CROMWELL, Oliver, lord-protector of England: b. Huntingdon, 25 April 1599; d. London, 3 Sept. 1658. He was the second son of Robert Cromwell and Elizabeth Steward. His father was a younger son of Sir Henry Cromwell, knighted by Queen Elizabeth; and Sir Henry again was a son of Sir Richard Williams, a nephew of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, whose name he took. He entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 23 April 1616, but left on the death of his father in 1617. In 1620, at the age of 21, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Bourchier, and settled on his estate at Huntingdon. In 1628 he was a member of Parliament for Hunt ingdon and distinguished himself by his zeal against On the dissolution, in 1629, he returned to Huntingdon; in 1631 he went with his family to a grazing-farm he had taken at Saint Ives; and in 1636 to Ely, where he had inherited a property.
The storm was already at hand which was to shake England to its foundations. The arbi trary measures of Charles I were so stoutly resisted that he endeavored to rule without a Parliament; but at length the king was com pelled, by the state of affairs in Scotland, to summon a Parliament (1640). Cromwell, now a member for Cambridge, and others were so loud in their complaints of abuses in Church and state that Charles prorogued the Parliament, but six months after was obliged to reassemble it. In this Parliament, called the Long Parlia ment (from November 1640 to April 1653), Cromwell first attracted notice chiefly by his rustic and slovenly dress and by the vehemence of his oratory.
On the breaking out of the great Civil Whr in 1642, being appointed captain, he raised a troop of horse (the aIronsides” composed of zealous Puritans. He was present at Edgehill (23 Oct. 1642) ; his first military exploit was to capture the magazine of Cambridge along with the university plate. He then routed the Royalists and made himself master of their supplies. He laid the foundation of his mili tary fame by the relief of Gainsborough (28 July 1643), and in October 1643 he was assailed by a greatly superior Royalist force at Winceby, but defeated it. In this action he had a horse
killed under him, and was himself struck down while in the act of rising. On 2 July 1644 the battle of Marston Moor was gained by the par liamentary army—a result mainly brought about by Cromwell and his Ironsides. His rig orous discipline of his regiment of Ironsides was designed to fit "men of religion to oppose men of- honour)) Cromwell also bore a dis tinguished part in the second battle of New bury (27 Oct 1644) under the Earl of Man chester.
The Independent party, led by Cromwell and his friends, were for pursuing the war with the utmost vigor, and in order that they might have their way determined to get the entire control of the army. In order toaccomplish this, they procured the passing of the Self denying Ordinance, prohibiting members of either house of Parliament from holding any military command on the ground that vices and corruptions had crept into the army, that it re quired to be remodeled and a stricter discipline maintained. Thomas Fairfax was made lord general in place of Essex, while Cromwell was placed under him, with the rank of lieutenant general. Cromwell now introduced into the whole army the excellent discipline in which he had already trained a part of it, and gained the decisive battle of Naseby (14 June 1645), in which the king was routed .with great loss. The spirit in the army, which the officers, and especially Cromwell, excited by their sermons and prayers, had now risen to fanaticism; though at the same time good order and moral ity were so well maintained that profanity, drunkenness, robbery, and the like offenses, hardly ever occurred. After Naseby no time was lost by the parliamentary leaders in fol lowing up their success. Leicester was retaken, Taunton relieved, Bridgewater stormed, Bristol, held by Prince Rupert, was besieged and sur rendered, Devizes was stormed, Winchester sur rendered, Dartmouth was stormed, and finally Sir Jacob Astley was defeated at Stow-on-the Wold, 21 March 1646.