Fleetwood, Charles

, lord deputy of Ireland during the usurpation, descended of a good family in Lincolnshire and Staffordshire, was the son of sir William Fleetwood, knt. cup-bearer to James I. and Charles I. and comptroller of Woodstock park. His grandfather, sir William Fleetwood, had been receiver of the court of wards, an office, which in May 1644, was conferred upon the subject of this article, who embarked on the parliamentary side in the beginning of the rebellion. He was next, in May 1644-45, advanced to the rank of colonel of horse, and in Oct. following made governor of Bristol, and knight of the shire for the county of Bucks. In July 1647, he was appointed one of the commissioners of the army for treating with those of the parliament, with relation to the points in dispute between those two bodies, but notwithstanding his zeal for the interests of the former, he was not personally concerned in the death of Charles I. After the establishment of the commonwealth he was raised to the rank of lieutenant-general, and in Feb. 1650-1 chosen a member of the council of state, and Sept. 3 following, had a considerable share in the victory gained at Worcester over king Charles II. Soon after this he was present at the conference held between several members of the parliament and the principal officers of the army, at the | speaker’s house, concerning the settlement of the nation, in which he declared that it appeared to him very difficult to determine, whether an absolute republic, or a mixed monarchy, was the most proper form of government to be established; though the soldiers in general discovered themselves to be averse to any thing of monarchy, while every one of them was a monarch in his own regiment or company. The lawyers, however, were, most of them, for a mixed monarchical government.

After the death of general Ireton, Cromwell fixed upon him to marry his widow, not only on account of his own interest, but also that of his numerous relations, several of whom were persons of no small weight in the army, particularly Lambert; and being now Cromwell’s son-in-law, the latter in 1652 appointed him commander in chief of the forces in Ireland, and one of the commissioners for the civil affairs of that kingdom; upon which posts he entered in September following, and under his conduct Ireland was soon reduced to a perfect subjection; and he was made lord deputy of it after his father-in-law had assumed the protectorship. Notwithstanding this, he, in conjunction with Disbrowe and Lambert, vigorously opposed Cromwell’s taking the title of king, when pressed upon him by the parliament in May 1657; on which account, it is probable, he was soon after removed from his post of lord deputy, which was given to Henry Cromwell, the protector’s younger son: though Fleetwood had afterwards so much regard shewn him, as to he appointed, in December following, one of the other house of parliament.

Upon his brother-in-law Richard Cromwell’s succeeding to the title of protector, he signed the order for his proclamation; but soon discovered his enmity to that succession, being disappointed of the protectorship, which he had expected, and determined that no single person should be his superior. He joined therefore with the discontented officers of the army in deposing Richard, after he had persuaded him to dissolve his parliament; and invited the members of the long parliament, who had continued sitting till April 20, 1653, when they were dissolved by Oliver Cromwell, to return to the exercise of their trust. Upon their meeting in May 1659, he was chosen one of the council of state, and the next month made lieutenant general of the forces; which post he held till Oct. 12 following, when he was appointed one of the commissioners to govern | all the forces; and on the 17th of that month was nominated by the general council of state, commander in chief of all the forces. But in December 1659, finding that his interest declined in the army, who were now zealous to have the parliament sit again in honour, freedom, and safety, and that this, concurring with the general temper of the nation, would evidently restore the king, he was advised by Whitelocke to send immediately some person of trust to his majesty at Breda, with offers of restoring him to his rights, and by that means anticipate Monk, who had undoubtedly the same design. Fleetwood in return asked Whiteiocke, whether he was willing to undertake that employment; who consenting, it was agreed that he should prepare himself for the journey that evening or the^ next morning, while the general and his friends should draw up instructions for him. But sir Henry Vane, general Disbrowe, and col. Berry, coming in at that critical moment, diverted Fleetwood from this resolution; who alledged, that those gentlemen had reminded him of his promise, not to attempt any such affair without general Lambert’s consent; while Whitelocke, on the other hand, represented to him that Lambert was at too great a distance to give his assent to a business which must be immediately acted, and was of the utmost importance to himself and his friends. He appears, indeed, before that time, to have entertained some design of espousing the king’s interests, if he had had resolution to execute it; for lord Mordaunt, in a letter to the king, dated from Calais, October 11, 1659, asserts, that Fleetwood then 1 looked upon his majesty’s restoration as so clearly his interest as well as his duty, that he would have declared himself publicly, if the king or the duke of York had landed; and that although that engagement failed, he was still ready to come in to his majesty, whensoever he should attempt in person. Sir Edward Hyde likewise, in a letter to the marquis of Ormonde from Brussels of the same date, rves, that the general made then great professions of being converted, and of his resolution to serve the king upon the first opportunity. But the same noble writer, in his “History of the Rebellion,” represents Fleetwood as “a weak man, though very popular with all the praying part of the army, whom Lambert knew well how to govern, as Cromwell had done Fairfax, and then in like manner to lay him aside;” and that amidst tbo several desertions of | the soldiers from the interests of their officers to the parliament in December 1659, he remained still in consultation with the “committee of safety;” and when intelligence was brought of any murmur among the soldiers, by which a revolt might ensue, and he was desired to go among them to confirm them, he would fall upon his knees to his prayers, and could hardly be prevailed with to go to them. Besides, when he was among them, ancj in the middle of any discourse, he would invite them all to prayers, and put himself upon his Icnees before them. And when some of his friends importuned him to appear more vigorous in the charge he possessed, without which they must be all destroyed, they could get no other answer from him than that “God had spit in his face, and would not hear him.” So that it became no great wonder why Lambert had preferred him to the office of general, and been content with the second command for himself.

Upon the restoration he was one of the persons excepted out of the general act of pardon and indemnity, to suffer such pains, penalties, and forfeitures, not extending to life, as should be inflicted on them by an act to be made for that purpose. The remainder of his life he spent in great obscurity among his friends at Stoke-Newington, near London, where he died soon after the revolution, leaving issue by his second wife, Frances, daughter of Solomon Smith of Norfolk, esq. one son, Smith Fleetwood, of Feltwell in that county, esq. who marrying Mary, daughter of sir John Hartopp, bart. had two sons, Smith Fleetwood, and Charles Fleetwood, esqrs. General Fleetwood had likewise a daughter, Elizabeth, married to sir John Hartopp, bart 1


Birch’s Lives. Noble’s Memoirs ef the Cromwells, vol. II. p. 347.