The largest and most decisive battle of the Civil War was the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, and it was only 8mls away from Marton cum Grafton, as a crow flies. The combatants were the Scottish Covenanters and Parliamentarians under Earl of Leven, Earl of Manchester and Lord Fairfax, and the Royalists under Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the Marquess of Newcastle. It began with a siege of York by Leven and Fairfax, but Newcastle broke free of the city and headed for Lancashire. The Earl of Manchester joined the besiegers, under the general leadership of Leven. Prince Rupert then marched across the Pennines to Knaresborough, and the Parliamentarians expecting him to march direct along the old Roman Road, Ermine Street, ( the modern A59), abandoned the siege and regrouped at Marston Moor. However Rupert made a flank march via Boroughbridge and Thornton Bridge, to put the Ouse between himself and the allied armies. He then defeated Manchester’s dragoons, left to guard the bridge of boats across the Ouse at Poppleton. York was then relieved.
The Royalists having successfully regained York marched to Marston Moor to engage the Parliamentarian allies. The Parliamentarians with Cromwell commanding the left wing managed to gain Marston Hill, a small but nevertheless prominent feature in the flat Vale of York. A combination of the position, a surprise attack in a rain storm, and the late arrival of some of the Royalist troops from York, began to take their toll, and although at one stage in a very confused battle, the Parliamentarians thought they had lost, with a very decisive cavalry charge from Cromwell, they were eventually victorious. The outcome was, that York then fell to the allies, and the North of England was abandoned by the Royalists.King Charles eventually lost control of the Country.
As in centuries before, the area around our village had become the scene of marching armies and a major battle, and it is difficult to know on where the loyalty of our villagers really lay, although it is likely to have been with the Royalists. The hardships that followed must have been very severe.