HESILRIGE (or Heselrig), SIR ARTHUR, 2nd Bart. (d. 1661), English parliamentarian, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Hesilrige, 1st baronet (c. 1622), of Noseley, Leicestershire, a member of a very ancient family settled in Northumberland and Leicestershire, and of Frances, daughter of Sir William Gorges, of Alderton, Northamptonshire. He early imbibed strong puritanical principles, and showed a special antagonism to Laud. He sat for Leicestershire in the Short and Long Parliaments in 1640, and took a principal part in Strafford's attainder, the Root and Branch Bill and the Militia Bill of the 7th of December 1641, and was one of the five members impeached on the 3rd of January 1642. He showed much activity in the Great Rebellion, raised a troop of horse for Essex, fought at Edgehill, commanded in the West under Waller, being nicknamed his fidus Achates, and distinguished himself at the head of his cuirassiers, "The Lobsters," at Lansdown on the 5th of July 1643, at Roundway Down on the 13th of July, at both of which battles he was wounded, and at Cheriton, March 29th 1644. On the occasion of the breach between the army and the parliament, Hesilrige supported the former, took Cromwell's part in his dispute with Manchester and Essex, and on the passing of the Self-denying Ordinance gave up his commission and became one of the leaders of the Independent party in parliament. On the 30th of December 1647 he was appointed governor of Newcastle, which he successfully defended, besides defeating the Royalists on the 2nd of July 1648 and regaining Tynemouth. In October he accompanied Cromwell to Scotland, and gave him valuable support in the Scottish expedition in 1650. Hesilrige, though he approved of the king's execution, had declined to act as judge on his trial. He was one of the leading men in the Commonwealth, but Cromwell's expulsion of the Long Parliament threw him into antagonism, and he opposed the Protectorate and refused to pay taxes. He was returned for Leicester to the parliaments of 1654, 1656 and 1659, but was excluded from the two former. He refused a seat in the Lords, whither Cromwell sought to relegate him, and succeeded in again obtaining admission to the Commons in January 1658. On Cromwell's death Hesilrige refused support to Richard, and was instrumental in effecting his downfall. He was now one of the most influential men in the council and in parliament. He attempted to maintain a republican parliamentary administration, "to keep the sword subservient to the civil magistrate," and opposed Lambert's schemes. On the latter succeeding in expelling the parliament, Hesilrige turned to Monk for support, and assisted his movements by securing Portsmouth on the 3rd of December 1659. He marched to London, and was appointed one of the council of state on the 2nd of January 1660, and on the 11th of February a commissioner for the army. He was completely deceived by Monk, and trusting to his assurance of fidelity to "the good old cause" consented to the retirement of his regiment from London. At the Restoration his life was saved by Monk's intervention, but he was imprisoned in the Tower, where he died on the 7th of January 1661. Clarendon describes Hesilrige as "an absurd, bold man." He was rash, "hare-brained," devoid of tact and had little claim to the title of a statesman, but his energy in the field and in parliament was often of great value to the parliamentary cause. He exposed himself to considerable obloquy by his exactions and appropriations of confiscated landed property, though the accusation brought against him by John Lilburne was examined by a parliamentary committee and adjudged to be false. Hesilrige married (1) Frances, daughter of Thomas Elmes of Lilford, Northamptonshire, by whom he had two sons and two daughters, and (2) Dorothy, sister of Robert Greville, 2nd Lord Brooke, by whom he had three sons and five daughters. The family was represented in 1907 by his descendant Sir Arthur Grey Hazlerigg of Noseley, 13th Baronet.
Authorities.--Article on Hesilrige by C. H. Firth in the Dict. of Nat. Biography, and authorities there quoted; Early History of the Family of Hesilrige, by W. G. D. Fletcher; Cal. of State Papers, Domestic, 1631-1664, where there are a large number of important references, as also in Hist. MSS., Comm. Series, MSS. of Earl Cowper, Duke of Leeds and Duke of Portland; Egerton MSS. 2618, Harleian 7001 f. 198, and in the Sloane, Stowe and Additional collections in the British Museum; also S. R. Gardiner, Hist. of England, Hist. of the Great Civil War and Commonwealth; Clarendon's History, State Papers and Cal. of State Papers, J. L. Sanford's Studies of the Great Rebellion. His life is written by Noble in the House of Cromwell, i. 403. For his public letters and speeches in parliament see the catalogue of the British Museum.