Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland (1599-1658). Autograph letter signed ("O Cromwelle"). No place. Folio (200 x 306 mm). 2 pp. on a bifolium (written cross- and lengthways, over 700 words in total) with frequent autograph corrections. Laid down on card for reinforcement in the 18th century.
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To Richard Norton, a leading parliamentarian who had served as a colonel of cavalry in the first civil war and had returned as member of parliament for Hampshire in 1645, seeking to expedite the marriage of his son Richard Cromwell to Dorothy Maijor (1627-76), as the country descended into the Second Civil War. - Dorothy was the daughter of Richard Maijor, an obscure member of the Hampshire gentry. It was probably Norton who had introduced Cromwell to Maijor, and he subsequently served as intermediary in the negotiations, which began in February 1648 and were not concluded until May the following year.
Although Cromwell is known to have expressed doubts about the "godliness" of an alternative, more lucrative match, monetary concerns were evidently central to his consideration of Dorothy's own suitability. Cromwell's detailed discussion of such matters offers a fascinating insight into both his financial and domestic arrangements: - "Mr Maior desired 400£ p anum of inheritance lyinge in Cambridge shire and Norfolke to bee presently settled and to be for maintenance, wherein I desired to be advised by my wife [...] Having beene enformed by Mr Robinson that Mr Maior did upon a former match offer to settle the mannor wherein hee lived, and to give 2000£ in monie, I did insist upon that, and doe desire itt may not be with difficulty, the monie I shall neede for my two little wenches, and thereby I shall free my sonn from beinge charge with them. Mr Maior parts with nothing in present but that monie, saving thir board, wch I should not bee unwilling to give them to enyoy the comfort of their society [...] Truly the land to bee settled both what the Parliament gives mee, and my owne, is very little lesse than 3000£ per anum all thinges considered. If I bee rightly enformed. And a lawyer of Lincolns Inn having searched all the Marquess of Worcesters writings wch were taken att Ragland and sent for by the Parliament and this gentleman appointed by the committee to search the sayd writings, assures mee, there is noe scruple concerning the title, and itt soe fell out that this gentleman whoe searched was my owne lawyer, a very godly able man, and my deere friend, wch I reckon noe smale mercy, hee is alsoe possest of the the writings for mee". - His son's marriage to Dorothy produced four children who survived into adulthood, but ended unhappily, as Richard went into semi-voluntary exile on the continent in 1660 following the Restoration, after which the couple did not see each other again. The "two little wenches" are Cromwell's daughters Mary and Frances, who by their own respective marriages later became Countess Fauconberg and Lady Russell. Cromwell was close to Norton and dubbed him "Idle Dick", deploying the nickname towards the end of the letter in a moment of friendly humour ("I know thou art an idle fellow, but prithee neglect mee not now"). - Primary source material for Cromwell's activities during the chaotic spring of 1648 is rare: parliamentary diaries for the period are fragmentary, and Cromwell's whereabouts "are not generally known" (ODNB). Charles made his first attempt at escape from Carisbrooke Castle on 20 March, and the rapid spread of royalist uprisings will have required Cromwell to travel swiftly and widely across the country. In May he fought his first battle in full command, at Preston, during which the invading Scottish force was decisively defeated. By January 1649, having outmanoeuvred Fairfax to see through the trial and execution of the king, he was the single most powerful figure in England. - Old folds; 18th century manuscript docket..