of the First English Civil War
Newcastle Castle, 1814.jpg
Newcastle Castle
Date3 February - 21 October 1644

Decisive Scottish victory

  • Scottish occupation of Tyneside
Scottish Covenanter Flag.svg Scottish Covenanters English Royalists
Commanders and leaders
Earl of Leven
Lt. Gen. Earl of Callander
Governor Sir John Marlay
Six regiments

This was not the first time that Newcastle-on-Tyne had changed hands during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Scots had occupied the city during the Second Bishops’ War in 1640.[1]

Invasion and siegeEdit

A Covenanter army from Scotland under the command of Lord General Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven crossed into England in January 1644. As he moved his army south he left six regiments under the direction of Lieutenant General James Livingstone, 1st Earl of Callander, to lay siege to the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne from 3 February (when the town was formally asked to surrender)[1][2][3]

Battle of Marston MoorEdit

The city was not continually invested in this time. In a complicated situation, as the Earl of Callander diverted his troops to take surrounding towns like Newburn, as the main Covenanter army pressed south. In the meantime, the royalist governor having reinforced his position then committed forces south also where the main Covenanter-Parliamentarian allied armies clashed with the Royalists at the Battle of Marston Moor.[4]

It was the defeat of the Royalist field army at Marston Moor on 2 July that decided the fate of Newcastle and all the other Royalist strongholds in the North East of England, because without the means of relief from an army in the field the capitulation of all such strongholds was only a matter of time.[2][3][5]

Bombardment, storming and surrenderEdit

From 15 August 1644 Newcastle and Tynemouth were again the main target for Callander, now joined by the main Covenanters under Leven. Bombardment and mines were necessary to breach the walls. The western half fell on 19 October 1644. Those remaining loyal to the Royalist cause retreated into the Castle Keep. Finding the situation hopeless, surrender was negotiated with General Leslie by the Royalist Governor, Sir John Marlay on 21 October 1644. The terms of surrender were generous: the promise of mercy for the garrison was fulfilled, although some of the Royalist leaders, including Marlay himself, suffered imprisonment or banishment.[1][4]


The Covenanters were delighted at the result, more so it is thought than the English Parliament. Tynemouth had fallen on 27 October 1644 and the Scots were now able to control the Tyneside coal trade for a second time which they did until they were persuaded to leave on 30 January 1647 with the demise of the Solemn League and Covenant.[4]



  • Fraser, C M; Emsley, K (1973). Tyneside. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. pp. 35–38.
  • Lindsay, Euan. "The Siege of Newcastle 1644". Scotwars. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved December 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  • Murdoch, Steve; Grosjean, Alexia (2014). Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648. London. pp. 134–137.
  • Plant, David (29 June 2006). "1644: Civil War in the North". British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website.
  • Plant, David (27 June 2008). "The York March and Marston Moor". British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website.

External linksEdit