Notable Phelps Family Members
John Phelps, Clerk of the Court at the Trial of King Charles 1
Clerk and Registrar of the Committee for Plundered Ministers
The following is also from Mr. Beadham:
From this time forward, John Phelps was a prominent man in the party to which he had attached himself, as is amply proved by the records of his time. He was clerk and registrar of the Committee for Plundered Ministers, and had chambers in the Old Palace in which the committee sat. On October 14, 1652, he was appointed clerk to the committee of Parliament which had been named to confer with deputies from Scotland. He was to be allowed a clerk assistant, and it was ordered that a request be made to the first-named committee to dispense with his attendance in the meantime. Note here how mindful of their own comfort were the members of this committee of Parliament, for Phelps was particularly enjoined to give instructions for matting the room in which they were to meet, and for fitting it up so that it might be very warm. At a later period Mr. Scobell, clerk of Parliament, was required to deliver to John Phelps all papers and books returned from Scotland touching delinquents and sequestrations.
A petition having been presented to the Council of State by John, Earl of Crawford, order was made September 1, 1653, that Mr. Phelps examine his books as to what was done by the Commissioners who had then lately been sent into Scotland as to whether any order was given by them for allowing the Earl's wife the fifth part of his estate for maintenance of herself and children. Shortly afterwards, October 8, in the same year, three persons, of whom Mr. Phelps was one, were appointed to sort the Scotch records in the Tower, to report to the council, and in the meantime not to permit any records to go to Scotland but what should be particularly viewed by them. It is, however, in 1654, that we have the most interesting of all the references to John Phelps.
He had purchased the manor and royalty of Hampton Court on the banks of the Thames, part of the inheritance of the Crown, with which those who were then in power arrogated to themselves the right to deal. But this property in every way so desirable, was not to remain with John Phelps, for the first among them had set his heart upon it, and his wish must be gratified. The matter was worked out in due form and, by a committee, negotiations were opened with Phelps, the upshot being that an agreement for repurchase at £750 was concluded and the attorney-general was to direct the preparation of such assurances as would settle the property to "His Highness' " use, that is, to the use of Oliver, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England. There was no attempt to push the price to an extreme figure Phelps was too shrewd a mail for anything of that kind seeing that of two valuations, one was higher by £266 than the price he had agreed to accept.
The affair was concluded when, August 8, 1654, a warrant was directed to the Commissioners of Excise to pay to Phelps the stipulated sum. It appears incidentally that John Phelps was well up in shorthand, which must have helped him more than a little, for he took in that way all the evidence adduced on the trial of three persons for endeavoring to raise forces against the Protector. Not long before the overthrow of his party, an order in Parliament was made May 13, 1659, that £50 be given to John Phelps for his services as clerk of Parliament, and the money was paid soon afterwards.
Ample evidence has thus been adduced that Phelps was very useful to his party, and was not only willing but able to serve it in important capacities, whilst his continued employment show that, so far, his services were understood. This on the one side, and on the other not a word has been found which suggests that he was unduly recompensed, so that he is not to be numbered amongst the many whom, at the public cost, the Cromwellites rewarded with a lavish and unsparing hand, far beyond anything that was legitimate.
Both clerks Andrew Broughton and John Phelps later found it expeditious to leave England when King Charles' successors sought to prosecute them for their actions. In England, a special court was appointed and in October 1660 those Regicides who were still alive and living in Britain were brought to trial. Ten were found guilty and were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. John Okey, one of the regicides who signed the death warrant of Charles I, was brought back from Holland along with Miles Corbet, friend and lawyer to Cromwell and John Barkeshead, former constable of the Tower of London. They were all imprisoned in the Tower. From there they were taken to Tyburn and hung, drawn, and quartered.
Andrew Broughton and John Phelps were fortunate to live out their lives in exile in Vevay, Switzerland. American descendant Wlliam Walter Phelps and another descendent later erected a monument to John Phelps. John Phelps is buried alongside Edward Ludlow, one of the judges who condemned Charles I, and his fellow clerk Andrew Broughton.
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. 1 p 53-57.