Col. John Cromwell, alias Williams

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John Cromwell

Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: Chippenham, Cambridgeshire, England
Death: circa 1660 (66-74)
Probably Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden (Present The Netherlands)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Oliver Cromwell, KB and Elizabeth Cromwell
Husband of Abigail Cromwell (Clere)
Father of Joan Cromwell and John Cromwell (immigrant)
Brother of Sir Henry Cromwell, Kt.; Oliver Cromwell; James Cromwell; Thomas Cromwell; Robert Cromwell and 6 others
Half brother of Anna Baldwin; Mary Rolt; Giles Cromwell and Oliver Cromwell

Managed by: Ofir Friedman
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About Col. John Cromwell, alias Williams

"Colonel John Cromwell served in the Puritan forces, fighting against the Royalist army during the English Civil War. When the Puritans planned the execution of King Charles I, Colonel Cromwell spoke out against this extreme action. Serving as an emissary of Prince William of Orange, the ruler of the Netherlands, Colonel Cromwell delivered a plea to his kin, Oliver Cromwell, for the king's life. When the Lord Protector rejected the plea, Colonel John Cromwell fled in fear to the Netherlands. His son, John Cromwell, eventually settled along with other Puritans in what is now the Bronx."

COL John Cromwell, a cousin of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, came to him to attempt to save the Kings life.

Prominent Families of New York By Anonymous

Colonel in Cromwell's "New Model" army or Colonel of an English regiment in the service of the Netherlands.

Opposed to the execution of King Charles

From Cromwell, by Antonia Frasier (pg. 289):

Among the frenzied solutions to Charles' safety which many tried to discover, there was one story of a mission "within a few days of the murder" by one of Cromwell's own relations, a Colonel John Cromwell who commanded an English regiment in the service of the Netherlands. John Cromwell was said to have come over from Holland armed with two blank sheets, one already signed by the King's signet,a nd one by that of the Prince of Wales; both signified that the Prince was ready to grant anything to save his father's life. The Colonel found Oliver withdrawn and unresponsive in his own house, unwilling to listen to reminders of his former promises, to which he merely replied that "times were altered, and Providence seemed to dispose things otherwise; that he had prayed and fasted for the King, but no return that way was yet made to him."

John Cromwell tried threats which ranged from the welfare of his own family and posterity, to the need to change the Cromwell name back to Williams again if he brought such shame on their heads; but the most he could get out of Cromwell was a promise to consider the subject, if he would leave the two papers, and retire to his own lodging, but not go to bed. About 1:00 a.m., John Cromwell received his final answer: there was to be no message to carry to the Prince of Wales, for "the Council of Officers had been seeking God, as he [Oliver] had also done the same, and it was resolved by them that the King must die."

The story rests on the imperfect authority of Heath, but the language at least has a Cromwellian ring, and even if over-dramatized by its author, it is not impossible that something of the sort happened, particularly as Cromwell was on amicable terms with many of his Royalist relations. The year before, he had pleaded for poor old Sir Oliver, saving his land from sequestration, and this year would help his cousin Henry secure remission of his fines. This same John Cromwell remained on terms with Oliver throughout the Protectorate, and was even employed by him on some sort of Danish mission [43].

From Memoirs of the protectorate-house of Cromwell: deduced from an early period ... By Mark Noble pp58

John Cromwell, baptized in St. John's Church in Huntingdon, May 24, 1589; this gentleman was early in the army; in 1624 he went over as a captain in the first regiment of foot, in the forces sent over by King James I for the recovery of the Palatinate (Ruthworth's collections). After this, he was a colonel of an English regiment in the service of the United States (Read: Netherlands); happening to be in England whilst his sovereign King Charles was a prisoner to the parliament army, and hearing his relation Oliver (afterwards Lord Protector) say, "I think the king the most injured prince in the world," and putting his hand to his sword, continued, "but this shall right him," supposed that his zeal was real, and therefore expressed himself satisfied that it was impossible for him to go those lengths which many others wished to go.

For these reasons, when that unfortunate misguided monarch was (after a pretended trial) condemned to die; and the Prince of Wales and the Prince of Orange, taking vast pains to save him, or at least to stay the execution, sent over such relations of the leading men in the army, as they thought could influence them, applied to this gentleman, he very readily undertook the task with the greatest expectation of succeeding in so desirable a business; wherefore taking credential letters from the States, with letters with the King's and Prince of Wales' signet, and both confirmed by the States, offering Oliver his own terms, in case he would prevent the fatal sentence from being carried into execution, he hastened to England.

He found his cousin Oliver, the lieutenant-general, at home. It was with difficulty he gained admittance, as he kept his chamber, and ordered himself to be denied.

Upon his introduction to Oliver, after the usual complements between relations, he began to mention the horrid crime intended to be committed, and after a very free harangue upon its atrocity, the indelible stain it would be to the nation, and in what a light it was beheld upon the continent, added, "that of all men living," he thought he would never have had any hand in it, who in his hearing had "protested so much to the King"; Oliver replied, it was not him, but the army, and though he did once say some such words, yet now times were altered and providence seemed to order things otherwise, adding that he "prayed and fasted for the king, but no return that way was yet made" to him.

Upon which the colonel stepped a little back, and hastily shut the door, which made Oliver suppose he was going to be assassinated, but the other taking out his papers, said to him, "Cousin, this is no time to trifle with words; see here, it is now in your own power not only to make yourself, but your family, relations, and posterity, happy and honorable forever; otherwise, as they have changed their name before from Williams to Cromwell, so now they must be forced to change it again, for this fact will bring such ignominy upon the whole generation of them that no time will be able to deface."

After a pause, Oliver said, "Cousin, I desire you will give me 'til night to consider of it, and do you go to your own inn, and not to bed, 'til you hear from me."

The colonel retired, and at one o'clock in the morning, he received a message that, "He might go to rest and expect no other answer to carry to the prince; for the council of officers had been seeking God, as he had also done, and it was resolved by them all that the King must die." (Flagellum and other lives of Oliver, Lord Protector.)

With this unhappy message, he returned into Holland again, where he continued in that service for many years, perhaps the remainder of his life.

By a letter, dated November 18/28, 1653, from Jongestall to William Earl of Nassau, it appears that Colonel John Cromwell was then in Holland; and by one from William Row to the Lord General Cromwell, dated December 28, 1650, I find that Sir Henry Vane, who had a regiment, was in hopes that if Colonel Cromwell died he should succeed him, not only in his regime, but in an higher command. Thurloe's state papers, and those in possession of Milton, published by Nickolls.

It is observable that though he spoke of such freedom to his relation, Oliver, and looked upon his conduct in the highest degree criminal, yet he did not neglect to apply to him in 1650 to expedite the long depending cause between himself and Abigail, his abandoned wife, through whose ill behavior was, from most affluent circumstances, reduced to the brink of ruin. (Vide letter from Colonel John Cromwell to the Lord General, given in the proofs and illustrations, Letter E.)

This cause between Colonel Cromwell and his wife was depending at least from 1646, for Oct. 30 of that year, the House of Commons ordered that the cause between Colonel John Cromwell and Abigail his wife, and John Smith, esq, and John Aucock, gent. and the petition of the said John Smith and John Aucock, which was then reported, and the whole business depending, be deferred to the hearing and determination of the court of chancery. Journals of the House of Commons.

The issue of this marriage was a daughter named Joan, baptized September 28, 1634, at Upwood, and perhaps other children.

Probably Mrs. Abigail Cromwell was upon a visit to her husband's uncle, Mr. Henry Cromwell of Upwood, when she was brought to bed of this child; as he was a good man and fond of all his relations. It is more likely as in taking up the floor of one of the rooms in Upwood House, a small book was found with I.C. in gold letters, upon the outside; which no doubt belonged to this lady's husband.

From Historical Records of the British Army [Infantry]:"Colonel+John+Cromwell"+1653&source=bl&ots=N-nU49YlT3&sig=NUOmCdTC7mzD96uMhc8_fbyL5uU&hl=es&ei=6aCHTu-HOaLm0QHR8ZEL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22Colonel%20John%20Cromwell%22%201653&f=false

1653: The States having now no enemy to fear, reduced the strength of their land forces; and the English veterans were incorporated into one regiment, which was designated the Holland Regiment, and is not Third Regiment of Foot in the British line. This regiment had been commanded by Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford, who was subsequently colonel of the royal regiment of horse guards; but after the reduction of the four regiments to one, which even is stated to have taken place about the year 1655, the colonelcy appears to have been conferred on the veteran Colonel John Cromwell, who had for many years commanded one of the junior English regiments. At the same time, the Scots brigade was reduced to two regiments; and the troops of cuirassiers and harquebusiers of both nations appear to have been disbanded.

Although England had become a commonwealth, and the Royal Family was in exile, yet the Holland Regiment preserved its loyalty and it appears to have been composed of men firmly attached to the Royal cause. The brave Colonel John Cromwell, who was a near kinsman of the Lord Protector, and who had been in the service of the States upwards of 30 years, was particularly distinguished for his attachment to the royal family, and he held the regicides and usurpers of the kingly authority in such detestation that he obtained permission of King Charles II to change his name from Cromwell to Williams.

In September 1658, Oliver Cromwell died and was succeeded by his son Richard, who resigned the Protectorship soon afterwards. The nation, being weary of anarchy and confusion, invited King Charles II to return to England and assume the reins of government. While arrangements for the Restoration were in progress, the King was entertained for a short time at the Hague; the officers of the Holland Regiment eager to manifest their loyalty, proceeded thithter and on being introduced to the King, were well received by his Majesty; and these veterans shared with the rest of the nation in the great joy which the restoration of the monarchy produced.

(In footnote: The English officers that are in the service of the Lords of the Estates, and were come to the Hague, did the King reverence also, and amongst the rest Mr. Henry Cromwell, major of a regiment of foot of the same nation. He is cousin-german, but issued from an elder brother, of him who is known to have sacrificed the King, his sovereign, to his irregular ambition, and detested that brutal and horrible action; but seeing some apparent establishment of the fortune of the Protector, he passed into England where he rendered considerable service to those of the good party, and gave himself liberty to remonstrate sometimes with his cousin. The King, who knew the intentions of this honest man, and permitted his brother (who commands the regiment of foot in the service of the Lords of the Estates) to take the surname of Williams instead of that which shall eternally in execration by all Englishment, and who had many good proofs of them, received him perfectly well. - Sir William Lower's account of what took place at the Hague in May 1660. --- This regiment, on the breaking out of the war with the Dutch, was sent for to England, and the said Robert Sidney was made Colonel thereof by King Charles II the 31st May 1665, and it is yet subsisting, called the Holland Regiment.)

From The House of Cromwell, by John Gabriel Cromwell, M.A., Oxon., Hon. Canon of Durham (1897):

Sir Oliver's first wife was a daughter of Sir Thomas Bromley, Lord Chancellor of England, and his second wife was the widow of Sir Horace Pallavacini, a wealthy Genoese merchant. He lived to the advanced age of 93, and was buried at Ramsey on Aug. 28, 1655. By his two wives, he had a numerous progeny, viz, five daughters and five sons, all of whom, like their father, were distinguished for their loyalty to the crown and their opposition to the Republican party.

One of Sir Oliver's sons, John, was a captain in a regiment of English soldiers sent by James I to assist in recovering the Palatinate for his son-in-law, and subsequently became the Colonel of an English regiment in the service of Holland. Singularly enough, he was selected by the Prince of Wales, then an exile in Holland, to carry letters to Oliver, his cousin, and to intercede with him for sparing the life of the King - but in vain. Another son of Sir Oliver - William - also took service under Frederic, Elector Palatine, and became a colonel in his wars for the crown of Bohemia. He also held the office of "carver" in the household of the Princess Elizabeth, wife of Frederic.

No trace of any issue from either John or William has yet been discovered.

From House of Commons Journal Volume 4 (1644-1646):

Die Veneris, 30 Octobris, 1646.


(Roll Call): SIR William Lewes, Mr. Dennis Bond, Sir Robert Pye, Sir Thomas Wroth, Mr. John Ashe, Mr. Reynolds, Sir John Burgoine, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Sollicitor, Mr. Whitehead, Sir William Masham, Sir Richard Onslowe, Mr. Harris, Mr. Groves, Sir Walter Erle, Sir Samuel Rolle, Sir Edward Aiscough, Sir Thomas Dacres, Mr. Prideaux, Sir William Allenson, Mr. Stephens, Mr. Fiennes, Mr. Scawen, Mr. Bowyer, Sir Edward Partherich, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Sandys, Mr. Framlingham Gaudy, Mr. Wheeler, Mr. Salwey, Mr. Lane, Sir Ralph Ashton, Mr. Stapilton, Mr. Whitelocke, Mr. White, Sir Dudley North, Mr. Westrowe, Mr. Oldesworth, Mr. Liegh, Sir John Evelyn of Surrey, Mr. Recorder, Mr. Strode, Sir John Corbett, Mr. Erle, Mr. Moore, Mr. Dixewell, Mr. Scott, Mr. John Rolle, Mr. Swinfen, Mr. Bacon;


(Perigrin Pelham's release)

The humble Petition of Colonel John Cromwell, and Abigail his Wife, sole Daughter and Heir of Sir Henry Cleere, deceased, his Majesty's Ward, presented to this House the Fourth of May last; and the Order of Reference thereupon made to Sir Benjamin Rudyard, and Sir Rowland Wandesford, in pursuance of the said Order, of the Fourth of May 1646; were all this Day read.

The humble Petition of John Smith Esquire, and John Awcock Gentleman, was this Day read.

Mr. Thorpe, Mr. Sollicitor, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Recorder, Sir Thomas Widdrington, Mr. Lane, Mr. Sandys, Mr. Prideaux, Mr. Bacon, Mr. Nichlas, Mr. Whitelock, Mr. Maynard, Sir John Corbett, Mr. Harrington, Mr. John Stephens, Mr. Lisle; and all the Lawyers of the House;

This Committee is appointed to consider of some way how the Decrees, and other Proceedings, in the Court of Wards, may be brought to an effectual Determination, that the Subject may reap the Benefit thereof: And they are to prepare an Ordinance to this Purpose; and to report it, with all convenient Speed, to the House: And they are to meet this Afternoon, in the Court of Wards: And have Power to send for Parties, Witnesses, Papers, Records.

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Col. John Cromwell, alias Williams's Timeline

May 14, 1589
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England
May 14, 1589
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England
May 24, 1589
Chippenham, Cambridgeshire, England
May 24, 1589
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England
Age 44
Upwood, Huntingdonshire, England
Age 70
Probably Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden (Present The Netherlands)
England, (Present UK)