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Colonel John Hewson (Hughson) (died 1662) was a soldier in the New Model Army and signed the death warrant of King Charles I, making him a regicide.

Life

When John Lilburne was his apprentice in the 1630s, he introduced Lilburne to the Puritan physician John Bastwick, an active pamphleteer who was persecuted by Archbishop William Laud.

He was second in command of John Pickering's Regiment of Foot, one of the original twelve foot regiments of the New Model Army. When John Pickering died on 24 November 1645 he took command of the regiment; and, as was the custom then, the Regiment became known as John Hewson Regiment of Foot.

In 1647 Parliament passed an act against religious festivals, regarding them as "vain and superstitious observances" when the Mayor of Canterbury tried to enforce this act and stop Christmas there was a riot and John Hewson Regiment of Foot were sent to restore order which they did quickly. In 1648 Hewson played a key role in Pride's Purge and the Army's occupation of London.

In January 1649 he signed the death warrant for Charles I marking him as a regicide. Later that year his regiment refused to fight in Ireland until the Leveller reform programme was implemented; as a result 300 men were cashiered out of the army without arrears of pay. While in Ireland he was involved in the Siege of Drogheda and commanded an English force during the siege and battle of Tecroghan. He lost an eye at the siege of Kilkenny and was made Governor of Dublin.

He represented Ireland in the Nominated Assembly (or Barebones Parliament) of 1653 and Dublin in the First Protectorate Parliament of 1654. He the returned to England to represent Guildford in the Second Protectorate Parliament before being summoned in 1658 to the Other House (an Upper House equivalent to the House of Lords) as Lord Hewson.

On the restoration of the monarchy he fled to Amsterdam where he died in 1662.

Reputation

Richard Neville (later Lord Braybrooke) in a footnote from his 1825 edition of Samuel Pepys' diary:

John Hewson, who, from a low origin, became a colonel in the Parliament army, and sat in judgment on the King: he escaped hanging by flight, and died in 1662, at Amsterdam. A curious notice of Hewson occurs in Rugge’s "Diurnal," December 5th, 1659, which states that "he was a cobbler by trade, but a very stout man, and a very good commander; but in regard of his former employment, they [the city apprentices] threw at him old shoes, and slippers, and turniptops, and brick-bats, stones, and tiles. … At this time [January, 1659-60] there came forth, almost every day, jeering books: one was called 'Colonel Hewson's Confession; or, a Parley with Pluto,' about his going into London, and taking down the gates of Temple-Bar." He had but one eye, which did not escape the notice of his enemies.

Notes

  1. ^ Project Gutenberg's Diary of Samuel Pepys, January 1659-60.See January 25th. Transcribed from the shorthand manuscript in the Pepsysian Library, Magdalene College Cambridge by the Rev. Mynors Bright M.A. late fellow and president of the college (Unabridged), With Lord Braybrooke's notes edited with additions by Henry B. Wheatley.

References

1893 text

John Hewson, who, from a low origin, became a colonel in the Parliament army, and sat in judgment on the King: he escaped hanging by flight, and died in 1662, at Amsterdam. A curious notice of Hewson occurs in Rugge’s “Diurnal,” December 5th, 1659, which states that “he was a cobbler by trade, but a very stout man, and a very good commander; but in regard of his former employment, they [the city apprentices] threw at him old shoes, and slippers, and turniptops, and brick-bats, stones, and tiles.” . . . “At this time [January, 1659-60] there came forth, almost every day, jeering books: one was called ‘Colonel Hewson’s Confession; or, a Parley with Pluto,’ about his going into London, and taking down the gates of Temple-Bar.” He had but one eye, which did not escape the notice of his enemies.—B.


This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

3 Annotations

David Quidnunc  •  Link

David Plant's useful "British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate" website has a brief but interesting paragraph on Hewson, whose name was sometimes spelled "Hughson":
http://www.skyhook.co.uk/civwar/biog/regicides3...

Plant's description hints that Hewson was one pungent Puritan: He "proclaimed himself 'the child of wrath' in his frequent impromptu sermons."

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Pepys describes a riot with Hewson

Pepys letters to Montagu, at least some of them, have been published, and biographers Stephen Cootes and Claire Tomalin each quote from this one describing a riot on 5 December 1659 involving Hewson and his troops:

"The soldiers as they marched were hooted at all along the streets, and where any straggled from the whole body, the boys flung stones, tiles, turnips, &c. and, with all the affronts they could give them; some they disarmed, and kicked, others abused the horse with stones and rubbish they flung at them; and when Col. Hewson came the head of his regiment they shouted all along: 'A cobbler! A cobbler'; in some places the apprentices would get a football (it being a hard frost) and drive it among the soldiers on purpose, and they either darest not (or prudently would not) interrupt them; in fine, many soldiers were hurt with stones, and one I see was very near having his brains knocked out with a brickbat flung from the top of a house at him. On the other side, the soldiers proclaimed the proclamation against any subscriptions, which the boys shouted at in contempt, which some could not bear but let fly their muskets and killed in several places (whereof I see one in Cornhill shot through the head) 6 or 7. [sic] and several wounded."

(Cootes, pp 32-33; and that "[sic]" is from Tomalin, p 75 -- each quotes an overlapping section, both get the quote from "The Letters and Second Diary of Samuel Pepys, ed. R.G. Howarth (1932), a 6 Dec 1659 letter from Pepys to Montagu, p. 15)

Tomalin comments:

"It is the first eyewitness account of an urban riot . . . since the Jewish historian Josephus; and it shows how good he was taking the pulse of the streets and fixing on essential details, the rubbish thrown at the horses, the football in the frosty street, the stones thrown from rooftops and the soldiers unable to bear the contempt of the boys and so shooting them dead."
-- "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self," p 75

Cootes's comment:

"Violence broke out, and Pepys described it for My Lord with all the vividness and delight in the reality of concrete detail of which he was becoming a master."
-- "Samuel Pepys: A Life," p 32

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Pepys on Hewson, etc., 8 December 1659:

"The present posture of the City is very dangerous, who I believe will never be quiet till the Soldiers have absolutely quitted the town. These circumstances (my Lord) may give your Lordship the best guess of the City's condition. viz. The Coroner's inquest upon the death of those that were slain on Monday have given it in Murder and place it upon Colonel Huson [Hewson], who gave his Soldiers order to fire. The Grand Jury at the Sessions this week in the Old Bailey desired of my Lord Mayor that the Soldiers might be removed out of town, who answering that he knew not well with the safety of the City how to do it, they offered in open Court to indict their officers and undertake to bring them before his Lordship . . . One passage more I shall add, that in the common council house upon the reading of the Prentices' petition, Brandrith [Henry Brandreth, member of the Committee of Safety] stood up and inveighed highly against the Insolence of the boys to meddle in such businesses, whereupon he was hissed down by the whole Council and answered by Wilde the recorder, who particularly defended the whole petition with a general applause. This is the present fate of the City, who are informed how the army have sent in Granados [grenades] to Pauls [St. Paul's Cathedral] and the Tower to fire the City upon an extremity (which is certain) and I am confident will not rest but in chasing away the soldiers out of town."

-- a letter from Pepys to Montagu, 8 December 1659, quoted in Tomalin, pp 75-76.

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References

Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.

1660