Sir Henry Slingsby, 1602-58

Yorkshire Royalist of uncompromising loyalty, he was executed in 1658 for plotting against the Protectorate.

Portrait of Sir Henry SlingsbyHenry Slingsby was born in January 1602 at Scriven in Yorkshire, the second son of Sir Henry Slingsby and his wife Frances, daughter of William Vavasour of Weston. Slingsby's father served as sheriff of Yorkshire (1611-12) and as vice-president of the council of the north (1629-34) under Sir Thomas Wentworth. Slingsby became heir to the family estate when his brother died in 1617. He entered Queen's College, Cambridge, in January 1621 but left without taking a degree. In July 1631, he married Barbara Belasyse, daughter of the first Viscount Fauconberg, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. When his father died in 1634, Slingsby inherited land and property in Yorkshire, London, Middlesex and Essex. He was created a baronet in 1638.

Slingsby served in the Earl of Holland's cavalry troop during the First Bishops' War (1639) and participated in the abortive advance on Kelso. In 1640, he was elected MP for Knaresborough in the Short Parliament, during which he spoke in support of King's right to levy ship-money. In the subsequent Long Parliament, Slingsby was one of the fifty-nine members of the House of Commons that voted against the bill of attainder on the Earl of Strafford. Although he expressed his disapproval of the Laudian church reforms and supported proposals for the removal of bishops from the House of Lords, Slingsby opposed the bill for the abolition of Episcopacy.

Slingsby left London in May 1642 with his brother-in-law John Belasyse and joined King Charles at York. He received a commission as colonel of a regiment of the York trained bands but was not granted a regular commission until December when William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle, authorised him to raise a regiment of foot. Slingsby's regiment accompanied Newcastle when he went to receive Queen Henrietta Maria at Bridlington in February 1643, then became part of the York garrison. The city was besieged by allied Parliamentarian and Scottish forces during the summer of 1644 and surrendered two weeks after the disastrous Royalist defeat at Marston Moor. Under the articles of surrender, Slingsby marched out of York with the garrison regiments. In company with other northern Royalists, he fought his way through hostile territory to join the King at Oxford in December 1644.

As the elected MP for Knaresborough, Slingsby sat in the final session of the Oxford Parliament, which the King prorogued in March 1645. In May, Slingsby marched with the Oxford army in the campaign that culminated in the decisive Royalist defeat at Naseby. He remained with the King's army during its march to Chester and subsequent withdrawal to Newark, where his brother-in-law, now Lord Belasyse, was appointed governor. Slingsby remained with the Newark garrison until the King's final surrender to the Scots in May 1646, after which he retired to Redhouse in Yorkshire. Although most of his estates were sequestered by Parliament, Slingsby refused to take the Negative Oath and Covenant that were required before he could buy them back because it meant renouncing his allegiance to the King and to the Anglican church. However, the estates were purchased by his kinsmen Slingsby Bethell and Robert Stapleton, who held them in trust for Slingsby's children.

During Cromwell's Protectorate, Slingsby became involved in Royalist plots against the government. He lent £100 to one of the King's agents and is alleged to have delivered a letter from the King to Lady Fairfax, aimed at winning Sir Thomas Fairfax's support for the Royalist cause. In 1655, Slingsby was implicated in a projected Royalist uprising in Yorkshire, which was part of the national conspiracy that culminated in Penruddock's Uprising. He was arrested and imprisoned indefinitely in Hull on the orders of Major-General Robert Lilburne.

In December 1657, Slingsby tried to persuade some of the garrison officers to seize Hull as a potential landing-place for King Charles and an army from Flanders. The officers reported the plot to their superiors and were ordered to play along with Slingsby until he had fully incriminated himself. Slingsby was brought to trial before the High Court of Justice in May 1658 and found guilty of treason. His nephew Lord Fauconberg, who had recently married Cromwell's daughter, tried to intercede for his life, but Slingsby was beheaded on Tower Hill on 8 June 1658.


C.H. Firth: Sir Henry Slingsby, DNB, 1897

David Scott, Sir Henry Slingsby, Oxford DNB, 2004

The Diary of Sir Henry Slingsby Google Books


The Slingsby family website