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Death Warrant of King Charles I

By Elsa Whiteley

This is a copy of the death warrant used to authorise the execution of Charles I. The date that this copy was made is unknown but the original was created in 1649. It contains the signatures of important governmental figures at the time, including Oliver Cromwell. One of the signatures is that of William Cawley. He was born in 1602 and was MP for Chichester (1628) and Midhurst (1640). During the Civil War he was a supporter of Parliament and he attended all High Court of Justice meetings on the King's sentence.

After the English Civil War the King, Charles I, was put on trial by Parliament and condemned. This was the first time that an English monarch had been killed lawfully. He was charged with high treason and beheaded on the 30th January 1649. After the monarchy was restored in 1660 only 38 of the 59 warrant signers (regicides) were alive. Of those, 13 were executed, 16 were imprisoned for life, one was pardoned and many fled the country, like William Cawley who fled to and died in Switzerland in 1667.

Transcript of Charles I's Death Warrant

Original:

"Whereas Charles Stewart King of England is and standeth attainted and condemned of high Treason and other high Crymes, And sentence was pronounced against him by this Court to be putt to death by the severinge of his head from his body Of which execution yet remayneth to be done, These are therefore to will and require you to see the said sentence executed In the open Streete before Whitehall upon the morrowe being the Thirtieth day of this instante moneth of January betweene the houres of Tenn in the morning and Five in the afternoone of the same day with full effect And for soe doing this shall be your sufficient warrant And these are to require All Officers and Soldiers and other the good people of this Nation of England to be assisting unto you in this service Given under our hands and Seales."

With modern spelling:

"Whereas Charles Stewart King of England is and stands attainted and condemned of high Treason and other high Crimes, And sentence was pronounced against him by this Court to put to death by the severing of his head from his body Of which execution yet remains to be done, These are therefore to will and require you to see the said sentence In the open Street before Whitehall upon the morrow being the Thirtieth day of this instant month of January between the hours of Ten in the morning and Five in the afternoon of the same day with full effect And for so doing this shall be your sufficient warrant And these are to require All Officers and Soldiers and other the good people of this Nation of England to be assisting unto you in this service Given under our hands and Seals."