This Day in History: 1648-10-29

Thomas Rainsborough

On 29th October 1648, Parliamentarian Vice Admiral Thomas Rainsborough died. In October 1648, Rainsborough was sent by his commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax, to the siege at Pontefract Castle. Whilst he was in nearby Doncaster, he was killed by four Royalists during a bungled kidnap attempt. Some historians dispute this, favouring¬† Cromwellian complicity in his death as, at the time, Rainsborough was at odds with certain sections of Parliament. The site is still marked today by a plaque outside of the House of Fraser. A quote by Rainsborough, which is an excerpt from the Putney Debates of autumn 1647, is in St Mary’s Church in Putney ¬†The full quote arguing for universal suffrage states: ‘I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it’s clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.’¬†Rainsborough was a Leveller, which was a political movement campaigning for people’s equal rights.