‘William Ince – part 1’ A monologue by Sean Southerland-Kirby

The Rows in January 1645 – nearing the end of the Siege of Chester

WILLIAM INCE, MAYOR OF CHESTER:

We must take action now.  No longer can we hold back the tide of the enemy at our gates.  Our own King has fled our mighty walls in the face of defeat, and yet the siege continues.  Fifteen months now.  Fifteen long and desperate months we have made sure the people of our city have survived in the face of insurmountable odds. But these last three months… The vendors on the rows barely have enough food for themselves, let alone to sell.  So it falls to me to act. 

I could address Lord Byron.  Perhaps now, when our people are reduced to eating pets and vermin, perhaps now he will meet with the Parliamentarians and negotiate.  Even I have eaten little these past few days and my daughters grow weak.  But as ever, my thoughts are with those who have always had little and now have even less. Yes, I think I will meet and talk with Byron. 

But what if he refuses?  Are we doomed to be crushed under the toe of Roundhead soldiers?  We have already lost so many.  Families splintered at best, decimated at worst.  The once verdant fields outside our mighty walls are littered with the detritus of battle and the lingering odour of death.  Our walls do nothing to protect us against the stiff January breezes as they waft the stench of decay into our own homes.  Our streets and Rows, safe as they are, lie deserted and dark with shop fronts closed.  The faces that peered expectantly back at me as I walked the city this morning now haunt my thoughts and torment my very soul.

It is decided.  I will plead with my Lord Byron. I have to make him see the reality around us.  It is my duty as a man, as Mayor and as a citizen of this fine city.