Robert Overton: He Fought the Law, and the Law Won …

Robert Overton was born wanting for little, made important friends, and spend about 14 years in prison.

Robert Overton

Robert Overton

The son and heir of John Overton of Easington in south-east Yorkshire, Robert Overton was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge, and Gray’s Inn. In 1632, he married Ann Gardiner and with whom he had ten children. He was raised very comfortably.

Easington in East Riding Yorkshire, was a Puritan parish. Robert Overton attended puritan St.John’s College at Cambridge. It was at this same time that Thomas Fairfax attended St.John’s. At Christ College John Milton was attending and it was probably at this time that the Milton and Overton became friends.

Overton Hall,  Home of Robert Overton

Overton Hall,
Home of Robert Overton

Robert was born during a time in English History when the religious struggles within England would rent the nation apart and cover the land with bloodshed. The tension between King Charles I and the Parliament was building by 1639, when Charles I visited Hull to inspect the defences and arsenal and by 1642 the situation between the King and Parliament had reached a critical level. In anticipation of conflict, Charles I moved the Court to York, to be more near Hull, where Parliament was held. Charles sent his son, later James II, to Hull on 22 April, where he was entertained by the mayor. When Hotham, then governor of Hull, heard that the King was to arrive as well, he ordered the town gates closed and the King forbidden entry. Charles I, rebuked at Hull, travelled to Beverley, where he was joined by his son, James. Charles I declared Hotham a traitor and the Civil War of England began with a three week siege of Hull. The defenders of the town came out twice to attack the Royalists and succeeded in forcing them to lift the siege.

Execution of Charles I (30 Jan 1649)

Execution of Charles I (30 Jan 1649)

During the First Civil War, Overton served in Yorkshire under the Fairfaxes, distinguishing himself at the defence of Hull in 1643 and the battle of Marston Moor in 1644. By June of 1644, Fairfax had given Overton command of a foot regiment in the Northern Association. It is likeley that this regiment was one of those brought from Hull by Lord Ferdinando Fairfax and which took part in the defeat of Lord Belasyse’s forces at Selby the prior April. Overton and his regiment were certainly at the siege of York and the battle of Marston Moor, contemporarily called Hessay Moor. Milton describes their action in the battle:

“… when our left wing was put to rout, you were beheld with admiration, making head against the enemy with your brave infantry and repelling his attack, amid the thickest carnage”.

Sir Thomas Fairfax appointed him deputy-governor of Pontefract in August 1645; a few weeks later, Overton succeeded in capturing Sandal Castle in Yorkshire. During the summer of 1647, Fairfax secured a commission for Overton as colonel of an infantry regiment in the New Model Army. He became involved in the political unrest that swept through the army during 1647 and gained a reputation as a radical. When Fairfax appointed him governor of Hull early in 1648, the mayor and corporation petitioned for his removal because of his political and religious radicalism, though Fairfax continued to support him.

During the Second Civil War, Overton’s regiment fought under Cromwell in Wales and the north while Overton himself remained at Hull to secure the vital port and the surrounding region against the possibility of a sea-borne invasion by the Royalists. He apparently approved of the King’s trial and execution, though he did not serve as a commissioner at the trial. Overton and the officers of Hull issued a Declaration in January 1649 urging Fairfax to remain true to the principles agreed upon after the Putney Debates of November 1647. However, Overton was careful to disassociate himself from the Leveller mutinies that broke out in April and May 1649.

In 1650, Overton went with Cromwell’s army of invasion to Scotland and commanded an infantry brigade at the battle of Dunbar. In July 1651, he spearheaded Cromwell’s advance into Fife by establishing a bridgehead on the north bank of the Firth of Forth. Major-General Lambert consolidated the position and defeated the Scots at the battle of Inverkeithing, allowing Cromwell’s main force to advance on Perth. When Cromwell pursued the Scottish army into England, Overton stayed in Scotland with Lieutenant-General Monck, fulfilling various military and administrative roles. In December 1652, he was promoted to the rank of major-general and appointed commander of Commonwealth forces in western Scotland.

On the death of his father in 1653, Overton succeeded to his family estate at Easington and returned to Yorkshire. He resumed his duties as governor of Hull, which had again assumed strategic importance because of the Anglo-Dutch war. In recognition of his services, Parliament granted him estates in Scotland. He also purchased confiscated Crown lands. Overton supported Cromwell’s forcible dissolution of the Rump Parliament in April 1653, but was apprehensive over the establishment of the Protectorate the following December. He openly stated his misgivings at an interview with Cromwell during the spring of 1654, declaring that he would support the Protectorate providing that Cromwell’s personal interest did not conflict with the good of the nation.

Persuaded of Overton’s integrity, Cromwell approved his return to Scotland to resume his duties under General Monck. However, Overton also visited the conspirator John Wildman in London and kept up a correspondence with him from Scotland. Wildman and other radicals regarded Overton as a potential military leader for an uprising to restore the Commonwealth. He appears to have given tacit approval to a group of discontented officers in Aberdeen who prepared a circular convening a meeting to set out Army grievances against the Protectorate. When General Monck heard of the conspiracy, he sent for Overton to explain himself; when Overton did not come as ordered, Monck had him arrested. In January 1655, he was sent to London and committed to the Tower. In September 1654 Overton returned to his command in Scotland. In December 1654, Overton was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London for his part in the “Overton Revolt”. It was alleged that a verse in Overton’s handwriting, found amongst his papers:

“A Protector, what’s that? ‘Tis a stately thing,

That confesseth itself but the ape of a king:
A tragicall Cæsar acted by a clowne;
Or a brass farthing stamp’d with a kind of a crown:
A bubble, that shines; a loud cry without woole;
Not Perillus nor Phalaris, but the bull.
The eccho of monarchy till it come;
The but end of a barrell in the shape of a drum:
A counterfeit piece, that woddenly showes
A golden effigies with a copper nose.
The fantastick shadow of a sovereign head,
The arms royal revers’d, and disloyal instead.
In fine he is one, we may protector call,
From whom the king of kings protect us all.”

Leith, 3 January 1655.

This paper we found in major general Overton’s letter case among his papers, we being appointed to search his papers by the deputy governor there. Witness our hands,
William Newman,
William Collinson.

Overton-27-3In March 1658, he was moved from the Tower of London to Elizabeth Castle on Jersey.

Overton then petitioned his case:

Saturday, the 18th of June, 1659.

Overton’s Petition.

THE humble Petition of Robert Overton Esquire was this Day read.

Ordered, That this Petition be referred to the Committee of Colchester; to examine the Matter of Fact; and to report their Opinion, What they think fit to be done, as concerning the Sufferings of the Petitioner; and touching making good to Him, and His, the Donative of Five hundred Pounds per Annum given to the Petitioner by this Parliament, out of the Earl ofLeven’s Estate in Scotland; and touching the taking off the reserved Rent of One hundred Pounds per Annum, in Consideration of the Petitioner’s Damages: And that Mr. Darley and Mr. Anlaby be added to that Committee.

In February 1659, Overton’s wife and sister petitioned the Third Protectorate Parliament to hear his case. The petition was supported by many republicans and accompanied by letters from Overton’s old friend John Milton. On 16 March, Overton appeared before Parliament to protest his innocence. His imprisonment was declared illegal and he was released the same day.

According to the Journal of the House of Commons:

Thursday, 3d of February, 1658.

General Overton.

THE humble Petition of Grezill Williamson, Sister to Major-General Robert Overton, Prisoner in the Isle Jarsey, was this Day read.

General Overton.

Resolved, &c. That the Governor of the Isle of Jersey, or whosoever else hath the Person of Mr. Robert Overton, now a Prisoner there, in his or their Custody, do forthwith, upon Knowledge or Sight of this Order, bring him to this House, together with the Causes of his Imprisonment.

Resolved, &c. That the Commissioners of the Admiralty and Navy be required forthwith to give Order for a Frigate to attend at the Isle of Jarsey, to accommodate the Governor of that Isle, or whosoever else hath Mr. Robert Overton in his or their Custody, for the more safe Bringing of him from over thence to the Parliament: And Colonel Gibbon, one of the Members of this House, and Governor of the said Island, is to take care for the putting of these Orders concerning Mr. Overton, in speedy Execution.

Wednesday, the 16th of March, 1658:

Overton.

The House being informed, that Major-General Overton, a Prisoner in the Isle of Jersey, who, by Order of this House, was brought from thence, was without, at the Door, with the Deputy-Governor of the said Isle, in whose Custody he was, attending on him; It was

Resolved, &c. That Major-General Overton be now called in.

The Orders of this House, for the Bringing of Major General Overton from Jersey to this House, were read: And, by the Command of the House, Major-General Overton was, by the Serjeant, brought to the Bar: The Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Jersey came in with him: And the Serjeant standing by them at the Bar with the Mace;

Mr. Speaker, by Command of the House, asked the Deputy-Governor his Name; and whether Major-General Overton was his Prisoner; and by what Authority. The Deputy-Governor answered, That his Name is Richard Yardley, Captain Richard Yardley; and that he is DeputyGovernor of the Isle of Jersey: That Major-General Overton is his Prisoner, by a Warrant from his late Highness. The Deputy-Governor was commanded to produce the Warrant: Which he did: And, by Command of the House, the Warrant was brought up, and delivered to Mr. Speaker: And the Deputy-Governor, being further asked, answered, That this Warrant is all he hath for the Imprisonment and Detainer of Major-General Overton.

Major-General Overton, being asked, If he had any thing to say concerning his Imprisonment, answered, that he did acknowledge it the great Mercy of God, that, after Four Years Imprisonment, he was now brought to this Bar: That, as he had been in a suffering Condition for Four Years, so he desired to be passive still: And that, when any Charge shall be brought in against him, he hopes he shall give such Answer to it, as shall satisfy and clear him from any former Mistakes and Misapprehensions concerning him: That he hoped he had not done any thing contrary to what he had at first engaged and fought for: That he desires not to live or die, but by the distributive Justice of this House: And, though he knows nothing by himself; and that he hopes he hath done nothing worthy of Death, or of Bonds; yet he will not justify himself; but most humbly leaves himself; his Cause, and his Condition, to this House. And then, by the Command of the House, the Deputy-Governor, and Major-General Overton, withdrew.

The Warrant for the Commitment and Detaining of Major-General Overton in the Isle of Jersey was read; and was signed “Oliver P.;” and directed to the Governor of the Isle of Jersey, or his Deputy; and was in these Words; viz.

THESE are to will and require you forthwith to receive into your Charge the Bodies of Robert Overton Esquire, MajorNorwood, and Sir Thomas Armestrong, and * Weston Esquire; and them detain, under secure Imprisonment, in the Castle at Jersey, until you shall receive further Order from us: And, for so doing, this shall be your Warrant. Given atWhitehall the 8th of January 1657.

The Question was propounded, That the Commitment and Detainer of Robert Overton Esquire, as well because it is by a Warrant under the Hand of the Chief Magistrate alone, as because it is by a Warrant wherein there is no Cause expressed, is illegal and unjust: And that he be discharged of his Imprisonment:

And the Question being propounded, That, after the Words “Robert Overton Esquire” these Words, “and others,” be added, as Part of the Question;

The Question was put, That this Question for the Addition be now put:

And it passed with the Negative.

And then the main Question being put; It was

Resolved, &c. That the Commitment and Detainer of Robert Overton Esquire, as well because it is by a Warrant under the Hand of the Chief Magistrate alone, as because it is by a Warrant wherein there is no Cause expressed, is illegal and unjust: And that he be discharged of his Imprisonment.

Resolved, &c. That Robert Overton Esquire be discharged of his Imprisonment, without paying any Fees.

  1.  Overton, and the Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Jersey, were, by the Command of the House, called in again: And the Serjeant standing by them at the Bar, with the Mace, Mr. Speaker, by the Command of the House, informed them, That the House had considered of Mr. Overton’s Imprisonment; and had ordered, That he should be discharged, without paying any Fees: And that the Deputy-Governor was to take notice thereof.
  2. Friday, 29th July, 1659.

Gen. Overton.Colonel Rich reports from the Committee to whom the Petition of Major-General Overton was referred, That, 14 May1652, it was resolved by this Parliament, That Lands of Inheritance in Scotland, of the clear yearly Value of Five hundred Pounds, be settled upon Colonel Robert Overton, and his Heirs, reserving the yearly Rent of One hundred Pounds to the Use of the Commonwealth: That Richard Saltenstall and Samuell Desbrowe, Commissioners for Sequestrations and confiscated Estates in Scotland, appointed by the Commissioners of Parliament of the Commonwealth of England for ordering and managing Affairs in Scotland, to whom it was referred to set forth the said Lands, and to put him in quiet Possession thereof, did, by their Deed, and their Hands and Seals, bearing Date the Twenty-third of September 1652, set out to the said Colonel Robert Overton, and his Heirs, the Manor-House of Inch Martin, with all the Appurtenances thereof, and divers other Lands in the said Deed expressed, late belonging to the Earl of Leven, of the true yearly Value of Five hundred Pounds Sterling: and thereby reserved One hundred Pounds Rent yearly for the Use of the Commonwealth; and thereof quiet Possession was given to the said Robert Overton the Seventeenth Day of September following, as by Livery indorsed upon the said Deed, appeareth.

By virtue whereof the said Robert Overton entered and received the next Year’s Rent at Two Half-years Payments; but afterwards the late General Cromwell, calling himself Protector, did oust the said Robert Overton of his said Lands, and caused General Monck, by his Order, to put the said Earl of Leven in Possession; who hath so continued about Five Years, to the Damage of the said Robert Overton, Two thousand Pounds.

Whereupon the Committee humbly present it to the Parliament, as their Opinion, That the said Robert Overton of Right ought to be re-invested and re-possessed of the Lands; and that Order be made to the Commander in Scotland for doing thereof: And that the said One hundred Pounds yearly Rent, reserved to be paid to the Commonwealth, be also settled upon the said Robert Overton, and his Heirs for ever, in Satisfaction of his Loss and Damage sustained, by being out of Possession of the said Lands for about Five Years.

All which they humbly leave to the Consideration of the Parliament.

The humble Petition of Alexander Earl of Leven was read.

Ordered, That this Report be re-committed: And that the Petition of the Earl of Leven be referred to the said Committee; and that they examine Matter of Fact; and state it; and report it to this House; and also to consider of the Losses and Sufferings of Major General Overton, as well by Loss of the Mesne Profits, as otherwise; and how he may have Satisfaction; and present their Opinion therein to this House: And that Mr. Say, Sir James Harrington, Mr. AldermanPennington, and Sir Thomas Wroth, be added to that Committee.

After the fall of the Protectorate and the reinstatement of the Rump Parliament in May 1659, Overton was restored to his regiment and the governorship of Hull. He attempted to mediate between the contending factions in the Army high command, issuing a pamphlet called Humble and Healing Advice in November 1659 which called for unity and a peaceful settlement. As the Restoration of the monarchy became increasingly likely, he strengthened the fortifications of Hull and called upon the troops in Yorkshire to stand firm in defence of the “Good Old Cause”. However, he was unable to gain enough support to present a serious challenge to General Monck, who named a new governor of Hull and ordered Overton to London, where he obediently arrived on 18 March 1660.

The Memorial to Robert Overton

The Memorial to Robert Overton

As a notorious republican and religious radical, Overton was viewed with extreme suspicion after the Restoration. He was arrested in December 1660 at the first hint of a conspiracy against the new government. He was imprisoned at Chepstow Castle until January 1664 when he was once again sent to Jersey, where he remained until December 1671. Overton spent his last years with his daughter Anne Broughton and her husband at Seaton in Rutland.

Below are letters contained within the State Papers of John Thurloe about Robert and the times in which he lived:

General Monck to secretary Thurloe.

V. xxii. p. 65.

Sir,
I Received yours of the 26th of December with the duplicat you sent inclosed therein. I have lately secured major Bramston and Mr. Otes with some others. I have now sent my lord copies of some dangerous papers found about them. I send you heere inclosed some papers concerning col. Overton, of which I desire you to acquaint his highness my lord protector. All things heere are soe quiet, that I hope you will heare of noe more stirrs among ourselves, or from the Scots; for Midleton with about 12 men are gon into the isle of Skey, whence they intend to goe in a dogger boate for beyond the seas, notwith standing that hee had sent a trumpeter to col. Fitche, in order to his comeing in, and makeing his peace. As I heare (though I have noe letter of it) col. Overton is secured at Dundee, who (I hope) shall bee speedily with you. I remaine

Dalkeith, 2d January1654.

Your most affectionat servant,
George Monck.

Col. Overton to the protector.

V. xxii. p. 69.

May it please your highnesse,
It is now neere fix weeks since I receaved your commaundes for my speedy repaire to this place, where I doubted not but that my dispatch woulde have bin as quick as my call from the North was unexpected; whereunto I hope the readiness of my obedience and tediousness of attendance hath in sum acceptable measure answered your highnesse’s expectations, for which I still stand bounde to ad to my former endevours such fresh evidences of my sidelity, as may, I hope, satisfye the most curious inquirers into my actions.

And though, my lorde, noe innocency can be foe confidently secure, but without betraynge itselfe it may lawfully with to stand in the eye of favour, yet I trust my behaviour hitherto hath been sutch, as before disenterested judges will beare mee up against the reportes or misrepresentations of all delators. If any expressions have through the freedome, which wee fought for, fallen from mee, I shall desire noe more ingenuity in my adversaries constructions, than what my 14 yeares faithfull services will warrant me to clayme.

But sutch, my lord, is my misfortune, that I am yet kept hoodwinkt as to the cause of my attendance; and all that I can grope out in this darknesse is, that my condition resembles that of Cremutius in Tacitus, verba mea arguuntur, adeo factorum innocens.

But I am yet bold to beleeve, I am happier in my judge, than hee was; and woulde your highnes vouchsase to ad a litle expedition to your wonted condissention, I shoulde quickly putt a period to all the trouble, that you might further in this respect receive from

Your highness’s humble and obedient servant.

  1. Overton and col. Allured to the protector.

May it please your highnesse,
It is a virtue not to be over forwarde, and may cum within the compasse of a crime or accusation to be too flowe in selfe–concernments. But knoweinge in part the pressures which are upon you, it mighte be an argument of ill manners in us to be over–importunate for a dispatche; yet not to be somethinge sensible of the same after soe tedious an attendance, might begett an opinion, that wee were in some respect supinely negligent of publique or private imployments, if not in some other kinde culpable. Therefore wee still, my lorde, with as mutch patience as we may, attende upon your pleasure, not doubtinge in the interim but our fidelitys will defend themselves againste all misprisions or reportes whatsoever. Wee therefore hope your highnesse will no longer exercise our patient expectations with delayes, for wee are tender of that reputation, which you may as to men bothe give and take away Whilste wee are under suspence, innocence may suffer and be shaken, thoughe in the interim it inwardly beare up against time and detraction. Whatsoever hath occasioned our cominge and continewance here, wee humbly crave an impartiall audience and a speedy dispatch, and therefore wee once more beseeche youre highnesse to give us some result, that foe our attendance may in time attaine its honest end; it being in your highnesse power to period the tediousness wee are under, and therein the uncomfortablenesse of our condition, not knoweinge the occacion thereof. Sir, if God fee it good, wee may probably in peace or warr witnesse once more to the worlde in all uprightnesse and integrity, how mutche we are and may be

Your highnesse’s assured servants,
R. Overton,
Math. Allured.

Col. Overton to lord Lambert.

V. xxii. p. 75.

My Lorde,
I am still a patient expectant: hearein my integrity is accompanied with a chearefull submition to my attendance, in attaineinge my honest ends and aimes for puttinge a period thereunto. I suppose very mutch is in your lordship’s power: therefore lend your assistance, I beseech you, fir, (foe spedily as your important imployments may permitt) to move his highnesse the lord protector to consider the frequencie of my attendance the * * * of my concernments, and the uncomfortablenesse of my condition in not knowinge the cause of my cominge hither or continewance heare, that foe, if God fee it good (as in former, foe in future service) I may make acceptable to your honourable ends and aimes,

Your lordshipp’s assured servant.

  1. Overton to lord Disbrowe.

Right honorable,
Though I am a stranger to you, yet incouraged by your late unexpected civilities, haveinge layne heare now almoste fix weekes to receive his highnesse’s commands, I make bolde to request your honor to be foe farr effectualymoveinge for mee, that I may not withoute just cause to the contrary be kept from my commaunde, my fidelity wherein, accordinge to the publique or private trust reposed in mee, if my 14 yeares faithfull services will not warrant, lett me be otherways att pleasure disposed of; but if this will not doe, there is a God, att whose feete I shall fitt downe, and submitt to his commaunde, rather than my owne choyce. He that fetts us the bounds of our habitation, culls oute allsoe for us the portion of our employments. This free agent is not tyed up to any instrument, but can carry on his worke withoute us as well as with us. Thus, sir, you fee I can a little comfortte my selfe; for whilst wee are sufferinge, our father’s will is doinge: wherefore, shoulde the forum fori be shutt againste mee, yet the forum poli is open to mee, that foe I may unbosome myself to a prayer–hearinge God, that hee will heare and cause my innocencie to shine forth as the sunne att noone day; which is the assurance of, sir,

Your assured servant.

General Monk to the protector.

V.xxii.p.109.

May it please your highnesse,
The last night col. Overton comeing in custody to Leith, I have this morneing sent him on board the Baseing frigott, whereof captaine Harley is commander, whom I have ordered to bring colonel Overton into the Hope. I send your highnesse heere inclosed copies of papers found with him, and particularly of verses written with his owne hand; reserving the papers themselves, untill I have conveniency to send them by a safe hand to your highness. The inclosed letter to col. Overton being intercepted, I thinke fit alsoe to send it to your highness.

Concerning major Bramston, I have noething against him but the papers (written with his owne hand) of which I lately sent copies to your highness. I doubt, if hee be brought to a court martial, those papers will not bee there judged of soe much waight as to casshere him, (though I thinke hee deserves it) because he may denye it to bee his owne conceptions or first drawing.

Wherefore I humbly desire a signification of your highnesse’s pleasure, if I shall send that paper of major Bramston’s to your highness. I now send your highness a copie of some litle confused papers, written by mr. Oats’s owne hand, and found about him, when hee was search’d at Leith. I humbly take leave, and remaine

Dalkeith, 4 January, 1654.

Your highnesse’s
most humble and most
faithfull servant,
George Monk.

General Monck to the protector.

V. xxi. p. 566.

May it please your highness,
This is humbly to acquaint your highness, how farr I have proceeded since the recept of your highnesses last leter. I have sent orders to secure coll. Overton. I have given orders to major Bramston of coll. Morgan’s regiment, major Holmes of my owne regiment, and lieutenant Christopher Keamer of captain Simnell’s troope in coll. Thomlinson’s regiment, to repaire to your highness, being they are men, who are not so well affected to the government, as I could wish them.

And if there were any such designe, as your intelligence is of, I am sure coll. Overton could doe nothing in it without the assistance of the two majors before named: one of them, namely major Holmes, (when he was goeing) received the originall leter, of which the inclosed is a copy, and hee was soe honest as to send it to me, which I thought fit to make knowen to your highness. I keepe the originall leter to bee made use of against those, who subscribed it. I desire to knowe what to doe with those subscribers after being secured.

I humbly desire your highness to lett the three officers, who are ordered to come to your highness, knowe they were sent for by your Highnesse’s order, for they knowe nothing to the contrary, but they were soe sent for. They being out of the way, your business is secure enough. For commissary generall Whalley’s regiment, they are quartered soe farr in Caithness, and the waies are soe ill, that it is impossible for them all to come this winter; and if the commissary generall please to write to his major, hee will, I beleeve, let him know as much.

Major generall Lambert’s two troopes, that were in the Highlands, are now passed towards Kelsoe, for England; and (as I writ in my last by the express) Sir William Constable’s companys are not to bee expected at Hull these 14 daies, though they are uppon their marche, for the wether and wayes are very bad. When I have secured coll. Overton, I intend to putt something to the officers to signe, declaratory of their firmeness to the government. I desire to know what to doe with those, who refuse to signe it. There shal bee no care or diligence wanting heere, whereby I may express myself,

Dalkeith, 26 Decemb.1654.

Your highnesse’s
most faithfull and
most humble servant,
George Monck.

Inclosed in the preceding. Col. Overton to general Monck.

V. xxi. p. 560.

Right honorable,
I Received this day a leter from Mr. Clarke, dated the 19th current; in the later end of which hee signifies, that hee cannot give me any accompt of the grounds of your sending for me hether; but receiving noe letter from your honour, I conceived, that either there was some mistake of Mr. Clarke’s, or that your letter miscarryed. I thought good therefore to send away this with all expedition; that soe I might understand your honour’s pleasure and commands, which (as soon as I receive them) shall speedily be put in execution by,

Aberdeen, 25 Decem. 1654.

Right honourable,
your honour’s most assured
faithfull servant,
Robert Overton.

  1. For the right honourable general Monk, at the head–quarters in Scotland.

An intercepted letter of col. Overton to a friend of his.

In the possession of the right honourable Philip lord Hardwicke, lord high chancellor of Great–Britain.

Dear Sir,
I Bless the Lord I do remember you and yours (by whom I am much remembred) so far as I am able in every thing. I know right well, you and others do it much more for me, and pray, dear Sir, do it still. Heave me up upon the wings of your prayers to him, who is a God hearing prayers and granting requests. Intreat him to enable me to stand to his truth, which I shall not do, if he deject or forsake me; which I know would not a little trouble you, and my many other christian friends. Yet when I remember the many past experiences I have had of the Almighty’s mercys and constant kindnesses towards me, I have hopes he will not now leave and forsake me in my most needfull time of trouble: the devil, like a swallow, may shew himself a summer freind; but God is for winter storms of tryal; and then he most assuredly makes our utmost extremities his happiest and most helpfull opportunities. I have in the late warrs resisted the common enemy of my country (through the Almightie’s mercy) to blood and frequent hazards of life; and since (blessed be his name) he hath carried me through reproaches, good and bad reports, loss of places, preferments, and rewards: but now perhaps the Lord will a little more shew his strength in my weakness, and try me with the temptation of skin for skin. If he do, I shall declare before hand, I shall fall, if he support me not by the right hand of his power; yet if he enable me truly to say, master save me, I am sure I shall not perish. He will, I trust, give patience and perseverance. I do endeavour to eye his glory, hoping that he will both quicken and quiet my spirit; and when men have spoiled me of all my martial places and profits, God can a thousand times repair the loss or those losses with the peace, which passeth all understanding. Or if I be called to seal the cause of God and my country with my blood, by suffering death, or by bearing any testimony to the interest of my nation and the despised truths of these times, he is able to support and save me, as the sun to shine upon me; yet all is to apply and believe, to have recourse to experiences; but above all to a reconciled God in Christ will do it. Oh that I could wrestle with him in prayer, as some Jacobs do at this day. And yet a father hears his infant’s voice as tenderly as those of stronger attainments. The Lord inable us, that though we be led into temptations, we may be delivered from all evill. I suppose by this you hear Sir William Constable’s regiment is marching for Hull; as also that I am sent for to London, col. Morgan coming down to command the northern forces. I wait for orders to march hence, and hear they are coming to me. God willing, they shall be readily obeyed. If I can but keep faith and a good conscience, I shall assuredly finish my course with joy. In the interim I trust I shall not need to fear what man can justly do unto me, for any thing I have done since my coming into Scotland. Therefore, my friend, in that respect let not your heart be troubled, but by your prayers commend me to his care and custody, who like a tender father leads his by the hand (as he did Israel) through all dark places, strengthening us in all our weaknesses. In the interim expect no more from me than I receive from my father, to whose care and eternal conservation I commend you, and remain

Aberdeen, December 26. 1654.

Your’s, whilst I am,
Robert Overton.

Robert Overton Memorial

Robert Overton Memorial

How am I related to Robert Overton? He is my 10th Great Grandfather:

He is the father of William Overton.

William is the father of Temperance Overton.

Temperance is the mother of William Harris.

William is the father of William Harris.

William is the father of Samuel B. Harris.

Samuel is the father of James Harris.

James is the father of Sarah Sally Harris.

Sarah is the mother of James Earnest McConlie Craddock.

James is the father of Ballard Craddock.

Ballard is the father of Zella Louise Craddock Webb Martin.

Zella is the mother of Diana P. Webb Morrison.

Diana is my mother.

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3 thoughts on “Robert Overton: He Fought the Law, and the Law Won …

  1. Thank you for this information! I found this post while researching Robert Overton. He is my 10th great-grandfather as well. It looks like our ancestry lines split after Temperance Overton (my 8th great-grandmother).

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