Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Monson, William (d.1672?)

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MONSON, Sir WILLIAM, Viscount Monson of Castlemaine (d. 1672?), regicide, second son of Sir Thomas Monson [q. v.], by Margaret (d. 1630), daughter of Sir Edmund Anderson [q. v.], lord chief justice of common pleas, was raised to the peerage of Ireland as Viscount Monson of Castlemaine, co. Kerry, by letters patent dated 23 Aug. 1628 (Burke, Extinct Peerage, 1883, p. 371), and was knighted on 13 Aug. 1633 (Metcalfe, Book of Knights, p. 201). On the same day he became a member of Gray's Inn (Register, ed. Foster, p. 201). By his first marriage he acquired an estate at Reigate, Surrey (Brayley and Britton, Surrey, iv. 219-23), but owing to his dissolute habits he was soon in debt. He refused to pay ship-money (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1637-8, p. 198), and when elected M.P. for Reigate, 21 Oct. 1640, he opposed the court, and subsequently acted as a committee-man for Surrey.

On being nominated one of the king's judges, he attended on 20, 22, and 23 Jan. 1649, but refused to take part in the ultimate proceedings (Nalson, Trial of Charles I, ed. 1684). He was, however, placed by the parliament on the committee appointed to receive and take note of the dissent of any member from the vote of 5 Dec. 1648 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649-50, p. 1). On 19 July 1649 he tried to persuade the house into the belief that the sum of 4,500l. was owing him as arrears of the pension due to his late wife the Countess of Nottingham (Commons' Journals, vi. 264), but he lost his motion by two votes. The Long parliament, when restored in May 1659, was obliged, in order to form a quorum, to send for Monson and Henry Marten [q. v.] from the Fleet; prison, where they were both confined for debt (England's Confusion, 1659, p. 10).

At the Restoration he was excepted out of the bill of pardon as to pains and penalties, and upon surrendering himself on 21 June was recommitted to the Fleet. On 1 July 1661 he was brought up to the bar of the House of Commons, and, after being made to confess his crime, was degraded from all his honours and titles and deprived of his property. He was also sentenced to be drawn from the Tower through the city of London to Tyburn, and so back again, with a halter about his neck, and to be imprisoned for life (Commons' Journals, viii. 60, 70, 285-6). In petitioning the House of Lords on 25 July to remit what was most ignominious in his sentence, Monson declared that his design in sitting at the king's trial was, if possible, to prevent 'that horrid murder' (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. pp. ix, 150). The ignominious part of the sentence was duly carried out each year on the anniversary of the king's sentence (27 Jan. : Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1661-2, p. 225; Pepys, Diary, ed. Bright, i. 407, 528-9). Monson appears to have died in the Fleet prison about 1672. His estate at Reigate was granted to the Duke of York.

Monson married, first, Margaret (d. 1639), daughter of James Stewart, earl of Murray, and widow of Charles Howard, earl of Nottingham (1536-1624) [q. v.]; secondly, Frances, daughter of Thomas Alston of Polstead, Suffolk, by whom he left a son Alston (d. 1674 without issue); and thirdly, Elizabeth (d. 1695), second daughter of Sir George Reresby, knt., of Thrybergh, Yorkshire, widow of Sir Francis Foljambe, bart., of Aldwark in the same county, and of Edward, younger son of Sir John Horner of Mells, Somerset. By his last wife (who married, fourthly, Adam, eldest son of Sir Henry Felton, bart., of Playford, Suffolk) he had an only daughter, Elizabeth, married, first, to Sir Philip Hungate, bart., of Saxton, Yorkshire; and, secondly, to Lewis Smith of Wotton, Warwickshire (Nichols, 'Collectanea, ii. 82). At the intercession of her nephew, Sir John Reresby, Lady Monson was restored to her title of Viscountess Castlemaine (Reresby, Memoirs, ed. Cartwright, p. 13).

[Noble's Lives of the English Regicides; Collins's Peerage, 1812, vii. 239-40; Commons' Journals, ii. 200, 549, 556, 955; The Traytor's Pilgrimage from the Tower to Tyburn.]

G. G.