Sir Henry Mildmay, c.1593-1664

A prominent courtier who supported Parliament through religious principles and was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the regicide.

A client of the Duke of Buckingham, Henry Mildmay was knighted by King James I in 1617 and held several offices at court, including master of the jewel house. His marriage to Ann Halliday in 1619 brought a substantial dowry, enabling him to establish a grand estate at Wanstead in Essex. After Charles I succeeded to the throne, Mildmay was elected to the parliaments of 1625-8 for Maldon in Essex, during which he became increasingly hostile to Buckingham and critical of the King's religious policies. In 1640, he was again elected for Maldon in both the Short and Long Parliaments. Despite his position as a prominent courtier, Mildmay's Puritan religious principles led him to support Parliament during the civil wars.

In 1649, Mildmay was nominated a commissioner on the High Court of Justice. Although he was later listed as a regicide, his attendance at the King's trial was sporadic and he refused to sign the death warrant. During the Commonwealth, he was active on various parliamentary committees, was a member of the Council of State, and assisted Thomas Scot in establishing the Commonwealth's spying and intelligence network. He withdrew from public life with the establishment of Cromwell's Protectorate in 1653.

Mildmay attempted to escape abroad at the Restoration, but was arrested at Rye in Sussex in May 1660 and brought to trial for his part in the regicide. His plea that he had attended the High Court of Justice in the hope of saving the King's life was rejected. He was stripped of his knighthood and his estates, and sentenced to imprisonment for life. In March 1664, he was ordered to be transported to Tangier, but died before the order could be carried out.


J. T. Peacey, Henry Mildmay, Oxford DNB, 2004