The colonel's movements after the battle are uncertain. He seems to have left Poyntz, for on October 2nd the Committee of both Kingdoms wrote to him reporting that Charles was trying to collect a new army at Denbigh and urging him to return to Poyntz with such horse as he could with safety spare from the garrisons of his parts.1 On the other hand he cannot have returned to Nottinghamshire, for on October 13th Charles White wrote to him from there reporting what had been done "since his departure" and addressing his letter to the King's Head in the Strand.2 It is improbable that he went to North Wales for the king had already fled from there "like a hunted partridge,"3 and on October 4th had reached Newark. Within a fortnight Thornhagh was certainly back in his native county, for sometime before the 18th he fell on one of the king's regiments commanded by Sir William Vaughan and routed it near Newark, taking many prisoners.4 By the end of the month Poyntz had arrived from the west, and after the sanguinary storm of Shelford on November 3rd, the parliamentarian and Scottish troops settled down for the final siege of Newark. Colonel Thornhagh was present throughout in the besieging force, and one interesting glimpse of him during these winter months has survived. The Nottinghamshire troops were posted before Farndon when, on December 10th, a party of Newarkers sallied out against them, and one of their officers "in a bravado flourished as if he would challenge any man there to fight with him." In the spirit of the medieval knightly contest, Colonel Thornhagh at once spurred out, and at the first charge dismounted his adversary, killed his horse, and took him prisoner, for which on his return he was hailed with a great shout of applause.5 His prominence is attested by the fact that he was one of the parliamentary commissioners who signed the terms of capitulation by which Lord Bellasis, the governor, surrendered the town on May 6th, 1646, acting on the orders of the now captive king.6 His importance had, in fact, been enhanced during the siege by his election as member of parliament for East Retford, though he did not take his seat until the town had fallen.7

In the squabble between parliament and the army which followed the close of the civil war, the colonel's sympathies, both as an Independent and as a soldier, were with the rebellious troops, and when in July, 1647, the breach between the Houses and the army became unbridgeable by any argument but force, he was one of the fifty-seven members of the Lower House who left London and put themselves under the protection of Fairfax and his men.8 The Nottinghamshire horse, which he commanded, had already marched south to Buckingham and had thrown in their lot with Fairfax, standing like him for "the privilege of parliament, of free-born subjects, and reformation of Church and among them Colonel Thornhagh took down his sword for his last campaign.

Pembroke Castle, which had been seized by Colonel Poyer for the king in February, had become the centre of a widespread royalist revolt in South Wales, and Cromwell marched to suppress the movement early in May. With him went Thornhagh and his regiment,9 fate willing that the Nottinghamshire squire should end his military career, as he had begun it at Gainsborough, under the greatest captain of the day. Pembroke held out long and as the Scottish invasion became imminent Cromwell was forced to send detachments of his army northwards in preparation for the coming attack. At the end of May two troops of Thornhagh's Horse were thus dispatched to Coventry,10 but whether their colonel went with them or remained to see the surrender of Pembroke on July 11th we do not know. Three days before, the Scots, under the Duke of Hamilton, had crossed the border, and on the 14th Cromwell set out from South Wales to meet the invaders. He was at Nottingham on August 3rd and Thornhagh certainly marched with him from there when he moved north through Doncaster to Knaresborough.11 Hamilton's army was strung along the road north and south of Preston when the roundheads broke through the Pennines by the Ribble Valley on Thursday, August 17th, and fell upon his flank guard under Sir Marmaduke Langdale. It poured in torrents all day, but after a sharp fight for three or four hours among the lanes and hedgerows outside Preston, in which Thornhagh fought upon the right wing, Cromwell's men drove in Langdale, routed Hamilton, occupied the town and took 4,000 prisoners. The Scottish army was thus cut in two and nothing remained but to pursue the fugitives. The main body under Hamilton pushed forward towards Wigan, and during the night of the 17th-18th, Cromwell sent Colonel Thornhagh with several regiments of horse to follow and if possible force the enemy to stand. But the Scottish rearguard under General Middleton made a stubborn resistance, and on the morning of the 18th Thornhagh, pushing forward too boldly in or near Chorley, was mortally wounded by enemy lancers in the body, thigh and head. Carried dying to the rear he bade his men, with something of Wolfe's spirit at Quebec, open their ranks that he might have the satisfaction of seeing the enemy run before he died.12 His last words according to Mrs. Hutchinson were "I now rejoice to die since God hath let me see the overthrow of this perfidious enemy: I could not lose my life in a better cause and I have the favour from God to see my blood avenged." He was buried on the field of battle, but his body was afterwards brought back and re-interred under an altar tomb in the chancel of Sturton Church. During the restoration works of 1870 this was removed, and only the top inlaid marble slab now remains sunk level with the floor.13

Francis Thornhagh was only just over thirty when he fell, but into his brief adult years he had crowded martial honours which betrayed rare promise, and he left behind a noble memory. "That worthy gentleman " wrote Cromwell of him to Speaker Lenthall "was a man as faithful and gallant in your service as any; and one who often heretofore lost blood in your quarrel, and now his last. He hath left some behind him to inherit a father's honour, and a sad widow—both now the interest of the Commonwealth."14 Such an epitaph from such a captain was in itself sufficient proof of his worth and perhaps the reward he would most have valued. All his contemporaries pay tribute to his valour, and Mrs. Hutchinson has left an attractive picture of his integrity and sunny disposition. Young as he was, he was, she concludes "by mercy removed, that the temptations of future times might not prevail to corrupt his pure soul"; and his soldier's end was indeed, in a sense, a happy one. He died for a cause of high and selfless purpose which is still helping to shape the destinies of his country and of lands unknown and unpeopled in his day, and he fell in the hour of final victory which made that cause secure for all time. Further reputation he might have won in Ireland or on the sand dunes of Flanders, but his greatest work was done, and death saved him at least from the unhappy fate which awaited Colonel Hutchinson, Gilbert Millington and others of his colleagues during the fevered years of war. Slain in his youth he has for ever remained young, and to the student of the period his gallant soul, enriched alike by the high spirit of youth and by the serene conviction which belongs to maturity, shines out as one of the noblest embellishments of his county's history.

(1) Cal. S. P. Dom., 1645-7, pp. 170-1.
(2) This letter is in Addit. MSS. 34253,f. 38.
(3) The phrase is Sir Philip Warwick's.
(4) Whitelock, I., p. 526.
(5) Perfect Diurnal Die., 8-15, 15-22, 1645; Perfect Occurrences, December 22nd, 1645.
(6) Rushworth, VI., pp. 269-70.
(7) He was probably elected in January, 1646, for on January 1st the House of Commons ordered a warrant to be issued for new elections for Retford to replace Viscount Mansfield and Sir Gervase Clifton, both disabled as royalists. Journals of House of Commons, IV., p. 394.
(8) Rushworth, VII., p. 765.
(9) His regiment is mentioned as being with Cromwell in Perfect Occurrences, July 14th-21st, 1648. No. 81 p. 580 (Brit. Mus. 3860).
(10) Cal. S. P. Dom., 1648-9, p. 101. 
(11) Hutchinson Memoirs, p. 267.
(12) Cromwell Letters and Speeches (Everyman Edition), I., pp. 279, 286; Memoirs of the Civil War (Memoirs of Capt. John Hodgson, p. 121), Edinburgh, 1806; Ludlow Memoirs, I., p. 202;Hutchinson Memoirs, pp. 259-60.
(13) Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 1903, pp. 81-2. I am deeply indebted to Mr. H. Brittle for making the drawing from which the accompanying plate of Colonel Thornhagh's tombstone has been taken.
(14) He had four children : John (who succeeded him), Elizabeth and Jane who both lived to marry, and Frances who died in infancy. His widow, seven years after his death, married William Skeffington, of Skeffington, Leicestershire, and died there in 1676. On August 23rd, 1648, it was referred by the House of Commons to the Committee of the Northern Association to consider means of recompensing the wife and children of Colonel Thornhagh for his gallant service (Journals V., p. 680), and in the following March his son was granted £100 per annum,Whitelock II., p. 552. For the later history of the family see The Reliquary. XVI., pp. 203-4, XVII,. p. 235-8.