|Parliaments of England|
|List of Parliaments of England|
The Long Parliament was an English Parliament which lasted from 1640 until 1660. It followed the fiasco of the Short Parliament which had convened for only three weeks during the spring of 1640, and which in turn had followed an 11-year parliamentary absence. In September 1640, King Charles I issued writs summoning a parliament to convene on 3 November 1640.[a] He intended it to pass financial bills, a step made necessary by the costs of the Bishops' Wars in Scotland. The Long Parliament received its name from the fact that, by Act of Parliament, it stipulated it could be dissolved only with agreement of the members; and, those members did not agree to its dissolution until 16 March 1660, after the English Civil War and near the close of the Interregnum.
The parliament sat from 1640 until 1648, when it was purged by the New Model Army. After this point, the remaining members of the House of Commons became known as the Rump Parliament. In the chaos following the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, General George Monck allowed the members barred in 1648 to retake their seats, so that they could pass the necessary legislation to allow the Restoration and dissolve the Long Parliament. This cleared the way for a new parliament to be elected, which was known as the Convention Parliament. Some key members of the Long Parliament, such as Sir Henry Vane the Younger and General Edmond Ludlow were barred from the final acts of the Long Parliament. They claimed the parliament was not legally dissolved, its final votes a procedural irregularity (words used contemporaneously "device" and "conspiracy") by General George Monck to ensure the restoration of King Charles II of England. On the restoration the general was awarded with a dukedom.
The Long Parliament later became a key moment in Whig histories of the seventeenth century. American Whig historian Charles Wentworth Upham believed the Long Parliament comprised "a set of the greatest geniuses for government that the world ever saw embarked together in one common cause" and whose actions produced an effect, which, at the time, made their country the wonder and admiration of the world, and is still felt and exhibited far beyond the borders of that country, in the progress of reform, and the advancement of popular liberty. He believed its republican principles made it a precursor to the American Revolutionary War.
The sole reason Charles I assembled Parliament in November, 1640 was to ask it to pass finance bills, since the controverted taxation of ship money was unpopular, and since the Bishops' Wars had bankrupted him. Instead, Parliament quickly proceeded to impeach William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, of high treason, on 18 December. John Finch was impeached the following day, and he consequently fled to the Netherlands with Charles's permission on 21 December.
The parliament was initially influenced by John Pym (1584–1643) and his supporters. Pym rose in his place and entered into a particular enumeration of the troubles of the kingdom. Early in the Long Parliament's proceedings, the house also unanimously accused the Earl of Strafford of high treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. This marked a new unanimity in Irish politics, whereby Old English, Gaelic Irish and New English settlers joined together in a legal body to present evidence against governor Strafford. However, the evidence was supplied indirectly by Henry Vane the Younger through the acquisition of notes of his father Henry Vane the Elder. Vane the Elder, on the King's Privy Council, remained completely loyal to his king and was aghast when he learned in public hearings of the theft of his notes of the Privy Council meetings by his son. On 10 April, Pym's case against Strafford collapsed, but Pym made a direct appeal to the Younger Vane to produce a copy of the notes from the Privy Council, which the Younger Vane had discovered and secretly turned over to Pym, to his father's great anguish. These handwritten notes of the elder Vane obtained by Henry Vane the Younger were confirmed by independent testimony. Lord Strafford had told the King:
|“||Sir, you have done your duty, and your subjects have failed in theirs; and therefore you are absolved from the rules of government, and may supply yourself by extraordinary ways; you have an army in Ireland, with which you may reduce the kingdom.||”|
Parliament, as representatives of the people, felt betrayed, and accused Strafford of raising an Irish army for the purpose of subduing England, abolishing English freedoms, and collecting revenues for the King. Pym immediately moved a Bill of Attainder, asserting Strafford's guilt and ordering that he be put to death. Charles, however, promised Strafford that he would not sign the attainder, so it could not be passed. The Lords opposed the severity of the death sentence imposed upon Strafford, but increased tensions and an attempted army coup in support of Strafford began to sway the issue. On 21 April, the bill went virtually unopposed in the Commons (204 in favour, 59 opposed, and 250 abstained), and the Lords then acquiesced. Charles, fearing for his family's safety, signed the death warrant on 10 May. Strafford was beheaded two days later.
With the king having been implicated, the Long Parliament passed the Triennial Act, also known as the Dissolution Act, in May 1641, to which the Royal Assent was readily granted. In the meantime both Parliament and the King agreed to an independent investigation of royal involvement in Strafford's plot. This Triennial Act required Parliament to be summoned at least once every three years, and stipulated that when the King failed to issue proper summons, the members could assemble on their own. This act also forbade ship money without Parliament's consent, declared unlawful both fines in destraint of knighthood and forced loans, severely cut back monopolies, and abolished the courts of Star Chamber and High Commission by the Habeas Corpus Act 1640 and the Triennial Act 1641.
The very doctrine of modern freedoms has, to some degree, its origins in these acts. All remaining forms of taxation were legalised and regulated by the Tonnage and Poundage Act, the billetting of soldiers was funded, whereas it had not been under Charles; and the Ship Money Act 1640 vacated the contentious ship money issue. On 3 May, Parliament issued the Protestation of 1641, attacking the 'wicked counsels' of Charles's government. Those who signed the petition undertook to defend 'the true reformed religion', Parliament, and the king's person, honour, and estate. Throughout May, the House of Commons passed several bills attacking bishops and episcopalianism in general, but each time the Lords refused to acquiesce.
Charles made several important concessions to Parliament, but improved his own military position by securing the favour of the Scots that summer. He promised the official establishment of Presbyterianism in Scotland; in return, he enlisted considerable Scottish support. But "The Incident", an attempted royalist coup in Scotland, significantly undermined Charles's credibility there.
The Irish Rebellion, which started in October 1641, brought the control of the army back into the discussions between King and Parliament. Led by John Pym, Parliament presented the King with the Grand Remonstrance, which the House of Commons passed by 11 votes (159–148) on 22 November 1641. It listed over 150 perceived "misdeeds" of Charles' reign, including putting the Church under the influence of foreign papists, and royal advisers also "have[ing] engaged themselves to further the interests of some foreign powers". The second half of the Remonstrance proposed solutions to the "misdeeds," including church reform and Parliamentary influence over the appointment of royal ministers. In December 1641, Parliament asserted control over appointment of Army and Navy commanders in the Militia Ordinance. The king rejected the Grand Remonstrance and refused to give royal assent to the Militia Ordinance.
Charles believed that Puritans (or Dissenters) had encouraged the Scots to invade England in the recent Bishops' Wars. He thought the Puritans had been stirred up by the Five Members, the vociferous MPs John Pym, John Hampden, Denzil Holles, Arthur Haselrig, and William Strode; also Viscount Mandeville (the future Earl of Manchester) who sat in the House of Lords, and that the Five intended to turn the London mob against him. When rumours reached the court that they were also planning to impeach the Queen for alleged involvement in Catholic plots, Charles decided to arrest them for treason.
On Tuesday, 4 January 1642,[a] the King entered the House with armed men to arrest the Five Members. They had been warned and fled.
Charles sat in the chair of the Speaker of the House, William Lenthall. Looking around in vain for the Five Members, he commented, "I see the birds have flown." He then turned to Lenthall, who stood below, and demanded of him whether any of those persons were in the House, whether he saw any of them and where they were. Lenthall fell on his knees and replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."[b]
After failing to arrest the Five Members and fearing for his safety, Charles left London on 10 January. Most royalist MPs also departed. However, because of the Dissolution Act, the Long Parliament continued to sit during and beyond the Civil War, without its royalist members.
In March 1642, with the King absent from London and war clouds gathering, Parliament decreed that its own Parliamentary Ordinances were valid laws, even without royal assent. The Militia Ordinance was passed on 5 March by Parliament and gave Parliament control of the local militia called Trained Bands. Control of the Trained Bands of London was the most strategically critical, because they could protect Parliament from armed intervention by any soldiers which Charles had near the capital. In response to the Militia Ordinance, Charles revived the Commissions of Array as a means of summoning an army instead.
In 1645 Parliament reaffirmed its determination to fight the war to a finish. It passed the Self-denying Ordinance, by which all members of either House of Parliament resigned any military commands, and formed the New Model Army under the command of Fairfax and Cromwell.
The New Model Army soon destroyed Charles' armies. Charles tried to rally support in the Midlands, but by May 1646 he sought shelter with a Presbyterian Scottish army at Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The Scots later handed over Charles to Parliament and he was imprisoned. This marked the end of the First English Civil War.
While Charles negotiated with Parliament, the House of Commons investigated his policies. A political stalemate resulted. Charles briefly escaped captivity in 1647, made a secret alliance with the Scots, and incited fresh Royalist rebellions. This resulted in the Second English Civil War of 1648, which the New Model Army again quickly won. Nonetheless, in 1648, Parliament determined that it was not to abjure the King's person; that is, depose him from the throne. "During the negotiations with the King, he manifested a fixed resolution to do all that could be done to make the best of the opportunity the country then enjoyed, of securing to itself the blessings of liberty."
Parliament was by this time deeply suspicious of the Army, and vice versa. On 1 December 1648, the House voted 129 to 83 to continue negotiations with Charles for reforming the government on terms they had proposed and he had accepted. This would allow for the King's restoration and the end of the stalemate between Parliament and the King. Legally, this should have ended the Civil War and restored the King with limited powers.
Divisions emerged between various factions, culminating in Pride's Purge on 7 December 1648, when, under the orders of Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law Henry Ireton, Colonel Pride physically barred and arrested 41 of the members of Parliament. Many of the excluded members were Presbyterians. Henry Vane the Younger removed himself from Parliament in protest of this unlawful action by Ireton. He was not party to the execution of Charles I, although Cromwell was. In the wake of the ejections, the remnant, the Rump Parliament, arranged for the trial and execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649. It was also responsible for the setting up of the Commonwealth of England in 1649.
Henry Vane the Younger was persuaded to rejoin Parliament on 17 February 1649 and a Council of state was installed, into whose hands the executive government of the nation was committed. Sir Henry Vane was appointed a member of the Council. Cromwell used great pains to induce Vane to accept the appointment, and after many consultations, he so far prevailed in satisfying Vane of the purity of his principles in reference to the Commonwealth, as to overcome his reluctance again to enter the public service. Sir Henry Vane was for some time President of the Council, and, as Treasurer and Commissioner for the Navy, he had almost the exclusive direction of that branch of public service.
Cromwell "well knew that while the Long Parliament, that noble company, who had fought the great battle of liberty from the beginning, remained in session, and such men as Vane were enabled to mingle in its deliberations, it would be utterly useless for him to think of executing his purposes" (to set up a Protectorate or Dictatorship). Henry Vane was working on a Reform Bill. Cromwell knew "that if the Reform Bill should be suffered to pass, and a House of Commons be convened, freely elected on popular principles, and constituting a full and fair and equal representation, it would be impossible ever after to overthrow the liberties of the people, or break down the government of the country". According to General Edmund Ludlow (an unapologetic supporter of the Good Old Cause who lived in exile after the Restoration), this reform bill provided for an equal representation of the people, disfranchised several boroughs which had ceased to have a population in proportion to representation, fixed the number of the House at four hundred". It would have "secured to England and to the rest of the world the blessings of republican institutions, two centuries earlier than can now be expected".
"Harrison, who was in Cromwell's confidence on this occasion, rose to debate the motion, merely in order to gain time. Word was carried to Cromwell, that the House were on the point of putting the final motion; and Colonel Ingoldby hastened to Whitehall to tell him, that, if he intended to do anything decisive, he had no time to lose". Once the troops were in place Cromwell entered the assembly. He was dressed in a suit of plain black; with grey worsted stockings. He took his seat; and appeared to be listening to the debate. As the Speaker was about to rise to put the question, Cromwell whispered to Harrison, "Now is the time; I must do it". As he rose, his countenance became flushed and blacked by the terrific passions which the crisis awakened. With the most reckless violence of manner and language, he abused the character of the House; and, after the first burst of his denunciations had passed, suddenly changing his tone, he exclaimed, "You think, perhaps, this is not parliamentary language; I know it; nor are you to expect such from me". He then advanced out into the middle of the hall, and walked to and fro, like a man beside himself. In a few moments he stamped upon the floor, the doors flew open and a file of musketeers entered. As they advanced, Cromwell exclaimed, looking over the House, "You are no Parliament; I say you are no Parliament; begone, and give place to honester men".
"While this extraordinary scene was transacting, the members, hardly believing their own ears and eyes, sat in mute amazement, horror, and pity of the maniac traitor who was storming and raving before them. At length Vane rose to remonstrate, and call him to his senses; but Cromwell, instead of listening to him, drowned his voice, repeating with great vehemence, and as though with the desperate excitement of the moment, "Sir Harry Vane! Sir Harry Vane! Good Lord deliver me from Sir Harry Vane!" He then seized the records, snatched the bill from the hands of the clerk, drove the members out at the point of the bayonet, locked the doors, put the key in his pocket, and returned to Whitehall.
Oliver Cromwell forcibly disbanded the Rump in 1653 when it seemed to be planning to perpetuate itself rather than call new elections as had been agreed. It was followed by Barebone's Parliament and then the First, Second and Third Protectorate Parliament.
After Richard Cromwell, who had succeeded his father Oliver as Lord Protector in 1658, was effectively deposed by an officers' coup in April 1659, the officers re-summoned the Rump Parliament to sit. It convened on 7 May 1659, but after five months in power it again clashed with the army (led by John Lambert) and was again forcibly dissolved on 13 October 1659. Once again, Sir Henry Vane was the leading catalyst for the republican cause in opposition to force by the military.
The persons connected with the administration as it existed at the death of Oliver were, of course, interested in keeping things as they were. Also, it was necessary for someone to assume the reins of government until the public will could be ascertained and brought into exercise. Henry Vane was elected to Parliament at Kingston upon Hull, but the certificate was given to another. Vane proceeded to Bristol, entered the canvass, and received the majority. Again the certificate was given to another. Finally Vane proceeded to Whitechurch in Hampshire and was elected a third time and was this time seated in Parliament. Vane managed the debates on behalf of the House of Commons. One of Vane's speeches effectively ended Richard Cromwell's career:
Mr. Speaker, among all the people of the universe, I know none who have shown so much zeal for the liberty of their country, as the English, at this time, have done. They have, by the help of Divine Providence, overcome all obstacles, and have made themselves free ... I know not by what misfortune, we are fallen into the error of those, who poised the Emperor Titus to make room for Domitian, who made away Augustus that they might have Tiberius, and changed Claudius for Nero ... whereas the people of England are now renowned, all over the world, for their great virtue and discipline; and yet suffer an idiot, without courage, without sense, nay, without ambition, to have dominion in a country of liberty. One could bear a little with Oliver Cromwell, though, contrary to his oath of fidelity to Parliament, contrary to his duty to the public, ... But as for Richard Cromwell, his son, who is he? Where are his titles ... For my part, I declare, Sir, it shall never be said that I made such a man my master.
This speech swept everything before it. The Rump Parliament which Oliver Cromwell had dispersed in 1653 was once more summoned to assemble, by a declaration from the Council of Officers dated on 6 May 1659.
Edmond Ludlow made several attempts to reconcile the army and parliament in this time period but was ultimately unsuccessful. Parliament ordered the regiments of Colonel Morley and Colonel Moss to march to Westminster for their security, and sent for the rest of the troops that were about London to draw down to them also with all speed.
In October 1659, Colonel Lambert and various subordinate members of the army, acting in the military interest, resisted Colonel Morley and others who were defending the rump Parliament. Colonel Lambert, Major Grimes, and Colonel Sydenham eventually gained their points, and placed guards both by land and water, to hinder the members of Parliament from approaching the House. Colonel Lambert subsequently acquitted himself to Henry Vane the Younger, Edmond Ludlow and the "Committee on Safety," an instrument of the Wallingford House party acting under their misdirection.
Nevertheless, Parliament was closed once again by military force until such time that the army and leaders of Parliament could effect a resolution. Rule then passed to an unelected Committee of Safety, including Lambert and Vane; pending a resolution or compromise with the Army.
During these disorders, the Council of State still assembled at the usual place, and:
the Lord President Bradshaw, who was present, though by long sickness very weak and much extenuated, yet animated by his ardent zeal and constant affection to the common cause, upon hearing Col Syndenham's justifications of the proceedings of the army in again disrupting parliament, stood up and interrupted him, declaring his abhorrence of that detestable action, and telling the council, that being now going to his God, he had not patience to sit there to hear his great name so openly blasphemed; and thereupon departed to his lodgings, and withdrew himself from public employment.
The Council of Officers at first attempted to come to some agreement with the leaders of Parliament. On 15 October 1659, the Council of Officers appointed ten persons to "consider of fit ways and means to carry on the affairs and government of the Commonwealth". On 26 October 1659 the Council of Officers appointed a new Committee of Safety of twenty-three members.
On 1 November 1659, the Committee of Safety nominated a committee "to consider of and prepare a form of government to be settled over the three nations in the way of a free state and Commonwealth, and afterwards to present it to the Committee of Safety for their further considerations".
The Wallingford House party, as if infatuated by a superior power to procure their own destruction, continued obstinately to oppose the Parliament, and fixed in their resolution to call another (that is a reformed Parliament more agreeable to their interests). On the other side, I was sorry to find most of the Parliament men as stiff, in requiring an absolute submission to their authority as if no differences had happened among us, nor the privileges of Parliament ever been violated, peremptorily insisting upon the entire subjection of the army, and refusing to hearken to any terms of accommodation, though the necessity of affairs seemed to demand it, if we would preserve our cause from ruin.
Edmond Ludlow warned both the Army and key members of Parliament that unless a compromise could be made it would "render all the blood and treasure that had been spent in asserting our liberties of no use to us, but also force us under such a yoke of servitude, that neither we nor our posterity should be able to bear".
Starting on 17 December 1659, Henry Vane representing the Parliament, Major Saloway and Colonel Salmon with powers from the officers of the army to treat with the fleet, and Vice-Admiral Lawson met in negotiating a compromise. The navy was very adverse to any proposal of terms to be made with the Parliament before Parliament's readmission, insisting upon the absolute submission of the army to the authority of Parliament. A plan was then put in place declaring a resolution to join with the Generals at Portsmouth, Colonel Monck, and Vice-Admiral Lawson, but it was still unknown to the republican party that Colonel Monck was in league with King Charles II.
Colonel Monck, though a hero to the restoration of King Charles II, was also treacherously disloyal to the Long Parliament, to his oath to the present Parliament, and to the Good Old Cause. Ludlow stated in early January 1660 when in conversation with several key officers of the army:
"Then", said Capt. Lucas, "you do not think us to be for the Parliament?" "No indeed", said I; "and it is most manifest to me, that the design of those who now govern the Council of Officers, though at present it be covered with pretences for the Parliament, is to destroy both them and their friends, and to bring in the son of the late King".
This statement may be verified by the many executions of key Parliament members and Generals after the restoration of King Charles II. Therefore, the restoration of King Charles II could not be an act of the Long Parliament acting freely under its own authority, but only under the influence of the sword by Colonel Monck, who traded his loyalties for the present Long Parliament, in preference to a reformed Long Parliament and to the restoration of King Charles II.
General George Monck, who had been Cromwell's viceroy in Scotland, feared that the military stood to lose power and secretly shifted his loyalty to the Crown. As he began to march south, Lambert, who had ridden out to face him, lost support in London. However, the Navy declared for Parliament, and on 26 December 1659 the Rump was restored to power.
On 9 January 1660, Monck arrived in London and his plans were communicated. Whereupon Henry Vane the Younger was discharged from being a member of the Long Parliament; and Major Saloway was reproved for his role and committed to the Tower during the pleasure of the house. Lieutenant-General Fleetwood, Col. Sydenham, Lord Commissioner Whitlock, Cornelius Holland, and Mr. Strickland were required to clear themselves touching their deportment in that affair. High treason was also declared against Miles Corbet, Cor. John Jones, Col. Thomlinson, and Edmond Ludlow on 19 January 1660. 1,500 other officers were removed from their command and "scarce one of ten of the old officers of the army were continued". Any known Anabaptists in the army were specifically discharged. So tame had Parliament become, that though it was most visible that Monk's letters and Arthur Haslerig's instructions were designed for the dissolution of the Long Parliament, they were obeyed by the remainder of the members and all these designs were to be put into execution. Though named by Parliament for treason, Miles Corbet and Edmond Ludlow were for a while were permitted to continue to sit with Parliament, and for a time the charges against these men were dropped.
After his initial show of deference to the Rump, Monck quickly found them unwilling to continue in cooperation with his plan for an election of a new parliament (the Rump Parliament believed Monck was accountable to them and had its own plan for free elections); so on 21 February 1660 he forcibly reinstated the members 'secluded' by Pride's purge in 1648, so that they could prepare legislation for the Convention Parliament. Some of the Rump Parliament were opposed and refused to sit with the Secluded Members.
On 27 February 1660, "the new Council of State being informed of some designs against the usurped power, issued out warrants for apprehending divers officers of the army; and having some jealousy of others that were members of Parliament, they procured an order of their House to authorize them to seize any member who had not sat since the coming in of the Secluded Members, if there should be occasion.
When the house was ready to pass the act for dissolution, Crew who had been as forward as any man in beginning and carrying on the war against the last King, moved, that before they dissolved themselves, they would bear their witness against the horrid murder, as he called it, of the King. According to Ludlow:
Mr. Thomas Scott, who had been so much deluded by the hypocrisy of Monk ... said: 'That though he knew not where to hide his head at that time, yet he durst not refuse to own, that not only his hand, but his heart also was in it' and after he had produced divers reasons to prove the justice of it, he concluded, 'that he should desire no greater honor in this world, than that the following inscription might be engraved on his tomb; "Here lies one who had a hand and a heart in the execution of Charles Stuart late King of England.' Having said this, he and most of the members who had a right to sit in Parliament, withdrew from the House; so that there was not the fourth part of a quorum of lawful members present in the House when the Secluded Members, who had been voted out of the Parliament by those that had an undisputed authority over their own members, undertook to dissolve the Parliament, which was not to be done, unless by their own consent; and whether that consent was ever given, is submitted to the judgement of all impartial men.
Having called for elections for a new Parliament to meet on 25 April, the Long Parliament was dissolved on 16 March 1660.
Finally, on 22 April 1660, "Major-General Lambert's party was dispersed" and General Lambert taken prisoner by Colonel Ingoldsby.
"Hitherto Monk had continued to make solemn protestations of his affection and fidelity to the Commonwealth interest, against a King and House of Lords; but the new militia being settled, and a Convention, calling themselves a Parliament and fit for his purpose, being met at Westminster, he sent to such lords as had sat with the Parliament till 1648, to return to the place where they used to sit, which they did, upon assurance from him, that no others should be permitted to sit with them; which promise he also broke, and let in not only such as had deserted to Oxford, but the late created lords. And Charles Stuart, eldest son of the late King, being informed of these transactions, left the Spanish territories where he then resided, and by the advice of Monk went to Breda, a town belonging to the States of Holland: from when he sent his letters and a declaration to the two House by Sir John Greenvil; whereupon the nominal House of Commons, though called by a Commonwealth writ in the name of the Keepers of the Liberties of England, passed a vote [on about April 25, 1660], 'That the government of the nation should be by a King, Lords and Commons, and that Charles Stuart should be proclaimed King of England'".
"The Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and Aldermen of the City, treated their King with a collation under a tent, placed in St. George's Fields; and five or six hundred citizens cloathed in coats of black velvet, and (not improperly) wearing chains about their necks, by an order of the Common Council, attended on the triumph of that day; ... and those who had been so often defeated in the field, and had contributed nothing either of bravery or policy to this change, in ordering the souldiery to ride with swords drawn through the city of London to White Hall, the Duke of York and Monk leading the way; and intimating (as was supposed) a resolution to maintain that by force which had been obtained by fraud".
Initially seven, and later 'twenty persons were put to death for life and estate.' These included: Chief Justice Coke, who had been Solicitor to the High Court of Justice, Major-General Harrison, Col. John Jones (also a member of the High Court of Justice), Mr. Thomas Scot, Sir. Henry Vane, Sir. Arthur Haslerig, Sir. Henry Mildmay, Mr. Robert Wallop, the Lord Mounson, Sir. James Harrington, Mr. James Challoner, Mr. John Phelps, Mr. John Carew, Mr. Hugh Peters, Mr. Gregory Clement, Colonel Adrian Scroop, Col. Francis Hacker, Col. Daniel Axtel. Among those who appeared the most basely subservient to these 'exorbitancies' of the Court, 'Mr. William Prynn was singularly remarkable' and attempted to add to these all who 'abjured the family of the Stuarts' previously, though this motion failed.
"John Finch who had been accused of high treason twenty years before, by a full Parliament, and who by flying from their justice had saved his life, was appointed to judge some of those who should have been his judges; and Sir. Orlando Bridgman, who upon his submission to Cromwell had been permitted to practice the law in a private manner, and under that colour had served both as spy and agent for his master, was entrusted with the principal management of this tragic scene; and in his charge to the Grand Jury, had the assurance to tell them 'That no authority, no single person, or community of men; not the people collectively or representatively, had any coercive power over the King of England'".
In framing the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, the House of Commons were unwilling to except Sir Henry Vane, Sir. Arthur Haslerig, and Major-General Lambert as they had no immediate hand in the death of the King, and there was as much reason to except them as most of the members of Parliament from its benefits. In Henry Vane's case the House of Lords were desirous of having him specifically excepted, so as to leave him at the mercy of the government and thus restrain him from the exercise of his great talents in promoting his favourite republican principles at any time during the remainder of his life. At a conference between the two Houses, it was concluded that the Commons should consent to except him from the act of indemnity, the Lords agreeing, on their part, to concur with the other House in petitioning the King, in case of the condemnation of Vane, not to carry the sentence into execution. General Edmond Ludlow, still loyal to the Rump Parliament was also excepted.
According to contemporary royalist legal theory, the Long Parliament was regarded as having been automatically dissolved from the moment of Charles I's execution on 30 January 1649. This view was confirmed by a court ruling during the treason trial of Henry Vane the Younger – a ruling that Henry Vane himself had concurred with in opposition to Oliver Cromwell years earlier.
The trial given to Vane as to his own person, and defence of his own part played for the Long Parliament was a foregone conclusion. It was not a fair trial as both his defence, and deportment at the time of defence bears out. He was not given legal counsel (other than the judges that sat at his trial); and was left to conduct his own defence after years in prison. Sir Henry Vane maintained the following at his trial:
King Charles II did not keep the promise made to the house but executed the sentence of death on Sir Henry Vane the Younger. The solicitor, openly declared in his speech afterwards "that he (Henry Vane) must be made a public sacrifice". One of his judges stated: "We knew not how to answer him, but we know what to do with him".
Edmond Ludlow one of the members of Parliament excepted by the act of indemnity, fled to Switzerland after the restoration of King Charles II, where he wrote his memoirs of these events.
The Long Parliament began with the execution of Lord Stafford, and effectively ended with the execution of Henry Vane the Younger.
The republican theory is that the goal and aim of the Long Parliament was to institute a constitutional, balanced, and equally representative form of government along similar lines as were later accomplished in America by the American Revolution. It is clear from the writings of both Ludlow, Vane, and historians of the early American period such as Upham, that this is what they were striving for and why they were excepted from the acts of indemnity. The republican theory also suggests that the Long Parliament would have been successful in these necessary reforms except through the forceful intervention of Oliver Cromwell (and others) in removing the loyalists party, the unlawful execution of King Charles I, later dissolving the Rump Parliament; and finally the forceful dissolution of the reconvened Rump Parliament by Monck when less than a fourth of the required members were present. It is believed that in many ways this struggle was but a precursor to the American Revolution.