1893 text

John Lambert, major-general in the Parliamentary army. The title Lord was not his by right, but it was frequently given to the republican officers. He was born in 1619, at Calton Hall, in the parish of Kirkby-in-Malham-Dale, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1642 he was appointed captain of horse under Fairfax, and acted as major-general to Cromwell in 1650 during the war in Scotland. After this Parliament conferred on him a grant of lands in Scotland worth L1000 per annum. He refused to take the oath of allegiance to Cromwell, for which the Protector deprived him of his commission. After Cromwell’s death he tried to set up a military government. The Commons cashiered Lambert, Desborough, and other officers, October 12th, 1659, but Lambert retaliated by thrusting out the Commons, and set out to meet Monk. His men fell away from him, and he was sent to the Tower, March 3rd, 1660, but escaped. In 1662 he was tried on a charge of high treason and condemned, but his life was spared. It is generally stated that he passed the remainder of his life in the island of Guernsey, but this is proved to be incorrect by a MS. in the Plymouth Athenaeum, entitled “Plimmouth Memoirs collected by James Yonge, 1684” This will be seen from the following extracts quoted by Mr. R. J. King, in “Notes and Queries,” “1667 Lambert the arch-rebel brought to this island [St. Nicholas, at the entrance of Plymouth harbour].” “1683 Easter day Lambert that olde rebell dyed this winter on Plimmouth Island where he had been prisoner 15 years and more.”

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

7 Annotations

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Here's historian Thomas Macaulay's description of Lambert and his ilk:

"The officers who had the principal influence among the troops stationed near London [in 1659 and early 1660] ... were men distinguished by valour and conduct in the field, but destitute of the wisdom and civil courage which had been conspicuous in their deceased leader [Oliver Cromwell]. Some of them were honest, but fanatical, Independents and Republicans. Of this class Fleetwood was the representative. Others were impatient to be what Oliver [Cromwell] had been. His rapid elevation, his prosperity and glory, his inauguration in the Hall, and his gorgeous obsequies in the Abbey, had inflamed their imagination. They were as well born as he, and as well educated: they could not understand why they were not as worthy to wear the purple robe, and to wield the sword of state: and they pursued the objects of their wild ambition, not, like him, with patience, vigilance, sagacity, and determination, but with the restlessness and irresolution characteristic of aspiring mediocrity. Among these feeble copies of a great original the most conspicuous was Lambert."

-- The History of England From the Accession of James II, by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Vol. I, Chapter 1 (available online from Project Gutenberg)

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Winston Churchill on Lambert in 1659:

"Lambert was a man of high ability, with a military record second only to Oliver Cromwell's and a wide knowledge of politics. He did not attempt to make himself Lord Protector. Far different were the ideas that stirred him. His wife, a woman of culture and good family, cherished Royalist sympathies and family ambitions. A plan was proposed to which she and the General lent themselves, for the marriage of their daughter to Charles II's brother, the Duke of York, as part of a process by which Lambert, if he became chief magistrate of the Republic, would restore the King to the throne. This project was seriously entertained on both sides . . . His [Lambert's] course was secret, tortuous, and full of danger. Already Fleetwood's suspicions were aroused, and a deep antagonism grew between these two military chiefs. At the same time the Army, sensing its own disunity, began to have misgivings about its violent actions against Parliament. . . .

"The schism in the rank and file was beginning to destroy the self-confidence of the troops and put an end to the rule of the sword in England. At Christmas [1659] the Army [at least in the area of London] resolved to be reconciled with Parliament."

-- "A History of the English Speaking Peoples," Vol. II, The New World (1956); Chapter 21, "The Restoration"

Glyn  •  Link

Press the link to see this painting of John Lambert, which is in the National Portrait Gallery in London near that of Samuel Pepys.

Mary Merivel  •  Link

John Lambert was one of the last warriors for "the Good Old Cause", and the man of the noble ideals. His life has been sold to royalists by the person I don't want to mention at all. That man bought his own forgiveness by taking Lambert.

John Lambert, the man of glory and misery, has finished his remarkable life in prison. After the death of his beloved wife Frances, he had lost his will to life but had to suffer eight more years...

Bill  •  Link

LAMBERT, JOHN (1619-1683) soldier; took up arms for the parliament at the beginning of the civil war; commissary-general of Fairfax's army, 1644; in command of a regiment in the new model, 1646; assisted Ireton in drawing up the 'Heads of the Proposals of Army,' 1647; commander of the army in the north, 1647; engaged against the royalist Scottish army, 1648; took part in the battle of Dunbar, 1650, of Worcester, 1651; deputy lord-lieutenant of Ireland, 1652; president of the council appointed by the officers of the army, 1653; was the leading spirit in the council of officers who offered the post of protector to Cromwell, and a member of the Protector's council of state; major-general of the army; a lord of the Cinque ports; retired on account of a breach with Cromwell about the regal title; М.P., Pontefract, 1659; supported Richard Cromwell and recovered his old position; member of the committee of safety and of the council of state, 1659; major-general of the army sent to oppose Monck's advance into England; deprived of his commands, 1660; arrested and committed to the Tower; escaped and collected troops, but without success, 1660; again committed to the Tower, 1661; sent to Guernsey, 1661; tried for high treason and condemned to death, 1662; sent back to Guernsey; imprisoned till death, 1664-1683.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.