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Col. Daniel Axtell—Regicide

Axtell, Col. Daniel (1622-1660) - regicide, son of William Axtell of Berkhamsted, England. As a Puritan political upstart, he tried his best to swing the vote in favor of King Charles I’s execution in 1649. Lady Ann Fairfax interrupted the king’s trial proceedings, and Axtell threatened to shoot her.  He also bullied and beat the relatively quiet and probably fearful soldiers in attendance to make them cry for "justice" and "execution" of their own divinely-anointed king. The trial transcript from October 12, 1660 at Hickes-Hall read:

Mr. Axtell, Prisoner at the Bar, commanded his Souldiers to cry out, Justice, which the Souldiers not readily obeying of him, I saw him beat four or five of them with his Cane , until they cried out, (with himself) Justice, Justice, Execution, Execution, which made me turn to a Noble Lord, by whom I then stood, and said, Pray my Lord take notice, there is not above 4 or 5 that cry out Justice, Justice : I heard also of their spitting in the Kings Face; and I think no bodies sufferings have been so like those of our Saviour Christ Jesus, as his Majesties were.


After the vote mentioned by the trial transcript, Colonel Daniel Axtell, then, in 1649, captain of the Parliamentary Guard, led the convicted king to a scaffold erected at Whitehall, London.  Presumably, “the people,” or to whomever that phrase then referred, wanted their monarch dead. In one swing of the axe, the Interregnum or Parliamentary rule began. It would last for eleven years. To Tory supporters of the king, Axtell was a traitor; to the new Commonwealth, Axtell was a hero. Where be the treason here?

Axtell then served the Commonwealth as the leader of the Irish invasion and became notorious for cruelty. A year after his appointment as commander of the Irish invasion army, Oliver Cromwell suspended Axtell for killing prisoners who had surrendered after the promise of quarter. On his return to England, a Royalist privateer captured him and held him prisoner in the Isle of Scilly. Upon release, he surprisingly returned again as the governor of Ireland.

After the Restoration in 1660, Axtell was then accused of having behaved “discourteously towards the King.” Col. Axtell, now a traitor and no longer a hero, was summarily executed, drawn and quartered, the four parts of his body distributed to the gates of London.

“A warrant was granted for searching the house and warehouse of Mr. [Daniel] Axtell, son of Col. Axtell… for the said pamphlet and other seditious papers.”  Royalists then hunted his family who fled. The younger Daniel Axtell (1640-1683), son of the regicide, escaped to the new colony of Carolina and became a prominent landgrave there. Quaker Proprietor John Archdale granted him thousands of acres of land in Carolina. Daniel’s brother, Dr. William Axtell (1644-1723) left for Jamaica, married and settled first in St. Catherine’s and then in St. Andrew’s Parish, becoming an Assemblyman there. His son, Daniel, was arrested with Jasper Ashworth as accessories to piracy in 1716. William died in Port Royal in 1723. The regicide’s brother Thomas (1619-1646) founded the honored Axtell family of New England.

































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