On this day … 30 January 1654

On 30 January 1654 an item in the Preston Court Leet records provides an indication of how close Oliver Cromwell came to being crowned King Oliver. The item reads:

Inquisition of office … before the Mayor (Edward ffrench), Bailiffs (Willm Shaw and Richard Primmett), Steward (Evan Wall). The names of the Jury to enquire as well for his highness the Lord Protector as for the Maior Bailiffs & Burgesses of the said Burrough or Towne of Preston.

The Lord Protector was Oliver Cromwell who had assumed the role only a few weeks earlier, but Preston was clearly quick to recognise his new title, which he held for life, and to address him as ‘His Highness’, which was the style he now preferred. He also began signing his name ‘Oliver P’, the P an abbreviation for Protector, very similar to the way Britain’s kings and queens had added R for Rex or Regina.

Three years later Cromwell was offered the crown by Parliament. He was tempted, and dithered for six weeks, before deciding it was a step too far. He was reinstated as Lord Protector, in a ceremony at Westminster Hall where he sat on King Edward’s Chair, the coronation chair for Britain’s monarchs for centuries. He was invested with all the regalia that usually accompanied a royal coronation, with the exception of the crown. He did use the crown and orb on his seal.

The execution of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw in 1661, from a contemporary engraving.

When Cromwell died the following year, his son Richard succeeded him as Lord Protector. The monarchy was restored in 1660 when Charles II resumed the throne. A year later, Cromwell’s body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, his body posthumously executed (see picture), hung in chains at Tyburn and then flung in a pit.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cromwell

This item from the Preston court leet records is available thanks to David Berry, who ploughed through the original documents, transcribing and editing them, and then making them freely available on line on the Wyre Archaeology website.

David has recently completely redesigned the website, which contains several articles on Preston history written by himself and is well worth a look: https://www.wyrearchaeology.org.uk/

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