Nantwich Museum

Nantwich Museum

27 Pillory Street, Nantwich, CW5 5BQ ~ Tel: 01270 627104

The Barthomley Incident: Massacre or Propaganda?

Church of St Bertoline, Barthomley

By George Cook, Alsager School (Year 11 Work Experience)

The Civil War within Cheshire was conducted with immense vigour by both combatants, who desired control of Cheshire, because of its proximity to the River Dee which dictated the arrival of soldiers and supply chain from Ireland.

The Barthomley Incident refers to an alleged skirmish that transpired within the vicinity of Barthomley’s Church on the 23rd December 1643 between native defendants, and an encroaching Royalist military delegation whom apparently orchestrated a brutal demise of an unknown amount of villagers, coercing them to escape their temporary refuge within the tower of the church by igniting the churches wooden furnishings and smoking them out of their improvised refuge (though other sources detail alternative methods). Consequently, Royalist soldiers brutally executed them within the porch of the church, when they emerged.

In the 21st century, some politicians (notably the incumbent 45th US President!) would refer to deliberate disinformation as Fake News. The massacred villagers are believed by some (potentially inaccurate) sources to be affiliated with the Parliamentarians, the faction that ultimately claimed victory in the Civil War.

During the divisive conflict, genuine accounts of the war’s events were frequently obscured or manicured by extensive usage of propaganda and disinformation, which was employed by both sides to mobilise popular opinion in their favour and illustrate both as the ‘right’ faction. Consequently, a complicated array of doctored information was gradually compiled, designed to degrade the credibility of the other’s actions and limit the power of undesirable news (such as military defeat).