On this day in 1657, under the Commonwealth and Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell that followed the Civil War, John Evelyn wrote in his diary:
“I went to London with my wife, to celebrate Christmas day, Mr Gunning preaching in Exeter chapel … . Sermon ended, as he was giving us the Holy Sacrament, the chapel was surrounded with [Parliamentarian] soldiers, and all the communicants and assembly surprised and kept prisoner by them … . It fell to my share to be confined to a room …, where yet I was permitted to dine with the master of it … and some others of quality who invited me. In the afternoon came Colonel Whalley, Goffe, and others … to examine us one by one; some they committed to the marshal, some to prison. When I came before them, they took my name and abode, examined me why, contrary to the ordinance made, that none should any longer observe the superstitious time of the nativity (so esteemed by them), I durst offend …, and … pray for Charles Stuart … . I told them we did not pray for Charles Stuart, but for all kings, princes, and governors. They replied … with other frivolous and ensnaring questions, and much threatening; and, finding no color to detain me, they dismissed me with much pity of my ignorance. These were men of high flight and above ordinances, and spake spiteful things of our Lord’s Nativity. As we went up to receive the sacrament the miscreants held their muskets against us as if they would have shot us at the altar, but yet suffering us to finish the office of Communion, as perhaps not having instructions what to do in case they found us in that action. So I got home late the next day, blessed be God”.
On this day in 1660, which would have been Oliver Cromwell’s 61st birthday, the “Convention Parliament” was convened for the first time, in theory as a “free parliament”, with no allegiance to either the Commonwealth or the Monarchy, although in practice as one with overwhelmingly Monarchist sympathies. Indeed, according to Trevelyan, it was “by the letter of the law no true Parliament, because the king did not summon it, on the contrary, it summoned the king”.
On May 8th, it restored the monarchy to Prince Charles, making him King Charles II. Charles II then went on to have executed almost all the surviving “regicides”, who had signed his father Charles I’s death warrant, thereby violating the terms of his own “Declaration of Breda”, which had promised a pardon for all crimes committed during the Civil War and inter-regnum.
Another in the occasional series on contemporary – “pen-portrait” – accounts of events in the history of London, this one written by Ann Fanshawe regarding her Royalist husband Sir Richard Fanshawe’s imprisonment in London following his capture by Parliamentarians at the Civil War Battle of Worcester in 1651:
“During the time of his imprisonment, I failed not constantly to go, when the clock struck four in the morning, and with a dark lantern in my hand all alone and on foot, from my lodging in Chancery Lane … to Whitehall, in at the entry that went out of King Street and onto the bowling-green. There I would go under his window and quietly call to him. He, that after the first time expected me, never failed to put out his head at the first call; thus we talked together, and sometimes I was so wet with the rain, that it went in at my neck and out at my heels. He directed me how I should make my addresses, which I did ever to their general, Cromwell … ”.
Sir Richard was duly released by Cromwell. He went on after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 to resume his political and diplomatic career, serving as Ambassador to Portugal and Spain. He died in Madrid in 1666, whereupon his body was brought back to England for burial.