‘I do not think any Romance, any Fabulous Tragedy, can produce the like’.
Opening speech of the Lord Chief Baron as the Trial of the Regicides, 1660.
A regicide is an individual who is involved in the killing of a king. On 30th January 1649, Charles 1st, King of England, was beheaded. It was the culmination of events that had begun almost a decade earlier with the English Civil War. For the very first time, a King of England had been tried and sentenced to death. Here we have two 17th century portrait miniatures set in an 18th century frame. The upper watercolour portrait from the Commonwealth period, is inscribed on the mount : Sir Thomas Wayte, Regicide. Wayte wears a simple lawn collar and armour similar to Robert Walker’s portraits of Oliver Cromwell painted during the early 1650’s. Based on the sitter’s hairstyle, this work probably dates to the 1650’s. It is in the manner of Samuel Cooper. The lower portrait is a drawing of his son, Sir Nicholas Wayte, in Restoration attire, the drawing dating from the latter part of the 17th century. It is inscribed on the mount : Sir Nicholas Wayte, Son of Sir Thomas. Thomas Waite [or Wayte] was an English soldier and politician who fought for Parliament in the English Civil War and one of the 59 regicides who signed the death warrant of Charles 1st. Brought to trial as a regicide after the Restoration, Waite pleaded that he had been forced by Cromwell to sit on the High Court of Justice and bullied into signing the death warrant. He fared better than some of the other regicides who were hung, drawn and quartered. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was last heard of in February 1668 where he was imprisoned on Jersey. The top miniature measures 2 inches by 1 and ¾ inches and the bottom drawing measures 1 and 1/3 inches by 1 and ¼ inches. The wooden frame measures 5.5 inches by 4 inches. History.
The death warrant of Charles 1st signed by 59 regicides.
Below : leather hat with iron bands reputedly worn by Lord John Bradshaw for protection as he presided over the trial of Charles 1st in 1649. [Ashmolean Museum].