Col. Daniel Axtell, Regicide (“Regicide” is the killing of a king) was a figure of some prominence in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in August 1649, the sieges of Lindon (May 1644) and York (June 1644), along with the battle of Marston Moor and many other battles.. He is best remembered for his participation in Pride’s Purge of the Long Parliament. Axtell was a keen puritan and in 1646 he and some other puritan soldiers started preaching in churches in Oxford. At that time it was illegal to preach unless one was a qualified clergyman, so he had to force the clergymen to give way. He was appointed governor of Kilkenny in 1650. As Captain of the Parliamentary Guard, he commanded guards at the capital trial of King Charles I at Westminster Hall. He threatened to shoot Lady Ann Fairfax when she interrupted the proceedings and was rumored to have bullied and beat his soldiers to make them cry for “justice” and “execution” at the height of the trial. When the King’s son Charles II regained power at the conclusion of the English Civil War, 13 officials were executed as regicides for their parts in the trial and execution of Charles I. Col. Axtell was hanged, drawn, and quartered on October 19, 1660. Axtell went to his execution unrepentant, declaring “If I had a thousand lives, I could lay them all down for the Good Old Cause”.
An account of his ghastly execution: “A Hurdle was drawn from Newgate to the place called Charing-Cross; where within certain Rails lately there made, a Gibbet was erected, and he hanged with his face looking towards the Banqueting-house at Whitehall, being half dead, he was cut down by the common Executioner, his Privy Members cut off before his eyes, his Bowels removed and burned, his Head severed from his Body, and his Body divided into Quarters, which were returned back to Newgate upon the same Hurdle that carried it. His Head is since set on a Pole on the top of the South-East end of Westminster-Hall, looking towards London. The Quarters of his Body are in like manner exposed upon some of the City Gates.”
Col. Axtell’s brother Thomas Axtell (my 11th-great-grandfather) left England and immigrated to Sudbury, Mass. in 1642 when full-scale Civil War between Parliamentarians and King Charles I finally reached London. Thomas arrived with his wife and 2 small children, only to die of exposure 4 short years later.
Thomas’ son Henry Axtell (my 10th-great-grandfather) settled on 15 acres of land in Marlborough, Massachusetts. In the spring of 1676, local natives launched war on the white settlement, led by “King Phillip” of the Pokanokets, a member tribe of the Wampanoag. Initially they attacked several of the smaller settlements in the interior of Massachusetts and killed many of the settlers. Among the dead from Marlborough was Henry Axtell. King Phillip’s War (also known as Metacom’s Rebellion) was without a doubt, the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century Puritan New England. In little over a year, nearly half of the region’s towns were destroyed, its economy was all but ruined, and much of its population was killed, including one-tenth of all men available for military service. Proportionately, it was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in the history of North America. More than half of New England’s ninety towns came under assault by Native American warriors. At its height, hostilities threatened to push the recently arrived English colonists back to the coast. And, it took years for towns and urban centers to recover from the carnage and property damage.
Henry’s great-great-grandson Moses Axtell, Sr. (my 6th-great-grandfather) was a blacksmith and armorer. He was a member of the famous Boston tea party and as a Minuteman became a soldier of the American army, participating in the battles of Concord and Lexington (the first armed conflicts with the English), and was also with Generals Warren and Gill at Bunker Hill. He likewise participated in the engagement at Monmouth Swamp and Camden’s Dell. He was a personal friend of Generals Greene and Henryson and was acquainted with General Washington, with whom he was at Valley Forge and also at Tenton where two thousand Hessians were captured after crossing the Delaware. Tradition has it that he assisted in removing the remains of General Warren from the battleground of Bunker Hill back to Boston, where the honors of a Masonic burial were accorded him.
My Axtell Lineage:
Thomas Axtell married Mary Starr (came to America in 1642)
Their son Henry Axtell married Hannah Merriam
Their son Thomas Axtell married Sarah Barker
Their son Joseph Axtell married Abigail Hayden
Their son Daniel Axtell married Elizabeth Whittemore
Their son Moses Axtell, Sr. married Bethsheba Peak
Their son Moses Axtell, Jr. married Zillah Sherman
Their daughter Betsy Axtell married David Cook
Their daughter Ruth Cook married Benjamin Kidder
Their son George Kidder married Caroline Thomas
Their son Ralph Kidder married Ragna Hansen
Thier son Cedric Kidder married Eithel Brister
Their daughter is my mom.