Penruddock, John (DNB00)
|←Penrose, Thomas||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 44
PENRUDDOCK, JOHN (1619–1655), royalist, born in 1619, was the eldest son of Sir John Penruddock, knight, of Compton-Chamberlayne, Wiltshire. He was educated at Blandford School, matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, on 20 Jan. 1636, and became a student of Gray's Inn in 1636 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.; Gray's Inn Register, p. 211). In 1639 he married Arundel, daughter of John Freke of Ewerne's Courtenay and Melcombe, Dorset. Sir John Penruddock was high sheriff of Wiltshire by the king's appointment in 1643–4, and his sons fought on the royalist side throughout the civil war (Black, Oxford Docquets, pp. 130, 222). Henry, the second son, was killed in 1643, and another son also lost his life in the king's service (Ludlow, Memoirs, ed. 1894, i. 83; Wiltshire Archæological Magazine, December 1853, p. 397). Sir John Penruddock was fined 890l. (afterwards reduced to 490l.), and his son 1,000l., while the debts of the latter—contracted during the six years' sequestration of his estate—amounted to 1,500l. (ib. xiii. 123; Cal. of Committee for Compounding, p. 1054). John Penruddock was nevertheless resolved to risk the loss of the remainder of his fortune in the king's cause, and took up arms in the abortive insurrection of March 1655. With about two hundred followers, commanded by himself and Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, he occupied Salisbury on 12 March 1655, seized the judges Rolle and Nicholas who were then on circuit, and proclaimed Charles II. Wagstaffe wished to hang the judges and the sheriff, but was prevented by Penruddock (Clarendon, Rebellion, xiv. 132). They then marched into Dorset, proclaimed Charles II at Blandford, and, not finding themselves joined by the country people as they expected, endeavoured to make their way into Cornwall, which was reported to be in arms for the king. At South Molton in North Devon they were surprised in their quarters on the night of 14 March by Captain Unton Croke of Colonel Berry's regiment, and Penruddock, with about sixty of his followers, was taken prisoner. The rest were scattered, but succeeded in escaping. The Protector issued a commission of oyer and terminer for the trial of the prisoners. At Exeter, where Penruddock was tried, Serjeant Glynne presided, and among the commissioners were also Justices Rolle and Nicholas and Serjeant Steele. Penruddock argued, first, that his offence was not legally high treason, and, secondly, that he had surrendered on articles promising him security for life and estate. But his plea was overruled, and Croke denied the engagement he was alleged to have made. Penruddock was condemned to death, and was beheaded at Exeter on 16 May 1655, in company with Colonel Hugh Grove. The night before his execution he addressed a pathetic letter to his wife, which is still preserved by his descendants at Compton-Chamberlayne, and has frequently been printed. The Protector, on the petition of the children, regranted them a portion of their father's estate (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656–7, pp. 201, 277). At the Restoration the widow petitioned for the monopoly of making glasses as a compensation for the sufferings of her family, but appears to have received nothing (ib. 1660–1, p. 387; cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 110). Two engravings of Penruddock by Vertue are mentioned by Bromley.
[A Pedigree of the family of Penruddock is given in Hoare's Modern Wilts, ‘Dunworth,’ p. 81; the original documents relating to Penruddock's rising are mostly printed in Thurloe Papers, vol. iii., and are collected, with additions from the newspapers of the period and from family manuscripts, by Mr. W. W. Ravenhill in the Wiltshire Archæological Magazine, vols. xiii., xiv., under the title of ‘Records of the Rising in the West, A.D. 1655;’ see also ‘Cromwell and the Insurrection of 1655’ in the English Historical Review for 1888–9, and State Trials, vol. v.]