The Regicides

 As a Town and County we had much to do with the beginnings of the Civil War, and with its termination ; and we had more than our fair share of the responsibility for the death of the King. Four of our local men signed the death warrant. These were Colonel Hutchinson, General Ireton, Major-General Whalley, and Gilbert Millington. In addition, one of the signatories was Colonel Goffe, who married Whalley’s daughter, was under his influence, and shared his banishment ; and further, Colonel Hacker, one of our local men, had the carrying out of the death sentence. Bailey’s Annals erroneously calls this fifteen per cent of those who signed the death warrant, fifty-nine in number, being less than one half (133) of the commissioners appointed. There can be little doubt that all those who took the awful responsibility of the act did so under the belief that the fate was merited, and, if not, that it was a less evil for the country that one man should die, rather than that there should be continual conspiracies on the King’s behalf, and that in their opinion no reliance could be placed upon the Kings word or engagements. But when all has been said that can be said in that direction, this is one of those awful events to which the words commonly attributed to Prince Talleyrand may be applied—"It was worse than a crime : it was a blunder" —for it sent a moral shock throughout Europe it frightened sober, thoughtful people at home ; and it prepared the way for the Restoration, involving for the time being the undoing of all that had been done, with the flooding of the country with a generation of vice, and terminating with a revolution forty years afterwards. Ireton died before the Restoration; Hutchinson died in Sandown Castle; Millington was tried, and condemned, but not executed ; Whalley and Goffe fled, and died in hiding ; Hacker was hanged, drawn, and quartered ; and all their estates were, as far as practicable, confiscated.

Colonel John Hutchinson.
Colonel John Hutchinson.

Colonel Hutchinson. Colonel John Hutchinson, the son of Sir Thomas Hutchinson, was born at Nottingham in 1616. He studied at Cambridge, and married, in 1638, Lucy, daughter of Sir Allan Aspley, settled at Owthorpe, and at length decided to take the Parliamentary side. He became Governor of Nottingham Castle, and held it until the close of the Civil War. He informed the Parliament of an offer made to him by the Earl of Newcastle to pay him ten thousand pounds, and to make him the best lord in the country, and Governor of the Castle, the grant to be to him and his heirs, if he would deliver the Castle up for the King, but the offer was refused. In 1646, be was sent up by Nottingham to fill his father’s place as a Member of Parliament. He sat in the first Council of State, but, becoming alarmed at Cromwell’s ambitious schemes, he withdrew.

One hundred years ago the beautiful memoirs written by his wife for the benefit of his children were published, having been, from prudential motives, kept in manuscript until that time.

When the Restoration took place, Colonel Hutchinson’s name was included in a so-called "Act of Oblivion "—a kind of forgive and forget business—but when it was discovered that he was one of the signatories to the death warrant of the King, it was determined to punish him in other ways. Claims were made against him ; he was repeatedly examined ; his estate was mortgaged, and he was in debt, and could not sell his estate ; his house was plundered his pictures were "commandeered." He was required to go to Newark, and thence to London, and sent to the Tower, where he was harshly treated, and thence sent to Sandown Castle, near Folkestone, "a lamentable old ruin’d place, allmost a mile distant from the towne, the roomes all out of repaire, not weather-free, no kind of accommodation either for lodging or diet, or any conveniency of life." A bleak, unglazed, damp, vermin-infested place, he soon caught the ague, which he bore with patience and resignation. The monument at Owthorpe says : "He died at Sandowne Castle. in Kent, after 11 months harsh and strict imprisonment without crime or accusation— upon the 11th day of Sept., 1664, in the 49th yeare of his age, full of ioy, in assured hope of a glorious resurrection."

A descendant of Colonel Hutchinson—Miss Grace Hutchinson—recently lectured in Nottingham, and from the circular announcing the lecture the following extract is made: The old hall was in the possession of the Hutchinson family for seven hundred years, but was sold more than a hundred years ago, and not a vestige of it remains. A curious incident of poetical justice is the fact that the solicitor who had to do with the sale absconded with the ten thousand pounds realized, and attempted to reach a foreign shore, but his ship was wrecked, and went down with all on board."

General Ireton. General Henry Ireton was born in 1611, in the house to the west of the church at Attenborough. He was entered as a gentleman commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1620, and from his great proficiency in learning was admitted, when only sixteen years of age, to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He removed to the Middle Temple, where he studied law, and continued in its profession ten years before he joined the army. He married Cromwell’s daughter, Bridget. At the commencement of the War he was one of seventy-five who each undertook to raise a troop of horse, and he commanded the left wing of the Parliamentary army at the battle of Naseby.

At Hampton Court he had a conversation with the King, who was then a prisoner, in which the King used the expression: "I shall play my game as well as I can"; to which Ireton replied : "If your Majesty have a game to play, you must give us liberty also to play ours."

He had the reputation of being intrepid, generous, and upright. "Yet that which is best worthy of love in thy husband," wrote Cromwell to his daughter, "is that of the image of Christ which be bears; look on that, and love it best." he became Lord Deputy in Ireland, and died of the plague, at Limerick, in 1650, when a pension of £2,000 per annum was settled upon his widow and children. His body was brought in state to London, and buried in a costly tomb in Henry VII’s chapel, but after the Restoration it was dragged from its resting place, hung on a gibbet at Tyburn, and the trunkless head fixed on a pole.

He was the author of several public documents that indicate an enlightened mind, and fairness of principle, advocating reasonable reforms. In his Agreement for the People occurs this passage: "All persons professing religion, however differing in judgment from the doctrine, discipline, and warship publicly set forth, to be protected in the profession of their faith, and exercise of their religion, according to their consciences, so they abuse not this liberty, to the civil injury of others, or the disturbance of the public peace." This definition shows that he was ahead of his times.

Gilbert Millington. Gilbert Millington’s father had a grant to him from King James I. the reversion of the house and site of Felley Priory, near Annesley, at the yearly rental of £17 8s. Od. He had tenements in Brunnesley (Brinsley) parish. He was Member for Nottingham in the Long and following Parliaments. He was Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of plundered Ministers. He is often mentioned in Mrs. Hutchinson’s Memoirs, but in a disparaging manner, as she speaks of his "flattering" "tricks"; he ‘was "insolent," etc. She says that his first wife was "a religious, matronly gentlewoman, but she dying (in 1644, and buried at Greasley), he, a man of sixty, professing religion, married an alehouse wench, a flirtish girl of sixteen ! " Yet he seems to have retained the confidence of his fellow towns-moon. Perhaps the "flirtish girl" settled down, and made a good wife after all.

He was tried at the Old Bailey, with fourteen others, charged with "compassing and imagining the death of the late King Charles I. of happy memory." He made an abject apology. "I will confess myself guilty every way ; I was awed by the present power then in being." He was sentenced to death, hut his punishment was commuted to imprisonment for life. His property ‘was seized for the Crown, but Thoroton says, in reference to Felley: Yet I think it remains to Edward Millington, his son, or to Edward’s son, his grandchild." He died at Jersey, six years afterwards, being about seventy-six years of age.

Colonel Francis Hutchinson.
Colonel Francis Hutchinson.

Colonel Hacker. Colonel Hacker was born at East Bridgford. He is described in the Royalist papers as "the regicidal parliamentarian." He attended the unfortunate King Charles to his last scene, for which he was afterwards tried, condemned, and executed as a traitor, and his estates were confiscated ; yet his two brothers were active partisans in the Royal cause, in which one of them was slain. His brother, Captain Hacker, was Governor of the new Fort at Newark, and the Rev. J. Hutchinson says he "could not obtain the pardon of Colonel Hacker, nor prevent the confiscation of his family estate, which was granted to the Duke of York, the King’s brother, from whom he was obliged to ransom it at a high rate; it lay at Colston Bassett, joining to Owthorpe."

The death warrant signed by the Members of the High Court for the trial of the King, was addressed "To Collonell ffrancis Hacker," and to two others, "and to any of them," and recited a "sentence pronounced against him (the King) by this Court to be put to death by the severing of his head from his body," and authorizing and requiring them to carry out the sentence. "And for so doing, this shall be your sufficient warrant." It, however, did not prove so. Poor Mrs. Hacker, who lived at Car Colston in the old Hall, now a farmhouse occupied by Mr. Wilkinson, took up the warrant to the House of Lords, thinking it would save her husband, he being a military officer acting under orders; but it had no avail, except that it secured the doom of Colonel Hutchinson, against whom, when his signature was seen as one to the document, the fury of his enemies became uncontrollable. The counsel for the prosecution for the Crown at Hacker’s trial said that the prisoner set his hand to the warrant to the executioner for the execution, or, in other words, acting under the authority given to him, gave written instructions to another for the decapitation. "Prisoner, what do you say for yourself?" was asked by the Lord Chief Baron ; the answer to which was "Truly, my lord, I have no more to say for myself, but that. I was a soldier, and under command, and what I did was by that commission you have read … My desire bath been ever for the welfare of my country, and that the civil power might be upheld."

His execution was on the 10th of October. He declared to several of his friends a little before he suffered, that the greatest trouble he had upon his spirit was that be had formerly borne too great a prejudice in his heart toward the good people of God who differed from him in judgment. He was borne up under the comfortable assurance of pardon and acceptance by God, through Christ. "He was," said a spectator at the execution, "a man of just and honest conversation among men, and one that desired to walk blameless in the sight of God."

Major-General Whalley. Major-General Whalley was of an old Nottinghamshire family, whose seat was at Kirketon Hall, Screveton, near Bingham. In Screveton Church is a large monument, one of the finest in the County, consisting of an altar tomb of alabaster, and along the edge of the slab is an inscription "Here lyeth Ric Whalleye, esquire who lived att the age of 84 yeares and ended this life the 28 of Nove’ber 1588." This Richard Whalley was famous for having no less than twenty-five children, and in the panels of the tomb are representations of the three wives, with their children behind them. He was a Steward of the Lord Protector Somerset, in the time of Edward VI. Among his descendants was Richard Whalley, whose second wife was Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell, and aunt of Oliver Cromwell, and this "Aunt Fanny’s" second son was Edward, who is said to have been apprenticed to a woollen draper, but contrary to the sentiments of his family, he took arms in the Parliamentary service at the commencement of the Civil War, and soon distinguished himself by his courage and military talents. At Naseby, in 1645, he charged and defeated two divisions of Langdale’s Horse, and was thereupon made a Colonel. In 1647 he received the thanks of the House, and £100 for his brilliant action at Banbury; and be had granted to him, for arrears of pay due, the Manor of Flawborough, being part of the estate of the Marquis of Newcastle.

Whalley’s responsibility in regard to the King was that when the latter was confined at Hampton Court, he was conimitted to the custody and charge of Whalley, and to the King’s death warrant his signature was the fourth, being the next after Cromwell. He was afterwards wounded at the Battle of Dunham, and was in Scotland with the rank of Commissary-General. In the "Barebones" Parliament, he carried away the Mace, and his son-in-law, Colonel Goffe, led the musqueteers who drove the Members from their seats. When the army had full control he was made Major-General over the Counties of Nottingham, Lincoln, Derby, Leicester, and Warwick. He represented Nottinghamshire in the Parliaments of 1654 and 1655, and was made one of Cromwell’s Lords.

Flight. Upon the Restoration he fled, and a reward of one hundred pounds was offered for his apprehension, dead or alive, and Goffe was included in the same advertisement. They both landed at Boston, in the United States, where they were heartily welcomed, and, both being earnest Puritans, were admitted as communicants at the churches, and mixed freely with the people until they were noticed by some Royalists. A story is told of how Goffe defeated a fencing-master from England, who had challenged any man in the Colonies to play at swords with him, when Goffe, dressed as a country-looking fellow, accepted the challenge, having only a broomstick instead of a sword, and a cheese, wrapped in a napkin, for a shield. Several rounds were passed, when the fencing-master made an adroit thrust, which was received by the cheese, while he was struck by the broomstick, which so enraged him that he attacked with a broad sword, only to be laughed at. Whalley and Gaffe had to flee, for a mandate arrived for their apprehension, and they lived some time in a cave, on a stone of which they inscribed the words: "Opposition to tyrants is obedience to God."

Neck Bridge. On one occasion when they were out of their place of shelter their pursuers actually passed over a bridge under which they were hiding. From this incident the bridge was named "Neck Bridge," over Mill River. Thence they removed to a place called Hadley, where occurred a transaction referred to by Sir Walter Scott, in the 14th chapter of Peveril of the Peak, where under the name of Richard Whalley, and in Note I., he refers to Whalley, the Regicide," and says the story afforded the justly celebrated American novelist, Mr. Cooper, the materials from which he compiled one of his impressive narratives. Condensed, the tale is as follows:—The 1st September, 1675 (Morris says 1676), was observed as a day of fasting and prayer, for there was war with the King of Spain, in which all the Indian tribes in New England were involved. While the inhabitants of Hadley were in church they were surprised by a band of savages. The men who, as was customary, had their arms with them rushed out, but the number of Indians was so overwhelming that a total massacre was expected, and there was quite a panic. The howling of the Indians, the shrieks of the women, the discharge of the firearms, and other noises, gave the alarm to strangers who were concealed in the pastor’s house, and just as the Colonists were yielding their last standing ground, there rushed on to the scene "an ancient man," with hoary locks, of a most venerable and dignified aspect, and in a dress widely differing from that of the population around him. Brandishing a ponderous sword, he, with a firm voice, and an example of undaunted resolution, called upon them in the name of God to rally. Re-animated by the extraordinary appearance and manner of this mysterious apparition, they again formed in order; the attack was renewed, and the savages totally routed.

Vanished. "When the battle was ended, and whilst the people were engaged in mutual congratulations, and thanksgiving to heaven for their deliverance, the stranger disappeared, and no person among the crowd knew whence he had come, or whither he had gone." The people believed him to be an angel from heaven, but years afterwards it transpired that Whalley and Goffe were lodged in the house of Pastor Russell, and the Stranger was one of them.——Bailey, p. 898. Three years afterwards Whalley died, and Gaffe went into Connecticut, and afterwards to New York, and thence to Rhode Island.

The Story of the Regicides forms one of twenty-five Tales told by Charles Morris for the instruction of American young people. Substantially the facts are stated as above, but the author believes that Whalley died in the year following the raid. Years afterwards his bones were found in a grave in the cellar of Mr. Russell’s house. That house contained many rooms and closets, one of them in the garret had doors opening into two chambers, while its floor boards were so laid that they could be slipped aside, and admit to a dark under closet, from which there was a passage way to the cellar.