Facts and Events
Richard Cromwell (4 October 162612 July 1712) was Lord Protector, thereby becoming one of only two non-royals to be the English head of state. His father, Oliver Cromwell, had risen from unknown member of Parliament in his 40s to being commander of the New Model Army, which emerged victorious from the English Civil War. When he returned from a final campaign in Ireland, Oliver Cromwell became disillusioned at inconclusive debates in the Rump Parliament between Presbyterians and other schools of thought within Protestantism. Parliamentarian suspicion of anything smacking of Catholicism, which was strongly associated with the Royalist side in the war, led to enforcement of religious precepts that left moderate Anglicans barely tolerated. A Puritan regime strictly enforced the Sabbath, and banned almost all form of public celebration, even at Christmas. Cromwell attempted to reform the government through an army-nominated assembly known as Barebone's Parliament, but the proposals were so unworkably radical that he was forced to end the experiment after a few months. Thereafter, a written constitution created the position of Lord Protector for Cromwell and from 1653 until his death in 1658, he ruled with all the powers of a monarch, while Richard took on the role of heir.
On his father's death Richard became Lord Protector, but lacked authority. He attempted to mediate between the army and civil society, and allowed a Parliament which contained a large number of disaffected Presbyterians and Royalists. Suspicions that civilian councilors were intent on supplanting the army were brought to a head by an attempt to prosecute a major-general for actions against a Royalist. The army made threatening show of force against Richard, and may have had him in detention; he formally renounced power nine months after succeeding. Without a king-like Cromwell as head of state the government lacked coherence and legitimacy. Although a Royalist revolt was crushed by recalled civil war figure General John Lambert, who then prevented the Rump Parliament reconvening and created a Committee of Safety, he found his troops melted away in the face of general George Monck's advance from Scotland. Monck then presided over the Restoration of 1660. Richard Cromwell subsisted in straitened circumstances after his resignation, he went abroad and lived in relative obscurity for the remainder of his life. He eventually returned to his English estate, dying in his eighties. None of his children had offspring of their own and he has no descendants.