Sir Bevil Grenville - Encyclopedia

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SIR BEVIL GRENVILLE (1596-1643), Royalist soldier in the English Civil War (see Great Rebellion), was educated at Exeter College, Oxford. As member of Parliament, first for Cornwall, then for Launceston, Grenville supported Sir John Eliot and the opposition, and his intimacy with Eliot was lifelong. In 1639, however, he appears as a royalist going to the Scottish War in the train of Charles I. The reasons of this change of front are unknown, but Grenville's honour was above suspicion, and he must have entirely convinced himself that he was doing right. At any rate he was a very valuable recruit to the royalist cause, being "the most generally loved man in Cornwall." At the outbreak of the Civil War he and others of the gentry not only proclaimed the king's Commission of Array at Launceston assizes, but also persuaded the grand jury of the county to declare their opponents guilty of riot and unlawful assembly, whereupon the Posse comitatus was called out to expel them. Under the command of Sir Ralph Hopton, Sir Bevil took a distinguished part in the action of Bradock Down, and at Stratton (16 May 1643), where the parliamentary earl of Stamford was completely routed by the Cornishmen, led one of the storming parties which captured Chudleigh's lines (Clarendon, vii. 89). A month later, the endeavour of Hopton to unite with Maurice and Hertford from Oxford brought on the battle of Lansdown, near Bath. Here Grenville was killed at the head of the Cornish infantry as it reached the top of the hill. His death was a blow from which the king's cause in the West never recovered, for he alone knew how to handle the Cornishmen. Hopton they revered and respected, but Grenville they loved as peculiarly their own commander, and after his death there is little more heard of the reckless valour which had won Stratton and Lansdown. Grenville is the type of all that was best in English royalism. He was neither rapacious, drunken nor dissolute, but his loyalty was unselfish, his life pure and his skill no less than his bravery unquestionable. A monument to him has been erected on the field of Lansdown.

See Lloyd, Memoirs of Excellent Personages (1668); S. R. Gardiner, History of the English Civil War (vol. i. passim).

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