Biography of Cromwell, Richard - Archontology
Cromwell, Richard

Richard Cromwell

b. 4/14 Oct 1626, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire [1]
d. 12/23 Jul 1712, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

Title: Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland (and the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging) [2]
Term: 3/13 Sep 1658 - 7/17 May 1659
Chronology: 3/13 Sep 1658, succeeded to the office (succession is confirmed by a proclamation passed by the Privy Council 3/13 Sep 1658; public proclamation in London followed on 4/14 Sep 1658) [3]
  4/14 Sep 1658, took an oath of office, public ceremony, Whitehall Palace, London [3]
  7/17 May 1659, office is abolished by declaration of the Parliament establishing the Commonwealth "without a single Person, Kingship, or House of Peers" (Richard submitted to this resolution in a letter read in the Parliament on 25 May/4 Jun 1659) [4]
Names/titles: As Lord Protector in his official capacity only used his given name: Richard, Lord Protector etc.
Richard Cromwell was the third son of Oliver Cromwell. He served in the Parliamentary Army and was admitted as a member of Lincoln's Inn in 1647. He was appointed a member of the Council of State on 31 Dec 1657/10 Jan 1658 and represented Hampshire and then Cambridge University in the Parliaments summoned by his father. The second Commonwealth constitution, Humble Petition and Advice (1657), provided the Lord Protector with the right to choose his successor. Upon his death, the Privy Council held a meeting (3/13 Sep 1658) and resolved nemine contradicente that in his lifetime Oliver designated Richard as his successor. The government of Richard Cromwell faced a serious financial crisis. The third Protectorate Parliament summoned by the Lord Protector to improve the revenue met on 27 Jan/6 Feb 1659. However, the Parliament split between the factions proved useless in resolving the crisis and irritated the army officers by forbidding the Army Council to meet. Under the pressure from Charles Fleetwood and John Desborough, Richard dissolved the Parliament on 22 Apr/2 May 1659. On 6/16 May 1659 the officers carried out a coup and recalled the Rump Parliament, which had been dissolved in April 1653. It convened on 7/17 May 1659 and issued a declaration establishing "commonwealth without a king, single person, or house of lords," thus effectively terminating Richard's protectorship. The Committee of Safety appointed by the House was instructed "to take into consideration the present condition of the eldest son of the late Lord Generall Cromwell" (16/26 May 1659). The written statements from Richard were presented to the House by the Committee of Safety on 25 May/4 Jun 1659 ("And, as to the late Providences that have fallen out amongst us, however, in respect of the particular Engagements that lay upon me, I could not be active in making a Change in the Government of these Nations, yet through the Goodness of God, I can freely acquiesce in it, being made;") The Parliament indicated its acceptance of this submission, usually cited and dated as Richard's "resignation of the protectorship," by agreeing to "put in Oblivion, all Matters past in reference to the said Richard Cromwell; and to take upon them his just Debts..." After his deposition, Richard Cromwell lived in Europe until he was allowed to return to England in 1680.
Biographical sources: "The Restoration of Charles II 1658-1660", by Godfrey Davis (The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA 1955); "The Two Protectors: Oliver and Richard Cromwell," by Sir Richard Tangye (Partridge, London, 1899).

[1] An extract from the Register Book of the church of St. John Baptist was published in "Memoirs of the Protectorate-house of Cromwell", ed. by Mark Noble (Birmingham: Pearson and Rollason, 1784), 1:471: "Ano. Dom. 1626. Richard, the ſon Mr Oliver Cromwell, was borne the fourth day of October, and baptiſed the 19th day of October."
[2] The reference to "the Dominions and Territories" was often omitted in official use. The Great Seal of Lord Protector, used in 1658-1659, bore the following counterseal legend: RICHARDUS DEI GRA[tia] REIPUBLIC[ae] ANGLIAE SCOTIAE ET HIBERNIAE &c PROTECTOR.
[3] The Gazette, No. 423, from Thursday, Septemb. 2, to Thursday, Septemb. 9, 1658.
[4] On 11/21 May 1659 Parliament adopted An Act for Enabling and Authorising Certain Persons to be Justices of the Peace and Sheriffs, declaring that "That the Stile and Title to be used in all legal proceedings and process, shall and ought to be, The Keepers of the Liberty of England by Authority of Parliament, and no other." (Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 2:1270-1271)
  Image: Richard Cromwell, miniature by an unknown artist, c. 1650-1655.