General Henry Ireton 1611-1651 was born at Ireton House adjoining the church, of puritan parents prosecuted for their beliefs. He was 16 years old when awarded his Oxford University degree, trained as a lawyer and afterwards lived in a house to the west of our church.
In 1642 when Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham to gather an army against Parliament, Henry sided with Parliament and raised a troop of cavalry. He engaged in many battles, including Naseby in 1645 where Ireton led a raid on the Royalist camp taking prisoners, led the left wing of the army, fought bravely but was wounded and captured before escaping. He became Cromwell’s right-hand man and that same year Ireton married Bridget Cromwell, Oliver’s 22-year-old daughter. Such were his principles that when Parliament offered a settlement of two thousand pounds a year to him, he refused it.
Ireton emerged as one of the ablest politicians among the army leadership and wrote pamphlets on political questions and ideals. One of these, entitled “Agreement of the
People,” displays an amazing tolerance for the time on religious liberty – that all be allowed to practise their religion unmolested, provided they did not try to undermine the State.
After Charles I’s defeat and trial for treason, Ireton was a signatory to his death warrant – Charles was executed in 1649.
Ireton joined Cromwell’s Ireland campaign in 1649 and was left in command when Cromwell returned to England in 1650. Next year Ireton besieged Limerick, captured it but shortly afterwards died there of a fever. There was a grand funeral and interment in Henry VII’s Chapel Westminster Abbey, with a magnificent monument and epitaph. However, upon the Restoration of the monarchy the body was removed, and gibbeted at Tyburn, the head set upon a pole.
Ireton House was also the birthplace of Henry’s younger brother John (1615-1689). He became a London merchant, M.P. for the City of London in the Parliament of 1653, was Lord Mayor in 1658 and was knighted by Cromwell – but at the Restoration gave up the “dignity