Dixwell, John (DNB00)
DIXWELL, JOHN (d. 1689), regicide, was a member of the family of that name settled in Warwickshire and Kent. In pedigrees of the family he is usually ignored, as, for instance, in those contained in ‘Burke's Extinct Baronetage,’ and he is also passed over in the account of the Dixwell family given in Hasted's ‘Kent.’ Yet the documents contained in the life of Dixwell by Stiles, and the position held by him in the county of Kent, leave little doubt of the fact of this relationship. John was a younger son of William Dixwell of Coton Hall in Warwickshire. In 1641 his elder brother, Mark Dixwell, succeeded to the estates of their uncle, Sir Basil Dixwell, at Brome, Folkestone, and elsewhere in Kent. Mark Dixwell died in 1643, constituting his brother guardian of his infant children, and making over his estates to him in trust for his eldest son Basil (Polyanthea, p. 155). As temporary holder of these estates John enjoyed great local influence, and on 28 Aug. 1646 was elected member for Dover, vice Sir Edward Boys deceased (Names of Members returned to serve in Parliament, 1878, p. 497). He was appointed one of the commissioners for the trial of Charles I, attended the court with great regularity, was present when sentence was pronounced, and signed the death-warrant (Nalson, Trial of Charles I, 1684, pp. 3, 86, 110). In 1650 he was colonel of militia in Kent, commanding a regiment of foot (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, pp. 340, 450). On 25 Nov. 1651 he was elected a member of the council of state, and filled that office from 1 Dec. 1651 to 30 Nov. 1652 (ib. 1651–2, p. 43; Commons' Journals, 25 Nov. 1651). When the Dutch war broke out, Dixwell was sent into Kent with powers to raise the county to guard the coast (9 July 1652, Cal. State Papers, Dom., p. 325). During the protectorate he disappeared from public life; but when the Rump was recalled to power he again joined the council of state (19 May 1659). He was again M.P. for Dover in that year. He took part with the parliament against Lambert, and in the first two months of 1660 was active as governor of Dover Castle. As a regicide he was excluded from the Act of Indemnity at the Restoration. On 17 May an order was issued to seize him and sequester his estates. On 20 June 1660 the speaker informed the House of Commons that he had received a petition from a relative of Colonel Dixwell, stating that Dixwell was ill, and begging that he might not lose the benefit of the king's proclamation by his inability to surrender himself within the time fixed (Kennett, Register, p. 185). The request was granted, but Dixwell, instead of surrendering, fled to the continent, in consequence of which, instead of being included in the class of persons excepted from the Act of Indemnity with respect to their estates only, his name was added to the list of those excepted for life as well (ib. p. 240; Masson, Milton, vi. 44). According to Ludlow's ‘Memoirs’ Dixwell resided some time at Hanau, and even became a burgess of that city (ed. 1751, p. 377). In 1664 or 1665 he took refuge in America, joining his fellow-regicides, Goffe and Whalley, at Hadley in New England in February 1665 (Polyanthea, ii. 133). After a short stay with them he settled at New Haven, Connecticut, calling himself by the name of James Davids. At Newhaven he married, first, Joanna Ling (3 Nov. 1673), and, secondly, Bathsheba How (23 Oct. 1677, ibid. p. 136). By the latter he had three children, whose descendants were living in New England in the eighteenth century. In the records of the parish church of New Haven occurs an entry of the admission into church fellowship of Mr. James Davids, alias John Dixwell (29 Dec. 1685, ibid. p. 137). Dixwell died at New Haven on 18 March 1689, according to his tombstone, in the eighty-second year of his age (ibid. p. 148).
[Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Nalson's Trial of Charles I, 1684; Noble's Lives of the Regicides, 1798, i. 180; Ezra Stiles's History of Three of the Judges of Charles I, Major-general Whalley, Major-general Goffe, and Colonel Dixwell, 1794; Polyanthea, or a Collection of Interesting Fragments in Prose and Verse, 1804, ii. 132–94; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. ix. 466.]