Thomas Pride, d.1658
New Model Army officer and regicide who gave his name to the purge of Members of Parliament carried out by the Army prior to the King's trial and execution.
The son of a Somerset yeoman, Thomas Pride set up a successful business as a brewer in London during the 1630s. When the First Civil War broke out, he was serving as an ensign in the Red regiment of the London Trained Bands. He enlisted as a captain in Colonel Barclay's regiment in the Earl of Essex's army and was a major by 1644. On the formation of the New Model Army in 1645, Pride was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in Colonel Edward Harley's regiment. In Harley's absence during the campaigns of 1645, Pride was effectively commander of the regiment. He fought with distinction at Naseby, where his regiment was one of those that held firm against the Royalist advance, and at the storming of Bristol, where Pride's regiment was one of the first to scale the city walls.
During the political disturbances of 1647, Pride was one of the most militant of the officers who supported the soldiers' right to petition Parliament for redress of their grievances. His commanding officer Colonel Harley accused Pride of using threats to extract signatures for a petition circulating amongst the soldiers, and in April 1647 Pride was summoned to appear before Parliament to explain his conduct. He remained defiant and was active in organising the Vindication signed by 150 officers who continued to support the soldiers' right to petition Parliament. In July, Pride helped draft the articles of impeachment drawn up by the Army against the Presbyterian Eleven Members who were regarded as its leading enemies in Parliament. Colonel Harley, who had been elected recruiter MP for Herefordshire in November 1646, was one of the Eleven. When Harley withdrew from the Army out of loyalty to Parliament, Pride was promoted to colonel and took over command of the regiment.
In August 1647, the New Model Army marched into London in defiance of the Presbyterians. Pride's regiment was one of four vanguard regiments that occupied Southwark on 4 August. Five days later, several companies of the regiment escorted General Fairfax when he took possession of the Tower.
During the Second Civil War, Pride's regiment marched with Cromwell to the siege of Pembroke and the battle of Preston, where it played a significant role in the final defeat of the Scots at Winwick Pass. On his return to London, Pride was among the most vocal of the officers who demanded that King Charles I should be brought to account for provoking a second war. Under orders from Commissary-General Henry Ireton, Pride commanded the troops that ejected the Members of Parliament who continued to favour a negotiated settlement with the King, thus giving his name to Pride's Purge in December 1648. Appointed to the High Court of Justice, Pride sat as a judge at the King's Trial and was one of the 59 signatories of the death warrant.
In 1650, Pride commanded a brigade at the battle of Dunbar and fought at Worcester in 1651. With the ending of the civil wars, he resumed his mercantile interests and became involved in local politics in London. He was appointed High Sheriff of Surrey in 1655, and campaigned vigorously for reform of the law and the abolition of tithes. Despite his republican principles however, he was knighted by Cromwell in 1656 and nominated to the Upper House as Lord Pride in 1658, prompting accusations of hypocrisy from radicals. Amongst other land and property acquisitions, Pride had bought Henry VIII's old palace of Nonesuch during the Protectorate and was buried there when he died in October 1658, shortly after Richard Cromwell succeeded Oliver as Protector.
At the Restoration, Pride was posthumously attainted a traitor. Like the corpses of Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw, his body was to be exhumed and hanged in chains at Tyburn, though in Pride's case, the order was never carried out.
C.H. Firth & G. Davies, The Regimental History of Cromwell's Army vol. i (Oxford 1940)
Ian J. Gentles, Thomas Pride, Oxford DNB, 2004