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Thomas Pride (c.1608-1658) was the son of a yeoman from Pedwell, Somerset. He moved to London in 1622 to be apprenticed to a haberdasher and later set up a successful business as a brewer in the captal during the 1630s. He was a religious non-conformist, belonging to a London sect that preached adult baptism. The Henry Jacob church to which he belonged was based in Southwark. It was repressed by Archbishop Laud in 1633 and many of the congregation were imprisoned.
Thomas Pride fought throughout the English Civil War, serving at first as an ensign in the Red regiment of the London Trained Bands. In 1643 he enlisted as a Captain in Colonel Barclay's regiment of foot in the army of the Earl of Essex and was a Major by 1644. He saw action at both battles of Newbury (1643 and 1644) and at Lostwithiel in Cornwall (1644). On the formation of the New Model Army in 1645, General Fairfax promoted Pride to Lieutenant-Colonel in Colonel Harley's regiment despite the opposition of the House of Lords to Pride’s political and religious views. In Colonel Harley’s absence Pride commanded the regiment with distinction at the battle of Naseby, holding firm against the Royalist advance while other regiments gave ground. Pride continued to command the regiment at the storming of Bristol, Dartmouth and the battle of Great Torrington (1646).
During the political upheavals of 1647, following the war, Pride was one of the the officers most active in supporting the soldiers' right to petition Parliament for redress of their grievances. Colonel Harley discovered that Pride was collecting the siganatures of soldiers by force and Pride was summoned to appear before Parliament to explain his conduct. He remained defiant and was active in organising the Army Petition signed by 150 officers who continued to support soldiers' rights. Loosing the confidence of his men, Colonel Harley resigned his commission. Pride was promoted to Colonel and took over command of the regiment. Thereafter, he and his regiment remained in London, quartered in St. James’ Palace. Pride was now able to impose his own moral views on the capital, closing down the brothels in Southwark and repressing gambling.
During the Second Civil War, Pride fought under Cromwell at the siege of Pembroke and the battle of Preston. Returning to London, he proved to be one of the most radical army officers, demanding that Charles I answer for his part in starting and continuing the wars. Pride commanded the troops that marched on Parliament in December 1648 to eject the Prebyterian MPs who continued to favour a negotiated settlement with the King. This event became known as Pride's Purge. Those MPs who remained in the House voted to bring Charles I to trial. Appointed to the High Court of Justice, Pride sat as a judge at Charles' Trial and was one of the 59 signatories of his death warrant.
In 1650, Pride commanded a brigade at the battle of Dunbar and his regiment fought at Worcester in 1651. Following the war he resumed his business interests, heading a group of brewers who supplied the navy with beer. He became involved in local politics in London and became governor of several hospitals in the city. He retained command of his regiment, however, and Pride’s men fought in the Dutch War of 1653-54 and were later stationed in Scotland during the Royalist uprising of Glencairn.
In lieu of payment for their war service, Parliament granted Pride and his regiment the confiscated Royal property of Nonsuch Great Park (otherwise known as Worcester Park) in Surrey where Pride took up residence. Pride was appointed High Sheriff of Surrey in 1655 and was knighted by Cromwell in 1656. In 1658 he was appointed to the Upper House in 1658, prompting accusations of hypocrisy from Royalists. After Cromwell’s death, Pride supported Richard Cromwell’s succession as Lord Protector.
Thomas Pride died at the end of October 1658.
At the Restoration, Pride was posthumously attainted a traitor. Like Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw, his body was voted to be exhumed and hung in chains at Tyburn (see Pepys’ Diary, 28 January 1660 ). However, Pride’s body apparently escaped this indignity. The bodies of Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw were all exhumed from Westminster Abbey. Pride’s was presumably harder to locate and remained undisturbed. The likelihood is that Pride was buried on his Worcester Park estate; the religious non-conformist was buried in unconsecrated ground in a grave that has now disappeared without trace.
Thomas Pride’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Robert Walton, a London tailor. He is the “young Mr. Walton” refered to in Pepys’ diary on 2 January 1659/60.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.