last stand for the republic, and to frustrate Monck's design for bringing back the king; but the disaffection of the town and the divisions of the garrison obliged him peaceably to give up his government to Colonel Fairfax, and obey the orders of the council (Ludlow, Memoirs, ii. 859, ed. 1698).
The rest of Overton's life was mostly spent in prison. Having neither taken part in the trial of the king, nor sat on the tribunals which condemned the royalist leaders, Overton was not excepted from the Act of Indemnity. But he was regarded as one of the heads of the fifth monarchy men, and on the first rumour of an insurrection among them was arrested and sent to the Tower (December 1660; Heath, Chronicle, ed. 1663, p. 784). On 9 Nov. 1661 a warrant was signed for his conveyance to Chepstow Castle. Apparently he succeeded in obtaining a short interval of freedom; but on 26 May 1663 he was again arrested as ‘suspected of seditious practices, and refusing to take the oaths or give security.’ In January 1664 the government resolved to send him to Jersey, and he was still imprisoned there in February 1668. The date and place of his death are unknown (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. vii. pp. 3, 6; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–4 p. 461, 1667–8 p. 229).
Overton married in 1632 Anne, daughter of Jeremy Gardiner of Stratford, Bow, Middlesex (Chester, London Marriage Licences, p. 1002). His eldest son, John, was admitted to Gray's Inn on 11 Nov. 1661, and was probably the author of a work on ‘English Military Discipline’ published in 1672 (Foster, Gray's Inn Register, p. 292). His grandson Robert, who died in 1721, sold the family estate to the Milners of Nun Appleton (Poulson, Holderness, ii. 377).
Overton was a scholar as well as a soldier. Milton celebrates his exploits in the ‘Defensio Secunda,’ and addresses him as ‘bound to me these many years past in a friendship of more than brotherly closeness and affection, both by the similarity of our tastes and the sweetness of your manners’ (Masson, Life of Milton, iv. 602, 607, 621). ‘Civil and discreet,’ ‘a scholar, but a little pedantic,’ is the character given of him by his prisoner, Sir James Turner (Memoirs, pp. 78–82). John Canne, who was Overton's chaplain at Hull, dedicated to him his ‘Voice from the Temple,’ 4to, 1653, and probably exercised considerable influence upon his religious views (Yorkshire Diaries, Surtees Soc. 1875, pp. 143, 422). Overton's letters, many of which are in print among the ‘Thurloe Papers,’ show his disinterested devotion to his cause, and his willingness to suffer for it. ‘If I be called,’ he wrote in 1654, ‘to seal the cause of God and my country with my blood, by suffering death, or by bearing any testimony to the interest of my nation and the despised truths of these times, he is able to support and save me, as the sun to shine upon me. … If I can but keep faith and a good conscience, I shall assuredly finish my course with joy’ (Thurloe, iii. 47).
[Authorities cited in the article.]
OVERTON, WILLIAM (1525?–1609), bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, born in London between 1520 and 1530, is said to have been of the same family as Robert Overton [q. v.], the major-general, and to have owed his early education to Glastonbury Abbey; it is certain that he was elected to a demyship at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1539, and that he became perpetual fellow of the college in 1551. He graduated B.A. in 1547 and M.A. in 1553; in the latter degree he was incorporated at Cambridge in 1562. He received the degree of B.D. on 16 Feb. 1565–6 and D.D. two days later. He became in 1553 rector of Balcombe, Sussex, and vicar of Eccleshall, Staffordshire. The rectory of Swinnerton, Staffordshire, was conferred on him in 1555. In 1559 he was installed prebendary of Winchester. Other benefices conferred on him in early life were Upham and Nurstling (both in 1560), Exton (1561), Cotton (1562), and Buriton (1569). In 1563 he became canon of Chichester.
Overton managed to spend much time in Oxford, and in 1564 he took a prominent part in the reception given to Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her famous visit to Oxford, in company with the Earl of Leicester. The day after the queen's arrival, Sunday, 1 Sept., Overton preached an English sermon in the morning at Christ Church, choosing for his text Psalm cxviii. 24: ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made,’ &c. Unhappily her majesty was too tired with her journey to be present (Nichols, Progresses, i. 209). He took part, however, in the disputations held before the queen on Thursday, 5 Sept., when, in answer to the question ‘whether it was lawful for a private individual to take up arms against a bad prince,’ he maintained that ‘it was lawful for a private person to consult the good of the Republic, and that good was best consulted if the bad Prince was killed.’ Overton's sentiments do not appear to have offended the queen, for preferment still flowed in upon him. He received the treasurership of Chichester Cathedral in 1567, a canonry at Salisbury in 1570, besides becoming rector of Stoke-upon-Trent and of Hanbury. Finally, in 1579, he was promoted to the bishopric of