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The Sydenham family had owned holiday accommodation monkey world and lived on the estate at Wynford Eagle near Maiden Newton for well over 100 years by the time William Sydenham married Mary Jeffery, the daughter of John Jeffery of Catherston in 1611. William himself, having inherited holiday accommodation monkey world the estate at about the age of fourteen on his grandfathers death in 1607, his own father having died before he was one year old. In this quiet rural backwater William and Mary were to have ten children, and must have taken great pride in their five sons who reached manhood. holiday accommodation monkey world
The quiet country life of the Sydenhams was however about to be shattered. In 1642 the English Civil War broke out. As a prominent puritan family all six of the male Sydenhams took up arms on the side of Parliament. William becoming a captain in the Parliamentary army.
The eldest son, William junior became a Colonel where is best known action was as the parliamentary commander during the battles for Weymouth and and Melcome Regis. Colonel William Sydenham, M.P. for Melcombe, later became the Governor of the Isle of Wight. And a contemporary wrote of him, 'He was one of the most brilliant men of the day and had a paramount influence in the councils of the Parliaments only second to that of Oliver Cromwell' . At the Restoration, he was put on a list naming him as one of the twelve most dangerous men in the Kingdom , but by then his health was fading , and he died at home in Wynford Eagle Manor in 1661 , aged 46 . He was nursed to the end by his younger brother Thomas, of whom more later, by then an eminent physician
The remaining three brothers all gave thier lives for the cause. Francis while serving under his brother William at Weymouith
Mary Sydenham however was to know nothing of the fate of her family, for she was the first member to give her life for the Parliamentary cause. In August 1644, Dorchester was being successfully held for Parliament against a Royalist attack, with three of the Sydenham brothers believed to have been involved in the defence. At some time during or shortly after this event a group of Royalist soldiers went to Wynford Eagle, and there Mary Sydenham was killed by a Major Williams. We shall probably never know why, how or exactly when the event happened, history tending to be written by the winning side, but we do know that the Sydenhams were to have their revenge
On the 30th November 1644. Francis was at Poole with his men, when a large Royalist force of 300 cavalry led by Sir Lewis Dyve appeared outside of the towns' wall. They did not attack, but contented themselves with hurling insults at the soldiers of the Poole garrison. It was then that Francis saw a Major Williams amongst the hecklers, the very man who had murdered his mother three months earlier at Wynford Eagle Manor. Incensed, Francis Sydenham and sixty of his men rode out of Poole and headed straight for the cavaliers, who turned and fled. Francis chased them all the way to Dorchester (24 miles) and once there turned to his men and cried ' Give the dragoons no quarter and stick close to me, for I shall now avenge my mothers' innocent blood or die in this place'. He then spurred his horse on and charged headlong into the terrified Royalists, fighting his way with grim determination towards Major Williams, whom he shot dead, and whose body fell under his horse. The most famous of the Sydenham's was Thomas. Born in 1624 he had attended Oxford University for less than a year before volunteering for duty in Cromwell's cavalry to fight the Royalists. It was four strife-filled years before he returned to his university studies which culminated in a bachelor's degree in medicine in 1646 London then beckoned him; and for four busy decades - which witnessed the Restoration, the Great Fire of London and the Great Bubonic Plague - Sydenham conducted a flourishing practice based upon the novel thought that "the art of medicine was to be properly learned only from its practice."