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Sir George Lisle (d. 1648)
Born: circa 1615, probably in London
Colonel in the King's Army
Died: 28th August 1648 at Colchester, Essex

George Lisle was "the son of an honest bookseller," a member of "genteel family in Surrey". His parents were Lawrence Lisle, a London publisher trading at the sign of ‘The Tigers Head’ in St. Paul’s Churchyard, and his wife, Dorothy, a member of the Ashby family from Leicestershire and a distant relative of the Duchess of Buckingham. Lawrence obtained the monopoly of viewing and repairing arms in England, a lease of the right to collect the imposts on tobacco and tobacco-pipes, and is said to have lost £12,000 in the King's cause.

Lisle had his military education in the Netherlands and entered the King's service early in the Civil War. At the 1st Battle of Newbury on 20th September 1643, as a lieutenant-colonel, he "bravely led up the forlorn hope," and was there wounded. In the Autumn, he was commissioned to raise a regiment of foot and, on the death of Col. Richard Bolles at the Battle of Alton (Hampshire), Lisle was given charge of his depleted regiment at Reading. He then played an important part at the Battle of Cheriton (Hampshire), on 29th March 1644. During the King's campaign in the West, Lisle commanded one of the three divisions of his infantry. At the 2nd Battle of Newbury, he commanded the division that defended the area around Shaw House and bore the brunt of the parliamentry Earl of Manchester's attack. "We profess," says Mercurius Aulicus, "it troubles us. We want language to express his carriage, for he did all things with so much courage, cheerfulness and present despatch, as had special influence on every common soldier, taking particular care of all except himself. He gave the Rebels three most gallant charges. In the first, his field-word was "For the Crown"; in the second, "For Prince Charles"; in the third, "For the Duke of York"; in which service the Colonel had no armour on, besides courage and a good cause, and a good holland shirt. For, as he seldom wears defensive arms, so now he put off his buff doublet, perhaps to animate his men, that the meanest soldier might see himself better armed than his colonel, or because it was dark that they might better discern him from whom they were to receive both direction and courage".

In the Winter of 1644/5, Lisle became Governor of Faringdon, and complained bitterly to Prince Rupert that the place was but one-third fortified and entirely unprovisioned. In April 1645, this small town was attacked and overrun by Col. Oliver Cronwell with 600 parliamentary soldiers from Abingdon; but he failed to take Lisle's headquarters at Faringdon House and withdrew when Lord Goring arrived with Royalist reinforcements arrived. Soon afterwards, Lislewas recalled to Oxford where he was created an honorary Doctor of Civil Law by the University. He commanded a division in the King's marching army during the campaign of 1645, took part in the storming of Leicester and was appointed Lieutenant-General of Leicestershire under Lord Loughborough. Lisle was present at the Battle of Naseby, and the plan of that battle shows his ‘tertia’ stationed on the King's left centre. He was knighted by King Charles at Oxford, on 21st December 1645, and is described as being then Master of the King's Household.

In the Winter of 1647, Lisle obtained leave to come up to London to compound for his estate, and seems to have busied himself in getting together men for a new rising. At the beginning of June 1648, he is described as one of the ‘ringleaders’ of the insurrection in Kent and he played an important part in the defence of Colchester. The town surrendered on 28th August. Lisle and the rest of the leaders were obliged "to render themselves to mercy," and a council of war called by Fairfax fixed on Lisle, with Sir Charles Lucas and Sir Bernard Gascoigne, to be put to death by martial law. Fairfax explained to Parliament that it was done "for some satisfaction to military justice, and in part to avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt". Lisle being considered a "mere soldier of fortune," it was thought that a council of war might deal with him, when persons of political importance, such as the peers taken prisoners with him, were reserved for the judgment of Parliament. He was accordingly shot on the afternoon of 28th August, and met his fate with undaunted courage. "I should have thought myself a happy person," said he, "if I could live to have a larger time of repentance, and to see the King, my master, on his throne again. I was confident my own innocency in this action would have rendered me very clear from any such punishment".

Lisle was buried, with Sir Charles Lucas, in the vault of the Lucas family in St. Giles's Church in Colchester. At the Restoration, his sister, Mary Lisle, petitioned Charles II for a pension, mentioning, besides the execution of Sir George Lisle, the death of another brother, Francis Lisle, at the Battle of Marston Moor, and the loss of her father, Lawrence Lisle. She was ordered to be paid £2,000, on 31st January 1662, but, seven years later, she had only received £1,100 out of the sum, and was "in great want and misery". 

Edited from Sidney Lee's 'Dictionary of National Biography' (1893)

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