Pickering, John (bap. 1615, d. 1645), parliamentarian army officer, was baptized at Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire, on 3 December 1615, the second son of Sir John Pickering (d. 1628) and his wife, Susannah (d. 1661), daughter of Sir Erasmus Dryden. His elder brother was the politician Sir Gilbert Pickering. John attended Oundle School, Northamptonshire, before going to Cambridge, where he matriculated from St Catharine’s College as a fellow-commoner in 1631. In October 1634 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn. Pickering was employed in diplomatic work for parliament late in 1641, carrying messages to its committee in Scotland, and was back there between December 1642 and January 1643 acting as an agent for the English parliament and reporting back on events in the Scottish privy council.
Pickering’s first military appointment, in August 1643, was the administrative post of commissary-general of the musters in the army of the eastern association, but by late 1643 or early 1644 he was colonel of a weak regiment of dragoons (mounted infantry). He was wounded on 3 March 1644, while serving under Oliver Cromwell at the storming of Hillesden House, Buckinghamshire, and was already seen as a significant enough figure to warrant mention by name in a royalist report of the storm. Shortly after this the dragoons of the eastern association army were reorganized to form a new regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel John Lilburne. On 25 March 1644 Pickering was appointed colonel of a newly raised infantry regiment which he commanded at the battle of Marston Moor (2 July) and the second battle of Newbury (28 October). Pickering was noted for his personal bravery, and this, together with his leadership qualities and zealous puritanism, earned him the respect of both officers and soldiers among the Independent faction of the army of the eastern association, and made him an influential figure in its internal politics. The support of Pickering and other officers of his seniority provided the power base which brought Oliver Cromwell to prominence, and Pickering was a leading witness in Cromwell’s attack on their commander, the earl of Manchester.
Colonel John Pickering’s Regiment of Foote
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