Trials for treason

In 1655 Colonel John Penruddock led a royalist rebellion against Cromwell’s regime in which he tried to gather popular support to overthrow the government. The plan failed and he and his supporters were tried and executed. Later in 1657, there was a plot to assassinate Cromwell, one plot of many.


I came here yesterday, and the assizes commenced to-day, when the juries were empanelled [selected], and 10 of the insurrectionists were arraigned [called to court], but only Penruddock tried; he was found guilty of high treason; the other 9 will be tried tomorrow. Penruddock challenged 22 jurymen, without showing any cause, before 12 could be sworn, and as the rest may do the same, it will cause the trials to be long; but it is the law, and ought to be submitted to. I must be here, for the prisoners deny at the bar what they confessed at their first examination.

« Return to Christmas is cancelled!

Letter to the Admiralty at Whitehall, April 1655

  1. What does this source tell us about the way in which Penruddock was dealt with by the government following his failed uprising?
  2. What reasons do you think Penruddock would have had to rise up in rebellion against the government?
  3. What does this source reveal about the judicial system during the Commonwealth?