Born in 1584
Died on 8th of December 1643
Pym was a thorn in Charles I’s side from 1625 until Pym’s death in 1643, vehemently anti-Catholic, passionate in his defence of Parliamentary rights, and a brilliant organiser inside and outside Parliament.
Born near Bridgewater into an old Somerset family in 1584 his early career gave no clue as to his future significance: he failed to take his degree at what is now Pembroke College Oxford; and studies at the Middle Temple never saw him called to the bar. And perhaps surprisingly before he became an MP he was receiver of the King’s revenue in Wiltshire.
The Duke of Bedford’s patronage saw the by now strongly Puritan Pym elected to Parliament for Calne in Wiltshire in 1614. Pym’s Puritanism, his guiding force, was strengthened by his 1604 marriage into a firmly Puritan family; as treasurer from 1630 to the Providence Island Company projecting a Puritan colony he mixed with more important Puritans including John Hampden.
In 1625 he became MP for Tavistock, his opposition to anything tainted with Popery, to monopolies, and to Charles’s absolutist tendency, earned him notice but also a short prison term. When Charles called the Short Parliament after 11 years of personal rule Pym made the most telling speech against the King’s actions, though it was diplomatically phrased.
When Charles dissolved the Short Parliament Pym was active in petitioning for its recall, and he was regarded as leader of the radicals when the Long Parliament was duly called. He worked toward the prosecution and execution of Charles’s principal counsellor Strafford, once his friend, and then Archbishop Laud, who he suspected was edging the country towards Rome. And it was Pym who guided the Grand Remonstrance through Parliament, ostensibly again blaming Charles’s advisers for the nation’s ills which were listed at length, but also defending Parliamentary privileges, and seeking to gain control of England’s military forces.
With war seemingly inevitable Pym, who had been one of the Five Members Charles tried to arrest in the Commons, organised Parliament’s Committee of Safety, looking to military action; secured finance for such action; and established the network of regional committees through which Parliament eventually ruled; and in September 1643 he drove through the vital alliance with the Scots Covenanters. He died on December 8 1643, having laid the foundations Hampden and Cromwell among others would build on so well.
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