Sir George Lisle, d.1648

Popular officer who fought for the King throughout the English Civil War. He was shot by firing squad after the siege of Colchester and came to be regarded as a Royalist martyr.

Portrait of Sir George LisleGeorge Lisle gained military experience in the army of the Prince of Orange during the 1630s and served as a captain in King Charles' army sent against the Scots in the Bishops' Wars (1640). He supported the King on the outbreak of the English Civil War and was commissioned lieutenant-colonel in a regiment of dragoons. Lisle's dragoons secured the hedges on the Royalist left flank at the battle of Edgehill in October 1642. He rode with Prince Rupert on the Chalgrove raid in June 1643 and led the Royalist vanguard at first Newbury where he was wounded.

Lisle was highly-regarded for his courage in battle and was popular with his troops. In November 1643, he was commissioned a colonel in Lord Hopton's army and took over the regiment of Colonel Bolle who was killed at Alton. During the night before the battle of Cheriton in March 1644, Lisle led a force of musketeers and cavalry to occupy a forward position between the opposing armies, only to be driven back when the Roundheads seized Cheriton Wood.

Lisle served in the King's army during the Oxford campaign in the summer of 1644. He commanded an infantry division during the King's pursuit of the Earl of Essex into Cornwall, culminating in the victory at Lostwithiel in September 1644. At second Newbury (October 1644), Lisle defended the central Royalist position at Shaw House against attacks by the Earl of Manchester. He led three charges against the enemy and is said to have thrown off his armour and buff coat so that his troops could distinguish him by his white shirt in the gathering darkness. Lisle was appointed governor of Faringdon in Berkshire during the winter of 1644-5 then returned to active service as commander of an infantry brigade at the storming of Leicester and battle of Naseby (May-June 1645). Although wounded, he escaped from the battlefield. Lisle was knighted for his services to the Royalist cause in December 1645.

During the Second Civil War, Lisle was one of the ringleaders of the Royalist uprising in Kent which General Fairfax suppressed at the battle of Maidstone in June 1648. Lisle led the survivors of the battle who crossed the River Thames and escaped into Essex with Lord Norwich. Joining forces with Sir Charles Lucas and the Essex insurgents, the Royalists occupied Colchester, where they were besieged by Fairfax. The long and bitter siege of Colchester ended on 27 August with the Royalists' surrender. Controversially, the Parliamentarian generals Fairfax and Ireton condemned to death four senior Royalist officers. One escaped, one was reprieved, but Lisle and Lucas were executed by firing squad in Colchester Castle, after which they came to be regarded as Royalist martyrs.


John Barratt, Cavaliers, the Royalist Army at War 1642-46 (Stroud 2000)

Basil Morgan, Sir George Lisle, Oxford DNB, 2004