1651 – Death of Henry Ireton – Cromwell’s Son-in-Law.

Henry Ireton was effectively Cromwell’s Commander-in-Chief in Ireland. Shortly after the Siege of Limerick ended (October 27) Ireton took ill, allegedly of the plague. The death of his son-in-law “struck a great sadness into Cromwell.” Ireton had granted mercy to most of the Limerick defenders, but not the Bishop of Emly “who had long encouraged the people to fight for their country and their faith, and had refused a large bribe which the Cromwellian General had offered him if he would leave the city. The ecclesiastics were soon condemned; but, ere the Bishop was dragged to the gibbet, he turned to the dark and cruel man who had sacrificed so many lives, and poured such torrents of blood over the land, summoning him, in stern and prophetic tones, to answer at God’s judgment-seat for the evils he had done. The Bishop and his companion were martyred on the Eve of All Saints, October 31st, 1651. On the 26th of November Ireton was a corpse. He caught the plague eight days after he had been summoned to the tribunal of eternal justice; and he died raving wildly of the men whom he had murdered, and accusing everyone but himself of the crime he had committed.”

Ireton’s body was embalmed and conveyed to England, where it was buried in Westminster Abbey. Ireton, though did not rest there. After the Restoration, Charles II had Ireton’s and Cromwell’s remains, disinterred, exposed on a scaffold, and burned at Tyburn!

Source: Illustrated History of Ireland (1868) by Margaret Ann Cusack

NPG 3301,Henry Ireton,copy attributed to; after; and Robert Walker; Samuel Cooper; Sir Anthony Van Dyck


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