William Strode, 1598-1645

Imprisoned for eleven years because of his opposition to King Charles' policies, he became one of the most uncompromising anti-Royalist Parliamentarians.

Son of an ancient Devonshire family, William Strode studied at the Inner Temple and Exeter College, Oxford (1614-9). In 1624, he entered Parliament as MP for Bere Alston, Devon, which he represented in all succeeding parliaments until his death. Strode was a member of the opposition to King Charles, supporting Sir John Eliot's criticism of the Duke of Buckingham and playing a leading role in the disorderly scenes of 2 March 1629 when Denzil Holles held the Speaker in his chair to prevent the adjournment of Parliament. Refusing to give a bond for his good behaviour, Strode was sentenced to imprisonment during the King's pleasure, and was held in various prisons for the next eleven years.

Strode was finally released in January 1640. He was elected to the Short Parliament of April 1640 and the Long Parliament in November. Embittered by his long imprisonment, Strode was the first to propose that Parliament should control the militia and the appointment of the King's ministers. He was zealous in supporting the Grand Remonstrance and aggressive in pursuing the prosecution of Lord Strafford, even proposing that anyone who appeared as Strafford's counsel should also be charged with treason. As a result of his vehement opposition, Strode was one of the Five Members whom the King attempted to arrest in January 1642.

Opposing all suggestions of compromise with the King, Strode was one of the most militant of the "war party" in Parliament. He accompanied the Earl of Essex on the first campaign of the civil war. Strode was present at Edgehill in October 1642 and gave an account of the battle to the House of Commons. When Sir Ralph Hopton's troops plundered Strode's house in Devon, Parliament passed an ordinance compensating him out of Hopton's estate. Strode was relentless in advocating the prosecution and execution of Archbishop Laud in 1644.

Strode died in September 1645 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His body was exhumed after the Restoration and reburied in St Margaret's churchyard.


C.H. Firth, revised by L.J. Reeve, William Strode, Oxford DNB, 2004