Tichbourne (Tichborne), Sir Henry (1581–1667), soldier and lord justice, was the fourth son of Sir Benjamin Tichbourne of Tichbourne, Hampshire, who was a baronet and gentleman of the privy chamber of James I, and Amphillis, daughter of Richard Weston of Skrynes, Essex. He served as a soldier in the Low Countries before becoming captain of a regiment of foot stationed in west Ulster in 1620. He was knighted by James I at Tichbourne on 24 August 1623. In December 1623 he became a commissioner for plantations in Londonderry. At some point in the 1620s he was made governor of Lifford and was commissioner of the peace for Tyrone in 1624–5. On 18 February 1629 he was granted 2200 acres in the barony of Strabane in Tyrone. Two years later he was granted various lands in Ulster that had been illegally leased to Irish tenants. He also held lands at Farrincrea, Co. Wicklow, and in Dublin, as the ward of Nicholas Plunkett, from October 1641. He was returned as MP for Tyrone county in 1634. In 1639 he and his company were transferred to Carlisle, arriving there on 1 April, and remained as part of the town garrison till 1641, when they returned to Ireland. By then he was residing at Finglas, Co. Dublin.
Following the outbreak of rebellion in October 1641, the government appointed him governor of Drogheda, which lay in the path of the advancing rebels. Hitherto an obscure army officer, he was to be catapulted into the limelight by this new posting. He arrived in the town on 4 November to find a demoralised garrison and a hostile reception from the inhabitants, who were nearly all catholic. He commanded a force of 2,000 men, many of whom were catholic and who deserted in large numbers, against nearly 20,000 rebels commanded by Sir Phelim O'Neill (qv). However, the rebels, although enthusiastic, lacked the siege equipment to take the town. Moreover, the bitter Irish winter made a close siege impossible. Instead they threw up a loose siege, cutting off all routes into Drogheda; they had accomplished this by the end of November. Their main hope was either to starve the town into submission or to take it with the connivance of its inhabitants. In such circumstances the quality of leadership was of paramount importance, and all sources, both catholic and protestant, concur that the professionalism and valour of Tichbourne, ably assisted by Lord Moore (qv), was the decisive factor in the successful defence of the town. Even so, only luck saved the town from being taken on the night of 12 January 1642, when one of the townsfolk let over 300 rebels in through a hole in the wall. The rebels foolishly gave themselves away by cheering before they had secured the gate. Tichbourne roused his men and led them out onto the streets to rout the rebels. By February the situation was desperate: his men were reduced to eating horseflesh and many starved. He maintained morale by launching a number of sorties for food. The success of a government ship in breaking through the rebels’ blockade to relieve the town in late February demoralised the Irish. He seized the initiative with a further series of sorties which forced the rebels to lift the siege on 5 March. The failure of the rebels' siege of Drogheda was widely publicised in England, where Tichbourne was hailed as a protestant champion.
After receiving reinforcements from Ormond (qv), he marched north against the rebels, defeating 1,000 of them at Ardee, before assaulting Dundalk on 26 March. They were beaten off with some losses but the Irish, thoroughly unnerved by Tichbourne's boldness, evacuated the town under the cover of darkness. During his advance northwards into catholic-controlled areas his forces appeared to have killed indiscriminately. Similarly, on its capture, Dundalk was subjected to pillage for several days and leading townsmen were executed for allegedly collaborating with the rebels. In recognition of his efforts he was made governor of Dundalk and on 11 May 1642 he was sworn a privy councillor. After Moore became governor of Louth, he was appointed governor of Meath in March 1643.
The outbreak of the English civil war in 1642 caused the beleaguered Irish protestants to become polarised into royalist and parliamentarian factions. Like most officers in the royal army in Ireland, Tichbourne supported the king and his main representative in Ireland, the earl of Ormond. Tichbourne's appointment (31 March 1643) as lord justice, in place of the pro-parliament Sir William Parsons (qv) was an important step in the royalist recovery of control over the Irish government. He took office at once, though he was not sworn in until 12 May, and assisted Ormond in the difficult tasks of concluding a truce with the confederates in September and persuading Irish protestants to acquiesce in it. His renown gave credibility to Ormond's temporising policies. On 21 January 1644 he yielded the sword of state to Ormond, newly appointed lord lieutenant. He continued to be intimately involved in the negotiations with confederates and travelled to Oxford in early 1644 to brief the king on their progress. While returning by ship to Dublin with instructions from the king, he was captured by parliamentarians on 31 December 1644 and was taken to London, where he was imprisoned in the Tower in February 1645. He was released as part of a prisoner exchange in September and returned to Ireland, where he commanded a garrison based at Trim.
After Ormond surrendered control of Dublin and its surrounds to the English parliament in June 1647, Tichbourne stayed on to serve under the parliamentarian commander Michael Jones (qv), having responsibility for Co. Louth. While travelling to his base in late July 1647 he was ambushed by confederates at Balrothery. In the ensuing battle his eldest son, Benjamin, was killed and his wife was captured; she was released shortly afterwards. On 8 August 1647 he distinguished himself at the battle of Dungan's Hill, for which he was later granted £200. The parliamentarians continued to regard him with suspicion and summoned him to London in autumn 1648, when it became apparent that Ormond was going to return to Ireland to rally the king's former supporters. In London he was charged with complicity in royalist plots, but he seems to have cleared himself by April 1649. Despite being authorised to return to his command in Ireland, he shrewdly declined to do so and did not in fact return till the fluid military situation was decisively resolved by the string of victories gained by Oliver Cromwell (qv) in 1649?50. He thereby avoided having to make a difficult decision that would have compromised him in the long term in the eyes of partisans of either the king or parliament. In his absence his regiment in Ireland divided relatively evenly between those who continued to serve parliament and those who defected to Ormond. Similarly, while his wife fled to the royalist-controlled Isle of Man in August 1649, his son William, who led a troop of horse, adhered to parliament.
Tichbourne returned to Ireland in 1650 and met Cromwell in April at the siege of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. There he convinced Cromwell of his loyalty and petitioned for reward for his years of military service on behalf of the protestant cause in Ireland. Accordingly, Cromwell granted him custody of the estate of Beaulieu, Co. Louth, where Tichbourne established his residence. Thereafter, he commenced a long-running campaign to receive ownership of Beaulieu in lieu of his arrears in pay. As part of this, in 1651 he composed an account of his experiences during the 1640s, in which he stressed that he had harboured grave reservations about Ormond's attempts to forge an alliance with the catholic confederates. These protestations are difficult to square with his prominence as a negotiator with the confederates in the mid 1640s. Nonetheless, memories of his role in the defence of Drogheda in 1641?2, and his deserved reputation as a merciless foe of the catholic confederates on the battlefield, stood him in good stead.
In summer 1654 he went to London to protest on behalf of the pre-1641 protestant settlers at the radical policies of the governor of Ireland, Charles Fleetwood (qv), and to petition for a grant of Beaulieu. His petition was granted, but the Dublin administration blocked the grant ? due partly to his opposition to Fleetwood, and partly to the fact that Beaulieu was in a territory that had been set aside to satisfy soldiers' arrears. Further visits to London (1655, 1656) failed to overcome the continued opposition of officials in Dublin. Eventually (February 1658) Cromwell overruled his son Henry Cromwell (qv), lord lieutenant of Ireland, forcing through the grant of Beaulieu to Tichbourne.
Despite enjoying Cromwell's regard, he remained a royalist at heart and welcomed the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, after which he benefited considerably from royal favour, being made marshal of Ireland by August 1660 and receiving various cash grants totalling nearly £6,000. In 1661 he was returned as MP for Sligo town. His credit with the royalist regime meant that the considerable property gains he had made during the interregnum were not threatened by the restoration land settlement. The catholic family that had owned Beaulieu before 1641 petitioned for its recovery, but the court of claims confirmed him in his possession of this estate in 1666. After 1660 he built at Beaulieu an attractive red-brick house in the Dutch fashion. It is one of the earliest surviving examples in Ireland of an unfortified house. He died in early 1667 at Beaulieu and was buried at St Mary's church, Drogheda.
He married Jane, daughter of Sir Robert Newcomen, who predeceased him in 1664. They had five sons and three daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, William. After the restoration, he applied for arrears due to him as a 1649 officer, as a result of which two of his sons were eventually granted land in Cork and Dublin. His direct descendant was in possession of Beaulieu at the start of the twenty-first century.