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The major-generals in the north: Cromwellian administration in the northern counties during the English protectorate 1655 – 1656.

Harper, Stephen Allen (2017) The major-generals in the north: Cromwellian administration in the northern counties during the English protectorate 1655 – 1656. Masters thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis provides a full academic biography of the three northern major-generals appointed by government in 1655 to implement security and reform in the northern counties during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, namely Charles Howard (responsible for Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmorland); Robert Lilburne (responsible for Durham and Yorkshire); and, Charles Worsley (responsible for Cheshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire). The thesis demonstrates how each of the three individuals operated their own distinctive local agendas, resulting in unique outcomes within the localities for which they were responsible. The thesis shows how these local agendas modified government policy, limiting its impact within the localities. The introductory chapter explains the historical context, highlighting how the major-generals’ regime was created in 1655 as a result of concerns of regime change as a consequence of royalist conspiracy and providential fear of God’s judgement on the nation. Chapter 1 provides a detailed analysis of the work of Charles Howard, demonstrating how his activities as major-general were shaped by his aristocratic background and power in the northern counties; attributes which made him indispensable to Cromwell in controlling the contentious Scottish border region. Chapter 2 considers Robert Lilburne, demonstrating how his radical Baptist religious beliefs, his links with powerful northern Parliamentarians and his effectiveness as a military figure combined to define his role as major-general in which he sought to reform communities and punish royalist insurgents. Chapter 3 examines Charles Worsley, showing that his position and standing emanated from Cromwell’s patronage and that he could only apply his strongly millenarian religious beliefs in north-west English communities through his role as a state agent. The thesis concludes that each of the three northern major-generals operated their own distinctive local agendas based on their unique backgrounds and the situations in which they operated. The thesis demonstrates how these local agendas had a significant effect in modifying and limiting Cromwellian policy within localities.

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