‘A gentleman but stumbling in here!’: an impostor in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament

The History of Parliament

In our latest post, Dr Patrick Little of the House of Commons 1640-1660 section revisits the Parliament of 1659, which opened in such confusion that its membership was unclear and a stranger could sit undetected – with disquieting implications…

On 8 February 1659 the journalist Gilbert Mabbott reported
the latest developments in Parliament to Henry Cromwell, the lord deputy of
Ireland based in Dublin. Among other news he included the brief statement that
the Commons ‘committed one King, a vintner in London, for sitting 3 days in
Parliament, he being no Member thereof’ (Henry
Cromwell Corresp
. 447). What lay behind this extraordinary incident?

The protectorate Parliaments of the 1650s had seen
many MPs elected and then excluded by the Cromwellian regime, mostly notably in
1656, when as many as 98 of the 460 Members returned were kept out of the House
by order of the protectoral council. These…

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