Book 1, Ch. 13: To the Restoration

A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.

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John Noorthouck, 'Book 1, Ch. 13: To the Restoration', in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) pp. 195-210. British History Online [accessed 20 May 2024].

John Noorthouck. "Book 1, Ch. 13: To the Restoration", in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773) 195-210. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024,

Noorthouck, John. "Book 1, Ch. 13: To the Restoration", A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark, (London, 1773). 195-210. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024,

In this section


From the execution of Charles I. to the restoration of Charles II.

The death of the king, who was executed January 30th, was followed by the dissolution of monarchical government. The house of commons passed a vote for the abolishment of the house of lords, as useless and dangerous, and another for the abolishment of monarchy: the forms of all public business were altered from being in the king's name, to that of the keepers of the liberties of England: and it was declared high treason, to proclaim or otherwise acknowledge Charles Stuart, commonly called prince of Wales (fn. 1). Even the king's statues at St. Paul's and in the Royal Exchange were pulled down, and in the niche of the latter was placed the following inscription Exit tyrannus, regum ultimus (fn. 2); "the tyrant, the last of the kings, is gone." The prince and duke of York were then abroad, and the commons, agreeable to their levelling principles, are said to have intended to bind the Princess Elizabeth apprentice to a button maker, and her brother to some other mechanical profession: but the former died of grief, and Cromwel sent the other beyond sea (fn. 3).

As the lord-mayor of London had refused his sanction to the petition of the common-council for the king's prosecution; so he refused obedience to the order of the house of commons for proclaiming the abolition of monarchy, and the erection of a commonwealth: for which contempt he was fined 2000l. degraded from the magistracy, and committed to the Tower for two months; another mayor, alderman Atkins, being chosen in his room on April 3, for the remainder of his year.

Cromwel having obtained the lieutenancy of Ireland, a committee of the parliament was appointed to treat with the citizens of London for a loan of 120,000l. for the charges of his expedition, which was complied with on satisfactory security: but his journey was delayed by discontents which threatened disturbance to the present plan of government. An engagement was framed and imposed on the nation to support the commonwealth without king or house of peers; but the independents were not so numerous in the nation as to procure a general subscription to it: and such obstinate reluctance was observed in the people, that the parliament was obliged to desist from imposing it (fn. 4). Even enthusiastic notions now went greater lengths than the enthusiastic governors wished; and divers fanatics taught that all government was unnecessary, now Christ had descended into the hearts of his saints and enlightened them with his inspiration. These absolute levelling principles had infected the soldiery, an insurrection of whom was with difficulty suppressed; and a thanksgiving was appointed on the occasion. The corporation of London invited the house of commons to dine in the city at Grocer's-hall on that day, which was thankfully accepted. After hearing two sermons at Christ-church in Newgate street, the house of commons, general officers, and council of state with their proper officers, walked in procession to the hall to dinner, where their music was only drums and trumpets. Yet the disaffection of the people rendered them so suspicious, that it is related the cooks were sworn to serve them with nothing but wholesome food (fn. 5). The remainder of the provisions with 400l. in money, were distributed to the poor.

The next day the house of commons returned the lord-mayor and common council their thanks by a committee for their generous entertainment. A deputation of the common-council at the same time waited on general Fairfax, and as a testimonial of the esteem of the city presented him with another bason and ewer of massy gold. Lieutenant general Cromwel also received 300 pounds worth of plate, and a purse containing 200 pieces of gold.

The parliament and city were once more on good terms with each other, and to unite them the stronger, the parliament made the citizens a present of Richmond park, several houses, with 1000l. in money for the city poor: the lord-mayor and common-council in an address of thanks acknowledged these favours; and declared their firm resolutions of standing by the parliament with their lives and fortunes on all emergencies.


On January 4, 1650, a sad accident happened, which shews the wisdom of the restrictions since imposed on the keeping gunpowder in London (fn. 6). A shipchandler opposite Barking church in Tower-street, being barrelling up gunpowder; by some heedlessness it took fire: there were 27 barrels in all, and the explosion destroyed about 60 houses with all their inhabitants. The number of sufferers in this calamity was much increased by a parish feast at the Rose tavern, which was the next door but one; and where great numbers of mangled bodies and limbs were afterward dug out of the ruins. Two extraordinary cases were remarked on this dismal occasion; the one was, that the mistress of the tavern was found sitting upright in the bar, and a drawer standing without, with a pot in his hand; both of them preserved from any external injury, by the casual falling of the timber, but suffocated: the other was a child in a cradle, blown upon the leads of Barking church, from whence it was taken down the next day unhurt. This child, which was a girl, was afterward taken care of by a charitable person, it not being known to whom she belonged.


The parliament in 1651, taking into consideration the disadvantages resulting from the interest of money continuing higher in England than it was in foreign countries; and the effects high interest had in keeping down the price of land; very prudently reduced the legal interest of money from eight, to six, per cent (fn. 7). and unsettled as the political state of the nation was at home, it is rather matter of wonder than otherwise, that this regulation was practicable.


The military experience gained in the late civil wars, during which men rose to command not by birth but by personal abilities, enabled the commonwealth to exert itself vigorously in its warlike operations; but the fanatical notions of those who remained at the head of affairs, were too narrow to acquire popularity, or to settle a durable frame of domestic policy. Ireland and Scotland were reduced by Cromwel, who returned to crown his successes by a final victory over the remnant of the long parliament, which was the only legislative authority now subsisting. They had increased the maritime power, encouraged the fleet, and ventured to think of reducing the land forces, the authors of their present exclusive power. The army remonstrated for their arrears, and required a new parliament to be summoned; instead of which the members came to a resolution not to dissolve themselves, and entered into the consideration of filling up the vacancies by new elections (fn. 8). Upon this intelligence Cromwel in a rage, carried a party of soldiers to the house, and on April 20, 1653, gave it an effectual purge, by turning all the members out, himself going out last, and ordering the door to be locked (fn. 9).

Every eye was now turned toward the man who had taken such a bold step; a man who, though till lately he had been only the second in command of the army, had been the prime director of every late measure. The city was not however so entirely devoted to his measures as to acquiesce silently to such repeated violations of all government: many of the aldermen and citizens therefore addressed him to reinstate the parliament. But a counter address was procured from other citizens, expressing their dissent from the former address, and assuring him of their firm resolution to adhere to him. Other addresses of this complexion arriving from the army, fleet, and country, Cromwel by the advice of his council of officers, and by his own single authority, summoned a new parliament of his own chusing, to whom he devolved all the power of the state (fn. 10).

The whole legislative authority was now more degraded than ever, being exercised by a set of fanatical men appointed by military nomination; yet the city countenanced them so far as to present a petition to them in the name of the corporation, for godly ministers, a legal maintenance for them, and for the encouragement of the universities. Though after all, the citizens may well be excused; for to what power could they apply, but to that in actual possession? Cromwel however was either dissatisfied with his new parliament, or employed it meerly as preparatory to his own sovereignty; for after a short sitting, some of the principal members by his own procurement meeting earlier than ordinary, surrendered their power again into his hands by a formal deed: the remainder of them were once more turned out by a file of musquetiers. (fn. 11) A council of officers then vested Oliver Cromwel with the sovereign power, under the title of Lord Protector. (fn. 12)

The Protector was inaugurated in Westminster-hall, December 16, 1653, with great pomp, having first solemnly sworn to an instrument of government (fn. 13),


drawn up by his council. The lord mayor, aldermen and recorder of London, attended his installation in their scarlet gowns; the lord mayor carrying the city sword before him, and the earl of Warwick, the sword of state. Soon after the corporation of London invited him to dine with them at Grocer's-hall; he was received with regal honours, the city companies in their stands lined the streets through which he passed, and he was met and attended by the lord mayor, who carried the sword before him bare-headed, (fn. 14) and by the aldermen on horseback in their formalities. After being sumptuously entertained, he at his departure in virtue of his sovereign character, conferred the honour of knighthood on Thomas Vyner the lord mayor. (fn. 15) On May 16, 1654, the protector returned the compliment of the city, and entertained the magistrates of London in an elegant manner.

Cromwel by assuming the supream power, had increased the number of his enemies; and to the royalists were now added the zealous republicans, who were much enraged to find their labours and projects terminated by one of their companions seating himself in that throne, out of which they had so lately pulled the king. The royalists first entered into a conspiracy against his life, which being discovered, two of them, Gerard and Vowel were executed. He issued a proclamation for taking an account of all disaffected persons within the bills of mortality; and sending for the lord mayor, aldermen, and sixty of the common council to Whitehall, he earnestly recommended the peace of the city to them, and to engage them still farther, granted a commission by which, a committee of the citizens were invested with the intire direction of the city militia. They were impowered to raise any forces they judged necessary, to be commanded by their old favourite officer major general Skippon. He also remitted some of their taxes, and soon after at the desire of this committee, revived the artillery company.

When Cromwel's parliament met, he was greatly surprized to find them enter into a discussion of his instrument of government, and of the authority he had assumed over the nation. He caused a guard to be set at the door of the house early in the morning, and sent to the mayor of London to explain his conduct, that he might prevent any disorders in the city. When the members came at the usual hour, they were denied admittance, and ordered to attend the protector in the painted chamber, where he told them that nothing could be more absurd than for them to dispute his title; when the same instrument, which made them a parliament, had invested him with the protectorship: he informed them, moreover, that none of them should fit in the parliament unless they subscribed an acknowledgment of the government by a single person and a parliament. But this was far from securing their future compliance, so that at length he dissolved them (fn. 16).

This parliament in 1654, passed an act which limited the number of hackney coaches within the cities of London and Westminster, and six miles round the late lines of communication, to 300, with 600 hackney coach horses: the government and regulation of them, to be in the court of aldermen, and every coach to pay a duty of 20s. yearly for the expences of regulating them (fn. 17).

The protector about this time gave a commendable earnest of his resolution to assert rigorous justice against offenders. The Portugueze ambassador being in London negociating a treaty with Cromwel; his brother, don Pantaleon Sa, who was joined with him in the commission, fancying himself insulted, came upon Change with his master of horse, and other armed attendants, assassinated a gentleman by mistake, who proved not to be the person who assronted him, and then took refuge in the ambassador's house. The mob threatened to burn the house; but Cromwel sending a guard seized the criminals, and regardless of the ambassador's plea of privilege brought them to trial (fn. 18). They were condemned and ordered for execution on July 10, 1654: the ambassador signed the treaty at eight o'clock in the morning with the protector; departed from Gravesend at ten; and in the afternoon don Pantaleon was beheaded on Towerhill, and his accomplice the master of the horse, was hanged at Tyburn. (fn. 19) Cromwel's conduct with regard to foreign nations, was indeed becoming a good prince; and being well seconded by the able and vigilant officers he employed, rendered the English nation respected all over Europe: and though these are matters beyond our cognizance, it is worth mentioning that when he read the letters acquainting him of Blake's spirited behaviour in the mediterranean, to his council, he remarked with great satisfaction, that he hoped to make the name of an English man as great as that of a Roman had been (fn. 20). His immediate successors on the restoration, had no such exalted views.

Cromwel's administration at home, though in many respects praise-worthy, yet was sometimes, perhaps owing to the peculiarity of his circumstances, open to censure; of which an instance lies in our way. Mr. George Cony a merchant having on some plea refused payment of custom, it was violently taken from him, for which he sued the collectors: Cromwel resolving to check such opposition, committed his three counsel to the Tower, and they forsook the defence of their client by petitioning the protector for their liberty. Being thus deserted, Mr. Cony was under a necessity of pleading his own cause; and he referred it to the chief justice Rolls whether the tax in dispute, not being authorized by parliament, ought to be paid by the law of the land? The judge fearing to determine in his favour, told him that some allowance was to be made in cases of necessity; to which Mr. Cony replied, that it was not thought to be a good plea in law, first to make necessities and then to plead them. The judge took time until the next term to consider what rule to make in the case; and in the interim disliking his situation applied for dismission: serjeant Glynn was appointed to succeed him, but found means to accommodate the business with Cony before he sat on the bench, to the great injury of Cony's reputation. (fn. 21)

By a treatise on the coal trade published in the year 1655, we find the price of coals in London was then usually above 20s. a chaldron; and that there were 320 keels or lighters employed at Newcastle, each of which was computed to carry 800 chaldron Newcastle measure on board the ships: and that 136 chaldrons of that measure, made 217 chaldrons of London measure. (fn. 22) Thus we have a summary view of the annual consumption of coals in the metropolis at that time; subject nevertheless to a doubt, whether all the coals thus estimated were shipped for the port of London only.

A duty of one shilling a chaldron was then paid on coals at London; and light as this imposition was, compared with those laid on coals in our times, the protector granted a licence to the corporation to import 4000 chaldrons yearly for the ease of poor citizens, duty free.

In this year also Cromwel influenced by a desire of improving commerce and increasing his revenue, listened to an overture of the Jews for permission to settle again in England; which they obtained, 365 years since their expulsion by Edward I. in the year 1290 (fn. 23) . The Jews found an able advocate in Manasseh Ben Israel an eminent Jew who stiled himself a divine, and doctor of physic; and the protector had too much good sense not to perceive how strongly reason and utility plead in favour of liberty of conscience.


In the year 1656, Cromwel with his new parliament, again revived the prohibitions against new buildings in and near London. An act was passed which imposed a fine of one year's rent on all houses and edifices erected on new foundations in the suburbs or within ten miles of the walls of London, since the year 1620, that had not four acres of freehold land laid to them. This punishment of previous offences before the penalty was declared, had probably no other motive than the raising of money; but a fine of 100l. was with more equity, if not with more reason, imposed on future erections contrary to this condition. All houses were also ordered to be built of brick or stone; upright, and without projecting the upper stories into the street. (fn. 24)

Some exceptions were made by this act in favour of new buildings then carrying on, which inform us that Clare market was just then finished, in the fields called Clement's inn fields; and it was by this act declared to be a free market every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. All buildings below London bridge, within two furlongs of the Thames, belonging to mariners and ship builders, with some other places, were also excepted (fn. 25). This limitation of distance from the river, may in some degree account for the narrowness of the streets and closeness of the houses in the parts about Wapping and Rotherhithe.

Ambition covets one object after another with such childish cravings, that Cromwel after finding himself king in effect, entertained the wish to be gratified with the jingle of the name. Had his party added to the reproach of killing the late king, and abolishing regal government, the inconsistency of reviving it in favour of one of their companions, and great lengths were already gone that way; Cromwel would then like all other kings, have thought the name little worth, without he could also reach at absolute power, and establish his dictates as laws. However this might have been, the fact was, that after he had made use of his major generals, to crush the party which adhered to the exiled royal family, he thought room was made to introduce his own: and having weeded his second parliament as he had, though unsuccessfully done the former, he ventured to try how far their complaisance would extend. Colonel Jephson made the motion in parliament of bestowing the crown on the protector, which was received without surprize; and Cromwel gave him afterward a jocose reproof equivalent to thanks and promoted him and his son (fn. 26). The motion was prosecuted by one of the city members, Pack, a prostitute alderman; but he was roughly treated by the military party in the house for his officiousness (fn. 27) : and Cromwel finding it likely to raise fresh disturbances, prudently dropped the scheme, though the disappointment is said to have contributed to his death (fn. 28).


When Cromwel thought proper to decline the regal dignity, he determined to establish his protectoral office upon a better foundation than the appointment of a council of officers; the instrument of government framed by them was therefore set aside by a parliamentary act, which was understood as a popular election: and now thinking his office legally confirmed, he was again on May 25th 1657, solemnly inaugurated in Westminster-hall as Lord protector of the commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland (fn. 29). The lord-mayor, and aldermen of London attended, with the judges; Sir Thomas Widdrington, speaker of the house of commons, administered the oath to the protector, and presented him with a sword, a sceptre, and a bible. The earl of Warwick, the only nobleman present (fn. 30), carried the sword of state, and stood at the right side of the protector's chair, during the solemnity; and the lord-mayor, who carried the city sword, stood on the left.

This was not long before his death; he called a new parliament, to which he added a motley house of lords; but as popular assemblies are not easily prevailed on to support usurped authority, he found it convenient to impose a dissolution on this parliament also. Discontents produced conspiracies; Cromwel grew suspicious of every body, and his anxiety brought on a disorder that terminated his life on September 3d 1658. His eldest son Richard was then proclaimed in the city, as his successor, by the privy-council, attended by the lord-mayor. The body of the late protector lay in great funeral state at Somerset house until the first of November (fn. 31); the next day the lord-mayor and aldermen assisted at his obsequies, with great numbers of the principal citizens.

Richard Cromwel was by no means qualified to support the power gained by the aspiring talents of his father; and to which he succeeded at a juncture when even that father found great difficulty in upholding it. He was of a moderate unambitious temper, fond of private life, and untainted with that fanatical spirit which Oliver so profitably cultivated. Of this deficiency he gave a very ill judged specimen soon after he came into action; for an objection being made against one whom he had promoted, he in a deriding manner asked whether they wanted him to prefer none but the godly? "Here, said he, is Dick Ingoldsby, who can neither pray nor preach; and yet I will trust him before ye all (fn. 32)." It could not be reasonably thought that preachers and prayers who as yet composed the strength of the nation, would admire, support, or trust, a man so unsanctified and profane.

The dislike entertained of the new protector, added to the discontents of the people on the severities of the late military government, again revived the distraction of parties: and while the republicans on one hand conceived a design of setting Richard aside; the royalists were forming schemes for the restoration of the young exiled king.


A new parliament had been called, of which the house of commons were elected after the antient manner; they met January 7th 1659, but their proceedings were so refractory as to give great alarm to the friends of the young protector. A military cabal was also formed against Richard, under the generals Lambert and Fleetwood, who met in the apartments of the latter at Wallingford house; and betrayed Richard into the measure of calling a general council of officers, to consider the affairs of the army. This council voted a remonstrance in which they lamented that the "good old cause," meaning that for which they had engaged against the late king, was entirely neglected: they therefore proposed that the command of the army might be entrusted so some person in whom they might all confide: the city militia also expressed the same resolution of adhering to the good old cause, by the influence of some of the aldermen. The protector was alarmed at their proceedings, and got his friends in parliament to procure a vote that the officers of the army should no more meet as a general council; they also appointed Richard general of the army. But the only effect of these proceedings was that the officers insisted on the dissolution of the parliament; and with this dissolution ended all the authority of Richard Cromwel. He soon after signed his resignation in form; and lived in a retired life, unmolested to a good old age (fn. 33).

The council of officers, to preserve some shadow of civil administration, agreed to revive the long parliament, which they said had been suspended by violence, but could not be dissolved without their own consent: the remains of them were therefore assembled to about the number of seventy members, and these constituted what was in derision termed the rump parliament.

The motions of the royalists occasioned the lord-mayor and aldermen to be summoned to attend the council of state; where the president informed them of the dangerous schemes entered into for bringing in the king; and exhorted the magistrates to persevere in their attachment to the parliament for the mutual safety of the city and kingdom. The ruling party generally found it convenient to maintain a good understanding with the city, which also found it prudent to be on good terms with the prevailing power. This harmony had however like to have been interrupted by the schemes of the army; for alderman Ireton then lordmayor of London, being in their interest, they persuaded some of their friends in parliament to move for an order to continue him in office for another year. The city then petitioned the parliament to be allowed the privilege of electing their mayor; promising to employ that favour and all that they had, for their service. This motion was therefore set aside, and Sir Thomas Allen, a moderate man, being chosen; he in return invited the parliament, council of state, and principal officers of the army to dine at Grocer's-hall, on October 6th the day of thanksgiving for the victory obtained by general Lambert over the royalists under Sir George Booth, in the west: which they accepted, and were splendidly entertained (fn. 34).

Military power never willingly submits to civil restraint; a truth which no circumstances ought ever cause us to forget: the royalists were no sooner quelled than the army projected a new model for themselves, for which the parliament cashiered several of the officers. The consequence was that the army dismissed the rump parliament, as easily as they were collected; and formed an assembly of twenty three, officers and others, under the name of a committee of safety, in their stead (fn. 35). General Monk who then commanded the army in Scotland, protested against this violent overthrow of parliamentary authority, and marched toward London: he was suspected of having other intentions than meerly restoring so defective a legislature; and indeed any settlement that promised permanency was preferable to the fluctuating distractions produced by armed enthusiasts, intoxicated with visionary absurdities and the lust of power.

The new committee of safety, sent a deputation to the city, to acquaint the lord-mayor and common-council, with their suspicions of Monk's intentions, who they said intended to bring in the king. To prevent therefore a new war, they were exhorted to take every precaution for the peace and safety of the city; and to join with the committee for the security of the kingdom. The citizens acted with prudent reserve not declaring either in favour of the army or the parliament while the event of things was so uncertain: the apprentices however had not learned so much caution, but assembling in great numbers, with many royalists among them, declared openly for a free parliament. Colonel Hewetson who marched into the city with a regiment of foot, being openly insulted and fired at from the windows and the tops of the houses, killed some of these young rioters; but this only inflamed the citizens, who said the army was now kept to murder them. Soldiers were sent almost every day to suppress riots, and colonel Desborough behaved so roughly to some of the most eminent citizens, that the disaffection became general (fn. 36).. The court of common council appointed a committee of their own body, to give their opinion on this critical juncture, who voted, "That they conceived the city of London to be in imminent and extraordinary danger; that they judged it absolutely necessary to put the city forthwith into a posture of defence; that the mayor, aldermen, and common-council, should forthwith settle six regiments of trained-bands, with officers of their own appointment, and their commissions to be sealed in open court with the common seal of the city; and that commissioners should be appointed to confer with the officers of the army and fleet, in order to the safety of the city, and the peace and settlement of the nation; to give an answer to general Monk; and to propound the convention of a free parliament."

The common-council also agreed upon a paper to be presented to the council of officers, in which they disowned the late tumults, complained of the guards that were kept in the city, of the killing the citizens; desired that they might be withdrawn, and the guard of the city left to the civil magistrate; who could not otherwise undertake to secure the peace; and that a free parliament might be forthwith called. This remonstrance was presented by a deputation of aldermen and commoners; and being read, it was resolved, "that if the aldermen and common-council, would declare against the family of the Stuarts, and promise to be true and faithful to the commonwealth, without a king, single person, or house of lords, they would withdraw their soldiers, and leave the city to guard itself." They then had a conference with six of the council at Whitehall, and lieutenant general Ludlow, one of the most sincerely honest of that party with which he was now unwillingly connected, acted a conciliatory part; and advised the citizens not to be deluded by their common enemy, who notwithstanding any professions at present, would never forget the support they had afforded to the parliament during the late war. Alderman Fowke and some of the others expressed their approbation, and promised to act accordingly, provided they might be assured of not being governed by an army. Ludlow assured them in return that his judgment concurred with theirs, which his actions should always demonstrate (fn. 37).

If the behaviour of the citizens mortified the committee of safety, the revolt of some of their regiments, and of the squadron under admiral Lawson, all of whom declared for the parliament; disconcerted them still more. Lenthal the speaker was once more invited to resume his authority, he summoned the members together on December 26th, removed the lieutenant of the Tower, ap pointed by the committee of safety, and put another in his place. The late confusions had occasioned such an interruption of receipts and customs, that the parliament though now assembled, found themselves totally destitute of money for all necessary expences; a supply therefore became the immediate object of consideration, and the city of London appeared the readiest resource to relieve the public necessities. The corporation had sent a deputation of the common-council to general Monk then advancing from Scotland, who met him at Morpeth, and solicited his interest for the calling a free parliament (fn. 38) : and when the parliament applied to the common-council for the arrears of former taxes and for a loan; they received an absolute denial, and were told, the city would not submit to any imposition, unless granted by a free and lawful parliament.

The citizens encouraged by the resolution then shewn by their magistrates and representatives, presented on the 8th of January 1660, a remonstrance to the court of common-council, thanking them for their late conduct, and humbly desiring that no power whatever might impose any law or tax upon the citizens, with whose general concernment that court was intrusted, until the authority thereof be derived from their representatives in parliament. By which they doubted not, under God, to have their languishing trade revived, and their hearts and purses together enlarged to a chearful and liberal contribution, toward their lawful government and protection according to Magna Charta and the Petition of Right.

When this remonstrance was received by the court, a question was moved, whether such lawful means should be prosecuted, as might lead to the attainment of a free parliament, &c ? But the lord mayor dissenting, the sense of the court was transmitted to the council of state. Monk with his army was now arrived, and quartered in Westminster; but he had been so cautious and mysterious in his conduct, that every one was left at a loss to guess at his future intentions. He had indeed declared against the late expulsion of this parliament, and it remained to see what use he would make of his present power over that assembly and the metropolis. The parliament resolved to make an experiment of their own authority and of his obedience: and as the late resolution of the corporation of London, would if submitted to, destroy all their future power, Monk received orders from the council of state to reduce the city to obedience, and to seize twelve persons the most active against the parliament, with any of the officers that had been ordered to leave the town for the late interruption to it: to take away the posts and chains from all the streets, and to unhinge and destroy their gates and portcullices (fn. 39).

Every one was seized with consternation to find Monk early in the morning February the 9th, prepare for the execution of this severe order; but regardless of the entreaties of his friends, the remonstrances of his officers, or the cries and execrations of the people, he entered the city with several regiments of horse and foot; placed guards at the gates, and apprehending as many of the proscribed persons as he could find; he sent them to the Tower. He proceeded to destroy the gates and portcullices; but his zeal now began to cool; he wrote a letter to the speaker, dated from Guildhall, informing the house of his proceedings, and that he wanted tools and instruments to finish the work, having already spoiled those that he brought with him: he added that the mayor,, and citizens had promised obedience to the parliament for the time to come; and therefore desired they would respite the execution of what remained of his instructions. The parliament in answer, sent him a copy of their resolutions, confirming the orders of the council of state; to which they required his obedience: they added also a resolution, that the present election of the commoncouncil, be discontinued; and that it be referred to a committee to bring in a bill for the choice of another common-council, with such qualifications as the parliament shall think fit. Monk was much disturbed at the second orders, to which however he yielded little or no obedience; but lay that night in the city, and the next day marched his forces back to Whitehall (fn. 40).

When Monk began to reflect seriously on the disagreeable business in which he had been engaged, which had drawn him off from the reserve he had hitherto maintained; he complained of being employed in such odious service, and in a letter to the house reproached them with their cabals, and encouraging fanatical petitions, one being just then presented to them by Praise God Barebone; he required them to issue writs within a week for filling up the house; and to fix a time for their dissolution and the assembling a new parliament (fn. 41).

Having thus begun the work of atonement, he again returned to the city with his army, and desired Allen the mayor to summon a common-council: he apologized to that assembly for executing orders which had given so much uneasiness to them; but which he said he was under a necessity of doing, or else of throwing up his commission which he judged necessary to keep for the good of the city and kingdom, whose prosperity no one had more at heart than himself. He communicated to them the letter he had sent to the parliament; and proposed a mutual engagement between the city and the army, to support each other in their endeavours for the settlement and happiness of the commonwealth. The general dined with the mayor, and this happy alliance was soon proclaimed by the ringing of bells, illuminations, bonfires, and such universal acclamations as sufficiently shewed how weary the citizens were of anarchy. The exultations of the populace were mixed with all the signs of scorn and contempt for the rump parliament as it was called, that their inventions furnished them with: and there was scarcely a bonfire, where a rump of some animal, or the resemblance of one, was not roasted on a gibbet, to celebrate, as they professed, the funeral of this parliament.

Having recovered the confidence of the Londoners, and settled measures for a future correspondence with them, Monk returned to his quarters at Whitehall; and though the parliament sent a committee to treat with him, and even to offer him the supream power of government, he would not listen to such overtures, nor treat with them until the secluded members were restored to their seats. (fn. 42) The secluded members soon appeared to be the majority, and most of the independents left the house: among other regulations, an ordinance was made to restore the common-council to their antient rights; the imprisoned apprentices were released; the gates and portcullices of the city, and their posts and chains, were replaced. The citizens returned hearty thanks for this reversal of the rigor lately exercised against them; chose Monk major-general of their forces; advanced 60,000l. toward the support of the fleet and army; and Monk advising them to disarm all dangerous persons, and to keep a strong guard to secure the peace of the city, the general with the council of state were invited to reside in London for their greater safety, an offer which they thankfully declined.

Frequent entertainments were however made by the city companies at their halls, for the general, his officers, and council of state: at one of these feasts, a person was introduced after dinner, who addressed himself to Monk in a poetical strain for the return of the king, and was heard without reproof. (fn. 43)

The present composure of the kingdom being provided for, the long parliament was now finally dissolved by their own act, and writs issued for the immediate assembling a new one; a council of state was formed for the intermediate time, and Monk continued to remove such officers in the army as he judged necessary, in favour of those in whom he had greater confidence. Indeed considering what hands the power of the nation was lodged in, when Monk came up from Scotland; it required no little address to change them: and nothing but their discordance rendered it feasible. Sir Henry Vane's penetration was justified, when, on Monk's agreement with the city, he observed, as Ludlow informs us, that unless he were much mistaken, Monk had yet several masques to pull off.

Whether Monk originally intended the revolution he finally effected, or whether he altered his views according to events; it was remarked that during all these measures, he maintained no correspondence with Charles; and always professed himself zealous for a commonwealth. Hence he has been reproached with dissimulation by some who nevertheless were willingly deluded by a set of hypocrites who sought only worldly power, while they professed in their long canting prayers to seek the Lord. Let it be remembered however that if Monk temporized, he saved the effusion of more blood in a work that now became necessary. One circumstance was indeed fatally wanting to compleat his merit with the nation, and this was to receive the exiled king upon express conditions, for the limitation of his prerogatives, and securing the liberties of his subject. Charles then without money, without power, and a refugee, would have agreed to any thing; but this fine opportunity was lost by Monk's desire to claim merit with the king rather than with the people: and surely no man ever less justified the unlimited confidence placed in him than did Charles II.

No difficulties occurred on behalf of the people; for the elections of members went every where in favour of the royalists, with whom the presbyterians now united: and affairs being ripe for execution Charles sent over sir John Grenville and lord Mordaunt, with letters to general Monk, the city of London (fn. 44), and to the parliament. That to the city was laid before the common-council, who presented the welcome messengers with 300l. and deputed fourteen of their body, to carry to his majesty assurances of their fidelity and chearful submission, in confidence of his royal grace and protection. They also voted a surrender of Richmond-park, to the king, which Oliver Cromwel had conferred upon them; assuring him that they had kept it with no other view than as stewards for the royal interest. It was worth accepting in their own manner, whether he believed them or not (fn. 45). The letter to the parliament was received with equal joy; a committee was appointed to prepare an answer: the peers ventured to return, found the doors of their house open, and took their share in the re-settlement of the nation. Thus without the prudence of any stipulations, was Charles II. restored to the crown on the meer credit of his voluntary general professions; con trary to the plainest dictates of common sense. The remark of a sensible Italian at Leghorn, transmitted over to Thurloe, when this event was expected, though he was mistaken, is worth copying. "It cannot be imagined, said he, that so grave and wise a body as the parliament, will soon so forget the late expence of blood and treasure, as again to set up the said government that caused it; which would be an action of such levity, not to say folly, that so wise a body could not possibly be guilty of (fn. 46)."


  • 1. Ludlow. The court of King's bench, was called the court of Public bench; and some republicans were so cautious of acknowledging monarchy any where, that in repeating the Lord's-prayer, instead of saying thy kingdom come, they are reported to have said thy commonwealth come. Hume.
  • 2. Harris's Life of Cromwel, p. 221.
  • 3. Hume.
  • 4. Hume.
  • 5. Idem.
  • 6. Stat. 5. Geo. I. c. 26. 11 Geo. I. c. 23. 15 Geo. II. c. 32.
  • 7. Anderson vol. II. p. 85.
  • 8. Hume.
  • 9. Ludlow's Memoirs, Harris's Life of Cromwel, p. 321.
  • 10. This parliament, chosen principally for their spiritual gifts, was denominated Barebone's parliament, from Praise God Barebone, a leather-seller in Fleetstreet, who was an eminent speaker in it. Harris, p. 335.
  • 11. Idem. p. 339.
  • 12. Whatever may be thought of the means made use of to produce this event, we are not to wonder that after the ancient government was destroyed, and no certain plan was adopted to take place of it; the taJents of some one man should enable him to swallow up the whole power so discordantly exercised. Government implies submission; but those commands are generally soonest yielded to, that are most readily delivered, promptly enforced, and where obedience is best rewarded: and these generally happen when power resides in a single hand; which may account for Cromwel's exaltation. All government seems to require a centre of authority somewhere to execute legislative orders. The determinations of great bodies however regularly formed, can only be collected by majority of votes; which in contested points obstructs their proceedings, and defeats them in exigencies when secrecy and prompt execution are requisite. Hence in those governments which preserve something of a republican form, a chief magistrate is nevertheless generally found at the head of them; and while his power is properly limited, it is immaterial whether he is called Emperor, King, Stadtholder, Doge, or Protector. Even when these supream offices are violently obtained, as in the present case, the usurpers generally find it prudent to make concessions, similar to prescribed conditions where they are conferred. To such magistrates the legislative authority delegate the executive power; and the true principles of wholesome government, consist in preserving the latter authority in subordination to the former. The chief magistrate may be superior in dignity and power, to any individuals which compose the body politic; but it is the full concurrence only of the several parts of this body, whatever its frame may be, which constitutes lawful absolute power: and absolute power is found in all states. Neither Oliver Cromwel, nor Julius Cæsar were perhaps actuated by public motives, to establish their personal authorities; even patriotism itself is very seldom untainted with private views: yet when government is dislocated, and a nation distracted by violent parties; it admits of a question whether a man of talents may not do public service by taking the helm of state into his own hands, and by an uniform steerage of the whole, afford a respite from confusion to rectify the subordinate parts of government ? His subsequent conduct must determine this question. The event shewed that as Rome was then circumstanced, to the patriotic Brutus and Cassius, were greater enemies their country than Cæsar; who in the main behaved well; and the meer cutting him off, only left his seat vacant for far worse tyrants to fight for. Here the parallel fails in part, as Oliver died a natural death, while the clouds of danger were gathering over his head: and as his character will admit of no comparison with that of the unfortunate king, he contributed so largely to destroy; to perhaps it will do the memories of Charles II. and James II. no service to compare them with Oliver Cromwel, such as his own natural temper and that of the times, formed him.
  • 13. Extraordinary as this settlement of the government might be, the instrument subscribed to by Oliver shews that he was not altogether so lawless an usurper as the rancour of party sometimes represents him. The heads of it as collected from Ludlow, Harris and Hume, are these. 1. He was to call a parliament every three years: the representatives were proportioned to the contributions of the respective counties toward the public expences; to the number of 400 for England, 30 for Scotland, and 30 for Ireland. 2. No parliament was to be dissolved before it had sat five months. 3. All bills passed by the parliament, and presented to the protector, if not signed by him within twenty days, were to have the force of laws without his assent. 4. The protector was to be assisted by a council not to exceed twenty one, nor to be less than thirteen in number. 5. The power of making alliances, war or peace, were the protector's prerogatives assisted by his council. 6. The power of the militia, and the forces by sea and land, to be in the protector and parliament while sitting; in the intervals, in him with his council. 7. Magistrates to be appointed, honours conferred, the power of pardoning, and benefit of forfeitures to be enjoyed, by the protector. 8. The protector and his council to govern thenation during the intervals of parliament. 9. On the death of the protector, a new one to be chosen by the council. 10. No future protector to be general of the army. 11. A standing army for Britain and Ireland, of 20,000 foot and 10,000 horse, was established; which was not to be diminished without the protector's consent; and this was the only negative he assumed.
  • 14. Ludlow.
  • 15. Idem.
  • 16. Ludlow. Hume.
  • 17. Anderson, vol. II. p. 93.
  • 18. Hume.
  • 19. Harris's Life of Cromwel, p. 357.
  • 20. Idem. p. 361.
  • 21. Ludlow's Memoirs. Harris's Cromwel, p. 455.
  • 22. Quoted in Anderson vol. II. p. 95.
  • 23. Idem. p. 98. See p. 60, ante.
  • 24. Idem. p. 100.
  • 25. Anderson, vol. II. p. 100.
  • 26. Ludlow.
  • 27. Idem.
  • 28. Harris. p. 493.
  • 29. Idem. p. 491.
  • 30. Ludlow.
  • 31. Ludlow..
  • 32. Idem
  • 33. Idem. Hume. Richard Cromwel died in 1712, at the great age of 90. Harris's Charles II. vol. I. p. 217.
  • 34. Ludlow. Maitland.
  • 35. Hume.
  • 36. Ludlow.
  • 37. Idem.
  • 38. Ludlow.
  • 39. Harris's Life of Charles II. p. 321.
  • 40. Ludlow.
  • 41. Hume.
  • 42. Hume.
  • 43. Ludlow.
  • 44. The letter to the lord-mayor, &c. of London, was as follows: "CHARLES REX. Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. In these great revolutions of late happened in that our kingdom, to the wonder and amazement of all the world, there is none that we have looked upon with more comfort, than the so frequent and publick manifestations of their affections to us in the city of London; which hath exceedingly raised our spirits, and which, no doubt, hath proceeded from the Spirit of God, and his extraordinary mercy to the nation; which hath been encouraged by you, and your good example, to assert that government, under which it hath so many hundred years enjoyed as great felicity as any nation in Europe, and to discountenance the imaginations of those, who would subject our subjects to a government they have not yet devised; and, to satisfy the pride and ambition of a few ill men, would introduce the most arbitrary and tyrannical power that was ever yet heard of. How long we have all suffered under those and the like devices, all the world takes notice, to the no small reproach of the English nation; which we hope is now providing for its own security and redemption, and will be no longer bewitched by those inventions. How desirous we are to contribute to the obtaining the peace and happiness of our subjects, without effusion of blood; and how far we are from desiring to recover what belongs to us by a war, if it can be otherwise done, will appear to you by the inclosed declaration; which, together with this our letter, we have intrusted our right trusty and well-beloved cousin, the lord viscount Mordaunt, and our trusty and well-beloved servant, sir John Greenvile, knight, one of the gentlemen of our bed-chamber, to deliver to you; to the end that you, and all the rest of our good subjects of that our city of London (to whom we desire it should be published) may know, how far we are from the desire of revenge, or that the peace, happiness, and security of the kingdom should be raised upon any other foundation than the affections and hearts of our subjects, and their own consents. We have not the least doubt of your just sense of these our condescensions, or of your zeal to advance and promote the same good end, by disposing all men to meet us with the same affection and tenderness, in restoring the fundamental laws to that reverence that is due to them, and upon the preservation whereof all our happiness depends. And you will have no reason to doubt of enjoying your full share in that happiness, and of the improving it, by our particular affection to you. It is very natural for all men to do all the good they can for their native country, and to advance the honour of it; and as we have that full affection for the kingdom in general, so we would not be thought to be without some extraordinary kindness for our native city in particular; which we shall manifest on all occasions, not only by renewing their charter, and confirming all those privileges which they have received from our predecessors, but by adding and granting any new favours, which may advance the trade, wealth and honour of that our native city; for which we will be so solicitous, that we doubt not but that it will, in due time, receive some benefit and advantage in all those respects, even from our own observation and experience abroad. And we are most confident, we shall never be disappointed in our expectation of all possible service from your affections: and so we bid you farewell. Given at our court at Breda, the 14th day of April, 1660, in the twelfth year of our reign."
  • 45. A committee was also ordered to search the city records, and make a complete list of all the proceedings and transactions, writings, petitions, declarations, remonstrances, covenants, contracts, and agreements, made or done by the common-council of this city from the first beginning of the late rebellion, in order to pass an act, whereby they might in a most solemn and public manner disavow all and every such act and deed as should be found contrary to their duty and loyalty to the king: but the report was not completed till 1683, as may be seen under that year.
  • 46. See Harris's of Charles II. vol. p. 349.