Third Protectorate Parliament

Last updated

Third Protectorate Parliament
Standard of Oliver Cromwell (1653-1659).svg
  1656 December 1658 – January 16591660 

All 567 seats of the House of Commons
284 seats were needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  John Thurloe from NPG detail.jpg Henry Vane the Younger by Sir Peter Lely.jpg
Leader John Thurloe Harry Vane
Party Protectorate Faction Commonwealthsmen
Leader's seat Cambridge University Whitchurch
Popular vote--

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.



After the death of Oliver Cromwell his son Richard Cromwell succeeded him as Lord Protector of the Protectorate on 3 September 1658. As a civilian, Richard did not have the full confidence of the Army, particularly as the administration had a perennial budget deficit of half a million pounds and the Army was owed nearly nine hundred thousand pounds in back pay. His only option was to call a Parliament in the hope that it would cement his position by general recognition of the ruling class and by raising new taxes to pay the arrears owed to the Army.

The Third Protectorate Parliament was summoned on 9 December 1658 on the basis of the old franchise, and assembled on 27 January 1659. Richard was recognised as Lord Protector by the Parliament by 223 votes to 134, but over the next month the old divisions re-surfaced. The "Commonwealthsmen" and members of the Rump Parliament (such as Sir Henry Vane, Edmund Ludlow and Sir Arthur Haselrig) wanted to dismantle the Protectorate and return to the Commonwealth which had existed between the regicide of Charles I in January 1649 and the dismissal of the Rump Parliament by Oliver Cromwell in 1653.

The Protectorate faction was led by the Secretary of State John Thurloe, General John Lambert and Major-Generals Charles Fleetwood and Sir John Desborough. These members wished to keep the Protectorate but were divided over who should command the Army and be Lord Protector.

"The proposition of restoring the Parliament met with great opposition from many of those that had tasted the sweetness of power and profit under the late usurpation of the Cromewells, and who feared a more equal distribution of things; and therefore they everywhere affirmed that there was not a sufficient number of members left to make up a Parliament". [1]

An informal committee of key generals and republican parliamentary members met at Henry Vane the Younger's home at Charing-Cross; representing the army were John Lambert, Col John Hones, Col. Kelsey, Col. Berry, and representing Parliament were Sir Henry Vane, Sir Arthur Haslerig, Major Saloway and Edmund Ludlow.

"The things demanded by those of the army were: 1. To be secured by an act of indemnity for what was past; 2. That some provision of power might be made for Mr. Richard Cromwell, as well as for the payment of his debts, and future subsistence in a plentiful manner, they having promised to take care of him in these particulars; 3. That what should stand in need of regulation both in the law and clergy, should be reformed and amended; 4. That the government of the nation should be by a representative of the people, and by a select senate (chosen in part by the military faction)". [2] Difficulties arose from mistrust between Parliament and the army, making effective working between the two houses problematic.

The issues came to a head when Parliament attempted to impeach Major-General William Boteler for actions he had carried out during the Rule of the Major-Generals in 1656. In response to the attempted impeachment, on 6 April 1659 the Grandees in the Army presented Parliament with a declaration calling for soldiers to be granted immunity from prosecution for all actions carried out during Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate. But accepting that the Commonwealthsmen were in the ascendency in Parliament, Desborough and Fleetwood forced a reluctant Richard Cromwell to use his powers as Lord Protector to dissolve Parliament on 22 April 1659.

The Grandees intended to keep Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector under Army control, without calling another parliament. Their position was undermined, however, when it became clear that the Army's rank and file still harboured support for the "Good Old Cause" of the Commonwealth, and still wanted to have their arrears of pay settled. This groundswell of support forced the Grandees to allow Richard Cromwell to re-call the Rump Parliament less than a month after the dissolution of the Third Protectorate Parliament.

There were two Speakers during the Third Protectorate Parliament and two Deputy Speakers. Chaloner Chute served as Speaker from 27 January 1659 until 14 April 1659, with two deputy speakers: Sir Lislebone Long from 9 March 1659 until 14 March 1659, and Thomas Bampfield from 16 March 1659 until 14 April 1659. Thomas Bampfield was Speaker from 15 April 1659 until 22 April 1659.

The Third Protectorate Parliament was preceded by the Second Protectorate Parliament and followed by the return of the Rump Parliament.


The constituencies and distribution of seats, in England and Wales, for this Parliament reverted to being the same as in the Long Parliament. However the Scottish and Irish constituencies (see list in the First Protectorate Parliament article) remained unchanged.


Abbreviations: Boro' const. – Borough/Burgh constituencies, Shire const. – County/Shire constituencies, Univ. const. or const'ies – University constituencies, Total Const. – Total constituencies, Con. (or Const.) – Constituencies

Table 1: Constituencies and MPs, by type and country

No. of constituencies228842314    
Members returned42913445674291344567

Table 2: Number of seats per constituency, by type and country

CountryBorough constituenciesShire constituenciesUniv. const'iesTotal
1 MP2 MPs4 MPsCon.MPs1 MP2 MPsCon.MPs2 MPsCon.MPs
No. of constituencies311952228 345084 22 314 
Members returned313908 42934100 1344 4 567

Notes: (1) Monmouthshire (1 borough and 2 county seats) included in England, not Wales. (2) Dublin City and County treated as a county constituency (2 seats).

See also


  1. The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, Lieutenant-General of the Horse in the Army of the Commonwealth of England 1625-1672 Edited with Appendices of Letters and Illustrative Documents by C. A. Firth, M.A., in two volumes. v. II p. 74. published 1894, Clarendon Press, Oxford
  2. The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, Lieutenant-General of the Horse in the Army of the Commonwealth of England 1625-1672 Edited with Appendices of Letters and Illustrative Documents by C. A. Firth, M.A., in two volumes. v. II p. 75. published 1894, Clarendon Press, Oxford

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Commonwealth of England</span> Historic republic on the British Isles (1649–1660)

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, in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and the Anglo-Scottish war of 1650–1652.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Long Parliament</span> English Parliament from 1640 to 1660

The Long Parliament was an English Parliament which lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament, which had convened for only three weeks during the spring of 1640 after an 11-year parliamentary absence. In September 1640, King Charles I issued writs summoning a parliament to convene on 3 November 1640. He intended it to pass financial bills, a step made necessary by the costs of the Bishops' Wars in Scotland. The Long Parliament received its name from the fact that, by Act of Parliament, it stipulated it could be dissolved only with agreement of the members; and those members did not agree to its dissolution until 16 March 1660, after the English Civil War and near the close of the Interregnum.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1659</span> Calendar year

1659 (MDCLIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1659th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 659th year of the 2nd millennium, the 59th year of the 17th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1650s decade. As of the start of 1659, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Cromwell</span> English statesman (1626–1712)

Richard Cromwell was an English statesman who was the second and last Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and son of the first Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Protectorate</span> British government (1653–1659)

The Protectorate, officially the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, is the period from 16 December 1653 to 25 May 1659 during which England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and associated territories were joined together in the Commonwealth of England, governed by a Lord Protector. It began when Barebone's Parliament was dismissed, and the Instrument of Government appointed Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Cromwell died in September 1658 and was succeeded by his son Richard Cromwell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Lambert (general)</span> English Parliamentary general and politician (1619–1683)

John Lambert was an English Parliamentarian general and politician. Widely regarded as one of the most talented soldiers of the period, he fought throughout the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and was largely responsible for victory in the 1650 to 1651 Scottish campaign.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rump Parliament</span> English parliament 1648–1653

The Rump Parliament was the English Parliament after Colonel Thomas Pride commanded soldiers to purge the Long Parliament, on 6 December 1648, of those members hostile to the Grandees' intention to try King Charles I for high treason.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edmund Ludlow</span> 17th-century English parliamentary politician

Edmund Ludlow was an English parliamentarian, best known for his involvement in the execution of Charles I, and for his Memoirs, which were published posthumously in a rewritten form and which have become a major source for historians of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Ludlow was elected a Member of the Long Parliament and served in the Parliamentary armies during the English Civil Wars. After the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1649 he was made second-in-command of Parliament's forces in Ireland, before breaking with Oliver Cromwell over the establishment of the Protectorate. After the Restoration Ludlow went into exile in Switzerland, where he spent much of the rest of his life. Ludlow himself spelt his name Ludlowe.

The Committee of Safety, established by the Parliamentarians in July 1642, was the first of a number of successive committees set up to oversee the English Civil War against King Charles I, and the Interregnum.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">English Council of State</span> Executive government of the Commonwealth of England

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.

John Desborough (1608–1680) was an English soldier and politician who supported the parliamentary cause during the English Civil War.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Cromwell</span> Lord Deputy of Ireland (1628–1674)

Henry Cromwell was the fourth son of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bourchier, and an important figure in the Parliamentarian regime in Ireland.

Carrickfergus and Belfast was a constituency in Ireland, that returned a single Member of Parliament to sit in the House of Commons of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Events from the year 1659 in England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lislebone Long</span>

Sir Lislebone Long (1613–1659), was a supporter of the Parliamentary cause during the English Civil War, but he was a Presbyterian and he resisted Pride's Purge and although not secluded by Pride, he shortly afterwards absented himself for a short while from the House. After the regicide of Charles I, in which he took no part, he was an active member of the three Protectorate parliaments and was knighted by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Fleetwood</span> English Parliamentarian soldier and politician, Lord Deputy of Ireland

Charles Fleetwood, c. 1618 to 4 October 1692, was an English lawyer from Northamptonshire, who served with the Parliamentarian army during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. A close associate of Oliver Cromwell, to whom he was related by marriage, Fleetwood held a number of senior political and administrative posts under the Commonwealth, including Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1652 to 1655.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nathaniel Rich (soldier)</span> 17th-century English Puritan radical and soldier

Colonel Nathaniel Rich was a member of the landed gentry from Essex, who sided with Parliament during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and was "an example of those pious Puritan gentlemen who were inspired by the ideals of the English Revolution". Appointed a colonel in the New Model Army in 1645, then elected MP for Cirencester in 1648, he was a close associate of Oliver Cromwell until the two fell out due to his association with the Fifth Monarchists, a radical religious group that opposed the latter's appointment as Lord Protector in 1653.