Cromwell's Protectorate, 1653-58

A timeline of events during the Cromwellian Protectorate, from Oliver Cromwell's installation as Lord Protector in December 1653 to the resignation of his successor Richard Cromwell in May 1659.


Dec 16 Oliver Cromwell installed as Lord Protector.


Apr 8 General Monck appointed commander of Commonwealth forces in Scotland.
Mar 20 Commission of Triers established: a national body to vet all new clergy.
Apr 5 Treaty to end the First Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch forced to pass the Act of Exclusion, aimed at preventing a Dutch alliance with the Stuarts.
Apr 12 Ordinance for the union of England and Scotland.
May Failure of John Gerard's plot to assassinate Cromwell.
Jun 27 Ordinances for elections in Scotland and Ireland (the first time they are represented at Westminster).
Jul 19 The battle of Dalnaspidal effectively ends Glencairn's Uprising in the Highlands.
Aug 28 Commission of Ejectors appointed to expel inadequate ministers and schoolmasters.
Sep 3 First Protectorate Parliament assembles.
Oct Petition of the Three Colonels (Alured, Okey and Saunders), protesting that the Instrument of Government gives Cromwell greater powers than the King.
Dec 25 The Western Design launched — English attack on Spanish colonies in the West Indies.


Jan 22 Cromwell dissolves the First Protectorate Parliament.
Mar 11 Penruddock's Uprising in the West Country: co-ordinated Royalist insurrections around the country fail to ignite.
Mar 14 Penruddock's rebels defeated by Colonel Croke at South Molton in Devon.
Apr 17 Failure of Penn and Venables' attempt to take Hispaniola from Spain.
May 17 Penn and Venables capture Jamaica.
Jun 7 Resignation of Chief Justice Henry Rolle over concerns regarding the legality of the Instrument of Government.
Jul 9 Henry Cromwell arrives in Dublin to take up his appointment as Major-General of the army in Ireland.
Aug 22 First instructions to the Major-Generals issued.
Sep 6 Charles Fleetwood departs from Ireland. He retains the title of Lord-Deputy until his term of office expires, but the administration of Ireland is left to Henry Cromwell.
Sep 21 One-tenth of all property belonging to former Royalists is confiscated under the Decimation Tax.
Oct 11 Commissions issued to the Major-Generals.
Oct 15 The Council of State declares its support for Cromwell's policy of war with Spain.
Oct 24 Commercial treaty signed between the Protectorate and France.
Oct 31 Rule of the Major-Generals proclaimed in England and Wales. The country is divided into 12 districts under military jurisdiction.
  Menassah ben Israel submits a petition for the re-admission of the Jews into England.


Mar 28 Generals-at-Sea Blake and Montagu sail to intercept the Spanish plate fleet.
Apr 2 Charles II signs an alliance with Spain against the Protectorate.
May 12 A Healing Question Propounded by Sir Henry Vane criticises Cromwell.
Sep 4 Sir Henry Vane arrested and imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle.
Sep 9 Vice-Admiral Stayner captures the Spanish plate fleet off Cadiz.
Sep 17 Second Protectorate Parliament assembles.
Oct 1 Parliament approves the war with Spain.
Dec 17 Parliament convicts the Quaker James Nayler of blasphemy and sentences him to savage mutilation and imprisonment.


Jan 8 Failure of an attempt to set fire to the Palace of Whitehall by Miles Sindercombe and other disaffected Levellers.
Jan 28 Decimation Tax and rule of the Major-Generals abandoned.
Feb 23 The Humble Petition and Advice presented to Parliament despite opposition from the Army. Offer of the Crown to Cromwell.
Mar 13 Signing of the treaty for a military alliance between England and France against Spain; continuation of the Anglo-Spanish war on the continent of Europe.
Apr 20 General-at-Sea Robert Blake destroys the Spanish fleet at Santa Cruz.
Apr/May Edward Sexby and Captain Titus publish the pamphlet Killing no Murder, which incites Cromwell's assassination.
May 8 Cromwell formally refuses the Crown.
May 25 A revised version of The Humble Petition and Advice, avoiding mention of the royal title, passed by Parliament.
Jun 11 Sir John Reynolds with six English regiments joins Marshall Turenne's army in France.
Jun 26 Cromwell's second installation as Lord Protector under a new constitution in a ceremony reminiscent of a royal coronation.
Aug 7 Death of Robert Blake.
Sep 22 The Anglo-French army captures Mardyke in Flanders.
Nov 17 Henry Cromwell officially appointed Lord-Deputy of Ireland after the expiration of Fleetwood's term of office.


Jan 20 Second session of the Second Protectorate Parliament begins.
Feb 4 Cromwell dissolves the Second Protectorate Parliament.
Mar 18 Anglo-French alliance renewed.
Jun 4 Battle of the Dunes: the Anglo-French army under Marshal Turenne defeats a Spanish force attempting to raise the siege of Dunkirk.
Jun 14 Dunkirk occupied by French and English troops.
Sep 3 Death of Oliver Cromwell; his son Richard accepted as his successor by the Council of Officers and the Army.
Sep 4 Richard Cromwell proclaimed Oliver's successor in London and throughout England.
Sep 9-10 Richard proclaimed in Edinburgh and Dublin.
Oct 18 Charles Fleetwood appointed lieutenant-general of the Army, but Richard insists upon retaining the position and full power of commander-in-chief.


Jan 27 Third Protectorate Parliament assembles.
Apr 17 Richard orders the dissolution of the Council of Officers.
Apr 22 Richard Cromwell forced by army officers Fleetwood and Disbrowe to dissolve the Third Protectorate Parliament.
Apr 26 Junior officers petition for the return of the Long Parliament; petitions for the re-establishment of the Commonwealth begin to pour in from London and the provinces.
May 7 Richard forced by the Council of Officers to reinstate the Rump Parliament.
May 19 Parliament elects a new Council of State.
May 24 Resignation of Richard Cromwell: end of the Protectorate.