Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament — the Nominated Assembly — the trial of John Lilburne — Cromwell installed as Lord Protector


  (Early January) Following the example of Richard Baxter in Worcestershire, associations of clergymen in other counties prepare to petition Parliament for the settlement of religion and the suppression of the radical sects. Source: TRP
1-7 The Council of Officers holds prayer meetings regarding the future government of the Commonwealth. HCP2
5 Cromwell meets the Council of Officers. A sub-committee appointed to formalise the Army's policy on religious and political reform. TRP
6 In a major concession to the Army, Parliament authorises Major-General Thomas Harrison to take charge of the arrangements for the bill for a new representative in place of Sir Henry Vane. TRP, HCP2
  Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp at Isle de Rhé with a fleet of seventy-five warships and 150 merchantmen. CWS
13 Discussions between the Council of Officers and the Council of State results in general agreement that the present Parliament should be dissolved and a new representative chosen. HCP2
16 Prince Rupert's squadron fired upon by Portuguese forts on arriving off the Azores having crossed the Atlantic from the West Indies. PRA
20-21 Parliament debates the report of the Hale Commission, appointed to consider reform of the law. HCP2
21 The gathered churches in London offer advice to the Council of Officers on reform, but their approach is rejected. TRP
28 The Council of Officers issues a circular appealing to the Army as a whole for its support in ensuring political and religious reform. TRP, HCP2
29 Treaty between the United Provinces and Denmark; the Danes agree to exclude English ships from the Baltic. HCP2
  Parliament resolves to remove excise duty on woollen goods. TRP
30 Tromp's convoy in the Western Approaches on its return voyage to the Netherlands but is delayed by stragglers and bad weather. CWS


  (Early February) Sir Phelim O'Neill arrested in County Tyrone after his hiding place is betrayed by Philip Roe MacHugh O'Neill. Source: DNB
9 Parliament appoints a committee to investigate accusations of corruption against Daniel Blagrave. TRP
11 The refitted Commonwealth fleet sets sail under the command of the joint generals-at-sea Blake, Monck and Deane. CWS
  The Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel reports to Parliament. Discussion of the proposals takes place during the following weeks, but all contentious issues are evaded. HCP2. TRP
  Sir Arthur Hesilrige prevents further discussion of a proposed bill for poor relief. TRP
16 Tromp's convoy enters the Channel. CWS
18 Beginning of the battle of Portland (the Three Days' Battle). HCP2
  The Grand Duke of Tuscany orders the English to leave the port of Leghorn for breaches of neutrality. ODNB
20 Lieutenant-Admiral Tromp escapes from the victorious Commonwealth fleet. HCP2
23 Parliament resolves to hold weekly discussions of the bill for a new representative. TRP


4 Charles II appoints the Earl of Glencairn commander-in-chief in Scotland in the absence of Lieutenant-General John Middleton. Source: HCP3
  Battle of Leghorn (Livorno). Commodore Badily and Captain Appleton defeated, leaving the Dutch in control of the Mediterranean. ODNB
  Prince Rupert anchors off St Nazaire in the mouth of the River Loire with his one remaining ship and four prizes. PRA
5 The trial of Sir Phelim O'Neill begins before the High Court of Justice in Dublin. DNB
7 The Council of Officers summons a meeting of all officers stationed around London to discuss the new representative. CTP
10 Sir Phelim O'Neill hanged, drawn and quartered. DNB
11 The Council of Officers proposes a forced dissolution of Parliament, but are held back by Cromwell who says it would be easier to leave a dissolution until after a peace treaty was made with the Dutch. HCP2
15 Cromwell's call to open peace negotiations with the Dutch rejected by Parliament. Cromwell withdraws from the House. HCP2
  (Middle of March) Impressment of 1,000 men for the Navy. HCP2
22 Announcement in Parliament of a proposal by the province of Holland (independently of the other Dutch provinces) to open peace negotiations with the Commonwealth. HCP2
29 The generals-at-sea Blake, Monck and Deane issue the Fighting Instructions for the direction of captains in fleet actions. FI
  Parliament receives a petition from Wiltshire for the settlement of religion. TRP
30 Parliament votes that the franchise should be granted to the owners of real or personal estate to the value of £200 or more. CTP


  (Early April) Although still in poor health, Prince Rupert joins the Royalist court-in-exile in Paris. Source: PRA
1 Parliament replies in favourable terms to the Netherlands' proposal to negotiate. HCP2
  Parliament rejects a bill for continuing the authority of the Commissioners for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales and orders the appointment of more moderate ministers. HCP2
6 Parliament's regular discussion of the bill for a new representative passed over. HCP2
7 An Army petition demands that Parliament continues discussions for a new representative, and also that unsuitable candidates should be excluded from elections. HCP2
8 Parliament receives a petition from Hampshire for the settlement of religion. TRP
9 Parliamentary commissioners in Ireland propose the enforced transplantation of Scottish landowners in Ulster to southern Ireland to make way for English settlers. HCP4
13 Parliament amends the qualifications for election to the new representative. Candidates to be "of known Integrity, fearing God, and not scandalous in their Conversation." HCP2
15 Cromwell appeals for the election of a new Parliament rather than the filling of vacant places. His opponents propose that he should be replaced as General. Cromwell's subsequent offer to resign rejected. HCP2
19 Cromwell calls a conference between Army officers and Members of Parliament at Whitehall. He proposes that the parliamentary system be temporarily suspended and replaced with a caretaker government until the affairs of the nation are settled. MPs agree to suspend discussion of the new representative until Cromwell's plan has been debated in Parliament. HCP2
20 Oliver Cromwell forcibly dissolves the Rump Parliament. HCP2
  Dutch republican Johan de Witt persuades the States-General to propose new peace negotiations with the Commonwealth. HCP3
22 The Council of Officers begins discussions on the form of the new government. HCP2
  Declaration of the Generals-at-Sea resolves to continue the fight against the nation's enemies despite the dissolution of Parliament. HCP2
23 Publication of A Declaration of the Lord-General to justify the dissolution. HCP2
24 Lieutenant-Admiral Tromp warns the States-General of the weakness of the Dutch navy compared to the English. His request to be relieved of his command refused. HCP3
27 Surrender of Lough Oughter Castle — the last Irish stronghold holding out against the English. HCP2
29 A new Council of State appointed (the "Decemvirate"): Cromwell, Lambert, Harrison, Disbrowe, Strickland, Pickering, Sydenham, Carew, Stapley, Bennett. HCP2, CTP
30 A proclamation issued in Cromwell's name announces that the Council of State will govern until a new "supreme authority" has been constituted. CTP


  (May) French Frondeurs appeal to the Commonwealth for help in their rebellion against Cardinal Mazarin and Louis XIV. Source: HCP3
3 The Council of Officers reported to be considering 100 names for the new Assembly. CTP
5 Dutch admirals Tromp, Rutyer and de With sail from the Texel with a fleet of eighty warships to escort an outbound merchant convoy towards the Shetlands. CWS
6 The Council of State rejects Dutch peace proposals. HCP3
7 The Council of Officers nominates representatives for a number of counties. CTP
10 Tromp's fleet reinforced by a further sixteen warships under Pieter Floriszoon. CWS
14 On returning from the North Sea, Tromp's fleet approaches the Downs anchorage but finds it empty and is driven off under heavy fire from Dover Castle. RN2
  (Mid-May) A further three members appointed to the Council of State: Matthew Thomlinson, Philip Jones, Samuel Moyer. CTP
19 Pamphlet by the Fifth Monarchist John Spittlehouse compares Cromwell to Moses. HCP2
20 Petition signed by six aldermen and thirty-one common councillors of London calls for the reinstatement of the Long Parliament. HCP2
25 A conference held at the Guildhall between a committee of army officers and a delegation of leading citizens to discuss the future government of the City. CTP
27 Generals-at-Sea Monck and Deane gather their fleet at Yarmouth. HCP3


1 Monck and Deane put to sea in search of Tromp. Source: HCP3
  A committee appointed to discuss the distribution of land in Ireland to speculators who had contributed money for the suppression of the Irish Uprising under the Adventurers Act of March 1642. HCP4
2 First day of the battle of the Gabbard. Death in action of General-at-Sea Richard Deane. HCP3
3 The defeated Dutch fleet escapes into the River Scheldt. General-at-Sea Monck imposes a devastating blockade on the Netherlands. CWS
6 Writs issued to members of the new Assembly. CTP
9 Army officers in Dublin request that disbanded soldiers should be granted Irish land in lieu of arrears of pay. HCP4
14 John Lilburne returns to England, claiming that the dissolution of the Long Parliament renders his banishment void. HCP2
15 The Lord Mayor of London orders Lilburne's arrest. HCP2
16 The Council of State orders Lilburne to be imprisoned in Newgate and directs the Attorney-General to prepare his prosecution. HCP2
  In Scotland, Lord Balcarres renounces his former capitulation to the Commonwealth. HCP3
17 Dutch commissioners arrive in London to see if there is any reasonable basis for negotiating a treaty. HCP3
18 Sir Arthur Forbes follows Lord Balcarres in renouncing his capitulation. HCP3
20 Lilburne petitions not to be brought to trial before the new Parliament has assembled. HCP2
22 The Council of State orders the Commonwealth commissioners in Ireland to appoint surveyors to determine which lands should be granted to disbanded soldiers and which to speculators. HCP4
24 After some hesitation, Sir Thomas Fairfax declines to participate in the new government. HCP2
29 The Council of State refuses to consider any negotiation with the Dutch unless they first acknowledge that Tromp had been wrong to open hostilities by attacking Blake at Dover in May 1652. HCP3
30 Cromwell in private communication with the Dutch commissioners attempts to reach an understanding. His proposal that Tromp should be dismissed is rejected. HCP3


  (July) At a gathering at Lochaber, Highland chieftains accept the Earl of Glencairn as leader of the rebellion against the Commonwealth (Glencairn's Uprising). Source: HCP3
2 The Council of State issues instructions to the commissioners in Ireland that the counties of Clare and Connacht are to be set aside for transplanted Irish landowners and that the transplantations are to be completed by 1 May 1654. HCP4
4 Oliver Cromwell delivers a two-hour inaugural speech at the first meeting of the Nominated Assembly (Barebone's Parliament). HCP2, CTP
5 After ten hours of prayer and religious devotions, the Nominated Assembly elects Francis Rous its Chairman for a period of one month. Henry Scobell elected Secretary. The Assembly also votes to co-opt Cromwell, Lambert, Harrison, Disbrowe and Thomlinson. HCP2, CTP
  The Fifth Monarchist John Spittlehouse calls upon Cromwell and the new Assembly to wage war against all nations still under the Antichrist. CTP
8 John Thurloe takes over from the republican Thomas Scot as director of the government's intelligence service. ODNB
8-14 A Council of State appointed to hold office until 3 November. Eighteen councillors added to the thirteen already sitting. HCP2
9 A Leveller tract, The Fundamental Laws and Liberties of England, insists that yearly parliaments elected by the people is the only lawful form of government. CTP
11 Commercial treaty signed with Portugal. HCP3
12 The Assembly issues a declaration announcing itself to be the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England and inviting the prayers of the godly for the government of the nation. HCP2, CTP
13 John Lilburne brought to trial for felony at the Old Bailey. HCP2
  Parliament begins debating the issue of tithes. CTP
  Commonwealth commissioners in Ireland issue orders for the transplantation of Scottish landowners in Ulster to southern Ireland. HCP4
14 Cromwell and the Dutch commissioners discuss the possibility of forming a commercial union between the Commonwealth and the United Provinces. HCP3
15 An attempt to abolish tithes defeated in Parliament. HCP2
16 Adjournment of Lilburne's trial. HCP2
21 Before considering a treaty negotiation, the Council of State insists that the Dutch must make reparation for Tromp's aggression. The Council also insists upon a political union between the two nations in the interests of a Protestant alliance. HCP3
  Major-General Robert Lilburne orders the dissolution of rival General Assemblies of the Kirk at Edinburgh because of suspicions that they are in communication with Royalists in the Highlands. HCP3
22 Scottish clergy protest at the dissolution of the General Assembly. HCP3
24 Lieutenant-Admiral Tromp's fleet sails from its anchorage in the River Maas in an attempt to break the English blockade. RN2
26 WItte de With prepares to sail from the Texel to reinforce Tromp's main fleet. RN2
27 The Dutch commissioners reject the Council of State's proposal of political union. Two of the four commissioners return to The Hague. HCP3
  A parliamentary motion proposing complete freedom of preaching in public places defeated by eleven votes. FMM
29 Tromp lures Monck's fleet away from the Texel to allow de With's ships to escape. RN2
31 Battle of Scheveningen (the Texel): last battle of the Anglo-Dutch war; death in action of Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp. RN2
  (Late July) Katherine Chidley leads a delegation to Parliament with a petition signed by 6,000 women protesting at Lilburne's imprisonment. ODNB


  (August) The Surveyor-General Benjamin Worsley begins a survey of Irish land in preparation for the transplantation of native Irish and the granting of land to speculators and disbanded soldiers. Source: HCP4
2 John Lilburne placed in close confinement after issuing provocative pamphlets and petitions criticising Parliament. HCP2
  An order issued in Scotland forbidding clergymen from praying publicly for Charles Stuart. LYP2
3 Lord Lorne, son of the Marquis of Argyll, joins Glencairn's Royalists at Lochabar. HCP3
5 Parliament resolves to abolish the court of Chancery. HCP2
6 Parliament bans the unlicensed printing of its proceedings in newsbooks and pamphlets. CTP
  (Second week of August) Arrest of Royalist agents Colonel Phelips and Major Fry for plotting surprise attacks on Portsmouth and Poole. HCP2
10 Lilburne's trial resumed, but he refuses to plead. HCP2
  The Council of State proposes a new High Court of Justice to act against Royalist conspirators. HCP2
19 A parliamentary committee appointed to codify the common law. HCP2
  Lilburne pleads Not Guilty after being threatened with death if he continues to refuse to plead (in accordance with the law then existing). A jury finally called. HCP2
20 The jury finds Lilburne Not Guilty. HCP2
24 The Marriage Act passed: only marriages conducted before a Justice of the Peace to be recognised by the State. Registers of birth, marriage and burial to be maintained by parishes. AOI, HCP2
27 Despite his acquittal at the Old Bailey, Parliament orders John Lilburne to be secured in the Tower of London. HCP2


5 Announcement in Parliament of a deficit of over £500,000 from the naval campaign against the Dutch. Source: HCP3
14 John Lilburne's supporters issue a broadside denouncing Cromwell as a traitor to the people of England. HCP2
23 Cromwell's proposal of a European Protestant alliance rejected by the Dutch. HCP3
26 Parliament passes the Act of Satisfaction to regulate the colonisation of Ireland. HCP4
  (End of September) Edward Sexby returns to England after the failure of the Fronde rebellion. HCP3


5 Mutiny at Chatham: the crews of three warships refuse to go aboard until they have been paid. Source: HCP3
6 Cromwell sends Joachim Hane to report on the state of French coastal defences in preparation for a possible military alliance with Spain against France. HCP3
14 Fleetwood and the commissioners in Ireland issue a declaration extending the numbers of Irish to be transplanted to Clare and Connacht. HCP4
16 A mob of apprentices attacks the Fifth Monarchist preacher Edmund Chillenden and his congregation in St Paul's church in London. HCP2
17 Parliament rejects a bill to suspend the court of Chancery in preparation for new legislation. HCP2
21 Mutiny of seamen at Harwich over arrears of pay. HCP3
23 Vice-Admiral de With safely convoys a large fleet of merchantmen from the Baltic to the Netherlands. HCP3
25 Dutch commissioners return to London. HCP3
26 Around 400 mutinous seamen march on Whitehall to protest at their arrears of pay. Cromwell and Monck personally confront them. Monck drives them back at sword point. HCP3
27 Mutineers return to Whitehall, where they are confronted by a regiment of foot and four troops of horse. When fighting breaks out, the mutineers are dispersed by a cavalry charge. One ringleader hanged, another flogged. HCP3
28 Bulstrode Whitelocke sent as English ambassador to Sweden with instructions to work for a Protestant alliance. HCP3


1 Elections for the new Council of State return a majority of moderates. Source: HCP2
3 Bill for the reorganisation of the court of Chancery passed by Parliament and referred to the Committee of Law (never to re-emerge). HCP2
4 Parliament debates the Assessment Bill. Moderates question the amount being spent on the armed forces. Proposal that county assessments be abandoned and that individual property holders be assessed at the same percentage on the value of their holdings. HCP2
16 The Fifth Monarchist preacher Christopher Feake criticises the Nominated Assembly as being no better than the Rump Parliament. HCP2
18 Cromwell proposes a draft peace treaty to the Dutch commissioners. HCP3
21 Moderates in Parliament hurry through a bill to create a new High Court of Justice while radical MPs are attending sermons. HCP2, HCJ
  John Lilburne unsuccessfully applies for a habeus corpus. HCP2
24 The Assessment Bill passed. AOI
25 ? Major-General Lambert presides over a meeting of officers to discuss the constitutional settlement. Proposal to offer of the Crown to Cromwell is revived. HCP2
26 Parliament orders Lilburne's imprisonment to continue. HCJ
28 Radical preachers denounce Cromwell as "The Old Dragon" and "The Man of Sin". HCP2
29 Cromwell summons Christopher Feake and other hostile preachers and attempts to conciliate them. HCP2


1 Cromwell refuses to consider the offer of the Crown. Source: HCP2
  Parliament declares excise duties to be oppressive and a temporary measure only. HCP2
2 The Committee on Tithes recommends reforms to the appointment of clergy and the gathering of tithes. HCP2
3 John Disbrowe and William Penn appointed Generals-at-Sea with Blake and Monck. The fleet strengthened. HCP3
5 The Dutch commissioners reject the harsh terms of the draft peace treaty and prepare to return to the Netherlands. HCP3
6 Parliament begins debating the report of the Committee on Tithes. HCP2
10 Parliament rejects the report of the Committee on Tithes by 56 votes to 54. HCP2
11 Moderates hold secret discussions to co-ordinate the dissolution of the Nominated Assembly. HCP2
12 Resignation of the Nominated Assembly: moderate members vote to surrender its powers to Cromwell. HCP2, HCJ
13 Major-General Lambert produces the Instrument of Government at a meeting of the Council of State. HCP2
14-15 With certain amendments, Cromwell accepts the Instrument of Government. HCP2
16 Beginning of the Protectorate: Oliver Cromwell installed as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth at Westminster Hall. HCP3
18 Cromwell and the Protectorate denounced by Fifth Monarchist preachers Vavasor Powell and Christopher Feake. HCP3
19 First meeting of the new Council of State. Henry Lawrence elected President. HCP3
21 Major-General Thomas Harrison deprived of his commission after refusing to serve under the Protectorate. HCP3
  Powell and Feake summoned to appear before the Council of State because of the possible disruptive effects of their preaching on the soldiery. After being held in custody for four nights, they are released with a warning. HCP3
22 Resumption of peace talks with the Dutch commissioners. HCP3


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

CTP: Commonwealth to Protectorate, Austin Woolrych (Oxford 1982)

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

DNB: Dictionary of National Biography

FI: Fighting Instructions 1530-1816 Julian Stafford Corbett (Naval Records Society 1905)

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

HCJ: House of Commons Journal

HCP2: History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate vol. ii, S.R. Gardiner (London 1903)

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)

TRP: The Rump Parliament, Blair Worden (Cambridge 1974)

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