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Richard Cromwell

In office
3 September 1658 – 25 May 1659
(&-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.0000000 years, &0000000000000264.000000264 days)
Preceded by Oliver Cromwell
Succeeded by Council of State

Born 4 October 1626(1626-10-04)
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Died 12 July 1712 (aged 85)
Cheshunt, Hertfordshire
Nationality English
Spouse(s) Dorothy Maijor
Relations Oliver Cromwell (Father)
Elizabeth Bourchier (Mother)
Religion Puritan (Independent)
Nickname(s) Tumbledown Dick; Queen Dick

Richard Cromwell (4 October 1626 – 12 July 1712) was the third son of Oliver Cromwell, and was the second Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, for just under nine months, from 3 September 1658 until 25 May 1659.

Cromwell's enemies dubbed him Tumbledown Dick or Queen Dick for his indecisive character.[1]


Early years and family (1626–1653)

Richard was born in Huntingdon on 4 October 1626, the son of Oliver Cromwell and his wife Elizabeth. Little is known of his childhood. Early biographers claim that he attended Felsted School in Essex. There is no record of him attending university. In May 1647, he became a member of Lincoln’s Inn. He may have served as a captain in Thomas Fairfax’s lifeguard during the late 1640s, but the evidence is inconclusive. In 1649 Richard married Dorothy Maijor, daughter of Richard Maijor, a member of the Hampshire gentry. He and his wife then moved to Maijor’s estate at Hursley. During the 1650s they had nine children, four of whom survived to adulthood. Richard was named a JP for Hampshire and sat on various county committees. During this period Richard seems to have been a source of concern for his father, who wrote to Richard Maijor saying “I would have him mind and understand business, read a little history, study the mathematics and cosmography: these are good, with subordination to the things of God. Better than idleness, or mere outward worldly contents. These fit for public services, for which a man is born”.

Move into political life (1653–1658)

In 1653, Richard was passed over as a member of Barebone's Parliament, although his younger brother Henry was a member of it. When his father was made Lord Protector in the same year, he was also not given any public role; however, he was elected to both the first and second Protectorate parliaments. Under the Protectorate’s constitution, Oliver Cromwell was required to nominate a successor, and from 1657 he involved Richard much more heavily in the politics of the regime. He was present at the second installation of his father as Lord Protector in June, having played no part in the first installation. In July he was appointed Chancellor of Oxford University, and in December was made a member of the Council of State.

Lord Protector (1658–1659)

Oliver Cromwell died on 3 September 1658, and Richard was informed on the same day that he was to succeed him. Some controversy surrounds the succession. A letter by John Thurloe suggests that Oliver nominated his son orally on 30 August, but other theories claim either that he nominated no successor, or that he put forward Charles Fleetwood, his son-in-law.

Richard was faced by two immediate problems. The first was the army, which questioned his position as commander given his lack of military experience. The second was the financial position of the regime, with a debt estimated at £2 million. As a result Richard Cromwell's Privy Council decided to call a parliament in order to redress these financial problems on 29 November 1658 (a decision which was formally confirmed on 3 December 1658). Under the terms of the Humble Petition and Advice, this Parliament was called using the traditional franchise (thus moving away from the system under the Instrument of Government whereby representation of rotten boroughs was cut in favour of county seats). This meant that the government was less able to control elections and therefore unable to manage the parliament effectively. As a result, when this Third Protectorate Parliament first sat on 27 January 1659 it was dominated by moderate Presbyterians, crypto-royalists and a small number of vociferous Commonwealthsmen (or Republicans). The 'Other House' of Parliament – a body which had been set up under the Humble Petition and Advice to act as a balance on the Commons – was also revived. It was this second parliamentary chamber and its resemblance to the 'House of Lords' (which had been abolished in 1649) that dominated this Parliamentary session. Republican malcontents gave filibustering speeches about the inadequacy of the membership of this upper chamber (especially its military contingent) and also questioned whether it was indicative of the backsliding of the Protectorate regime in general and its divergence from the 'Good Old Cause' for which parliamentarians had originally engaged in Civil War. Reviving this House of Lords in all but name, they argued, was but a short step to returning to the Ancient Constitution of King, Lords, and Commons.

Royal styles of
Richard Cromwell
Lord Protector of the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Arms.svg

Reference style His Highness
Spoken style Your Highness
Alternative style Sir

At the same time, the officers of the army became increasingly wary about the government's commitment to the military cause. The fact that Richard Cromwell lacked military credentials grated with men who had fought on the battlefields of the English Civil War to secure their nation's liberties. Moreover, the new Parliament seemed to show a lack of respect for the army which many military men found quite alarming. In particular, there were fears that Parliament would make military cuts to reduce costs, and by April 1659 the army’s general council of officers had met to demand higher taxation to fund the regime’s costs. Their grievances were expressed in a petition to Richard Cromwell on 6 April 1659 which he forwarded to the Parliament two days later. Yet Parliament did not act on the army's suggestions; instead they shelved this petition and increased the suspicion of the military by bringing articles of impeachment against William Boteler on 12 April 1659, who was alleged to have mistreated a royalist prisoner while acting as a Major General under Oliver Cromwell in 1655. This was followed by two resolutions in the Commons on 18 April 1659 which stated that no more meetings of army officers should take place without the express permission of both the Lord Protector and Parliament, and that all officers should swear an oath that they would not subvert the sitting of Parliament by force. These direct affronts to military prestige were too much for the army grandees to bear and set in motion the final split between the civilian-dominated Parliament and the army, which would culminate in the dissolution of Parliament and Richard Cromwell's ultimate fall from power. When Richard refused a demand by the army to dissolve Parliament, troops were assembled at St James’s. Richard eventually gave in to their demands and on 22 April, Parliament was dissolved and the Rump Parliament recalled on 7 May 1659. In the subsequent month Richard did not resist and refused an offer of armed assistance from the French ambassador, although it is possible he was being kept under house arrest by the army. On 25 May, after the Rump agreed to pay his debts and provide a pension, Richard delivered a formal letter resigning the position of Lord Protector. He continued to live in Whitehall Palace until July, when he was forced by the Rump to return to Hursley. Royalists rejoiced at Richard's fall and many satirical attacks surfaced in which he was given the unflattering nicknames 'Tumble Down Dick' and 'Queen Dick'.

Later years (1659–1712)

During the political difficulties of the winter of 1659, there were rumours that Richard was to be recalled as Protector, but these came to nothing. In July 1660 Richard left for France, never to see his wife again. While there he went by a variety of pseudonyms, including “John Clarke”. He later travelled around Europe, visiting various European courts. During this period of voluntary exile he wrote many letters to his family back in England; these letters are now held by Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies at the County Record Office in Huntingdon.

In 1680 or 1681 he returned to England and lodged with the merchant Thomas Pengelly in Finchley in Middlesex, living off the income from his estate in Hursley. He died on 12 July 1712. Despite his very short reign, Richard Cromwell is, in terms of age, the longest lived ruler or former ruler of England or any of its successor states (currently the United Kingdom).



External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Oliver Cromwell
Lord Protectorate of England, Scotland and Ireland
3 September 1658 – 25 May 1659
Succeeded by
Council of State
Academic offices
Preceded by
Oliver Cromwell
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Duke of Somerset

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RICHARD CROMWELL (1626-1712), lord protector of England, eldest surviving son of Oliver Cromwell and of Elizabeth Bourchier, was born on the 4th of October 1626. He served in the parliamentary army, and in 1647 was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn. In 1649 he married Dorothy, daughter of Richard Mayor, or Major, of Hursley in Hampshire. He represented Hampshire in the parliament of 1654, and Cambridge University in that of 1656, and in November 16J5 was appointed one of the council of trade. But he was not brought forward by his father or prepared in any way for his future greatness, and lived in the country occupied with field sports, till after the institution of the second protectorate in 16J7 and the recognition of Oliver's right to name his successor. On the 18th of July he succeeded his father as chancellor of the university of Oxford, on the 31st of December he was made a member of the council of state, and about the same time obtained a regiment and a seat in Cromwell's House of Lords. He was received generally as his father's successor, and was nominated by him as such on his death-bed. He was proclaimed on the 3rd of September 1658, and at first his accession was acclaimed with general favour both at home and abroad. Dissensions, however, soon broke out between the military faction and the civilians. Richard's elevation, not being "general of the army as his father was," was distasteful to the officers, who desired the appointment of a commander-in-chief from among themselves, a request refused by Richard. The officers in the council, moreover, showed jealousy of the civil members, and to settle these difficulties and to provide money a parliament was summoned on the 27th of January 1659, which declared Richard protector, and incurred the hostility of the army by criticizing severely the arbitrary military government of Oliver's last two years, and by impeaching one of the major-generals. A council of the army accordingly established itself in opposition to the parliament, and demanded on the 6th of April a justification and confirmation of former proceedings, to which the parliament replied by forbidding meetings of the army council without the permission of the protector, and insisting that all officers should take an oath not to disturb the proceedings in parliament. The army now broke into open rebellion and assembled at St James's. Richard was completely in their power; he identified himself with their cause, and the same night dissolved the parliament. The Long ' Frederic Harrison, Cromwell, P. 34.

Parliament (which re-assembled on the 7th of May) and the heads of the army came to an agreement to effect his dismissal; and in the subsequent events Richard appears to have played a purely passive part, refusing to make any attempt to keep his power or to forward a restoration of the monarchy. On the 25th of May his submission was communicated to the House. He retired into private life, heavily burdened with debts incurred during his tenure of office and narrowly escaping arrest even before he quitted Whitehall. In the summer of 1660 he left England for France, where he lived in seclusion under the name of John Clarke, subsequently removing elsewhere, either (for the accounts differ) to Spain, to Italy, or to Geneva. He was long regarded by the government as a dangerous person, and in 1671 a strict search was made for him but without avail. He returned to England about 1680 and lived at Cheshunt, in the house of Sergeant Pengelly, where he died on the 12th of July 1712, being buried in Hursley church in Hampshire. Richard Cromwell was treated with general contempt by his contemporaries, and invidiously compared with his great father. According to Mrs Hutchinson he was "gentle and virtuous but a peasant in his nature and became not greatness." He was nevertheless a man of respectable abilities, of an irreproachable private character, and a good speaker.


See the article in the Dict. of Nat. Biography, and authorities there cited; Noble's Memoirs of the Protectoral House of Cromwell (1787); Memoirs of the Protector ... and of his Sons, by O. Cromwell (1820); The Two Protectors, by Sir R. Tangye (1899) Kebleland and a Short Life of Richard Cromwell, by W. T. Warren (1900); Letters and Speeches of O. Cromwell, by T. Carlyle (1904); Eng. Hist. Review, xiii. 93 (letters) and xviii. 79; Cal. of State Papers, Domestic, Lansdowne MSS. in British Museum. (P. C. Y.)

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010
(Redirected to Richard Cromwell (1626-1712) article)

From Familypedia

Richard Cromwell
Birth October 4, 1626 in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
Baptism: 9999 in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: July 12, 1712 in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Burial: 9999 in Hursley, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Father: Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (1599-1658)
Mother: Elizabeth Bourchier (1598-1672)
Wife: Dorothy Major (1627-1676)
Wedding: May 1, 1649 in Hursley, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
Edit facts

Richard Cromwell was born 4 October 1626 in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England to Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (1599-1658) and Elizabeth Bourchier (1598-1672) and died 12 July 1712 in Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire, in England, at the age of 85 years of unspecified causes. Richard married Dorothy Major 1 May 1649 in Hursley, Northamptonshire, England.

Richard Cromwell was made Lord Protector in 1658 but retired in 1659.


Offspring of  Richard Cromwell and Dorothy Major (1627-1676)
Name Birth Death
Elizabeth Cromwell (1650-1731)
Ann Cromwell (1651-1652)
Son Cromwell (1652-1652)
Mary Cromwell (1654-1654)
Daughter Cromwell (1655-1655)
Oliver Cromwell (1656-1705)
Anne Cromwell (1659-1727)
Dorothy Cromwell (1660-1681)
Edit facts

Citations and remarks



This article uses material from the "Richard Cromwell (1626-1712)" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Richard Cromwell

Preceded by Oliver Cromwell
Succeeded by Charles II
(King of England)

Born 4 October 1626(1626-10-04)
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Died July 12, 1712 (aged 85)
Spouse Dorothy Maijor

Richard Cromwell (4 October 162612 July 1712) was the third son of Oliver Cromwell, and the second Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, for little over eight months, from 3 September 1658 until 25 May 1659. Richard Cromwell's enemies called him Tumbledown Dick and Queen Dick.

Richard Cromwell was not suited to ruling the country. He followed his father as ruler only because he was Oliver's oldest surviving son, and people expected one of Oliver's sons to follow him. After a short time, he gave up power and he knew that many of the people wanted King Charles II to return from Holland and rule the country. When it was agreed that Charles would return, Richard thought it would be best for him to leave Britain, and he went to live in France for a while. He changed his name to "John Clarke" and travelled around Europe, not returning home for twenty years. When he came back, he lived quietly outside London for the rest of his life.

Stories about Richard

There are rumours that the nursery rhyme "Hickory Dickory Dock" is actually about Richard Cromwell's reign, since the mouse in the rhyme runs down when the clock strikes one and Cromwell only reigned for one year.[needs proof]


  • Gaunt, Peter (2004). "Richard Cromwell". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  
  • Hutton, Ronald (1985). The Restoration: A Political and Religious History of England and Wales, 1658-1667. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-822698-5. 

Other websites

Political offices
Preceded by
Oliver Cromwell
Lord Protectorate of England, Scotland and Ireland
September 3, 1658-May 25, 1659
Succeeded by
King Charles II
As King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.
Preceded by
Oliver Cromwell
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Duke of Somerset


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