John Lambert (General), Biography of an English Soldier and Military Leader


Explore the life and career of John Lambert, a prominent English soldier and military leader who played a significant role in the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period. Learn about his background, military achievements, and political contributions.

John Lambert (general)


John Lambert; English soldier : b. Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire, England, bap. Nov. 7, 1619; d. Drake’s (St. Nicholas’s) Island, Plymouth Sound, 1683.

Little is known of his career before the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, when he joined the Parliamentary forces. He distinguished himself as a cavalry officer at Marston Moor (1644) and helped Henry Ireton draw up a list of the army’s grievances for submission to Parliament (1647). Placed in command of the army in the north in 1647, he reorganized it, adopting reforms which enhanced his growing reputation as a fairminded, generous officer. After assisting Oliver Cromwell in defeating the Scots at Preston (1648), he laid siege to Pontefract, which surrendered to him on March 22, 1649. His absence from London at the time of the trial and execution of Charles I saved him from later prosecution as a regicide. Promoted to the rank of major general, he accompanied Cromwell to Scotland, where he led the van at Dunbar (1650) and won the Battle of Inverkeithing (1651).

He also played a major part in the decisive victory at Worcester (Sept. 3, 1651). Lambert was a leader in the council of officers who made Cromwell lord protector in 1653, but broke with him in 1657. Forced to surrender his commissions, he was permitted to retain an annual pension of £2,000 for past services. In 1659 he was elected to Parliament. In August of that year he suppressed a Royalist rising in Cheshire, and in October dissolved Parliament. His powerful position was recognized by the Royalists, who suggested a marriage between his daughter and Prince Charles or the duke of York. In 1660, Lambert set out to encounter Gen. George Monck, but was deserted by his troops. Seized and committed to the Tower of London, he escaped but was rearrested. After the Restoration he was brought to trial, convicted of treason, and condemned to death (1662). His sentence was commuted to confinement, first at Guernsey and then, after 1667, on an island in Plymouth Sound.


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