John Barkstead

John Barkstead, a London goldsmith and silversmith, joined Parliament's army at the start of the Civil War. A good soldier he became a colonel in the New Model Army and fought with General Thomas Fairfax at the siege of Colchester 1648.

Barkstead served on the High Court of Justice and in 1649 signed the king's death warrant. Barkstead was appointed military governor of Middlesex and was knighted for his services during the Commonwealth.

On 3rd September 1658, Oliver Cromwell died. Parliament and the leaders of the army now began arguing amongst themselves about how England should be ruled. General George Monck, the officer in charge of the English army based in Scotland, decided to take action, and in 1660 he marched his army to London.

When Monck arrived he reinstated the House of Lords and the Parliament of 1640. Royalists were now in control of Parliament. Monk now contacted Charles II, who was living in Holland. Charles agreed that if he was made king he would pardon all members of the parliamentary army and would continue with the Commonwealth's policy of religious toleration. Charles also accepted that he would share power with Parliament and would not rule as an 'absolute' monarch as his father had tried to do in the 1630s.

This information was passed to Parliament and it was eventually agreed to abolish the Commonwealth and bring back the monarchy. Barkstead fled to Germany and lived for a while in Hanau.

In August 1660, Charles II and Parliament agreed to pass the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion. This resulted in the granting of a free pardon to anyone who had supported the Commonwealth government. However, the king retained the right to punish those people who had participated in the trial and execution of Charles I.

A special court was appointed and in October 1660 those Regicides who were still alive and living in Britain were brought to trial. Ten were found guilty and were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. This included Thomas Harrison, John Jones, John Carew and Hugh Peters. Others executed included Adrian Scroope, Thomas Scot, Gregory Clement, Francis Hacker, Daniel Axtel and John Cook.

Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, Thomas Pride and John Bradshaw were all posthumously tried for high treason. They were found guilty and in January 1661 their corpses were exhumed and hung in chains at Tyburn.

In 1662 Barkstead went to Holland to meet his wife. While there he was arrested by George Downing and forced to return to England. Sir John Barkstead was executed in 1662.

© , September 1997 - April 2014