An account of the setting up of the Instrument of Government in 1653
(By permission of Oxford University Press: Firth (ed.), The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, Lieutenant-General of the Horse in the Army of the Commonwealth of England, 1625-1672, Vol. 1, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894, pp. 370-1)
At the next meeting of officers it was not thought fit to consult with them at all. Major-General Lambert openly told them that Cromwell would take care of managing the civil government. Then, having ordered them to return to their posts, where their troops and companies lay, so they might keep the public peace, he dismissed them.
This important business that so concerned the nation, and in some measure all Europe, was done in a secret manner by two or three persons, for no more were let into the secret of it. So it may justly be called a work of darkness. This Instrument gave the power to make laws to the Representative of the people and the Protector. A Parliament would be chosen every three years, which would sit five months without interruption, if they thought fit. Their first meeting would be on the 13th of September. The members of Parliament would be chosen by the people. Whatever they enacted would be presented to the Protector for his consent. If he did not confirm it within twenty days after it was first given to him, it would have the force of a law, as long as it did not lessen the number or pay of the army, punish any man on account of his conscience, or make any change in the Instrument of Government. It also said that all court orders would go out in the Protector's name. Most of the magistrates would be appointed, and all honours given, by him. He would have the power of the militia by sea and land. In the time between Parliaments the nation would be governed by the Protector and his council, who were not to be more than 21 or less than 13. The first persons named to be of his council were Major-General Lambert, Colonel Desborough, Mr Henry Lawrence, Sir Charles Wolsely, Colonel William Sydenham, Mr Francis Rouse, Philip Viscount Lisle, Colonel Philip Jones, Colonel Montague, Mr Richard Major, Walter Strickland, Esquire, Sir Gilbert Pickering, Major-General Skippon, and Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, in all 14.