Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/48

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

have made it his desire that his body might have found a grave where his soul left it, so much did he despise those pompous and expensive vanities, having erected for himself a more glorious monument in the hearts of good men by his affection to his country, his abilities of mind, his impartial justice, his diligence in the public service, and his other virtues, which were a far greater honour to his memory than a dormitory amongst the ashes of kings' (Memoirs, p. 148). On 4 Dec. 1660 The House of Commons ordered the 'carcasses' of Cromwell, Ireton, Bradshaw, and Pride to be taken up, drawn on a hurdle to Tyburn there to be hanged up in their coffins for some time, and after that buried under the gallows (Commons' Journals, viii. 197). This sentence was carried into effect on 26-30 Jan. 1661 [see Cromwell, Oliver].

The royalist conception of Ireton's character is given by Sir Philip Warwick (Memoirs, p. 354) and by Clarendon (Rebellion, xiii. 175). The latter describes him as a man 'of a melancholic, reserved, dark nature, who communicated his thoughts to very few, so that for the most part he resolved alone, but was never diverted from any resolution he had taken, and he was thought often by his obstinacy to prevail over Cromwell, and to extort his concurrence contrary to his own inclinations. But that proceeded only from his dissembling less, for he was never reserved in the communicating his worst and most barbarous purposes, which the other always concealed and disavowed.' According to Ludlow, Ireton was in the last years of his life 'entirely freed from his former manner of adhering to his own opinion,' which had been observed to be his greatest infirmity' (Memoirs, p. 144). Ludlow's panegyric on the lord deputy expresses the general opinion of his companions in arms. 'We that knew him,' wrote Hewson, 'can and must say truly we know no man like-minded, most seeking their own things, few so singly mind the things of Jesus Christ, of public concernment, of the interest of the precious sons of Zion' (Several Proceedings in Parliament, 4-11 Dec. 1651). John Cooke describes Ireton's character at length in the preface to 'Monarchy no Creature of God's making' (12mo, 1652), dwelling on his industry, self-denial, love of Justice, godliness, and extraordinary learning. Ireton's disinterestedness was undoubted. On the news that parliament had voted him a reward of 2,000l. a year he said 'that they had many just debts, which he desired they would pay before they made any such presents; that he had no need of their land, and therefore would not have it, and that he should be more contented to see them doing the service of the nation than so liberal in disposing of the public treasure.' 'And truly,' adds Ludlow, 'I believe he was in earnest' (Memoirs, p. 143; Commons' Journals, vii. 15). This disinterestedness, combined with the rigid republicanism attributed to Ireton, led to the belief that he would have opposed Cromwell's usurpation, and made him the favourite hero of the republican party (Clarendon, Rebellion, xiii. 175; Life of Col. Hutchinsoh, ii. 185). Portraits of Ireton and his wife by Robert Walker, in the possession of Mr. Charles Polhill, were numbers 785 and 789 in the National Portrait Exhibition of 1866. Engraving are given in Houbraken's 'Illustrious Heads,' and Vandergucht's illustrations to Clarendon's 'Rebellion.' A royalist newspaper, in a pretended hue and cry after Ireton, thus describes his person: ' A tall, black thief with bushy curled hair, a meagre envious face, sunk hollow eyes, a complection between choler and melancholy, a four-square Machiavellian head, and a nose of the fifteens' (The Man in the Moon, 1-15 Aug. 1649).

Ireton's widow, Bridget Cromwell, married in 1652 General Charles Fleetwood [q. v.], and died in 1662. By her Ireton left one son and three daughters: (l) Henry, married Katharine, daughter of Henry Powle, speaker of the House of Commons in 1689, became lienteuant-colonel of dragoons and gentleman of the horse to William III. He left no issue; (2) Elizabeth, born about 1647, married in 1674 Thomas Polhill Otford, Kent; (3) Jane, born about 1648, married in 1668 Richard Lloyd of London; (4) Bridget, born about 1650, married in 1669 Thomas Bendish (Noble, House of Cromwell, ed. 1787;. ii. 324-46; Waylen, House of Cromwell, 1880, pp. 58, 72; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vi. 391, and art. supra Bendish, Bridget).

John Ireton (1615-1689), brother of the general, was lord mayor of London in 1658, and was knighted by Cromwell. After the Restoration he was excepted from the Act of Indemnity, and for a time imprisoned in the Tower. In 1662 he was transported to Scilly, was released later, and imprisoned again in 1685 (Noble, i, 445; Cat. State Papers, Dom. 1661-2, p. 460). Another brother, Thomas Ireton, captain in Colonel Rich's regiment in 1645, was seriously wounded at the storming of Bristol (Sprigge, pp. 121, 131).

[Lives of Ireton are contained in Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ad. Bliss, iii. 298; Noble's House of Cromwell, ed. 1787. ii. 319; and Cornelius Brown's Worthies of Notts, 1882, p. 181. The