In 1651, Charles II led his troops into England, confident that the Commonwealth was about to come to an end. Young William de Rossington of Rowsley raised a company of volunteers and agreed to meet other Royalist leaders from Derbyshire and Staffordshire on Hartington Moor, from where they would march to Wigan to join the young king.
Cromwell had learned of the gathering and sent a regiment of horse from Lancashire under the command of Colonel Lilburn to Hartington. The Royalists were outnumbered and the Commonwealth’s troops were better equipped and battle-hardened. William led several charges against Lilburn’s men but was wounded and finally killed.
His betrothed, Anna Egerton of Hulme Hall, Bakewell, is said to have foreseen William’s death in a dream. She searched the battlefield, found his body, and ordered it to be taken for burial in Hedburn Wood, near Cressbrook, some ten miles away. The grave was discovered by a local farmer during the 1830s.
Today, this bridal way crosses Hartington Moor, but there is no marker to indicate the site of the battle.
For a more detailed account of this story see
Mark P. Henderson, Folktales of the Peak District, Amberley Publishing, 2011, pp. 124-125.