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John Carew
Contemporary print showing the Execution of Charles I (top), with regicides like Carew (bottom)
Nominated for Devon in Barebone's Parliament
In office
July 1653 – December 1653
English Council of State
In office
Member, Board of Admiralty
In office
Member of Parliament
for Tregony
In office
February 1647 – April 1653
Personal details
Born3 July 1622
Antony, Cornwall
Died15 October 1660(1660-10-15) (aged 38)
Charing Cross, London
Cause of deathExecuted
RelationsSir Alexander Carew, 2nd Baronet (half-brother, executed by Parliament 1644)
Alma materGloucester Hall, Oxford

John Carew (3 July 1622 - 15 October 1660) was a member of the landed gentry from Antony, Cornwall and MP for Tregony from 1647 to 1653. A prominent supporter of the Fifth Monarchists, a millenarianist religious sect, he backed Parliament and the Commonwealth in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and approved the Execution of Charles I in January 1649. He held various administrative positions during the Interregnum, including membership of the English Council of State, but was deprived of office and jailed in 1655 for his opposition to The Protectorate.

Although aware that as a regicide of Charles I he was likely to be arrested after the 1660 Stuart Restoration, Carew made no attempt to escape. During the trial, he claimed that by signing Charles' death warrant, he was simply complying with a legal Act of Parliament, an argument rejected by the court.

He was found guilty of treason and hanged, drawn and quartered on 15 October 1660, two days after his close friend Thomas Harrison suffered the same fate.

Personal details

John Carew was born 3 July 1622 in Antony, Cornwall, the eldest child of Sir Richard Carew, 1st Baronet (c. 1580–1643), and Grace Rolle (1606–1655), his second wife.[1] He had three full brothers, including Thomas (1624–1681), plus five siblings from his father's first marriage, among them Elizabeth (1605–1679), and Alexander (1608–1644). The latter fought for Parliament in the early stages of the First English Civil War, but was executed in December 1644 after attempting to hand over Drake's Island to the Royalists.[2]

He does not appear to have married or produced children; his estate of Boxhill Manor, now part of the city of Exeter, was confiscated after his death, then returned to his brother Thomas in 1662.[3]


Carew entered Gloucester Hall, Oxford in March 1638, and began legal training at the Inner Temple in November 1639, although there is no record of him graduating from either.[4] When the First English Civil War began in August 1642, the Carew family were among the few members of the Cornish gentry who supported Parliament. As a result, he served on a number of Parliamentary committees for Cornwall, although it was held by the Royalists until their forces in the West Country surrendered on 12 March 1646.[5]

Elected MP for Tregony in 1647, Carew also belonged to the Fifth Monarchists, a Protestant millenarianist group who viewed the execution of Charles I in January 1649 as paving the way for the second coming of Christ. This belief was one reason he became a regicide, as did other members of the sect, including Thomas Harrison, William Goffe, and John Jones Maesygarnedd.

Like many 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. Some of the 59 fled England but Carew was arrested, put on trial, and found guilty. He was hanged, drawn and quartered on 15 October 1660.[6][7] Unlike others executed by this method, "his quarters, by a great favour... [were not] hanged up" on public display as a warning to other anti-monarchists, according to contemporary diarist Samuel Pepys.


Mr John Carew as tried on 12 Oct. 1660.[8]

He found the same usage from the Court as Major-General Harrison had done, being frequently interrupted and council denied, though earnestly desired by him in that point of law touching the authority by which he had acted.

When he saw that all he could say was to no purpose, he frankly acknowledged that he sat in the High Court of Justice, and had signed two warrants, one for summoning the Court in order to the King's trial, and another for his execution.

Upon this the Court, who were well acquainted with the disposition of the jury, permitting him to speak. He said that in the year 1640, a Parliament was called according to the laws and Constitution of this nation: that some differences arising between the King and that Parliament, the King withdrew his person from them. Upon which the Lords and Commons declared ...Here the Court being conscious that their cobweb-coverings were not sufficient to keep out the light of those truths he was going to produce, contrary to the liberty they had promised, interrupted him, under color that what he was about to say, tended not only to justify the action for which he was accused, but to cast a ball of division among those who were present. But Mr. Carew going on to say, 'The Lords and Commons by their declaration---'

Judge Foster interrupted him again, and told him he endeavored to revive those differences which he hoped were laid asleep, and that he did so to blow the trumpet of sedition; demanding if he had ever heard, or could produce an Act of Parliament made by the Commons alone. To this he would have answered, but was not permitted to finish what he began to say, or hardly any one thing he endeavored to speak in his defense during the whole trial;

Mr. Arthur Annesley particularly charging him with the exclusion of the members in the year 1648, of which number he had been one; to which he only replied, 'That it seemed strange to find a man who sat as a judge on the bench to give evidence as to witness in the Court.'

These irregular proceedings unbecoming a court of judicature, obliged Mr. Carew to address himself to the jury, leaving them to judge of the legality of his trial; and appealing to their consciences, whether he had been permitted to make his defense. But they who were not to be diverted from the resolutions they had taken, without any regard to the manner of his trial, declared him guilty as he was accused."


According to Edmund Ludlow,

On the fifteenth (15 October 1660), Mr. John Carew suffered there also, even their enemies confessing that more steadiness of mind, more contempt of death, and more magnanimity could not be expressed. To all who were present with them (also Major General Harrison), either in prison or at the place where the sentence was executed, they owned that having engaged in the cause of God and their country, they were not at all ashamed to suffer in the manner their enemies thought fit, openly avowing the inward satisfaction of their minds when they reflected upon the actions for which they had been condemned, not doubting the revival of the same cause; and that a time should come when men would have better thoughts of their persons and proceedings.

See also


  1. ^ Holford-Strevens 2004.
  2. ^ Hopper 2012, p. 48.
  3. ^ Lysons & Lysons 1822, p. 498.
  4. ^ Peacey 2004.
  5. ^ Wedgwood 1958, pp. 540–541.
  6. ^ "Biographies: John Carew". British Civil War Project. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  7. ^ Pepys, Samuel. "Diary Entries from October 1660". The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  8. ^ Memoirs of Ludlow, Vol. 2, pages 309, with some light editing in spelling and punctuation


Further reading

1893 text

John Carew signed the warrant for the execution of Charles I. He held the religion of the Fifth Monarchists, and was tried October 12th, 1660. He refused to avail himself of many opportunities of escape, and suffered death with much composure.

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

5 Annotations

First Reading

Second Reading

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has this on John Carew, MP:…

Carew, John (1622–1660), politician and regicide, was born on 3 July 1622, the second son of Sir Richard Carew, 1st baronet (1579/80–1643?), experimenter and educationist, of Antony, Cornwall, and his second wife, Grace (1603/4–1658), daughter of Robert Rolle of Heanton Satchville, Devon.

He was admitted to Gloucester Hall, Oxford, on 9 March 1638,
and to the Inner Temple in November 1639, but received no formal qualifications.

Elected to parliament as a recruiter MP for Tregony, Cornwall, in late February 1647, John Carew MP soon emerged as an independent, although he made little impression in the house before Pride's Purge in Dec. 1648.

John Carew MP was involved in preparing the trial of King Charles and, although he initially sought to avoid participating in the proceedings, supported its legitimacy, proved to be one of the most assiduous commissioners, and signed the death warrant.

An energetic member of the Rump, John Carew MP served on the army committee and the committee for plundered ministers, and was elected to the council of state in February and November 1651.

John Carew MP’s interests included the disposal of church and crown property, and cases regarding suspects and delinquents. He demonstrated enthusiasm for legal reform and was involved in selecting the Hale Commission, and displayed concern for social reform and the welfare of the poor, the indebted, and the imprisoned.

During the First Anglo-Dutch War John Carew MP developed an expertise in both diplomatic relations and naval affairs.

Carew also became identifiable as a leading millenarian and Fifth Monarchist, alongside his close friend Major Gen. Thomas Harrison.

John Carew MP represented Devon in Barebone's assembly of 'saints', and was reappointed to the council of state in July and Nov., 1653, but although identifiable as a supporter of religious toleration Carew's preoccupation with his duties as a navy commissioner precluded him from an active role in the Commons.

Carew did not object to government by a single person, but soon expressed his hostility to the Cromwellian protectorate and his suspicion regarding its hereditary pretensions in a work called “The Grand Catastrophe” (Jan. 1654).

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


John Carew MP opposition to Cromwell was reflected in his rumored involvement in 1654 in the Wildman Plot with its call to arms against the Protector, and in his demand for the release of 2 Fifth Monarchist preachers, Christopher Feake and John Rogers, in Feb. 1655.

Refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the regime, John Carew MP declined to answer a summons from Cromwell, saying that 'when the little [Barebone's] Parliament was dissolved [Cromwell] took the crown off from the head of Christ and put it upon his own' (Firth, 2.244).
This led to Carew imprisonment in mid-Feb. 1655, where he remained, visited by the likes of the Fifth Monarchist Anna Trapnel, until Oct., 1656.

John Carew MP declined to join Thomas Venner's planned Fifth Monarchist rising in 1657.

By early 1658 John Carew MP represented those millenarians who undertook to be baptized, and who sought an alliance with the Baptists, with whom Carew held discussions at Dorchester.

John Carew MP was eligible to sit in the restored Rump Parliament in May 1659, but although he was reappointed as a Navy Commissioner (26 May), he made no recorded impression on the proceedings, and was eventually fined £100 for his absence.

John Carew MP did not return to the Commons before the Restoration, but neither did he flee in 1660.

Confusion over the warrant for John Carew’s arrest delayed his apprehension, and ensured he was exempted from the Pardon and subjected to trial as a regicide.

Indicted on 10 October, 1660, John Carew MP was brought to trial 2 days later to face witnesses who testified to his presence in the high court and identified his signature on the warrant.
Carew denied being 'moved by the devil' to participate in the trial, and professed obedience to God's 'holy and righteous laws' and the authority of an act of parliament (State trials, 5.1052).
Such speeches, together with his attempt to justify the trial in the context of the 1640s, provoked the court to claim that he aimed 'to blow the trumpet of sedition' (ibid., 5.1055).

Found guilty, John Carew MP was executed at Charing Cross on 15 October, 1660, although his family was granted his body for private burial rather than having to suffer the ignominy of its public display.
Carew went to the scaffold expecting to receive a 'glorious crown' from Christ, and confident his prosecutors would be destroyed by the wrath of God, and by the 'resurrection of this cause' (Ludlow, 226).
He said that his own blood would 'warm the blood that had been shed, and cause notable execution to come down upon the head of their enemy' (ibid., 217).

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