More evidence for the Double Armed Man

It seems to be an article of faith with academics, historians and re-enactors that Neade’s Double Armed Man was an entirely mythical creature, rather than a serious attempt to making a pike block into something with it’s own offensive capability instead of being  just an obstruction for cavalry and a target for artillery.

Evidence for the device is sketchy at best; Neade appears to have been a bit reluctant to describe his invention in case it was copied. This is probably fair enough, seeing he spent 10 years working on it “until at last it pleased God to perfect me therein”. Other observers talk about it, but seem to have little or no interest in the construction details, concentrating on the tactical benefit arising from combination of the weapons themselves. I may be being unfair here; it is also possible that the workings were not immediately obvious to the observers or that they were working from repute only. The legal documents concerning the invention also show no understanding of what the device was or how it worked. This again may be a deliberate action on Neade’s part.

This portraiture is properly used for shooting, with this observation, the Butt end of the Pike be fast in the ground at the right foot.The words of command for this posture, are as followeth:Sloape your pikeUnfasten your bowDraw out your arrowNocke your arrowShoot wholly together
This portraiture is properly used for shooting, with this observation, the Butt end of the Pike be fast in the ground at the right foot.
The words of command for this posture, are as followeth:
Sloape your pike
Unfasten your bow
Draw out your arrow
Nocke your arrow
Shoot wholly together

Neade was involved in training the London Trained Bands, after demonstrating his invention with 300 of the Trained Band before the king at St James Park in 1625; he equipped one soldier in each of the London and Westminster Artillery Gardens. The Artillery Garden in London practised with it for a period of twelve months. (Roberts, K., A New Combination – English Experiments in Infantry Equipment, 1620-40Military Illustrated 90)

We know Neade had his own “engine” for joining bow and pike, and that others from the Trained Band used it or others. Looking at the woodcuts, there are at least four and possibly up to six different pikemen depicted.

So that now I doe constantly affirme, not onely by my owne perfect experience and practice, but by the practice of the worthy Society of the traind Band, in the Artillery Garden in London, it being practiced there these twelue months, and apporved of, not onely by that worthy Society, and the ancient experienced Captaine thereof, Captaine Bingham; but by the approbation of many other honourable Commanders…

Neade, The Double-Armed Man, section C.

The King finally gave a Royal Commission to encourage the use of the invention in England and Wales in 1633. This specified use by:

“all who are to exercise arms in the use of weapons especially the chiefe officers and all others of our Trayned-Bands”.

A Proclamation for the use of the Bow and Pike  together in Military Discipline 9. Car. 1

State Papers, Dom. vol. 1635 cccx  no. 76

Neade’s 1637 petition to the King requests that

…the Lord Mayor may be ordered to direct the trained bands to furnish themselves with such ammunition, … and that delinquents who refuse may be proceeded against.

undated petition to the King pp. 75-76.

It also states that Deputy Lieutenants introduced the combination to some of the Country Trained Bands, although Neade complains adoption wasn’t universal.

The petition had some success as in 1637, 300 members of the Artillery Company armed with bow and pike paraded and performed drill before his Majesty. (Public Record Office, State papers Domestic, Charles I, vol. ccclvi)

The same year a letter from the Nottinghamshire Deputy Lieutenants to the Earl of Newcastle excuses their failure to have the double-armed troops ready as they were disproportionately “Charged with Armes”, and besides, “…we have not hearde any Contry hath put the same into practise”. (Public Record Office, State papers Domestic, Charles I, SP 16/381/73.)

Given that this is the same year as the London display, it’s unlikely that these were the same devices seen in London passed down to the country cousins as there simply wouldn’t have been time to pack them up and equip the new troops in Nottingham. The disproportionate charge of arms was all pikes and no serviceable bows.

Despite the excuses, there is also evidence that the combination was used. One of the Derbyshire hundreds includes pikes and bows in the equipment records,[1] and a company of pikemen also armed with bows was formed in Herefordshire (west Midlands) in 1642.[2]  The Earl of Bedford (fighting in 1642 on the side of Parliament) encountered a body of troops on the approaches to Hertford.

…at the entry of the town stood the whole Trained band as a full body placed in a warlike equipage… he was by them conducted to the second watch, being a company of Pikes with Bowes and Arrowes…

A Perfect Diurnal of the Proceedings in Hartfordshire from the 15th of August to the 29. Printed for W M, September 1, 1642
Given that these are on different sides of the country, it’s possible that these are two separate units. This gives us somewhere between a lower limit of 300 men assuming the London kit kept getting passed around, 600 if the Herefordshire and Hertford units were separate bodies and upwards of 1500 if London, Hereford, Hartford, Derby and Nottingham all got their acts together at the same time.

[1] Stone, B., Derbyshire in the Civil War, Scarthin Books, 1992

[2] Atkin, M., Worcestershire Under Arms – An English County During the Civil Wars, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, Barnsley, 2004


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.