Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tichborne, Robert
TICHBORNE, ROBERT (d. 1682), regicide, was grandson of John Tichborne of Cowden, Kent, and son of Robert Tichborne of the ward of Farringdon Within, London, by Joan, daughter of Thomas Bankes (Visitation of London, 1633-4, ii. 289). Early in life he was a linendraper in London 'by the little Conduit in Cheapside.' On the outbreak of the civil war he took up arms for the parliament, and was in 1643 a captain in the yellow regiment of the London trained bands (Dillon, List of the Officers of the London Trained Bands, 1890, p. 8). In February of that year he was one of a deputation from the city who presented a petition to the House of Commons against the proposed treaty with the king (Report on the Duke of Portland's MSS. i. 95). According to a contemporary critic, he did not distinguish himself as a soldier, and was indeed 'fitter for a warm bed than to command a regiment;' but he was a colonel in 1647, and was appointed by Fairfax in August of that year lieutenant of the Tower (Rushworth, vii. 761; Clarke Papers, i. 396). His political views were advanced, as his speeches in the council of the army in 1647 prove; and in religion his printed works show that he was an extreme independent (ib. i. 396, 404, ii. 256, 258, 262). On 15 Jan. 1649 he presented to the House of Commons a petition from London in favour of the execution of the king and the establishment of a republic (Ludlow, Memoirs, i. 212; The humble petition of the Commons of the City of London ... together with Col. Tichborne's Speech, 1648, 4to). Tichborne was appointed one of the king's judges, signed the death-warrant, and attended every meeting of the court excepting two. On 23 Oct. 1651 parliament selected him as one of the eight commissioners to settle the government of Scotland and prepare the way for its union with England (Commons' Journals, vii. 30). On 14 May 1652 he received the thanks of parliament for his services in Scotland (ib. vii. 132). Tichborne was one of the representatives of London in the Little parliament, and was a member of the two councils of state elected by it (ib. vii. 284, 344). In 1650 he was one of the sheriffs of London, and in 1656 lord mayor (London's Triumph, or the solemn reception of Robert Tichborne, Lord Mayor, Oct. 29, 1656, 4to). Cromwell knighted him on 15 Dec. 1655 and summoned him to his House of Lords in December 1657. On 17 April 1658 Tichborne, who was colonel of the yellow regiment and a member of the militia committee of London, presented an address from the London trained bands to the Protector (Mercurius Politicus, 15-22 April 1658).
After the fall of the house of Cromwell, Tichborne, who was never a member of the Long parliament, became a person of less importance ; but in October 1659, when the army under Lambert expelled the parliament, he was appointed one of the committee of safety which the army set up, and he was also one of the twenty-one 'conservators of liberty' named by them in December following. Ludlow wrathfully observes that he 'had lately moved to set up Richard Cromwell again' (Memoirs, ii. 131, 149, 173, ed. 1894). The restoration of the parliament at the end of the month put an end to his political career. On 20 April 1660 a warrant was issued for the arrest of Tichborne and Alderman John Ireton, who were regarded as the two pillars of the good old cause in the city. They were released four days later on bail (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659-60, p. 574). At the Restoration Tichborne surrendered in obedience to the king's proclamation (16 June), though he showed considerable vacillation, withdrawing himself from the custody of the sergeant-at-arms, and then giving himself up once more (Ludlow, ii. 294; Kennet, Register, p. 181). Royalist pamphlets exulted over his imprisonment (The two City Jugglers, Tichborn and Ireton: a dialogue, 1660, 4to; The pretended saint and the profane libertine well met in prison: or a dialogue between Robert Tichborne and Henry Marten, 1660).
Tichborne was tried at the sessions house in the Old Bailey on 10 Oct. 1660, and pleaded not guilty, but admitted the fact for which he was indicted, only asserting his ignorance and repentance. 'It was my unhappiness to be called to so sad a work when I had so few years over my head; a person neither bred up in the laws, nor in parliaments where laws are made. ... Had I known that then which I do now, I would have chosen a red hot oven to have gone into as soon as that meeting.' He was sentenced to death.
By the act of indemnity Tichborne was one of the nineteen regicides who, having surrendered themselves, were, if condemned, not to be executed save by a special act of parliament. It was also alleged in his favour that he had saved the lives of various royalists during the late government (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 169; cf. Thurloe, iii. 381). A bill for the trial of Tichborne and his companions passed the House of Commons in January 1662, but was dropped in the lords after Tichborne had been brought to the bar of the upper house and heard in his defence (Lords' Journals, xi. 372, 380). In July 1662 he was removed, to Holy Island, where he fell very ill, and was on his wife's petition transferred to Dover Castle. His wife and children were allowed to live with him during his imprisonment at Dover (Papers of the Duke of Leeds, p. 4; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663-4, pp. 289, 505, 510, 592). He remained a prisoner for the rest of his life, and died in the Tower in July 1682 (SC|Luttrell}}, Diary, i. 204).
An unflattering character of Tichborne is given in 'A Second Narrative of the late Parliament,' 1658 (Harl. Miscell. iii. 484). He acquired considerable property during the civil war, and bought crown lands, but lost all at the Restoration (Commons' Journals. viii. 73; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, 78, 344, 558). Tichborne was the author of two religious works: 1. 'A Cluster of Canaan's Grapes: being several experimented truths,' 1649, 4to. 2. 'The Rest of Faith,' 1649, 4to.; this is dedicated to Cromwell.[Noble's Lives of the Regicides, ii. 272; House of Cromwell, i. 416; other authorities mentioned in the article.]