The Lincolnshire Rising in 1536 was the start of The Pilgrimage of Grace, the name given to the most serious rebellion in the reign of King Henry VIII. Men of the Rase district and areas around were involved in this rebellion.
The origins of the Rising were in the changes that King Henry was making at that time to the way the Church was organised and run in England. These changes involved investigating the competence of the clergy and the confiscation of Church property. The King sent commissioners throughout the country to carry out this investigation and they were in Lincolnshire in 1536 resulting in the closure of Louth Park Abbey in September, its property being taken by the King. Some of the monks who were turned out of the Abbey stayed in the area, some in the town of Louth.
At that time, the people of Louth were very proud of their church, St James’. Just twenty years before a beautiful new spire had been completed on the church – the tallest spire on a parish church in all England – and there were many fine church goods. When the commissioners had come and Louth Park Abbey had been closed, the people of Louth feared for their church and there was much rumour and gossip circulating, not least from the clergy who feared being turned out of their livings.
In the early days of October the officials arrived at Louth and were badly treated by the people of the town who then sent men to neighbouring towns – Horncastle, Caistor and Market Rasen – to rouse the people there to the dangers they feared were about to descend on them all. They also put pressure on the local gentry and some joined the rebels out of fear though others sympathised with the rebels. The rebels professed loyalty to the King and persuaded the gentry to send a letter to the King attesting their loyalty and seeking clarification of what the King intended. The letter also sought pardon for the gentry and commoners who were involved. This calmed things for a while.
However, the situation was exacerbated when letters that were circulating amongst the gentry were intercepted by rebels in Market Rasen and taken to Louth. These letters referred to “certain false traitorous knaves” and this incensed the rebels who were professing loyalty to the King. The situation worsened to the extent that the gentry were in real danger of losing all control and decided on a policy of complying with the rebels to try to slow them down in the hope that they could eventually be persuaded to go home.
Far from returning home, however, the rebels from Louth decided to march to Lincoln and on 5 October they arrived at Market Rasen where they were joined by the men from the town and from Caistor. The rebel host – estimated by some to be as many as 40,000 men – spent that night on Hambledon (now Hamilton) Hill near to Market Rasen, the gentry spending the night in the town.
The next day they went on to Lincoln. There news was received that the men of Beverley in Yorkshire had risen and were coming south. However, a reply was received from the King that denied the rumours that had been creating the fears of the rebels but demanded that the rebels disperse and directed the gentry to take control and arrest the leaders of the rebellion and give them to the King’s lieutenant who was with the King’s army which was on its way north.
By the middle of October the King’s forces began to arrive in Lincoln and then proceeded to round up the rebels from Louth, Market Rasen and the other rebellious towns.
100 men were eventually indicted, tried and executed for their part in the rebellion, the Vicar of Louth being among them. He was taken to London and there hanged, drawn and quartered.
The rebellion had been crushed, order restored and the King’s changes in the Church continued.
Also see “The Lincolnshire Rising 1536” by Anne Ward (East Midlands WEA 1986)
“The Pilgrimage of Grace and the politics of the 1530s” by R.W.Hoyle (2001)