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John Lisle's Article in the British
Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford University Press © 1997

Lisle, John 1610?-1664

Name: Lisle, John
Dates: 1610?-1664
Active Date: 1650
Gender: Male

Field of Interest: Anti-establishment
Occupation: Regicide
Place of
   Education: Magdalen Hall, Oxford, Middle Temple
   Death: Lausanne
   Burial: Lausanne, Church of the city
Spouse: A daughter of Sir Henry Hobart, Alice
Sources: Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 665; Wood's Fasti Oxon...


Lisle, John 1610?-1664, regicide, born about 1610, was second son of Sir William Lisle of Wootton, Isle of Wight, by Bridget, daughter of Sir John Hungerford of Down Ampney, Gloucestershire (BERRY, County Genealogies, ‘Hampshire,' p. 174). On 25 Jan. 1625-6 he matriculated as a member of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and graduated B.A. in February 1625-6. He was called to the bar from the Middle Temple in 1633 and became a bencher of his inn in 1649 (FOSTER, Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714, p. 917). He was chosen M.P. for Winchester in March 1639-40, and again in October 1640. He advocated violent measures on the king's removal to the north, and obtained some of the plunder arising from the sale of the crown property. To the fund opened on 9 April 1642 for the ‘speedy reducing of the rebels’ in Ireland, Lisle contributed 600l. (RUSHWORTH, Hist. Coll. pt. iii. vol. i. p. 565). On the eviction of Dr. William Lewis (1592-1667) [q.v.] in November 1644 he was made master of St. Cross Hospital, near Winchester, and retained the office until June 1649. In 1644-5 he sat on the committee to investigate the charges preferred by Cromwell against the Earl of Manchester (Commons' Journals, iv. 25). He displayed his inveterate hostility to Charles in a speech delivered on 3 July 1645, before the lord mayor and citizens of London, with reference to the discovery of the king's letters at Naseby. It was printed. In December 1647, when the king was confined in the Isle of Wight, Lisle was selected as one of the commissioners to carry to him the four bills which were to divest him of all sovereignty. He spoke in the House of Commons on 28 Sept. 1648 in favour of rescinding the recent vote, that no one proposition in regard to the personal treaty with the king should be binding if the treaty broke off upon another; and again, some days later, urged a discontinuance of the negotiation with Charles. He took a prominent part in the king's trial. He was one of the managers, was present every day, and drew up the form of the sentence. He was appointed on 8 Feb. 1648-9 one of the commissioners of the great seal, and was placed on the council of state.

Lisle became one of Cromwell's creatures. He not only concurred in December 1653 in nominating Cromwell protector, but administered the oath to him; and having been reappointed lord commissioner, was elected member in the new parliament, on 12 July 1654, both for Southampton, of which town he was recorder, and for the Isle of Wight. He selected to sit for Southampton. In June previously he had been constituted president of the high court of justice, and in August he was appointed one of the commissioners of the exchequer. Lisle alone of his colleagues proposed to execute the ordinance for the better regulation of the court of chancery, which was submitted to the keepers of the seal, and owing to his subserviency to Cromwell was continued in his office on the removal of his colleagues in June 1655. He was again confirmed in it in October 1656 by Cromwell's third parliament, to which he was re-elected by Southampton. In December 1657 Cromwell summoned Lisle to his newly established house of peers. Richard Cromwell preserved him in his place; but when the Long parliament met again in May 1659, he was compelled to retire. The house, however, named him on 28 Jan. 1660 a commissioner of the admiralty and navy (ib. vii. 825).

When the Restoration was inevitable Lisle escaped to Switzerland establishing himself first at Vevay and afterwards at Lausanne, where he is said to have ‘charmed the Swiss by his devotion’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663-4), and was treated with much respect and ceremony. There he was shot dead on 11 Aug. 1664, on his way to church, by an Irishman known as Thomas Macdonnell [see art. Maccartain, William]. Macdonnell escaped, and Lisle was buried in the church of the city. His first wife was a daughter of Sir Henry Hobart, chief justice of the common pleas. His second wife Alice [q.v.] is noticed separately. With other issue he had two sons, John (d. 1709), of Dibden, Hampshire, and William, who adhered to the king and married the daughter of Lady Katherine Hyde (ib. 1660-1, p. 341).


Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 665; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), i. 422, 437; Foss's Judges, vi. 452-5; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644-65; Parl. Hist. vol. iii.; Howell's State Trials, iv. 1053 et seq., v. 875, 886, 908, xi. 297; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports v. vi. vii. and viii.; Ludlow's Memoirs.


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