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Thomas Scot.[1]

Thomas Scot (or Scott; died 17 October 1660) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1645 and 1660. He was executed as one of the regicides of King Charles I.

Early life

Scot was educated at Westminster School and is said have attended Cambridge University.[2] In 1626 he married Alice Allinson of Chesterford in Essex. He was a lawyer in Buckinghamshire and grew to prominence as the treasurer of the region's County Committee between 1644 and 1646. He became influential enough to dominate the Committee and was elected Member of Parliament for Aylesbury in 1645 as a recruiter to the Long Parliament. Though he had a penchant for long, passionate speeches in Parliament, Scot could also be a subtle backroom politician and had a knack for creating alliances and rallying votes. A royalist acerbically described him as one who "crept into the House of Commons, whispers Treason into many of the Members ears, animating the War, and ripping up and studying aggravations thereunto."

Political career

Scot's beliefs about government by consent prior to Pride's Purge are hard to gauge, though from what has survived of his writings and speeches many historians have described him as being republican. His actions during the Purge period definitely indicate that he developed strong republican leanings before 1648.

From the beginning of the English Civil War, Scot was a strong supporter of tough terms with King Charles I and later became a vociferous opponent of the Treaty of Newport, declaring "that there could be no time seasonable for such a treaty, or for a peace with so perfidious and implacable a prince; but it would always be too soon, or too late. He that draws his sword upon the king, must throw his scabbard into the fire; and that all peace with him would prove the spoil of the godly."

After Pride's Purge, Scot became one of the chief organizers of the trial and execution of the King. Scot was instrumental in the erection of the Republic and along with Henry Vane, Oliver Cromwell and Arthur Heselrige became one of its primary leaders.

Trial and execution

In 1653, with the fall of the Republic, Scot became one of the Protectorate's most vocal opponents, organising anti-Cromwell opposition inside the Parliament. In 1654 he was elected MP for Wycombe in the First Protectorate Parliament. He was elected MP for Aylesbury again in 1656 for the Second Protectorate Parliament In 1659, he was elected MP for Wycombe again in the Third Protectorate Parliament and then sat for Aylesbury again in the restored Rump Parliament.[2]

Like all of the other 59 men who signed the death warrant for Charles I he was in grave danger when Charles II of England was restored to the throne. He fled to Flanders, but surrendered at Brussels. He was put on trial, found guilty and hanged, drawn and quartered on 17 October 1660 for the crime of regicide.[2]

Thomas Scot was brought to trial on 12 October 1660 (in the opinion of Edmund Ludlow the outcome was a foregone conclusion). He was charged with sitting in the High Court of Justice at the trial of King Charles I and with signing one warrant for summoning that court, and another for the execution. He was further accused of wanting "Here lies Thomas Scot, who adjudged the late King to die" on his gravestone.[3]

Many witnesses were produced to prove these things; and among them William Lenthal, Speaker in the Long Parliament, who, when the King entered the House of Commons in 1641, and had demanded of him the Five Members, had answered "that he had neither ears to hear, eyes to see, or mouth to speak except what the House gave",[3] now appear for the prosecution; affirming in Court, that Scot, had justified proceeding against the Charles in the House of Commons.[3]

In his defence, Scot said that whatever had been spoken in the House ought not to be given in evidence against him, not falling under the cognisance of any inferior court, as all men knew: that for what he had done in relation to the King, he had the authority of the Long Parliament for his justification and that this Court had no right to declare whether that authority were a Parliament or not; and being demanded to produce one instance to show that the House of Commons was ever possessed of such an authority, he assured them he could produce many. But having begun with the Saxon times, he was interrupted by the Court, and told that the things of those ages were obscure.[3]

Scot then moved on to a second defence that:[4]

he could not see for what reason it was not as lawful for that House of Commons in which he had sat as a member, to make laws, as for the present Convention which had been called by the authority of the Keepers of the Liberties of England. I had the authority of Parliament, the legislative authority to justify me —

He was interrupted by the Court in mid sentence; and John Finch said (according to Ludlow with passion):[4]

Sir, if you speak to this purpose again, I profess for my part I dare not hear any more: 'tis a doctrine so poisonous and blasphemous, that if you proceed upon this point, I shall (and I hope my lords will be the same opinion) desire that the jury may be immediately directed.

Scot replied:[4]

My Lord, I thought you would rather have been my council, as I think 'tis the duty of your place. But in this matter I am not alone, neither is it myh single opinion: even the Secluded Members owned us to be a Parliament, else why did they, support by an armed force, intrude themselves contrary to the resolutions of the House, in order to procure the major vote for our dissolution (Ref. Long Parliament)?'

To which Francis Annesley answered, that:

if the Secluded Members had not appeared in Parliament, and by that means put an end to all pretenses, the people had not so soon arrived at their happiness.

These, with many other things of equal force were presented by Scot in his defence, not so much in the expectation that the jury would find him innocent, but to justify his actions to the country and posterity. As all expected the jury was directed to find him guilty.[4]

At his execution some of his last words were "I say again; to the Praise of the Free Grace of God; I bless His name He hath engaged me in a Cause, not to be Repented of, I say, Not to be Repented of".[5]

See also


  1. ^ Caulfield 1820, preceding page 19.
  2. ^ a b c ACAD & SCT645T
  3. ^ a b c d Firth 1894, p. 307.
  4. ^ a b c d Firth 1894, p. 308.
  5. ^ Cobbett 1810, p. 648.


Further reading

1893 text

Thomas Scott, M.P., was made Secretary of State to the Commonwealth on the 17th of this same January. He signed the death warrant of Charles I., for which he was executed at Charing Cross, October 16th, 1660. He gloried in his offence, and desired to have written on his tombstone, “Thomas Scott who adjudged to death the late king.”

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

4 Annotations

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

SCOTT or SCOT, THOMAS (d.1660), regicide; educated at Westminster School and at Cambridge; M.P., Aylesbury, 1645; joined army and signed covenant, 1647: signed Charles I's death-warrant, 1649; appointed to manage home and foreign intelligence for the state 1649; M.P. for Wycombe in Protector's first parliament, and was excluded from house for refusing to acknowledge Protector; M.P., Aylesbury, 1656,and was again excluded till 1658; M.P., Wycombe (in Richard Cromwell's parliament); member of council of state, 1659; received charge of intelligence department, 1660, and, later, was secretary of state; supported Monck; fled to Flanders, but surrendered to Charles II's resident at Brussels; brought to England and executed.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

L&M: Thomas Scot, republican and regicide. In 1659 he was given control of the intelligence services for the 3rd time, and a week later made Secretary of State.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

And from the now-disappeared BCW Project:…

THOMAS SCOT, MO - Died 1660 -- Member of the Council of State and director of the Commonwealth's intelligence network, he was executed as a regicide at the Restoration.

Nothing is known for certain about Thomas Scot's early life until 1626, when he made an advantageous marriage to Alice Allinson of Chesterford, Essex.

In 1644, Thomas Scot was a member of the county committee for Buckinghamshire.
In 1645 Thomas Scot was elected recruiter MP for Aylesbury.
He emerged as a zealous Independent and supporter of the King's trial, serving as a member of the High Court of Justice and signing King Charles' death warrant.

Thomas Scot MP became prominent in the government of the Commonwealth as a leading member of the Council of State, and was sometimes referred to by the title of Secretary of State.

In July 1649, the Council of State commissioned Thomas Scot MP to manage the government's spying and intelligence network. In association with Capt. George Bishop, he built up a formidable intelligence organization, employing agents provocateurs, cryptographers and a network of agents in foreign courts and among Royalist exiles.
However, Scot was a strong supporter of the republican Commonwealth.

Scot opposed Cromwell's dissolution of the Rump Parliament in 1653 and his assumption of the office of Lord Protector.
In July 1653, the spying network established by Scot was taken over by the loyal Cromwellian John Thurloe.

Thomas Scot was elected to the First Protectorate Parliament in 1654 as MP for Wycombe, but was among the Members excluded from Parliament for refusing to sign the Recognition of the Protectorate insisted upon by Cromwell.

In 1656, Thomas Scot MP was elected MP for Aylesbury in the Second Protectorate Parliament.
But Scot once again was one of 100 republicans excluded from the first session of Parliament.
The excluded Members were admitted to the second session, which opened in January 1658, and Thomas Scot MP became one of the leading critics of the new second chamber, or Upper House, established by Cromwell under the terms of the Humble Petition and Advice.

After Cromwell's death in Sept. 1658, Scot was elected to the Third Protectorate Parliament called by Richard Cromwell in Jan. 1659, during which he was among the opposition MPs who worked for the overthrow of the Protectorate.

After Richard Cromwell's resignation and the re-establishment of the Rump Parliament, Thomas Scot MP once again became a prominent member of the Council of State and resumed his former role as director of intelligence.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


During the summer of 1659, Thomas Scot MP's agents infiltrated Viscount Mordaunt's Royalist-Presbyterian conspiracy, which enabled the Commonwealth government to suppress Booth's Uprising with little difficulty.

When Major-Gen. John Lambert forcibly dissolved Parliament and the Council of State in October 1659, Thomas Scot MP was elected President of the 9 members of the Council who refused to accept the dissolution and continued to meet in secret in defiance of the military junta.

Scot and his associates appealed to Gen. Monck and his army in Scotland to uphold the Commonwealth.

With Gen. Monck's support, Parliament was duly reinstated in Dec., 1659
Thomas Scot MP was appointed Secretary of State in Jan., 1660. However, Monck went further than the republicans expected by recalling the MPs excluded at Pride's Purge in 1648.

The restored Long Parliament voted for new elections and set in motion the train of events leading to the Restoration.

Denounced as a regicide, Thomas Scot MP fled to Brussels in April 1660, where he was persuaded to give himself up in the hope of obtaining a pardon.

Thomas Scot MP was sentenced to death at his trial in October 1660.

He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross on 17 Oct., 1660. He conducted himself bravely at his execution and died unrepentant "in a cause not to be repented of."

C. H. Firth, revised by Sean Kelsey, Thomas Scot, Oxford DNB, 2004
Godfrey Davies, The Restoration of Charles II, 1658-60 (San Marino 1955)
David Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy in England 1649-60, (New Haven 1960)

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



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