Robert Phayre

Last updated

Colonel Robert Phaire, (1619?–1682), was an officer in the Irish Protestant and then the New Model armies and a Regicide. He was one of the three officers to whom the warrant for the execution of Charles I was addressed, but he escaped severe punishment at the Restoration through having married the daughter of Sir Thomas Herbert (1606-1682). He became a Muggletonian in 1662. [1]

New Model Army army (1645-1660) in the English Civil War

The New Model Army of England was formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, and was disbanded in 1660 after the Restoration. It differed from other armies in the series of civil wars referred to as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in that it was intended as an army liable for service anywhere in the country, rather than being tied to a single area or garrison. Its soldiers became full-time professionals, rather than part-time militia. To establish a professional officer corps, the army's leaders were prohibited from having seats in either the House of Lords or House of Commons. This was to encourage their separation from the political or religious factions among the Parliamentarians.

Execution of Charles I

The execution of Charles I by beheading occurred on Tuesday 30 January 1649 outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall. The execution was the culmination of political and military conflicts between the royalists and the parliamentarians in England during the English Civil War, leading to the capture and trial of Charles I. On Saturday 27 January 1649, the parliamentarian High Court of Justice had declared Charles guilty of attempting to "uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people" and he was sentenced to death.

Sir Thomas Herbert, 1st Baronet English Baronet

Sir Thomas Herbert, 1st Baronet (1606–1682), was an English traveller, historian and a gentleman of the bedchamber of King Charles I while Charles was in the custody of Parliament.


Among some of his descendants in the later 1700s the surname was modified to Phair however caution is recommended because some families who were not descendants (such as some of the surname Fair) also took on this spelling. The senior line (descendants of Onesiphorus), continued the spelling Phaire until the early 1800s when they restyled to Phayre ). [2]

Early life

Phaire was born about 1619 (for on 24 March 1654 his age is reported as thirty-five), the son of the Revd Emmanuel Phaire from Devonshire, who had migrated to Ireland and in 1612 became rector of Kilshannig, county Cork. [3] [4]

Devon County of England

Devon, also known as Devonshire, which was formerly its common and official name, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, and Dorset to the east. The city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million.

Irish insurrection

Both father and son were living Duhallow in county Cork in 1641 when the Irish Uprising started. They both sustained losses. Robert assessed his financial losses during this period amounted to £51 10s. Like many Protestants he joined Murrough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin to fight the Confederates and by September 1646 he had risen to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the regiment of Richard Townshend. [4] In February 1648 he was arrested, with three other officers, for refusing to join the royalist rising under Inchiquin. [5] On 4 October these four were exchanged for Inchiquin's son, and brought to Bristol in December by the Roundhead admiral William Penn. Phaire joined the New Model Army. [3] [4]

Duhallow Town in Munster, Ireland

Duhallow is a barony located in the north-western part of County Cork, Ireland.

The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup d'état by Irish Catholic gentry, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for Catholics. The coup failed and the rebellion developed into an ethnic conflict between the Gaelic Irish and old English Catholics on one side, and both ethnically English Protestants and Scottish/Presbyterian planters on the other. This began a conflict known as the Irish Confederate Wars.

Murrough OBrien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin Irish soldier

Murrough MacDermod O'Brien, 6th Baron Inchiquin, 1st Baron O'Brien of Burren, 1st Earl of Inchiquin, was known as Murchadh na dTóiteán – of Irish who would not convert to Anglicanism and their land, crops, livestock, and dwellings.


He was an officer in London in January 1649 and the warrant for the execution of Charles was addressed, on 29 January 1649, to Colonel Francis Hacker, Colonel Hercules Huncks, and Lieutenant-colonel Phaire. He was present on the 30th at Whitehall when the orders were drawn up for the executioner. [3] However like Colonel Huncks, Phaire did not sign the order to the executioner. [6]

Francis Hacker Regicide of Charles I

Colonel Francis Hacker was an English soldier who fought for Parliament during the English Civil War and one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England.

Hercules Huncks was an English soldier and one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England.

Cromwellian conquest of Ireland

In April 1649 he was given command of a Kentish regiment to join Cromwell's expedition to Ireland. In November the town of Youghal capitulated to him, and he was made one of the commissioners for settling Munster. On 10 April 1650 he took part, under Lord Broghill, in the victory at Macroom over the royalist forces under Boetius MacEgan, the Roman Catholic bishop of Ross. Next year (1651) he was appointed governor of County Cork, and held this office until 1654.

Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, styled Lord Broghill from 1628 to 1660, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and politician who sat in the House of Commons of England at various times between 1654 and 1679. Boyle fought in the Irish Confederate Wars and subsequently became known for his antagonism towards Irish Catholics and their political aspirations. He was also a noted playwright and writer on 17th century warfare.

The Battle of Macroom was fought in 1650, near Macroom, County Cork, in southern Ireland, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. An English Parliamentarian force under Roger Boyle,, defeated an Irish Confederate force under David Roche.

Boetius MacEgan Irish bishop

Boetius MacEgan was a 17th-century Irish Roman Catholic Bishop of Ross.


He was a parliamentary republican, dissatisfied with the rule of the army officers, and unfriendly to the Protectorate. He seems to have retired to Rostellan Castle, County Cork. In 1656 Henry Cromwell reported that Phaire was attending Quaker meetings. He does not appear to have become a member of the Society of Friends, though one of his daughters (by his first wife) married a Quaker. [3]

It is somewhat remarkable that Phaire himself married, as his second wife, Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir Thomas Herbert (1606–1682), [7] the faithful attendant on Charles I in his last hours. The marriage took place on 16 August 1658 at St Werburgh's, Dublin. [8]


On 8 July 1659, shortly after the fall of the protectorate, the London-based Committee of Safety gave Phaire a commission as colonel of foot to serve under Ludlow in Ireland. At the Restoration he was arrested in Cork (18 May 1660), and sent prisoner to Dublin. Thence he was removed to London, and sent to the Tower of London in June. He doubtless owed his life, and the easy treatment he experienced, to his connection with Sir Thomas Herbert; Bishop Clancarty, whose life he had spared, also pleaded for him. On 2 November (Hacker had been hanged on 19 October; Huncks had saved himself by giving evidence) he petitioned the privy council to release his estate from sequestration, and permit him to return to Ireland. This was not granted, but in December the sequestration was taken off his Irish estates, and he was given the liberty of the Tower on parole. On 3 July 1661 he was released for one month, on a bond of £2,000. He was not to go beyond the house and gardens of Sir Thomas Herbert, his father-in-law, in Petty France, Westminster. On 19 July another month's absence was permitted him, with leave to go to the country for his health. On 28 February 1662 he was allowed to remove to Sir Thomas Herbert's house for three months. After this he seems to have gained his liberty. [8]


It was during this period that he made the acquaintance of Lodowicke Muggleton, whose tenets he adopted. Some time in 1662 he brought Muggleton to Sir Thomas Herbert's house and introduced him to his wife, who also became a convert. Their example was followed by their daughters Elizabeth and Mary, and their son-in-law, George Gamble, a merchant in Cork, and formerly a Quaker. [8]

On 6 April 1665 Phaire was living at Cahermore, County Cork, when he was visited by Valentine Greatrakes, the stroker, who had served in his regiment in 1649. Greatrakes cured him in a few minutes of an acute ague. In 1666 Phaire was implicated in the abortive plot for seizing Dublin Castle. Both Phaire and his family corresponded with Muggleton. Phaire's first letter to Muggleton was dated 20 March 1670; his second letter (Dublin, 27 May 1675) was sent by Greatrakes, who was on a visit to London and Devonshire. [8]


Phaire died at the Grange, near Cork, in 1682, probably in September. He was buried in the baptist graveyard at Cork. His will, dated 13 Sept. 1682, was proved in November. [8]


Phaire first wife, whose name is not known (but is traditionally said to have been Gamble). They had several children:

With his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Herbert, 1st Baronet, who was living on 25 May 1686 (the date of her last letter to Muggleton), Phaire had three sons and three daughters. The sons were: [7]


  1. Lee 1903, p. 1034.
  2. Deed Memorials at the Registry of Deeds office, The Property Registration Authority, Henrietta St, Dublin 1, Ireland
  3. 1 2 3 4 Gordon 1896, p. 142.
  4. 1 2 3 Barnard 2008.
  5. Gordon 1896 , p. 142 cites Carte, Life of Ormonde, iii. 356.
  6. Hargrave 1795, p. 422.
  7. 1 2 Gordon 1896, pp. 142–143.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Gordon 1896, p. 143.
  9. Greaves 1998, p. 246.

Related Research Articles

James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond Anglo-Irish statesman

Lieutenant-General James FitzThomas Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, 1st Marquess of Ormond, 12th Earl of Ormond, 5th Earl of Ossory, 4th Viscount Thurles, 1st Baron Butler of Llanthony, 1st Earl of Brecknock, KG, PC was an Irish statesman and soldier, known as Earl of Ormond from 1634 to 1642 and Marquess of Ormond from 1642 to 1661. Following the failure of the senior line of the Butler family, he was the second of the Kilcash branch to inherit the earldom. His friend, the 1st Earl of Strafford, caused him to be appointed the commander of the Cavalier forces in Ireland. From 1641 to 1647, he led the Royal Irish Army fighting against the Irish Catholic Confederation. From 1649 to 1650 he was the leading commander of the Royalist forces in the fight against the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. In the 1650s he lived in exile in Europe with King Charles II of England. Upon the restoration of Charles to the throne in 1660, Ormonde became a major figure in English and Irish politics, holding many high government offices.

Sir Hardress Waller, cousin of Sir William Waller, was an English parliamentarian of note who was condemned to death for his part in the regicide of Charles I. His life was spared owing to the efforts of his friends and instead condemned to life imprisonment.

Valentine Greatrakes irish faith healer

Valentine Greatrakes, also known as "Greatorex" or "The Stroker", was an Irish faith healer who toured England in 1666, claiming to cure people by the laying on of hands.

Henry Boyle, 1st Earl of Shannon Irish politician

Henry Boyle, 1st Earl of Shannon, PC (Ire) was a prominent Irish politician.

The Right Rev. Richard Boyle (c.1574–1645) was an English bishop who became Archbishop of Tuam in the Church of Ireland. He was the second son of Michael Boyle, merchant in London, and his wife Jane, daughter and co-heiress of William Peacock. His younger brother was Michael Boyle, bishop of Waterford, and

Michael Boyle (archbishop of Armagh) Irish archbishop

Michael Boyle, the younger was a Church of Ireland bishop who served as Archbishop of Dublin from 1663 to 1679 and Archbishop of Armagh from 1679 to his death. He also served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the last time a bishop was appointed to that office.

Col. William O'Brien, 2nd Baron O'Brien of Burren, 7th Baron & 2nd Earl of Inchiquin was an Irish nobleman.

William MacWilliam O'Brien, 8th Baron of Inchiquin, 3rd Baron O'Brien of Burren, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin PC was an Irish nobleman.

Early Barons Inchiquin

There were six early Barons Inchiquin in Ireland between 1543 and 1654. The title was granted to Murrough O'Brien, the brother of Conor O'Brien, King of Thomond, when he surrendered his Irish royalty to King Henry VIII in 1543. His descendents held the title until 1654, when Murrough O'Brien, 6th Baron Inchiquin was created Earl of Inchiquin.

William Greatrakes, was an Irish barrister.

Sir Thomas Hatton, 2nd Baronet was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1674 to 1679.

Sir Richard Osborne, 2nd Baronet, MP was an Irish baronet and politician.

Edward Worth was a Church of Ireland Bishop of Killaloe, mainly remembered now as the founder of the Blue Coat School for the poor boys of Cork.

Sir George Rawdon, 1st Baronet English Army officer

Sir George Rawdon, 1st Baronet (1604–1684), of Moira, County Down which he founded, was an English army officer and politician.

John King, 1st Baron Kingston was an Anglo-Irish soldier during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms who served the Commonwealth government during the Interregnum and government of Charles II after the Restoration.

Edward Harris (Irish judge) English judge in Ireland

Sir Edward Harris (1575–1636) of Cornworthy in Devon, was an English-born judge and politician in seventeenth-century Ireland. He was Chief Justice of Munster in Ireland, and sat as Member of Parliament for Clonakilty 1613–15 in the Irish House of Commons of the Parliament of Ireland. He was the grandfather of the faith healer Valentine Greatrakes.

Dr. Patrick Sheridan was the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cloyne between 1679 and 1682.

The Siege of Dublin took place in 1649 during the War of the Three Kingdoms. It was a failed attempt by combined Irish Royalist and Confederate forces to capture the capital of Dublin which was held by English Republican forces under Michael Jones. It was part of a strategy by Duke of Ormonde, head of an alliance loyal to Charles II, to seize the remaining foothold of Ireland still under control of the London Parliament.