Thomas Scot

Last updated

Thomas Scot. Thomas Scott regicide.jpg
Thomas Scot.

Thomas Scot (or Scott; died 17 October 1660) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1645 and 1660. He was executed as one of the regicides of King Charles I.

Contents

Early life

Scot was educated at Westminster School and is said have attended Cambridge University. [2] In 1626 he married Alice Allinson of Chesterford in Essex. He was a lawyer in Buckinghamshire and grew to prominence as the treasurer of the region's County Committee between 1644 and 1646. He became influential enough to dominate the Committee and was elected Member of Parliament for Aylesbury in 1645 as a recruiter to the Long Parliament. Though he had a penchant for long, passionate speeches in Parliament, Scot could also be a subtle backroom politician and had a knack for creating alliances and rallying votes. A royalist acerbically described him as one who "crept into the House of Commons, whispers Treason into many of the Members ears, animating the War, and ripping up and studying aggravations thereunto."

Political career

Scot's beliefs about government by consent prior to Pride's Purge are hard to gauge, though from what has survived of his writings and speeches many historians have described him as being republican. His actions during the Purge period definitely indicate that he developed strong republican leanings before 1648.

From the beginning of the English Civil War, Scot was a strong supporter of tough terms with King Charles I and later became a vociferous opponent of the Treaty of Newport, declaring "that there could be no time seasonable for such a treaty, or for a peace with so perfidious and implacable a prince; but it would always be too soon, or too late. He that draws his sword upon the king, must throw his scabbard into the fire; and that all peace with him would prove the spoil of the godly."

After Pride's Purge, Scot became one of the chief organizers of the trial and execution of the King. Scot was instrumental in the erection of the Republic and along with Henry Vane, Oliver Cromwell and Arthur Heselrige became one of its primary leaders.

Trial and execution

In 1653, with the fall of the Republic, Scot became one of the Protectorate's most vocal opponents, organising anti-Cromwell opposition inside the Parliament. In 1654 he was elected MP for Wycombe in the First Protectorate Parliament. He was elected MP for Aylesbury again in 1656 for the Second Protectorate Parliament In 1659, he was elected MP for Wycombe again in the Third Protectorate Parliament and then sat for Aylesbury again in the restored Rump Parliament. [2]

Like all of the other 59 men who signed the death warrant for Charles I he was in grave danger when Charles II of England was restored to the throne. He fled to Flanders, but surrendered at Brussels. He was put on trial, found guilty and hanged, drawn and quartered on 17 October 1660 for the crime of regicide. [2]

Thomas Scot was brought to trial on 12 October 1660 (in the opinion of Edmund Ludlow the outcome was a foregone conclusion). He was charged with sitting in the High Court of Justice at the trial of King Charles I and with signing one warrant for summoning that court, and another for the execution. He was further accused of wanting "Here lies Thomas Scot, who adjudged the late King to die" on his gravestone. [3]

Many witnesses were produced to prove these things; and among them William Lenthal, Speaker in the Long Parliament, who, when the King entered the House of Commons in 1641, and had demanded of him the Five Members, had answered "that he had neither ears to hear, eyes to see, or mouth to speak except what the House gave", [3] now appear for the prosecution; affirming in Court, that Scot, had justified proceeding against the Charles in the House of Commons. [3]

In his defence, Scot said that whatever had been spoken in the House ought not to be given in evidence against him, not falling under the cognisance of any inferior court, as all men knew: that for what he had done in relation to the King, he had the authority of the Long Parliament for his justification and that this Court had no right to declare whether that authority were a Parliament or not; and being demanded to produce one instance to show that the House of Commons was ever possessed of such an authority, he assured them he could produce many. But having begun with the Saxon times, he was interrupted by the Court, and told that the things of those ages were obscure. [3]

Scot then moved on to a second defence that: [4]

he could not see for what reason it was not as lawful for that House of Commons in which he had sat as a member, to make laws, as for the present Convention which had been called by the authority of the Keepers of the Liberties of England. I had the authority of Parliament, the legislative authority to justify me —

He was interrupted by the Court in mid sentence; and John Finch said (according to Ludlow with passion): [4]

Sir, if you speak to this purpose again, I profess for my part I dare not hear any more: 'tis a doctrine so poisonous and blasphemous, that if you proceed upon this point, I shall (and I hope my lords will be the same opinion) desire that the jury may be immediately directed.

Scot replied: [4]

My Lord, I thought you would rather have been my council, as I think 'tis the duty of your place. But in this matter I am not alone, neither is it myh single opinion: even the Secluded Members owned us to be a Parliament, else why did they, support by an armed force, intrude themselves contrary to the resolutions of the House, in order to procure the major vote for our dissolution (Ref. Long Parliament)?'

To which Francis Annesley answered, that:

if the Secluded Members had not appeared in Parliament, and by that means put an end to all pretenses, the people had not so soon arrived at their happiness.

These, with many other things of equal force were presented by Scot in his defence, not so much in the expectation that the jury would find him innocent, but to justify his actions to the country and posterity. As all expected the jury was directed to find him guilty. [4]

At his execution some of his last words were "I say again; to the Praise of the Free Grace of God; I bless His name He hath engaged me in a Cause, not to be Repented of, I say, Not to be Repented of". [5]

See also

Notes

Related Research Articles

Commonwealth of England Historic republic on the British Isles (1649–1660)

The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were governed as a republic after the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The republic's existence was declared through "An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth", adopted by the Rump Parliament on 19 May 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During the period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now referred to as the Third English Civil War.

Long Parliament English Parliament which lasted from 1640 until 1660

The Long Parliament was an English Parliament which lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had convened for only three weeks during the spring of 1640 after an 11-year parliamentary absence. In September 1640, King Charles I issued writs summoning a parliament to convene on 3 November 1640. He intended it to pass financial bills, a step made necessary by the costs of the Bishops' Wars in Scotland. The Long Parliament received its name from the fact that, by Act of Parliament, it stipulated it could be dissolved only with agreement of the members; and, those members did not agree to its dissolution until 16 March 1660, after the English Civil War and near the close of the Interregnum.

Thomas Harrison (soldier)

Major-General Thomas Harrison sided with Parliament in the English Civil War. During the Interregnum he was a leader of the Fifth Monarchists. In 1649 he signed the death warrant of Charles I and in 1660, shortly after the Restoration, he was found guilty of regicide and hanged, drawn and quartered.

To commit regicide is to purposefully kill a monarch or sovereign of a polity and is often associated with the usurpation of power. A regicide can also be the person responsible for the killing. The word comes from the latin roots of regis and cida (cidium), meaning "of monarch" and "killer" respectively.

Rump Parliament

The Rump Parliament was the English Parliament after Colonel Thomas Pride purged the Long Parliament, on 6 December 1648, of those members hostile to the Grandees' intention to try King Charles I for high treason.

Edmund Ludlow 17th-century English parliamentary politician

Edmund Ludlow was an English parliamentarian, best known for his involvement in the execution of Charles I, and for his Memoirs, which were published posthumously in a rewritten form and which have become a major source for historians of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Ludlow was elected a Member of the Long Parliament and served in the Parliamentary armies during the English Civil Wars. After the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1649 he was made second-in-command of Parliament's forces in Ireland, before breaking with Oliver Cromwell over the establishment of the Protectorate. After the Restoration Ludlow went into exile in Switzerland, where he spent much of the rest of his life. Ludlow himself spelled his name Ludlowe.

John Rushworth

John Rushworth was an English lawyer, historian and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1657 and 1685. He compiled a series of works covering the English Civil Wars throughout the 17th century called Historical Collections and also known as the Rushworth Papers.

John Bradshaw (judge)

John Bradshaw was an English jurist. He is most notable for his role as President of the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles I and as the first Lord President of the Council of State of the English Commonwealth.

Adrian Scrope

Colonel Adrian Scrope was the twenty-seventh of the fifty-nine Commissioners who signed the Death Warrant of King Charles I. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross after the restoration of Charles II.

John Jones Maesygarnedd

John Jones Maesygarnedd was a Welsh military leader and politician, known as one of the regicides of King Charles I following the English Civil War. A brother-in-law of Oliver Cromwell, Jones was a Parliamentarian and an avid republican at a time when most of Wales was Royalist, and became one of 57 commissioners that signed the death warrant authorising the execution of Charles I following his trial. After the Restoration of the monarchy, Jones was one of few excluded from the general amnesty in the Indemnity and Oblivion Act, and was tried, found guilty, then hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross.

John Carew (1622–1660), from Antony, Cornwall, was one of the regicides of King Charles I.

Colonel Sir Richard Ingoldsby was an English officer in the New Model Army during the English Civil War and a politician who sat in the House of Commons variously between 1647 and 1685. As a Commissioner (Judge) at the trial of King Charles I, he signed the king's death warrant but was one of the few regicides to be pardoned.

Sir John Bourchier or Bourcher was an English parliamentarian, Puritan and one of the regicides of King Charles I.

John Crew, 1st Baron Crew of Stene was an English lawyer and politician, who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1624 and 1660. He was a Puritan and sided with the Parliamentary cause during the Civil War. He was raised to a peerage as Baron Crew by Charles II after the Restoration.

John Barkstead English major-general and regicide

John Barkstead was an English Major-General and Regicide.

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.

Robert Wallop was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times from 1621 to 1660. He supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War and was one of the regicides of King Charles I of England.

George Fleetwood (regicide) English general

George Fleetwood (1623–1672) was an English major-general and one of the regicides of King Charles I of England.

Matthew Thomlinson (1617–1681) was an English soldier who fought for Parliament in the English Civil War. He was a regicide of Charles I. He was a colonel of horse (cavalry) in the New Model Army, he was one of the officers presenting the remonstrance to parliament in 1647. He took charge of Charles I in 1648, until the execution, but refused to be his judge. He followed Cromwell to Scotland in 1650.

Robert Tichborne was an English soldier who fought in the English Civil War. He was a regicide of Charles I.

References

Further reading

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Ralph Verney
Sir John Pakington, Bt
Member for Aylesbury
1645–1654
With: Simon Mayne
Succeeded by
Henry Philips
Preceded by
Thomas Lane
Sir Richard Browne, 1st Bt
Member for Wycombe
1654–1656
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Henry Philips
Member for Aylesbury
1656–1659
Succeeded by
Sir James Whitelocke
Thomas Tyrrill
Preceded by
Unknown
Member for Wycombe
1659–1660
Succeeded by
Edmund Betty
Sir Richard Browne, 2nd Bt