John Rushworth - Encyclopedia

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JOHN RUSHWORTH (c. 1612-16 9 0), the compiler of the Historical Collections commonly described by his name, was the son of Lawrence Rushworth of Acklington Park, Warkworth, Northumberland. When he was given the degree of M.A. at Oxford in 1649, he was said to belong to Queen's College, but there are no traces of his presence at the university. He was bred to the law, and in 1638 was appointed solicitor to the town of Berwick. He was enrolled in Lincoln's Inn in 1641, and was called to the bar in 1647. He made a point of attending on all public occasions of a political and judicial character, such as proceedings before the Star Chamber or the Council, and of making shorthand notes of them. On the 25th of April 1640 he was appointed an assistant clerk to the House of Commons. He was on duty when King Charles I. came down to arrest the five members on the 4th of January 1642, and made notes of his speech. The king insisted on taking the notes, and ordered them to be published. Rushworth attended the trial of the earl of Strafford, and took shorthand notes of the proceedings. He was much employed as a messenger between the king and the parliament, and from the 1th of April 1644 till the 9th of March 1647 was licenser of pamphlets. When the new model army was formed he was appointed secretary to the parliamentary general, Sir Thomas Fairfax. He was present at the battle of Naseby, of which he wrote an account. When Fairfax, who was offended by the execution of the king, resigned his command, Rushworth was for a short time secretary to Cromwell. He was afterwards employed by the council of state and during the protectorate, and sat in Cromwell's parliament for Berwick. When Richard Cromwell resigned the protectorate, Rushworth was employed by the Rump after it had been re-established by Monk. He made his peace with the government of Charles II., and though he was threatened with trial as a regicide he was not seriously molested. During the reign of Charles II. he continued to act as agent for the town of Berwick, and he sat for it in parliament. He was also for a time agent for Massachusetts, but the colony complained that it received no advantage from his services. During the last years of his life he fell into poverty, and from 1684 till his death on the 12th of May 1690 he was a resident in the King's Bench prison. At this time he had destroyed his memory by over-indulgence in drink. The collection of papers which he made was published in eight volumes folio between 1659 and 1701. The volumes from the fourth onwards appeared after his death. The first, which appeared with a dedication to Richard Cromwell, was recalled and the dedication was suppressed.

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