Arthur Haselrig

Sir Arthur Haselrig, 2nd Baronet (1601 - 7 January 1661) was a leader of the Parliamentary opposition to Charles I and one of the Five Members whose attempted arrest sparked the 1642-1646 First English Civil War. He held various military and political posts during the 1639-1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms but became an opponent of Oliver Cromwell during the Protectorate. In 1660, his actions inadvertently helped restore Charles II to the throne; unlike many senior Parliamentary leaders, his life was spared but he was confined to the Tower of London, where he died on 7 January 1661.

Sir Arthur Haselrig
Sir Arthur Haselrig, Second Baronet
Member of the English Council of State
In office
May 1659 – October 1659
MonarchCommonwealth of England 1653 - 1660
Preceded byHenry Lawrence
Succeeded byCommittee of Safety
Lord President of the English Council of State
In office
January 1652 – February 1652
Preceded byBulstrode Whitelocke
Succeeded byPhilip Sidney and Lord Lisle
MP for Leicester
In office
1653 – 1659 (banned from sitting 1655 - 1658)
Governor of Newcastle
In office
December 1647 – 1652
MP for Leicestershire
In office
Personal details
Bornca 1601
Noseley Hall, Leicestershire
Died7 January 1661 (aged 60)
Tower of London
Spouse(s)Frances Elmes 1624 - 1632
Dorothy Greville 1634 - 1650
ChildrenSir Thomas Hesilrige (1625-1680)
Sir Robert Heselrige (1640-1713)
Katherine Fenwick, later Katherine Babington (1635-1670);
ParentsSir Thomas Hesilrige (died 1632)
Frances Gorges


Haselrig was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Hesilrige, 1st Baronet (alternative spellings "Heselrig" and "Haselrigge"), of Noseley Hall, Noseley, Leicestershire, and of Frances Gorges, daughter of Sir William Gorges, of Alderton, Northamptonshire.[1] From an early age he imbibed strong puritanical principles and showed a special antagonism towards Archbishop Laud.[2]

Short and Long Parliaments

In April 1640, Haselrig was elected Member of Parliament for Leicestershire in the Short Parliament He was re-elected MP for Leicestershire for the Long Parliament in November 1640.[3] He was heavily involved in the Act of Attainder against Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, the Root and Branch Bill and the Militia Bill of 7 December 1641.[4] Charles I tried to arrest him for treason on 3 January 1642, along with John Hampden, Denzil Holles, John Pym and William Strode. However the so-called "Five Members", together with the peer Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester who was also due to be arrested, were tipped off by Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex. The king marched with his guards into the chamber of the House of Commons chamber only to find that the Five Members had fled.

Civil War

Haselrig was very active in the First English Civil War on the Parliamentarian side. He raised a troop of horse for the Earl of Essex and fought at the Battle of Edgehill. He was a commander in the West under William Waller, being nicknamed his fidus Achates, and led his cuirassiers, who were known as the London lobsters.[4] He and his troops distinguished themselves at the Battle of Lansdowne on 5 July 1643, where his men defeated Sir Beville Grenville's Pikemen, although the battle is traditionally seen as indecisive. At the Battle of Roundway Down, on 13 July, Haselrig's force met a Royalist cavalry charge at the halt and after a brief clash, retreated in disorder, the Parliamentarian army losing the battle to Lord Wilmot. Haselrig was shot three times at Roundway Down, with the bullets apparently bouncing off his armour. After firing a pistol at Haselrig's helmeted head at close range without any effect Richard Atkyns described how he attacked him with his sword, but it too caused no visible damage; Haselrig was under attack from a number of people and only succumbed when Atkyns attacked his unarmoured horse. After the death of his horse Haselrig tried to surrender; but as he fumbled with his sword, which was tied to his wrist, he was rescued. He suffered only minor wounds from his ordeal.[5] This incident was related to Charles I and elicited one of his rare attempts at humour. The king said that if Haselrig had been as well supplied as he was fortified he could have withstood a siege.

At the Battle of Cheriton, his men defeated Sir Henry Bard's cavalry charge, seriously weakening Ralph Hopton's army in the west. This battle was a turning point in the war and the king's secretary Sir Edward Walker said that after Cheriton, instead of an offensive war they were forced to make a defensive war.

Governor of Newcastle

Haselrig supported Oliver Cromwell in his dispute with the Earl of Manchester and the Earl of Essex. When the Self-denying Ordinance was approved by Parliament he gave up his commission and became one of the leaders of the Independent party in Parliament. On 30 December 1647 he was appointed governor of Newcastle upon Tyne, which he successfully defended, besides defeating the Royalists on 2 July 1648 and regaining Tynemouth. In October he accompanied Cromwell to Scotland, and gave him valuable support in the Scottish expedition in 1650.[2] Between 1647 and 1650 Haselrig and his son brought a large amount of property in the north east which included the manors of Bishop Auckland, Middleham, Easingwoodborough and Wolsingham at a total cost of over £22,500.[1]

Parliamentary career under Cromwell

Haselrig approved of the king's execution but declined to act as a judge at his trial. He was one of the leading men in the Commonwealth, but he was antagonised by Cromwell's expulsion of the Rump Parliament, and he opposed the Protectorate refusing to pay taxes.[2] Haselrig considered Cromwell to be a traitor to the cause after this as he was a staunch republican and opposed to all rule by a single person whether by hereditary succession or military might. Edmund Ludlow, one of his opponents admitted "to do him justice .. I must acknowledge that I am under no manner of doubt concerning the rectitude and sincerity of his intentions. For he made it his buseness to prevent arbitrary power wherever he knew it to be affected, and to keep the sword subserviant to the civil magistrate".

In 1654, Haselrig was elected MP for Leicester in the First Protectorate Parliament and in 1656 for the Second Protectorate Parliament,[3] but he was excluded from them both. He refused a seat, offered to him by Cromwell, in the Protectorate House of Lords.[4]

Parliament against Lambert

On Cromwell's death Haselrig refused support to Richard Cromwell, and was instrumental in his downfall. He was elected MP for Leicester for the Third Protectorate Parliament in 1659[3] and became one of the most influential men in both the Council of State and Parliament. He tried to keep a republican parliamentary administration, "to keep the sword subservient to the civil magistrate".[2] He opposed the schemes of John Lambert who was resisting parliamentary control over the military. In one altercation Lambert complained that the army was being held at ransom; Haselrig replied that "You are only at the mercy of Parliament who are your friends" to which Lambert replied "I know not why they should not be at our mercy as well as we at theirs." Anger at the independence of the army resulted in nine leading officers, including Lambert, being cashiered. Lambert reacted by calling out the army and blocking all routes to Parliament, and putting guards upon its doors.

After Lambert had halted Parliament, Haselrig decided to restore Parliament. The strength of the army in London called for another location, and for a variety of reasons Portsmouth was chosen. Portsmouth had strong naval traditions and had always maintained independence from the army; it benefited from defensible fortifications on its land side and the support of Admiral John Lawson ensured that the city would not fall easily to a protracted siege. Haselrig knew the area well having campaigned around Hampshire during the civil war. The newly appointed Governor Nathaniel Whetham was a republican who had declared that his men would support him. Whetham was a friend of General George Monck in Scotland who had the best forces in Britain at his disposal and who had declared himself for Parliament in October. On 4 December 1659 Haselrig met with his allies in the Red Lion Inn having arrived at 4 in the afternoon. By the next day a declaration was posted calling for citizens to "restore Parliament to their former freedom, being the peoples indubitable and undoubted birthright". Hurst Castle and the Isle of Wight soon declared for Parliament. The military government, which was now named the Committee of Safety, despatched a force hoping that pro-army members would open the gates. However the Commander of the Army Colonel Nathaniel Rich entered into negotiations and his men decided to join Haselrig. Word soon spread and soon Hull and Plymouth were recorded to be going the same way. The army council, unsure of support of its troops, restored the Rump Parliament by 26 December. On 29 December Haselrig marched to London and attended Parliament still in his riding clothes. Haselrig was at the height of his power as the major figure in a restored republic and was appointed to the Council of State on 2 January 1660. On 11 February he became a commissioner for the army.

Monck and the Restoration

However Monck had begun to march south from Coldstream on 1 January. Lambert moved to face Monck but knowing the strength of Monck's forces and the doubtful loyalty of his own troops avoided engagement. Monck avoided answering questions as to his intentions and by 3 February entered London. Haselrig, trusting to his assurance of fidelity to the "Good Old Cause" consented to the retirement of his regiment from London.[2] The Rump Parliament was dissolved and Haselrig found himself marginalised by the unfolding events. A new Convention Parliament came in on 31 April and by 8 May Charles II was proclaimed King.

Despite Monck's guarantee of a pardon, Haselrig was targeted by the Royalist Silius Titus, who was also responsible for disinterring the bodies of Cromwell, Bradshaw and Ireton and having them ritually executed at Tyburn. His life was spared but he was imprisoned in the Tower of London where he died on 7 January 1661.[6]


Clarendon described Haselrig as "an absurd, bold man." He was rash, "hare-brained," devoid of tact and had little claim to the title of a statesman, but his energy in the field and in parliament was often of great value to the parliamentary cause." He exposed himself to considerable obloquy by his exactions and appropriations of confiscated landed property though the accusation brought against him by John Lilburne was examined by a parliamentary committee and adjudged to be false.[2]


Haselrig married firstly Frances Elmes, daughter of Thomas Elmes of Lilford Hall, Northamptonshire, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. He married secondly Dorothy Greville, sister of Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke, by whom he had three sons and five daughters.[1]


  1. Firth, Charles Harding (1891). "Hesilrige, Arthur". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 26. London: Smith, Elder & Co., and authorities there quoted; Early History of the Family of Hesilrige, by WGD Fletcher;
  2. Cat. of State Papers Domestic, 1631–1664, where there are a large number of important references, as also in Hist. manuscripts, Comm. Series Manuscripts of Earl Cooper, Duke of Leeds and Duke of Portland;
  3. also SR Gardiner, Hist. of England Hist. of the Great Civil War and Commonwealth;
  4. Clarendon's History State Papers and Cal. of State Papers, John Langton Sanford's Studies of the Great Rebellion. His life is written by Noble in the House of Cromwell,


  1. ^ a b c The English baronetage: containing a genealogical and historical ..., Volume 1 By Arthur Collins
  2. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hesilrige, Sir Arthur" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 406–407.
  3. ^ a b c Willis, Browne (1750). Notitia Parliamentaria, Part II: A Series or Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 ... London. pp. onepage&q&f&#61, false 229–239.
  4. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ Philip Haythornthwaite, The English Civil War, An Illustrated History, Blandford Press (1983) ISBN 1-85409-323-1, p. 49.
  6. ^ Jordan, Don, Walsh, Michael (2012). The King's Revenge: Charles II and the Greatest Manhunt in British History (2013 ed.). Abacus. p. 244. ISBN 978-0349123769.


Parliament of England
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Leicestershire
With: Lord Grey of Ruthyn 1640
Henry Smith 1640–1653
Succeeded by
Henry Danvers
Edward Smith
John Prat
Preceded by
Not represented in Barebones Parliament
Member of Parliament for Leicester
With: William Stanley
Succeeded by
Peter Temple
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Hesilrige
(of Noseley Hall)
Succeeded by
Arthur Hesilrige
Andrew Perne (Puritan)

Andrew Perne (1596–1654) was an English clergyman of Puritan opinions and member of the Westminster Assembly.

Battle of Roundway Down

The Battle of Roundway Down was fought on 13 July 1643, during the First English Civil War. A Royalist cavalry force under Lord Wilmot won a crushing victory over the Parliamentarians under Sir William Waller who were besieging Devizes in central Wiltshire, which was defended by Lord Hopton. Roundway Down and Oliver's Castle are about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) north of Devizes and now form part of the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Edward Corbet

Edward Corbet (born circa 1603-died 1658) was an English clergyman, and a member of the Westminster Assembly.

Five Members

The Five Members were those five Members of Parliament whom King Charles I (1625–1649) attempted to arrest when he entered the English House of Commons, accompanied by armed soldiers, on 4 January 1642, during a sitting of the Long Parliament:

John Hampden (c.1594–1643)

Arthur Haselrig (1601–1661)

Denzil Holles (1599–1680)

John Pym (1584–1643)

William Strode (1598–1645)

Henry Tozer (priest)

Henry Tozer (1602–1650) was an English priest and academic, a Puritan of royalist views, elected to the Westminster Assembly but never sitting there.

Jerusalem Chamber

The Jerusalem Chamber is a room in what was formerly the abbot's house of Westminster Abbey. It was added in the fourteenth century. The abbot's house was made the deanery when the monastery was dissolved in 1540.

Henry IV of England died in the Jerusalem Chamber on 20 March 1413 and the Committee to write the Authorized Version of the Bible met there in 1611. The Upper House of Convocation often met there, and the Westminster Assembly met there from the Winter of 1643 until its dissolution.The Jerusalem Chamber appeared in act IV of William Shakespare's Play Henry IV, Part 2.

Josias Shute

Josias Shute (also Josiah) (1588–1643) was an English churchman, for many years rector of St Mary Woolnoth in London, archdeacon of Colchester, and elected a member of the Westminster Assembly.

London lobsters

The London lobsters, Haselrig's Lobsters or just "Lobsters" were the name given to the cavalry unit raised and led by Sir Arthur Haselrig, a Parliamentarian who fought in the English Civil War. The unit derived its name from the regiment being one of very few units raised as cuirassiers, equipped in suits of plate armour reaching from the head to the knee. The regiment had a somewhat chequered career in combat, but was credited with being one of very few Parliamentarian cavalry units able to stand up to the mounted charge of the Cavaliers in the early years of the war.

Richard Byfield

Richard Byfield (1598?–1664) was an English clergyman, Sabbatarian controversialist, member of the Westminster Assembly, and ejected minister.

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.

"Rump" normally means the hind end or back-side of a mammal; its use meaning "remnant" was first recorded in the above context in English. Since 1649, the term "rump parliament" has been used to refer to any parliament left over from the actual legitimate parliament.

Saybrook Colony

The Saybrook Colony was established in late 1635 at the mouth of the Connecticut River in present-day Old Saybrook, Connecticut by John Winthrop, the Younger, son of John Winthrop, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop the Younger was designated Governor by the original settlers, including Colonel George Fenwick and Captain Lion Gardiner. They claimed possession of the land via a deed of conveyance from Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick. The colony was named in honor of Lords Saye and Brooke, prominent Parliamentarians and holders of the colony's land grants.

Early settlers of the colony were ardent supporters of Oliver Cromwell and of democracy. In the 1630s in what became Connecticut, it was rumored that Cromwell's emigration was imminent from England to Saybrook, along with the departure from Old England of other prominent Puritan sponsors of the colony, including John Pym, John Hampden, Arthur Haselrig, and Lords Saye and Brooke. Even as late as the 1770s, residents of Old Saybrook still talked about which town lots would be given to prominent Parliamentarians.

Settlement preparations included sending a ship with an unusual cargo of ironwork for a portcullis and drawbridges, and even an experienced military engineer.[2] Saybrook's fort was to be the strongest in New England. However, prominent Puritans soon "found the countrie [England] full of reports of their going" and were worried that they would not be allowed to sell their estates and take ship. By 1638, the plans for Saybrook were abandoned. Cromwell's financial difficulties had been cleared up by an inheritance and he moved from Huntingdon to nearby Ely. Thus, the sponsors remained in England and played their respective political and military roles in the English Civil War and its aftermath. As a consequence, the colony struggled and, by 1644, Fenwick agreed to merge the colony with the more vibrant Connecticut Colony a few miles up river.

In 1647, Major John Mason assumed command of Saybrook Fort, which controlled the main trade and supply route to the upper river valley. The fort mysteriously burned to the ground, but another improved fort was quickly built nearby. He spent the next twelve years there and served as Commissioner of the United Colonies, its chief military officer, Magistrate, and peacekeeper. He was continually called upon to fairly negotiate the purchase of Indian lands, write a treaty, or arbitrate some Indian quarrel, many of which were instigated by his friend Uncas.

Siege of Chichester

The Siege of Chichester was a victory by Parliamentarian forces led by Colonel William Waller over a small Royalist garrison. The siege was one of the key events in the campaign by Waller to secure the south of England and declare it for Parliament. The siege lasted five days and culminated in a surrender by the Royalist resistance - despite this, Waller's troops proceeded to sack and desecrate Chichester Cathedral.

The Form of Presbyterial Church Government

The Form of Presbyterial Church Government is a document drawn up by the Westminster Assembly dealing with Presbyterian polity. It forms part of the Westminster Standards, and was adopted by the Church of Scotland in 1645.

Third Protectorate Parliament

The Third Protectorate Parliament sat for one session, from 27 January 1659 until 22 April 1659, with Chaloner Chute and Thomas Bampfylde as the Speakers of the House of Commons. It was a bicameral Parliament, with an Upper House having a power of veto over the Commons.

Thomas Baylie

Thomas Baylie (1582–1663) was an English clergyman, member of the Westminster Assembly, Fifth Monarchist and ejected minister.

Thomas Horton (soldier)

Thomas Horton (1603 – October 1649) was an English soldier in the parliamentary army during the English Civil War.

Thomas Horton was born in Gumley, Leicestershire, the son of William Horton and Isabell Freeman. Though of humble background, Horton was taken under the wing of the powerful Sir Arthur Haselrig, and had become a captain-lieutenant by 1643. Becoming a major in the New Model Army, Horton led troops which played a decisive part in several important engagements, most notably the Battle of Naseby in 1645 and Battle of St Fagans in 1648.

As a reward for the valiant service he rendered to the cause, Horton was granted the confiscated lands of a deposed royalist.

Horton was a commissioner of the High Court of Justice in 1649, and thus was among those who signed the warrant for the execution of King Charles I of England. Later that year, he died of natural causes while serving with Cromwell in Ireland.

His heirs were deprived of their estate at the Restoration in the 1660s.

Westminster Larger Catechism

The Westminster Larger Catechism, along with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, is a central catechism of Calvinists in the English tradition throughout the world.

William Lyford

William Lyford (1598–1653) was an English nonconformist clergyman, elected to the Westminster Assembly though not sitting in it.


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