Sir Hardress Waller, c.1604-66

New Model Army officer with interests in Ireland; he was imprisoned for life at the Restoration for his role in the regicide.

Hardress Waller was the son of George Waller of Groombridge in Kent, and Mary, daughter of Richard Hardress. He was knighted by King Charles I in 1629 and married Elizabeth Dowdall, the daughter of an "Old English" landowner in Ireland. Through his marriage, Waller acquired a large estate at Castletown in County Limerick.

During the 1630s, Waller supported Old English interests in Ireland against the administration of Sir Thomas Wentworth and opposed further English colonisation in the west of Ireland. After the Irish Uprising of 1641, however, Waller turned against the Old English and campaigned against the Confederates in Munster as an ally of Lord Inchiquin.

In September 1642, Waller went to England to support Inchiquin's claim to the presidency of Munster. He remained at the King's court in Oxford for a year, but left in disgrace after criticising plans for the Cessation of 1643. Waller deputised as governor of Munster in January 1644 while Inchiquin himself went to lobby the King. On Inchiquin's return to Ireland, he sent Waller back once again, but the King finally appointed the Earl of Portland governor of Munster. This prompted Inchiquin and the Munster Protestants to declare for Parliament in July 1644, while Waller went to London and joined the New Model Army.

Waller was commissioned colonel of a regiment of foot and fought at Naseby in June 1645. In October he was wounded leading his regiment in the storming of Basing House. While serving in the New Model, Waller became inspired by admiration for Oliver Cromwell and zeal for the Independent cause, which led to a split with Lord Inchiquin when Waller briefly returned to Ireland with Viscount Lisle in February 1647.

Waller was deeply involved in the political struggle between the Army and Parliament during 1647, He took part in the Putney Debates and argued that the Army should not hesitate to use force to coerce the Presbyterians in Parliament. On the outbreak of the Second Civil War early in 1648, Waller was sent into Devon and Cornwall to subdue Royalist insurgents.

In December 1648, Waller accompanied Colonel Pride at the purging of Parliament and was appointed one of King's judges in January 1649. Waller was a signatory of the King's death warrant and helped arrange his execution.

In 1650, Waller returned to Ireland as a major-general in Cromwell's invasion force. When Cromwell returned to England in May 1650, Waller stayed in Ireland and assisted Ireton and Ludlow in completing the subjugation. He captured Carlow Castle in July 1650 and played a major role in the siege of Limerick in 1651, after which he was appointed governor of Limerick. Waller was involved in the settlement of Ireland and remained loyal to Cromwell throughout the 1650s. He supported the establishment of the Protectorate against opposition from fellow officers, and came over to the republicans after Richard Cromwell's resignation in 1659.

Waller opposed General Lambert's military coup against Parliament in October 1659 and led the officers who seized Dublin Castle in Parliament's name in December. Early in 1660, however, he became alarmed at moves to reinstate the MPs he had helped to expel during Pride's Purge. Waller seized Dublin Castle again on 15 February 1660 but, finding little support, he was obliged to surrender to Sir Charles Coote three days later. He was imprisoned at Athlone, then returned to England on the intervention of his cousin Sir William Waller.

Waller fled to France at the Restoration in May 1660, then decided to surrender himself in the hope of benefiting from the lenient treatment offered to repentant regicides. Though he was condemned to death, his cousin Sir William Waller interceded for him, and the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on Jersey, where he died in 1666.


Patrick Little, Sir Hardress Waller , Oxford DNB, 2004