Trooper Jane Ingilby

Did you know that during the English Civil War, there were so many reports about women going into battle (on both sides) that in 1644, King Charles 1 of England passed a law to ban women from wearing men’s clothes and forbidding them from fighting?

Trooper Jane Ingilby was one of these women.

The Ingilbys lived at Ripley Castle in Yorkshire and were Royalists; supporters of King Charles 1 in the English Civil War against the forces of Oliver Cromwell.

You don’t get the nickname “Trooper Jane” by sitting at home doing embroidery.

When Prince Rupert arrived in York to break the Roundhead’s siege of the city, the Roundheads fled to Marston Moor, chased by the Royalists.

Jane dressed in full armour and rode into battle next to her brother, Sir William Ingilby at the famous Battle of Marston Moor. This is the largest battle that has ever been fought on English soil.

The Royalists were badly defeated and lost around 4000 soldiers during the two hour battle. Another 1500 were taken prisoner by Cromwell and his Roundheads.

After the Battle of Marston Moor, Trooper Jane Ingilby and her brother rushed back to their castle at Ripley– and not a moment too soon! Oliver Cromwell and his troops arrived and demanded they look after them for the night.

Cromwell didn’t know that the Ingilbys had been fighting that day. If Cromwell knew that Jane and William had been fighting against his troops at Marston Moor, they would have lost their property and probably their lives as well.

Sir William went to hide in the priest hole and brave Jane opened the door to Oliver Cromwell, holding two pistols in her hands.

Pretending to be alone, she refused to let the army in.  She pretended to be scared of the soldiers and frightened for her honour.  She convinced Oliver Cromwell to make them sleep in the barns instead of the castle. She knew if they searched the castle and found her brother he would be arrested and probably shot.

Jane had no choice but to let Oliver Cromwell stay in her castle that night.

Trooper Jane made Oliver Cromwell sleep in a chair downstairs and wouldn’t let him leave the room. She sat awake all night with two pistols pointing at Cromwell in the guise of protecting her honour and her chastity and kept guard all night.  She saved her own and her brother’s life with her bravery.

Sadly Jane’s portrait was never painted, so we don’t have any contemporary images of her. There is a black and white Victorian print in the castle, showing Cromwell being held at gunpoint in the castle library –it was created over 200 years after the event. A huge thanks to Sir Thomas Ingilby who sent me the photograph of the Victorian print of Trooper Jane (below.)


Written for Sheroes of History by Lisa Bremner

Find out more…

Ripley Castle Estate

Discover more about women in the English Civil Wara on the National Archives website and on the History Today site, here.



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