We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
  Adrian Scrope (1601–1660), by or after Robert Walker Adrian Scrope (1601–1660), by or after Robert Walker
Scrope, Adrian (1601–1660), army officer and regicide, was born at Wormsley Hall in Oxfordshire, the son of Robert Scrope and Margaret Cornwall, daughter of Richard Cornwall of London; he was baptized at Lewknor on 12 January 1601. Scrope was educated at Hart Hall, Oxford (where he matriculated on 7 November 1617), and the Middle Temple (which he entered in February 1619). In November 1624 he married Mary Waller, daughter of Robert Waller of Beaconsfield, cousin of the poet Edmund Waller, and Anne (née Hampden), who was John Hampden's aunt. They had five children, Edmund (who became a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and keeper of the privy seal in Scotland), Robert (who became a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford), Thomas (who became a merchant in Bristol and the father of the judge and politician John Scrope), Margaret, and Anne.

Scrope gave his enthusiastic support to parliament on the outbreak of the civil war, raising a troop of horse in October 1642 to serve as captain under the earl of Essex. He subsequently fought in Sir Robert Pye's regiment of horse (1644), before accepting a commission in the New Model Army (April or May 1645) as major in the cavalry regiment of Sir Robert Graves. He was probably present, therefore, when the regiment fulfilled three important duties in the early months of 1647—to transport money to Newcastle for paying off the Scottish army and to escort Charles I from Newcastle to Holmby House in Northamptonshire (both in January) and to guard the king there under house arrest (February to May). He supported the army in its quarrel with parliament and subsequent mutiny over disbandment (May), before succeeding Graves as colonel of the regiment (June or July).

At the start of the second civil war in March 1648 Scrope was based with half his regiment in Dorset, where he maintained the garrisons and suppressed a riotous demonstration near Blandford. He was then ordered to assist in putting down the royalist rising in Kent led by the earl of Norwich (May), check the danger from Lord Goring's forces in Essex (June), and join Fairfax at the start of the siege of Colchester (also in June). Soon afterwards he was detached from the siege, first to give chase to the earl of Holland, whom he routed and captured at St Neots on 10 July, and later to reinforce the town of Yarmouth against an expected landing there by Prince Charles. Having returned to London by the autumn of 1648 he was closely involved in the deliberations of the council of the army, which led to the Remonstrance of the Army (20 November) and Pride's Purge (6 December). On 15 January 1649 he was made a member of the committee charged with the detailed organization of the trial, the custody of the king, and the security of the court. Republican in sympathy, he willingly accepted his appointment as one of the commissioners to try the king in the high court of justice (6 January 1649); he attended the sittings with great regularity (20–27 January) and signed the death warrant [see also ].

In the spring of 1649 Scrope's cavalry regiment mutinied. Selected by lot to join Cromwell's army in Ireland, the soldiers voted (1 May) against either redeployment or disbandment (which was the other option), publishing instead The Resolutions of the Private Soldiery of Colonel Scroope's Regiment of Horse … (1649). In this document, which was strongly influenced by Leveller ideas, they demanded the restoration of the elected army council of 1647 and the implementation of the democratic programme outlined in An Agreement of the People (1647). Only eighty officers and men stayed loyal to Scrope. The mutineers, based at Salisbury, seized the colours, elected fresh officers, rejected Scrope's attempts at pacification, and marched eventually to Burford, having been joined by others from the regiments of both Ireton and Harrison (making a total force of some 900 men). There they were routed in a midnight attack by Fairfax's forces, who, outnumbering the rebels by two to one, captured 340 prisoners and dispersed the rest (15 May). Four of the ringleaders were sentenced to death by court martial, though one of these was later pardoned. Scrope's regiment was disbanded and his own military career effectively ended. Unpopular with the vast majority of his troops, he had proved himself to be a heavy-handed commander and an insensitive negotiator.

Scrope was, however, appointed governor of Bristol Castle in succession to Major-General Philip Skippon (4 October 1649), a position he held until the demolition of the fortifications there in 1655. In May of that year he was made a member of the council established by Cromwell for the government of Scotland, at a salary of £600 per annum. According to Ludlow, the Protector's decision was based on his concern over the ambitions of Lieutenant-General Monck, whom he had appointed as commander-in-chief: ‘… that he might balance him with some of another temper, who might guard upon his actions, he sent Colonel Adrian Scroope …’ (Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, 1.394). Although Scrope remained in Scotland until July 1658, when he was granted three months' leave of absence, his heart was not in administration. A man of little personal ambition, he played no part in the political manoeuvres which took place after Cromwell's death.

At the restoration of Charles II, Scrope surrendered himself (along with eighteen other regicides) in accordance with the royal proclamation (4 June 1660). The Commons, however, voted to permit his inclusion under the terms of the Act of Indemnity on payment of a fine equivalent to the yearly value of his estates (9 June). Although he was consequently released on parole (20 June), the Lords countered this move not only by ordering the arrest of all regicides, but also by specifically excepting Scrope from pardon (23 July). After a further attempt to support Scrope's case (13 August) the Commons finally yielded to sustained pressure from the Lords (28 August). Scrope regarded this as a serious breach of faith, because his surrender had been based on a belief that indemnity would be granted. Arrested in August, he was eventually brought to trial at the Old Bailey (12 October), where he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge of ‘imagining and compassing the death of the king’. Crucial evidence against him was given by Major-General Richard Brown, the mayor elect of London, who recalled a conversation after the Restoration in which Scrope had seemingly justified the king's execution and failed to denounce it as murder.

In his own defence Scrope pleaded that, in error, he had acted as a member of the court on the orders of parliament. ‘I hope an error of judgment shall not be accounted malice or an error of the will; truly, I never went to work with a malitious heart’. Although the president of the court (Sir Orlando Bridgeman) rejected his arguments, he nevertheless concluded: ‘Mr Scroope (to give him his right) was not a person as some of the rest, but he was unhappily engaged in that bloody business, I hope mistakenly’ (Noble, 2.221, 222, 226). He was duly sentenced to death and executed at Charing Cross on 17 October. Eye-witnesses noted the dignity, courage, and cheerfulness with which he conducted himself at both his trial and his execution—behaviour which aroused a great deal of compassion in others.

Scrope is sometimes confused with his distant relative, Sir Adrian Scroope [Scrope] (1614/15–1667), son of Sir Gervase Scroope of Cockerington in Lincolnshire (d. 1655), who commanded a regiment for the king in the civil war and was seriously wounded at Edgehill (23 October 1642). Sir Adrian married Mary Carr (1631–1685), daughter of Sir Robert Carr of Sleaford, and was the father of , the courtier and poet. He fought for the king in the civil war, was fined heavily for his delinquency, and was knighted at the coronation of Charles II (23 April 1661). He died in 1667.

John Wroughton


Greaves & Zaller, BDBR · C. H. Firth and G. Davies, The regimental history of Cromwell's army, 2 vols. (1940) · M. Noble, The lives of the English regicides, 2 (1798) · S. Barber, Regicides and republicans (1998) · I. Gentles, The New Model Army in England, Ireland, and Scotland, 1645–1653 (1992) · DNB · The memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, ed. C. H. Firth, 2 vols. (1894), vol. 1 · The Clarke papers, ed. C. H. Firth, 4 vols., CS, new ser., 49, 54, 61–2 (1891–1901) · A declaration of the proceedings of his excellency, the Lord General Fairfax (1649) · JHC, 8 (1660–67) · JHL, 11 (1660–66) · CSP dom., 1648–9; 1658–9


C. Townley, etching, pubd 1801 (after portrait by or after Walker), BM, NPG · by or after R. Walker, oils, NPG [see illus.]

Wealth at death  

see will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/327, sig. 97