Rule of the Major-Generals
Cromwell appointed the Major Generals soon after he had news of the defeat of the expedition to Hispaniola (commanded by William Penn and Robert Venables), reached London in late July 1655. He felt that this defeat was God punishing him for not trying to make England a more religious, godly place.
Like Cromwell, the Major Generals were committed Puritans (hard-line Protestants). Part of their job was to try and make England more godly. They clamped down on what they considered to be rowdy behaviour (such as heavy drinking, music, dancing and fairs). They even tried to stop Christmas celebrations. Not surprisingly, the rule of the Major Generals was not popular.
The Major-Generals and their regions
There were ten regional associations covering England and Wales administered by major-generals. Ireland under Major-General Henry Cromwell,[a] and Scotland under Major-General George Monck were in administrations already agreed upon and were not part of the scheme.
|James Berry||Appointed in 1655||Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Wales||John Nicholas in Monmouthshire;
Rowland Dawkins in Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire, Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire.
|William Boteler (Butler)||Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland||Zealous and uncompromising in his hostility to his religious and political enemies, Boteler was a severe persecutor of Quakers in Northamptonshire; in 1656 he advocated that James Nayler should be stoned to death for blasphemy. Boteler was also aggressive in his persecution of Royalists in his area, unlawfully imprisoning the Earl of Northampton for failing to pay his taxes.|
|John Desborough||Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire|
|Charles Fleetwood||Appointed in 1655||Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Isle of Ely, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Suffolk||George Fleetwood (a distant kinsman) in Buckinghamshire;
Hezekiah Haynes in Essex, Cambridgeshire, Isle of Ely, Norfolk, Suffolk;
William Packer as military governor of Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire
|Owing to his other responsibilities on the Council of State, day to day matters in his region were overseen by Fleetwood's three deputies.|
|William Goffe||October 1655||Berkshire, Hampshire and Sussex|
|Thomas Kelsey||Surrey and Kent|
|John Lambert||Cumberland, County Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire||Charles Howard in Cumberland, Northumberland, Westmorland;
Robert Lilburne in County Durham, Yorkshire
|Owing to his other responsibilities on the Council of State, day to day matters in his region were overseen by Lambert's two deputies.|
|Philip Skippon||Middlesex; including the cities of London and Westminster||Sir John Barkstead||Skippon was by now elderly, and on the Council of State, so most of the day to day matters in his region were largely undertaken by Barkstead,|
|Edward Whalley||Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire,|
June 1656–January 1657
|Cheshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire|
- Henry Cromwell was nominally under the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Charles Fleetwood, but Fleetwood's departure for England in September 1655 left Cromwell the ruler of Ireland for all practical purposes.
- Durston, Christopher (2001), Cromwell's Major-Generals: Godly Government During the English Revolution, Manchester University Press, p. 21, ISBN 978-0-7190-6065-6
- Little, Paterick (1 January 2007), "Putting the Protector back into the Protectorate", BBC history magazine 8 (1): 15
- Plant, David (22 August 2008), Rule of the Major-Generals, British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website
- Royle, Trevor (2006) , Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660, Pub Abacus, ISBN 978-0-349-11564-1
- This article incorporates text from a publication under version 3.0 of the British Open Government Licence which is a Wikipedia compatible copyleft licence: "Civil War - What kind of ruler was Oliver Cromwell? - Cromwell in his own words - Source 3", The National Archives, retrieved September 2015