George Fleetwood, bap.1623

Buckinghamshire MP who was one of the signatories of King Charles' death warrant but later claimed he was forced to sign it.

Portrait of George FleetwoodGeorge Fleetwood was the eldest son of Charles Fleetwood of Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire. He inherited his family estate while still a young boy on the death of his father in 1628.

When the First Civil War broke out, Fleetwood raised a troop of dragoons for Parliament and kept the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire as a defensive barrier for London. He was appointed to the county committee for Buckinghamshire in 1644, and was elected recruiter MP for the county in 1645. Fleetwood supported the New Model Army during its quarrel with Parliament in 1648. In January 1649, he was appointed a commissioner on the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles. Fleetwood was one of the 59 signatories of the King's death warrant.

During the Commonwealth, Fleetwood was appointed colonel of the Buckinghamshire militia and was elected to the Council of State in 1652. He represented Buckinghamshire in the Nominated Assembly of 1653, but as one of the moderates on the Assembly he supported the establishment of the Protectorate in December 1653. He was elected to the First Protectorate Parliament as MP for Buckinghamshire, and served as an "Ejector" of Anglican clergy and as a "Visitor" to purge the University of Oxford.

During the Rule of the Major-Generals, Fleetwood acted as deputy to his distant kinsman Charles Fleetwood in the administration of Buckinghamshire. He was knighted by Cromwell in September 1656 and appointed to Cromwell's Upper House as George, Lord Fleetwood in 1657.

In 1659, Fleetwood was commissioned by Parliament to raise a troop of volunteers to resist Sir George Booth's Royalist uprising in Cheshire. He supported General Monck on his march to London, and in February 1660, Monck gave Fleetwood command of a regiment. Although he supported the mayor of York in proclaiming Charles II in May 1660, Fleetwood was brought to trial as a regicide. He claimed that he had been appointed to the High Court of Justice against his will and that Cromwell had intimidated him into signing the King's death warrant.

With favourable testimony from Monck and others, Fleetwood's life was spared. He was imprisoned in the Tower until 1664 when a warrant was issued for his transportation to Tangier. According to some accounts, Fleetwood's wife Hester successfully pleaded for his release and he was allowed to emigrate to America. However, according to a report published in the London Gazette, Fleetwood died at Tangier in November 1672.


Sources:

Christopher Durston, Cromwell's Major-Generals (Manchester 2001)

Christopher Durston, George Fleetwood, Oxford DNB, 2004

Links:

Fleetwood's death reported in the London Gazette, January 1672 With thanks to John Tinney for this reference.