Pages iii-viii

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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The courtiers of Whitehall, who attended the last hours of the late Protector, agreed in their report, that he had exercised his prerogative (fn. 1) of appointing a successor, by nominating, though, probably, almost in the article of death, (fn. 2) Richard, his eldest son; who had been a member of both his Parliaments, and in whose favour he had resigned the Chancellorship of Oxford University. (fn. 3) He also had been distin guished by the priority of nomination to the other House. With this report the Council were easily satisfied; (fn. 4) though an appointment, under such circumstances, was liable to animadversion, as will presently appear, (fn. 5) and could scarcely be sustained, except by the argument of possession, against that rigorous scrutiny which from the discordant interests of rival parties might be speedily expected.

Richard Cromwell accepted the appointment, with all its informality, and was immediately proclaimed in London and Westminster. (fn. 6) In a few days, the ceremonial was repeated throughout England; and at Dunkirk, the fall of which, and its exclusive military occupation by the English, though the French contributed to the capture, had formed the last, and not the least brilliant exploit, in the history of the Protectorate. (fn. 7)

Addresses, too often the stratagems of political intriguers, or the vehicles of servile adulation, are said to have been first employed in England, to compliment, the late Protector's successful usurpation. (fn. 8) They were now profusely laid, (fn. 9) such is the unmanly vernacular language of Courts, at the feet of his son. These addresses, of whose preservation, on a reverse of his condition, Richard is said to have been singularly observant, (fn. 10) conveyed the usual tenders of lives and fortunes, from civil, military, and ecclesiastical communities, in various quarters of England and its dependencies. They, at length arrived, though probably "a day too late," even from the transatlantic provinces. (fn. 11) Foreign ministers, also, as if in accordance with Sir Henry Wotton's definition of an ambassador, (fn. 12) were not regardless of their diplomatic duties. Each presented from his Court, in the laboured style of compliment, the customary common-places of sorrow and gratulation; (fn. 13) thus giving, "to airy nothings, a name" required on such occasions, to avoid the imputation of some unfriendly purpose.

"The situation of Richard," says Dr. Kippis, "had every thing that was promising and prosperous in its external appearance. The voice of joy and praise was heard from all parts;" and "for nearly five months from his accession to the Protectorship, (fn. 14) he seemed to remain as great a prince as ever his father had been before him." (fn. 15) The exigencies of government, however, required a Parliament, (fn. 16) to whatever hazards the Protector's new and feebly constituted authority would be exposed, amidst the free and fearless discussions, which from a late example, might be fairly apprehended in such an assembly. That these hazards were of no ordinary character will presently appear.

Westminster, January 27, 1658–9.

This being the day appointed for the meeting of the Parliament, his Highness, attended by his Privy Council, and the high officers of state, and of his household, with the officers of his army, and the gentlemen of his household, passed by water, in a stately new built galley, and landed at the Parliament-stairs; from whence, the Lord Cleypole, Master of the Horse, bearing the sword before him, he passed up to the House of Lords; where, having reposed a while, he passed thence to the Abbey Church, being attended as before, the Lord General Disbrowe then bearing the sword. (fn. 17)


  • 1. See infra, p. 224, note; Vol. i. p. 385.
  • 2. See infra, p. 141, 263, note. Roger Coke mentions the opinion, that "Cromwell had, by his last will, when he was compos mentis, designed Fleetwood for his successor; whereas, Richard was substituted in a surreptitious manner, by the craft of some of the Council, when Cromwell had lost his senses." Detection, (1697,) p. 406.
  • 3. See vol. ii. p. 314, note. "Whitehall, July 29, 1657. This day, the most noble Lord, the Lord Richard Cromwell, was installed Chancellor of the most famous University of Oxon. "About four o'clock, afternoon, Dr. John Owen, Vice-chancellor of the University, with the heads of houses in their scarlets, the proctors, and a great number of masters of arts, came hither to the lodgings of my Lord Richard in their formalities, the beadles of the University preceding the Vice-Chancellor. "The Convocation being set," and "the most noble Lord Chancellor elect" being "admitted Master of Arts," he "came attended by the reverend Dr. Wilkins," (his uncle, afterwards Bishop of Chester.) "His Lordship's robe was scarlet, and after the manner of the Proctor's habit." After "a speech in Latin to his Lordship," by the senior Proctor, and the presentation of "the Book of Statutes," and the various "ensigns of authority," and "an elegant speech in Latin, by the Vice-Chancellor, the oath of Chancellor was administered. His Lordship, in a short speech, declared his good acceptance of the honour done him, with promises of performing whatever lieth in his power, as becomes their Chancellor, for the security, honour, and advantage of that renowned University. "This ceremony being ended, banquets were prepared in several rooms, for the entertainment of that learned body." Mercurius Politicus, No. 373.
  • 4. Whitlock represents "the Council" as "satisfied, that the Protector, in his life-time, according to the Petition and Advice, had declared his son Richard to be his successor." Memorials, (1732,) p. 674.
  • 5. See infra, pp. 25–33, 87, 104, 105, 112, 113, 124, 125, 129, 141, 151, note, &c.
  • 6. See infra, p. 130. "The proclamation of Richard to be Lord Protector," says Whitlock, "was made in London, in the following words:— "Whereas, it hath pleased the most wise God, in his Providence, to take out of this world the moat serene and renowned Oliver, late Lord Protector of this Commonwealth; and his Highness having, in his lifetime, according to the humble Petition and Advice, declared and appointed the most noble and illustrious, the Lord Richard, eldest son of his said late Highness, to succeed him in the government of these nations: "We therefore, of the Privy Council, together with the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens of London, the officers of the army, and numbers of other principal gentlemen, do now hereby with one full voice and consent of tongue and heart, publish and declare the said noble and illustrious Lord Richard, to be rightful Protector of this Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging. "To whom we do acknowledge all fidelity and constant obedience, according to law, and the said humble Petition and Advice, with all hearty and humble affections, beseeching the Lord, by whom princes rule, to bless him with long life, and these nations with peace and happiness under his government. "Richard Chiverton, Mayor. Henry Lawrence, President. Nathaniel Fiennes, C. S. John Lisle, C. S., &c. "God save his Highness, Lord Protector." Memorials (1732); see Parl. Hist. xzi. 227–232.
  • 7. See infra, p. 488, note.
  • 8. "In Oliver's time, they came in fashion," says the author of the History of Addresses, (1709,) p. 2.
  • 9. "Richard had his addresses, as well as his father, and in a far greater number, the custom prevailing more and more daily." Ibid. p. 6. Dr. Bates says: "cum petitionibus approbatoriis numero circiter nonaginta quaquaversus advolant, ut exorienti soli adblandirentur." Elenchus, (1676,) p. 334. (They hastened from all parts, with about ninety addresses of congratulation, worshipping the rising sun.) Roger Coke mentions "numerous companies of sycophants, from all parts of the nation, to the number of ninety congratulatory addresses, which Richard had as little good of, as King James II. had from those above thirty years after." Detection, (1697,) p. 406. Richard, like other sovereigns, was not left unacknowledged by the flattering incense of dedications. See infra, p. 163, note *. The learned lawyer, Rushworth, (whose name appears, disgracefully, in 1660, among the, witnesses for the crown,) now publishing the Historical Collections, to which I have been very frequently indebted, thus concludes a dedication to the young Protector:— "But few words are best to princes. Vouchsafe, your Highness, pardon to him who thus presumes to make so mean an oblation at so high an altar. Your good acceptation will be the greatest honour to it." Parl. Hist. (1763,) xxiii. 218. Even Mr. Locke has fallen into this absurdity of dedication. Thus, presenting his Essay, in 1689, to the Earl of Pembroke, a respectable private nobleman, neither possessing nor affecting any uncommon literary or scientific attainments, and scarcely known to posterity, beyond the peerage, he says:— "A present I here make to your Lordship; just such as the poor man does to his rich and great neighbour, by whom the basket of flowers or fruit, is not ill taken, though he has more plenty of his own growth and in much greater perfection. Worthless tilings receive a value, when they are made the offerings of respect, esteem, and gratitude." Works, (1740,) i. 10. See infra, p. 52, note ‡.
  • 10. See infra, p. 153, note; House of Cromwell, (1787,) i. 179–182.
  • 11. See Biog. Brit. (1789,) iv. 529. Yet Governor Hutchinson, says: "An express acknowledgment of Richard Cromwell, was expected from the Massachuset's, but they declined it." History, (1765,) i. 206.
  • 12. Isaac Walton relates, that Sir Henry Wotton, "at his first going ambassador into Italy, (in 1604,) as he passed through Germany, was requested," by a friend, "with whom he was passing an evening in merriment, to write some sentence in his albo; a book of white paper, which for that purpose, many of the German gentry usually carry about them; and Sir Henry Wotton, consenting to the motion, took an occasion from some accidental discourse of the present company, to write a pleasant definition of an Ambassador, in these very words: Legatus est vir bonus peregrè missus ad mentiendum reipublicœ causâ." See the Life prefixed to Reliquiœ Wottonianœ.
  • 13. The Lord de Bourdeaux, "at an audience to which he was introduced by Sir Oliver Fleming, Master of the Ceremonies, presented to his Highness two letters; one from his Majesty of France, the other from his Eminency, Cardinal Mazarine, and delivered himself in a speech to this effect: "That his Master, the King of France, having heard of the death of his late Highness, of glorious memory, did very much take to heart the loss of so great a captain, and so good an idly of his crown. That his Majesty rejoiced, at being informed, that in order to the repairing so great a loss, it had pleased God to establish his Highness, as his father's undoubted successor." Parl. Hist. (1760,) xxi. 237. "Yet as soon as Cardinal Mazarine heard, at Paris, of Oliver's death, he personally waited upon the Queen-Mother of England, to congratulate her thereupon, as the most probable accident that could have happened to advance her sdn's restoration." Ibid. Whitlock mentions, "October 18th, audience given by Richard, to the French Ambassador, when Richard did carry himself discreetly and better than was expected." Memorials, (1732,) p. 675.
  • 14. The circumstances attending the accession" of his serene Highness, Lord Richard Cromwell," are thus described by Prestwich, a contemporary. "Instantly, on the death "of his serene Highness, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, the Privy Council assembled, and summonses were immediately sent to all the Lords and superior officers, both civil and military. After which, his son and successor, Lord Richard Cromwell, was acknowledged by the Council, and was thereupon proclaimed, as the rightful and most undoubted Heir, Prince, and Governor. And the next morning, being Saturday, the following notice was forwarded to all the chief towns in the dominions of the Commonwealth, with orders to make the same public, by means of the Common Cryer, &c. &c. "Public notice is hereby given and declared: That whereas, it hath pleased Almighty God, by his providence, to take away the most serene and most illustrious Oliver, Lord Protector; who, according to the Petition and Advice, in his life-time, had declared the most noble and illustrious, his son, the Lord Richard Cromwell, to be his successor; the Council, the Lord Mayor, the officers of the army, therefore, do heartily and unanimously, acknowledge the said Lord Richard, as rightful Protector and Chief Magistrate, and do require all persons to yield obedience; beseeching Almighty God, by whom Princes reign, and wise men decree justice, to bless him with long life, and the nations under him, with peace and happiness. "This being finished, Sir Richard Chiverton, the Mayor, and the Aldermen of London, according to order from the Council, that Saturday, in the afternoon, came down to Whitehall, and condoled and congratulated Lord Richard Cromwell; and, in their presence, Fiennes, the Lord Commissioner gave him his oath. After which, the Rev. Mr. Manton, as Prelate of the Protectorship, said prayers, and blessed him, his council, armies, and people. After this, on the Monday next, they proclaimed in great triumph; the lords, great officers, with most of the superior army and navy officers attending the solemnity, and this at the usual places in London." Respublica, (1787,) pp. 204, 205. See supra, p. ii. note ‡. "Richard Cromwell," says Wood, "was proclaimed Protector, at Ozon. (Sep. 6,) at the usual places where Kings have been proclaimed. While he was proclaiming before Saint Marie's Church dore, the Mayor, Recorder, Town-Clerk, &c. accompanied by Colonel Unton Croke, and his troopers, were pelted with carret and turnip-tops, by young scholars and others, who stood at a distance." Life, (1772,) pp. 115, 116.
  • 15. Biog. Brit. iv. 530.
  • 16. Which was called on the antient model. See infra, p. 74, note.
  • 17. Mercurius Politicus, No. 552.