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Miles Sindercombe (died February 13, 1657) was the leader of a group that tried to assassinate Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell during the period of the British Commonwealth in 1657.

Contents

Early military career

Sindercombe was born in Kent and was apprenticed to a surgeon. During the English Civil War he became a Roundhead and a Leveller. In 1649 he took part in the mutiny of his regiment and when it failed he fled. In 1655 he re-appeared as a member of a cavalry regiment in Scotland and took part in a plot to take control of the local army. This failed as well and Sindercombe fled to the Netherlands.

Plotters

In Flanders he met another Leveller and anti-Cromwell plotter Edward Sexby in 1656. Sindercombe joined his plot to assassinate Cromwell in hope of restoring the Puritan republic as they saw it. Sexby supplied Sindercombe with money and weapons.

In 1656 Sindercombe returned to England and gathered a group of co-conspirators, including renegade soldier John Cecil, apparent conman William Boyes and John Toope, a member of Cromwell's Life-Guards. Toope gave plotters information about Cromwell's movements.

Assassination attempts

First Simdercombe rented a house in King Street in Westminster where they intended to shoot Cromwell when he rode past in his coach. However, they noticed that it would be a difficult place to escape after the attempt, so they abandoned the plan.

Next Sindercombe rented another house near the Westminster Abbey using the name "John Fish". He intended to shoot Cromwell with an arquebus on his way from Westminster Abbey to Parliament on September 17, 1656. However, when a large crowd gathered outside, Boyes panicked and left and the attempt had to be abandoned.

Sindercombe's group then intended to shoot Cromwell when he left for Hampton Court, as he customarily did every Friday. They intended to shoot Cromwell's coach while it was going through a narrow passage. As it happened, Cromwell changed his mind on that particular Friday, and the plotters waited in vain.

The next idea was to shoot Cromwell when he was walking in the Hyde Park. They broke the hinges of the park gates to facilitate their escape, and John Cecil began to follow Cromwell and his entourage. However, Cromwell became interested in Cecil's horse and called him over. Cecil lost his nerve and could not shoot him. He afterwards claimed that the horse was ill so he could not have escaped.

Capture

After so many failed attempts, Cromwell's spymaster John Thurloe had noticed the would-be-assassins. He had already heard about the plot from his spies on the continent.

Sindercombe's next idea was to burn down Whitehall Palace and the Lord Protector with it. Boyes made an explosive device out of gunpowder, tar and pitch and the group planted it in the palace chapel on January 8, 1657. However, Toope, who had had a change of heart, had revealed the plan to authorities. When the plotters left, guards disarmed the bomb.

Thurloe gave an order to arrest the plotters. Cecil was easily captured but Boyes escaped. Sindercombe fought the guards until one guard cut off part of his nose. Cecil and Sindercombe were sent to the Tower.

Cecil decided to tell all. With Toope's aid, Thurloe was able to reveal also Sexby's part in the plot and present his findings to the Parliament.

Trial & death

Sindercombe remained uncooperative. On February 9, 1657 he was found guilty of treason when both Cecil and Toope testified against him. Sindercombe did not want to face the humiliation of execution and committed suicide by poison in the Tower on February 13 1657.

References

  • Alan Marshall - Killing No Murder (History Today February 2003)
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