Oliver Cromwell: an interpretation

by B. Gordon Blackwood*

Synopsis by Serrie Meakins

A not entirely sympathetic take on Cromwell, looking at him as a soldier, regicide, military dictator and Puritan and considering his anti- Leveller and anti-Irish views. The author’s definite view that Cromwell was a military dictator is rather contentious, but that aside his views re predictable but useful to add depth to ay analysis of Cromwell’s character.

This article is not another biography of Oliver Cromwell, but is concerned with Cromwell as a soldier, regicide, anti-Leveller, anti-Irishman, military dictator and Puritan.

Cromwell the soldier

In his article on ‘Generalship in the First Civil War‘, the late Lt-CoL Burne wrote that ‘I place Sir Thomas Fairfax first by a short head, Prince Rupert second, and Cromwell a bad third.’1 I would agree with this judgment. However, we must remember that both Fairfax and Rupert had fought as professional soldiers in the Thirty Years War, in the Low Countries and Germany respectively. By contrast, Cromwell had had no military experience when, aged 43, the English civil war began. So what he achieved as a soldier is all the more remarkable. Cromwell was neither a great strategist nor a great tactician, but he had two essential qualities needed in a general – he knew how to inspire men in action, and he knew how to choose good soldiers, especially officers. He picked good officers by appointing and promoting them for their religious zeal and military efficiency.

First let us deal with religious zeal. After the battle of Edgehill in 1642 in which Cromwell’s part is obscure – he wrote to John Hampden saying that parliament’s defeat, or at least lack of victory, was due to the fact that ‘your troops are most of them old decayed serving men, and tapsters and such kind of fellows, and . . . their [royalist] troops are gentlemen’s sons, younger sons, persons of quality . . . You must get men of a spirit . ..that is like to go as far as a gentleman will go; or else . . . you will be beaten still.’2 By ‘men of spirit’ Cromwell meant Puritans, believing that a moral fervour must be matched against the chivalry of England. In 1642 and 1643 Cromwell recruited soldiers for the cavalry of the Eastern Association and Richard Baxter, a Puritan army chaplain, noted that ‘he took a special care to get religious men into his Troop.’3 Bulstrode Whitelock, a parliamentary lawyer, said that Cromwell’s cavalry regiment of ‘Ironsides’ consisted mostly of ‘freeholders and freeholders sons . . . who upon a matter of [religious] conscience, engaged in the quarrel.’4 Cromwell himself believed that ‘a few honest men are better than numbers’ and that ‘if you choose godly honest men to be captains of horse, honest men will follow them.’5 Since Cromwell had ‘a lovely company [of] . . . honest, sober Christians’6, it is hardly surprising that they marched or rode into battle singing psalms, believing that God was on their side, and that they were not only parliament’s but also God’s army. No wonder they were so courageous and fought so well.

Cromwell’s troops also fought well because they were chosen for their military efficiency. Promotion by merit we take for granted today, but in the hierarchical society of mid seventeenth century England this was new. Social status generally decided appointment and promotion. In 1642 parliament’ s first list of twenty infantry colonels included ten peers and four knights, the other six being gentlement7 However, the exigencies of civil war forced both parliamentarians and royalists to appoint and promote officers on their merits.8 Cromwell (and the Earl of Manchester) believed in promotion by ability as early as 1643. In that year the Suffolk committee of the Eastern Association objected that Cromwell had appointed Ralph Margery of Walsham-le-Willows, believed to be a yeoman’s and not a gentleman’s son, to a captaincy of horse. Cromwell’s famous reply was: ‘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. I honour a gentleman that is so indeed!’ Cromwell also said: ‘it had been well that men of honour and birth had entered into these employments [as officers], but why do they not appear? Who would have hindered them? But seeing it was necessary the work must go on, better plain men than none.’9 It was because Cromwell chose his officers for their military ability and politico-religious zeal rather than for their social status that he was largely responsible for parliament’s major victories at Marston Moor, Preston, Dunbar and Worcester.10

Cromwell also triumphed because he knew how to inspire men in battle, the best example perhaps being the battle of Dunbar, not far from Edinburgh. This was indeed Cromwell’s greatest victory, for he was up against not only the superb Scottish general David Leslie, but also vastly superior numbers. Cromwell and his army were hemmed in between the sea and the Scots on top of a low hill. The Scots grew tired of waiting and moved down the hill. Cromwell won against the odds, which he specified in his letter to Speaker William Lenthall: ‘the enemy’s numbers were very great; . . . about six thousand horse, and sixteen thousand foot at least; ours drawn down, as to sound men, to about seven thousand five hundred foot, and three thousand five hundred horse.’ Yet though outnumbered by two to one, the enemy ‘were . . . made by the Lord of Hosts as stubble to their [parliament’s] swords.’ Cromwell inspired his men with the war-cry ‘the Lord of Hosts’ from Psalm 46. Also, before pursuing the Scots, Cromwell halted his men and sang Psalm 117. Such religious acts by Cromwell must have put courage into the hearts of his ‘godly’ soldiers. No wonder about 3000 Scots were killed and 10,000 taken prisoner, and that under twenty Englishmen died.11

Cromwell the regicide

That Cromwell was a regicide is undeniable. But when and why did he become one, and with how much enthusiasm? During the first civil war Cromwell is alleged to have remarked ‘if the king chanced to be in the body of the enemy that he was to charge, he would as soon discharge his pistol upon him as at any other private person.’12 It is most unlikely that Cromwell ever said this. Moreover, there is not a shred of evidence that he was ever a republican during the first civil war. Like most of those taking up arms against Charles I, Cromwell wished merely to restrain the king from acting arbitrarily and to reform the Church of England on Puritan lines. Indeed, just after the end of the first civil war, Cromwell considered that the restoration of the monarchy was essential to the stability of property and the social order.13 Moreover, during the Putney debates of 1647 the agitators in the parliamentary army condemned Cromwell and Ireton for trying to negotiate with the king.14 What apparently made Cromwell change his mind was the second civil war of 1648, started by Charles I.

Charles I was the author of his own fate. He was thoroughly deceitful and untrustworthy. In December 1647 he persuaded the Scots to change sides and they invaded England in 1648, supported by royalist uprisings in South Wales, Kent and Essex. This hardened parliamentarian attitudes. Those who had supported the king in the first civil war were fined afterwards by their victorious enemies, but after the second civil war royalists were put on trial and executed. Good examples are Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle after the siege of Colchester. Charles I was therefore not the only one who suffered this fate. Parliament’s New Model Army thought that those who tried to reopen the war in 1648 were attempting to overturn a victory for which God had been responsible. Royalists participating in the second civil war were committing sacrilege. Cromwell apparently shared this view, judging by a letter he wrote on 20 November 1648 to Robert Jenner and John Ashe.15

Cromwell was definitely converted to regicide by December 1648. Once he had made up his mind, once God had spoken and there was no alternative to regicide – a ‘cruel necessity’ – Cromwell took a leading part in Charles I’s judicial murder. ‘We will cut off his head with the crowne upon it’, he remarked. 16 Cromwell’s enthusiasm for regicide was now boundless. He and Henry Marten jokingly inked each other’s faces after signing the death warrant. 17 The fact that Cromwell’s name appears third among the fifty-nine signatures on this warrant – below that of President Bradshaw and Lord Grey of Groby – would dispel any notion that he was an unwilling regicide. Moreover, Cromwell was accused of having ‘over persuaded’ or bullied many of the other fifty-six signatories into signing.18

Cromwell the anti-leveller

Cromwell was undoubtedly a strong opponent of the Levellers – that radical group which arose just after the first civil war – saying to parliament in 1654, ‘did not that Levelling principle tend to the reducing of all to an equality? . . . to make the tenant as liberal a fortune as the landlord?’19. Many besides Cromwell supposed that the Levellers intended to ‘level’ men’s estates. Thus has arisen the myth that the Levellers were early socialists. But several Leveller leaders indignantly denied this. Maximilian Petty said ‘l hope they may live to see the power of the king and Lords thrown down, but yet may live to see property preserved.’20 In fact the Levellers were not socialists but democrats, or at least semi-democrats. They wanted a republic without a king, House of Lords and bishops, with a sovereign parliament elected by a very wide franchise They would have excluded servants and beggars from the franchise, but this would have given the vote to approximately 85 per cent of the adult male population, a great advance on 1640 when at most 40 per cent of adult men could vote.21 Just as World War I led to a demand for a greatly extended franchise, so did the English civil war. Soldiers in both wars who had risked their lives wanted to be rewarded with full civil rights. So some of Cromwell’s soldiers were receptive to Leveller ideas.

In late October 1647 the London Levellers and army agitators met the high ranking officers of the New Model Army at Putney and there drew up The Agreement of the People, setting forth their demands. Cromwell chaired the famous Putney debates, but he did not act impartially. Indeed, he agreed with his son in law, Henry Ireton, that the sufferage proposal of The Agreement ‘tends to anarchy.’22 So Cromwell abruptly ended the Putney debates. In 1649 the Levellers were active again. Cromwell thumped his fist on the table and shouted, ‘ tell you, sir, you have no other way to deale with these men, but to break them in pieces . . . if you do not break them they will break you.’23 He kept his word. He surprised the Leveller soldiers resting at Burford, quelled the mutiny and had four ringleaders shot. But the point to note is that Cromwell had crushed a democratic, not a socialist, movement. Cromwell may have been a religious revolutionary, but he was a social conservative, believing in a property franchise. This is hardly surprising since he was ‘by birth a gentleman.’ He could not possibly have been a democrat.

Cromwell the anti-Irishman

Cromwell is remembered today as a bitter enemy of the Irish, largely because of the massacres of Drogheda and Wexford. The Irish call them ‘the curse of Cromwell.’ To understand the background to Cromwell’s massacres we need to go back to 1641 when the Irish Catholics rebelled against English rule in Ireland and massacred many Protestants in Ulster. This strengthened anti- Catholic prejudices. Despite this, in 1643 Charles I made a truce with the Irish Catholic rebels and enlisted many on his side in the English civil war.24 By 1649, however, the English, then Welsh and, temporarily, the Scottish royalists had been defeated and the Rump ordered Cromwell to crush the royalists in Ireland. In August 1649 Cromwell landed. In September the massacre of Drogheda took place. Not only were the royalist soldiers brutally killed but apparently Catholic ‘friars and priests died almost to a man.’25 Cromwell gave no direct order for the massacre of civilians but undoubtedly many perished. At Wexford in October the situation was almost as bad. Anything from 1500 to 2000 troops, priests and civilians were butchered.26

That these were dreadful massacres is undeniable. But a sense of proportion is needed. The deaths of 3000 at Drogheda27 and 2000 at Wexford were nothing compared with the 20,000 Protestants butchered by the Catholic Count von Pappenheim at Magdeburg in 1631. Moreover, it must be remembered that Cromwell sincerely believed that his actions were justified, militarily and religiously. Referring to Drogheda he writes that the royalist soldiers defending St. Peter’s church were ‘summoned to yield to mercy’ but ‘refused. Whereupon I ordered the steeple of St. Peter’s church to be fired.’28 Cromwell clearly shared the prevalent seventeenth century view that a garrison which had prolonged resistance to a siege and so caused unnecessary loss of life might, after due warning, be put to the sword. Moreover, he seemed to think that the massacre of Drogheda would ‘tend to prevent the effusion of blood for the future.’29 Indeed, this massacre, like that at Wexford, did end the war in Ireland. Lesser garrisons – Trim and Dundalk – surrendered quickly. Dr Paul has compared the massacres of Drogheda and Wexford to the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan in 1945. It was dreadful, but it ended the war. So Cromwell ended the war in Ireland by his massacres.30 I am not saying this justifies them, but they did end the war that had dragged on for eight years.

Cromwell also justified his actions on religious grounds. Referring to Drogheda Cromwell wrote to Speaker Lenthall, ‘I am persuaded that this is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbued their hands in so much innocent blood.’31 Cromwell seems to be saying that the Drogheda massacre was the revenge of a wrathful God for the Catholic massacres of Protestants in Ulster in 1641, a view undoubtedly shared by most of his Protestant contemporaries.

As historians, we can explain Cromwell’s massacres, yet we can hardly excuse them. Lady Antonia Fraser writes: ‘Cromwell lost his self-control at Drogheda, literally saw red – the red of his comrades’ blood – after the failure of the first assaults, and was seized with one of those sudden brief and cataclysmic rages which would lead him to dissolve [the Rump] parliament by force.’32 Dr Christopher Hill considers that ‘the savagery of the massacre was different from anything that had happened in the English civil wars (except to Irish camp followers): it recalled the horrors of the German Thirty Years War.’33 It is significant that Cromwell was far less fierce in dealing with the Scots in the 1650s, perhaps because they were fellow Protestants. Furthermore, we must remember that a compassionate minority of Englishmen did not share Cromwell’s view that the Irish were ‘barbarous wretches.’ Some – though not all – Levellers were reluctant to fight in Ireland. William Walwyn, one of their leaders, was accused of saying that, ‘the cause of the Irish natives in seeking their just freedoms…was the very same with our cause here, in endeavouring our own rescue and freedom from the power of oppressors.’34 This is a different outlook from the colonialist or missionary attitudes of the attackers.

But whether we condone or condemn Cromwell for his massacres in Ireland, one thing is certain – Cromwell was the agent, not the initiator, of English policy in Ireland. Imperialistic attitudes towards the Irish – that they were ‘barbarous wretches’ and should be either Anglicised or exterminated (or deprived of their lands) – go back to the reign of Henry II.35

Cromwell the military dictator

Most historians consider that Oliver Cromwell was a military dictator, though Professor Ivan Roots is a notable exception. Apart from the Major Generals, to which we shall refer later, Cromwell’s military rule is shown by his expulsion of the Rump Parliament in 1653 – a military coup par excellence36 – and by his taking most of his constitutional schemes from his fellow officers. In July 1653 he accepted Major General Harrison’s scheme for a nominated parliament (a contradiction in terms for one usually associates parliament with free elections). In December 1653 he accepted General Lambert’s Instrument of Government – Britain’s only written constitution – which provided for a permanent army of 30,000 (Charles I had no such army in the 1630s). It is true that he accepted one civilian constitution, Humble Petition and Advice of 1657, which subordinate the army to parliament; yet senior army officers in the Upper House could effectively veto any legislation they desired.

It is said that Cromwell was not a dictator because he had to accept the advice of a Council of State, but this included many of his fellow officers. Also it is said that parliament of one kind or another sat sporadically until his death; yet he expelled 100 MPs from Protectorate parliament in 1656. However, Cromwell did become less of a military man as he grew older and, like General Franco in later life, tried to civilianise his regime. Cromwell has been called ‘the reluctant dictator’ because he genuinely wanted to rule by parliamentary means, by consent. ‘We are all for government by consent, but where shall we find that consent?’37 Certainly Cromwell did not want to be a military dictator, but neither do most military dictators. He would have like d to reduce the size of the army, but he kept it large to prevent a Stuart invasion from abroad and a royalist or Leveller uprising at home. In defence of Cromwell it could perhaps be argued that, unlike Charles I, he was a dictator – or semi-dictator – through circumstances and not through choice. Yet dictator he was and this is most clearly seen in the rule of the Major Generals.

After Penruddock’s unsuccessful royalist uprising in Wiltshire in March 1655, Cromwell accepted his generals’ scheme for direct military rule. England and Wales were divided into eleven districts, each under the rule of a military governor or Major General. These Major Generals took over the command of the amateur local militias, traditionally controlled by the local gentry. The Major Generals also had professional troops to enforce their unpopular commands. Lucy Hutchinson, wife of the parliamentary soldier, Colonel John Hutchinson, vividly described the heavy handed rule of the Major Generals in her Memoirs: Cromwell ‘set up a company of silly mean fellows called major generals as governors of every country. These ruled according to their wills, by no law but what seemed good in their own eyes, imprisoning men, obstructing the course of justice between man and man, perverting right through partiality, acquitting some of the guilty and punishing some that were innocent as guilty.’38

A harsh judgment? Not really. Even parliamentarians thought that the Major Generals were unfair to the royalists. Very few cavaliers had in fact participated in Penruddock’s rising, yet 14,000 ‘suspects’ were placed under surveillance. These suspects (many probably not royalists39) had to get permission every time they left their homes. Nothing like this had happened during the Tudor and early Stuart periods. Perhaps worse than those travelling restrictions or house arrests was Cromwell’s special decimation tax of 10 per cent. This income tax on royalist sympathisers ran into a storm of protest. The central point was that the Rump had passed an Act of Indemnity and Oblivion protecting all former royalists from future penalties and punishment unless they committed further offences; parliamentarians as well as royalists said ‘let not the innocent be punished with the guilty.’ Bulstrode Whitelock, a parliamentarian lawyer MP, said forcibly: ‘to call it a tax…is against the Instrument of Government [i.e. is unconstitutional]…punishing the innocent with the [guilty] weighs very much with me.’40 It was the thin end of the wedge.

Another of the many features of Cromwell’s rule of the Major Generals was ‘the reformation of manners.’ This was a sort of enforced moral rearmament. Some Major Generals, like Charles Worsley in Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire, enforced a Puritan lifestyle on a reluctant people, rigidly upholding the laws against drunkenness, immorality, swearing and sabbath breaking.41 But these measures were counter productive. Like President Reagan, Cromwell found that there was not a ‘moral majority’ in the nation. Hence he withdrew the Major Generals in 1657. But he made no apology for them. In a speech to the second Protectorate parliament Cromwell said that the Major Generals were ‘justifiable to necessity . . . honest in every respect .. .. . more effectual towards the discountenancing of vice and settling religion than anything done these fifty years.’42 This takes us to the cux of the matter. Cromwell believed that any government action was justified if it seemed to advance God’s cause. The end justified the means, so in the name of religion he attacked civil liberties and levied arbitrary taxation.

Cromwell the Puritan

Cromwell’s religious zeal is not in doubt. It is shown in his public speeches, private letters, choice of army officers and actions on the battlefield. He delayed decisions by ‘waiting on the Lord’, but once he had made up his mind he was determined to carry them through. He has been called ‘a vehement Puritan’ 43, who could inspire men in battle with speeches, psalm singing and a belief that god was on their side. There is no agreed definition of ‘Puritan’ among historians, but Percival Wiburn was perhaps nearest the mark when, in 1581, he said ‘the hotter sort of protestants are called Puritans.’44 CromwelI was both a typical and an untypical Puritan, typical in his providentialist faith, untypical in his support for religious toleration. Dr Morrill has brilliantly portrayed Cromwell’s providentialist outlook45, but something needs to be said about Cromwell’s attitude to religious toleration.

Cromwell believed that God was working through the ‘saints’, though these were not all in one church. (Most Puritans, in contrast, thought they were all in one church). The ‘godly’ were divided. Each individual had a bit of the truth in him, hence religious toleration should follow. Some would abuse thus liberty, yet it was a risk worth taking because it would enable the truly godly to emerge. To an opponent of toleration Cromwell replied, ‘your pretended fear lest error should step in, is like the man that would keep all the wine out of the country lest men should be drunk.’46

During the first civil war Cromwell showed a belief in religious toleration. In 1644 Major General Crawford cashiered a lieutenant-colonel for refusing to accept Presbyterianism and accused him of being an Anabaptist.47 Cromwell protested; ‘ay, but the man is an Anabaptist. Are you sure of that? Admit he be, shall that render him incapable to serve the public?..Sir, the state in choosing man to serve them, takes no notice of their opinions, if they be willing faithfully to serve them, that satisfies.48 These were not typical views in the mid seventeenth century. A far more typical attitude to religious toleration was expounded by Richad Heyricke, the Puritan warden of Manchester collegiate church; toleration ‘savours strongly..of likewarmness and want of zeal…Toleration would be the putting of a sword into a mad man’s hands; a cup of poyson into the hands of a child . . . a toleration of soul murder (the greatest murder of all)…what disobedience to the civil magistrate…what disturbance of the Civil peace…if once liberty were given by a law (which God forbid) for men to profess and practice what opinions they pleased; yea, sin would be committed without any restraint or shame…we judge the toleration of all kinds of opinions and professions in matters of faith…to be impious and wicked.’49

Cromwell was tolerant in practice as well as in principle. This is shown by his readmission of the Jews to England in 165550 and by his religious settlement of 1653. In that year a broad national Protestant church was set up, supported by tithes and patrons. The Church of England was not disestablished, though officially there were to be no bishops and Prayer Book. But this Cromwellian church – set up by the Instrument of Government in 1653 – included proportionately a greater number of clergy and laity than did the post-Restoration church. Yet some clergy and laity deliberately excluded themselves from the national church. However, Cromwell’s government openly tolerated separatist congregations of the more radical Protestants, such as Baptists and Quakers. In theory the Instrument of Government did not allow freedom of worship to ‘Popery and Prelacy’, but in practice Cromwell’s government openly connived at the continuance of separate churches of Roman Catholics and Anglicans. During Cromwell’s period of rule the Anglican Prayer Book was widely used, while English Catholics enjoyed more toleration than they had experienced since the death of Mary I in 1558.51 During the reign of James I twenty five Roman Catholics suffered martyrdom. During the heightened tension of the 1640s twenty two Papists died for their faith.52 But during the Interregnum only two Catholics were martyred and Cromwell tried to save one of them, Father John Southworth in 1654.53

A notable exception to Cromwell’s tolerance was his treatment of Irish Catholics. In 1649 he told them, ‘if by liberty of conscience you mean a liberty to exercise the mass…that will not be allowed of.54 This was partly because he genuinely believed that the mass was idolatrous and forbidden by God’s word. But it was also because he regarded Irish Catholics as disloyal subjects. Indeed, the Pope and Irish priests had participated in revolts against England. By contrast, English Catholics were mostly loyal subjects without foreign contacts and, except in Lancashire and Yorkshire, most Catholic gentry had not been royalist but neutral in the civil wars.55 In Suffolk, for example, only five of the forty five Catholic gentry families supported Charles I.56 Perhaps for these reasons Cromwell was able to adopt a much more tolerant attitude towards English than towards Irish Catholics.

Cromwell’s toleration in religious matters makes one inclined to agreed with Ivan Roots that Oliver ought to appear in the index of any book called The History of Human Liberty.


Cromwell is important in at least seven respects. Firstly, he greatly helped parliament to win the civil wars by his military victories. If Cromwell did not begin the quarrel with Charles I, he certainly finished it. Secondly, he made England a republic. He was probably largely responsible for the execution of the king and the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords. Thirdly, he crushed the first democratic, or semi democratic movement in English history – the Leveller movement. Fourthly he quickly ended the civil war in Ireland by his massacres of Drogheda and Wexford. (Yet it could be argued that these massacres aggravated the Irish problem, which is still with us). Fifthly, he ended the war against the Scots by his victory at Worcester in 1651, and this made possible the union of England and Scotland under the lnstrument of Government in 1653. In fact, by defeating the Scots and the Irish Cromwell indirectly united the British Isles for the first time in its history, though by force, not consent. Sixthly, he established England’s only military dictatorship, albeit reluctantly. Seventhly, the was a strong Puritan, but a tolerant one, except towards Irish Catholics. He was the first head of state to accept religious toleration in principle. In this respect he was ahead of his time, though in most other ways he was very much a man of his time.

* This paper owes much to the inspiration of the works of Antonia Fraser, Christopher Hill and John Morrill.

1 History Today, April 1951, p. 69. .
2 W.C. Abbott (ed.), The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (4 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1937-47), IV, 471.
3 Richard Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae (London, 1696), p. 98.
4 Bulstrode Whitelock, Memorials of the English Affairs (London, 1682), p.68
5 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, I, 256.
6 Ibid., I, 258.
7 Godfrey Davies, ‘The parliamentary army under the Earl of Essex, 1642-5‘, English Historical Review, 49 (1934), p. 33 & n. 3.
8 C.H. Firth, Cromwell’s Army (London, 1962), pp. 46- 7, 49; P.R. Newman, ‘The royalist officer corps 1642-60’, The Historical Joumal, 26 (1983), pp. 945-58.
9 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, I, 265, 262.
10 Sir Thomas Fairfax is generally given credit for what was probably parliament’ s greatest victory, at Naseby in 1645. .
11 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, II, 323-4; see also John Buchan, Oliver Cromwell (London, 1934), p. 378.
12 Edward, Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion, ed. W.D. Macray (6 vols., Oxford, 1888), IV, 305.
13 Christopher Hill, God’s Englishman (London, 1970), p. 92.
14 Ibid., p. 95
15 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, I, 686-7, 690-2.
16 R.W. Blencowe (ed.), The Sidney Papers (London, 1825), p. 237.
17 Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, Our Chief of Men (St. Albans, 1975), p. 287.
18 Lucy Hutchinson, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, ed. C.H. Firth (2 vols., London, 1885), II, 153.
19 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, III,435.
20 G.E. Aylmer (ed.), The Levellers in the English Revolution (London, 1975), p. 106.
21 Keith Thomas, ‘The Levellers and the franchise‘ in G.E. Aylmer (ed.), The Interregnum (London, 1972), p. 73; Derek Hirst, The Representative of the People? (Cambridge, 1975), p.105.
22 Aylmer, Levellers, p. 105.
23 Pauline Gregg, Free-Born John (London, 1961), p. 270.
24 Joyce Lee Malcolm, ‘All the king’s men: the impact of the crown’s Irish soldiers in the English civil war‘, Irish Historical Studies, 22 (1979), pp. 239-64.
25 Fraser, Cromwell p. 338.
26 Hill, God’s Englishman, p. 117.
27 This was the official verdict.
28 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, II, 126.
29 Ibid., II,127.
30 R.S. Paul, The Lord Protector (London, 1955), p. 218.
31 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, II,127.
32 Fraser, Cromwell, p. 340.
33 Hill, God’s Englishman, pp. 116-17.
34 W. Haller and G. Davies (eds.), The Leveller Tracts 1647- 1653 (New York, 1964), p. 310. Walwyn never denied the charge. But historians disagree about the extent of the pro-Irish sympathies among the Levellers.
35 John Gillingham, ‘Images of Ireland’, History Today, Feb. 1987, pp. 16-22.
36 Charles I’s soldiers had tried to arrest a mere 5 members of a 552 strong House of Commons in 1642, whereas Cromwell’s troops expelled all 50 Members present.
37 C.H. Firth (ed.), The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow (2 vols., Oxford, 1894), II, 11.
38 Hutchinson, Memoirs, II, 203-4.
39 Of the 200 Lancashire gentry ‘suspects’, only 102 were definitely royalists in the civil wars; B.L., Additional MS 34,013, ff. 2-55; B.G. Blackwood, The Lancashire Gentry and the Great Rebellion 1640-60 (Manchester, 1978), passim.
40 J.T. Rutt (ed.), The Diary of Thomas Burton, Esq. (4 vols., London, 1828), I, 318. I owe this reference to Dr John Morrill.
41 T. Birch (ed.), A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, Esq., 1638-1660 (7 vols., London, 1742), IV, 247-8, 278, 450, 522-3.
42 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, IV, 269.
43 Maurice Ashley, The English Civil War (London, 1974), p.113.
44 Quoted in P. Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (London, 1%7), pp. 26-7.
45 John Morrill, ‘King Oliver?‘, Cromwelliana, 1981-82, pp. 20-5.
46 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, II, 339.
47 All Anabaptists believed in adult baptism. Some had socialist tendencies.
48 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, I, 278.
49 Richard Heyricke, The Harmonious Consent (Edinburgh, 1648), pp. 15-18.
50 They had been expelled by Edward I in 1295.
51 Maurice Ashley (ed.), Cromwell (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1969), p. 6; Claire Cross, ‘The church in England 1646-60’, in Aylmer, The Interregnum, pp.113-15.
52 The Martyrs of England and Wales 1535-1680 (Catholic Truth Society, 1979), pp. 14-16, 29-31, 41-3, 46-7.
53 J.L. Whitfield, Blessed John Southworth (C.T.S., 1961), p. 16.
54 Abbott, Writings and Speeches, II,146.
55 Blackwood, The Lancashire Gentry, p. 65; J.T. Cliffe, The Yorkshire Gentry (London, 1969), p. 344; Keith Lindley, ‘The part played by the Catholics’, in Brian Manning (ed.), Politics, Religion and the English Civil War (London, 1973), pp. 126-76.
56 B.G. Blackwood, ‘The cavalier and roundhead gentry of Suffolk: part 2’, The Suffolk Review, No. 7 (Sept. 1986), p. 5.

PDF version