Oliver Cromwell (died 1655)

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For his nephew the Lord Protector, see Oliver Cromwell.

Sir Oliver Cromwell (c. 1566–1655) was an English landowner, lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1589 and 1625. He was the uncle of Oliver Cromwell, the Member of Parliament, general, and Lord Protector of England.


Cromwell was the heir of Sir Henry Williams alias Cromwell of Hinchingbrooke and his wife Joan, daughter of Sir Ralph Warren, Lord Mayor of London. He matriculated from Queens' College, Cambridge at Lent 1579 and was admitted at Lincoln's Inn on 12 May 1582.[1] He lived at Godmanchester until the death of his father.[2]

Cromwell held a number of local offices: In 1585 he was captain of musters for Huntingdonshire and at the time of the Spanish Armada he was in charge of the men raised in Huntingdonshire. He was recorder of Huntingdon in 1596.[3] He was Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire from 1598 to 1599[2] and while Sheriff, in 1598, Queen Elizabeth my have dubbed him a knight bachelor.[4]

He was JP from about 1585 but was removed in 1587,[2] when there was one of the periodic purges of justices.[5] In 1594 he was restored to his position as J.P.; as the online History of Parliament observes: "It was felt that in a county as small as Huntingdonshire, the custom by which only one member of a family could be a justice was inapplicable — particularly in the case of the owners of Hinchingbrooke."[2]

Cromwell was first elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire in 1589. He was re-elected to each Parliament up to and including the Addled Parliament of 1614 (that is, in 1593, 1597, 1601, 1604, and 1614). In 1621, the seat was occupied by Richard Beavill, but Sir Oliver stood for and was elected to the Happy Parliament of 1624, and its successor, the Useless Parliament of 1625, after the dissolution at King James' death.[2][6]

Hinchingbrooke House

He entertained King James at Hinchingbrooke on 27 April 1603, when the King was travelling south to occupy the English throne. Cromwell's presents to the King included "a cup of gold, goodly horses, deep-mouthed hounds, and divers hawks of excellent wing" and a some of the heads of Cambridge University came dressed in scarlet gowns and corner caps to present a Latin oration.[3] It was described as "the greatest feast that had ever been given to a king by a subject".[2] In gratitude King James conferred the Order of the Bath upon Cromwell at the coronation on 24 July 1603. He became attorney to Queen Anne of Denmark and a gentleman of the privy chamber.[2]

On 6 January 1604, his father died and Sir Oliver succeeded to Hinchingbrooke and the family estates;[3] about 1605, he also succeeded to his father's office, Custos Rotulorum of Huntingdonshire.[7]

King James was frequently at Hinchingbrooke, apparently treating the place as his own – in 1614 he appointed a keeper of the wardrobe there.[3] By 1623 Sir Oliver was trying to sell Hinchingbrooke to the King, to pay off his debts, but the death of James I in March 1625 ended the negotiations on Hinchingbrooke. Hinchingbrooke was finally sold on 20 June 1627 to Sir Sidney Montagu.[3] Other estates had been sold to meet debts contracted to London moneylenders[2] and he was left with the property at Ramsey, Cambridgeshire.

Cromwell was loyal to the crown at the outbreak of the English Civil War.[1] His nephew and godson Oliver Cromwell was sent by parliament to the house at Ramsey to search for arms which could be sent to the King at York. The younger Cromwell is said to have stood head uncovered in the presence of his uncle.[8] Later the Ramsey estates were sequestered but were restored to him on 18 April 1648[9] through the influence of his nephew who became the Lord Protector.[2]

Cromwell died in 1655 and was buried at Ramsey on 28 August.[2]


Cromwell married firstly Elizabeth Bromley, daughter of Thomas Bromley and had four sons and four daughters. He married secondly in July 1601, Anne Palavicino widow of Sir Horatio Palavicino and daughter of Gillis Hooftman of Antwerp. He was the brother of Richard, Robert and Henry Cromwell.[2]


  1. ^ a b Venn & Venn 1958.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k J.C.H. 1981.
  3. ^ a b c d e Page, Proby & Ladds 1932, pp. 121–139.
  4. ^ Sources are divided on the knighthood: Bennet and other sources state that he was, but Shaw & Burtchaell do not record the knighthood in their list of knights bachelor and Poulton wrote in 1982 that Mark Noble "is incorrect however in giving Master Oliver's knighthood as 1598" (Bennett 2006, p. 4, Shaw & Burtchaell 1906, p. 95) and Poulton 1982, p. 401).
  5. ^ Wall 2004, abstract.
  6. ^ For a list of the Parliaments of Queen Elizabeth, see "The Online History of Parliament, 1558–1603". , for a list of the Parliaments of James I and the early Parliaments of Charles I, see "The Online History of Parliament, 1604–1629". 
  7. ^ Sainty 2004.
  8. ^ Clark 1893, p. 58.
  9. ^ Parliament 1830, pp. 206–207.


  • Bennett, Martyn (2006). Oliver Cromwell. Oxon: Routledge. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-415-31921-8. 
  • Clark, George Henry (1893). Oliver Cromwell. Boston: D. Lothrop Company. p. 58.  republished. www.forgottenbooks.org. ISBN 9781440078705. 
  • J.C.H. (1981). "CROMWELL, Oliver (?1566–1655), of Godmanchester and Hinchingbrooke, Hunts". History of Parliament (Online). Retrieved June 2013. 
  • Page, William; Proby, Granville; Ladds, S. Inskip, eds. (1932). "The borough of Huntingdon: Introduction, castle and borough". A History of the County of Huntingdon 2. pp. 121–139. 
  • Parliament (1767–1830). "House of Lords Journal (18 April 1648)". Journal of the House of Lords (Institute of Historical Research) 10: 206–207. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  • Sainty, J C (February 2004). "Custodes Rotulorum 1544–1646: Huntingdon". Institute for Historical Research. Retrieved 6 January 2012.  (a provisional list).
  • Poulton, Diana (1982). John Dowland (2, illustrated ed.). University of California Press. p. 401. ISBN 0520046498. 
  • Shaw, William Arthur; Burtchaell, George Dames (1906). The Knights of England. A complete record from the earliest time to the present day of the knights of all the orders of chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of knights bachelors, incorporating a complete list of knights bachelors dubbed in Ireland (2 volumes) 2. London: Sherratt and Hughes. p. 95. 
  • "Cromwell, Oliver (CRML578O)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.  |ref=harv not recommended.
  • Wall, Alison (2004). "'The Greatest Disgrace': The Making and Unmaking of JPs in Elizabethan and Jacobean England". The English Historical Review 119 (481): 312–332. doi:10.1093/ehr/119.481.312.  (Abstract)

Further reading[edit]

  • Nichols, John (1828). The progresses, processions, and magnificent festivities, of King James I 1. J. B. Nichols. p. 98–101.  – A four-page account (with footnotes) of James I's stay at Hinchingbrooke House

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Edward Wingfield
George Walton
Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire
With: Edward Wingfield 1589–1593
Sir Gervase Clifton 1597–1601
Sir Robert Cotton 1604–1611
Sir Robert Payne 1614
Succeeded by
Richard Beavill
Sir Robert Payne
Preceded by
Richard Beavill
Sir Robert Payne
Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire
With: Edward Montagu
Succeeded by
Edward Montagu
Sir Robert Payne