Nehemiah Wharton letters

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The letters of Nehemiah Wharton: introduction

Nehemiah Wharton joined the army of Parliament in the summer of 1642. He had been apprenticed to George Willingham, a merchant in London. Wharton has variously been described as a sergeant and as a ‘subaltern officer’ in the Earl of Essex’s army. Gaunt maintained that he was ‘from the literate upper levels of society’ and went on to describe him as ‘from the urban artisan class rather than the landed rural elite’ (2003, p63).

He wrote a series of letters between 16 August and 7 October 1642 to his apprentice master and these provide an invaluable insight, not only to life as a soldier but also to the early days of the Civil Wars.

The original letters were transcribed by Sir Henry Ellis in 1854 but recent work suggests that his transcriptions included significant faults. Gavin Robinson has gone back to microfilm copies of the original letters and has produced new transcriptions which, he maintains, are more accurate than those of Ellis.

The material shown here has additional spacing to separate out the days covered by the letters and to make the text easier to read.

The letters:

Wharton letter 1
Wharton letter 2
Wharton letter 3
Wharton letter 4
Wharton letter 5
Wharton letter 6
Wharton letter 7
Wharton letter 8
Wharton letter 9


Gaunt, P. (2003) The English Civil Wars, 1642-1651 Oxford, Osprey Publishing

Wharton, Nehemiah (2010) Letters from a subaltern officer of the Earl of Essex's Army (N. W.) written in the summer and autumn of 1642 ... Communicated to the Society of Antiquaries by Sir H. Ellis. (reproduction of material published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1854) London, British Library