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He commenced his adult life as a drayman and a brewer. At the beginning of the Civil War he served as a captain in the New Model Army under Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex and was eventually promoted to the rank of colonel. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Preston in 1648 and with his regiment took part in the military occupation of London in December 1648, which was the first step towards bringing to trial of King Charles I (1625-1649).
Trial of King Charles I
The next step was the expulsion of the Presbyterian and Royalist elements in the House of Commons, who were thought to be prepared to reach a settlement with Charles. This, resolved by the army council and ordered by the lord general, Fairfax, was carried out by Colonel Pride's regiment. Taking his stand at the entrance of the House of Commons with a written list in his hand, he caused the arrest or exclusion of the members, who were pointed out to him. After about a hundred members had been thus dealt with, the reduced House of Commons, now reduced to about eighty in number, proceeded to bring the king to trial. This marked the end of the Long Parliament and the beginning of the Rump Parliament.
Pride was one of the judges of the king and one of the Regicides of King Charles I, having signed and sealed the king's death-warrant. His coat of arms appears on his seal.
He commanded an infantry brigade under Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar (1650) and at the Battle of Worcester (1651). He purchased the estate of Nonsuch Palace in Surrey, and in 1655 was appointed Sheriff of Surrey.
Retirement and knighthood
When the Commonwealth was established he abandoned his involvement in politics, except in opposing the proposal to confer the kingly dignity on Cromwell. In 1656 he was knighted by Cromwell, then Lord Protector, and was appointed to the second house added to Parliament as a result of the Humble Petition and Advice.
He married Elizabeth Monk (born 1628), a daughter of Thomas Monk of Potheridge in Devon by his wife Mary Gould, a daughter of William Gould of Hayes. Elizabeth's uncle was the royalist general George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle (1608-1670), KG, the key figure in effecting the Restoration of the Monarchy to King Charles II in 1660.
Pride died in 1658 at his home of Nonsuch Palace, Surrey. After the Restoration of 1660 his body was ordered dug up and suspended on the gallows at Tyburn along with those of Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw, though it is said that the sentence was not carried out, probably because his corpse was too far decayed. The Royalists thereupon attempted to hang his son, Joseph Pride, also an active member of the new model army, who barely escaped.
- Mark Noble, Lives of the Regicides
- George Bate, Lives of the Prime Actors and Principal Contrivers of the Murder of Charles I
- Thomas Carlyle, Cromwell's Letters and Speeches
- Anonymous (1911). "Pride, Thomas". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 315.
- Risdon, Tristram (d.1640), Survey of Devon, 1811 edition, London, 1811, with 1810 Additions, p.419