Farmer Oliver? The cultivation of Cromwell’s image during the Protectorate

by Dr Patrick Little

Synopsis by Serrie Meakins

Was Oliver Cromwell really the ‘country squire’ of popular memory? Dr Little uses Cromwell’s own words to try to place his social origins more exactly, and, in so doing, points out the political motives for 17th century ‘spinning’ of Cromwell’s humble origins. A fascinating examination of political motivation.

Historians have always been impressed by Cromwell’s rural origins, as his very ordinariness makes his rise to power all the more dramatic. In some ways, Cromwell fulfils the role of ‘Everyman’, or of the poor boy moving ‘from log cabin to White House’.1 When it comes to the details of his early life, there are two schools of thought. The traditional view is represented by Antonia Fraser, for whom examples of his ‘deep-held country taste … combined to make Oliver in many outward ways the pattern of the English country gentleman’ who loved field sports and horses, and was further rooted in the soil by his experiences in St Ives in the early 1630s, ‘farming his cattle, bringing up his family, and showing himself a solid local man’.2 This view of Cromwell the country squire was modified, if not entirely thrown over, by the work of John Morrill, whose article on ‘the making of Oliver Cromwell’, published in 1990, has proved very influential. Morrill’s argument is that Oliver ‘was a man in humbler circumstances, a meaner man, than has been allowed’ and that ‘his social status was very ill-defined and his economic situation precarious’. This was particularly the case when Cromwell lived at St Ives, as ‘his standing … was essentially that of a yeoman, a working farmer’, and he was even in danger of moving down ‘from the gentry to the “middling sort”’. Morrill is quick to point out that Cromwell never actually left the ranks of the gentry – he retained the lineage, education and social network of the well-born – but, in economic terms ‘Cromwell was not, then, as he is often portrayed, the typical country squire’.3 This downgrading of Cromwell’s economic status, with its consequent threat to his own social standing (and, perhaps more pertinently, that of his children), has become something of an orthodoxy in recent years.4 Overall, there is now consensus that for much of the 1630s Cromwell was more a farmer than a squire, and that his career from 1640 was all the more remarkable for it. In Morrill’s words, ‘No man who rises from a working farmer to head of state in twenty years is less than great’.5

So much for the 1630s; what of the 1650s? What was Cromwell’s own attitude to his humble origins when he had become head of state? In this, as in other aspects of his career, historians have tended to take Cromwell’s own words at face value – an approach that is at best questionable. Cromwell’s statement on 12 September 1654 that ‘I was by birth a gentleman, living neither in any considerable height, nor yet in obscurity’, has invariably been taken as the starting point for any discussion of his social origins.6 How obscure is obscure? What did he mean by ‘gentleman’? The protector’s speech to a parliamentary committee in April 1657 has also had a particular fascination for historians, who have pored over his claim that ‘I am ready to serve not as a king, but as a constable … a good constable to keep the peace of the parish’, seeking inner truths about his style of government.7 As a result, what might have been intended as a light- hearted, even ironic remark, has been taken in deadly earnest by commentators, and is used as the supreme example of Cromwell’s ‘self- perception as lord protector’ by John Morrill, who points out that ‘in that role he never likened himself to the justice of the peace, the Christian magistrate that shaped policy and interpreted the law; but to “a good constable …” – a role that lacked initiative and executive authority’.8 For Barry Coward, the same speech shows that Cromwell was intent on ‘merely keeping the peace in order to allow others to pursue the path towards godly reformation’.9 Martyn Bennett analyses the nature of the parish constable’s role in rural society, in order to gain further insight into the protector’s character. Bennett describes the office of constable as being ‘at the lower end of national government’ and as ‘the point of contact for the national and the local’ – most notoriously in the case of ship money, the payment of which was enforced by constables, who were beaten up or prosecuted in return. According to Bennett, the ‘dichotomy’ inherent in the office was what Cromwell had in mind in 1657. He was in the middle, either as mediator between the ordinary MPs and the army, or between God (who had put him into power) and the people (whose acceptance he needed), and in either case ‘he was … like a constable, the meeting point of two sources of power’.10

Bennett, like other historians, sees Cromwell’s choice of words here as reflecting his own experiences in the government of small rural communities before 1640. And, at first glance, there certainly seems to be plenty of other evidence for this in Cromwell’s speeches. Indeed, rather than trying to cover up his humble, rural origins (as some modern politicians – and, indeed, historians – might try to do), it appears that Cromwell made free reference to them. His formal, set-piece speeches were dotted with agricultural terms. On 4 July 1653, he said that ‘it pleased God… to winnow, as I may say, the forces of this nation’, and added that at Pride’s Purge the Commons was ‘winnowed, sifted, and brought to a handful’.11 The new rule of the saints at London promised ‘to be full of good fruits, bearing good fruits to the nation’.12 On 22 January 1655, when he closed parliament with the warning that ‘there be some trees that will not grow under the shadow of other trees. There be some that choose, – a man may say so by way of allusion, – to thrive under the shadow of other trees…’; and he went on to attack ‘the enemies of the peace of these nations abroad and at home, … which I think no man will grudge to call by that name or to make to allude to briers and thorns, they have nourished themselves under your shadow’. Later in the same speech he repeated the charge that ‘these weeds, briars and thorns, they have been preparing’ while the parliament sat idle. In January 1658 he said of the godly interest that ‘it was not trodden down under foot all at once, but by degrees, that that interest might be consumed as with a canker insensibly, as Jonah’s gourd was, till it was quite withered in a night’.13 These references are not straightforward, of course, as many were images with biblical rather than agricultural resonance – the story of the trees, for example, was not derived from folklore but from Judges 9, verses 8 to 15 – although their very earthiness may have appealed to Cromwell.14

Other references do not appear to be biblical in origin. In his speech to Barebones, Cromwell described Wales, before the Propagation commission, as having ‘watchings over them, men like so many wolves ready to catch the lamb as soon as it was brought out into the world’. In his speech of 12 September 1654 he attacked the Rump, saying that ‘poor men under this arbitrary power were driven like flocks of sheep by forty in a morning’.15 In February 1657, when addressing the officers, and berating them for their criticism of parliament’s offer of the crown to him, Cromwell told them that the discredited Barebone’s parliament had been worse, as it had intended to ‘fly at liberty and property, in so much as if one man had twelve cows, they held another that wanted cows ought to take a share with his neighbour’.16 On 8 April 1657 Cromwell again referred to animals – this time possibly with working horses in mind – when he said that he ‘would not lay a burden on any beast, but I would consider his strength to bear it’.17 In his weary speech to parliament on 4 February 1658 an exasperated Cromwell told MPs that ‘I would have been glad, as to my own conscience and spirit, to have been living under a woodside to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken such a place as this’.18 These examples no doubt include much that was commonplace, the stock phrases of the street or of the godly community, but the frequency with which Cromwell reached for rural metaphors or turns of phrase suggest that they were an ingrained part of his personal make-up – or perhaps, he intended to give that impression.

There can be no doubt that those involved in celebrating and publicising Cromwell were aware of the importance of his rise from rural obscurity to military and political power.19 In 1650, Payne Fisher, in his poem Marston Moor, portrays Cromwell on the battlefield as:

Not unlike a Husbandman, who goes
Through all the fields, with his sickle mows
The riper Corne, and the first Grass for hay…
Where ere he comes making an open way,
Alaies those Plants which did so glorious stand,
Like to dead stubble, on the mowed land…20

(This last image perhaps reflects Cromwell’s own comments after the battle that ‘God made them as stubble to our swords’, and it also echoes Marvell’s series of pastoral poems voiced by a ‘mower’ rather than the usual shepherd.)21 There are other, closer, parallels between Cromwell’s words in his speech to parliament in January 1655 and Marvell’s First Anniversary, written at about the same time. Both dwell on the parable of the trees in the Book of Judges, with Marvell portraying Oliver as the olive tree, which was offered the crown and yet ‘still refuse[s] to reign’. In the same poem, Marvell also likens Cromwell to Farmer Gideon (who ‘did from the war retreat’); and Edmund Waller’s Panegyrick of May 1655 makes the even more flattering comparison between the protector and the great King David, ‘Borne to command, your Princely virtues slept, / Like humble David, while ye flock he kept’.22 Again, the emphasis is on Cromwell’s rural origins, his response to the call when the nation was in danger, and his refusal of the highest office when it was within his grasp. The political implications of this ‘spin’ on Cromwell’s humble roots is obvious.

The full pastoral idyll, in its classical rather than biblical context, only appeared in November 1657, when Marvell’s two songs, performed at the marriage of the protector’s daughter Mary to the north-country landowner, Viscount Fauconberg, presented the bride and groom as Endymion and Cynthia, and Cromwell himself as another familiar pastoral character, Menalca. As one of the singers, Hobbinol, assures his fellows,

Fear not; at Menalca’s hall
There is bays enough for all.
He, when young, as we did graze,
But when old, he planted bays.23

Here planting the bays of victory has replaced the husbandry concerns of the young Cromwell, but the nod towards his earlier career is significant. As Edward Holberton has commented, ‘Cromwell’s pastoral guise dignifies his East Anglian yeoman origins; it implies a rough social parity between him and “the Northern Shepherd”, Fauconberg’s late father’, and he also argues that the emphasis on Cromwell’s ‘experience as a shepherd makes him a sympathetic prince’ for ordinary people.24

This use of pastoral imagery recurs in Marvell’s Poem Upon the Death of the Lord Protector, which celebrated Cromwell’s enduring achievement:

As long as rivers to the seas shall run,
As long as Cynthia shall relieve the sun,
While stags shall fly unto the forests thick,
While sheep delight the grassy downs to pick.

Marvell’s emphasis on the natural world, the tending of flocks and so forth, reflects his own tastes for the pastoral, and his desire to connect with classical, biblical and more recent literary conventions; but there is another aspect to the public poetry produced by him, and by contemporaries such as Fisher and Waller: that this use of imagery was specific to Cromwell. These poets were intimately connected with Cromwell and his regime, either being relatives of the protector (Waller), or office-holders (Marvell). Marvell can be seen to be doing this in another context, when in his Horatian Ode he uses falconry metaphors – a tribute to the sport enjoyed by Cromwell – for perhaps the only time in his poetry.25 As we have seen, Oliver’s speeches drew on rural references, and there are examples of public poetry echoing (or pre-echoing?) exactly the same metaphors. This suggests a closer connection between the speeches and the various orations and commemorations, and a greater collaboration between the protector and his propagandists, than has been allowed. And at the heart of all these rural references lies not the countryside, but politics.

The political motives for this constant harking back to Cromwell’s humble rural origins appear to be fourfold. First, his image as an ‘honest man’ needs to be considered. Historians have tended to take this as read. Indeed, Cromwell’s basic integrity is the starting point of all the recent biographies of him, based as they invariably are on his own letters and speeches. Peter Gaunt also comments that ‘the surviving portraiture reflects a sense of realism and simplicity’ and that the pictures ‘do not seem to have been designed to disguise imperfections or unduly to flatter’.26 Laura Lunger Knoppers writes of Samuel Cooper’s miniature that it ‘coheres closely with Cromwell’s own plain-spoken biblicism and piety’, and she also states that Cromwell’s ‘pointed self-deprecation contrasts with the protectoral panegyric’.27 One is tempted to ask: wasn’t that the point? Perhaps Cromwell’s comments about being an obscure gentleman or constable should be read a little more critically. It is worth reflecting that, alongside the rural references, Cromwell constantly emphasised his own plain dealing and honesty. To take but three examples, on 17 September 1656 he protested to MPs that ‘I am plain and shall use a homely expression’; on 8 April 1657 he told parliament that he would ‘speak very clearly and plainly to you’; and on 21 April 1657 he protested to the parliamentary committee that ‘I speak not this to evade… but I say plainly and clearly I hope’, adding that he would ‘be very ready, freely, and honestly and plainly, to discharge myself’ in his dealings with them.28 Run together, such claims of honesty begin to sound like Uriah Heep’s protestations that he was ‘the ‘umblest person going’, and this is perhaps unfair. But there is still an interesting parallel between the plain and honest persona Cromwell wished to put forward, and his image as the man ‘risen from obscurity’.

Secondly, Cromwell’s claim to have a kind of rustic integrity has a close connection with his years as a godly soldier. His publicly proclaimed humility had a deep resonance with the Independent churches and, above all, the army. As Ian Gentles puts it, in the ranks of the New Model ‘intense piety was frequently accompanied by exaggerated humility and self- abasement. Man was reduced in order to make God seem all the greater. Paradoxically self-abasement grew with the army’s worldly success. The more powerful it became the more it insisted on its weakness and humility’.29 Exactly the same could be said about Cromwell. The greater his power, the more he distanced himself from it. There are parallels here between the celebration of Cromwell’s rise from ‘obscurity’ and the reverence given to lay preachers of humble birth who served with the New Model Army in the 1640s.30 There was a kind of inverted religious snobbery championed by some preachers, notably William Dell, chaplain to Fairfax’s regiment in the mid-1640s and a friend of Cromwell, whose heroes were the apostles, ‘poor, illiterate, mechanic men’ who nevertheless ‘turned the world upside down’. Dell also reminded his hearers that ‘he that fears God is free from all other fear; he fears not men of high degree’.31 There was a close association between such religious egalitarianism and the ‘liberty of conscience’ that Cromwell and others thought fundamental. Gentles comments that ‘lay preaching ineluctably implies the principle of liberty of conscience’.32 This connection was not lost on contemporaries. As Dell told parliament in the last months of the civil war, the reform of the church must be in the hands of individual congregations, among whom ‘a poor plain countryman, by the spirit which he hath received, is better able to judge of truth and error touching the things of God than the greatest philosopher, scholar or doctor in the world that is destitute of it’.33 Such ideas had a deep impact on the thinking – and the morale – of the New Model Army, and fostered a strain of egalitarianism best seen in the General Council of the army and the debates at Reading and Putney in 1647, when the ordinary soldiers argued with the most senior officers, apparently as equals. Furthermore, as Gentles reminds us, ‘the commanders were not unaware of the practical benefits of spiritual egalitarianism in welding men into an effective fighting unit’, and they were keen to accept the same risks that their men were taking, to emphasise that the cause was also shared.34 Although Cromwell famously refused to accept the social implications of this when dealing with the Levellers in the late 1640s,35 the principle of religious equality between those of differing social status was something that he certainly accepted. As early as 1643 he famously praised his officers as ‘godly honest men’, saying that ‘I had rather have a plain russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else’.36 The socially inferior were not better than gentlemen, but godliness was the acid test of commitment, and godliness knew no social distinctions.37

This emphasis on plainness, on humility, became all the more important after Cromwell became protector, and he was all too conscious of the accusations of ambition, of selling-out, that were levelled against him by his former friends and colleagues from the New Model Army of the 1640s. Emphasising his ordinariness, his roots in the countryside, was an attempt to persuade them that he still held true to the ‘good old cause’. In this context, his repeated appeal to being ‘plain and honest’ may have tied in with a familiar trope within rural writing in the early seventeenth century, especially that of Gervase Markham, who eulogised ‘the honest plain English husbandman’.38 Cromwell’s rural plainness was thus a touchstone of his godly integrity – he was the exemplar of Dell’s ‘poor plain countryman’ with unique access to God. It was perhaps this image of godly rustic ordinariness that encouraged the Digger, Gerrard Winstanley, to present his Law of Freedom in a Platform to Cromwell, and to complain in the dedicatory letter of the plight of the ‘poor labourers… who are kept poor still, and the common freedom of the earth is kept from them’.39

The third context for this emphasis of Cromwell’s rural origins is the Bible. Cromwell’s rise could be made to appeal to all sections of the godly by making direct parallels with the heroes of the Old Testament, especially Gideon and David, whose emergence from rural obscurity was also providential. This is especially apparent in the public literature celebrating the protector. The comparison with the shepherd boy-turned-king, David, was not only made by the sycophantic Waller: it also reappeared in the kingship debates, when courtiers such as Lord Broghill used the analogy with David to counter those who saw Cromwell’s acceptance of the crown as the ultimate betrayal, as the ‘sin of Achan’. The likeness was also clear to those outside the protector’s circle. Carrington, writing later, also compared Cromwell to David, ‘dormant tending his flocks until his country needed him’.40 As we have seen, Cromwell’s own rural references are often biblical, as with his mention of the parable of the trees in the Book of Judges or Jonah’s gourd; and other remarks appear to have a biblical root, notably the image of the wolves snatching lambs, which may refer to Acts 20:29, and his constant use of ‘good fruits’ was probably derived from Matthew 7: 17-18.

Fourthly, and perhaps less obviously, there is a cultural aspect in all this. This is in two parts. First, the scientific side, involving the drive for ‘improvement’ in all areas of learning, which originated with Francis Bacon and found new vigour during the interregnum, notably under the influence of Samuel Hartlib and his circle. The new learning had its own religious dimension, and this was particularly so when it came to agricultural improvements, which were linked with a return to the Garden of Eden. The extent of Cromwell’s direct support for such initiatives was probably stronger than has been realised. It is surely significant that Gerard Boate’s Natural History of Ireland and Walter Blith’s English Improver Improved (1652-3) were both dedicated to Cromwell. Hartlib received a government pension throughout the 1650s, and was a regular visitor to the protector’s court.41 Cromwell was associated with the scientific endeavours of Oxford University, especially through Robert Boyle (the brother of the courtier, Lord Broghill) and John Wilkins, who married the protector’s sister. The schemes of Hartlib’s circle to improve the nation economically were closely linked to their philosophical interest in the natural world as a model for human society, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the study of bees. As Timothy Raylor puts it, ‘Hartlib and his circle saw in the pious industry and good husbandry of the bees a natural analogue for their own public-spirited endeavours. And in the discipline, communalism, loyalty and full-employment of the hive they saw an image of the godly commonwealth they were striving to establish’.42 Hartlib’s own book on ‘the commonwealth of bees’ was presented to Cromwell in the closing days of 1653; and the link between bees and the Cromwellian protectorate was made explicit by the Essex clergyman (and client of the Earl of Warwick) Samuel Purchas junior, in 1657.43 In his Theatre of Political Flying Insects, Purchas writes of the queen bee as a quasi-military ‘commander’, who ruled not by heredity or election but by ‘nature … excelling all in goodliness, in goodness, in mildness, and majesty’. The ordinary bees had ‘great love to their commander, without whom they will be, they will do, nothing, and with whom they will be anything, go any whither, stay anywhere, be content with anything’.44

The second cultural aspect concerned the arts. We have already seen the willingness of authors to celebrate the Cromwellian state through rural imagery, and Cromwell’s own participation in this; but this must not been seen in isolation, rather as part of a long pastoral tradition in English (and European) culture, most famously seen in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Fletcher’s The Faithful Shepherdess and Milton’s Comus.45 The court of Charles I and (particularly) Henrietta Maria, revered pastoral art, and this was reflected in the poetry and orations presented to them; the court masques; and the carefully planned and maintained gardens, which brought order to nature. Kevin Sharpe refers to this as a ‘deep yearning for rural simplicity’ that ‘runs through all the court culture of early Stuart England’.46 This reverence for the pastoral idyll certainly survived the civil war and regicide, and although deemed ‘characteristically an instrument of the royalists’ it has been recognised that ‘no political, religious, or social group had a patent on pastoral’ in literature.47 This culture was not confined to the court. The pastoral, rural ideal, had long permeated into wider aristocratic society. Just as minor gentlemen sought to dress well, to entertain generously, to build (where possible) modern houses and cultivate modern gardens, so they absorbed the notions of the countryside current in the royal court. It is in this culture that we perhaps make the closest contact with Cromwell’s own rural origins, as a gentleman who came of age in the last years of the reign of James I and the early years of Charles I. By the middle of the century pastoral was being displaced by a more practical, ‘georgic’ strain in literary culture. As in other matters, Cromwell was rather old-fashioned in his attitudes. His refurbished formal gardens at Hampton Court did not accord with the new fashion for ‘wild pastoral’ landscapes; his passion for falconry was decidedly ‘retro’. But again this conservatism was not unusual. It was part of a culture he shared with the other gentlemen who peopled the court of the protectorate.

The effects of this shared culture are important, as it allowed Cromwell to connect with ordinary MPs, educated army officers and courtiers alike. To take an example, Cromwell repeatedly claimed that he had not sought high office, and that his dearest wish was to be allowed to retire. He said that he had always wished ‘to have had leave to have retired to a private life’;48 and, most famously, in his last speech to parliament in 1658 he said that ‘I would have been glad … to have been living under a woodside to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken such a place as this’.49 Like his rise from obscurity and his ‘desire’ to be a constable of a parish, such statements have beguiled historians. Morrill, summing up his ODNB (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) article on Cromwell, has seen this as important in understanding the dilemma of the last months of his protectorate:

He yearned to ‘keep a flock of sheep under a woodside’, to emulate Gideon who led the armies of Israel and then returned to his farm. But God would not let him go. God would have him serve.

The problem with this polemical, narrowly religious, approach is that it misses the obvious. Threats to retire were a common rhetorical device, almost a cliché, by this period. There were plenty of biblical and classical precedents, from Gideon to Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus. These are traditionally associated only with royalists, notably Izaak Walton, who sought solace in pastoral retreat; but it is deeply misleading to see rural retirement as a purely royalist ideal. Sir Thomas Fairfax had threatened to resign in 1647, and his retirement to Appleton House was celebrated by Marvell;50 Oliver’s son, Henry, threatened to resign in the summer of 1656;51 Henry’s father-in-law, Sir Francis Russell, protested in October 1658 that ‘I have thoughts of leaving both court and city. I will be a lord no longer but a country man [and] follow the plough’;52 and in the next month, Secretary Thurloe told Henry that he had asked Protector Richard ‘that I might have leave to retire’, to draw political flak away from the protector.53 Interestingly, another man close to Cromwell, Lord Broghill, made such threats almost routinely, and used bucolic language to heighten the effect. In June 1651 Broghill told Bulstrode Whitelocke of his hopes that the Irish campaign would soon end, ‘and that I shall be able next winter to turn ploughman’;54 in November 1657 he wrote to Edward Montagu that ‘retirement is so much my desire’;55 and after the fall of the protectorate he said to Whitelocke that he ‘now talks with no other but his thoughts, his small library, his wife and children, his ploughman and shepherds, and yet… would not change that life for a king’s, or which is more, a general’s’.56 Such claims by Broghill and the others do not reflect a real desire to retire, any more than they reveal a deep-seated interest in the views of ploughmen or shepherds. The same is surely true of Cromwell; and like the other rural references, whether in Cromwell’s speeches or in the public orations produced to emulate his regime, his stated desire to tend a flock in retirement must be treated with caution.

As we have seen, there were many reasons to emphasise Cromwell’s humble origins, his providential rise, and the ability of the protector and his court to join in the cultured, pastoral fashions of early modern Europe. At times it is perhaps better to look for the interest that lies behind the integrity. It may even be prudent to listen to Cromwell’s harshest critics, who were well aware of what was happening. To take one example, James Harington, in Oceana (1656) called Cromwell’s bluff. His hero, the all-powerful head of state, Lord Archon, really does retire ‘to a country house’.57 It is striking that Cromwell, for all his rural affectations, never left London or its immediate environs from the autumn of 1651 until his death, as lord protector, in September 1658. The closest he got to the countryside were his weekend breaks to Hampton Court, to hunt and hawk and ride and entertain, within an artificial rural scene, with formal gardens and carefully managed parklands. The farm – and the sheep – were left to the poets and the speech-writers.

1 The latter point was made in J.C. Davis, Oliver Cromwell(2001), 65.
2 A. Fraser, Cromwell, Our Chief of Men (1994 edn.), 42, 44.
3 J. Morrill, ‘The making of Oliver Cromwell’, in his Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1990), 19-20, 22-4.
4 See M. Bennett, Oliver Cromwell (2006), 28; B. Coward, Oliver Cromwell (1991), 11-12, P. Gaunt, Oliver Cromwell (Oxford, 1996), 34-5; Davis, Cromwell, 68-71.
5 J. Morrill, Oliver Cromwell (Oxford, 2007), 122.
6 I. Roots (ed.), Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (1989), 42; see Davis, Cromwell, 87, who says that this reference was made ‘precisely in order to show that it was not his doing but God’s’. Examples include Morrill, ‘Making’, 20.
7 W.C. Abbott (ed.), Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (4 vols., New Haven, 1937-47), iv. 470.
8 Morrill, ‘Making’, 23.
9 Coward, Cromwell, 120.
10 Bennett, Cromwell, 247-51.
11 Roots, Speeches, 10.
12 Ibid, 15, 21.
13 Ibid, 175.
14 Ibid, 61, 62, 64.
15 Ibid, 44.
16 Ibid, 111.
17 Ibid, 119.
18 Ibid, 189.
19 This section includes material already published in P. Little, ‘The Culture of the Cromwellian Court’, Cromwelliana (2009).
20 Quoted in N. Smith, Literature and Revolution in England, 1640-1660 (New Haven, 1994), 285.
21 Abbott, i. 287. See the note in Andrew Marvell, ed. F. Kermode and K. Walker (Oxford, 1990), 295.
22 [E. Waller] A Panegyrick to my Lord Protector (1655), 7; see also ibid, 5. For
a discussion of Cromwell as Gideon, see J. Morrill, ‘King-Killing no Murder’, Cromwelliana, 1998; and K. Sharpe, Image Wars: promoting kings and commonwealths in England, 1603-1660 (New Haven, 2010), 485, 489-91.
23 A. Marvell, Two Songs, second song, lines 13-16. There may have been a humorous element to this ‘masque’, as Hobbinol was also the ‘rustic swain’ and dupe of Robert Cox’s droll Oenone, published in 1656 (D.B.J. Randall, Winter Fruit: English drama, 1642-1660 (Lexington, Kentucky, 1995) 151). See also P. Little, ‘Oliver Cromwell’s sense of humour’, Cromwelliana (2007).
24 E. Holberton, Poetry and the Cromwellian Protectorate: Culture, Politics and Institutions (Oxford, 2008), 160-1.
25 See P. Little, ‘Oliver Cromwell and Falconry’, Cromwelliana (2008).
26 Gaunt, Cromwell, 214.
27 L.L. Knoppers, Constructing Cromwell: ceremony, portrait and print, 1645-1661 (Cambridge, 2000), 43, 199, see also ibid, 129-30.
28 Roots, Speeches, 92, 119, 163.
29 I. Gentles, The New Model Army in England, Ireland and Scotland, 1645-1653
(Oxford, 1992), 99.
30 Interestingly, John Bunyan almost certainly played down his own social origins, saying that he was from ‘a low and inconsiderable generation’ and his father was ‘of the rank that is the meanest’, and also made out that his education was meagre, his reading going no further than the Bible and Fox’s Acts and Monuments. Yet, as Richard L. Greaves and others have pointed out, Bunyan was descended from the landed gentry and his father was a tradesman who owned his own house; and the complexity of his writing suggests that he was being disingenuous about his schooling (see his article on Bunyan in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). In the words of one of Bunyan’s editors, ‘the truth is that, in having to defend themselves against the contempt of the established authorities, ‘mechanick preachers’ like Bunyan came positively to glory in their humble social origins and lack of worldly learning’ (J. Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, ed. W. R. Owens (1987), p. xiii).
31 Quoted in C. Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: radical ideas during the English Revolution (1975 edn.), 42, 94.
32 Gentles, New Model, 101.
33 Quoted in Hill, World Turned Upside Down, 100.
34 Gentles, New Model, 103-4.
35 See Hill, World Turned Upside Down, 122; also see Andrew Hopper, ‘Black Tom’: Sir Thomas Fairfax and the English Revolution (Manchester, 2007), 216, which contrasts Fairfax and Cromwell, saying that the former was ‘less alarmed than Cromwell at challenges from “social inferiors”’.
36 Abbott, i. 256.
37 Gaunt, Cromwell, 49-50.
38 Quoted in A. McRae, ´Husbandry Manuals and the Language of Agrarian Improvement’, in M. Leslie and T. Raylor (eds), Culture and Cultivation in Early Modern England: Writing and the Land (Leicester, 1992), 47.
39 G. Winstanley, The Law of Freedom and Other Writings, ed. Hill (1973), 281.
40 S. Carrington, History of… Oliver late Lord Protector (1695), preface, quoted in Fraser, Cromwell, 43.
41 T. Raylor, ‘Samuel Hartlib and the Commonwealth of Bees’, in Leslie and Raylor (eds), Culture and Cultivation, 115, 128n.
42 Raylor, ‘Hartlib and Bees’, 108.
43 Raylor, ‘Hartlib and Bees’, 111, 127n. For the Warwick connection see S. Purchas, Theatre of Political Flying Insects, (1657), epist. ded.
44 Purchas, Theatre, 17.
45 For a discussion, see Randall, Winter Fruit, ch. 10.
46 K. Sharpe, The Personal Rule of Charles I (New Haven, 1992), 170.
47 Randall, Winter Fruit, 187.
48 Abbott, iii. 453.
49 Roots, Speeches, 189.
50 R. Bell, Memorials of the Civil War, comprising the correspondence of the Fairfax family (2 vols, 1849) i. 343-4.
51 T. Birch (ed.), A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, Esq (7 vols, 1742), vi. 55-7.
52 P. Gaunt (ed.), The Correspondence of Henry Cromwell, 1655-1659 (Camden 5th series, 31, 2007), 414.
53 Thurloe State Papers vii. 490.
54 Bodleian Library, MS Tanner 54, fo. 76v (7 June 1651).
55 Thurloe State Papers vi. 622.
56 Longleat House, Whitelocke Papers 19, fo. 31r (23 June 1659).
56 Cited in Knoppers, Constructing Cromwell, 115.

Dr Patrick Little is a Senior Research Fellow in the 1640-60 section of the History of Parliament Trust, and Chairman of The Cromwell Association.

PDF version