Rule of the Major-Generals

From 1655 Cromwell ordered that each County in England be governed by a Major-General. This was a form of military government which was an attempt to provide better law enforcement in the country as well as to reform the nation’s morals. One of their responsibilities was to punish those who had fought for the King.


Several persons are now sequestrated [held in custody and forced to give up their estates] for being in the late King’s garrisons in time of war, though they only lived there because their estates were there, and never acted; but nothing will satisfy the Majors General, whose wills are laws in the country. I am very sorry for the sufferings of these neuters [people who did not take sides, were neutral]. I hear Heenvliet’s daughter is come to Holland to marry Somerdike’s son, but I think so wise a man will marry his son into some noble family. When do Heenvliet and his lady go for France? Lady Hume is dangerously ill. [4 pages; the italics are in cypher, undecyphered.]

« Return to Christmas is cancelled!

Extract from a letter to Secretary Nicholas, March 1655

  1. What purpose would Cromwell and the Major Generals have had for punishing those who had fought for the King by taking away their estates?
  2. Do you think that the writer of this letter supported the rule of the Major Generals? Explain your answer.