Pride, Thomas (DNB00)
PRIDE, THOMAS (d. 1658), soldier, was of obscure origin. A contemporary newspaper states that he was born at Ashcott, three miles from Glastonbury (Mercurius Elencticus, 3 Sept. 1649). He has also been claimed as a native of Haverfordwest (English Historical Review, 1892, p. 718). One authority states that he was in early life a drayman, another that he was an honest brewer in London (Smyth, Obituary, p. 48; Second Narrative of the late Parliament; Harleian Miscellany, iii. 481). He entered the parliamentary army as a captain, and was a major in 1644 when Essex's infantry was forced to surrender in Cornwall (Rushworth, v. 409; Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. p. 38). When the new model was organised, Pride was made lieutenant-colonel of Edward Harley's regiment of foot (ib. p. 49; Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, 1854, p. 329). Colonel Harley was absent during the campaign of 1645, and Pride commanded the regiment at Naseby, at the storming of Bristol, and at the capture of Dartmouth, distinguishing himself by his good service on all three occasions (ib. pp. 41, 77, 117, 181).
When the army and the parliament quarrelled, Pride was one of the officers most active in asserting the right of the soldiers to petition for the redress of their grievances. Harley complained of his conduct to the House of Commons, and he was called to the bar to answer for his conduct (Commons' Journals, v. 129; Lords' Journals, ix. 115; Report on the Portland MSS. i. 418). He signed the vindication of the officers of 7 April 1647, took part in the preparation of the charge against the eleven members, and was finally given the command of the regiment in place of Harley (Clarke Papers, i. 2, 151; Rushworth, vi. 471). In the second civil war Pride's regiment served under Cromwell in the Welsh campaign and at the battle of Preston (ib. vii. 1118; Carlyle, Cromwell, letter 64). It presented, in conjunction with Deane's regiment, a petition demanding the punishment of the king, and formed part of the force which occupied London at the beginning of December 1648 (Deane, Life of Admiral Deane, p. 324; Clarke Papers, ii. 65). On 6 Dec. 1648, Pride, acting under instructions received from Fairfax, set a guard round the entrances to the House of Commons, forcibly prevented about ninety members from entering, and arrested over forty others, in order to frustrate the intended agreement with the king. When Prynne demanded to know the authority by which Pride acted, he pointed to the soldiers standing round with their swords and muskets, and told him that was the commission (Old Parliamentary History, xviii. 447–71; Commons' Journals, vi. 93). This violent purification of the House of Commons became popularly known as ‘Pride's purge.’
In January 1649 Pride was appointed one of the commissioners for the trial of Charles I, attended every sitting of the court excepting one, and signed the death-warrant. ‘His name,’ says Noble, ‘is so strangely written, that it is scarce legible; and, though his beginning is said to be so humble, yet there is a seal of arms after his name, bearing a chevron inter 3 animals heads erased’ (House of Cromwell, i. 418). Pride's regiment remained in London through 1649 to guard the parliament, and the colonel himself was, on 21 Dec. 1649, elected a member of the common council (Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, ii. 319).
In 1650 he accompanied Cromwell to Scotland, commanded a brigade at Dunbar, and took part in the following year at the battle of Worcester (Carlyle, Cromwell, letter 140; Cary, Memorials of the Civil War, ii. 358). On 14 May 1652 parliament rewarded his services with a grant of forfeited lands in Scotland to the value of 500l. per annum (Commons' Journals, vii. 132).
Pride played no great part in politics, and was not a member of any of the parliaments elected during the Protectorate, excepting that of 1656, nor of any of the councils of state. He inclined to the advanced republican section of the officers, and in 1654, when his regiment was sent to Scotland, it was reported that the colonel was kept in England because he was distrusted by the Protector (Thurloe, ii. 414). But his stay in England may perhaps be explained by the fact that on 7 Nov. 1654 he had entered into a contract, jointly with Denis Gauden and others, for the victualling of the navy (Rawlinson MSS. A. 216, f. 257, Bodleian Library). He had become rich enough to buy Nonesuch Park and House in Surrey, and in 1655–6 was high sheriff of that county (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655–6, p. 317).
On 17 Jan. 1656 the Protector knighted him, performing the ceremony with a faggot stick, if Ludlow is to be believed (Memoirs, ed. 1894, ii. 25). He was also appointed on 25 March 1656 one of the commissioners for securing the peace of London (Cal. State Papers, Dom., 1655–6, p. 238).
Pride rigorously suppressed cock-fighting, and had the bears which were kept for bear-baiting killed, exploits which were satirically celebrated by royalist wits:
- The crime of the bears was they were cavaliers,
- And had formerly fought for the king.
(Rump Songs, 1662, p. 299; Carte, Original Letters, ii. 83). In the agitation among the officers against the proposal to make Cromwell king, Pride played a very important part, talked of armed opposition, and concerted the army petition against kingship which finally caused Cromwell to refuse the crown (Ludlow, ii. 25; Thurloe, i. 749). Nevertheless, after the passing of the petition and advice, he accepted a place in Cromwell's new House of Lords. ‘He hath now changed his principles and his mind with the times,’ commented a republican pamphleteer, adding that ‘the lawyers need have no fear now that he would hang up their gowns alongside of the captive Scottish colours in Westminster Hall, as he had once threatened’ (Harleian Miscellany, iii. 481).
Pride signed the proclamation declaring Richard Cromwell successor to his father (Cromwelliana, p. 176). He died on 23 Oct. 1658, and was buried at Nonesuch on 2 Nov. According to a newspaper, his last words were ‘that he was very sorry for these three nations, whom he saw in a most sad and deplorable condition’ (The Weekly Intelligence, 1–8 Nov. 1659).
At the Restoration the commons avenged the wrongs of the king and the insults to their own members by voting that Pride should be attainted (15 May 1660), and that his carcass should be exhumed, drawn to Tyburn, hung up in its coffin, and be buried under the gallows (4 Dec. 1660). This sentence was executed on the bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw; but, according to Noble, Pride's escaped the indignity. His estates, however, were confiscated, and Nonesuch Park was restored to the crown (Commons' Journals, viii. 27, 73, 197).
Pride married Elizabeth, natural daughter of Thomas Monck, brother of the Duke of Albemarle. He had by her two daughters: Elizabeth, wife of John Sherwin, and another who married Robert, son of Colonel Valentine Walton. A son, Thomas Pride, was lieutenant in his father's regiment in November 1647, attained the rank of captain, and was left out in the reorganisation of July 1659 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1658–9, p. 378). He married Rebecca, daughter of William Brydges, seventh lord Chandos (Collins, Peerage, ed. Brydges, vi. 726).
[Noble's House of Cromwell, 1787, i. 417, and the same author's Lives of the English Regicides, 1798, ii. 132. Other authorities are quoted in the article.]