27th January 1659. ‘Tumbledown Dick’.
Richard Cromwell adopted the royal style of Your Highness when he became second Lord Protector of the Commonwealth after the death of his father.
Parliament had recognised Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard as Protector, but now in the third Protector Parliament convened by the Privy Council Today in 1659 it had two immediate problems: Richard was desperate for money, and the Army questioned his lack of military experience.(1)
Parliament was also increasingly wary of the growing army demands of arrears of pay and freedom of worship and had incurred the hostility of the Army by criticising Oliver’s last two years and by impeaching one of the Major-Generals. Richard now had to choose between the Army and Parliament and chose the former.
Parliament was dissolved and the Protectorate which had followed the Commonwealth crumbled. when the irreconcilable Republicans who had conspired against his father threw out the son who might have prospered if he had been capable of acquiring the confidence of the Army.
It was the Army faction, the Wallingford House Party which removed him in May 1659 and came to terms with Parliament and at a meeting on May 2nd it was decided that the Rump Parliament be recalled and the oligarchic government of the early 1650.s restored.
However Richard Cromwell refused to dissolve Parliament but ceded on 22nd April, parliament was then dissolved and the Rump recalled on 7th and 25th of May.
Richard known as ‘Tumbledown Dick’ was granted a pension and his debts cleared and he just faded from the scene, but continuing to live in Whitehall. He eventually lived in France under the name of John Clarke and for long was thought to be a dangerous person.
He returned to England in 1680 and lived in Cheshunt, dying on July 12th 1712 aged 85. He thus can be classed as one of the longest-lived ‘rulers’, and his nine-month reign one of the shortest de facto.
(1) This parliament was dominated by moderate presbyterians, crypto-royalists and a small number of Commonwealth-men or republicans.