Sydney Papers

Author: Robert Sydney  | Date: 1825

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R. W. Blencowe 1825

Cromwell Breaks up Parliament


Wednesday, 20th April. The Parliament sitting as usual, and being on debate upon the bill [to dissolve itself] with amendments, which it was thought would have been passed that day, the Lord General Cromwell came into the House, clad in plain black clothes, with gray stockings, and sat down, as he used to do, in an ordinary place. After a while he rose up, put off his hat, and spoke; at first and for a good while he spoke to the commendation of the Parliament, for their pains and care of the public good; but afterwards he changed his style, told them of their injustice, delays of justice, self-interest, and other faults.

Then he said: "Perhaps you think this is not parliamentary language; I confess it is not, neither are you to expect any such from me."

Then he put on his hat, went out of his place, and walked up and down the stage or floor in the midst of the House, with his hat on his head, and chid them soundly, looking sometimes, and pointing particularly, upon some persons, as Sir R. Whitlock, one of the Commissioners for the Great Seal; Sir Henry Vane, to whom he gave very sharp language, though he named them not, but by his gestures it was well known that he meant them.

After this he said to Colonel Harrison (who was a member of the House): "Call them in." Then Harrison went out, and presently brought in Lieutenant-Colonel Wortley (who commanded the General’s own regiment of foot), with five or six files of musketeers, about twenty or thirty with their muskets.

Then the General, pointing to the Speaker in his chair, said to Harrison: "Fetch him down."

Harrison went to the Speaker and spoke to him to come down, but the Speaker sat still and said nothing.

"Take him down," said the General.

Then Harrison went and pulled the Speaker by the gown, and he came down.

It happened that day that Algernon Sydney sat next to the Speaker on the right hand; the General said to Harrison: "Put him out."

Harrison spake to Sydney to go out, but he said he would not go out, and sat still.

The General said again: "Put him out."

Then Harrison and Wortley put their hands upon Sydney’s shoulders, as if they would force him to go out. Then he rose and went towards the door.

Then the General went to the table where the mace lay, which used to be carried before the Speaker, and said: "Take away these baubles."

So the soldiers took away the mace, and all the House went out; and at the going out, they say, the General said to young Henry Vane, calling him by his name, that he might have prevented this extraordinary course, but he was a juggler and had not so much as common honesty. All being gone out, the door of the House was locked, and the key with the mace was carried away, as I heard, by Colonel Otley.

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Chicago: Robert Sydney, Sydney Papers, ed. R. W. Blencowe in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed April 24, 2024,

MLA: Sydney, Robert. Sydney Papers, edited by R. W. Blencowe, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 24 Apr. 2024.

Harvard: Sydney, R, Sydney Papers, ed. . cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 24 April 2024, from