The English Civil Wars were a time of terrible conflict. In England and Wales alone, a greater proportion of the population died in the Civil Wars than in the First World War. For those who survived, thousands suffered from terrible injuries whilst wives, children and other family members faced daily struggles as a result of bereavement.
The ‘Conflict Welfare and Memory’ project’s website www.civilwarpetitions.ac.uk helps researchers explore the human costs of the Civil Wars by investigating how wounded soldiers, war widows and other bereaved family members petitioned for financial relief. Successive government regimes throughout the Civil Wars, Interregnum and Restoration of the monarchy offered pensions and gratuities to their soldiers who had been wounded and the families of those who had died in their cause. Very often, the petitions for these pensions and gratuities were written for the claimant by literate acquaintances, who shaped to make them appear as deserving as possible. However, claimants still had to defend these accounts in person as true in open court. The petitions were often accompanied by certificates from military commanders, medical practitioners and local communities in support of their cases.
In addition, payment records for the tens of thousands of names of those who received military welfare survive in order books and treasurers’ accounts. This talk will provide an overview of the project, furnished with some local examples from north-eastern England.