CROMWELL, Oliver (1599-1658). Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Letter Signed ('Oliver P', as Lord Protector), 1 page, 150 x 200 mm. (6 x 8 inches), a little browned overall but a most attractive small document, 26 July 1658. Written from Hampton Court in the last months of Cromwell's regime (he died on 3 September) to an unnamed correspondent, evidently relating to a naval matter at the Woolwich dockyard.
'Trustie & welbeloved / We understand that Mr [name left blank] of Woolwich is to be removed out of his imploym[en]t, if soe, We desire you not to dispose of that place untill you speake w[i]th Us about it, & rest / Yo[u]r loving ffreind/ Oliver P'.The very obvious shakiness of the signature is evidence of his ill-health:
'Cromwell's health declined steeply, and he became much preoccupied by the terrible suffering and death from cancer of his beloved daughter Elizabeth. Despite rumour at the time that what the assassin's bullets had failed to achieve, insidious poisons did achieve, it is overwhelmingly likely that the malarial fevers that had troubled him at time of stress ever since the early 1630s came back to haunt him and triggered a chest infection and pneumonia from which he died'. (John Morrill in Oxford DNB).
This is smaller than many of the documents signed by Cromwell which have survived. It has been remarked that many such documents were preserved in less than ideal conditions after the Restoration, when they were hidden away to hide the owner or recipient's connection with the discredited regime.
After the fall of Charles of I and his beheading in 1649 Cromwell had been largely concerned with military campaigns in Ireland and Scotland, but from September 1651 until his death he remained in the area of London, and from 1654 made himself at home in the former royal palaces of Whitehall and Hampton court, from where the present document was signed.
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