Portrait of Richard Cromwell (1626-1712), Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (1658-1659)
Richard Cromwell (4 October 1626 – 12 July 1712) was an English statesman who was the second Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and son of the first Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. On his father's death Richard became Lord Protector but lacked authority. He tried to mediate between the army and civil society and allowed a Parliament containing many disaffected Presbyterians and Royalists to sit. Suspicions that civilian councillors were intent on supplanting the army were brought to a head by an attempt to prosecute a major-general for actions against a Royalist. The army made a threatening show of force against Richard and may have had him in detention. He formally renounced power nine months after succeeding. Although a Royalist revolt was crushed by recalled civil war figure General John Lambert, who then prevented the Rump Parliament from reconvening and created a Committee of Safety, Lambert found his troops melted away in the face of General George Monck's advance from Scotland. Monck then presided over the Restoration of 1660. Richard Cromwell subsisted in straitened circumstances after his resignation. He went abroad and lived in relative obscurity for the remainder of his life. He eventually returned to his English estate, dying in his eighties. He has no living descendants. Cromwell was born in Huntingdon on 4 October 1626, the third son of Oliver Cromwell and his wife Elizabeth. Little is known of his childhood. He and his three brothers were educated at Felsted School in Essex close to their mother's family home. There is no record of his attending university. In May 1647, he became a member of Lincoln's Inn. He may have served as a captain in Thomas Fairfax's lifeguard during the late 1640s, but the evidence is inconclusive. In 1649 Cromwell married Dorothy Maijor, daughter of Richard Maijor, a member of the Hampshire gentry. He and his wife then moved to Maijor's estate at Hursley in Hampshire. During the 1650s they had nine children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Cromwell was named a Justice of the Peace for Hampshire and sat on various county committees. During this period Cromwell seems to have been a source of concern for his father, who wrote to Richard Maijor saying, "I would have him mind and understand business, read a little history, study the mathematics and cosmography: these are good, with subordination to the things of God. Better than idleness, or mere outward worldly contents. These fit for public services, for which a man is born".
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