Dalbier, John (DNB01)
DALBIER, JOHN (d. 1648), soldier, is said to have been originally a felt-dresser at Strasburg, and was during the early part of the Thirty Years' war paymaster to Count Mansfeld (Court and Times of Charles I, ii. 205, 211; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1629-1631, pp. 43, 257, 496). About 1627 he entered the English service, and was one of Buckingham's chief military advisers during the expedition to the Isle of Rhé (Court and Times of Charles I, i. 266). 'His excellency's chief counsel in the martial part,' writes Henry de Vic, 'is Monsieur Dolbier, a man of great experience, but not of that strength of understanding and other parts as are necessary' (Hardwicke State Papers, ii. 25). In January 1628 the king commissioned Dalbier, jointly with Sir William Balfour, to raise a thousand German horse for his service. The House of Commons suspected that the king meant to employ them to suppress English liberties, and Dalbier was vehemently attacked in the house as a traitor and a papist (Rushworth, i. 612, 616, 623; cf. Gardiner, History of England, vi. 224, 308, 318). The king in reply countermanded the order to bring the horse to England, and Dalbier subsequently entered the Swedish service. At the capture of New Brandenburg he was taken prisoner by Tilly, and Charles I, through Burlemachi, solicited his release (ib. vi. 224; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1631-3, pp. 34, 61, 122). He returned to England in December 1632, and was the first to bring authentic news of the death of Gustavus Adolphus at Lützen (Court of Charles I, ii. 203, 205, 211).
When the civil war began Dalbier became quartermaster-general and captain of a troop of horse in the army of the Earl of Essex, and served under him until the formation of the New Model (Peacock, Army Lists, pp. 23, 53). His services were highly valued by Essex, who obtained his release from imprisonment for debt (Lords' Journals, iv. 681, 716, vi. 44, 47). After the disaster in Cornwall in 1644, Dalbier, who was summoned to London as a witness, was under some suspicion of misconduct himself (Commons' Journals, iii. 544, iv. 48). Both Waller and Essex pressingly demanded his return to the army. 'His absence,' wrote the latter, 'hath been the loss of five hundred horse already' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644-5, pp. 15, 36, 106). At the formation of the New Model he lost his command, and his regiment of horse was sent to serve under General Massey (ib. pp. 330, 410, 443, 497). Dalbier was, however, appointed to command the forces sent to besiege Basing, but could not take it till Cromwell joined him with heavy guns (Godwin, Civil War in Hampshire, pp. 218, 234; Sprigg, Anglia Rediviva, p. 149). He then besieged Donnington Castle, which surrendered on 30 March 1646, and finally took part in the siege of Wallingford (Money, The Battles of Newbury, pp. 204, 234; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1645-7, pp. 399, 418),
In 1648 Dalbier, discontented at being unemployed, went over to the royalists, and joined the Duke of Buckingham in his rising in Surrey. When Buckingham's forces were defeated at St. Neots (5 July 1648) Dalbier was 'hewed in pieces' by the parliamentary soldiers 'to express their detestation of his treachery' (Ludlow, Memoirs, ed. 1894, i. 198; Clarendon, Rebellion, xi. 104).
According to Carlyle 'it was from Dalbier that Cromwell first of all learned the mechanical part of soldiering' (Cromwell, i. 216, ed. 1871). The statement is based on Heath, who says that Cromwell learned to discipline his soldiers ' from an exact observation of some veteran commanders, viz. Colonel Dalbier, whom he had by great sums of advance money and as extraordinary pay allured to his side' (Flagellum, p. 24). As Dalbier served under Essex and not in the army of the eastern association, the story is improbable.
[A short life of Dalbier is given in Money's Battles of Newbury, p. 110, 2nd edit., which also contains some of his letters, pp. 31, 82; others are printed in the Report of the Hist. MSS. Comm. on the Duke of Portland's MSS., i. 185, 317, 334. See also Gardiner's Great Civil War and History of England under 'Dalbier.']