Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hammond, Robert

HAMMOND, ROBERT (1621–1654), soldier, born in 1621, was second son of Robert Hammond of Chertsey, Surrey, and grandson of John Hammond, M.D. [q. v.] In 1636 he became a member of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, but left the university without taking a degree (Wood, Athenæ, iii. 500). Royalist pamphleteers state that Hammond began his military career under Sir Simon Harcourt (An Answer to a Scandalous Letter written by Hammond, the Head-gaoler, 1648). In the summer of 1642 his name appears as a lieutenant in the list of the army destined for Ireland (Peacock, Army Lists, p. 68). On 6 July 1642 he obtained a commission as captain of a foot company of two hundred men, to be levied for the parliament in London and the adjoining counties, and on 11 March 1643 was appointed a captain in Essex's regiment of cuirassiers (Clarke MSS. vol. lxvii.) In June 1644 Hammond, then serving under Massey, distinguished himself at the capture of Tewkesbury. In the following October a quarrel between Hammond and Major Grey led to a hasty duel in the streets of Gloucester, in which Grey lost his life. Hammond was tried by court-martial, and unanimously acquitted (28 Nov. 1644), on the ground that he had acted in self-defence (Bibliotheca Gloucesterensis, pp. 100, 109; Commons' Journals, iii. 712). In spite of his youth Hammond was in 1645 appointed to the command of a regiment of foot in the new model (Peacock, p. 103). He was doubtless assisted by the fact of his relationship to the Earl of Essex, at whose funeral in October 1646 he bore the banneret of Devereux and Grey (Devereux, The Devereux Earls of Essex, ii. 508). At the battle of Naseby Hammond's regiment formed part of the reserve. He took part in the storming of Bristol and Dartmouth and in the battle of Torrington, and captured Powderham Castle and St. Michael's Mount (Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, pp. 42, 126, 181, 187, 201, 313). In October 1645, during the siege of Basing House, Hammond was taken prisoner by the garrison, and when that garrison was captured Cromwell sent him up to London, that he might give the House of Commons an account of the victory (ib. p. 150; Goodwin, Civil War in Hampshire, pp. 237-41). The commons, on hearing his relation, voted him 200l. to recoup his losses as a prisoner (Commons' Journals, iv. 309). After the close of the war in England Hammond was offered the command of a force destined for the relief of Dublin, but, as Holles observes, 'he stood upon his pantoufles, stipulating such terms that no prince or foreign state that had given assistance could have stood upon higher' (Memoirs of Lord Holles, 69; the 'Propositions of Colonel Hammond concerning the Present Service of Dublin' are printed in Prynne, Hypocrites Unmasking, 1647, p. 5). In the struggle between army and parliament during the summer of 1647, Hammond cast in his lot with the former. On 1 April 1647 he appeared at the bar of the House of Commons to answer for his conduct in permitting the circulation of the army's petition in his regiment. Only four hundred of his regiment were willing to serve in Ireland, though Hammond himself had declared his conviction that were Skippon commander-in-chief, the greater part of the army would follow him. He signed the vindication of the officers presented to parliament on 27 April 1647, and the letter of the officers to the city on 10 June. He was also one of those appointed to treat with the parliamentary commissioners on behalf of the army on 1 July 1647 (Rushworth, vii. 445, 458, 466, 603).

In the summer of 1647 doubts seem to have been entertained by Hammond as to whether the army was justified in using force against the parliament. He consequently sought and obtained retirement from active military service. On 3 Sept. 1647 the Earl of Pembroke, who since 1642 had been governor of the Isle of Wight, announced to the House of Lords that Fairfax, by his authority as commander-in-chief, had commissioned Colonel Hammond to be governor of that island, and therefore desired the lords to accept his own resignation, and pass an ordinance appointing Hammond. An ordinance to that effect was accordingly passed on 6 Sept. (Lords' Journals, ix. 421; Hist. MSS. Comm., 6th Report, p. 94). In 1648 events rendered the question whether Hammond derived his authority from army or parliament a point of considerable importance, and it was then argued by Ireton and the army leaders that the ordinance was a mere 'formality by way of confirmation' (Birch, Letters between Colonel Robert Hammond and the Committee at Derby House, 1764, p. 98). The office itself was at this time a sinecure. Cromwell afterwards reminded Hammond that 'through dissatisfaction' he had 'desired retirement, and thought of quiet in the Isle of Wight' (Carlyle, Cromwell, Letter lxxxv). Hammond himself told Ashburnham, who met him as he was going down to his government, that he went there 'because he found the army was going to break all promises with the king, and that he would have nothing to do with such perfidious actions' (Vindication of John Ashburnham, ii. 108).

According to Wood, while the king was at Hampton Court Dr. Henry Hammond [q. v.] had 'conducted this nephew to his majesty as a penitent convert,' and he was given the honour of kissing the king's hand (Athenae, iii. 501). Hopes founded on these grounds led the king to choose the Isle of Wight as a place of refuge. On 13 Nov. 1647 Hammond learnt from Sir John Berkeley and John Ashburnham that the king had fled from Hampton Court to save his life from the levellers, and intended to put himself under Hammond's protection 'as a person of good extraction, and one that though he had been engaged against him in the war, yet it had been prosecuted by him without any animosity to his person' (Berkeley, Memoirs, 'Maseres' Tracts,' p. 377). Hammond grew pale and trembled, and broke out 'into passionate and distracted expressions,' saying that he was undone, and between his duty to the king and his obligations to the army would be confounded. Finally, he said 'he did believe his majesty relied on him as a person of honour and honesty, and therefore did engage to perform whatever could be expected of a person of honour and honesty' (ib. pp. 378, 380; Ashburnham, ii. 48, 115). On this extremely vague engagement Ashburnham conducted Hammond to the king, and the king came to the Isle of Wight. (The king's account of his reasons for throwing himself on Hammond's protection is given in Hammond's letters of 13 Nov. and 19 Nov.; Old Parliamentary Hist. xvi. 331, 357; Lords' Journals, ix. 525, 538.) Hammond at once wrote to the parliament announcing what had happened, and, in order to secure the king from any attempt on the part of the levellers, called the gentlemen of the island together, and required their co-operation for the defence of his majesty's person (Oglander, Memoirs, pp. 66, 69). Parliament immediately drew up a series of instructions to Hammond, ordering him to set a guard over Charles 'for securing the king's person from any violence, and preventing his departing the said isle without the directions of both houses' (16 Nov. 1647, Lords' Journals, ix. 527; a second set of instructions, on the occasion of the treaty of Newport, dated 17 Aug. 1648, ib. x. 454). He was also ordered by the commons to send up Ashburnham, Berkeley, and Legge as prisoners, and, after a vigorous protest, obeyed, saying that whatsoever was commanded by authority, especially that of the parliament, though never so contrary to his sense of honour, should never be disobeyed by him (ib. ix. 538). Thus instead of becoming the king's protector, Hammond found himself his gaoler. His relations with the king were at first pleasant. 'I am daily more and more satisfied with this governor,' wrote Charles on 23 Nov. 1647 (Burnet, Lives of the Hamiltons, ed. 1852, p. 414). After the king's rejection of the ' Four Bills' tendered him by parliament at the end of December 1648, he was more closely confined, and the position of the governor became difficult and delicate. Rumours spread of angry scenes between Hammond and the king (Clarendon State Papers, vol. ii., Appendix, p. xliv). In April a report went abroad of a scuffle between Charles and his gaoler, in which blows had been exchanged (The Fatal Blow, or the most impious and treasonable fact of Hammond in offering force unto and hurting his most Sacred Majesty discussed, 1647, 4to). There was no truth in this story; the utmost of which Herbert complains is that Hammond searched the king's cabinet for papers (Memoirs of Sir Thomas Herbert, ed. 1702, p. 79). In the king's secret correspondence in the summer of 1648, he speaks Hammond's 'barbarity' and 'incivility,' and says 'the devil cannot outgo him neither in malice nor cunning' (21 Aug. 1647; Wagstaffe, Vindication of King Charles the Martyr, 1711, p. 155; cf. Memoirs of Sir P. Warwick, p. 330). The vigilance observed by Hammond to prevent the king's escape or rescue, and the restrictions imposed by him on the access of royalists to his majesty, were the cause of these complaints. In May 1648 two of the gentlemen attending on the king, Osborne and Dowcett, were detected in a plot for concerting his escape, and were arrested. Osborne asserted that Hammond's second in command, Major Rolph, had plotted against the king's life, and that the governor was cognisant of it. Hammond indignantly vindicated both himself and his officer, appealing to the king himself to witness that he had been treated with all possible care and respect, and demanding either to be cleared from Osborne's calumnies, or removed from his office (Old Parliamentary Hist. xvii. 191,, 256, 294; Rushworth, vii. 1185, 1191). More than once previously he had begged to be relieved from his ungrateful task, and again on 19 Nov. 1648 he prayed that he might be superseded by some one else (Old Parliamentary Hist. xvii. 257, xviii. 240). In November 1648 the breach between the army and the parliament involved him in new perplexities. Cromwell, Ireton, and other representatives of the army wrote to 'dear Robin,' arguing that his obedience was due to the army rather than to the parliament, and that he should take their side in the struggle (Birch, pp. 95-113; Carlyle, Cromwell, Letter lxxxv.) On 21 Nov. he received a letter from Fairfax, ordering him to come to St. Albans, and informing him that Colonel Ewer had been sent to guard the king during his absence. This was followed by the appearance of Ewer himself, with instructions to secure the person of the king in Carisbrooke Castle till it should be seen what answer the parliament would make to the army's remonstrance. Hammond felt bound personally to obey the commander-in-chief, and set out for St. Albans. But, conceiving that he was entrusted with the charge of the king by parliament, he announced his intention of opposing Ewer by force, if necessary, and left the king in charge of Major Rolph and two other officers, with strict injunctions to resist any attempt to remove him 'from the island (Old Parliamentary Hist. xvii. 254-62; Cart, Memorials of the Civil War, ii. 61, 66). The House of Lords commanded Hammond not to leave his post, but he had already started, and when he tried to return was detained and put under guard until the king had been seized and carried to Hurst Castle (Rushworth, vii. 1351).

Hammond's custody of the king lasted from 13 Nov. 1647 to 29 Nov. 1648. In recognition of his services parliament voted him an annuity of 500l. a year, to be settled on himself and his heirs (3 April 1648.) This was changed later into a pension of 400l. a year, and finally (23 Aug. 1654) commuted for lands in Ireland to the value of 600l. a year (Commons' Journals, v. 524, vi. 2, 257, vii. 316; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1654, pp. 321, 328).

During the earlier part of the Commonwealth Hammond took no part at all in public affairs, but his friendship with Cromwell seems to have been only temporarily interrupted. On 22 July 1651 he wrote to Cromwell to intercede for the life of Christopher Love [q. v.], protesting most warmly his own attachment to Cromwell and to the cause of the Commonwealth (Milton, State Papers, p. 75). When Cromwell became protector he seized the opportunity of bringing his friend again into employment. In August 1654 Hammond was appointed a member of the Irish council (27 Aug. 1654: Fourteenth Report of the Deputy-Keeper of Public Records in Ireland, p. 28). He went over at once to Dublin, and commenced the task of reorganising the judicial system, but was seized with a fever, and died early in October 1654 (Thurloe, ii. 602; Mercurius Politicus, pp. 3780, 3848). Wood gives 24 Oct. as the date of his death, but it is announced in 'Mercurius Politicus' for 12-19 Oct., and it is there stated that his funeral was to take place on 19 Oct. (Mercurius Politicus, pp. 3848, 3864). Dr. Simon Ford [q. v.] of Reading is said to have published 'a book on the death of that much bewailed gentleman, Colonel Robert Hammond,' dedicated to his widow and other relatives (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. x. 116). It is not to be found either in the Bodleian Library or the British Museum. Hammond married Mary (b. 1630) sixth daughter of John Hampden (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, ii. 276, 292), by whom he had three daughters. After his death she married Sir John Hobart, bart., of Blickling, Norfolk (ib. p. 272; State Letters of Roger, Earl of Orrery, i. 27; Noble, House of Cromwell, ed. 1787, ii. 125, 130).

Colonel Robert Hammond is frequently confused with his uncle, Thomas Hammond (Noble, Lives of the Regicides), lieutenant-general of the ordnance in the new model army (Peacock, p. 100). Thomas Hammond was one of the judges of Charles I, and attended regularly during the trial, but did not sign the death-warrant. He died before 1652 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1652, p. 233), and was one of the twenty dead regicides excepted from the act of indemnity as to forfeiture of their estates.

[Carlyle's Letters and Speeches of Cromwell; Noble's House of Cromwell, ed. 1787, and Lives of the Regicides, 1798; Memoirs of Sir T. Herbert, ed. 1702; Ashburnham's Vindication of John Ashburnham; Memoirs of Sir John Berkeley in Maseres's Select Tracts relating to the Civil War, 1815. Hammond's letters during his custody of the king are printed in the Lords' Journals, the Old Parl. Hist., Rushworth, Cary's Memorials of the Civil Wars, and in Birch's Letters between Colonel Robert Hammond and the committee at Derby House. The originals are mostly among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian.]

C. H. F.