Hardress Waller

Sir Hardress Waller (c. 1604 – 1666), cousin of Sir William Waller, was an English parliamentarian of note[lower-alpha 1] who was condemned to death for his part in the regicide of Charles I. His life was spared owing to the efforts of his friends and instead condemned to life imprisonment.


Born in Groombridge, Kent, and descendant of Sir Richard Waller of Groombridge Place.[1] As an MP, Waller was knighted by Charles I in 1629.[2] That same year he married Elizabeth Dowdall, the daughter of an English landowner in Ireland and acquired a large estate in Castletown, Kilcornan, County Limerick which the family held until the 19th Century Irish Land Acts. He gained military experience in serving against the rebels in Ireland,[2] where in 1644 he was made Governor of Cork.

He was with the King at Oxford in 1643 to present a petition before returning to Ireland to continue his Military service under Lord Inchiquin. He then made the decision to take up arms against the King and returned to England to take up a command in the Parliament Army.

From 1645 until the end of the Civil War he was in England commanding a regiment in the New Model Army. He was Colonel Pride's chief assistant when the latter purged the House of Commons in 1648. However history most remembers Waller as one of the king's judges and one of those who signed the death warrant.[2]

Sir Hardress Waller was back in Ireland[2] in 1650 as a major-general in Cromwell's invasion force. When Cromwell returned to England in May 1650, Waller stayed in Ireland and assisted Henry Ireton and Edmund Ludlow in completing the subjugation. He captured Carlow Castle in July 1650 and played a major role in the siege of Limerick in 1651, after which he was appointed governor of Limerick. Waller was involved in the settlement of Ireland and remained loyal to Cromwell throughout the 1650s. Together with his son-in-law Sir Henry Ingoldsby he was MP for counties Clare, Limerick and Kerry in the Protectorate Parliaments of 1654, 1656 and 1659.

He supported the establishment of the Protectorate against opposition from fellow officers, and came over to the republicans after Richard Cromwell's resignation in 1659. Waller opposed General Lambert's military coup against Parliament in October 1659 and led the officers who seized Dublin Castle in Parliament's name in December.

Early in 1660, however, he became alarmed at moves to reinstate the MPs he had helped to expel during Pride's Purge. Waller seized Dublin Castle again on 15 February 1660 but, finding little support, he was obliged to surrender to Sir Charles Coote three days later. He was imprisoned at Athlone, then returned to England on the intervention of his cousin Sir William Waller.

Waller returned to England in 1660. After the Restoration he fled to France, but soon surrendered himself to the authorities as a regicide.[2] Samuel Pepys' diary records how his friend Henry Moore visited "... to tell me how Sir Hards. Waller (who only pleads guilty), Scott, Peters, Harrison, &c. were this day arraigned at the bar at the Sessions House",[3][lower-alpha 2] having been indicted before a grand jury of Middlesex on the previous day at Hicks Hall.

Waller was condemned to death but his life was spared owing to the efforts of his friends. He was, however, kept in prison and was still a captive in Mont Orgueil, Jersey, when he died.[2]


He married Elizabeth Dowdall, daughter of Sir John Dowdall of Kilfenny,[4] and had two daughters:


  1. Named as Sir Hardresse Waller in the Proclamation for apprehending the late King's Judges (House of Lords 1767–1830, pp. 51–53)
  2. Pepys was misinformed, as both Waller and George Fleetwood pleaded guilty ( ).
  1. Hughes, Thomas Patrick, and Munsell, Frank "American Ancestry, Vol. XI" pg. 144
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Chisholm 1911, p. 284.
  3. Pepys, Wednesday 10 October 1660.
  4. Fitzgerald, Patrick "History, Topography, and Antiquities of the County and City of Limerick" pg. 352
  5. "Familiae Minorum Gentium, Vol. 39" pg. 919
  6. Burke & Burke 1844, p. 605.



Further reading

Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Waller, Hardress.
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