William Cawley, 1602-67

Sussex republican and regicide who fled abroad at the Restoration and died in exile.

The eldest son of John Cawley, a wealthy brewer and mayor of Chichester in Sussex, William Cawley was educated at Oxford and Gray's Inn. After sitting as MP for Chichester in 1628, Cawley refused to pay his assessments for ship money in 1635 and 1636. He was elected MP for Midhurst in Sussex in the Long Parliament and led the Parliamentarians of Chichester in declaring for Parliament in August 1642. Despite accusations of financial corruption, Cawley emerged as an influential member of the Sussex county committee during the First Civil War. He was particularly noted for his zeal in seizing and selling the property of Royalist delinquents in the county.

In 1649, Cawley was appointed to the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles. He attended every meeting of the court and signed the King's death warrant. During the Commonwealth, he became very active on parliamentary committees and was zealous in buying up the estates of former Royalists. Politically, he was associated with the republicans Thomas Scot and Henry Marten, but he opposed the extreme religious sects. He served on the Council of State in 1651 and 1652.

With the establishment of the Protectorate, Cawley's political activity declined and he concentrated on property speculation. He fled abroad at the Restoration in 1660 and finally joined Edmund Ludlow at Vevey in Switzerland, where he died in January 1667.


J. T. Peacey, William Cawley, Oxford DNB, 2004

Charles Thomas-Stanford, Sussex in the Great Civil War and the Interregnum (London 1910)