Death Warrant of King Charles I
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- Held At: Parliamentary Archives: GB-061
- Catalogue Reference: HL/PO/JO/10/1/297A
- Former Archival Reference: Display Document E.121
- Date: 26 Jan 1649
- Level: File
- Extent: 1 membrane
- Description: This evocative document, authorising the execution of King Charles I, bears the signatures and seals of 59 of the commissioners who sat in judgement upon the king and became known as the 'regicides'. It is dated 29 Jan 1648/9 (it was deposited in the House of Lords on 31 July 1660). On the back of the warrant is written in a 17th-century hand, 'The bloody Warr[an]t for murthering the King'.
The warrant for the execution of Charles I is one of the most dramatic of all the records relating to English political history. While some of Charles's predecessors had suffered early and bloody deaths, none had been subjected to formal legal proceedings in a High Court of Justice, established by legislation passed by a Parliament professing to be the supreme power in the land.
Charles was placed on trial in January 1649. Three times the king refused to plead, denying the competence of the court to try him. After four days of proceedings, his refusal to plead was judged to be a confession and he was sentenced to death by beheading. The sentence was carried out on January 30th in front of the Banqueting House in Whitehall.
Below is a transcript of the document:
At the high Co[ur]t of Justice for the tryinge and iudginge of Charles Steuart Kinge of England January xxixth Anno D[omi]ni 1648.
Whereas Charles Steuart Kinge of England is and standeth convicted attaynted and condemned of High Treason and other high Crymes, And sentence uppon Saturday last was pronounced against him by this Co[ur]t to be putt to death by the severinge of his head from his body Of w[hi]ch sentence execuc[i]on yet remayneth to be done, These are therefore to will and require you to see the said sentence executed In the open Streete before Whitehall uppon the morrowe being the Thirtieth day of this instante moneth of January betweene the houres of Tenn in the morninge and Five in the afternooone of the same day w[i]th full effect And for soe doing this shall be yo[u]r sufficient warrant And these are to require All Officers and Souldiers and other the good people of this Nation of England to be assistinge unto you in this service Given under o[ur] hands and Seales
To Colonell Francis Hacker, Colonell Huncks and Lieutenant Colonell Phayre and to every of them.
Jo. Bradshawe, Tho. Grey, O. Cromwell, Edw. Whalley, M. Liversey, John Okey, J. Da[n]vers, Jo. Bourchier, H. Ireton, Tho. Mauleverer, Har. Waller, John Blakiston, J. Hutchinson, Willi. Goffe, Tho. Pride, Pe. Temple, T. Harrison, J. Hewson, Hen. Smyth, Per. Pelham, Ri. Deane, Robert Tichborne, H. Edwardes, Daniel Blagrave, Owen Rowe, Willm. Purefoy, Ad. Scrope, James Temple, A. Garland, Edm. Ludlowe, Henry Marten, Vinct. Potter, Wm. Constable, Rich. Ingoldesby, Willi. Cawley, Jo. Barkstead, Isaa. Ewer, John Dixwell, Valentine Wauton, Symon Mayne, Tho. Horton, J. Jones, John Moore, Gilbt. Millington, G. Fleetwood, J. Alured, Robt. Lilburne, Will. Say, Anth. Stapley, Greg. Norton, Tho. Challoner, Tho. Wogan, John Venn, Gregory Clement, Jo. Downes, Tho. Wayte, Tho. Scot, Jo. Carew, Miles Corbet
- Language: English
- System of Arrangement: Note that the death warrant is filed among the papers laid on the table of the House for 31 July 1660, when it finally came into the House of Lords.
- Related Material: The Engrossment of the Official Record of the Trial of King Charles I is HL/PO/JO/10/14/11A. The Parliamentary Archives also holds death warrants for the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland, and Lord Capel (HL/PO/JO/10/1/281). See also the Order to the Lieutenant of the Tower, dated 23 July 1660, to examine Colonel Hacker concerning the Warrant for the King's execution (HL/PO/JO/10/1/296).
- Related Record:
- Access Status: Open
- Access Conditions: This record contains information of outstanding constitutional or historical importance and access to the original document is restricted. Requests to view will be dealt with by providing access to a copy.
- Reproduction Conditions: Copies should be made from the digital surrogate of this record.
- Physical Description: Manuscript on parchment (43.8 cm x 21 cm) with seals
- Finding Aids: Calendared in HMC 7th Report, p viii and p 71. The calendar also includes information regarding the trials of the regicides (p ix).
- Copies Exist: There may be a copy of this record available for online viewing. Click here to go to the record viewing page.
- Publication Notes: For further information regarding the Death Warrant see: A W McIntosh, "The Death Warrant of Charles I - The Mystery of the Death Warrant of Charles I: Some Further Historic Doubts" (House of Lords Record Office Memorandum 66, London, 1981).
For more information regarding the display of the Death Warrant, 1977-2004, see "An Exhibition of the Records of Parliament in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords" (House of Lords Record Office Memorandum 62, London, 1979).
For further information regarding Francis Hacker (d. 1660), parliamentarian army officer and regicide, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The ODNB has information on many of the other regicides also.