Fleetwood, Charles (DNB00)
|←Fleet, John||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 19
|Fleetwood, George (fl.1650?)→|
FLEETWOOD, CHARLES (d. 1692), soldier, was the third son of Sir Miles Fleetwood of Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, and of Anne, daughter of Nicholas Luke of Woodend, Bedfordshire (pedigree communicated by W. S. Churchill, esq.). Sir Miles Fleetwood was receiver of the court of wards, and died in 1641. His eldest son, Sir William (b. 1603), who succeeded to his father's estates and office, took the side of the king, and died in 1674. George [q. v.], the second son, sought his fortune in the service of Sweden, and is noticed below. Charles, who appears to have been much younger than his brothers, was left by his father an annuity of 60l., chargeable on the estate of Sir William Fleetwood (Royalist Composition Papers, 2nd ser. xxiii. 165). He was admitted a member of Gray's Inn 30 Nov. 1638 (Harleian MS. 1912). In 1642 he and other young gentlemen of the Inns of Court entered the life-guard of the Earl of Essex (Ludlow, ed. 1751, p. 17). Though a simple trooper Fleetwood was in September 1642 employed by Essex to bear a letter to the Earl of Dorset, containing overtures of peace to the king, but was dismissed without an answer (Clarendon, ed. Macray, ii. 340). He was wounded at the first battle of Newbury, by which time he had risen to the rank of captain (Bibliotheca Gloucestrensis, p. 244). In May 1644 parliament rewarded him with the receivership of the court of wards, forfeited by his brother (Whitelocke, i. 256, ed. 1853). In the same year he was in command of a regiment in the Earl of Manchester's army, and already notorious as a favourer of sectaries. ‘Look at Colonel Fleetwood's regiment,’ writes a presbyterian; ‘what a cluster of preaching officers and troopers there is!’ (Manchester's Quarrel with Cromwell, p. 72). His support of preaching officers involved him in a quarrel with Sir Samuel Luke (Ellis, Original Letters, 3rd ser. iv. 260–6). Fleetwood commanded a regiment of horse in the new model, fought at Naseby, and assisted in the defeat of Sir Jacob Astley at Stow-on-the-Wold (Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, pp. 67, 107, 174; Rushworth, vi. 140). In May 1646 Fleetwood entered the House of Commons as member for Marlborough (Return of Members of Parliament, i. 496). In the quarrel between the army and the parliament in the summer of 1647 he played an important part. His regiment was one of those which unanimously refused to take service in Ireland; he himself was one of the four military commissioners sent to explain the votes of parliament to the army (30 April 1647), and also one of the officers appointed by the army to treat with the commissioners of parliament (1 July 1647) (Rushworth, vi. 468, 475, 603). According to the statements of Lilburn and Holles he was deeply engaged in the plot for seizing the king at Holmby (Lilburn, An Impeachment of High Treason against Oliver Cromwell, 1649, p. 55; Maseres, Tracts, i. 246). Fleetwood does not appear to have been actively employed in the second civil war, and took no part in the king's trial. He was appointed on 14 Aug. 1649 governor of the Isle of Wight, in conjunction with Colonel Sydenham (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649–50, p. 277). In the summer of 1650 he accompanied Cromwell to Scotland, and, as lieutenant-general of the horse, helped to gain the battle of Dunbar. During his absence Fleetwood was elected a member of the third council of state (17 Feb. 1651), and was recalled from Scotland and charged with the command of the forces retained in England (ib. 1651, pp. 44, 103). This position gave him the command of the forces collected to oppose Charles II's march into England. He met Cromwell on 24 Aug. at Warwick to concert measures with him, gathered at Banbury the militia of about twenty counties, and crossing the Severn established himself at Upton, on the south-west of Worcester (29 Aug.) From this point Fleetwood commenced the battle of 3 Sept., forcing his way across the Teme, and driving the royalists into Worcester (Old Parliamentary History, xx. 25, 33, 41, 60). His services were acknowledged by the thanks of the House of Commons, and his re-election to the council of state. In the following year Fleetwood's importance was further increased by his appointment as commander-in-chief in Ireland and his marriage with Cromwell's daughter. A few weeks after the battle of Worcester Fleetwood had lost his wife, Frances, daughter of Thomas Smith of Winston, Norfolk, who was buried at St. Anne's, Blackfriars, 24 Nov. 1651 (Notes and Queries, iv. 3, 156). Two days later died Henry Ireton, the husband of Cromwell's eldest daughter, Bridget, and before the end of 1652 the widow became Fleetwood's second wife (Carlyle, Cromwell, Letter clxxxix.). The marriage was attributed at the time to Mrs. Ireton's desire to regain the position she had lost; but this is hardly consistent with the account of her character given by the writer who tells the story (Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson, ii. 189, 202, ed. 1885). Fleetwood's appointment to the command of the Irish army was due to Lambert's refusal to hold the post except with the rank of lord deputy, which office parliament had resolved to abolish. Accordingly the council of state nominated Fleetwood (8 July 1652), parliament approved, and Cromwell, as captain-general of the forces of the Commonwealth, granted him a commission as commander-in-chief in Ireland, 10 July 1652 (Thurloe, i. 212). He was also made one of the commissioners for the civil government of that country (Instructions 24 Aug. 1652, Old Parliamentary History, xx. 92).
Fleetwood remained in Ireland from September 1652 to September 1655. On 27 Aug. 1654, or earlier, he was given the higher rank of lord deputy, and continued to hold that title until superseded by Henry Cromwell in November 1657 (14th Report of the Deputy-Keeper of Irish Records, p. 28; Mercurius Politicus, 3780). The chief work of Fleetwood's government was the transplantation of the condemned Irish landholders to Connaught, and he was also able to begin the settlement of the disbanded soldiers on the confiscated estates (Prendergast, Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, ed. 1875, pp. 228, 267). Fleetwood was personally a warm supporter of the policy of transplantation, and eager to punish Vincent Gookin [q. v.] for his book against it (Thurloe, iii. 139). A bitter persecutor of catholic priests, he showed himself ever ready to protect and favour the anabaptists and extreme sectaries among the soldiers, and was accordingly disliked by the presbyterians. This was probably one of the causes of his recall to England (Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, i. 74). The sectarian party and the army in general petitioned for his return (Thurloe, iv. 276, 421). Fleetwood approved and furthered the foundation of the protectorate. According to Ludlow he procured the proclamation of the Protector by a trick, and took care that all the Irish members in the parliament of 1654 should be staunch friends of the government (Memoirs, pp. 184, 189, ed. 1751). But according to Colonel Hewson it was Fleetwood's ‘sweet healing peaceable spirit’ which drew over the hearts of the scrupulous, and convinced them that ‘the interest of God's people’ could only be secure by Cromwell's rule (Thurloe, iv. 276). But he was always ready to intervene on behalf of old companions in arms who were dissatisfied with the new government. He interceded for Colonel Alured, Colonel Rich, and Adjutant-general Allen, proceeded against Ludlow with great reluctance, and strove hard to win him over (ib. ii. 728, iii. 246, vi. 251; Ludlow, pp. 205, 210). Fleetwood was also in complete agreement with Cromwell in the various breaches which took place between him and his parliaments. On the dissolution of the first (January 1655) he wrote to Thurloe, declaring that freedom for tender consciences, and the limitation of the powers and duration of parliament were the two essentials of any settlement (Thurloe, iii. 23, 112, 136). In December 1654 Fleetwood had been appointed one of Cromwell's council, and on his return to England (September 1655) he at once assumed a lead ing place in the Protector's court (ib. iv. 406). He was appointed also one of the major-generals, having under his charge the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Oxford, Cambridge, Huntingdon, and Buckingham, but seems usually to have exercised his functions through a deputy. Fleetwood approved of the exclusion of those who refused to sign a recognition of the protectorate from the parliament of 1656, and though he opposed the proposal to make Cromwell king accepted willingly the rest of the articles of the petition and advice (Ludlow, pp. 222, 225; Thurloe, vi. 219, 244, 281, 310). He took his seat in the new House of Lords, believing that the revised constitution would secure the desired settlement, and was deeply disappointed at the breach which followed (Thurloe, vi. 752, 840). He advocated the speedy summons of another parliament, and was one of the committee of nine appointed to consider the necessary measures (ib. vii. 192). In foreign as well as domestic policy Fleetwood, moved by his strong religious sympathies, was in complete accord with Cromwell. He was inclined to believe that the latter was ‘particularly raised up’ to be a shelter to poor persecuted protestants in foreign parts, and held ‘the cause of the protestant interest against the common enemy’ to be the supreme interest of England (ib. iii. 468, vii. 190). So for public, as well as for personal, reasons Fleetwood watched with anxiety Cromwell's last illness, and lamented his death. ‘There is none,’ he wrote, ‘but are deeply concerned in this that have a true love to this blessed cause.’ ‘His heart was full of love to the interest of the Lord's people, and made everything else bow down unto it’ (ib. vii. 355, 375). Fleetwood's position as head of the army and this thorough agreement with Cromwell's views lend some plausibility to the story that Cromwell once designed Fleetwood to succeed him. It is stated that the Protector some time before his death nominated Fleetwood in writing as his successor; but that the document was lost or destroyed (Baker, Chronicle, ed. Phillips, 1670, p. 653; Bates, Elenchus, ed. 1685, pt. ii. pp. 236, 242). If a protector were to be chosen other than one of Cromwell's sons, no one had stronger claims than Fleetwood. He was the officer highest in rank in the armies of the three kingdoms. The military services of Lambert and Harrison might have made them dangerous rivals, but both had been distinguished by their opposition to the existing government, and neither was at present a member of the army. Fleetwood's connection with the Cromwell family furnished a guarantee to the adherents of Cromwell, and he was at the same time trusted by the extreme sectaries. These reasons induced the discontented officers to put him forward as their leader in the attempt to render the army independent of the civil power. Fleetwood took part in the elevation of Richard Cromwell, presented the address in which the army declared their resolution to support him, and wrote to Henry Cromwell expressing his joy at his brother's peaceable accession (Thurloe, vii. 405). The first movement came from the superior officers of the army, who early in October 1659 met and drew up an address demanding that a general should be appointed, and that in future no officer should be cashiered without a council of war. The Protector refused these demands, pointing out that he had already made Fleetwood lieutenant-general of all the army, and so by consequence commander-in-chief under himself (ib. vii. 436, 449, 452). Fleetwood was suspected of instigating these petitions, and the responsibility which he incurred by permitting them was clearly pointed out to him by Henry Cromwell. He endeavoured to vindicate himself, and based his defence on the necessity of preserving ‘the honest interest’ in the army (ib. pp. 454, 500).
In February 1659 the officers assembled again, and entered into communication with the republican party in the House of Commons. They intended to present a petition, but their own dissensions and Fleetwood's reluctance to press matters to extremity prevented the plan from being carried out (Guizot, Richard Cromwell, i. 304–6; Clarendon Papers, iii. 430, 432; Thurloe, vii. 612–18). The attacks of parliament upon the soldiers who had been Cromwell's instruments led to a fresh meeting in April, ending in the presentation of ‘the Humble Representation of 6 April, which insisted in strong terms on the danger of the good old cause’ from the intrigues of the cavaliers. The Protector, backed by parliament, ordered these meetings of officers to be brought to an end, but Fleetwood now placed himself at the head of the movement, refused to obey the Protector's orders, and by a military demonstration forced him to dissolve parliament (22 April 1659).
In thus acting Fleetwood's conduct was dictated, not by hostility to the Protector, but by hostility to his parliament. Immediately after the dissolution he had a long interview with Richard Cromwell, and made him large promises of support (Guizot, i. 372; Baker, Chronicle, p. 660). Fleetwood, Desborough, and most of the Wallingford House party were anxious to patch up an agreement with the Protector, while the subordinate officers were eager for a common- wealth, and for the revival of the Long parliament. They lost their influence with the officers, ‘being looked upon as self-seekers in that they are for a protector now they have got a protector of wax whom they can mould as they please, and lay aside when they can agree upon a successor’ (Thurloe, vii. 666; Baker, p. 660). They were therefore obliged to yield, and to recall the expelled members of the Long parliament (6 May 1659). At the same time Lambert's [see Lambert, John] re-admission to the army still further diminished Fleetwood's influence. Nominally his authority was much increased by this revolution. He was appointed a member of the committee of safety (7 May), one of the council of state (13 May), and one of the seven commissioners for the reorganisation of the army (Ludlow, pp. 248–51). The twelfth article of the army address of 13 May demanded that Fleetwood should be made commander-in-chief, and an act was passed for that purpose. He received his commission on 9 June 1659 (Thurloe, vii. 679). But his powers were to last ‘only during the continuance of parliament, or till parliament should take further order,’ and all commissions were to be signed by the speaker (Baker, p. 669; Ludlow, pp. 251–3). On the suppression of Sir George Booth's rising [see Booth, Lambert, (1622–1684)], Lambert's brigade petitioned that these restrictions should be removed, Fleetwood's commission be made permanent, and other general officers be appointed (Baker, p. 677). These demands were backed by a second petition signed by most of the officers of the English army (Old Parliamentary History, xxi. 460). Parliament answered by cashiering nine leading officers, and by voting Fleetwood's commission to be void, and vesting the chief command in seven commissioners, of whom he was to be one (11 Oct.). Fleetwood seems at first to have attempted to mediate. His wife told Ludlow ‘that her husband had been always unwilling to do anything in opposition to the parliament, that he was utterly ignorant of the contrivance of the officers at Derby to petition the parliament in so insolent a manner, and had not any part in their proceedings upon it afterwards’ (Memoirs, p. 295). Ludlow also says that Fleetwood was in the House of Commons when the vote of 11 Oct. was passed, and promised to submit to it (ib. p. 275). In the violent expulsion of parliament on 12 Oct. Lambert played the principal part. Fleetwood assisted but kept in the background. As before, when events came to a crisis he sided with the army. He was now again declared commander-in-chief (18 Oct.), but he was in reality little more than president of the council of officers. While Lambert went north to meet Monck, he stayed in London to maintain order in the city and union in the army. He made every effort, publicly and privately, to come to an agreement with Monck, and signed a treaty with his commissioners on 15 Nov. 1659, which Monck refused to ratify (Baker, pp. 685–95). In a speech to the common council, Fleetwood endeavoured to vindicate the conduct of the army. ‘I dare say our design is God's glory. We have gone in untrodden paths, but God hath led us into ways which, if we know our own hearts, we have no base or unworthy designs in. We have no design to rule over others’ (Three Speeches made to the Lord Mayor, &c., by the Lord Whitelocke, the Lord Fleetwood, and the Lord Desborough, 8 Nov. 1659). With the same object and with equally little success Fleetwood engaged in epistolary controversy with Haslerig (The True Copy of Several Letters from Portsmouth, 1659). There is also printed a reply to Colonel Morley's remonstrance (Thurloe, vii. 771), entitled ‘The Lord-General Fleetwood's Answer to Colonel Morley, and some other late Officers of the Army,’ 8 Nov. 1659, but this is denounced as ‘a mere fiction’ (Mercurius Politicus, 10–17 Nov. 1659). Defections increased rapidly, and in December it was simply a question with whom to make terms. Fleetwood was generally suspected of a desire to restore Richard Cromwell, and his acts were jealously watched by Vane's party (Ludlow, p. 288). Ludlow urged him to recall the Rump (ib. p. 295). Royalist agents had for some time been soliciting him on behalf of the king, and he was now vigorously pressed by his brother, Sir William Fleetwood, and by Bulstrode Whitelocke to enter into negotiations with Charles, and to declare for a free parliament (Whitelocke, iv. 381, ed. 1853). If he did not seize the opportunity and make terms with the king, Monck would bring him back without terms. Fleetwood was on the point of agreeing with the city for this object, but he was held back by a promise to take no step of the kind without consulting Lambert, and by the opposition of the inferior officers (Clarendon State Papers, iii. 633). ‘He replied to the assistance and conjunction offered by the city, that God had spit in his face, and he was to submit to the late dissolved body of members of parliament’ (ib. pp. 633, 647; Baker, p. 698). The soldiers declared for the restoration of the Rump (24 Dec.), which immediately deprived Fleetwood of his post of commander-in-chief (26 Dec.). His regiment of horse was given to Sir A. Cooper. Fleetwood was included in the vote of in- demnity which was immediately passed (2 Jan.), but was summoned (24 Jan.) to appear before parliament on 31 Jan. 1660 to answer for his conduct. Pepys was told on 31 Jan. that Fleetwood had written a letter ‘and desired a little more time, he being a great way out of town. And how that he is quite ashamed of himself, and confesses how he had deserved this for his baseness to his brother. And that he is like to pay part of the money paid out of the exchequer during the committee of safety out of his own purse again’ (Diary, 31 Jan. 1660). The day fixed for his appearance was several times adjourned, and he does not appear to have been actually punished.
Fleetwood's escape at the Restoration was due to the fact that he had taken no part in the king's trial, and was not regarded as politically dangerous. The commons excepted twenty persons not regicides from the act of indemnity for penalties not extending to life, and among these was Fleetwood (18 June 1660) (Old Parliamentary History, xxii. 351). When the act came before the lords the Earl of Lichfield exerted himself on behalf of Fleetwood, and, thanks to his influence and that of other friends, Fleetwood was ultimately included in the list of eighteen persons whose sole punishment was perpetual incapacitation from all offices of trust (Ludlow, Memoirs, p. 354; Act of Indemnity, 29 Aug. 1660). The rest of his life was therefore passed in obscurity. Shortly after the Restoration occurred the death of Bridget Fleetwood, who was buried at St. Anne's, Blackfriars, 1 July 1662 (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 156). Eighteen months later, 14 Jan. 1663–4, Fleetwood married Dame Mary Hartopp, daughter of Sir John Coke of Melbourne, Derbyshire, and widow of Sir Edward Hartopp, bart. (ib. 4th ser. ii. 600). From the date of his third marriage he resided at Stoke Newington, in a house belonging to his wife, which was afterwards known as Fleetwood House. This house was demolished in 1872 (ib. 4th ser. ix. 296, 364, 435, 496). During this period he was a member of the congregation of Dr. John Owen, two of whose letters to him are printed by Orme (Life of Owen, pp. 368, 516). Fleetwood's third wife died on 17 Dec. 1684, Fleetwood himself on 4 Oct. 1692; both were buried in Bunhill Fields cemetery. His will, dated 10 Jan. 1689–90, is printed in ‘Notes and Queries’ (4th ser. ix. 362), and also by Waylen (House of Cromwell, p. 69). In 1869, when the cemetery was reopened as a public garden, Fleetwood's monument, which had been discovered seven feet below the surface of the ground, was restored at the expense of the corporation of London. An engraving of it was given in the ‘Illustrated London News’ of 23 Oct. 1869.
Fleetwood left issue by two of his wives, but his descendants in the male line became extinct about the middle of the eighteenth century. By his first wife, Frances Smith, he had (1) Smith Fleetwood (1644–1709), who married Mary, daughter of Sir Edward Hartopp, their descendants became extinct in 1764 (Noble, ii. 367); (2) Elizabeth, married Sir John Hartopp, third baronet, from whom the existing Cradock-Hartopp family is descended (ib. ii. 367; Foster, Baronetage, ed. 1883). By Bridget Cromwell, Fleetwood was the father of (1) Cromwell Fleetwood, born about 1653, married in 1679 Elizabeth Nevill of Little Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire (Chester, Marriage Licenses, ed. Foster, p. 491); administration of his goods was granted in September 1688; he seems to have died without issue. (2) Anne Fleetwood, buried in Westminster Abbey, and exhumed at the Restoration (Chester, Westminster Abbey Registers, p. 522); (3) Mary, who married Nathaniel Carter (21 Feb. 1678), and other children, most of whom died young, and none of whom left issue (Waylen, p. 88; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vi. 390).[Pedigree of the Fleetwood family, drawn up by J. P. Earwaker, esq., and communicated by W. S. Churchill, esq.; articles by Colonel Chester in Notes and Queries; Noble's House of Cromwell, 1787; Waylen's House of Cromwell, 1880; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Thurloe Papers; Carlyle's Cromwell's Letters and Speeches.]