This text was copied from Wikipedia on 11 July 2024 at 5:10AM.

Richard Cromwell
Portrait by Gerard Soest
Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland
In office
3 September 1658 – 25 May 1659
Preceded byOliver Cromwell
Succeeded byCouncil of State
Personal details
Born(1626-10-04)4 October 1626
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England
Died12 July 1712(1712-07-12) (aged 85)
Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, England
(m. 1649; died 1675)​
RelationsRobert Cromwell (grandfather)
See list
  • Edward Cromwell
    Elizabeth Cromwell
    Anne Cromwell
    Mary Cromwell
    Oliver Cromwell
    Dorothy Cromwell
    Anna Cromwell Gibson
    Dorothy Cromwell Mortimer
Military service
Branch/serviceNew Model Army
Years of service1647

Richard Cromwell (4 October 1626 – 12 July 1712) was an English statesman, the second and final Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and the son of the first Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell.

Following his father's death in 1658, Richard became Lord Protector, but he lacked authority. He tried to mediate between the army and civil society, and allowed a Parliament that contained many disaffected Presbyterians and Royalists to sit. Suspicions that civilian councillors were intent on supplanting the army peaked in an attempt to prosecute a major-general for actions against a Royalist. The army made a threatening demonstration of force against Richard, and may have had him in detention. He formally renounced power only nine months after succeeding.

Though a Royalist revolt was crushed by the recalled civil war figure General John Lambert, who subsequently prevented the Rump Parliament from reconvening and created a Committee of Safety, Lambert found his troops melted away in the face of General George Monck's advance from Scotland. Monck then presided over the Restoration of 1660. Cromwell went into exile on the Continent, living in relative obscurity for the remainder of his life. He ultimately returned to his English estate and died thirty years later at the age of 85. Cromwell was the longest-lived British head of state for 3 centuries, until Elizabeth II displaced him at 85 years, 9 months and 9 days in January 2012.

Early years and family

Cromwell was born in Huntingdon on 4 October 1626, the third son of Oliver Cromwell and his wife Elizabeth. Little is known about his childhood. He and his three brothers were educated at Felsted School in Essex close to their mother's family home.[1] There is no record of his attending university. In May 1647, he became a member of Lincoln's Inn;[1] however, he was not called to the bar subsequently.[2] Instead, in 1647 Cromwell joined the New Model Army as a captain in Viscount Lisle's lifeguard, and later that year was appointed captain in Thomas Fairfax's lifeguard.[2]

In 1649, Cromwell married Dorothy Maijor, daughter of Richard Maijor, a member of the Hampshire gentry.[3] He and his wife then moved to Maijor's estate at Hursley in Hampshire. During the 1650s they had nine children, five of whom survived to adulthood.[4] Cromwell was named a Justice of the Peace for Hampshire and sat on various county committees. During this period, Richard seems to have been a source of concern for his father, who wrote to Richard Maijor saying, "I would have him mind and understand business, read a little history, study the mathematics and cosmography: these are good, with subordination to the things of God. Better than idleness, or mere outward worldly contents. These fit for public services, for which a man is born".

Political background

Oliver Cromwell had risen from being an unknown member of Parliament in his forties to being a commander of the New Model Army, which emerged victorious from the English Civil War. When he returned from a final campaign in Ireland, Oliver Cromwell became disillusioned at inconclusive debates in the Rump Parliament between Presbyterians and other schools of thought within Protestantism. Parliamentarian suspicion of anything smacking of Catholicism, which was strongly associated with the Royalist side in the war, led to the enforcement of religious precepts that left moderate Anglicans barely tolerated.

A Puritan regime strictly enforced the Sabbath, and banned almost all form of public celebration, including even at Christmas. Cromwell attempted to reform the government through an army-nominated assembly known as Barebone's Parliament, but the proposals were so unworkably radical that he was forced to end the experiment after a few months. Thereafter, a written constitution created the position of Lord Protector for Cromwell and from 1653 until his death in 1658, he ruled with all the powers of a monarch, while Richard took on the role of heir.

Move into political life

In 1653, Richard Cromwell was passed over as a member of Barebone's Parliament, although his younger brother Henry was a member of it. Neither was he given any public role when his father was made Lord Protector in the same year; however, he was elected to the First Protectorate Parliament as M.P. for Huntingdon and the Second Protectorate Parliament as M.P. for Cambridge University.[5]

Under the Protectorate's constitution, Oliver Cromwell was required to nominate a successor, and from 1657 he involved Richard much more heavily in the politics of the regime. He was present at the second installation of his father as Lord Protector in June, having played no part in the first installation. In July he was appointed chancellor of Oxford University, and in December was made a member of the Council of State.

Lord Protector (1658–59)

Proclamation announcing the death of Oliver Cromwell and the succession of Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector. Printed in Scotland 1658.

Oliver Cromwell died on 3 September 1658, and Richard was informed on the same day that he was to succeed him. Some controversy surrounds the succession. A letter by John Thurloe suggests that Cromwell nominated his son orally on 30 August, but other theories claim either that he nominated no successor, or that he put forward Charles Fleetwood, his son-in-law.[6]

Richard was faced by two immediate problems. The first was the army, which questioned his position as commander given his lack of military experience. The second was the financial position of the regime, with a debt estimated at £2 million. As a result, Cromwell's Privy council decided to call a parliament in order to redress these financial problems on 29 November 1658 (a decision which was formally confirmed on 3 December 1658). Under the terms of the Humble Petition and Advice, this Parliament was called using the traditional franchise (thus moving away from the system under the Instrument of Government whereby representation of rotten boroughs was cut in favour of county constituencies.[7]) This meant that the government was less able to control elections and therefore unable to manage the parliament effectively. As a result, when this Third Protectorate Parliament first sat on 27 January 1659 it was dominated by moderate Presbyterians, crypto-royalists and a small number of vociferous Commonwealthsmen (or Republicans).

The "Other House" of Parliament – a body which had been set up under the Humble Petition and Advice to act as a balance on the Commons – was also revived. It was this second parliamentary chamber and its resemblance to the House of Lords (which had been abolished in 1649) that dominated this Parliamentary session. Republican malcontents gave filibustering speeches about the inadequacy of the membership of this upper chamber (especially its military contingent) and also questioned whether it was indicative of the backsliding of the Protectorate regime in general and its divergence from the "Good Old Cause" for which parliamentarians had originally engaged in civil war. Reviving this House of Lords in all but name, they argued, was but a short step to returning to the Ancient Constitution of King, Lords and Commons.

Coat of arms of the Protectorate, borne by Cromwell during his reign as Lord Protector.

At the same time, the officers of the New Model Army became increasingly wary about the government's commitment to the military cause. The fact that Cromwell lacked military credentials grated with men who had fought on the battlefields of the English Civil War to secure their nation's liberties. Moreover, the new Parliament seemed to show a lack of respect for the army which many military men found alarming. In particular, there were fears that Parliament would make military cuts to reduce costs, and by April 1659 the army's general council of officers had met to demand higher taxation to fund the regime's costs.

Their grievances were expressed in a petition to Cromwell on 6 April 1659 which he forwarded to the Parliament two days later. Yet Parliament did not act on the army's suggestions; instead they shelved this petition and increased the suspicion of the military by bringing articles of impeachment on 12 April 1659 against William Boteler, who was alleged to have mistreated a royalist prisoner while acting as a major-general under Oliver Cromwell in 1655. This was followed by two resolutions in the Commons on 18 April 1659 which stated that no more meetings of army officers should take place without the express permission of both the Lord Protector and Parliament, and that all officers should swear an oath that they would not subvert the sitting of Parliament by force.

These direct affronts to military prestige were too much for the army grandees to bear and set in motion the final split between the civilian-dominated Parliament and the army, which would culminate in the dissolution of Parliament and Cromwell's ultimate fall from power. When Cromwell refused a demand by the army to dissolve Parliament, troops were assembled at St. James's Palace. Cromwell eventually gave in to their demands and on 22 April, Parliament was dissolved and the Rump Parliament recalled on 7 May 1659.

In the subsequent month, Cromwell did not resist and refused an offer of armed assistance from the French ambassador, although it is possible he was being kept under house arrest by the army. On 25 May, after the Rump agreed to pay his debts and provide a pension, Cromwell delivered a formal letter resigning the position of Lord Protector. He told parliament that "I love and value the Peace of this Commonwealth much above my own concernments”.[8] "Richard was never formally deposed or arrested, but allowed to fade away. The Protectorate was treated as having been from the first a mere usurpation."[9]

He continued to live in the Palace of Whitehall until July, when he was forced by the Rump to return to Hursley. Royalists rejoiced at Cromwell's fall, and many satirical attacks surfaced, in which he was given the unflattering nicknames "Tumbledown Dick" and "Queen Dick".[10]

Later years (1659–1712)

During the political difficulties of the winter of 1659, there were rumours that Cromwell was to be recalled as Protector, but these came to nothing. In July 1660, Cromwell left for France, never to see his wife again.[11] While there, he went by a variety of pseudonyms, including John Clarke. He later travelled around Europe, visiting various European courts. As a visiting Englishman, he was once invited to dine with Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, who was unaware of who he was. At dinner, the prince questioned Cromwell about affairs in England and observed, "Well, that Oliver, tho' he was a traitor and a villain, was a brave man, had great parts, great courage, and was worthy to command; but that Richard, that coxcomb and poltroon, was surely the basest fellow alive; what is become of that fool?" Cromwell replied, "He was betrayed by those he most trusted, and who had been most obliged by his father." Cromwell departed from the town the following morning.[12] During this period of voluntary exile, he wrote many letters to his family back in England; these letters are now held by Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies at the County Record Office in Huntingdon.

In 1680 or 1681, he returned to England and lodged with the merchant Thomas Pengelly in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire,[1] living off the income from his estate in Hursley. He died on 12 July 1712 at the age of 85.[13] His body was returned to Hursley and interred in a vault beneath All Saints' Parish Church, where a memorial tablet to him has been placed in recent years. He was the longest-lived British head of state for three centuries, exceeding even the long-lived and far longer-reigning George III and Queen Victoria, until Elizabeth II displaced him at 85 years, 9 months and 9 days in January 2012.

Fictional portrayals

Cromwell has been depicted in historical films. They include Cromwell (1970), where he was portrayed by Anthony May,[14] and To Kill a King (2003), where he was played by John-Paul Macleod.[15] The 1840 historical stage play Master Clarke by Thomas Serle revolves around Cromwell, who was portrayed by William Macready at the Haymarket Theatre.

Cromwell is portrayed in the novel The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor.



  1. ^ a b c Waylen & Cromwell 1897, p. 28
  2. ^ a b Patrick Little, ed. (2008). Oliver Cromwell: New Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 248. ISBN 978-1137018854.
  3. ^ Waylen & Cromwell 1897, p. 37
  4. ^ Waylen & Cromwell 1897, pp. 37–40
  5. ^ "Cromwell, Richard (CRML656R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  6. ^ Fitzgibbons, Jonathan (23 March 2010). "'Not in any doubtfull dispute'? Reassessing the nomination of Richard Cromwell". Historical Research. 83 (220). London: Institute of Historical Research: 281–300. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2009.00508.x. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  7. ^ Roberts, Stephen K. (2012). "The House of Commons, 1640–1660". In Jones, Clyve (ed.). A Short History of Parliament: England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scotland. Boydell Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-84383-717-6.
  8. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cromwell, Richard
  9. ^ Jones, J. R. Country and Court: England 1658–1714 Edward Arnold (1978) p. 120
  10. ^ Fraser, Antonia (1979). King Charles II. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 163.
  11. ^ Waylen & Cromwell 1897, pp. 28–29
  12. ^ Kimber, Isaac (1743). The Life of Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland (5th ed.). London: J. Brotherton and T. Cox. p. 406.
  13. ^ Waylen & Cromwell 1897, p. 29
  14. ^ Munden 1971, pp. 214–215
  15. ^ "To Kill a King (2003)". Retrieved 4 May 2011.


Further reading

External links

1893 text

Richard Cromwell, third son of Oliver Cromwell, born October 4th, 1626, admitted a member of Lincoln’s Inn, May 27th, 1647, fell into debt and devoted himself to hunting and field sports. His succession to his father as Protector was universally accepted at first, but the army soon began to murmur because he was not a general. Between the dissensions of various parties he fell, and the country was left in a state of anarchy: He went abroad early in the summer of 1660, and lived abroad for some years, returning to England in 1680. After his fall he bore the name of John Clarke. Died at Cheshunt, July 12th, 1712.

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

22 Annotations

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

It was impossible that the feeble and unskilful hand of Richard should long hold the reins of a government, which his father, with all his vigour and dexterity, found so difficult to retain. He succeeded him in the protectorate; but as he was heir to none of his great qualities, he was presently deposed from that dignity, which he quitted without reluctance; and probably experienced more solid happiness in retirement and obscurity, than Oliver did at the height of his glory. He passed the last years of his life, in great privacy, at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. He is said to have carefully preserved a trunk full of addresses, which were sent to him on his accession to the protectorate, and to have bequeathed them to his friends. Ob. 13 July, 1712. Æt. 86.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1769.

Bill  •  Link

CROMWELL, RICHARD (1626-1712), Lord Protector ; third son of Oliver Cromwell; member of Lincoln's Inn, 1647; M.P for Hampshire, 1654, for Cambridge, 1656; member of committee of trade and navigation, 1655; chancellor of Oxford University, 1657; member of the council of state, 1657; sat in Cromwell's House of Lords; twice nominated as his father's successor, 31 Aug. and 2 Sept. 1658; proclaimed protector amid apparent satisfaction; refused the petition of a number of officers that a commander-in-chief should be appointed, and increased the pay of the soldiers, 1658; compelled to assent to the retirement of his chief adviser, Thurloe, 1658; inclined to ignore his father's treaty with Sweden; recognised as his father's successor by parliament, 1659; retained the right to make peace or war; opposed by parliament in the matter of supplies and by Fleetwood, who took advantage of the grievances of the army to stir up mutiny; driven to throw in his lot with the army and dissolve parliament, 21 April 1659; obliged to recall the Long parliament, 7 May 1659; said, probably without much foundation, to have intrigued for the restoration of the Stuarts; practically deposed by the army, May 1659; appealed to Monck for pecuniary assistance, arrangements formulated by parliament for the payment of his debts having, come to nothing, 1660; retired to the continent and lived at Paris under the name of John Clarke, 1660; returned to England, c.1680, and lived in retirement.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Political chaos followed the death of Oliver Cromwell in September 1658. His successor as Lord Protector, his son Richard, was not able to manage the Parliament he summoned in January 1659, or the Army leaders on whose support he relied. He was forced to resign, and thereby to abolish the Protectorate and hand power to the remnants of the old Rump, in May 1659.

For an understanding of the politics behind Richard Cromwell's hold on the Protectorate, and what motivated men like Adm. Edward Montagu, Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, Oliver St.John, Bulstrode Whitelocke, John Thurloe, Gen. George Monck and Philip Jones to risk all in early 1660 to bring about the Restoration, I found:
"Monarchical Cromwellians and the Restoration," by Dr. Miranda Malins, as published on The Cromwell Association blog:…

[SDS NOTE: Dr. Malins only refers to one Montagu throughout, who I think refers to Adm. Edward, and not Gen. Edward, 2nd Earl of Manchester. I don’t see any obvious confusions between the 2 men, but why she ignores Manchester’s contributions, I don’t know. If she ignores him, who else is missing? I did lightly edit it for clarity.]

For the politicians who sought to make Oliver Cromwell king and supported his son, Richard, as Lord Protector, the collapse of the Protectorate in May 1659 was a unilateral disaster.

These monarchical Cromwellians had invested more in the Protectorate than in any previous political regime, seeing in it the greatest chance to realize the moderate monarchical settlement they craved safe in the hands of their great friend and ally, Cromwell. Their admiration for and loyalty to Cromwell and his sons Richard and Henry was total, and with the family’s fall in 1659, these monarchical Cromwellians faced a multitude of dangerous and complex choices which would determine the course of the rest of their lives.

For the exiled Stuart court, the failure of the Protectorate represented a great opportunity to build a consensus for the restoration of Charles II. The court, particularly Chancellor Edward Hyde and his agents, watched and courted the monarchical Cromwellians, believing them to be the most useful converts to the royalist cause through whom the Stuart restoration might be achieved.

Lord Culpeper [SDS: Sir John, Lord Culpepper of Thoresway?] best expressed this in a letter to Hyde in June 1659 when he explained his hopes of: ‘uniting to the King’s party all the Monarchical party that looked upon Cromwell as the fittest person to attain their ends by. Their golden calf is now fallen, they can no more hope in him, neither will they depart from their Monarchical principles, they will not (I cannot fear it) submit to this rascally crew, and more so, see they cannot possibly set up any other besides the right owner’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


This article considers the attempts made by Hyde and his agents to secure ‘the Monarchical party’ to the royalist cause in the year preceding the Restoration of Charles II in May 1660, and the decisions their Cromwellian targets made in response to these overtures.

In this ‘age of conscience’, such choices came at enormous personal and political cost – something acknowledged by Hyde as much as the Cromwellians themselves – and they reveal much of both the balance and the perception of political power in this turbulent year.

The ‘Monarchical party’ supported Richard Cromwell as his closest civilian advisers. These men were identified by contemporaries and subsequently examined by historians as a loose political grouping.

While accounts of the group’s make-up differ, there is a strong case for identifying them as: Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill; Oliver St.John; William Pierrepoint; Bulstrode Whitelocke; Edward Montagu; Charles Wolseley; Nathaniel Fiennes; John Glynne and Philip Jones.

David L. Smith and Patrick Little have identified these men, along with John Claypole, as the ‘leading civilian courtiers’ of the Protectorate.

Gerald Aylmer adds John Thurloe, Henry Cromwell and Gen. George Monck to be considered as allied to this group, and Hyde and his informers certainly considered each as central to a successful restoration of the monarchy.

This group has been described variously as a ‘court party’, a ‘kingship party’ or as ‘new Cromwellians’ or ‘conservative Cromwellians’.

It seems most apt, particularly in the context of their labelling as the ‘Monarchical party’ by Hyde’s informant, to refer to them here as ‘monarchical Cromwellians’. This description captures the essential features common to the men (and deemed most notable to their royalist observers), namely, their principled adherence to a monarchical settlement and personal allegiance to the Cromwell family.

Hyde recognized the unifying effect the offer of the crown to Oliver Cromwell had upon these politicians, observing years later: ‘This proposition found a marvelous concurrence; and very many who used not to agree in anything else were of one mind in this, and would presently vote him [Oliver Cromwell] king’.

The monarchical Cromwellians thrived under the Protectorate, rising to positions on the Council of State, important military and administrative postings, and with many ennobled to the Other House.

While it is accepted they were loyal to Oliver Cromwell, a re-examination of contemporary sources, in particular Peter Gaunt’s edition of the Henry Cromwell correspondence, demonstrates their equally close and developing relationships with his sons, Richard and Henry.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


As Andrew Barclay observes, ‘Broghill, Montagu and Wolseley were the next generation, all at least 20 years younger than Oliver, and so closer in age to the Cromwell sons. These were the men to perpetuate the rule of the Cromwells after Cromwell himself was dead’.

This is what the monarchical Cromwellians attempted to do, not only during Richard’s rule, but also for many months afterwards.
Their strong support for Richard is a key aspect of the recent reassessment of Richard’s Protectorate by Jason Peacey, Peter Gaunt, David L. Smith and Patrick Little in particular. They suggest Richard’s Protectorate was more viable than its detractors have suggested: His personal qualities helped build a broader base of support amongst those who could not support his father.

Contemporary evidence points to Richard’s reliance on the monarchical Cromwellians – and on Thurloe, Pierrepoint and St.John in particular – who assume more importance in this new analysis.
Hyde’s focus on this triumvirate supports this view.

The viability of restoring Richard Cromwell to power complicated the options open to the monarchical Cromwellians at the fall of the Protectorate in the spring of 1659.

Richard Ollard thinks the choice was simple: a Cromwellian who had become a Cromwellian in order to re-introduce the monarchical element into the constitution had a clear choice between restoring either Richard or Charles Stuart.
Alternative military candidates like Lambert or Monck entailed a military coup d’état setting a bad precedent and that was an anathema to the civilian principles of the monarchical Cromwellians.

The reality of political life was more complicated: Circumstances had placed each man in a unique position, with different balances of responsibilities, expectations and opportunities, and they responded to these pressures.

At one end of the spectrum, Montagu and Broghill kept a safe distance from the new republican regime, having officially accepted its rule; at the other, St.John, Whitelocke and later Thurloe remained in London and worked with the republican regimes.

While this seems contradictory, it is understandable when personal and professional situations are considered, and placed in a wider conmtext of how allegiance were seen at the time.

Most of the Cromwellians who distanced themselves from the new regime were men of private means, able to retire to country estates or military postings, like Broghill and Montagu.
Those who worked with the republican regime were based in London and relied on the continuation of their professional legal practices. Of these, St.John and Whitelocke believed they had a duty to preserve and continue the rule of law, necessitating some cooperation with the de facto government; an attitude they later relied on in their defenses at the Restoration.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


For each man, these practical considerations were balanced by questions of conscience.
Loyalty to the Protectorate and the Cromwell family weighed heavily on their minds, and their responses to the republican regime, exiled court and later writings demonstrate the lengths they went to justify –- both to themselves and to others –- that any change in allegiance did not entail the betrayal of a prior commitment or any consequent loss of honor.

Keith Thomas captured these struggles in his description of this time as the ‘age of conscience’. … ‘there has been no period in English history when men and women were subjected to so many religious and political conflicts of duty and allegiance or responded to them in so intensely scrupulous a fashion’.

No one was more aware of this complex political and emotional landscape than Edward Hyde. Writing to an agent about their plans to convert Montagu to the royalist cause in February 1660, Hyde mused: ‘I have no better opinion of the honesty of the age than you seem to have, and do not look that conscience and repentance shall dispose men to lose all they have got, yet how to apply a general remedy to that disease is above my skill in physic’.

Although Hyde could not think of a ‘general remedy’ to the problem of how to convert their former enemies, he recognized the importance that ‘care is taken that all be said that is necessary’ to reassure potential collaborators that they would be safe from retribution.

In the months around Richard’s abdication, Hyde instructed his informants to work on the monarchical Cromwellians, seeking ways to win them over to the royalist cause.

First Hyde tried to reach a settlement with Richard Cromwell through his agent John Mordaunt but, to his surprise, the long-standing partnership of Thurloe and St.John proved an insurmountable obstacle: ‘I cannot comprehend’, Hyde wrote to Mordaunt, ‘why Thurloe and even his master St.John should not be very ready to dispose Cromwell to join with the King, and why they should not reasonably promise themselves more particular advantages from thence, than from anything else that is like to fall out?’

Nevertheless, Hyde continued to hope the monarchical Cromwellians would choose to align with the royalists, unable to believe they could reconcile themselves to, or be acceptable to, a republican regime.
‘Nor is it possible’, Hyde wrote in March 1659, ‘that St.John can ever find his account with the Republican party. I know the man very well, and the part he hath had throughout those troubles, yet methinks it should not be impossible to persuade him, that he might find most security and most advantage by serving the King’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


To Hyde, St.John’s conversion was essential: ‘St.John is so considerable that I wish him well disposed’.

Often in Hyde’s correspondence, the triumvirate of St.John, Thurloe and Pierrepoint are given significance and influence.

As Hyde explained, he expected St.John, once he realized the ‘necessary of calling in the King’ to ‘press that all should be settled upon the old foundation… especially if he can draw his friends Pierpoint and Thurloe to the same concurrence, who have enough manifested that they are not enemies to a single person, and they can never be secure under any other than the right one, whom they would love if they knew’.

Hyde’s network considered the 3 men as central to the government of Richard’s Protectorate. As one agent wrote, ‘the present government is managed by St.John, Peirpoint, and Thurloe; what these resolve on in their Cabal is presented to the Council, and there confirmed’ while another reported Fauconbridge [Thomas Belasyse, 1st Earl of Fauconberg?] as saying that ‘Thurloe governs Cromwell, and St.John and Pierpoint govern Thurloe’.

Once this alliance was identified as the principal obstacle to Hyde’s advances to Richard Cromwell, Hyde instructed his agents to concentrate on either securing them to the royalist cause or sabotaging their power. This manifested itself in a variety of tactics: ‘We know Pierpoint is well, and that he will never be severed from St.John’, Hyde wrote, ‘but if he were once broke, the other would look about him, indeed if those two were out of the way, Cromwell himself would quickly find the only course to preserve his family… We have taken the best care we can that Pierpoint might be better disposed; but those who know him best, dare not approach him, till the other two are humbled; therefore I pray do all that may be to prosecute Mr. Thurloe and his Master, which will produce excellent effects.'

Despite initial reports that Morduant had secured a deal with Richard, nothing came of it, possibly due to Thurloe delaying the process and Richard getting cold feet.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Next Hyde targeted Cromwellians who held strategic military posts around the British Isles, including Henry Cromwell, Monck, Montagu and Broghill.

In a letter of June 1659, he set out his interpretation of their reluctant acceptance of the republican regime, and hopes for their conversion: “Truly if with reason and honesty we consult both [Henry and Monck], their best game lies that way: for neither upon their own score can keep possession, and by a submission here, both lost; which by a compliance with the right owner what hath power to make good what he promiseth a preservation to them selfs and their alliance may be obtained: The like game may Montagu play, beinge in the same predicament; which is feared all three will do; then assuredly our Idol, The good old cause falls eternally.”

Montagu was a focus for Hyde’s hopes, and he was approached as early as May 1659 with a letter from Charles II. In this, Charles wooed Montagu, writing: ‘it is very long since I have promised myself your intire affection and all the offices you can performe towards the restoring me to what is my right, and your Country to the happinesse it hath been so long deprived of’

Hyde approached Broghill through his agent, “Ned” Villiers, whom he told that the ‘King looks upon Lord Broghill as a person who may be most instrumental to do him service there, and he does not believe he will have any adverseness to it when the season shall be proper’.

On 20 June, 1659, Villiers was instructed that ‘the King very much desires… that you would haste into Ireland, and that you would assure Lord Broghill of all that he can wish for from the King, if he will perform this service’.

Charles Wolseley was another target: ‘If Sir Charles Wolseley be disposed’, Hyde wrote, ‘he can easily possess Stafford, which is no ill post, he may very securely depend upon his Majesty’.

In every case, Hyde’s correspondence reveals the understanding and sympathy he and his agents felt for the monarchical Cromwellians’ quandary.

In Montagu’s case, Hyde wrote years later of how Cromwell had charmed Montagu into his service and of how Montagu had been, understandably, ‘passionately adhered’ to him.

Hyde’s informants, working on Montagu, recognized this and also understood that Montagu had responsibilities at home; a great stake to be lost should he gamble on a Stuart restoration and lose.

As Samuel Morland wrote to Charles II on 15 June, 1659, ‘having understood your Matys great desire that Gratt: Montagu should quit that Jewish Party to wch he hath so long adhered, & become at length a faithfull & loyal subject’: “… he was wholly devoted to old Noll -– his countryman, & for his sake a great lover of all his family, but a perfect hater of the men yt now rule, as he has often told me privately … the trueth is he hath left behind him a very good stake; 2,000/, per annum, with a wife & 10 small children, & it’s no small matter will reward him for such a loss.”

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Hyde understood the monarchical Cromwellians would need a great deal of reassurance that Charles II would treat them kindly and reward them for their help in recognition of the great risks they would take on his behalf.

Despite this conciliatory attitude, correspondence with the exiled court remained one-sided and nothing came of Hyde’s agents’ negotiations.

In the summer of 1659, Hyde received a series of disappointing reports describing an apparent resurgence in Fifth Monarchism, Richard Cromwell’s diminishing importance and the monarchical Cromwellians’ withdrawal from the center of power.

Hyde made a final attempt to woo Richard in July, but his emissaries drew a blank when they visited him.

Hyde’s agents suggested St.John, Thurloe and Pierrepoint were opposed to such an alliance which, if true, may suggest they continued to believe Richard’s cause was salvageable and doubted they could ensure Charles' restored with appropriate conditions and safeguards for themselves or for the nation. Even if Hyde promised indemnity to them, he could not guarantee what a restored Long Parliament might choose to do.

It seems the monarchical Cromwellians continued to explore the viability of restoring Richard Cromwell for some time after his fall.

Both Hyde and the French ambassador Bordeaux reported these activities. The ambassador's correspondence records a series of negotiations between Bordeaux, Thurloe and Fiennes in May and June, 1659.

Acting on behalf of Cardinal Mazarin, Amb. Bordeaux initially approached Thurloe to pledge the support of French troops to restore Richard.
Thurloe was unsure whether Richard had fallen too far into disgrace for his restoration to be achievable, and had misgivings about the consequences of failure.

The ambassador wrote that the Secretary agreed ‘that it would be an undertaking which would lead to his total ruin and to the ruin of his friends, and which might also be prejudicial to France, were it not successful’.
This came to nothing, with Nathaniel Fiennes explaining later that Thurloe ‘was not a man to enter into any warlike designs, and that as Divine Providence had seen fit thus to dispose of the government of England, no other course remained open but submission’.

This account affords a glimpse into the precarious position in which Thurloe and his fellow monarchical Cromwellians found themselves. The restoration of Richard would undoubtedly have been the most desirable eventuality for them, and yet it was a considerable risk.

Reports of these designs reached Hyde as late as March 1660. ‘Various are the opinions, even of the wisest men’, wrote one informant, ‘whether there be not a combination between St.John, Pierpoint, Thurloe, Montagu, Phil Jones and others, to reinvest Richard Cromwell’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Another agent wrote on 3 March 1660 that: ‘This is the first night that Thurloe sits in the Councel as Secretary of State: He, St.John, Montagu, and that Cabal have been of late finding a way to let Dick Cromwell in again’.

Montagu told Pepys 3 days later that ‘there was great endeavours to bring in the Protector again’. He went on to comment that ‘he did not believe it would last long if he were brought in’.

We do not know how long individual monarchical Cromwellians worked for Richard’s restitution. What can be understood is their feelings towards Richard and the Protectorate that had turned to dust in their hands.

The evidence above leaves little doubt that Richard’s Protectorate was the monarchical Cromwellians’ regime of choice. It was their strong commitment to both the Cromwell family and the Protectorate which fueled their efforts to prevent its collapse, their expressions of grief when it did so, and their continued desire for Richard’s return.

As Thurloe wrote to William Lockhart on Richard’s abdication in May 1659: ‘How this change doth afflict all of us here who had the honour to be related both to his Father and himself I need not trouble your Excellency with. I am in so much confusion that I can scarce constrain myself to write about it’.

However, the monarchical Cromwellians’ support for Richard diminished as the months wore on after his abdication. This did not represent a cooling in their affections for him and his family, but instead a lessening of their belief in his capabilities and in their ability to restore him (as evidenced in Thurloe’s reluctant negotiations with Amb. Bordeaux).

This accords with the pragmatism this group of politicians displayed throughout their political careers and which led at various points to their castigation as self-interested time-servers. There was also a strong sense among some of the monarchical Cromwellians that Richard had also failed to prevent his own fall.

After the Restoration, Montagu told Pepys ‘of the simplicity of the Protector in his losing all that his father had left him’. Montagu blamed Richard’s failure to listen to the counsel of the monarchical Cromwellians.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


When Amb. Bordeaux had an audience with Nathaniel Fiennes ‘in order to ascertain whether any hope remained for the Protector’, he learned that Fiennes ‘blames his [Richard’s] conduct and compares it to that of Rehoboam’.

(Rehoboam, the son of Solomon who reigned after his father’s death, went against the counsel of his older advisers and increased the taxes upon his subjects who rebelled as a result and created the new Israel.) This suggests Fiennes also blamed Richard for ignoring the advice of his closest civilian advisers inherited from his father -– the monarchical Cromwellians.

Taken together, these considerations eased the monarchical Cromwellians’ consciences as they looked beyond the Cromwell family for other options available to them. It was natural for them to brood over such a ‘case of conscience’, surrounded as they were by debate everywhere: in the privacy of men’s homes, at the universities, and in the press.

Their need to reconcile themselves to such actions echoes through their later writings, but they also made their justifications clear at the time. On 16 December, 1659, the Secretary of the Sealed Knot, Allen Brodrick, reported that Monck had explained: ‘Richard Cromwell forsook himself else had I never failed my promise to his Father, or regard to his memory’.

Montagu agreed, as a Hyde informant reported: ‘[Montagu] told me lately in private … as others had accused him for treating with the King, & the like, but he valued his Honour more than all that Family; But if Richard had not so foolishly broken his Parliament both he & Monck would have stood by him; And this, so far as I know, is his true sence’.

Whitelocke also used this rational to Richard’s fall in his explanation to Broghill of his decision to work with the de facto military authorities in October 1659: ‘Whitelocke had resolved in his mind the present state of affairs, that there was no visible authority or power for government at this time, but that of the Army’.

The reasoning that in Richard’s absence they were absolved from their ties to him -– almost universal among the monarchical Cromwellians -– explains how, once the time was right, they felt able to respond to the royalist courtship.

Discussions between the exiled court and the monarchial Cromwellians really began in the early months of 1660.

Once the Rump had reassembled in December 1659 and, with Monck’s march to London and the return of the secluded members in February, those Cromwellians who had stayed away during the Republican interlude returned to London with renewed confidence:
Thurloe was reinstated as Secretary of State in February;
Montagu and Broghill returned to Parliament, Broghill as a Commissioner to rule Ireland;
Pierrepoint and Montagu joined the Council of State;
and Monck and Montagu became joint Generals at Sea.

From this power base the monarchical Cromwellians began to reassess their relationships with the exiled court.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Thurloe made his move some time after resuming office. The evidence of Richard Willis (the double agent who served both Thurloe and Hyde), suggesting that Thurloe may have been in contact with the court the previous year, but Willis’ account must be regarded with caution as he used it to defend his traitorous behavior after the Restoration.

Thurloe certainly contacted Hyde in the spring of 1660, as Hyde told Sir John Grenville on 13 April that he had received overtures from him. He remained cautious, and would not submit any commitment in writing.

Hyde and Charles observed Thurloe’s apprehension with less sympathy than they accorded to Montagu. While they accepted Montagu’s reluctance to commit to their cause, they did not doubt his wish to do so. Regardless of his silence, they remained convinced of Montagu’s loyalty and were delighted when he appeared to have changed his mind about supporting Charles’ restoration.

It seems likely that Montagu was one of the first to come to the private decision that Charles II’s restoration would be the best available outcome, as reported by a royal agent: ‘Montagu has absolutely forsaken Thurloe, St.John and all that Cabal, and doth now wholly cleave to his father-in-law and his Party’.

Furthermore, the source reported Montagu to have said to a mutual friend that ‘the true reason why I left the one, and cleave to the other, is, because I plainly see, there is an utter impossibility of settlement without bringing in the King; and I professe, I had rather the Nation were settled, though I and my whole Family suffer by it, as I know I shall’.

Montagu’s tone seems more resigned than fervent; his acceptance of this course was a pragmatic rather than an ideological decision.

Montagu was careful to hold out as long as possible before agreeing to support Charles II and, when he did so, to keep his support utterly secret.
We know from the Clarendon State Papers that Montagu was in contact with Charles in April 1660 through the mediation of a relation.
Charles assured Montagu that he understood the delicate nature of his position: ‘I know too well the use you may be of to me in a good conjuncture, to expose you unnecessarily, and in an unfit season; therefore all that I desire of you is that you will give me your word, that you do and will take my business to heart’.

Charles promised Montagu not ‘to say anything of what hath been done in former times, in which I know well by what reasons and authority you were led, and I do assure you I am so far from remembering any thing to your disadvantage, that I look upon you as a person to be rewarded’.

Montagu was persuaded by this letter to respond favorably to Charles’ overtures on 10 April, 1660, assuring Charles that ‘I am unalterably a most dutiful subject and faithful servant of yours to the uttermost of my power’, adding that ‘the resolution I have fixedly taken, and shall never be cancelled’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Once he had written this, Montagu considered himself bound in honor to Charles and it was on the following day that Pepys first noted Montagu’s having a ‘mind clear to bring in the king’.

Six days later Montagu told Pepys ‘his thoughts that the King would carry it, and that he did think himself very happy that he was now at sea, as well for his own sake as that he thought he might do his country some service in keeping things quiet’.

On 3 May, Montagu declared for Charles II and revealed to Pepys that ‘there hath been many letters sped between them for a great while’.

These successes boosted the royalists’ confidence to the point where they began to wonder why some other Cromwellians had not made contact. As Hyde wrote of Broghill: ‘… if Lord Broghill had that zeal of the King’s service, which some of his friends think him to have, or that entire confidence in Ned Villiers that he imagines, sure he would have sent an express to him in all this time, and not expected one from him’.

Despite Hyde’s anxieties, his informants continued to believe Broghill loyal, although they could only speculate as he still refused to speak openly of his commitment. Thus Hyde received word on 16 March: ‘No letters from Ireland these last two posts: Jones, Coote, and Broughill, are the chief actors there. Soe far as we understand they are all there disposed for the King’.

This silence may be explained by the pragmatism of the monarchical Cromwellians, many of whom continued to keep their options open.
This is not to say the information Hyde received of their genuine interest in his cause was inaccurate –- it did have its attractions for them –- but to suggest they continued to explore other alternative courses of action; courses available to them only as long as they did not commit themselves fully and openly to one cause.

As set out above, reports reached Hyde as late as March 1660 that some monarchical Cromwellians were exploring a final attempt to restore Richard Cromwell.

Hyde would not believe this of his favorite Montagu, writing: ‘… some would persuade us that he [Montagu] is most desirous to set up Richard again, which is so ridiculous that I cannot believe it. I wish you would say somewhat to me of him, and whether he be again to go to sea’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Montagu certainly knew about the plan, for he confided in Pepys ‘that there was great endeavors to bring in the Protector again’.
However, the fact that Montagu told Pepys that he thought the enterprise unlikely to succeed suggests that he was not involved in the plot.
This is the most convincing piece of evidence to suggest that the other monarchical Cromwellians were launching a last-ditch attempt to restore Richard.

Rumors were circulated widely, as Pepys recounted aboard Montagu’s flagship 4 days earlier: ‘Great is the talk of a single person, and that it would now be Charles, George or Richard again. For the last of which, my Lord St.Johns is said to speak high’.

Montagu’s prediction proved right, and the plan to restore Richard came to nothing. Most Cromwellians soon abandoned the plot, as Hyde heard on 9 March: ‘Last week there was great caballing to bring in Dick Cromwell by Thurloe, St.John, Montagu, & others, but that design proving too weak, St.John and Thurloe have this week assisted the Rump in formenting discontents amongst the Officers of the Army’.

Of all the monarchical Cromwellians, St.John seems to have been the most trenchant in his opposition to a Stuart restoration. While exploring the potential for Richard’s restoration in private, he worked tirelessly to safeguard the Commonwealth.

St.John displayed his true feelings at the turbulent first meeting of the new Council of State where Hyde’s informant told Hyde that ‘St.Johns and his party [are] for anything or person to be sett up but ye king’.

St.John was powerless to prevent the Restoration, and when his arguments fell on deaf ears he withdrew from the Council, speaking angrily of Monck’s conversion to the royal cause ‘that nothing troubled him more then that Monck was a Rigid Chavaleere, both he and his man Thurloe are oul at heels’.

Thurloe then was equally powerless.

In resisting the Restoration so passionately, St.John continued to confound all of Hyde’s expectations. His reasons for resisting the Restoration are likely to have been complex. He had always desired a monarchical settlement, but his personal hostility to the Stuart dynasty had a long history . The hostility was mutual. Over the months, Hyde received hysterical reports of St.John’s – and naturally Thurloe’s – activities in the most colorful language: ‘Thurloe is semper idem; but I hope his horns will never grow so long as formerly to push the King’s friends St.John is a great pike that’s loath to be beaten into the net. He & Thurloe have been labouring of late to blow up the sectarys and discontented officers, but I hope it will come to nothing’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


It was not for nothing that another informant declared St.John to be ‘the most deadly enemy the King has in England’.

It was unfortunate for St.John that his actions were so closely watched as he was not the only monarchical Cromwellian working to prevent a Stuart restoration.

Broghill, while corresponding with the royal court on the one hand, continued ostensibly to work with Thurloe against a royal return until late April.
He wrote to the Secretary, partially in code, assuring him: ‘They have had odd plots 6 29 32 40 39 6 here concerning the king, and all means used to win me; and thos failinge, other things were thought on; but I can assure you, I has intirely secured Munster 38 17 16 5 81 against any, that shall be for the king, or not for the council of state or parliament’.58
58 Lord Broghill to John Thurloe, 24 April 1660, in A collection of the state papers of John Thurloe, Esq; secretary, first, to the Council of State, and afterwards to the two Protectors, Oliver and Richard Cromwell, ed. T. Birch (7 vols., 1742), VII, 908. There is no evidence anyone has broken this cipher yet.

By this stage, what the monarchical Cromwellians feared most was that Monck would restore Charles II without sufficient conditions.

Whitelocke was one of the first to guess Monck’s true intentions and it was because of this that he urged Charles Fleetwood either to bid to control the King’s restoration or else to oppose it militarily.

When Fleetwood eventually refused to do either, Whitelocke rightly observed: ‘… you will ruin yourself and your friends’.

Broghill expressed similar concerns to Thurloe, writing: ‘We all hope thosE precious rights we have so long, and we think justly contended for, will not be exposed, but provided for’.

Montagu, for his part, entertained suspicions that Monck was aiming at his own dictatorship.

Hyde refused to believe that Monck’s colleagues had guessed Monck’s true intentions: ‘It is not possible that Pierpoint and St.John would be so impertinently violent against the King, if they believed Monck would ever be wrought over to him’.

Generally, Hyde’s informants were unconcerned, as one wrote: ‘Thurloe is not much in use, and his good old Master [Oliver St.John], after his lost hopes, is returned to keep his cushion till Wednesday morning. Pierpoint is still inveterate’.

These observers were proved right.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


When Charles II was restored on 8 May, it was done easily and unconditionally. Most of the monarchical Cromwellians had accepted the idea of the Stuart restoration, and had influenced it.

This acceptance represented more of a pragmatic resignation than an ideological commitment, even on the part of those who corresponded with Charles.
Their experience of the civil wars had left them with a mistrust of kingship, and their admiration of Oliver Cromwell left them with high expectations of a monarch grounded in superior behavior, not a divine right to rule.

As Montagu observed: … the King would not last long ‘unless he carry himself very soberly and well’.

Examining the monarchical Cromwellians’ relationship with the exiled court reveals some conclusions:
It reinforces the monarchical Cromwellians’ position at the center of government and their influence, particularly under the Protectorate.

Hyde’s instructions reveal the importance he placed on securing them to the royalist cause, while his agents’ obsession with St.John, Thurloe and Pierrepoint rescued them from the obscurity into which their own attempts to distance themselves from the Protectorate at the Restoration cast them.

"Whitewashing" disguised the monarchical Cromwellians’ commitment to the Protectorate and to the Cromwell family -– made possible only by Richard’s actions releasing them from their bond to him -– and by Hyde and Charles II’s acknowledgement of their former loyalty.

The key to many of the monarchical Cromwellians’ views was their desire for a monarchical settlement, and this made them willing converts to the King’s cause. The finer points of their conversion –- its tone and timing -– cast long shadows over their future careers.

Those, like Montagu, Monck and Broghill, who negotiated their relationship with the exiled court well, enjoyed royal favor, while those who, like Thurloe, St.John and Pierrepoint, resisted the Restoration for too long never regained their public positions.

Age and utility may have also played a part, with the younger members able to distance themselves from the civil wars, and to promise decades of loyal service to the new King than their older colleagues.

The range of success with which the monarchical Cromwellians’ loyal submissions were received at the Restoration reflected the royalists’ dealings with them during the preceding year.

Those Cromwellians whom the exiled court found as hostile obstacles to the Restoration were damaged for life.
‘Without doubt’, an agent wrote to Hyde of St.John, Thurloe and Pierrepoint on 13 May 1660, ‘there are not in nature 3 such beasts, from whose villainy and treachery I beseech God defend His Majesty’.

The contrast between this vitriol and Hyde’s desires a year earlier that his agents secure the services of these same men, shows the price the monarchical Cromwellians paid for the choices they made in those 12 months.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has a lengthy bio of Richard Cromwell. Here's an edited version of what it says about Richard's life from his fall from power:

Richard Cromwell's protectorate formally came to an end on 25 May, 1659; in practice, it had effectively ended several weeks before.

Richard stayed at Whitehall Palace for several weeks, and even visited Hampton Court and hunted deer.
In July, 1659, Richard Cromwell was forced by the Rump to vacate his former protectoral properties and retire to Hursley.

During the political turmoil of the autumn and winter of 1659–60 there were rumors Richard was to be recalled and the protectorate re-established — at one point he may have been recalled to Hampton Court to be close to London if needed — but nothing came of them.

Richard Cromwell’s return to family life at Hursley with his wife, Dirithy Maijor Cromwell, and their remaining children was short-lived as the Rump failed to cover his debts or to provide him with the promised pension, so he was troubled by creditors.

On 18 April, 1660, Richard Cromwell wrote to Gen. Monck, reporting his ‘present exigencies’ forced him ‘to retire into hiding-places to avoid arrests for debts contracted upon the public account’, and asking for Monck and the new parliament's help in this matter.

On 8 May, 1659, Richard Cromwell gave up his last public office, that of chancellor of Oxford University, writing ruefully that ‘since the all-wise providence of God, which I desire always to adore and bow down unto, has been pleased to change my condition, that I am not in a capacity to answer the ends of the office’, he was resigning his chancellorship.

Perhaps as much to elude his creditors as to avoid harassment by the new Stuart regime — Richard had played no part in the civil wars or the regicide — he went into exile soon after the Restoration.

Leaving behind his heavily pregnant wife (his last child was born in August 1660) and his children, in July 1660 Richard took a boat from Sussex to a new life on the continent.

We catch only occasional glimpses of Richard Cromwell while he was living abroad from 1660 until 1680 or 1681. He spent most of those years in France, especially Paris, although he probably passed through Geneva and may have lived for a time in Italy or Spain.

From time to time during the 1660s, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary reports of Cromwell's life abroad, supported by friends and living under a pseudonym but making no real attempt to disguise himself or to deny his true identity if challenged.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


In 1666 Richard Cromwell successfully persuaded the government not to recall him to England. On his behalf it was claimed in March that he was living quietly, peacefully, and modestly in Paris, changing his name and his abode from time to time ‘that he may keep himself unknown beyond the seas’, having no contact with ‘Fanatics nor with the King of France or States of Holland’, avoiding the company of English, Scots, and Irish, and keeping clear of plots against Charles II.
Instead, Richard, who was reported as spending his time reading, drawing landscapes, and being ‘instructed in the sciences’, often prayed for Charles II and expressed his loyalty.
His financial position remained precarious — he was ‘not sixpence the better or richer for being the son of his father’— and ‘his debts would ruin him in case he should be necessitated to return into England’.

Richard Cromwell did not return in the mid-1670s when he heard that his wife was seriously ill, although in the first of a series of surviving letters to his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, he did express great concern for Dorothy Maijor Cromwell's health, recommending various remedies and the love of God and expressing great frustration that he could not do more to help.
He asked Elizabeth to ‘Pray imbrace thy mother for me, I do love her, she is dear to me. Desire her to keep up her spirits, beg her to be cheerfull’ (Ramsey, 133).

Dorothy Maijor Cromwell died in January 1676, nearly 16 years after she had last seen her husband, and control of the Hursley estate passed to Richard's eldest surviving son, Oliver.

In 1680 or 1681 Cromwell quietly returned to England. After some delay and apparent reluctance, from the late 1680s onwards he began visiting the family estate and some of his children at Hursley from time to time. However, he never took up residence there and spent the last 30 years of his life as a lodger in other households.

By 1683, Richard Cromwell had become a paying boarder with the merchant Thomas Pengelly and his wife, Rachel, at Finchley, Middlesex, an arrangement that continued for the rest of his life.

Cromwell lodged with Rachel Pengelly after her husband's death in January, 1696 and moved with her to the house of one of her relatives in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, in 1700.

During the 1680s and 1690s Richard Cromwell's income of £120 per annum, drawn from the Hursley estate, covered his rent and items like clothes and a wig, wine, sherry, and brandy, tea and coffee, pipes and tobacco, spectacles, and a horse and dogs.

In later years, still a boarder, Richard maintained his own manservant. He also took a fatherly interest in the Pengellys' son Thomas, and supported his education and budding legal career.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


During his time in England, as in his earlier years on the continent, Richard Cromwell employed a variety of pseudonyms, signing his letters to his daughter Elizabeth variously Clarke, Canterbury, Crandberry, Cranmore, Cranbourne, or Cary.

Soon after his return in 1683 Richard fell under suspicion of involvement in the Rye House Plot, and an order was issued that he be secured and questioned, but he could not be found.

In 1690 Cromwell became alarmed when son Oliver sought to pursue his disputed election as MP for Lymington, fearing that, however justified his case may be, it would be unwise to draw attention to the family.
Richard also became increasingly concerned about his son's running of the Hursley estate, his financial affairs, his personal life, his marriage prospects, and the company he kept, as well as (in the early 1700s) his growing estrangement from his sisters.

Oliver Cromwell died unmarried and childless in May 1705, leaving large debts — Richard's allowance had fallen into arrears — as well as a complex dispute over whether his elderly father or his eldest sister should succeed him in control of the estate.
There followed a bitter legal dispute between Richard and his daughter Elizabeth, egged on by members of the family and other associates, for the administration of Hursley, which both angered and hurt Richard.
By 1706 Richard Cromwell felt compelled to proceed at law using his own name.
In December 1706 the court found in his favor and he regained control of Hursley, although he continued to live with Mrs. Pengelly in Cheshunt.

Richard Cromwell and his daughter had stayed on good terms throughout the dispute, and during his last years he resumed his warm correspondence with Elizabeth and Anne, now his only surviving children.

Financially more secure, Richard Cromwell enjoyed a few more years at Cheshunt before his health broke down.
In May 1712 Mrs. Pengelly noted that he was ‘not very well — he decays, the hot weather makes him out of order’.
By early June 1712, he ‘hath no mind to stire neither indeed is he fit to stire without these walls at present’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


On 1 July, 1712, Richard Cromwell made his will, a brief and simple document in which he recommended his ‘soul to my gracious God trusting I shall be saved by the alone merits of my blessed Saviour Jesus Christ’ and then, having made small bequests to various friends, servants, and suppliers (including a London tobacconist) and a larger bequest to his late brother Henry's only surviving son, left the bulk of his estate to ‘my beloved sister Mary, Countess of Falconberg’, who was also appointed sole executrix.

On 2 July, 1712, Richard Cromwell worsened: ‘his distempers seem to have got fast hold of him & don't go of as they use to do & he declines. I think sometimes he may Rub on a whill longer & some times I think he will be gone quickly’.

Richard Cromwell died on 12 July, 1712. According to some reports he was visited by his daughters during his last days and exhorted them to ‘Live in Love. I am going to the God of love’.

Richard Cromwell was buried on 18 July, 1712, in the chancel of Hursley church, beside his wife, Dorothy.

For the entire thing (you may need a subscription), see…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The ODNB has a rounded view of Richard Cromwell's character:

Richard Cromwell left no journal, memoir, commonplace book, or biographical writings, and apart from the official, formal correspondence which he signed or which was addressed to him as protector, there survives only a few personal and revealing letters written by or to him.
Therefor, biographers struggle to paint a rounded and even portrait of Richard, to give an account of his 86 years in which he remains centerstage throughout.

Overall, Richard Cromwell comes across as decent and honest, a pleasant and reasonably intelligent man, well suited to the life of a good husband, father, and country gentleman into which he was settling in the early and mid-1650s.
Developments beyond his control, and for which there is no evidence Richard Cromwell sought, brought that country life to an end and cast him in a new role to which he was ill suited, and which overshadowed and permanently changed the remainder of his long and rather sad life.

It is noticeable friends and opponents alike found little to fault in Richard Cromwell’s personality and character; most found him to be worthy, dignified, and personally engaging.
During and after his protectorate, Richard was often attacked in printed works, most mocked or lampooned rather than accusationed of dishonesty or corruption, personal ambition, cruelty, or vindictiveness. Most portrayed him as too gentle and too naïve for his own good, a ‘meek knight’, or ‘Queen Dick’.

Margery Good Cow of May 1659 argued Richard should receive a generous financial settlement from the returning Rump ‘as a reward of his own Virtues, his modesty, true serenity, gentle and manly deportment’, while “Fourty Four Queries to the Life of Queen Dick of June or July 1659” asked ‘Whether Richard Cromwell was Oliver's son or no?’, so great were the differences between them.

Richard Cromwell bore his sufferings with equanimity and, excepting a brief show of bitterness and impotent rage in April and May 1659, calmly accepted and made the best of his lot.

Despite early rumors of a weak religious faith, he was clearly supported and strengthened by a genuine and deep belief in an active and providential God who had some divine purpose in all the twists and turns of his life.
In his intensely personal letters to his eldest daughter during his later life, as well as in some of his more public pronouncements during his protectorate, he repeatedly looked to God's will and sought divine guidance, while encouraging others to do the same.
Reverses he often interpreted as the Lord's just retribution for his own sins and shortcomings.

There is no clear evidence about where and how Richard Cromwell worshipped during the closing decades of his life, no evidence that he did not conform to the Church of England before or after the Toleration Act.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Most historical judgements of Richard Cromwell focus not upon his character or religious faith, but upon his abilities and performance as lord protector in 1658–9.

Despite limited preparation and previous experience upon which he could draw, in many respects Richard Cromwell was a successful head of state. He was conscientious and dedicated, carried himself with calm dignity, and made good and effective speeches, both formal and informal.

Many contemporaries noted Richard Cromwell’s engaging manner, his strong interpersonal skills, his ability to charm. He was modest and unassuming: time and again he sought to disarm critics by adopting a self-deprecating line, stressing his youth and inexperience and calling on his audience to come to his aid and to work with him.

For a time, Richard Cromwell held his own in his struggle with the army. But, however pleasant the speeches, however charming the personality, his protectorate was in severe difficulties from the outset, overshadowed by problems which were largely not of his making and which he could do little to resolve.
He had no real military background and no standing in the army, he was obviously more civilian than soldier, and he could do little to meet the military arrears or to sort out the state finances, all soon became apparent to everyone, inside and outside the army.

Faced with growing military insubordination, in 1659 Richard Cromwell went too far in supporting the civilian parliament against the army and in trying to confront the military; he lacked the power and resources to survive the military backlash.
It is hard to see how successfully he could have contained in the longer term the centrifugal forces of the protectorate and maintained the regime and constitution that he had inherited from his father.

Lucy Hutchinson's assessment of Richard Cromwell and his rule is, in places, sharp and unfair, but it is hard to disagree with her conclusions: Richard ‘was so flexible to good counsels, that there was nothing desirable in a prince which might not have been hoped in him, but a great spirit and a just title’ and he ‘was pleasant in his nature, yet gentle and virtuous, but became not greatness’.

For the entire thing (you may need a subscription), see…

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


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





  • Apr