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Acording to Edward Simmons, the Royalist chaplain, a cavalier "is a Child of Honour, a Gentleman well borne and bred, that loves his king for conscience sake, of a clearer countenance, and bolder look than other men, because of a more loyal Heart." This sober description conflicts with the popular one of the roisterous cavalier which has come down to us from history. Simmons' portrait is the more accurate, as the typical Royalist field officer was usually in his early thirties, happily married and with an estate and responsibilities in his local rural community. Of the many worthy of mention are Sir Bevil Grenville, who wrote while on campaign of his concerns for family, his estates and tenants. Sir Henry Slingsby was considered an honourable and devout man of principle, while Sir Henry Gage was noted for his piety and ability, and was "a compleat soulgier and a wise man."
The Parliamentarians coined the word cavalier as a pejorative term and it is their propaganda image of the licentious, hard drinking , frivolous royalist which caught the popular imagination. It appears that a few supporters of the King deliberately perpetrated the myth simply due to their love of life. Such was Sir George Goring , Lord Wilmot, Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, Major General of Foot in the Western Army ,who loved "mirth and jollity ." Sir Thomas Lunsford, a Colonel of Foot was described in 1637 as "a young outlaw who neither fears God nor man......a swaggering ruffian". Henry Washington, Governor of Worcester towads the end of the war , and Lord Wentworth, Commander in Chief in the West seem to have further cultivated this extravagant picture for posterity.However, these men were very much the exception ,the vast majority of Royalist supporters being drawn from the sensible men and women of the rural genry and their dependents.
Barratt,John Cavaliers The Royalist Army at War 1642-1646 Sutton 2000
In this question, so delicate and uncertain, men naturally fell to the side which was most conformable to their usual principles; and those, who were the most passionate favourers of monarchy, declared for the king, as the zealous friends of liberty sided with the parliament. The hopes of success being nearly equal on both sides, interest had no general influence in this contest: So that ROUND-HEAD and CAVALIER were merely parties of principle; neither of which disowned either monarchy or liberty; but the former party inclined most to the republican part of our government, and the latter to the monarchical. In this respect they may be considered as court and country-party enflamed into a civil war, by an unhappy concurrence of circumstances, and by the turbulent spirit of the age. The commonwealth's men, and the partizans of despotic power, lay concealed in both parties, and formed but an inconsiderable part of them.
---Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects. David Hume, 1742.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.