January 19, 1661: Thomas Venner is hanged, drawn, and quartered. Venner moved to New England in 1637 and stayed there for 22 years before returning to England. The Fifth Monarchy (a Messianic group) had tried to overthrow Oliver Cromwell, unsuccessfully, in 1657. Cromwell died in September 1658 of natural causes. He was the 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. After Cromwell’s death his son became the 2nd Lord Protector. Charles II reigned as King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from May 29, 1660 with his coronation taking place on April 23, 1661. While the Fifth Monarchy didn’t like Cromwell, they were not pleased with King Charles, either.
Venner assumed leadership of the group after the execution of General Thomas Harrison on October 19, 1660. He also led a congregation which included many New Model Army veterans. His band of revolutionaries staged Venner’s Rising from January 1 through January 4, 1661. On Sunday, January 1, Venner led a number of men to a bookseller at St. Paul’s Cathedral and demanded keys to the church. The group was first said to have numbered 500 but Samuel Pepys diary entry for the day said there were fifty men involved. The keys were not given over and so the men broke into the cathedral and accosted people killing a man who supported King Charles. The rebels were dislodged and retreated to Ken Wood near Highgate.
On Wednesday, they attacked again, this time on Threadneedle Street. They were able to make a Royal force of 1,200 men retreat. They next tried to storm Comptor Prison, hoping to free inmates who would then hopefully fight with them. The prison guards were able to withstand the attack and the rebels retreated to Helmet Tavern. There, Royalist troops broke through the clay tiles on the roof and fired into the tavern, killing or wounding most of the rebels. Venner was said to have been injured 19 times but was still alive. He was arrested and put on trial which resulted in the death sentence for high treason.
Venner had three children. One son was part of the Rising, another son was part of the Duke of Monmouth’s cavalry, and his daughter married a man who became the Archbishop of Canterbury. The failure of Venner’s Rising led to the repression of many non-conformist sects. However, the end of the world remained on the minds of many people as the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London seemed to indicate that the time of Jesus’ return was close at hand. The Fifth Monarchy faded into the milder form of the Second Coming belief system – Millenarianism.
I will die like a true-blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning – organize. – Joe Hill
Those who excel in virtue have the best right of all to rebel, but then they are of all men the least inclined to do so. – Aristotle
No one can go on being a rebel too long without turning into an autocrat. – Lawrence Durrell
You can’t be a crazy rebel in the face of death, it’s not a fitting attitude. – Michel Houellebecq
Also on this day: Electrifying – In 1883, Roselle, New Jersey became the first electrified community.
LISA – In 1983, Apple introduced a new computer.
Not Commando – In 1935, Marshall Field and Company first sold Samuel T. Cooper’s new product – the Jockey brief.
Liquid Fire – In 1915, a patent was granted for a neon lamp.