Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of William Pierrepoint died 1679 1670s

Mary Beale (1633-99)

Portrait of William Pierrepoint died 1679, Mary Beale
Oil on canvas
17th Century
30 x 25 inches 76.2 x 63.5 cm
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William Pierrepoint dubbed Wise William, began his political career as member for Great Wenlock in the Long Parliament in 1640. He was then thirty three years old and immediately became a person of influence. The 17th Century author, Lucy Hutchinson, describes him as one of the wisest councillors and most excellent speakers in the House.

His value in Council is illustrated by his appointment as one of the parliamentary committee formed after the attempted arrest of the five members in 1642. During the early part of the war he became one of the heads of the peace party, and he was selected as one of the commissioners to treat with King Charles I.

In 1644 Pierrepoint was appointed one of the Committee of both Kingsdown and in 1643, during the Civil War, he emerged as one of the leaders of the independent party. In all conferences with the King demanded presumptuously that the King must yield to the demands of Parliament. He opposed the regicide, however, and in the eyes of Cromwell was too eager to patch up an accommodation with the King. On December 1st, 1648, however, he received the thanks of the House for his services during the Treaty. After Pride's Purge he temporarily retired from the central area of politics but remained a council advisor of Cromwell, whom he would entertain at home. In 1660 he was elected to the new Council of State and sat in the Convention Parliament for Nottinghamshire. He died in 1679. Colonel Hutchinson said of him that he was 'As considerable and as wise a person as was ever in England.'
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