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William Monson, 1st Viscount Monson (died c. 1672)[1] was one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England.[2][3]

Monson was knighted in 1623 and created Viscount Monson of Castlemaine (Irish peerage) in 1628. He was elected M.P. for Reigate in 1640, 1645 and 1648. He was nominated as one of the king's judges, but only attended three sittings. After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, he was sentenced by Parliament to degradation from his honours and titles and to be imprisoned for life. He died in the Fleet Prison in around 1672.[2][3]


William Monson was the son of Admiral William Monson and Dorothy Smith, daughter of Richard Wallop of Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire.[4] He was promoted unsuccessfully as a court favourite in 1618 by the Earl of Suffolk, but was knighted on 12 February 1623,[4] and was raised to the peerage of Ireland as Baron Monson of Ballingard, County Limerick and Viscount Monson, of Castlemaine, County Kerry, by letters patent dated 23 August 1628[5] On 13 August 1633 he became a member of Gray's Inn.[6] By his first marriage he acquired an estate at Reigate, Surrey,[7] but owing to his dissolute habits he was soon in debt. He refused to pay ship-money,[8] and when elected M.P. for Reigate, 21 October 1640, he opposed the court, and subsequently acted as a committee-man for Surrey.[9]His third wife, Elizabeth, is regarded as an early feminist. She is reputed, with the help of her maids, to have tied her husband naked to the bedpost and whipped him because she disagreed with his political views. Despite this, he supported the Parliamentary side.[10]

On being nominated one of King Charles's judges, he attended on 20, 22, and 23 January 1649, but refused to take part in the ultimate proceedings.[11] He was, however, placed by the parliament on the committee appointed to receive and take note of the dissent of any member from the vote of 5 December 1648.[12] On 19 July 1649 he tried to persuade the house into the belief that the sum of £4,500 was owing to him as arrears of the pension due to his late wife the Countess of Nottingham,[13] but he lost his motion by two votes. The Rump Parliament, when restored in May 1659, was obliged, to form a quorum, to send for Monson and Henry Marten from the Fleet prison, where they were both confined for debt.[14]

At the Restoration he was excepted out of the general pardon granted under Act of Oblivion, and upon surrendering himself on 21 June was recommitted to the Fleet. On 1 July 1661, he was brought up to the bar of the House of Commons, and, after being made to confess his crime, was degraded from all his honours and titles and deprived of his property. He was also sentenced to be drawn from the Tower through the city of London to Tyburn, and so back again, with a halter about his neck, and to be imprisoned for life.[15] In petitioning the House of Lords on 25 July to remit what was most ignominious in his sentence, Monson declared that his design in sitting at the king's trial was, if possible, to prevent "that horrid murder".[16] The ignominious part of the sentence was duly carried out each year on the anniversary of the king's sentence (27 January).[17] Monson appears to have died in the Fleet prison about 1672. His estate at Reigate was granted to the James, Duke of York.[3]


Monson married,

  • secondly, Frances, daughter of Thomas Alston of Polstead, Suffolk, by whom he left a son Alston (died 1674 without issue);[3]


  1. ^ or Viscount Mounson
  2. ^ a b Lee 1903, p. 803.
  3. ^ a b c d e Goodwin 1894, p. 202.
  4. ^ a b Goodwin & Gurney 2004.
  5. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 201 cites Burke, Extinct Peerage, 1883, p. 371.
  6. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 201 cites Register, ed. Foster, p. 201.
  7. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 201 cites Brayley and Britton Surrey, iv. 219-23.
  8. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 201 cites Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1637-8, p. 198
  9. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 201.
  10. ^ Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
  11. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Nalson, Trial of Charles I, ed. 1684.
  12. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649–50, p. 1.
  13. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Commons' Journals, vi. 264.
  14. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites England's Confusion, 1659, p. 10.
  15. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Commons' Journals, viii. 60, 70, 285–6.
  16. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Hist. MSS. Comm, 7th Rep. pp. ix, 150.
  17. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1661-2, p. 225; Pepys, Diary, ed. Bright, i. 407, 528–9.
  18. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Nichols, Collectanea, ii. 82.
  19. ^ Goodwin 1894, p. 202 cites Reresby, Memoirs, ed. Cartwright, p. 13.



Further reading

4 Annotations

First Reading

vicenzo  •  Link

" Sir William Monson (c. 1607 1678), who was created an Irish peer as Viscount Monson of Castlemaine in 1628. Having been a member of the court which tried Charles I. the viscount was deprived of his honors and was sentenced to imprisonment for life in 1661"
lifted from from fathers bio:…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

William, second son of Sir Thomas Monson, Bart.; created, by Charles I., Viscount Monson of Castlemaine, in the kingdom of Ireland. Notwithstanding this act of favour, he was instrumental in the King's death; and in 1661, being degraded of his honours, was sentenced, with Sir Henry Mildmay and Robert Wallop, to undergo the punishment here described [27 January 1661/62]. None of their names were subscribed to the King's sentence. An account of this ceremony was printed at the time, entitled "The Traytor's Pilgrimage from the Tower to Tyburn, being a true relation of the drawing of William Lord Mounson, Sir Henry Mildmay, and 'Squire Wallop with the manner of the proceedings at Tyburn, in order to the degrading and divesting of them of their former titles of honour, and their declaratory speeches to both the right worshipful Sheriffs of London and Middlesex." The late Lord Monson and the present Lord Sondes, are descended from the eldest son of Sir Thomas Monson. Viscount Monson left one son by his second wife, Alston Monson, who died s. p. in 1674.—Collins's Peerage.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

MONSON, Sir WILLIAM, first Viscount Monson Of Castlemaine (d. 1672?), regicide; son of Sir Thomas Monson; created Viscount Monson of Castlemaine (Irish peerage), 1628; knighted, 1633; M.P., Reigate, 1640; nominated one of the king's judges, but only attended three sittings; sentenced by Parliament to degradation from his honours and titles and to be imprisoned for life, 1661; died in the Fleet.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The excerpt which refers to Viscount William Monson is taken from
“The lies of the Regicides? Charles I’s judges at the Restoration” -- by Dr Jason Peacey, Senior Lecturer in History at University College, London.…

Those involved in the trial of King Charles, and who were still living in 1660, found themselves marked men. Vilified in public and in print, they faced choices about how to behave, and how to respond to the probability that they would be punished by the king or parliament.

Some fled, and some of these lived out their days in relative safety, although others lived troubled lives, either because of the threat of violence or of capture, and some clearly lived in obscurity and sought to cover their tracks and assume new identities.

Others surrendered under the terms of a June 1660 proclamation, either in the hope of securing pardon or of mitigating their guilt, although it was always clear their fates depended upon the attitude of MPs, who were given the power to determine who should be punished and who should be pardoned.
As it turned out, MPs proved more vindictive than Charles II, resulting in the trial of 29 men in October 1660, 27 of whom pleaded guilty.

This process must begin with statements made before the trials of October 1660, and in the febrile political atmosphere surrounding the Restoration the process of identifying and vilifying the regicides involved rumors and allegations, fueled by pamphlets, newspapers and broadsides, such that truth was hard to discern.
This ensured many former parliamentarians feared their role in the events of January 1649 would be misrepresented, and so there began a process of setting the record straight, of giving explanations, and of making excuses, through petitions and printed pamphlets.

William Monson Jr. MP, Visct. Monson of Castlemaine claimed he had been ‘unhappily nominated’ to the High Court ‘without his knowledge or consent’, and although he ‘did sit at the first’ – ‘unfortunately and contrary to his inclinations’ – he did so ‘with designs of duty and loyalty … to prevent that horrid murder by winning others to oppose it’. Upon finding ‘their violence and bloody design was not to be declined’, Monson ‘withdrew himself with a great abhorrence of it’.

William, Lord Monson’s motives for attending the trial are impossible to test, but he does seem to have become disillusioned with the proceedings, and after attending the first 3 days of the trial (20, 22, 23 January) he disappeared from planning meetings after 26 January, and was absent from Westminster Hall on the day of sentencing.

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