Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/43

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Ireton37
Ireton


curred, however, at the moment when the excitement concerning the plot was at its climax. Edward Coleman [q. v.], the first victim, had been executed barely a fortnight, Oates was at the summit of his popularity, and the death of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey [q. v.] was still fresh in people's memory. The hard swearing of Gates and Bedloe, together with the evidence of a woman called Sarah Pain, who swore to having seen Ireland on 20 Aug. at a scrivener's in Fetter Lane, overcame any scruples on the part of the jury. Chief-justice Scroggs summed up against the prisoner, who in vain pleaded his relationship to the Pendrells of Boscobel, and the death of his uncle, Francis Ireland, in the king's service. Ireland was executed together with John Grove on 3 Feb. 1679, the event being attended (it was alleged by the victim's friends) by a number of miraculous circumstances, which are detailed in Tanner's 'Brevis Relatio Felicis Agonis,' Prague, 1683, and in Foley's 'Jesuits,' v. 233 seq. Portraits of Ireland are given in both these works. A deposition, 'plainly proving' that Ireland's plea of an alibi was false, was subsequently published by Robert Jenison (1649-1688) [q. v.], and further charges were brought against Ireland in John Smith's 'Narrative containing a further Discovery of the Popish Plot,' 1679, fol., p. 32. The supposed plot of Ireland was also the occasion of another very curious pamphlet entitled 'The Cabal of several notorious Priests and Jesuits discovered as William Ireland … Shewing their endeavours to subvert the Government and Protestant Religion … by a Lover of his King and Country who was formerly an Eyewitness of those things' (London), 1679, fol.

[Cobbett's State Trials, vii. 570 sq.; The History of the Plot, or a Brief and Historical Account of the Charge and Defence of William Ireland, &c., London, 1679, fol.; Challoner's Memoirs of Missionary Priests, 1748, ii. 208, 376; Burnet's Own Time ii. 178; Gillow's Dict. of Engl. Cath.iii. 552; Lingard's Hist. ix. 191.]

T. S.

IRETON, HENRY (1611–1651), regicide, baptised 3 Nov. 1611, was the eldest son of German Ireton of Attenborough, near Nottingham. His father, who settled at Attenborough about 1605, was the younger brother of William Ireton of Little Ireton in Derbyshire (Cornelius Brown, Worthies of Nottinghamshire, p. 182). Henry became in 1626 a gentleman-commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, and took the degree of B.A. in 1629. According to Wood, ‘he had the character in that house of a stubborn and saucy fellow towards the seniors, and therefore his company was not at all wanting’ (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 298). In 1629 he entered the Middle Temple (24 Nov.), but was never called to the bar (The Trial of Charles I, with Biographies of Bradshaw, Ireton, &c., in Murray's Family Library, 1832, xxxi. 130).

At the outbreak of the civil war Ireton was living on his estate in Nottinghamshire, ‘and having had an education in the strictest way of godliness, and being a man of good learning, great understanding, and other abilities, he was the chief promoter of the parliament's interest in the county’ (Hutchinson, Memoirs of Col. Hutchinson, ed. 1885, i. 168). On 30 June 1642 the House of Commons nominated Ireton captain of the troop of horse to be raised by the town of Nottingham (Commons' Journals, ii. 664). With this troop he joined the army of the Earl of Essex and fought at Edgehill, but returned to his native county with it at the end of 1642, and became major in Colonel Thornhagh's regiment of horse (Hutchinson, i. 169, 199). In July 1643 the Nottinghamshire horse took part in the victory at Gainsborough (28 July), and shortly afterwards Ireton ‘quite left Colonel Thornhagh's regiment, and began an inseparable league with Colonel Cromwell’ (ib. pp. 232, 234). He was appointed by Cromwell deputy governor of the Isle of Ely, began to fortify the isle, and was allowed such freedom to the sectaries that presbyterians complained it was become ‘a mere Amsterdam’ (Manchester's Quarrel with Cromwell, Camden Soc., 1875, pp. 39, 73). He served in Manchester's army during 1644, with the rank of quartermaster-general, and took part in the Yorkshire campaign and the second battle of Newbury. Although Ireton, in writing to Manchester, represented the distressed condition of the horse for want of money (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pt. ii. p. 61), he was anxious that Manchester should march west to join Waller, and after the miscarriages at Newbury supported Cromwell's accusation of Manchester by a most damaging deposition (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644–5, p. 158).

Ireton does not appear in the earliest list of the officers of the new model, but directly the campaign began he obtained the command of the regiment of horse to which Sir Michael Livesey had been at first appointed (Lords' Journals, viii. 278; Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, ed. 1854, p. 331). The night before the battle of Naseby he surprised the royalists' quarters, ‘which they had newly taken up in Naseby town,’ took many prisoners, and alarmed their whole army. Next day Fairfax, at Cromwell's request, appointed Ireton commissary-general of the horse and gave him the command of the cavalry of the left wing. The wing under his command