Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomlinson, Matthew

THOMLINSON or TOMLINSON, MATTHEW (1617–1681), soldier, baptised 24 Sept. 1617, was the second son of John Thomlinson of York, and Eleanor, daughter of Matthew Dodsworth (Dugdale, Visitation of Yorkshire, 1665, Surtees Soc. xxxvi. 66). He is first heard of as one of the gentlemen of the Inns of Court who enlisted to form the lifeguard of the Earl of Essex in 1642 (Ludlow, Memoirs, i. 39, ed. 1894). On 25 March 1645 Whitelocke mentions the defeat of a party of the garrison of Wallingford by Captain Thomlinson and a detachment from Abingdon (Memorials, ed. 1853, i. 411). In the new model army he held the rank of major in Sir Robert Pye's regiment of horse (Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, p. 331), becoming colonel of that regiment in the summer of 1647. During the quarrel between the army and the parliament, he adhered to the former and was one of the officers presenting the remonstrance of the army (25 June 1647) to the parliament (Rushworth, vi. 592). On 23 Dec. 1648 the council of the army ordered him to take charge of the king, then at Windsor, and Charles remained in his custody at St. James's during the trial, and up to the day of his execution (Clarke Papers, Camden Soc. ii. 140–7). Thomlinson then delivered Charles up to Colonel Hacker, the bearer of the death-warrant, but, at the king's request, accompanied him as far as the entrance to the scaffold. The king gave him a gold toothpick and case as a legacy (Trial of the Regicides, p. 218; cf. Memoirs of Sir T. Herbert, ed. 1701, p. 133). Thomlinson had been appointed by the commons one of the king's judges, but had declined to sit in the court.

In 1650 Thomlinson and his regiment followed Cromwell to Scotland (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 297). On 17 Jan. 1652 he was appointed one of the committee for the reformation of the law (Commons' Journals, vii. 74). On the expulsion of the Long parliament he was one of the members of the council of state erected by the officers of the army, and on 5 July 1653 he was also co-opted to sit in the Little parliament (ib. vii. 281, 283; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1652–3, p. 339).

During the greater part of the Protectorate Thomlinson was employed in Ireland as one of the council first of Fleetwood (27 Aug. 1654) and afterwards of Henry Cromwell (16 Nov. 1657) (Deputy Keeper of Irish Records, 14th Rep. pp. 28, 29). On 11 Dec. 1654, when the officers of the Irish army made their agreement with Dr. (afterwards Sir William) Petty [q. v.] for the survey of Ireland, there was ‘a solemn seeking of God, performed by Colonel Thomlinson, for a blessing upon the conclusion of so great a business’ (Larcom, Hist. of the Down Survey, p. 22). Henry Cromwell found him rather a thorn in his side, and, in spite of his ‘sly carriage,’ suspected him of stirring up disaffection against his government and of secret intrigues with the republican opposition (Thurloe Papers, vi. 223, 857, vii. 199). Nevertheless Cromwell, when he became lord deputy, selected Thomlinson for knighthood (24 Nov. 1657), in order to show his willingness to be reconciled to old opponents; nor did he hesitate to give him a commendatory letter when he went to England (ib. vi. 632, vii. 291). The Protector summoned Thomlinson to sit in his House of Lords, but his employment detained him in Ireland (ib. vi. 732).

On 7 July 1659 the restored Long parliament made Thomlinson one of the five commissioners for the civil government of Ireland (Commons' Journals, vii. 678, 707). In the quarrel which followed between the parliament and the army he was suspected of too great an inclination to the cause of the latter, and was consequently arrested (13 Dec. 1659) and impeached (19 Jan. 1660) by the supporters of the parliamentary party (Ludlow, Memoirs, ed. 1894, ii. 186, 464). The impeachment, however, was not proceeded with, and when Thomlinson arrived in England he was permitted to remain at liberty on giving his engagement not to disturb the existing government (ib. ii. 255).

At the Restoration Thomlinson was excepted by name from the order for the arrest of the king's judges and the seizure of their estates (17 May 1660). In his petition to the lords he stated that he had never taken part in the proceedings against the king (though his name had been mistakenly inserted among those who sate and gave judgment). He pleaded also that the king had specially recommended him to his son for his civility, and, as this was confirmed by the evidence of Henry Seymour, the lords agreed with the commons to free him from any penalty (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 123; Old Parliamentary History, xxii. 299, 402). Charles II and some royalists argued that Thomlinson ought to have allowed the king to escape, and grudged him his impunity (Ludlow, ii. 286).

At the trial of the regicides Thomlinson bore evidence against Colonel Hacker, but most of his testimony was directed to his own vindication (Trial of the Regicides, p. 218). He lost by the Restoration Ampthill Park, which he had acquired during the Commonwealth (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 236).

Thomlinson died on 3 Nov. 1681, and was buried in the church of East Malling, near Maidstone. He married Pembroke, daughter of Sir William Brooke, by whom he had two daughters: (1) Jane, married Philip Owen, and died in 1703; (2) Elizabeth, died unmarried. His widow died on 10 June 1683, and was buried in East Malling church. Thomlinson's sister Jane was the wife of Sir Thomas Twysden (Twysden on the Government of England, p. xxxiv; Thurloe, iv. 445; Visitation of Yorkshire, 1665–6, p. 66).

His portrait by Mytens represents him with long dark hair (Cat. First Loan Exhibition of National Portraits at South Kensington, No. 738).

[Noble's House of Cromwell, i. 420; Lives of the English Regicides, 1798, ii. 277; notes supplied by Mr. W. Shand of Newcastle-on-Tyne.]

C. H. F.