Ending of the Anglo-Dutch War — the First Protectorate Parliament — the Western Design launched


  (Early January) The Baron de Baas arrives in England as Cardinal Mazarin's special agent to the Protectorate, with instructions to work to reconcile England and France. Source: HCP3
3 Dutch commissioners leave London. HCP3
9 Leading Independent ministers John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, Philip Nye, and Sidrach Simpson issue a circular letter condemning the Fifth Monarchists. FMM, ODNB
10 The Council of State orders the examination of witnesses after Fifth Monarchist preachers continue to attack the Protectorate. HCP3
19 An ordinance issued By the Council of State declaring that criticism of the Protectorate may be considered treasonous. AOI
  Repeal of the Oath of Engagement. AOI
20 William Kiffin and other Particular Baptist ministers write a circular letter condemning the Fifth Monarchists. FMM
25 Dutch ambassador Jerome Beverning returns to London. HCP3
27 Charles II orders Major-General John Middleton to Scotland to take command of the forces raised in Glencairn's Uprising. HCP3
28 Fifth Monarchist preachers Christopher Feake and John Simpson imprisoned; Vavasor Powell escapes to Wales. HCP3
30 The Protectorate proclaimed in Dublin, despite the objections of Edmund Ludlow. HCP4


3 The Council of State orders Thomas Harrison to retire to his father's house in Staffordshire. Source: HCP3
6 Commonwealth officials in Dublin express doubts as to the feasibility of completing the Irish transplantations by the projected date of May 1st. HCP4
8 The City of London holds a banquet in Cromwell's honour. HCP3
9 The States General of the Netherlands votes to resume peace negotiations with England and to recognise the Protectorate. HCP3
16 Arrest of a number of Royalist conspirators following the discovery of the "Ship Tavern conspiracy" to foment apprentice riots in London as a prelude to a general uprising. The conspiracy damages the Protectorate's relations with France because of France's protection of Charles Stuart and the Royalist exiles. RCE, HCP3
17 Cromwell commissions Major Robert Sedgwick to raise a force of New England colonists to conquer the Dutch settlement at New Amsterdam (now New York). Before Sedgwick can complete his commission, peace is declared between England and the Netherlands. HCP4
20 Major-General Middleton arrives at Dornoch in Sutherland to take command of the forces raised by the Earl of Glencairn. CW
22 The Spanish ambassador Alonso de Cardenas proposes an alliance between Spain and the Protectorate against France. HCP3
  The first allusion to the Royalist conspirators of the Sealed Knot in correspondence between Charles II and his agents. RCE
28 Dutch commissioners Willem Nieuport and Allart Jongestal rejoin Jerome Beverning in London to resume peace negotiations. HCP3
  Cromwell secretly offers an alliance with Spain — providing Spain bears the full cost of war against France. HCP3
  Cardinal Mazarin orders the French ambassador M. de Bordeaux-Neufville to recognise the Protectorate. HCP3


4 Henry Cromwell arrives in Dublin to investigate and report on the political and religious allegiances in the army in Ireland. Source: ODNB
5 Mazarin's agent Baas conveys to Cromwell a French offer of military help for an attack on the Spanish at Dunkirk. HCP3
6-15 The government in Ireland orders the expulsion of all Catholics from Kilkenny, Wexford and Clonmel. HCP4
8 M. de Bordeaux-Neufville refused an audience with Cromwell; he writes to Mazarin to report alarming rumours of a possible English attack on France. HCP3
11 The Archduke Leopold advises the Spanish ambassador Cardenas to offer £120,000 a year for an alliance against France, without waiting for an answer from Madrid. HCP3
15 Mazarin instructs his envoys to assure Cromwell that France will give no further assistance to Charles Stuart if England joins with France against Spain. HCP3
16 The Council of State orders the transportation of John Lilburne to Jersey. HCP4
17 On hearing of the Spanish financial offer, Mazarin orders Baas to offer the same sum, and to go higher if necessary. HCP3
20 An ordinance passed to establish a Commission of Triers: a national body to examine and approve all new clergymen. AOI
21 Henry Cromwell leaves Ireland. ODNB
29 Henry Cromwell back in London, where he recommends that the administration in Ireland should be overhauled and that Edmund Ludlow should be dismissed because of his opposition to the Protectorate. ODNB


  (April) Duel between the Earl of Glencairn and Sir George Monro. Source: HCP3
4 The Council of State appoints two sets of commissioners to negotiate with the French and Spanish envoys. HCP3
5 Three Dutch ambassadors and six English commissioners sign a treaty to end the First Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch obliged to pass the Act of Exclusion, to exclude the Prince of Orange from office under the States General. HCP3
6 Cromwell informs Cardenas that he is prepared to continue negotiations if the Spanish will increase the proposed subsidy. Cardenas proposes an Anglo-Spanish attack on Calais, on the understanding that England will keep the town after its capture. HCP3
8 General Monck commissioned Commander-in-Chief of the army in Scotland. DNB
11 Commercial treaty signed between England and Sweden. HCP3
12 Ordinance of Union between England and Scotland passed by the Council of State. AOI
  The States General ratifies the peace treaty between the United Provinces and the Protectorate. HCP3
17 Mazarin's agent Baas plots with Theodore Naudin, a French Anabaptist, to incite Anabaptists in the English army to murder Cromwell. Naudin approaches Colonel Buller to further the scheme. HCP3
19 Cromwell ratifies the Anglo-Dutch peace treaty. HCP3
  Stormy interview between Cromwell and Mazarin's envoy Baas, in which Baas reproaches Cromwell for his encouragement of the Spanish and for his secret dealings with French Protestant rebels. HCP3
20 The Council of State argues the merits of the French and Spanish proposals. The majority agree with Cromwell in favouring an alliance with France against Spain. A minority, headed by John Lambert, argue that the loss of trade with Spain would be too high a price. Discussions of an attack on the Spanish West Indies begins. HCP3
22 General Monck arrives at Dalkeith to take over the military and civil government of Scotland. HCP3
24 The States General passes the Exclusion Act. HCP3


1 By this date, all Irish people eligible to be transplanted were to have moved to Clare and Connacht; in practice many claimed exemption and waited for their cases to be decided, while others refused to move. Source: HCP4
2 Cromwell offers terms to Baas: France to give no further help to the Stuarts; the liberties conceded to the Huguenots to be confirmed; France to pay £200,000 compensation for the activities of French privateers; the military alliance against Spain depends upon the settlement of these questions. Baas replies that he has no power to negotiate without consulting the ambassador Bordeaux, but his defiant manner annoys Cromwell. HCP3
  A message sent to the Spanish ambassador Cardenas offering a military alliance, but enquiring how much of the total cost the King of Spain is prepared to pay. HCP3
4 Cardenas offers £200,000 a year for a military alliance, but the Council of State regards this as inadequate. HCP3
  General Monck issues a proclamation at Edinburgh announcing the establishment of the Protectorate and the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. HCP3
  Commissioners in Dublin announce the provisional allocation of confiscated Irish land to disbanded soldiers. HCP4
5 Ordinance of Pardon and Grace proclaimed in Edinburgh, permitting Scottish landlords not implicated in Glencairn's Uprising to retain their estates. An amnesty offered to Scottish insurgents who lay down their arms within 20 days. A reward of £200 offered for Middleton and other leaders of the revolt, dead or alive. HCP3
8 Cardenas raises the Spanish offer to £300,000 a year. HCP3
10 Monck marches north and begins establishing garrisons to break up Middleton's lines of communication with the Lowlands. HCP3
13 Failure of John Gerard's plot to assassinate Cromwell when the Protector changes his route from Whitehall to Hampton Court. RCE
15 Commissioners in Dublin order the expulsion of Irish Catholics from Limerick. HCP4
18 The French ambassador argues with Cromwell over the unofficial maritime war between French and English privateers. HCP3
  John Gerard betrayed to the Council of State. HCP3
19 Cromwell agrees to the Spanish offer of £300,000 and says that war will be declared against France — but for the first year, this will be a naval war only because of the expense of the war in Scotland. HCP3
21 Arrest of John Gerard and his accomplices. This is followed by widespread precautionary arrests of Royalists around the country, including Sir Richard Willys and Colonel Edward Villiers of the Sealed Knot. HCP3, RCE
23 Discovery of the Anabaptist plot to assassinate Cromwell; Mazarin's envoy Baas implicated. HCP3
25 Cromwell agrees to accept £100,000 as an initial payment from Spain, but doubts are raised as to the ability of the Spanish treasury to raise even this sum. HCP3
30 Publication of John Milton's Second Defence of the English People. HCP3


2 Commissions issued for the "Civil Survey" of Irish lands, in which Crown lands, Church lands and lands forfeited by private owners are to be distinguished from one another. Source: HCP4
9 Monck's troops secure the line of the River Tay. Monck establishes his headquarters at Ruthven Castle. HCP3
11 Prince Rupert leaves Charles II's court-in-exile in Paris for Heidelberg, having quarrelled with Charles over the disposal of the proceeds of his privateering voyages. PRA
12 The Baron de Baas summoned to appear before Cromwell and members of the Council of State to give an account of his intrigue with Naudin and the Anabaptists. Baas ordered to leave England within three days. HCP3
15 In view of Spain's financial difficulties, Cromwell proposes that Dunkirk should be ceded to England as security, to be exchanged for Calais when it has been captured from the French. Meanwhile, Cromwell resolves to continue negotiations with France. HCP3
17 English commissioners resume negotiations with the ambassador M. de Bordeaux-Neufville regarding an alliance against Spain. HCP3
19 Cromwell sends a message to Louis XIV of France announcing his willingness to continue negotiations for an alliance, despite the misconduct of the Baron de Baas. HCP3
  English commissioners negotiating with Bordeaux propose that the port of Brest be ceded to England as security until Dunkirk can be taken from the Spanish. HCP3
20 Monck marches into the Highlands in pursuit of Middleton. HCP3
22 At an interview with Cromwell, the French ambassador M. de Bordeaux-Neufville rejects the proposal to cede Brest to England. HCP3
23 The High Court of Justice reconvened for the trial of the conspirator John Gerard and two accomplices. HCP3
27 Ordinances passed for Scotland and Ireland to elect representatives to the forthcoming parliament. AOI
30 John Gerard found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. HCP3
  Charles II leaves Paris. His position has become untenable because of Cardinal Mazarin's negotiations with Cromwell. He visits his sister the Princess of Orange at Spa in the Netherlands. HCP3


  (July) Major Sedgwick leads New England colonists in seizing three forts in the French colony of Acadia. Source: HCP4
  (July) The Fifth Monarchist John Simpson released from imprisonment at Windsor on condition that he does not come within 10 miles of London. ODNB
6 Charles II begins negotiations with a group of Royalist conspirators in England known as the Action Party who propose an alliance with Presbyterians and disaffected radicals to foment an uprising against the Protectorate. HCP3, RCE
10 Execution of the Royalist conspirator John Gerard. HCP3
  Commercial treaty signed between England and Portugal. HCP3
19 Colonel Morgan defeats Middleton's Royalists at the battle of Dalnaspidal, near Lochgarry, effectively bringing Glencairn's Uprising to an end. HCP3
20 Cromwell and the Council of State discuss the question of war or peace with Spain. Cromwell proposes an attack on Spanish territory in the West Indies. HCP4
26 Cromwell decides to pursue a commercial treaty with France rather than a military alliance against Spain. The idea of intervening in the European war abandoned. HCP4


8 An ordinance issued to establish a system of Triers in Scotland to oversee the appointment of clergymen, circumventing the Kirk's traditional Presbyterian courts. The system is unsuccessful and is later repealed. Source: AOI
12 Following an outbreak of smallpox at Spa, Charles II transfers his court to Aachen in the Netherlands. Sir Edward Nicholas appointed secretary of state. HCP3
18 A commission appointed to prepare in secret the Western Design — an attack on Spanish possessions in the West Indies. HCP3
21 An ordinance issued proposing that access to the Court of Chancery should be made easier and less expensive. AOI
22 Charles Fleetwood granted the title lord-deputy of Ireland; the Board of Commissioners dissolved and a Council appointed. Fleetwood is also granted powers of dispensation from the policy of transplantation stipulated in the Act of Settlement, but chooses to ignore moves towards moderation. HCP4
24 Henry Cromwell commissioned Major-General to command the army in Ireland under Fleetwood. HCP4
28 The Commission of Ejectors appointed to expel inadequate ministers and schoolmasters. AOI
  (End of August) Release from imprisonment of the Sealed Knot conspirators Sir Richard Willys and Colonel Villiers. RCE


2 Cromwell issues an ordinance allowing Irish Protestants to pay a fine rather than forfeit a proportion of their property, as stipulated in the Act of Settlement. Source: AOI
  A commission appointed to administer a fund for the maintenance of clergymen in poor livings. AOI
3 First Protectorate Parliament assembles. HCP3
4 Cromwell addresses MPs at the Painted Chamber, Whitehall. William Lenthall appointed Speaker. HCP3
5 Republican MPs in Parliament criticise Cromwell's monarchical style. HCP3
7 The Earl of Glencairn surrenders to General Monck at Dumbarton. ODNB
  Parliament begins discussion of the terms of the Instrument of Government. HCP3
9 Thomas Harrison arrested after promising to present a petition critical of Cromwell in Parliament. HCP3
12 Cromwell justifies the Instrument of Government and his own constitutional position in a speech to MPs at the Painted Chamber, Whitehall. MPs required to sign a "Recognition" of the Protectorate and its government before resuming their seats in Parliament. HCP3
  Harrison released from prison with a friendly warning from Cromwell. HCP3
15 Commercial treaty signed between England and Denmark. HCP3
  Charles II commissions the Earl of Rochester to command forces in England, where a major Royalist uprising is planned. RCE
19 A parliamentary committee formed to discuss the Instrument of Government in detail. HCP3
24 Richard Pepys appointed Chief Justice of Ireland. The four courts of law (Common Pleas, the Exchequer, Upper Bench and Chancery) re-established. LYP2
29 Cromwell narrowly escapes death or serious injury when he is involved in a coaching accident in Hyde Park. HCP3
  Charles II transfers his court to Cologne. HCP3


  (October) Members of fifteen Fifth Monarchist congregations in East Anglia meet to discuss the duty of the Saints towards the Protectorate. Source: FMM
5 Charles II meets the papal nuncio at Cologne and promises concessions to English Catholics in exchange for help in regaining the throne. HCP3
8 General-at-Sea Robert Blake's fleet sails from Plymouth for the Mediterranean. HCP4
9 General-at-Sea William Penn commissioned commander of naval forces on the Western Design expedition. RN2
12 Charles II writes to Scottish Presbyterian ministers appealing for help. HCP3
16 Parliament debates the succession of the Protectorate: Major-General Lambert proposes that it should be made hereditary, but the majority vote to keep it elective. HCP3
17 Petition by seamen at Portsmouth calls for the abandonment of impressment, provision for widows and the settlement of other grievances. The Petition is supported by Vice-Admiral John Lawson. Major-General Disbrowe and General-at-Sea Penn sent to Portsmouth to investigate the grievances. HCP3, CN
18 Publication of the Petition of the Three Colonels (Okey, Alured, and Saunders), protesting that the Instrument of Government gives Cromwell greater powers than the King. The petition was prepared by the Leveller John Wildman. It had been seized and the three colonels arrested, but Wildman published a copy in the form of a broadsheet. The three colonels were all later court-martialled and cashiered. HCP3
30 Blake's fleet arrives off Cadiz. CWS
  (End of October) An agent of the Sealed Knot sent to Charles II's court at Cologne to announce a revival of the group's activities in England. However, the cautious members of the Sealed Knot soon come into conflict with conspirators of the more militant Action Party. RCE


1 Funds forwarded to General-at-Sea William Penn to pay the arrears of the fleet at Portsmouth. Source: HCP3
4 Blake's fleet arrives at Gibraltar and waits to intercept a French fleet sailing to attack the Spanish province of Naples. RB
6 Penn reports that the discontent in the fleet has subsided. HCP3
7 The resolutions of the committee discussing the Instrument of Government put before Parliament. HCP3
15 Parliament requests that Cromwell reduces military expenditure. HCP3
16 Cromwell annoyed at the request to reduce military expenditure, and at Parliament's continuing debates on amending the Instrument of Government. HCP3
17 Parliament debates whether the Protector or Parliament should control the armed forces. HCP3
21 Parliament resolves to reduce the assessment, and by implication reduce the size of the Army. HCP3
  Blake's fleet sails from Gibraltar and enters the Mediterranean. RB
22 Parliamentary committee appointed to discuss finance and taxation. HCP3
23 Cromwell unwilling to reduce the Army, but agrees to further discussions. HCP3
25 A meeting of Army officers at St James's resolves to "live and die" with the Protector. HCP3
29 A second meeting of Army officers resolves to defend the Instrument of Government against any opposition from Parliament. HCP3
  Second reading of a bill to reduce the assessment. HCP3
30 A Declaration issued by Lord-Deputy Fleetwood and the Irish Council orders that the transplantations to Clare and Connacht are to be completed by 1 March 1655. HCP4


1 Complaints in Parliament regarding the intervention of the Army officers in constitutional matters. Source: HCP3
4 Blake's fleet arrives at Cagliari in Sardinia; the Duke of Guise abandons his attempt to attack Naples. EM1
5 A petition by Manuel Martinez Dormido for the re-admission of the Jews into England rejected by the Council of State. HCP4
6 Debate on the reduction of the Army adjourned. HCP3
7 Parliament votes for an Established Church. HCP3
8 On Charles II's orders, the young Duke of Gloucester is removed from the care of Henrietta Maria in Paris following her attempts to convert him to Catholicism. HCP3
  Blake sails for Naples on hearing that the Duke of Guise has landed there. EM1
9 Orders issued for the commanders of the Western Design. Robert Venables appointed commander of land forces. HCP4
9-12 Parliament debates the extent to which sectarians will be tolerated. Cromwell dissatisfied at the intolerance of many MPs. HCP3
11 Dr William Petty commissioned to undertake an accurate survey of confiscated Irish lands (the "Down Survey"), to be completed by 1 March 1656. HCP4
  Blake's fleet arrives at Naples to find that the Duke of Guise has left, abandoning his attempt to seize Naples. EM1
12 An Army petition calls for liberty of conscience. HCP3
13 Parliament orders the imprisonment of the Socinian John Biddle. HCP3
15 Parliament insists on its right to define what is to be regarded as heretical and blasphemous, without the consent of the Protector. HCP3
16 Parliament votes funds for the Army and Navy for only forty days after the next meeting of Parliament. HCP3
17 Although banned from preaching in London, the Fifth Monarchist John Simpson gives a sermon at All Hallows denouncing Cromwell's church settlement. Summoned to appear before the Protector, Simpson accuses him of treason for usurping power. Cromwell dismisses him with a warning. HCP3
18 Parliamentary committee discussing revenue proposes reducing the standing army and replacing the disbanded forces with local militias. HCP3
  Secret meeting of discontented Army officers at Aberdeen. A circular prepared convening a meeting at Edinburgh on New Year's Day to set out Army grievances against the Protectorate. Major-General Robert Overton implicated as leader of the conspirators. HCP3
19 General Monck informed of the conspiracy at Aberdeen and orders Overton's arrest. HCP3
20 The garrison at the Tower of London increased to 900 troops. HCP3
  Third reading of the Assessment Bill. HCP3
21 Blake's fleet at Leghorn in pursuit of the Duke of Guise. HCP4, EM1
23 The Constitutional Bill referred once again to a committee. HCP3
  Cromwell interviews the Fifth Monarchist Christopher Feake but orders him back to prison at Windsor. HCP3
25 The Western Design fleet sets sail from Portsmouth. The fleet consists of 18 warships and 20 transport vessels commanded by General-at-Sea William Penn and around 3,000 soldiers commanded by General Robert Venables. HCP4
  The Tower garrison increased again to 1,200 troops. Regiments are brought into London as a precaution against Royalist and Leveller conspiracies. HCP3, RCE
  Thomas Harrison arrested, but released on giving an assurance to Cromwell that he has no intention of conspiring against the government. HCP3
  In addition to his commission as Major-General of forces in Ireland, Henry Cromwell named as a member of the Irish Council. HCP4
28 The regicide Augustine Garland proposes the offer of the Crown to Cromwell, but the motion is withdrawn. HCP3
  Parliament resolves that it should have the power to pass bills without the consent of the Protector. HCP3
30 Arrest of the Ranter Thomas Tany (Theauro-John) after rampaging in the lobby of the House of Commons with a drawn sword. HCP3
31 Warrants issued for the arrest of several Royalists suspected of stockpiling weapons and gunpowder. HCP3


AOI: Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum C.H. Firth and R.S. Raitt (eds), 1911

CN: Cromwell's Navy, Bernard Capp (Oxford 1989)

CWS: Cromwell's Wars at Sea, John Barratt (Barnsley 2006)

DNB: Dictionary of National Biography

CW: Civil War, Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-60, Trevor Royle (London 2004)

EM1: England in the Mediterranean 1603-1713 vol.i Sir Julian Stafford Corbett (London 1904)

FMM: The Fifth Monarchy Men, Bernard Capp (London 1972)

HCP3: History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate vol. iii, S.R. Gardiner (London 1903)

HCP4: History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate vol. iv, S.R. Gardiner (London 1903)

LYP2: Last Years of the Protectorate vol. ii, C.H. Firth (London 1909)

ODNB: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

PRA: Prince Rupert, admiral and general-at-sea, Frank Kitson (London 1998)

RN2: The Royal Navy: a history from the earliest times to the present, vol.ii Sir William Laird Clowes (London 1898)

RB: Robert Blake, in The Naval Review vol.xiii, no.3 Lt. T.M. Napier (The Naval Society 1925)

RCE: Royalist Conspiracy in England 1649-60, David Underdown (New Haven 1960)

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