William Heveningham, 1604-78

Wealthy Parliamentarian administrator and regicide who successfully petitioned for mercy at the Restoration.

William Heveningham was the eldest son of Sir John Heveningham of Ketteringham in Norfolk. After attending Pembroke College, Cambridge, he married Catherine (d. 1648), daughter of Sir Henry Wallop MP, an extremely wealthy and influential resident of Hampshire and Wiltshire. His second marriage (1650) was to Mary Carey, daughter of the Earl of Dover. Heveningham inherited substantial properties on his father's death in 1633. He was elected MP for Stockbridge in Hampshire in the Short Parliament and again in the Long Parliament (1640)

Heveningham was active in the administration of East Anglia during the civil wars and advanced money for the support of the parliamentarian garrison at Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. Although he was an elder of the Presbyterian classis of Dunwich in Suffolk, Heveningham was associated with the Independent faction in Parliament. His support for the Army during 1648 was motivated by the desire to avoid the risk of a military coup and thus to keep power in the hands of civilian Parliamentarians.

In January 1649 Heveningham was appointed a commissioner of the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles. He attended every session of the trial but refused to sign the King's death warrant. However, he was one of the first MPs to certify his approval of the regicide, as required by Parliament, in February 1649.

Heveningham was a member of the Council of State in 1649 and 1650 but his parliamentary activity steadily declined during the Commonwealth and Protectorate. He built a substantial fortune through buying up properties confiscated from the Church and from Royalists, and he also speculated in buying army debentures.

Heveningham was probably the first of the regicides to surrender to the authorities at the Restoration in 1660. He was brought to trial in October 1660, found guilty of treason for his part in the King's trial and sentenced to death. He successfully petitioned for mercy, claiming that he had tried to prevent the King's execution, had opposed Cromwell's tyranny and had contributed £500 to Booth's Uprising in 1659. He was imprisoned at Windsor Castle, where he remained until his death in 1678.


Daniel Webster Hollis, William Heveningham, Oxford DNB, 2004

Blair Worden, The Rump Parliament (Cambridge 1974)