The Restoration Settlement, 1660-65

The Convention Parliament, elected in the spring of 1660 after the final dissolution of the Long Parliament, was almost unanimously Royalist in sympathy. After Charles II issued the Declaration of Breda in May, the Convention declared that the lawful government of the nation was by King, Lords and Commons and that Charles had been rightful king since the execution of his father in January 1649. At the invitation of Parliament, Charles landed in England on 25 May 1660 to reclaim the throne. The Restoration was greeted with wild rejoicing throughout the nation.

The Initial Settlement

During the remainder of 1660, the Convention Parliament implemented the initial Restoration settlement. It was broadly intended to restore the constitution that had existed in 1641, after the Long Parliament's reforms to limit the King's arbitrary use of his powers had been passed. Thus, all Acts of Parliament given the royal assent by Charles I before the outbreak of the English Civil War were confirmed, including the abolition of the prerogative courts, which were never restored, and the Triennial Act, which ensured that a parliament would be called at least once every three years. All legislation passed during the Commonwealth and Protectorate was removed from the statute books. However, the Convention replicated and extended the Navigation Act of 1651 in a new act to regulate trade and shipping.

The generally conciliatory Act of Indemnity and Oblivion was given the royal assent in August 1660. Most of those who had supported the Commonwealth and Protectorate régimes were granted a free pardon but a number of individuals were excepted. Some sixty were named for capital punishment as various drafts of the bill passed between the Lords and Commons during the summer of 1660. When the bill finally received the royal assent on 29 August, thirty-three surviving regicides who had participated directly in the trial and execution of Charles I were brought to trial as traitors. Their estates were confiscated and they were sentenced to death. In some cases, the death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. A further twenty republicans and Cromwellians were forbidden from holding public office.

Apart from the regicides, only four individuals were brought to trial for their activities during the Interregnum: the preacher Hugh Peter was executed in 1660 for his close association with the regicide; the Marquis of Argyll, leader of the Scottish Covenanters, was executed in 1661; Major-General Lambert, who led the last military resistance to the Restoration, was imprisoned for life, and the prominent Commonwealth statesman Sir Henry Vane was executed in 1662. The republican Sir Arthur Heselrige died in prison before being brought to trial.

The principles of the Restoration land settlement were set out by the Convention Parliament. Crown and Church lands that had been confiscated and sold off during the Commonwealth and Protectorate years were to be restored to their original owners, but the purchasers of these lands required compensation for their losses, to which Charles II had agreed in principle in the Declaration of Breda. In many cases, this was solved by leasing out the lands at low rents to the purchasers. Many Royalists had been obliged to sell land privately to pay Parliament's fines and taxes, and these sales remained valid. While influential Royalists were often able to regain their former property by legal action or royal favour, many lesser Royalists suffered financially.

The Convention oversaw the disbandment of the New Model Army. In order to raise the money required to pay off the soldiers, the Commons voted to impose a poll tax, by which each individual paid a sum appropriate to his rank in society. In practice, there were difficulties in administering the tax. The sum raised was not sufficient and the poll tax had to be supplemented by an additional assessment tax on property owners. However, the task was accomplished and the New Model Army was peacefully disbanded by January 1661. Charles II maintained a small standing army of around 3,500 men and also ensured that all permanent garrisons throughout the kingdom were commanded by officers of proven loyalty to the Crown.

The religious settlement was barely addressed by the Convention. The restoration of the monarchy also entailed the restoration of episcopacy and the Anglican church, but Charles' Breda declaration had promised religious toleration for moderate non-Anglican Protestants. A parliamentary committee on religion sat regularly between June and September 1660 which confirmed parish clergy who were not sectarians and had not displaced Anglicans from their livings. In October, a conference between Anglican and Presbyterian divines reached an interim religious settlement, but the Convention voted against passing it into law by a margin of thirty-six votes.

The final part of the Convention's work was to make financial arrangements for the restored monarchy. The principal sources of royal revenue were customs duties and rents from lands, but these were greatly depleted. Although revenues from the confiscated estates of the regicides went to the Crown, these was swallowed up by the King's household expenses. In September 1660, the Convention granted Charles an annual income of £1,200,000 to be raised initially from grants and subsidies.

The Cavalier Parliament

The Convention Parliament was dissolved by Charles II on 29 December 1660. A new parliament, called under the King's authority, was elected during March and April 1661. During the election campaign, a hardening of attitudes towards conciliation became apparent, with many Anglicans and Royalists claiming that their interests had been ignored in the initial Restoration settlement. In March, the government was alarmed when the four London parliamentary seats were secured by Presbyterians amid anti-episcopalian demonstrations in the city. Elsewhere, the government intervened wherever possible to hinder the election of Presbyterian sympathisers, playing upon fears of political instability and religious extremism.

The new parliament first assembled on 8 May 1661. It came to be known as the Cavalier Parliament because of the predominance of Royalist and Anglican MPs returned. It sat for a total of seventeen sessions and was not dissolved until January 1679.

The first act of the Cavalier Parliament was to confirm all legislation passed by the Convention during the previous year. It then set about consolidating the Convention's work in re-establishing monarchical government and defining the Crown's powers and limitations.

The Militia Act of 1661 confirmed that the monarch, as head of state, was supreme commander of the army and navy. This settled one of the most important questions over which the English Civil War had been fought. Although the prerogative courts that had enabled Charles I's autocratic personal rule during the 1630s were not revived, the Cavalier Parliament did not question the monarch's right to appoint ministers and state officials or to direct foreign policy. The Bishops' Exclusion Act of 1641 was repealed, thus allowing Anglican bishops to take their seats in the House of Lords, which had already been re-established by the Convention. In 1664, the Triennial Act was modified so that it was no longer possible to force the monarch to call a parliament every three years.

The Crown remained dependent upon Parliament for revenue, but it was found that the annual sum granted by the Convention was insufficient to meet Charles II's expenses. In 1662, the Cavalier Parliament imposed the Hearth Tax as a supplemental tax to make up the shortfall. This caused great resentment because collectors and constables were given authority to enter households to inspect the number of hearths for taxation. Even with the addition of the Hearth Tax, however, the King's expenses exceeded his income, but MPs were already becoming critical of his lavish lifestyle and were reluctant to make further grants.

The Religious Settlement

The predominance of conservative Anglicans and Royalists in the Cavalier Parliament ruled out any prospect of a lasting reconciliation with the Presbyterians in a broadly based national church. After restoring bishops to the House of Lords, Parliament set about passing a series of measures to ensure conformity to the doctrines of the Church of England and to discourage Presbyterians and the radical sects. The Restoration religious settlement comprised four acts of Parliament known collectively as the Clarendon Code. The name was derived from Sir Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, who served as Charles II's lord chancellor—though Clarendon was not the chief instigator of the acts and even argued against some of the more severe requirements.

The Corporation Act of 1661 required all office holders in towns and cities to take oaths of allegiance to the Crown, to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant and to take the sacrament in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England.

The Act of Uniformity of 1662 brought all ordained clergymen under the doctrines and liturgy of the established Church. Candidates for the ministry had to be ordained by a bishop according to the rites of the Church of England. They were required to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant and to declare their acceptance of the revised Book of Common Prayer and all doctrinal articles sanctioned by the Church. Hundreds of Presbyterian and non-conformist clergymen were ejected from their livings on St Bartholomew's Day (24 August) 1662 for refusing to comply with the Act of Uniformity.

The Conventicle Act of 1664 was intended to prevent clergymen ejected by the Act of Uniformity from forming their own congregations. Fines or imprisonment were imposed upon anyone attending an independent prayer meeting or act of worship ("conventicle") that was not in accordance with the Anglican liturgy.

Similarly, the Five-Mile Act of 1665 was intended to curb the influence of dissenting clergymen by prohibiting them from residing within five miles of any living they had held before the Act was passed. Furthermore, they were required to take an oath of non-resistance to royal authority before accepting any appointment as tutor or schoolmaster.

Charles II was more tolerant than the Cavalier Parliament in matters of religion and tried to modify some of the harsher legislation in favour of dissenters and Catholics. This led to increasing disharmony between Crown and Parliament as his reign proceeded.


Godfrey Davies, The Restoration of Charles II, 1658-60 (San Marino 1955)

Ronald Hutton, Charles II, King of England, Scotland & Ireland (Oxford 1989)

Ronald Hutton, The Restoration, a political and religious history of England and Wales 1658-1667 (Oxford 1985)

Keith Wrightson: An Unsettled Settlement: The Restoration Era, 1660-1688 Open Yale courses, 2009