Notable Phelps Family Members
John Phelps, Court Clerk at the Trial of King Charles I
Clerk and Registrar of the Committee for Plundered Ministers
John Phelps was born in about 1619 in Salisbury, County Wilts, England. In 1648-49, he was called by England's "Rump Parliament" to serve as Clerk of High Court at the trial of King Charles I. On 14 May 1660 the House of Commons voted the arrest of Phelps and his fellow clerk Broughton. Phelps evaded pursuit and was at Lausanne, Switzerland in the company of Ludlow, one of the regicides. (1)
Reference is made in our English correspondence to John Phelps, clerk of the court that convicted Charles I.
Says Harper's Pictorial History of England, edition of 1849, 111-377, "The name was anciently spelled 'Phyllypes,' but has always been pronounced 'Phelps.' After the time of Edward IV, the superfluous letters were dropped.
The family has been for a number of centuries in the county of Stafford, England. John Phelps, who dwelt upon the Nether Teyne in England, the soil of Francis Phelps, who died in the reign of Edward IV, left with other issue at his decease, in 1641, Anthony, William and John.
|For more information on John Phelps, see David Phelps' excellent research into the History of John Phelps.|
This family opposed the High Church, the Prerogative Party of Stafford,
and Bishop Laud. The British church and government under Charles I was becoming insufferably
hieratic, tyrannical, and tax-hungry. Common resentment among the English
people led soon to the English Revolution beginning in 1642. Agents intercepted
his secret invitations to foreign kings and armies, that they invade England,
crush Parliament and the English Constitution, massacre his English opponents,
and restore Charles to his pretended "Dei gratia" royal privileges.
This eventually led to the beheading of King Charles for treason in 1649.
Charles Stuart incorrigibly continued to hold his dynastic interest separate
and above those of Parliament and the British people, and ultimately Parliament
had no alternative but to end his conspiracies, par coup de hache
("by blow of axe").
John Phelps became private secretary to Oliver Cromwell, and in the print which has been preserved of the trial of Charles I, is represented as serving in the capacity of clerk of the court on that occasion. (Note: The print below with a picture of the trial of Charles I may be found in the British Museum, "Nalson's Record of the Trial of Charles I, 1668," and a copy of the same is herewith given.)
Says the late John Lloyd Phelps, Esq., "In an old guide book of Switzerland and Savoy, I find, speaking of Vevey Cathedral, 'In this church are buried Edward Ludlow, the regicide, and Andrew Broughton, who read the sentence of death on Charles I, and also somewhere that Mr. Phelps was with Ludlow. These men sought refuge here at the restoration [of Charles' crown].
In Clarendon's correspondence with the Lord President, 1685-6, Wealsman, "John Phelps of Vevey, ill reputation and sheriff thereof." Answer: "Mr. Phelps is so far from being of ill reputation that there is not any man in the county, nor in the army, under a better character. He is son of a loyal gentleman, Col. Edward Phelps, and brother of Sir Edward Phelps of Somerset."
The within autotype plate is from Nalson's Record of the Trial of Charles I above referred to: and the following is an explanation of the same.
"Extracts from a True Copy of the Journal of the High Court Of Justice for the Tryal of K. Charles I."
Taken by J. Nalson, L. L. D., Jan.4th, 1688 London, 1684, folio. (Facing is the plate which has been re-produced by the autotype process.)
Monday, January 8th, 1648.
Page 7. And in order to the more regular and due proceedings of the said Court, they nominate officers, and accordingly chose Mr. Aske, Dr. Dorislaus, Mr.Steel and Mr. Cooke, counsel, to attend the said Court. Mr. Greaves and Mr. John Phelpes, clerks, to whom notice thereof was ordered to be given.
P. 12. Mr. Andrew Broughton attended according to former order, and it was thereupon again Ordered, That Andrew Broughton and John Phelpes be, and they are hereby constituted clerks of the said Court, and injoyned to give their attendance from time to time accordingly.
P. 122. Painted Chamber, Feb. 2nd, 1648.
The commissioners being met. (Various orders were made after which)
P. 123. Attested per John Phelpes, clerk to the said Court. (At end of all.)
Examined and attested to be a true copy from the original. by me. John Nalson
(1) Excerpted from The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $201 by ordering through us.) Two volumes. By Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Eagle Publishing Company of Pittsfield, Mass., 1899) (Vol I, p, 8, 22, 54-57)