A document making Colonel William Boteler a Major General, October 1655
(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, pp.849-50. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)
This is part of a document appointing Colonel William Boteler as a Major General.
It set out what authority he had and also the duties he had to carry out. It put him in charge of several counties in England.
Cromwell became Lord Protector in December 1653. He hoped to make Britain an orderly place and put an end to all the wars and fighting over religion and political views. He tried to work with MPs to achieve this. However, he found this difficult and dismissed the first Protectorate Parliament in January 1655. To help him rule, he appointed eleven army commanders (Major Generals) from August 1655.
He put them in charge of particular parts of the country. Their job was to keep the country secure from enemies. They also ran everyday affairs like collecting taxes and keeping order.
Cromwell appointed the Major Generals soon after he had news of a major defeat by the Spanish in July 1655. He felt that this defeat was God punishing him for not trying to make England a more religious, godly place.
Like Cromwell, the Major Generals were committed Puritans (hard-line Protestants). Part of their job was to try and make England more godly. They clamped down on what they considered to be rowdy behaviour (such as heavy drinking, music, dancing and fairs). They even tried to stop Christmas celebrations. Not surprisingly, the rule of the Major Generals was not popular.