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GERARD, JOHN (1632–1654), royalist colonel, was second son of Lieutenant-colonel Ratcliffe Gerard and first cousin to Charles Gerard, lord Brandon, d. 1694 [q. v.] (Dugdale, Baronage, p. 418). He entered the king's army as an ensign, and speedily rose to the rank of colonel, commanding both in England and France. There were seven colonels besides himself of the name of Gerard in the army. In November 1653 he appeared as a witness at the trial of Don Pantaleone, a brother of the Portuguese ambassador, for the murder of an Englishman. The night before the murder Gerard had overheard Pantaleone and his friends talking of English affairs in the street and had given them the lie, whereupon they had attacked him, and, though a little man, yet ‘he threw him off that was upon him, and so was hustling with him a good while,’ but was rescued by a passer-by, after he had received a stab in the shoulder (Cobbett, State Trials, v. 462). Early in 1654 Gerard went over to France, where he was presented to Charles II by his cousin, Lord Gerard. Soon after his return to England (May) he was arrested, with two others, on a charge of conspiring against the government. In company with a royalist major, one Henshaw, whom he had met in France, Gerard and others were to attack the Protector with a band of thirty horse as he rode to Hampton Court, and, after killing him, to besiege Whitehall (State Papers, Dom. 1654, pp. 219, 233–40, 274–436), seize the Tower, and proclaim Charles king. The trial began on 3 June before the high court of justice. Gerard declared that he had been to Paris on private business, and that Charles had desired his friends not to engage in plots. The reluctant evidence of his younger brother Charles, to whom he sent his forgiveness from the scaffold, pointed to treasonable conversations with Henshaw and the rest in taverns. Gerard and Vowell, a schoolmaster, were sentenced to death. Gerard successfully petitioned to be beheaded instead of hanged. The royalist writers published his dying speech, and affirmed that he fell into a trap set by Cromwell. This view has been elaborately restated by Mr. Reginald Palgrave in the ‘English Historical Review’ for October 1888, in the course of a controversy between that writer and Mr. C. H. Firth. But no certain proof has been adduced of Cromwell's complicity. Gerard died with undaunted courage on 10 July 1654, the same day as Don Pantaleone.

[Dr. Lloyd's Memoirs, 1668, p. 557; Cobbett's State Trials, v. 518–38; Carte's Hist. of England, iv. 662–3; Clarendon's Rebellion, vii. 28, 29, 30; Winstanley's England's Worthies, London, 1659; Mercurius Politicus, November 1653 and June 1654; Letters of Dorothy Osborne, pp. 287–8.]

E. T. B.