Second Protectorate Parliament

Second Protectorate Parliament
Parliaments of England
Coat of Arms of the Protectorate
Parliament Members
Final parliament of Elizabeth I (1601)
1st parliament of King James I (1604)
Addled Parliament (1614)
3rd parliament of King James I (1621)
Happy Parliament (1624)
Useless Parliament (1625)
2nd Parliament of King Charles I (1626)
3rd parliament of King Charles I (1628)
Short Parliament (1640 Apr)
Long Parliament (1) (1640 Nov)
Long Parliament (2) (1645)
Rump Parliament (1648)
Barebone's Parliament (1653)
First Protectorate Parliament (1654)
Second Protectorate Parliament (1656)
Third Protectorate Parliament (1659)
Restored Rump Parliament (1659)
Convention Parliament (1660)
Cavalier Parliament (1661)
List of Parliaments of England
v · d · e

The Second Protectorate Parliament in England sat for two sessions from 17 September 1656 until 4 February 1658, with Thomas Widdrington as the Speaker of the House of Commons. In its first session, the House of Commons was its only chamber; in the second session an Other House with a power of veto over the decisions of the Commons was added.



There were two sessions the first from 17 September 1656 until 26 June 1657 and a second from 20 January until 4 February 1658. The Second Protectorate Parliament was summoned reluctantly by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell on the advice of the Major-Generals who were running the country as regions under military governors. The Major-Generals thought that a compliant parliament would be the best way to raise money to pay for the Army occupation, and the Navy both of which were involved in the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660).

The elections were held under the new written constitution called Instrument of Government. It included returning up to thirty members from Scotland and up to another thirty from Ireland. Royalists and Catholics were prevented from standing or voting under Articles XIV and XV. After the election the Council of State stopped one hundred elected members from taking their seats by declaring that they were not "of known integrity, fearing God" (Article VII). A further fifty withdrew in protest which left about two hundred and fifty to take their seats for the first session.

First Session

Sir Thomas Widdrington.

The first session opened in December 1656. The Protectorate government did not have much pressing legislation to present so the House occupied its time with private members bills. However over the next few months three issues would dominate the session. The first was the Militia Bill, the second was the Naylor case and the third was constitutional reform (the Humble Petition and Advice), which was influenced by the failure of the Militia Bill to pass and the The Naylor case was to show that the members of Parliament were less religiously tolerant than was constitutionally allowed in Instrument of Government.[1]

Militia Bill

The House voted down Major-General John Desborough's "Militia Bill" on 29 January 1657 by one hundred and twenty four votes to eighty eight. This bill would have perpetuated the Decimation Tax that funded the mounted militia, which was collected by Cromwell's Major-Generals; the failure of the bill caused the so-called rule of the Major-Generals in the counties to end.

Introduction of the Humble Petition and Advice

With the rejection of the Decimation Tax, it was clear that government through the Major-Generals could not continue. In February 1657 Cromwell was offered the crown and a new constitution called the Humble Petition and Advice.

Naylor case

On Palm Sunday 1656 James Nayler reenacted the arrival of Christ in Jerusalem by riding a horse into Bristol attended by followers who sang "Holy, holy, holy" and strewed the way with their garments. Although Naylor denied that he was impersonating Jesus, this act outraged many in Parliament in what was seen as an act of blasphemy. There was consensus in the House that Naylor should be punished. However while the House of Common could pass, and had in recent times passed, acts of attainder against people, it was questioned whether the House could invoke a judicial procedure like that of the now disbanded House of Lords. After much debate and looking at old precedents, the House concluded that it had the right to act in a judicial capacity.[2] So they tried Naylor and passed the following resolution for his blasphemy:

That James Naylor shall be put in the pillory in the city of Westminster for the space of two hours, on Thursday next, and then be whipped by the hangman through the streets from Westminster to the Old Change, and there be put in the pillory again from the hours of eleven to one on the following Saturday. He shall then have his tongue bored through with a red hot iron, and be branded with the letter B, and sent to Bristol, where he shall be paraded through the city on horseback, with his face backward. From Bristol he shall be brought back to London and sent to the Tower, there to be kept to hard labour by order of Parliament, and be debarred the use of pen, ink, and paper, and have no relief but what he can earn by his daily labour.[3]

Acceptance of the Humble Petition and Advice

After some thought Cromwell declined the crown as embodied in the Humble Petition. The Naylor case had showed that the members of Parliament were less religiously tolerant than the constitution allowed, and the assumption of judicial powers by the House, worried many in the House, the Grandees in the Army, and Cromwell. So encouraged, Cromwell with the support of the Grandees, pressed the house for a second chamber.[3]

After modifications had been made to the Humble Petition, Cromwell agreed to the new constitution and in June 1657 he was reinstated as Lord Protector under the articles of the Humble Petition and Advice. Parliament then went in to recess for the summer.

Second Session

The Army Grandees agreed to allow the MPs who had been excluded under Article VII of the Instrument of Government to be allowed to take their seats. But to make sure that the House would be compliant to their wishes, Cromwell nominated 63 members to "Other House" permitted by the Humble Petition and Advice, 42 accepted and 37 came to the first meeting.

This triggered a wave of republican protest in the House of Commons which spread to the rank and file of the Army. Amidst fears of a Levellers revival and Royalist plots, under the prerogative granted to the Lord Protector by the Humble Petition and Advice, Oliver Cromwell dissolved Parliament on 4 February 1658.


The Second Protectorate Parliament was preceded by the First Protectorate Parliament and succeeded by the Third Protectorate Parliament.

See also


  1. ^ Gaunt, Peter. Oliver Cromwell: Historical Association studies, Wiley-Blackwell, 1997, ISBN 0631204806, ISBN 9780631204800. p. 192
  2. ^ Charles Harding Firth, The House of Lords During the Civil War, BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009 ISBN 1113769912, ISBN 9781113769916. p. 245
  3. ^ a b John Henry Barrow. The Mirror of Parliament, Volume 2, p. 1070


From Cromwell:The Oliver Cromwell Website: a select bibliography of books and articles:

  • A number of articles explore aspects of Cromwell's Protectorate parliaments: H.R. Trevor-Roper's crucial 1956 article on 'Oliver Cromwell and his parliaments', which was included in several later collections and is perhaps most accessible in I. Roots (ed), Cromwell, A Profile (1973);
  • P. Gaunt, 'Law making in the first Protectorate Parliament' in C. Jones, M. Newitt & S. Roberts (eds), Politics and People in Revolutionary England (1986);
  • I. Roots, 'Law making in the second Protectorate Parliament' in H. Hearder & H.R. Loyn (eds), British Government and Administration (1974);
  • P. Gaunt, 'Cromwell's purge? Exclusions and the first Protectorate Parliament' in Parliamentary History 6 (1987);
  • C.S. Egloff, 'The search for a Cromwellian settlement: exclusions from the second Protectorate Parliament' in Parliamentary History 17 (1998);
  • D. L. Smith, ‘Oliver Cromwell, the first Protectorate Parliament and religious reform’ in Parliamentary History 19 (2000);
  • T.A. Wilson & F.J. Merli, 'Naylor's case and the dilemma of the Protectorate' in University of Birmingham Historical Journal 10 (1965-6); and C.H. Firth, 'Cromwell and the crown' in English Historical Review 17 & 18 (1902 & 1903).

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Second Protectorate — (1455–1456)    Although officially in existence only from November 1455 to February 1456, the second protectorate of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, actually began in May 1455, when York captured HENRY VI at the Battle of ST. ALBANS. Unlike… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • First Protectorate Parliament — The First Protectorate Parliament was summoned by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell under the terms of the Instrument of Government. It sat for one term from 3 September 1654 until 22 January 1655 with William Lenthall as the Speaker of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Third Protectorate Parliament — The Third Protectorate Parliament sat for one session, from 27 January 1659 until 22 April 1659, with Chaloner Chute and Thomas Bampfylde as the Speakers of the House of the Commons. It was a bicameral Parliament, with an Upper House having a… …   Wikipedia

  • Parliament of England — c.1300.The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. Its roots can be traced back to the early medieval period. In a series of developments, it came increasingly to constrain the power of the monarch, and went on after… …   Wikipedia

  • Second Czechoslovak Republic — Infobox Former Country native name = Česko Slovenská republika conventional long name = Czecho Slovak Republic common name = Czecho Slovakia continent = Europe government type = Republic year start = 1938 event start = Munich Agreement date start …   Wikipedia

  • Parliament of Scotland — This article is about pre 1707 legislature. For the devolved legislative body established in 1999, see Scottish Parliament. Estates of Parliament …   Wikipedia

  • Second Chechen War — Infobox War caption=Russian artillery shells separatist positions near the village of Duba Yurt, January 2000. conflict=Second Chechen War date= *Active battle phase: August 1999 May 2000 *Insurgency: May 2000 end of 2004 *Localised sporadic… …   Wikipedia

  • Second Anglo-Dutch War — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Second Anglo Dutch War caption= date=1665 1667 place=North Sea, English Channel, The Netherlands, Denmark Norway casus= territory= result=Dutch victory, Treaty of Breda, The Dutch Navy becomes the world s… …   Wikipedia

  • The Protectorate — For an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity, see Protectorate. Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland¹ ← …   Wikipedia

  • Yorkshire (UK Parliament constituency) — Yorkshire Former County constituency for the House of Commons County Yorkshire 1290 (1290)– …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.