Monday, November 26, 2018

I, Regicide (10x removed)

As I was climbing the family tree this weekend, I learned that my 10th great-grandfather was Lord John Lisle, one of Cromwell's cronies who signed the death warrant of Charles I. He was prominent in the Protectorate and administered Cromwell's oath of office when he became Lord Protector in 1653.

After the Restoration, he fled to Switzerland along with other regicides. He considered himself somewhat safe from Charles II's vengeance until August 11, 1664, when he was gunned down by a blunderbuss-wielding assassin in a Lausanne churchyard.

He was the husband of Dame Alice Lisle, who is famous for being the last woman beheaded under law in England. She was convicted of harboring refugees from Monmouth's rebellion in 1685. Judge Jeffreys condemned her to be burnt at the stake, specifically noting who her husband had been, but the sentence was commuted to beheading. Alice was John Lisle's second wife. I'm descended from his daughter Alice by his first wife Mary Hobart.

Arrest of Dame Alice Lisle
Alice married John Hoar and they settled in Concord, MA. During King Philip's War, John created a refuge for Indians who were caught in the middle, not siding with their fellow natives and not trusted by the English settlers. The refuge was short lived. Samuel Moseley, one of the prominent captains in the war and a confirmed Indian hater, removed the Indians from John Hoar's refuge and marched them into internment on Deer Island in Boston harbor.

John Hoar was also a go-between with the Indians. In 1676 he negotiated the ransom and release of Mary Rowlandson, who had been captured by a band of Indians (which included Narragansett, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Nashaway) in the Attack on Lancaster, MA in February, 1675. Mary wrote a famous account of her captivity among the Indians.

John and Alice's daughter Mary married Benjamin Graves, my 8th great-grandfather, who served under Captain Thomas Wheeler during King Philip's War.

The Graveses have an interesting family tree, which is funny because the one Graves male ancestor for whom anyone has living memory is my 2nd great-grandfather George Graves. He died when my father was 10 years old. My father remembers him as a "crusty old duck" who sat in a rocking chair on the porch wrapped up in blankets and calling out orders to his daughter Minnie, my great-grandmother. My dad and his cousin Doug used to sneak up behind and make his chair rock violently. George would would yell and flail about with his cane trying to thwack them. My Grandmother recalled him as a "bluenose" who was a bit on the tyrannical side, not surprising given his solid Puritan heritage. Her family, the Van Buskirks (descended from New Amsterdam Dutch), never liked him.

Nevertheless, he had a fairly illustrious heritage. Other Graves ancestors were veterans of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. But I've found nothing in my ancestry so far that trumps having a regicide for an ancestor.


  1. Wow! Very interesting ancestors, David. I have to say having a female ancestor who was beheaded is quite unique, indeed!

    1. She's not a direct ancestor. Dame Alice was John Lisle's second wife, I'm descended from his first wife, Mary, who died in 1632. But it's an interesting connection. I read about Dame Alice years ago when I was reading up on Monmouth's rebellion. I never imagined that I had a connection. Earlier this year, I read the book "Killers of the King" about Charles II's pursuit of the regicides without any clue that John Lisle was an ancestor of mine.

    2. Close enough - i.e. "guilt" through association :) Lol!

  2. Interesting back story you have there, sir!

    1. I thought at one point that farther back the Graveses were descended from the 2nd Earl of Argyll, who was killed at Flodden in 1513. I followed some information back, but it turned out to be bogus. My 13th GG was Clarence James Campbell, who one source said was the son of John Campbell, Lord of Cawdor and son of Archibald Campbell, the 2nd Earl of Argyll. Alas. I couldn't find any supporting evidence. John Campbell didn't have a son named Clarence.