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Administration and its personnel under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, 1653-1658. Spring, Bernard

Abstract

The administrative history of the Civil Wars and Interregnum has been largely ignored and dismissed as an aberration in the main stream of development. Yet the administrative history of the period is of great interest and significance both in itself, as an integral part of one of the most vibrant periods of English history, and as a part of the general development of the nation's administrative history. However, the period of the Civil Wars and Interregnum is too large a subject to be dealt with in its entirety. Consequently, the study limits itself to a consideration of only one part--the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The administration of the years 1653 to 1658 will be dealt with in three inter-related parts. The first section sets out to establish what administrative machinery existed in these years. The preceding period of the Long Parliament, 1642-1653, discontinued the use of and even abolished some of the traditional machinery and created other new departments. This part of the paper establishes what existed under the Protectorate, when it was created, what' its purposes were and what officials were concerned with it. The dual nature of the administration of these years is established--the old traditional machinery, in various stages of use, and the new machinery organized on a Committee and Commission basis. The second part of the paper deals with the terms of employment of the office-holders under the Protectorate. Changes from conditions of entry and service prevalent under the monarchy are noted. It is found that in general there is a marked alteration in means of payment, the exaction of fees and the nature of tenure under the Protectorate. In fact, the administration under the Protectorate can he called far more tightly controlled or centralized, and somewhat more honest and efficient. The third and last part of the paper concerns itself with the personnel of the administration. A group of fifty-eight office-holders were found to have been particularly significant under Cromwell's administration. This Key group, selected from the ranks of the extremely important but secondary level of officials, is then analyzed to see if the nature of the group can add to an understanding of Cromwell's rule. The Key officials were found to be essentially a group of Cromwellian placemen. Analysis of geographical distribution, social origins and other factors determines that a large number of them represent a "lesser" and minor social class of men, originating from the backwaters of the English countryside. The Cromwellian administration is found to be a transitional phase between the Republicanism of the Rump and the Restoration of the Monarchy. It was tightly controlled from the centre, by Cromwell and the Council of State, and was fundamentally efficient and free from corruption.

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