Edward Whalley, d.c.1674

Army officer and loyal Cromwellian, he signed the King's death warrant and fled to New England at the Restoration.

Edward Whalley was the second son of Richard Whalley, a landowner and former sheriff of Nottingham. By 1643, Whalley was a major in his cousin Oliver Cromwell's regiment of Ironsides, fighting with distinction at Gainsborough. In 1644, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and fought at Marston Moor. On the formation of the New Model Army in 1645, Whalley took command of one of the two cavalry regiments formed from the Ironsides. He fought at Naseby, at the sieges of Bristol and Oxford, and commanded the Parliamentarian forces at the siege of Banbury, which surrendered to him in May 1646. Whalley then commanded the forces besieging Worcester, but was replaced by Colonel Rainsborough before the siege had ended.

Whalley's regiment contained a high proportion of political and religious radicals, and became prominent in the Army's political involvement during 1647. Whalley himself requested that the rank-and-file soldiers be given more time to present their grievances when he spoke at the meeting of the Army Council at Saffron Walden in May 1647. When the Army secured King Charles, Whalley's regiment was given the responsibility of guarding him during his imprisonment at Hampton Court, but unfortunately the King escaped. Parliament ordered Whalley to present and sign a written account of what had happened, and he was exonerated of any blame.

During the Second Civil War (1648), Whalley was with Fairfax on his campaign in Kent, then commanded the force of cavalry that pursued the Earl of Norwich into Essex, where he took part in the siege of Colchester. Appointed one of the King's judges in January 1649, Whalley regularly attended the High Court of Justice and did not hesitate to sign the King's death warrant. His regiment was involved in the Leveller mutinies of April and May 1649, refusing orders to march from Bishopsgate until faced down by Fairfax and Cromwell in person. Although he was sympathetic to the Levellers, Whalley remained loyal to the Grandees. Promoted to commissary-general in 1650, he went on Cromwell's Scottish campaign and fought at Dunbar (September 1650), where he was wounded, and at Worcester (September 1651).

During the early 1650s, Whalley purchased former Crown and Royalist lands, and was granted estates in Scotland by Parliament. He remained loyal to Cromwell during the establishment of the Protectorate, and in 1655 was appointed military governor of the Midlands during the Rule of the Major-Generals. He was zealous in his efforts to promote moral reform in his region, but also made attempts at reconciliation with the local gentry. Whalley took an interest in issues of social justice, attempting to introduce a bill into Parliament in December 1656 to prevent further enclosures, which were the cause of unemployment and depopulation in rural areas.

Named to Cromwell's Upper House in 1657, Whalley supported Richard Cromwell as Oliver's successor, but when the Rump Parliament was returned in 1659, he was relieved of his commands. In November 1659, Whalley went to Scotland as part of a delegation that attempted to reconcile Monck with the second dissolution of the Rump Parliament carried out by Lambert. The attempt failed, and Monck marched on London to restore Parliament and ultimately to instigate the Restoration.

As a regicide, Whalley was excluded from the Act of Indemnity. He fled to New England with his son-in-law and fellow regicide William Goffe. They arrived at Boston in July 1660, then moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where, according to tradition, they lived in a cave in the woods for three years while Royalist agents hunted for them. In 1664, Whalley and Goffe moved to Hadley, Massachusetts, and were protected by sympathetic colonists. Whalley probably died at Hadley around 1674.


Christopher Durston, Edward Whalley, Oxford DNB, 2004

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