Cromwell's Upper House


Cromwell's Upper House

The Other House (also referred to as the Upper House or House of Peers), established by Oliver Cromwell under the terms of the Humble Petition and Advice, was one of the two chambers of the Parliaments that ruled England, Scotland and Ireland in 1658 and 1659, the final years of the Protectorate.

Previously under the Commonwealth and Protectorate, parliaments had consisted of a single chamber, the House of Commons, since the abolition of the House of Lords on 19 March 1649. However, the constitution established by the Humble Petition and Advice in 1657 authorised the Lord Protector to establish an Upper House of between forty and seventy members, nominated by the Protector but approved by Parliament; the new House was to have the power to veto any legislation passed in the Lower House, and no vacancy caused by the death of its original members could be filled up except by the Upper House’s own consent.

The Other House was first called to sit in the second session of the Second Protectorate Parliament, opening on 20 January 1658. Cromwell summoned 61 members to form the new House. They included: seven peers who would have sat in the House of Lords if it still existed, and other baronets and gentlemen of old family and fortune; Cromwell’s two sons, Richard and Henry; several of the leading members of his council, and the chief officers of his army; some of the old members of the long parliament; and a few other distinguished lawyers and civilians. However, a number of these refused to take their places. The innovation was unpopular with the more extreme republicans, who saw in it a potential re-establishment of an aristocratic class; their fears were doubtless stoked by Cromwell’s opening address to the two houses, which he began with the traditional introduction “My Lords, and gentlemen of the House of Commons”. But some of the old peers also found its egalitarian composition an insult to their lineage. The Earl of Warwick, previously supportive of Cromwell, was recorded as saying that "He could not sit in the same assembly with Colonel Hewson, who had been a shoe-maker, and Colonel Pride, who had been a drayman". Only 42 of those summoned accepted (including only one of the old peers); one, Sir Arthur Haselrig, defiantly took up his seat in the House of Commons.

The establishment of the Other House exacerbated the political difficulties faced by Cromwell. In the first session of the Second Protectorate Parliament, 93 MPs judged as “ungodly” (in other words, opposed to the Protectorate regime) had been prevented from taking their seats by order of the Army. But the Humble Petition and Advice had re-established that only Parliament itself could prevent its members from sitting, and the 93 could no longer be excluded. Thus Cromwell was faced with an influx of fractious and rebellious members into the previously manageable Commons, most of whom were opposed to the new Upper House as well as to many other aspects of Cromwell’s rule. The transfer at the same time of several dozen of the most loyal and most capable members to the second house ensured deadlock. Led by Haselrig and Thomas Scot, the Commons refused to acknowledge the Other House; meanwhile, the republicans negotiated with religious radicals to prepare a petition calling for the abandonment of the Upper House, as well as a guarantee of religious toleration and - to enlist the support of discontented officers - an undertaking that no soldier could be cashiered from the army without a court martial. Copies of the petition were circulated in London and are said to have gathered thousands of signatures. Cromwell was forced to dissolve Parliament within a fortnight, on 4 February 1658.

The Other House sat once more, as part of the Third Protectorate Parliament summoned by Richard Cromwell after his father’s death, which met on 27 January 1659. Once again, arguments over the Upper House dominated the business of the Commons. The Commons agreed to the general principle that there should be a second chamber of Parliament, but heated debates continued for several weeks regarding its composition, with strong objections to the number of army officers presently sitting and demands that members of the traditional aristocracy who had been faithful to Parliament should be re-admitted. Eventually, the Commons voted by a narrow majority to recognise the Upper House; but a few weeks later an effective coup d’etat by the army leaders saw the Parliament dismissed and the Rump of the Long Parliament House of Commons restored to power without a second chamber to restrain it.

Members

The 61 members summoned by the Lord Protector to form the Other House were: Peers who had previously sat in the House of Lords
* The Earl of Manchester "(refused to sit)"
* The Earl of Mulgrave "(refused to sit; died August 1658)"
* The Earl of Warwick "(refused to sit)"
* The Viscount Fauconberg, Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law
* The Viscount Saye and Sele "(refused to sit)"
* The Lord Wharton "(refused to sit)"Peer who had succeeded too late to sit in the House of Lords
* The Lord Eure, MP for the North Riding of YorkshireScottish and Irish peers
* The Earl of Cassilis, Scottish judge, former Justice-General "(did not sit)"
* The Lord Boyle of Broghill, MP for CorkHeir to a peer
* Viscount LisleCommoners
* Major-General Sir John Barkstead, MP for Middlesex
* Major-General James Berry, MP for Worcestershire
* John Clerke, MP for Bury St Edmunds
* Colonel Thomas Cooper, MP for Down, Armagh and Antrim
* John Crew, former MP for Northamptonshire
* Sir John Claypole, Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law, Master of Horse and MP for Northamptonshire
* Henry Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell and Lord Deputy of Ireland
* Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, MP for Cambridge University; succeeded his father as Lord Protector, September 1658
* Major-General John Desborough, Oliver Cromwell's brother-in-law, MP for Somerset
* John Fiennes
* Nathaniel Fiennes, MP for Oxford University and Commissioner for the Custody of the Great Seal. "(Acted as Speaker of the Other House)"
* General Charles Fleetwood, Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law, MP for Norfolk
* Major-General Sir George Fleetwood, MP for Oxfordshire (?)
* Sir Gilbert Gerard
* John Glynne, Chief Justice of the Upper Bench and MP for Flintshire
* Major General William Goffe, MP for Hampshire
* Richard Hampden, MP for Buckinghamshire
* Sir Arthur Haselrig, MP for Leicester "(refused to sit, and retained his seat in the Commons)"
* Sir John Hobart, Bt., MP for Norfolk
* Sir Thomas Honywood, MP for Essex
* Colonel Sir John Hewson
* Major General Charles Howard, MP for Cumberland "(Created Viscount Howard by Cromwell)"
* Colonel Richard Ingoldsby, MP for Buckinghamshire
* Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston, Lord Clerk Register of Scotland
* Colonel John Jones, Oliver Cromwell's brother in law, MP for Merioneth
* Colonel Philip Jones, MP for Brecknock
* Henry Lawrence, MP for Carnarvonshire and President of the Council of State
* William Lenthall, MP for Oxfordshire and Master of the Rolls "(Not in Cromwell's original list but summoned later)"
* John Lisle, MP for Southampton and President of the High Court of Justice
* Sir William Lockhart, MP for Lanarkshire, Commander of the British Forces in Flanders
* General George Monck, Governor of Scotland
* General Edward Montague, MP for Huntingdonshire
* Sir Richard Onslow, MP for Surrey
* Sir Christopher Pack, MP for London
* Sir Robert Pickering
* William Pierrepont "(refused to sit)"
* Colonel Alexander Popham, MP for Somerset
* Colonel Sir Thomas Pride, MP for Reigate
* William Roberts, MP for Middlesex
* Francis Rous, MP for Cornwall
* Sir Francis Russell, Bt., MP for Cambridgeshire
* Oliver St John, Chief Justice of Common Pleas
* General Philip Skippon, MP for King's Lynn
* William Steele, Lord Chancellor of Ireland
* Walter Strickland, MP for Newcastle on Tyne
* Sir William Strickland, Bt., MP for the East Riding of Yorkshire
* Colonel William Sydenham, MP for the Isle of Wight
* Edmund Thomas
* Sir Robert Tichborne, former Lord Mayor of the City of London
* Sir Matthew Thomlinson
* Major-General Edward Whalley, MP for Nottinghamshire
* Bulstrode Whitlock, MP for Buckinghamshire
* Sir Charles Wolseley, Bt., MP for Staffordshire

References

*"Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803" (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [http://www2.odl.ox.ac.uk/gsdl/cgi-bin/library?e=p-000-00---0modhis06--00-0-0-0prompt-10---4------0-1l--1-en-50---20-about---00001-001-1-1isoZz-8859Zz-1-0&a=d&cl=CL1]
*Daniel Wilson: "Oliver Cromwell And The Protectorate" (London & Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1848)
* This article incorporates text under a Creative Commons License by David Plant, the British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk


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