Mrs Crupps, David Copperfield’s landlady had a constitutional objection to ‘spies, intruders and informers and named no names, let them the cap fitted wear it’.
Petty officialdom love telling the rest of us how to live our lives, which in the 17th century was enshrined in one person: Oliver Cromwell, and his Puritan supporters.
The Second Protectorate Parliament in England sat for two Sessions, with Thomas Widdrington as Speaker. In its First Session, the Commons was the only Chamber; in the Second, an ‘Other House’ (Lords), with power to veto was in evidence.
The First Session ran from September 1656 until Today in 1657 which saw an Act, ‘For the Better Observation of the Lord’s Day’. (1)
Cromwell and his Puritans, in the Lord’s Name, loved to ban things: the Second Chamber of Peers, for ten years from 1649; Christmas and celebrations on Holy Days were seen as superstitious, contraventions being reported by a system of spies.
In addition Sundays, (The Lord’s Day), became extremely doleful as the 1657 Act said: [banning anything]: ‘Adjudged prophanation of the Lords Day, Travelling, Innkeeping &c; Entertaining such &c; Persons being in Taverns, Inns &c; keeping open door, Dauncing, Singing &c; Washing Whiting &c; Burning Beet, Gathering Rates, melting Tallow or Wax, Brewing, Baking, Butchers and other exposing Wares to Sale, Taylours, Barbers, Fairs, Wakes, Revels &c; Walking in Times of Publique Worship, Travelling and Carrying Burdens or Doing Worldly Labour’.
One such victim was the diarist John Evelyn who wrote about living through the time of the Commonwealth. In 1657 he and his wife went to London to take part in a ‘Christmas service to be held in secret’.
The authorities were alerted, soldiers broke up the service and arrested those present, but Evelyn records that after a few hours under arrest at a private house where he wasn’t deprived of his dinner, the prisoners were released, and Evelyn and his wife after an examination by officials, were allowed home.
Sundays in the Author’s lifetime were days of restrictions on all types of entertainment and one wasn’t allowed to play in the street. The Lord’s Day Observance Society still cast its shadow over life.
(1) The 2 sessions from 17th September 1656 until 4th February 1658. The first ran until 26th June 1657.
Ref: Acts and Ordinances of 1642-60 originally published by HMSO. London 1911.
In March 1649 the House of Commons enacted to abolish the Lords as it was said: ‘The House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England’.
During the rule of the puritanical Major Generals and at the time of the Second Protectorate Parliament there was a growing opinion that another chamber was needed as a check on the House of Commons.
It was during a debate over The Humble Petition and Advice, that Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell realised the value of an Upper Chamber, as he was finding the Lower House increasingly difficult to control, particularly over the Naylor Case when Quaker, John Naylor was charged and imprisoned for Blasphemy.(1)
So in a volte face Today in 1656 the House of Commons passed a bill creating a second Chamber of up to 70 Members nominated for life by the Lord Protector with a quorum of 21.
Cromwell had pushed for a second chamber in John Thurloe’s words, ‘as it would be a great security and bulwark to the Commons’ interest’.(2)
Judges of the Upper Bench (not King’s Bench), were to be summoned as Assistants, but there was no great rush to become members, with George Eure (7th Baron), the only peer to sit in the new chamber.
However when Parliament reconvened in January 1658, republicans in the Commons tried to kill off the second chamber even before a name had been decided, ‘Lords’ or ‘The Other House’. Cromwell sensing arguments would encourage the Royalists dissolved parliament the next month.(3)
On Oliver’s death in May, the now 3rd Protectorate, under his son Richard, the new Lord Protector, the Upper Chamber was regarded with suspicion as being closet Presbyterians and Royalists, so it was dissolved never to reconvene until the Restoration of the monarchy.(4)
After the Restoration in 166o, the Lords Temporal were restored in the newly constituted House of Lords, with the Lords Spiritual quickly following.(5)
One wonders in a way what was the point of the English Civil War as the monarch and the old parliamentary institutions were restored.
In this secular age there are still bishops in the Lords and over 90 hereditary peers. What Cromwell did however was to ensure the primacy of a parliament against the dictatorial notion of a Divine Right of Kings, and even reform of the Lords in 2017 is on the agenda.
(1) James Naylor (1616-1660) was an English Quaker who in October 1656 enacted Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem, through Bristol.
He was imprisoned and charged with Blasphemy before the 2nd Protectorate Parliament and branded with a ‘B’, narrowly escaped execution and condemned to serve 2 years hard labour.
(2) Thurloe was Secretary of State in Cromwell’s Protectorate as well as Spymaster.
(3) Reconvened on 20th January 1658. 4th February 1658 it was dissolved.
(4) Third Protectorate 27.1.1659-22.4.1659.
(5) The Clergy Act 1861 repealed the 1640 Act which had prohibited those in Holy Orders from temporal jurisdiction authority.
In April 1653 the Speaker of the Commons was removed when Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), dismissed the ‘Rump Parliament’ of the purged Long Parliament, calling Members ‘corrupt and unjust men’.
It has long been oral tradition that Cromwell said to that Parliament: ‘You have sat here too long. In the Name of God go’.(1)
The Rump was succeeded in July by the unsuccessful Barebones’ Parliament, the last attempt to form a stable parliament.
However power was eventually returned to Cromwell as Lord Protector, and The Protectorate, instituted Today in 1653 and set to run for six years until Cromwell’s son temporarily took over.(2)
In January 1655 Cromwell dissolved the 1st Protectorate Parliament ushering in the period of military rule by the Major Generals with the ‘Instrument of Government’ replaced by the English second and last Codified Constitution, ‘The Humble Petition and Advice’.
The intention of this Petition was to offer an hereditary monarchy to Cromwell; to assert parliamentary control over new taxation; to provide an independent council to advise the king [Cromwell]; to assure the holding of ‘Triennial’ Parliaments, and finally to reduce the expensive standing army, none of which would exactly increase Cromwell’s power, more the reverse.
However Cromwell, for whatever reason, refused the crown on 8th May 1657 and The Humble Petition which had been introduced by Sir Christopher Packe was amended to remove the clause on kingship.(3)
Due to the Naylor Case it was also modified to include a Second Chamber, and on 25th May Cromwell ratified a modified Petition, saying he would nominate his successor (his son), as Lord Protector.
There is a statue to Cromwell, presented by the Liberal leader Lord Rosebury in 1899, for the 300th anniversary of his birth in Parliament Square. The British have a great affection for their parliament and those who have fought against the tyranny of un-elected privilege.
(1a) However this was in fact interpolated by Thomas Carlyle into his 1845 edition of Cromwell’s letters and speeches as a plausible extension of his words which were: ‘It is not fit that you should sit here any longer! You shall now give way to better men’.
(1b) It is contended that on the 20th April 1653 Cromwell’s soldiers were the last outsiders unlawfully to enter the Commons’ Chamber when he suspended the enfeebled ‘Rump’ of the ‘Long Parliament’.
(2) The Parliament which succeeded on 4th July was named after the London nominee ‘Praise-God’ Nicholas Barebones and a group of cronies.
(3) Packe once Lord Mayor of London and a member of the Drapers’ Company was disqualified from public office at The Restoration. He was ancestor of Conan Doyle on his mother’s side.
Packe has a memorial at Prestwold, Leics.
Signatures are best used with discretion particularly if one is signing away a King’s life.(1)
The Warrant 1648/9, for the execution of Charles I, was written Today on 29th January, on flat parchment and handwritten in iron-gall ink. It was later used at the 1660 Restoration to identify the Regicides who had signed the document and who were later to be charged with treason.(2)
The first to sign was John Bradshaw MP for Stafford and Cheshire in 1654. He was Steward of Newcastle under Lyme from 1641 until his death in 1659, and President of the Council of State. The second to sign was the only Peer, Lord Grey of Groby, followed by Oliver Cromwell.
In July in 1660 the Death Warrant which had 59 signatories, was retrieved from the executioner, now languishing in the Tower of London, handed over to Parliament after the Lords ordered its return, where it still reposes.
Samuel Pepys’ entry for October 13th 1660 recorded seeing the Cromwellian, Major General Harrison, (born in Newcastle under Lyme), hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross: ‘looking as cheerful as any man could in that condition’. Harrison a Fifth Monarchist was 17th to sign the death warrant. (3)
Of the original signatories in 1660 at the Restoration, 38 were still alive; nine were executed, fifteen were imprisoned, though Richard Ingoldsby was pardoned and kept his lands as he claimed Cromwell ‘forced his hand’.
Those who had died were disinterred, desecrated and hanged, including Cromwell, and their heads were to adorn London Bridge, a customary practice at the time.
In December 1730 it was reported that Margaret Coe had died, ‘in the 104th year of her age’ and’ who whilst a servant in Whitehall had witnessed the beheading of the King and the executioner holding up the head. She remembered the dismal groan that was given by the vast multitude of spectators when the fatal blow was given (4)
There is a plaque outside the Hanged Drawn and Quartered (HDQ) pub on Tower Hill, near Pepys’ Street, which quotes the Diarist’s lines mentioned in his Diary above.
(1a) The last Commissioner and 59th to sign was Miles Corbet. The Warrant was dated 1648/9 owing to double dating at the time.
(1b) Gregory Clement in 1648 MP for Fowey, in January 1649, a member of the Commission of the High Court of Justice at the trial of Charles I, was the 54th to sign the Death Warrant, but appears to have written over an erased signature.
Clement however was dismissed the Commission in 1652 for the scandal of ‘lying with his maid’, but suffered a worst fate on 17th October 1660 when he was HDQ at Charing Cross.
(2) The 1351 Act for crimes against the monarch.
(3a) Fifth Monarchists looked back to the Old Testament prophet Daniel, that four ancient monarchies. Babylon, Persian. Macedonian and Roman would precede the Kingdom of Christ.
(3b) Pepy’s ended that day’s Diary: ‘Setting up shelves in my study’.
(4) Reported in the Northampton Mercury, Monday December 28th 1730, as recorded in archive .org/stream/reliquiaeherniana.
Ref: greenbeltrelay.org.uk/Pic Image.