Colonel Adrian Scrope of Wormsley, Oxfordshire - born about 1600
Adrian Scrope was a son of Sir Adrian Scrope of Hambleden, Bucks. He was born about 12 January, 1600-01. He was a direct descendant of the family of Buckinghamshire, the head of which was ennobled. He himself occupied the Scrope mansion at Wormsley, Oxfordshire, England.
He married Mary Waller (born 1605; died 1660 in Charing Cross, London, England) on 29 November, 1624 in Southwark, Surrey, England. They had children:
He was believed to be the regicide, Col. Adrian Scrope, whose signature is on the death warrant of King Charles I. Colonel Adrian Scrope was prominent under Cromwell in the Great Rebellion; fought at Edgehill and other battles, was Governor of Bristol Castle, a Commissioner to Scotland, and was appointed one of the High Court of Justice which condemned Charles the First to be beheaded. He attended that Court with exemplary regularity, sat close to Bradshaw, the President, was 37th to sign the death warrant on Jan. 27, 1648. During the political revolutions of 1659-60, he apparently remained neutral and had some prospect of escape at the Restoration of Charles the Second. He surrendered himself in obedience to the King's proclamation; the House of Commons voted he should have the benefit of the Act of Indemnity on payment of one year's rent, but the House of Lords ordered all the King's judges to be arrested and excepted Scrope absolutely from pardon. Later, the Commons reiterated their vote in Scrope's favour, but the Lords remained firm. Taken altogether, this was an inexcusable breach of faith, as Scrope had surrendered in reliance upon the King's proclamation.
At his Trial, held at Old Bailey, Oct. 12, 1660, Scrope defended himself with dignity and moderation. He admitted, reluctantly, that he had signed the death warrant of Charles the First. Pleaded that "he was not in the parliament, and that which was done in the high court of justice, it was done by a commission from the parliament, and it was that authority that was then accounted the supreme authority of the nation." Answering this plea, the presiding judge gave an exposition of the British Constitution, showed that the so-called Parliament which had appointed the High Court of Justice was not only unconstitutional but unrepresentative, for "there was but forty-six sat, whereas there were above two hundred and forty excluded," and said : "When men shall assume their acts by obeying them, it is an aggravation." Scrope then pleaded : "If I have been misled, I am not a single person that has been misled, for I see a great many faces that were misled at that time as well as myself," and "I hope that an error of the judgement shall not be accounted an error of the will, for I never went to the work with a malicious heart," to which Lord Chief Barron replied : "If a man do an act of this nature, that may be some kind of excuse to God, but towards man you are to look to the fact." Scrope then reminded the Court that he had surrendered himself on the King's proclamation, but Richard Browne, lord mayor elect of London, in whom "there was great meanness, if not worse," certainly a renegade, for he had been formerly a major-general in the parliamentary army and a kind of a friend of Scrope's, now anxious to prove his loyalty to the new regime, swore that since the restoration of Charles the Second, Scrope had used words apparently justifying the late King's execution and had not pronounced it murder, saying "some are of the opinion, and some of another," and this evidence, which also led to the abandonment of Scrope by the Commons, sealed his fate and he was executed at Charing Cross, London, England on Oct. 17, 1660, aged 58.
The Chief Justice, who treated Scrope with great civility and was as just as could be expected at the time, stated : "Mr. Scrope to give him his due is not such a person as some of the rest, but he was unhappily engaged in this bloody business." Noble in his "Lives of the Regicides," states : "It was a thousand pities that if so many were to die as public examples, some of the others were equally guilty of the King's death, and whose lives were a disgrace to any cause, were not substituted in hes stead." Ludlow, a contemporary, said : "His port and mean were noble, and the endowments of his mind every way answerable," and an account of his behaviour in prison and at the gallows describes him as "a comely ancient gentleman," and dwells on his cheerfulness and courage. The night preceeding his death, a nephew came to him in his dungeon and requested him to repent of the part he acted in the King's death, and submit to the present King's mercy, to which he replied, "avoid satan," and this same night he composed himself and "slept so sound he snored." At the gallows he referred to "him through whose means I was brought here to suffer, I say no more, the Lord forgives him, I shall not name him," and in his last prayer, he asked for "strength to stand and endure the present hour of temptation," after which the executioner performed his bloody office.
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