Thomas Horton, 1603-49

New Model Army officer and regicide, he defeated a Royalist insurgency in south Wales and died on Cromwell's Irish campaign.

The second son of William Horton and his wife Isabell of Gumley in Leicestershire, Horton owned lands in Leicestershire and was a client of Sir Arthur Hesilrige. On the outbreak of civil war, he joined the Parliamentarian army as cornet in Hesilrige's regiment of cuirassiers, which was part of Sir William Waller's army throughout 1643-4. Horton was its major when the regiment transferred to the New Model Army in 1645 as Colonel Butler's regiment of horse. He fought on the Parliamentarian left flank at the battle of Naseby in June 1645, and was badly wounded in the rout that followed Prince Rupert's devastating charge.

Horton supported the Army radicals during the political quarrel with the Presbyterians in Parliament (1647), and replaced Butler as colonel of the regiment in June 1647. The following month, he was sent to secure ports and garrisons in south Wales against the threat of a Royalist insurrection. After Colonel Poyer declared for the King at Pembroke in March 1648, Horton was reinforced by a detachment of New Model infantry and Colonel Okey's regiment of dragoons. On 8 May 1648, Horton routed Rowland Laugharne's Royalist insurgents at the battle of St Fagan's. He then marched to besiege Colonel Rhys Powell at Tenby Castle, where he was joined by Cromwell on 15 May. Horton continued the siege while Cromwell marched on to Pembroke, and Powell surrendered to Horton on 31 May.

In January 1649, Horton was one of the Army officers appointed to sit as judges at the trial of King Charles I. He attended every session of the trial and signed the King's death warrant.

Horton's regiment was selected for service on Cromwell's Irish campaign in April 1649. Soon after landing at Dublin in August, Horton died of the fever that swept through the Commonwealth army. In his will, he left to Major-General Ireton his horse called "Hesilrige".


Barry Denton, Thomas Horton, Oxford DNB, 2004