CROMWELL, Oliver (1599-1658). Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Document Signed, ('Oliver P[rotector]' at the top), 1 page folio (slightly spotted and browned but in overall good condition), Whitehall, 5 March 1657/8. A warrant addressed to the commissioners of the admiralty and navy to send a ship to Dieppe to collect Sir William Whitmore and his tutor and bring them back to any convenient port in England.
'Our will and pleasure is That you doe with the first opportunity appoint a fitt Vessell to sayle to Deepe in France, and there to receive aboard Sr William Whitmore bart: w[ith] his Tutor retinue and necessaryes, and them to transport to such port in England as with respect to winde and weather shalbe most Convenient for their landing. Whitehall 5th March 1657.'
Sir William Whitmore, second baronet (1637-1699), was the son of Sir Thomas Whitmore, member of parliament for Bridgnorth. He succeeded to the baronetcy in 1653 and in 1661 also became MP for Bridgnorth, a position which he held for the rest of his life. It would appear that his evacuation from Dieppe was in consequence of the war against Spain in Flanders in which England was in alliance with France. The terms of the alliance expired in March 1658 and were not renewed until the 18th of that month. There was therefore perhaps a period of uncertainty as to the safety of British subjects. Even so it would appear a fairly drastic step to command a vessel to bring Whitmore back to England. The baronet would have been about 21 years old at this time. Later this same year, on 24 November, he married Mary Harvey, the daughter of Elias Harvey, a London merchant.
Not included in The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, ed. W.C. Abbott, 1947 (1988), nor is Whitmore to be found in the index to the four volumes.
The signature to this document, although dark and clear, shows signs of the weakness that was to end in Cromwell's death in September of this year.
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