As in any civil war, there are family members on both sides. Such was the case in the English Civil Wars of the 1640’s. Households were split into Royalists and Parliamentarians. Strategic Halls and Castles were sieged by one side, and then by the other. While we don’t often advertise our screw-ups, we can all draw some lessons from such dysfunctional examples– which brings us to the story of Captain Thomas Steele, Governor of the Norman-built Beeston Castle in 1643, as recorded in The History of the Ancient Parish of Sandbach, Co. Chester. by J. P. Earwaker, 1860. p.17-18. The lessons: 1) civil war is the worst kind, and 2) whether folks are in the military or any other enterprise, they tend to do as they were **trained** to do.
“Beeston Castle was taken on the 13th Dec. 1643, as thus narrated in Burghall’s Diary– ‘On Wednesday morning a little before day, Dec. 13, Capt. Sandford, (who came out of Ireland) with eight of his firelocks, crept up the steep hill of Beeston Castle and got into the inner ward and took possession there. It must needs be done by treachery, for the place was most impregnable. Capt. Steel, who kept it for the Parliament, was accused, and suffered for it, but it was verily thought he had not betrayed it wilfully, but some of his soldiers proving false, he had not courage enough to withstand Sandford or try it out with him. That which made much against Steel was, he took Sandford down to his chamber, where they dined together, and much beer was sent up to Sandford’s men, and the Castle upon a short parley, delivered up; Steel and his men having liberty to march with their arms and colours to Nantwich; which accordingly he did but as soon as he was come into the town, the soldiers were so enraged against him, that they would have pulled him in pieces had he not been got away presently and clapped into prison.’
The following is from Burghall’s Diary– ‘Upon Monday Jan. 29 [1643-4], Tho. Steel, late Governor of Beeston-Castle, who before had judgment to dye was shot to death in Tinkers-Croft [Nantwich] by two soldiers, who shot him one in the belly and t’other in the throat, who was immediately put into a coffin and buried in the churchyard. He made confession of his sins…, he prayed a great while, and to the judgment of charity died penitently.’
He is said to have lived in Sandbach, at a “moated house” called Giddy Hall, but this place, if it ever existed, is now pulled down. There is a Giddy Lane, near Abbeyfield.”