Father of Arthur and Henry Capell.


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The Lord Capell of Hadham
Member of Parliament
for Hertfordshire
In office
MonarchCharles I
Personal details
Born(1608-02-20)20 February 1608
Hadham Hall, Hertfordshire, England
Died9 March 1649(1649-03-09) (aged 41)
Old Palace Yard, Westminster, England
SpouseElizabeth Morrison
  • Sir Henry Capell (father)
  • Theodosia Montagu (mother)
Alma materQueens' College, Cambridge
OccupationRoyalist army officer and Member of Parliament
Military service
Battles/warsEnglish Civil War
Arms of Capell: Gules, a lion rampant between three cross-crosslets fitcheé or[1]

Arthur Capell, 1st Baron Capell of Hadham[2] (20 February 1608 – 9 March 1649), of Hadham Hall and Cassiobury House, Watford, both in Hertfordshire, was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1640 until 1641 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Capell. He supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War and was executed on the orders of parliament in 1649.


Capell was the only son of Sir Henry Capell, of Rayne Hall, Essex, and his wife Theodosia Montagu, daughter of Sir Edward Montagu of Boughton House, Northamptonshire.[3] He was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge.[4]

In April 1640, he was elected Member of Parliament for Hertfordshire in the Short Parliament, and was re-elected MP for Hertfordshire for the Long Parliament in November 1640.[3][5][6] At first, he supported the opposition of the arbitrary government of King Charles I of England. On 5 December 1640, he delivered the "Petition from the county of Hertfordshire", outlining grievances against the King,[6] and continued to criticise the King and the King's advisers right through to the summer of 1641.[7]

In June 1641, in an effort to raise additional revenue, the price of baronies was reduced from £400 to £350, and Capell was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Capell of Hadham, in the County of Hertford, on 6 August 1641.[3][8] However, Capell was openly allying himself with the King's cause by early 1642,[8] on which side his sympathies were now engaged.

On the outbreak of the English Civil War, he was appointed lieutenant-general of Shropshire, Cheshire, and North Wales, where he rendered useful military services, and was later made one of the Councillors of Prince Charles Stewart (who later became King Charles II of England), as well as a commissioner at the Treaty of Uxbridge in 1645. He attended the Queen, Henrietta Maria of France (the wife of King Charles I), in her flight to France in 1646, but disapproved of her son Prince Charles's journey thither, and afterwards retired to Jersey; later, he subsequently aided in the King's escape to the Isle of Wight.[3]

Capell was one of the chief Royalist leaders in the second Civil War, but met with no success, and on 27 August 1648, together with Earl of Norwich, he surrendered to Lord Fairfax at Colchester, on the promise of quarter for life.[9]

This assurance was afterwards interpreted as not binding the civil authorities, and his fate for some time hung in the balance. He succeeded in escaping from the Tower of London, wading the moat once he had got over the walls, only to be betrayed by a Thames waterman, who had been engaged to row him from a hiding place at the Temple to one in Lambeth. He was again captured and was condemned to death by parliament, on 8 March 1649,[3][10] and beheaded together with the Duke of Hamilton and the Earl of Holland.[3] The beheadings were carried out by Richard Brandon in his capacity as the common hangman of London.[11]

One of Lord Capell's last requests was for his heart to be buried with the body of King Charles I, and after his execution, Capell's heart was preserved in a silver box.[12][3]

The silver box was kept in the custody of the Bishop of Winchester, and was later presented, by the Bishop, to King Charles II. In 1703, a heart in a silver box was found at Hadham Hall, suggesting that the King sent the heart to Capell's son. It was later taken to Cassiobury, but since the dissolution and sale of the Cassiobury estate, the whereabouts of Capell's heart are now unknown. A memorial stone to Lord Capell was erected at St Cecelia's Church in Little Hadham, Hertfordshire.[12]


Capell wrote Daily Observations or Meditations: Divine, Morall, published with some of his letters in 1654, and reprinted, with a short life of the author, under the title Excellent Contemplations, in 1683.

Marriage and children

On 28 November 1627, Capell married Elizabeth Morrison, daughter and sole heiress of Sir Charles Morrison of Cassiobury, Hertfordshire, and Mary Hicks, who brought the Cassiobury estate, including Cassiobury House, into his family, making him one of the richest men in England. His lands were scattered across ten counties and brought him a reputed annual income of £7,000. By his wife, he had four daughters and five sons, including:



  1. ^ Montague-Smith 1968, p. 430.
  2. ^ The variant spelling "Capel" is frequent in historical sources.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Chisholm 1911, p. 249.
  4. ^ "Capell, Arthur (CPL618A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ Willis 1750, p. 232,242.
  6. ^ a b Hazell 1987, p. 5.
  7. ^ Hazell 1987, p. 6.
  8. ^ a b Hazell 1987, p. 7.
  9. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 249 cites S. R. Gardiner History of the Civil War, iv, 206; also article on Thomas Fairfax by C.H. Firth in the Dictionary of National Biography.
  10. ^ Hutton 2006.
  11. ^ "Richard Brandon, hangman and probable executioner of Charles I". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-9000099. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  12. ^ a b "A Brief History of Little Hadham". The Hadhams. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014.



Further reading

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