The Cromwell Association Online Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers . Originally published by British History Online, , 2017.

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'Introduction', in The Cromwell Association Online Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers , (, 2017) pp. . British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


This project was adopted and initiated in 1999 by the Council of the Cromwell Association as a way of marking the 400th anniversary of the birth of Oliver Cromwell.

No existing comprehensive listing of the officers of parliamentarian armies was adequate, and coverage lagged behind that of royalist officers. This project set out to redress the balance but also to advance our knowledge of the parliamentarian officer corps as a whole. It was, and is, intended to help civil war historians and researchers and also those with a genealogical interest in parliamentarian officers.

No one involved at the outset of this project anticipated that bringing it to any condition to be laid before the public would take so long. Some of this interval of time is accounted for by the complexity of the material. Some of it is owing to the limits of available funding. Generous grants were made to the project by the Marc Fitch Fund and the Aurelius Trust, and the Cromwell Association would like to thank these bodies for their help. All the rest of the resources invested in this project have been those of the Cromwell Association itself. The Cromwell Association was formed in 1937and is a registered charity (reg. no. 1132954). The purpose of the Association is to advance the education of the public in both the life and legacy of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), politician, soldier and statesman, and the wider history of the seventeenth century.

Not a single penny of state funding has gone towards this project, and had a broader and more sustained stream of funding been available, the project would doubtless have proceeded more expeditiously, more loose ends tied up and greater comprehensiveness achieved. As things stand, it is to the credit of the council and membership of the Cromwell Association that it has held faith with the project, and the general editor is grateful to his colleagues in the Association for their patience and forbearance in what has become its own 'good old cause.'

No one has ever worked full-time on this project. The initial trawls of material were done by Ruth Mayers and Sean Kelsey. The overwhelming volume of the research, organisation of material, lay-out and writing up has been done by Tim Wales (compiler). His indefatigable research skills have been deployed to good effect in this project, and the Cromwell Association has been fortunate to have secured his services. Latterly, the project has benefited from work done by Peter Gaunt and Jonathan Worton (associate editors) to improve and expand the text. Staff at British History Online, particularly Bruce Tate, Jonathan Blaney and Sarah Milligan, have translated word-processed files into a useable online resource, and the Cromwell Association is grateful for their expertise. The work has been overseen since its inception by

Stephen K. Roberts (general editor).

A number of individuals have kindly contributed to this project by allowing access to unpublished material such as notes or theses, notably Ian Gentles, J. Jones and L. C. Nagel. We have also drawn heavily on the published works of others. In this respect, Stuart Peachey, Laurence Spring, Alan Turton and Malcolm Wanklyn deserve special mention and thanks. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and published and draft biographies of the History of Parliament have been particularly useful sources.

The Cromwell Association Online Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers was originally conceived as a parallel resource to P. R. Newman's Royalist officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: a Biographical Dictionary (New York, 1981), but was from the outset restricted to the period from the outbreak of civil war in 1642 to the inauguration of the commonwealth in 1649, and to the field armies in England and Wales. It was never intended that the armies in Scotland and Ireland, or the garrisons in England and Wales would be a focus of attention, and where they are mentioned it would be a passing treatment, in cases where they related to the study of the field armies. 'Officers' in this project has been taken to mean those with the rank of cornet or ensign, and above. No attempt has been made to record NCOs or private soldiers, which would be an almost impossible task if attempted on anything other than a local scale, given the fragmentary nature of the surviving evidence. The recent work of Malcolm Wanklyn (Reconstructing the New Model Army, Volume I: Regimental Lists, April 1645 to May 1649 (Solihull: Helion & Co., 2015)) has steered us away from duplicating effort on the New Model Army, and readers are referred to that work for a more definitive coverage.

Even with these restrictions, the task has been complex and time-consuming, and the results must inevitably be provisional.

Certain caveats arise from the nature of the source material. Survivals of muster lists are rare, and the composition of a regiment or a troop over a sustained period of time is very hard to trace. What we have is a series of snapshots of regiments and other units, derived from the widest range of historical sources. It is impossible to trace the entire membership of any given military unit from its first formation to disbandment. Instead we have partial evidence illuminating particular points in time, and we have, in the cases of a minority of individuals, fuller records of commissions and discharge during their period of service.

There is also the multiplicity of commands to consider. The main armies were as follows, their abbreviated titles appearing below in italics as they appear in the Directory.

  • Parliament's main first field army of Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of Essex (Earl of Essex).

There were also regional associations. The ones covered in this material are as follows:

  • The West Midlands Association of Robert Grevile, 2nd Baron Brooke (Lord Brooke), which after his death in 1643 passed to the command of Basil Feilding, 2nd earl of Denbigh (Earl of Denbigh);
  • The army of Sir William Brereton (Cheshire), which began as a Cheshire force but was expanded in 1643 and 1644 to become a north midlands regional force;
  • The army of Sir Thomas Myddelton, originally conceived as a force to defend the counties of north Wales but only made a substantial unit by recruitment from the London area in the spring of 1644 (North Wales);
  • The western force of Sir William Waller, active in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and other western counties early in 1643 (Waller);
  • The Southern Association (Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey, Kent) of Sir William Waller (Waller, Southern Association), created in November 1643;
  • The Eastern Association, raised from the summer of 1643 onwards under the command of Edward Montagu, 2nd earl of Manchester (Eastern Association);
  • The northern army, under the command of Lord Fairfax, general of the northern forces (1642-5) and his son Sir Thomas Fairfax (Northern Army (Fairfax)) and the Northern Association (1645-6) under the command of Sydenham Poyntz (Northern Army (Poyntz)); then from 1647 the northern army of John Lambert (Northern Army (Lambert));
  • Edward Massey's Brigade of the Western Association (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and Wilts.) from May 1645 (Massey's Brigade);
  • In addition there were regiments raised in particular counties, which particularly in larger and more far-flung counties proved coherent and durable over a long period. Among these might be noted the forces for Devon and Staffordshire;
  • In and around London were regiments raised by the City of London, the City of Westminster and the suburbs (London; Westminster; Southwark; Tower Hamlets);
  • At various points in the war, significant numbers of officers were 'reformadoes'; men whose commands had been taken away from them in reorganizations or redeployments, but retaining rank and pay (Reformado).

After the self-denying ordinance of 1645, many of these commands were subject to re-organization, and the creation of the force that year under Sir Thomas Fairfax, later known as the New Model Army, saw many officers transferred, an acceleration of a mobility that had always been a mark of the armies from the outset. This has posed problems of presentation for this project. As well as gaps in evidence, the transfer of individuals between units has made a listing organized county-by-county or strictly unit-by-unit impracticable. Any list produced that way would inevitably be not only flawed in scope and comprehensiveness, but also subject to many repetitions of names from other lists. Instead, one single alphabetical listing has been produced, based on research on regions of the country, with an emphasis on the years 1642-5. This will be amended and augmented according to the availability of time and resources.

Editorial Note

Square brackets [ ] have been used by the compiler and editors to denote a query or doubt about the information or its source. A question mark is placed before any doubtful fact or statement.