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William Strode

William Strode (1598-1645), English parliamentarian, second son of Sir William Strode, of Newnham, Devonshire (a member of an ancient family long established in that county, which became extinct in 1897), and of Mary, daughter of Thomas Southcote of Bovey Tracey in Devonshire.

He was admitted as a student of the Inner Temple in 1614, matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1617, and took the degree of BA. in 1619. He was returned to parliament in 1624 for Beeralston, and represented the borough in all succeeding parliaments till his death. He from the first threw himself into opposition to Charles I and took a leading part in the disorderly scene of the 2nd of March 1629, when the speaker, Sir John Finch, refusing to put the resolution of Sir J Eliot against arbitrary taxation and innovations in religion, was held down in the chair (see Denzil Holles). Prosecuted before the star chamber, he refused "to answer anything done in the House of Parliament but in that House."

On May 7 a fresh warrant was issued, and a month later, to prevent his release on bail, he was sent by Charles with two of his fellow members to the Tower. Refusing to give a bond for his good behaviour, he was sentenced to imprisonment during the king's pleasure, and was kept in confinement in various prisons for eleven years. In January 1640, in accordance with the king's new policy of moderation, he was liberated; and on April 13 took his seat in the Short Parliament, with a mind embittered by the sense of his wrongs. In the Long Parliament, which met on November 3 1640, he was the first to propose the control by parliament over ministerial appointments, the militia, and its own duration; supported the Grand Remonstrance of November 7, 1641; and displayed a violent zeal in pursuing the prosecution of Strafford, actually proposing that all who appeared as the prisoner's counsel should be charged as conspirators in the same treason." As a result he was included among the five members impeached by Charles of high treason on January 3, 1642.

He opposed all suggestions of compromise with Charles, urged on the preparations for war, and on October 23 was present at the battle of Edgehill. In the prosecution of Laud he showed the same relentless zeal as he had in that of Strafford, and it was he who, on November 28, 1644, carried up the message from the Commons to the Lords, desiring them to hasten on the ordinance for the archbishop's execution. Strode did not long survive his victim. He is mentioned as having been elected a member of the assembly of divines on January 31 1645. He died on September 9 of the same year, and by order of parliament was accorded a public funeral in Westminster Abbey. The body was exhumed after the Restoration.

Strode was a man of strong character, but of narrow, though clear and decided judgment, both his good and his bad qualities being exaggerated by the wrongs he had suffered: Clarendon speaks of him as a man "of low account and esteem," who only gained his reputation by his accidental association with those greater than himself; but to his own party his "insuperable constancie" gave him a title to rank with those who had, at a time when the liberties of England hung in the balance, deserved best of their country.

The identity of the W Strode imprisoned in 1628 and of the W Strode impeached in 1642 has been questioned, but is now established (J Forster, Arrest of the Five Members, p 198, note; Life of Sir J. Eliot, ed. 1872, ii. 237, note; JL Sanford, Studies, p. 397; Gardiner, Hist. of England, ix. 223). On the other hand he is to be distinguished from Colonel Wm. Strode of Barrington, also parliamentarian and M.P., who died in 1666; and from William Strode (1602 or 1600-1645), the orator, poet and dramatist, whose poetical works were edited, with a memoir, by Bertram Dobell in 1907.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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