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The Second Protectorate Parliament in England sat for two sessions from 17 September 1656 until 4 February 1658, with Thomas Widdrington as the Speaker of the House of Commons. In its first session, the House of Commons was its only chamber; in the second session an Other House with a power of veto over the decisions of the Commons was added.
There were two sessions the first from 17 September 1656 until 26 June 1657 and a second from 20 January until 4 February 1658. The Second Protectorate Parliament was summoned reluctantly by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell on the advice of the Major-Generals who were running the country as regions under military governors. The Major-Generals thought that a compliant parliament would be the best way to raise money to pay for the Army occupation, and the Navy both of which were involved in the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660).
The elections were held under the new written constitution called Instrument of Government. It included returning up to thirty members from Scotland and up to another thirty from Ireland. Royalists and Catholics were prevented from standing or voting under Articles XIV and XV. After the election the Council of State stopped one hundred elected members from taking their seats by declaring that they were not "of known integrity, fearing God" (Article VII). A further fifty withdrew in protest which left about two hundred and fifty to take their seats for the first session.
The first session opened in December 1656. The Protectorate government did not have much pressing legislation to present so the House occupied its time with private members bills. However over the next few months three issues would dominate the session. The first was the Militia Bill, the second was the Naylor case and the third was constitutional reform (the Humble Petition and Advice), which was influenced by the failure of the Militia Bill to pass and the Naylor case was to show that the members of Parliament were less religiously tolerant than was constitutionally allowed in Instrument of Government.
The House voted down Major-General John Desborough's "Militia Bill" on 29 January 1657 by one hundred and twenty four votes to eighty eight. This bill would have perpetuated the Decimation Tax that funded the mounted militia, which was collected by Cromwell's Major-Generals; the failure of the bill caused the so-called rule of the Major-Generals in the counties to end.
With the rejection of the Decimation Tax, it was clear that government through the Major-Generals could not continue. In February 1657 Cromwell was offered the crown and a new constitution called the Humble Petition and Advice.
On Palm Sunday 1656 James Naylor, a Quaker, reenacted the arrival of Christ in Jerusalem by riding a horse into Bristol attended by followers who sang "Holy, holy, holy" and strewed the way with their garments. Although Naylor denied that he was impersonating Jesus, this act outraged many in Parliament in what was seen as an act of blasphemy. There was consensus in the House that Naylor should be punished. However while the House of Commons could pass, and had in recent times passed, acts of attainder against people, it was questioned whether the House could invoke a judicial procedure like that of the now disbanded House of Lords. After much debate and looking at old precedents, the House concluded that it had the right to act in a judicial capacity.So they tried Naylor and passed the following resolution for his blasphemy:
That James Naylor shall be put in the pillory in the city of Westminster for the space of two hours, on Thursday next, and then be whipped by the hangman through the streets from Westminster to the Old Change, and there be put in the pillory again from the hours of eleven to one on the following Saturday. He shall then have his tongue bored through with a red hot iron, and be branded with the letter B, and sent to Bristol, where he shall be paraded through the city on horseback, with his face backward. From Bristol he shall be brought back to London and sent to the Tower, there to be kept to hard labour by order of Parliament, and be debarred the use of pen, ink, and paper, and have no relief but what he can earn by his daily labour.
After some thought Cromwell declined the crown as embodied in the Humble Petition. The Naylor case had showed that the members of Parliament were less religiously tolerant than the constitution allowed, and the assumption of judicial powers by the House, worried many in the House, the Grandees in the Army, and Cromwell. So encouraged, Cromwell with the support of the Grandees, pressed the house for a second chamber.
After modifications had been made to the Humble Petition, Cromwell agreed to the new constitution and in June 1657 he was reinstated as Lord Protector under the articles of the Humble Petition and Advice. Parliament then went into recess for the summer.
The Army Grandees agreed to allow the MPs who had been excluded under Article VII of the Instrument of Government to be allowed to take their seats. But to make sure that the House would be compliant to their wishes, Cromwell nominated 63 members to "Other House" permitted by the Humble Petition and Advice, 42 accepted and 37 came to the first meeting.
This triggered a wave of republican protest in the House of Commons which spread to the rank and file of the Army. Amidst fears of a Levellers revival and Royalist plots, under the prerogative granted to the Lord Protector by the Humble Petition and Advice, Oliver Cromwell dissolved Parliament on 4 February 1658.
The Second Protectorate Parliament was preceded by the First Protectorate Parliament and succeeded by the Third Protectorate Parliament.
The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were governed as a republic after the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The republic's existence was declared through "An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth", adopted by the Rump Parliament on 19 May 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During the period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now referred to as the Third English Civil War.
Oliver Cromwell was an English general and statesman who led the Parliament of England's armies against King Charles I during the English Civil War and ruled the British Isles as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. He acted simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republican commonwealth.
Richard Cromwell was an English statesman who was the second Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and son of the first Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
Lord Protector is a title that has been used in British constitutional law for the head of state. It is also a particular title for the British heads of state in respect to the established church. It is sometimes used to refer to holders of other temporary posts, for example, a regent acting for the absent monarch.
The Protectorate was the period during the Commonwealth when England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and the English overseas possessions were governed by a Lord Protector as a republic. The Protectorate began in 1653 when, following the dissolution of the Rump Parliament and then Barebone's Parliament, Oliver Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector of the Commonwealth under the terms of the Instrument of Government. In 1659, the Protectorate Parliament was dissolved by the Committee of Safety as Richard Cromwell, who had succeeded his father as Lord Protector, was unable to keep control of the Parliament and the Army. This marked the end of the Protectorate and the start of a second period of rule by the Rump Parliament as the legislature and the Council of State as the executive.
Colonel Edward Sexby or Saxby was an English Puritan soldier and Leveller in the army of Oliver Cromwell. Later he turned against Cromwell and plotted his assassination.
The English Council of State, later also known as the Protector's Privy Council, was first appointed by the Rump Parliament on 14 February 1649 after the execution of King Charles I.
The First Protectorate Parliament was summoned by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell under the terms of the Instrument of Government. It sat for one term from 3 September 1654 until 22 January 1655 with William Lenthall as the Speaker of the House.
John Desborough (1608–1680) was an English soldier and politician who supported the parliamentary cause during the English Civil War.
The Third Protectorate Parliament sat for one session, from 27 January 1659 until 22 April 1659, with Chaloner Chute and Thomas Bampfylde as the Speakers of the House of Commons. It was a bicameral Parliament, with an Upper House having a power of veto over the Commons.
Colonel Sir Richard Ingoldsby was an English officer in the New Model Army during the English Civil War and a politician who sat in the House of Commons variously between 1647 and 1685. As a Commissioner (Judge) at the trial of King Charles I, he signed the king's death warrant but was one of the few regicides to be pardoned.
The Interregnum was the period between the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 and the arrival of his son Charles II in London on 29 May 1660 which marked the start of the Restoration. During the Interregnum, England was under various forms of republican government.
Henry Cromwell was the fourth son of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bourchier, and an important figure in the Parliamentarian regime in Ireland.
The Humble Petition and Advice was the second, and last, codified constitution of England after the Instrument of Government.
Events from the year 1657 in England.
William Sydenham (1615–1661) was a Cromwellian soldier; and the eldest brother of Thomas Sydenham. He fought for Parliament and defeated the Royalists in various skirmishes in Dorset. He was member of the various parliaments of the Commonwealth, avowal conservative principles, and defended the liberties of Englishmen. In 1654 made councillor and commissioner of the treasury by Oliver Cromwell. Took the side of the army against Parliament. In 1660, after the Protectorate, and before the Restoration, he was expelled from the Long Parliament. After the Restoration, he was perpetually incapacitated from holding office by the Indemnity and Oblivion Act.
The Instrument of Government was a constitution of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Drafted by Major-General John Lambert in 1653, it was the first sovereign codified and written constitution in England.
Robert Tichborne was an English soldier who fought in the English Civil War. He was a regicide of Charles I.
Sir Christopher Packe (1593?–1682), Lord Mayor of London; member of the Drapers Company; lord mayor, 1654; a prominent member of the Company of Merchant Adventurers; knighted and appointed an admiralty commissioner, 1655; a strong partisan of Oliver Cromwell, proposing on 23 February 1656, in the Protector's last Parliament, a Remonstrance which initially proposed that Cromwell should assume the title of king. He was disqualified at the restoration of the monarchy from holding any public office.
The Other House, established by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell under the terms of the Humble Petition and Advice, was one of the two chambers of the parliaments that legislated for England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, in 1658 and 1659, the final years of the Protectorate.
From Cromwell:The Oliver Cromwell Website: a select bibliography of books and articles: