Berry, James (DNB00)

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BERRY, JAMES (fl. 1655), one of Cromwell's major-generals, was about 1642 a clerk in some iron-works in Shropshire. Baxter speaks of him as 'my old bosom friend that had lived in my house and been dearest to me' (Baxter's Autobiography, pp. 57-97). Berry took service under Cromwell, and instigated the other officers of his troop to invite Baxter to become their chaplain. He was one of Cromwell's favourites. Acting as his captain-lieutenant, he slew Charles Cavendish at the battle of Gainsborough (28 July 1643. Carlyle's Cromwell, Appendix, v). In the course of the disputes between the army and parliament in 1647 Berry was active for the army, and was chosen president of the council of adjutators. He was selected by Cromwell to carry the despatch narrating the victory of Preston, and was rewarded by the house with 200l. (Journals of the House of Commons, 23 Aug. 1648). Baxter speaks mournfully of the change which under Cromwell's influence came over Berry's religious views. He became, he says, filled with spiritual pride, and was led away by 'the new light' to look down on puritans of the old type. Still he admits that Berry 'lived as honestly as could be expected in one that taketh error for truth and evil to be good' (p. 57). In the spring of 1655 Berry was employed in the suppression of an attempted rising in Nottinghamshire, and in the winter of the same year was appointed major-general of Hereford, Shropshire, and Wales (see Berry's Letters in Thurloe's State Papers, vols, iii., iv., v.) Cromwell nominated him a member of his House of Lords, and it is said that, unlike most of the army, he was in favour of the Protector's acceptance of the crown. On the death of Cromwell he took an active part in the councils of the party which overthrew Richard. This he later repented, and meeting Mr. Howe after the Restoration, 'he very freely told him, with tears running down his cheeks, that if Richard had but at that time hanged up him and nine or ten more, the nation might have been happy' (Life of Howe, p. 26). He signed the invitation of the army to the members of the Rump to return to their seats, and was appointed both a member of the council of state and one of the committee who nominated to all offices (May 1669). In the struggle between the army and the Rump he took part with the former, and was cashiered for signing the army petition of 6 Oct. He was naturally chosen one of the committee of safety established by the army (26 Oct. 1669), but could not prevent his own regiment, when sent to blockade Portsmouth, from deserting in large numbers to the partisans of the parliament. Whitelocke informs us that Berry was one of the persons whose influence prevented Fleetwood from accepting the proposal to recall Charles II and anticipate Monk (22 Dec. 1659. Whitelocke, p. 691). On the reassembling of the remains of the Long parliament he was ordered to leave London (10 Jan. 1660), and refusing to give an engagement to live peaceably was imprisoned by the council of state. 'Afterwards,' says Baxter, 'he being one of the four whom General Monk had the worst thoughts of, was closely confined in Scarborough Castle.' On his wife's petition in April 1663, the severity of his imprisonment was relaxed, but he seems to have continued a prisoner for the rest of his life. From a letter which he wrote to Sir Jordan Crossland, under whose charge he was, it appears that he was refused release without an acknowledgment of guilt, which he steadfastly refused to give (Cal. S. P. Dom. 25 Oct. 1667). But according to Baxter, 'being released he became a gardener, and lived in a safer state than in all his greatness.' He has been identified with Lieutenant-colonel Berry who was second in command at Newton Butler in 1689, and died 9 May 1691, but this is uncertain (Clephan's Remembrance of Rev. C. Berry, 1877).

[Baxter's Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, 57-8, 72, 97; Baxter's Treatise of Self-denial, pref.; Thurloe State Papers; Noble's House of Cromwell, i. 422.]

C. H. F.