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WAITE or WAYTE, THOMAS (fl. 1634–1668), regicide, according to royalist authors was the son of an alehouse-keeper at Market Overton in Rutland. He was more probably the Thomas Waite, son of Henry Waite of Wymondham, Leicestershire, who was admitted to Gray's Inn on 6 March 1634 (Foster, Gray's Inn Register, p. 204). Waite took up arms for the parliament in 1642, and is mentioned in the spring of 1643 as a captain under Lord Grey of Groby and as garrisoning Rockingham Castle (Hist. MSS, Comm. 6th Rep. p. 79). In December 1643 he is styled colonel, was governor of Rutland, and defeated the royalists of Belvoir at Sproxton Heath and in other encounters (Report on the Duke of Portland's MSS. i. 165; Vicars, God's Ark, p. 110). In July 1644 Waite, who was the governor of Burley House, became involved in a dispute with Lord Grey; articles were drawn up against him and counter-petitions presented in his favour. On 11 Aug. 1645 parliament discharged him from further attendance in London, and annulled the order suspending him from his government (Commons' Journals, iii. 548, 558, 569, iv. 236, 356, 565; Lords' Joumals, vii. 27). On 9 Jan. 1647 he was ordered 2,166l. in satisfaction for moneys disbursed for the parliamentary cause, but by July 1650 he had received only 1,000l. of this sum, and was admitted to purchase certain confiscated lands of the Duke of Buckingham's of which he had a lease, the remainder of the debt being allowed as part of the purchase-money (Commons' Journals, v. 48, 689, vi. 449).

Waite was elected member for Rutland in July 1646. In June 1648 he distinguished himself by suppressing a royalist rising in the storming of Woodcroft House near Peterborough, in which they had taken refuge. Dr. Michael Jones, one of their leaders, was killed in the assault, the circumstances of whose death furnished Sir Walter Scott with a scene in Woodstock (Lords' Journals, x. 313; Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, p. 378). At the end of August Waite, under the command of Lord Grey, took part in the pursuit and capture of the Duke of Hamilton. He was one of the witnesses at Hamilton's subsequent trial, on the question whether the duke had surrendered to Grey's or Lambert's forces, and Hugh Peters in open court accused him of lying (Commons' Journals, v. 688; Burnet, Lives of the Hamiltons, 1852, pp. 491–4). In January 1649 Waite was appointed one of the commissioners for the trial of Charles I; he attended three meetings of the court, and signed the death-warrant (Nalson, Trial of Charles I).

Waite's political importance ended with the expulsion of the Long parliament in April 1653. In January 1660 he wrote to Lenthall expressing his joy at the second restoration of that assembly (Portland MSS. i. 692). At the Restoration Waite obeyed the proclamation summoning the regicides to surrender, was tried, pleaded not guilty, and alleged that he had been forced by Cromwell and Ireton to take his place among the king's judges (Trial of the Regicides, pp. 29, 268; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 156). He was condemned to death, but, as he had surrendered, his name was included in the list of those whose execution was not to take place without a special act of parliament. An act for the purpose passed the commons in January 1662, and Waite was summoned to the bar of the House of Lords on 7 Feb. 1662 to see what he could say for himself. The act was eventually dropped, and his life was consequently spared; but he passed the rest of his days in prison (Commons' Journals, viii. 61, 63, 139; Lords' Journals, xi. 380). An undated petition from his wife, Jane Waite, prays for his release; she states that she has supported him and her five children ever since his imprisonment, but, being sick and feeble, is unable to do so any longer (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1665–6, p. 165). In February 1668 he was still a prisoner in Jersey (ib. 1667–8, p. 229).

[Noble's Lives of the Regicides, 1798, ii. 310; other authorities mentioned in the article.]

C. H. F.