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George Monck

& The Restoration

of Charles II in 1660

A thesis submitted in 2003 in fulfilment of my Masters Obligations
© Eoin Purcell 2003
No part of this document may be quoted or otherwise used by any other party
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Introdu ctory

Also a blog post on Uncovered History

This thesis was written during my Masters year in UCD, Dublin. I enjoyed the
process and at the time I was happy with what I had written. However, some
six years later I can recognise that there are serious deficiencies in this thesis
and that is something I plan at some stage to rectify in another work. Please
feel free to send messages or feedback to me at eoin.purcell AT

In retrospect there are many things I would change, not the least of which
would be the sources I used. Four major areas (with many other areas needing
minor attention) could be improved. Firstly, more original documentary
evidence would have greatly improved the book. Aside from letters and papers
of the officers and officials around Monck in Scotland which I now know exist
in archives that I did not consult for the original, I believe that there are
numerous other sources that might be exploited to huge advantage. They
would, I believe, include eyewitness accounts available from:

1) The soldiers in Monck’s units

2) Monck’s officers
3) Londoners during Monck’s time in the city
4) Observers from outside the capital
5) Soldiers and officers still loyal to the last few Grandee’s like Lambert.

Secondly, I believe that more work on Monck’s character and his pragmatism
and motivations would have been sensible. There is surely more material
available to work on that. He is a truly incredible individual. His motivations

are a mystery in many ways though I think my analysis of his actions reveals
that he was simply taking the easiest course of action to secure his own
position, I firmly believe now that had he been presented with the opportunity,
he would have crowned himself king or had himself declared Lord Protector.
I’d like to spend time proving that.

Thirdly, the role of the other actors needs a great examination, I see that now
clearly as a major failing in the original work. The Grandee’s in London and the
parliamentarians of the Rump are as powerful figures and their motivations and
actions were such critical factors in the course of events. Had any of them for
instance mounted a sufficient case against Monck while he was in London, or
managed to hold together a force in the field, events would have been different.
The brief mention of the role of Lord Fairfax is insufficient to explain the
reverence he was held in by many of the foot soldiers more work on the
importance of his siding with Monck should have been done.

Lastly, the work deserved a better and less lazy conclusion than that which I
impulsively gave it in 2003. Events in Iran that year inspired an unfortunate
idealism in me that scarred the powerful conclusions of the evidence about
Monck. I was more concerned the hammer home the deficiencies of the
Grandee’s rule and compare those with the failures of government I saw in
Iran than to properly assess Monck’s character and to bring together the
argument I had mustered in the preceding pages. That was a mistake and one I
think should be rectified in any new work.

I am confident that there will be spelling errors in this text and there might well
be the odd factual mistake as well. I’d be keen (as mentioned above) to change
any that arise, so please alert me those.

The 1st Duke of Albermarle (as Monck became as a reward for his efforts in
restoring the monarchy) is one of the most singularly unstudied yet important
men in British history. Considering the volumes of material on other actors in
the Civil War and Interregnum this is a strange fact. Perhaps, when I have the
time I will rectify the problems with this thesis and the lack of a decent
examination of the man and publish a book on him.

Eoin Purcell
Glasthule, Dublin, July 2009


Introductio n

Every student of history wishes for some startling discovery to reinforce his or
her research. Despite my own such wishes, I long ago accepted that the study
of General George Monck and the events surrounding the restoration of
Charles Stuart would reveal no such hidden gems. Why then have I persisted in
my work? Why write about something where I know or suspect that there is
little new evidence to uncover? That decision is based on a sincere belief that
the current analysis based, even as it is, on extensive evidence and research falls
short of the required standard of analysis. Even the robust, intelligent and
cogently argued cases of Ronald Hutton put forward in both The Restoration and
The British Republic fail, in my view, to paint a sufficiently complex picture of the
era and more importantly, of the central character of the period, General
George Monck.

This account will focus firstly on the deficiencies in the current analysis. Those
deficiencies can be summed up as being too deterministic in their viewpoint,
not permitting enough influence from events and other individuals and groups
in bringing about the restoration and concluding what was, in effect, a year
long crisis. An analysis of the time line will reveal much and has been
significantly under exploited. One might call this the ‘How’ of things rather
than the ‘Why’ or the ‘Who’ of things. Clearly one must comprehend and be
aware of the influences of the men and women involved, the larger trends
within society and the impact that these have on events themselves. However
in times of crisis such as the one this study deals with, men and women try only
to survive. History follows the path of least resistance as do individuals. This is

true as much for General George Monck and his men in Scotland as it was for
the Grandees and their men in London and the displaced republican politicians
and their followers.

Often the historiography is vague on the role played by Monck and more
importantly unclear on the character and nature of the man himself. Did
George Monck know until close to the actual event that Charles Stuart would
return to England as King? No, for how could he have known? On leaving
Scotland his mandate for anything other than a restoration of the Rump was
weak, to say the least, and non existent in the minds of many. Even on his
arrival in London his room for manoeuvre was constrained by the relative
strength of the commonwealthsmen not to mention the strong support for the
Rump parliament that he had instilled in his troops. How, for instance, was
Monck in December to know that by February or March the city and most
Londoners would be supportive of a freely elected parliament and hence the
eventual return of the king which such a move would entail?

It was only as events progressed that restoration became an option. Monck’s

opinions or views might have facilitated that event itself, but so long as he
knew that it could not be achieved he worked within the system. The aim of
this work will be to detail a realistic and evidence based image of Monck as a
rational actor motivated by rational goals and operating within the limits events
and his own skill allowed.

But as important in this equation were the motivations of those around him
and the impact their influence had on the crisis and its progression. How
effective were the words of Price, his Chaplin and a committed royalist, in

altering Monck’s course? Of what value to Monck’s cause, and what cost to the
cause of Lambert, was the knowledge that Lord Fairfax was riding on their side
and against the grandees? What of the Devonshire gentleman Morrice who was
later to be made secretary of state after the restoration (who managed Monk’s
estates for him and was another key figure in the circle around Monck) How
important was that circle in decision making? Or what of the various officers in
his units, like Colonel Clobery who commanded Wilkes foot regiment and was
a committed royalist? Their influences must be considered and evaluated.

Even more crucial were the men that Monck and those officers commanded.
How sure of their support could they be even after they had purged their
ranks? How certain was Monck that those purged regiments would stand by his
aims, at least those he advertised and propagandised? How did his worries and
concern for their stability and their usefulness in battle guide his actions and
planning? These factors must also be considered.

The case this thesis will put forward is, that all these factors altered Monck’s
action and influenced his decision making. Had it not, he would have failed and
fallen by the wayside of the crisis as had Lambert, Fleetwood, Richard
Cromwell and many others. If anything, it was his superior ability to think
rationally and to always balance the powers at play that allowed Monck to
emerge as the saviour of the state and to emerge from the revolutionary period
a survivor of several regimes, the finisherer of two and the fosterer of yet

In short, the case this thesis will make is that rather than playing a long and all
seeing game, Monck played always to the path of survival and least resistance.

His resistance to the removal of the rump by the grandees was prompted by his
realisation that such a move could only be to his detriment, despite Hutton’s
belief that this was not the case1. He was after all the most Cromwellian, the
closest supporter to the fallen protectorate that remained, not to mention a
previous supporter of the royalist cause. Action was required to protect his
position. He failed to act against the ousting of Richard Cromwell because he
feared the result of any such action and because the soldiers around him were
firmly against any such action. He was forced to act by the ousting of the
Rump because he feared the result of inaction more than action and because he
was certain of several of the officers about him and his capacity to act against
those who did not support him. The origin of his resistance, of the entire
restoration, then can be seen as an inherently un-ideological act, one
determined by calculations of benefit and cost rather than right, wrong or
anything else.

It is not my intention to lionise George Monck. Nor is it my intention to

defame or vilify George Monck. Rather this thesis attempts to put his actions
during the build up to restoration in context. It aims to look at his character
and the influences on his decision both human and otherwise. By doing so it
will show that the path to restoration was one secured as much by chance and
events as by the motivation and determination of a single individual. It will
show that the restoration was neither an event that was predetermined nor
inevitable once Richard Cromwell fell from power, nor even inevitable at the
time the Grandees overthrew the Rump or even when finally Monck
undermined the Grandees to restore the Rump. The restoration was secured
only in February 1660, not on the back of Monck’s alliance to the royalist

1 Hutton, Ronald, Restoration,

cause, but on the back of his rational assessment of the balance of forces. It
was secured by his awareness that such a course followed the path of least
resistance and presented the least opposition. It proffered him the most
promising course to result in his advancement and the course most probable to
succeed in achieving his rational goals. Before this can even begin however the
deficiencies within the current historiography must be established and the
challenges this thesis offers explored.

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Chapt er

The breath of opinion on Monck and his motivation is startling. Perhaps it is to

be expected. After all he did in effect seal the fate of the republic and begin the

restoration. This depending on the personal outlook of the historian is ether a

great misdeed and a betrayal of the republican ideals or an important act that

returned civilian power so long usurped by a corrupt army and an illegitimate

regime. That his motives were unclear is fair comment. One historian aptly

summed up the dilemma faced by researchers saying “Monck’s own principles

seemed ‘dark’ at the time, and not much light has fallen since.”2Those sources

close to him are not after all entirely trustworthy influenced as they were by

their proximity3 and his own writings fail to illuminate his actions4.

Further, the success of his actions ensured certain sympathy for his position.

The organs of the state were after all beholden to him for their restoration.

Few, even independent scholars, were likely to issue a tirade against a loyal

servant of the crown, one who was made a duke for his services. This was

especially the case in the early years after 1660. However the breath of opinion

2 Pg. 324. Derek Hirst, England in Conflict: 1603-1660. Kingdom, Community, Commonwealth.
3 Grumble was a close confidant of the general.
4 Monck had written a treaties on warfare during his time in the tower but little else other than correspondence.

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suggests a controversy which persisted long after the events themselves have


The following selection of quotes represents a cross section of the opinions

and highlights this breath of these opinions. They range from the sceptical

Seward to the positively idolatry Trevelyan .

“Whatever he intended – whether to seize power himself, or to engineer a royal

restoration – the intervention of General Monck, the conservative commander

of the army in Scotland, sealed the fate of England’s experiment.” 5

“Although the motives of the former Royalist Monck are difficult to

reconstruct, his overriding concern was probably to achieve a stable settlement

and so allay the threat of anarchy posed by the religious radicals, especially the


5 Seward, Paul, The Restoration, 1660-1688. Pg. 1.

6 David L. Smith. A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1707: The Double Crown Pg. 195.

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“Probably wishing to preserve order, the commander of forces in Scotland,

General George Monck, demanded the return of the Rump and marched


“Monck was a strong, patriotic and unselfish man.”8

From this selection of quotes the most obvious failure emerges. It is that all

seek to ascribe a motivation to Monck other than necessity or ability to act.

While clearly the issue of motivation is important to the history other factors

are equally so. This thesis will investigate what those other elements can

contribute to our understanding of the restoration.

The two most coherent explanations to date of how Monck achieved this

stabilisation of the situation in Britain are Maurice Ashley’s biographical work

on Monck and Hutton’s work on the Restoration. Ashley’s attributes the

success to great intelligence on Monck’s part and Hutton to great luck and a

divided opposition. Ashley also approaches Monck as a full character following

his career from start to finish. This approach offers a much greater insight to

the man and his personality. Hutton, in his work, suggests three possible

7David L. Smith in Revolution and Restoration: England in the 1650’s, Ed John Morrill. Pg 32.
8George Macaulay Trevelyan, England under the Stuarts XVI edition, Pg. 329.

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motivations. The first, that Monck’s actions were the beginning of a long-term

plan to restore King Charles II to the throne. The second, that his dislike of the

usurpation of the government by the military prompted his action. And the

last, that he was inspired by a fervent desire to secure a conservative religious

settlement. This he believed to be in danger from the “Quaker Terror” and the

rise of the sectarians that he believed the latest coup would entail.

Hutton rejects the first two possibilities. The first is too implausible suggesting

as it does that Monck was aware of events that were yet to unfold and is not

consistent with the events themselves. The second Hutton dismisses claiming

Monck had little to lose from the new regime that he notes had included him in

its command structure9. Yet none is sufficient explanation.

Even if the two ideas are combined, that Monck was at once very intelligent

and thus outsmarted his weak opponents who were internally divided and that

his luck held out the result is still only a partial explanation. It attempts, like all

other explanations, to ascribe motivation in the absence of other analysis. As

9 Monck had been installed as Commander of foot. However he had been excluded from the commission
deciding on the appointment and commissioning of officers. Given that this issue had prompted his abortive
resignation earlier in the year he almost certainly saw this as counter to his interests. Further he had sent several
missives concerning the removal of officers he considered trustworthy and their replacement by men he viewed
as too radical. In the light of these concerns Hutton’s contention that Monck was unaffected by the change of
government is unrealistic.

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such it fails to adequately explain how Monck, a general who seemed divorced

from the levers of power in London was able to resist the forces ranged against

him. How he not only resisted them but overcame them and having done that

engineered the return of the king through the legitimate tool of a free


No work on Monck can avoid the questions of motivation and this one cannot

either. However by looking first at the man as a rational actor, at his ability and

his past actions we can begin to understand how Monck achieved what he did.

For that we need to reassess his own journey to Scotland and the banks of the

Berwick in the winter of 1659. Did he show similar astuteness in his dealings

throughout his life? Was he capable of such bold acts on a lesser stage that

might indicate his ability to strike so assuredly in 1659/60? If so were his

opponents aware of this or did they, like Samuel Pepys, on their first encounter

discount Monck. Was Monck a private character who hid behind the walls of

professional soldiering until he was needed or was he in fact a much more

subtle character who acted always in his interest and for whom those walls

provided exactly the cover he needed to operate? How is it plausible to

describe the man as a professional soldier and claim that the act of defying the

London set was an aberration in his career trajectory when in fact such events

had occurred regularly during that career? Why is it that he emerges as

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seemingly unselfish and his opponents as self-serving? These will be the

questions chapter two seeks to answer.

The current historiography fails to allow fully for the influence of events and

circumstance in the progress towards restoration. Even when Historians such

as Hutton make allowances they rarely go far enough in admitting their

influence. How vital to the success of Moncks gamble was Fairfax’s appearance

in Yorkshire in support of the purged parliament? Equally, how important to

undermining support for the Grandees and their efforts was the defection of

the Fleet under Vice admiral Lawson? Monck’s initial broadside of letters

certainly undermined the Grandees’ initial hopes for a smooth and uncontested

transfer of power. In so doing, that event itself set others in motion.

This thesis will re-examine the events in question by following the timeline

from the fall of the rump to the return of the king in chapter three. This will

help to highlight which events shaped Monck’s course and which made

Restoration more likely. Was it his goal to restore the Monarchy to begin with,

or was he forced to choose it by the tide of opinion and the practical effects of

his situation? By seeing the steps before Monck as extremely open and offering

multiple options, the analysis of the timeline will show which events closed off

options or made certain options more attractive to the General. This will

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reinforce what is learned from examining the General’s character and will

indicate how his decisions were influenced by events.

One other area has been neglected when considering the influences on the

progress of the crisis. That area is the influence of individuals and groups.

While the current historiography does mention such individuals their impact on

the events and their influence on other actors is often not given its full credit.

As already noted the arrival on the scene of Lord Fairfax to the rear of

Lambert’s forces had considerable influence on the crisis. Every historian has

noted this fact. But what reason had Fairfax for mustering forces and readying

them in arms. What effect had his personal integrity and appeal on events, both

in terms of the general atmosphere and in terms of his influence on Monck and

his ambitions? After all it would seem10 that Monck spent some time with the

old general. Considering how valued Fairfax’s support was to Monck and how

Fairfax was later to contribute again to the progress towards restoration, his

role is worth considering.

Others also warrant analysis. The Grandees themselves cannot escape

attention. Lambert especially, who made the most strenuous efforts to stop the

10 Both Grumble and Skinner place Monck with Fairfax on the 13th and 14th of January. Morrah accepts their

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slide back to Monarchy with his abortive attempt to rally the forces of the good

old cause long after the rest had slid away from the spotlight? How badly

affected by his absence was the putative regime in London? His was the most

impressive resumé in the line up of generals and senior commanders. He was

certainly the most popular amongst the soldiery. Yet perhaps the most

interesting character must be Fleetwood, who was neither ruthless enough to

be the dictator he had the potential to be, nor wise enough to usurp Monck’s

role and call the king back himself as a shrewder player of the game might have


But equally important to any examination of the period must be Monck’s own

officers and men. He was forced after all to purge his own ranks before

embarking on his mission to challenge the Grandees. How important to his

victory was the decisive action he took to secure their loyalty? Why was it

possible to act in October when acting to defend Richard Cromwell had been

considered impossible only a few months before? His officers played a vital

role too. The refusal of many to cooperate in reducing the resistance of the city

council in London, in defiance of orders from the Rump parliament brought to

an end the uneasy alliance between Monck and that parliament. Did Monck

simply go along with their wishes or had he been waiting for such an excuse to

act? How important a role did propaganda play in the crisis and the

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development of the soldiers’ views? All of these people’s roles will be examined

and considered in Chapter four.

The last area that must concern us is that of context, the atmosphere in which

all these events, influences and individuals operated. This thesis will consider

such factors in the light of the renewed analysis of the other factors. How

important or unimportant were the issues of religion for instance, in shaping

Moncks mind. Was the “Quaker Terror” truly an influence on Monck and his

actions? How did the generational shift effect politics within London and the

country. How vital to the change in attitude was the experience of the youth

who had known the discomfort of the army’s rule but not the supposed

tyranny of the Kings Personal rule? Equally how much did the economic

climate serve to undermine the republican regimes and the Grandees while also

bolstering the case for stability that the Restoration of the monarchy seemed to

offer? All these questions will be considered in the concluding chapter. In that

chapter, having looked at the character of Monck himself, the influence events

had on the crisis, on the influences individuals and groups had and finally at the

underlying trends socially, politically and otherwise the thesis will attempt to

draw together the strands and resolve some of the issues present in the current


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Chapt er

In order for the current historiography concerning Monck’s personality and

motivation to work, we have to ignore his past actions. Monck, it has to be

assumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary, was a rational actor. By this

one means his actions are rational and are determined by his estimation of the

chances of success, likelihood of failure and the associated costs of any course

of action. Thus Monck’s actions must be understood in the context of that

balance. His actions and reactions to scenarios, the tendency or propensity to

act, can be predicted by looking at what he did in the past. If one examines the

path of Monck’s career following his return to England from service on the

continent, it becomes clear that he habitually followed a path based on a

rational assessment of his options rather than a path dictated by principles or

loyalties. This is not to censure or condemn the man, far from it, it is to clarify

that his actions following the collapse of the Protectorate, and during the

process that led to the restoration were consistent with his previous actions.

They did not represent a new, previously unknown, element of his personality

and they were guided by his rational judgement rather than by principle.

In order to show this contention to be true four separate incidents will be

examined in this section;

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i. Monck’s switching of sides in 1647/48 from an initial Royalist stance to

the cause of Parliament;

ii. His reaction to the execution of the King and his deal making with Eoin

Roe O’Neill during his tour in Ireland in 1648/1649;

iii. His inaction and his failure to defend Richard Cromwell and the

protectorate regime when the Grandees and their junior officers moved

against it in April 1659;

iv. Finally his treating with Lambert and his fellow Grandees during the last

months of 1659 which can only have been in bad faith.

We can begin with the changing of sides early in the civil war period itself.

Having initially fought for the king in Ireland he refused to take an oath to

defend the king and was sent to Bristol under arrest, if with a relatively good

report from Ormonde11. It took however, a visit to the king in Oxford for

Monck to decide to fight for his sovereign, strange given his background and

his previous service in Ireland. His first battle however, at Nantwich, resulted

in his capture and captivity, first in Hull for six months and then, following the

royalist defeat at Marston Moor, in the Tower of London.

11 Maurice Ashley, General Monck, Pg. 43

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While Monck was a captive the first civil war ended with defeat for the King

and the royalist forces. Politics was kind to Monck. A commander of his from

before the conflict, Viscount Lisle was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for a

year’s tenure he asked for Monck’s services, as Monck had served in Ireland

before the civil war. Being called, by parliament, to service, obviously entailed

an escape from the tower and the chance to earn money rather than waste it in

the tower. He opted to declare a loyalty to parliament by swearing an oath.

Thus George Monck had completed the transition from royalist to

parliamentarian by way of captive.

What can be made of this process then? It would be interesting to know why

he delayed in committing to the king. Maurice Ashley12 in his biographical work

suggests several possibilities. That Monck was reluctant to take oaths of any

kind, but this sits badly with Monck’s willingness later to take an oath to return

to service for Parliament. Ashley suggests another more likely interpretation,

that Monck, knowing adherents to both sides, was moved by a desire to read

the lie of the land. To sound out how the war itself was progressing before

committing himself. Such an interpretation goes to the core of Monck’s

12 Ibid

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character. How could he be viewed as merely a soldier who obeyed authority if

he was taking time to decide which side he was on?

Thus in taking his time to choose sides Monck showed himself to be anything

but a mere soldier. That he chose the side that would be defeated is immaterial.

At the time of choosing such knowledge was unavailable to him and both sides

had opportunities for victory.

Later, in changing sides, Monck reinforced that political or practical edge of his

personality. If we allow the benefit of the doubt to Monck on his early delay in

choosing to fight for the king and suggest that this was the product of soul

searching, a simple man forced to make a momentous decision that he was

determined to get correct, then the switching of sides is even more out of

character. However, if we stay with the previous explanation of Monck’s delay,

that he was judging the two sides it makes perfect sense. He changed sides

when offered the chance by Lisle and Parliament because he realised the tide of

Royalism was out and that the only way for Monck’s ship to rise was to be on

the winning team. The taking of the oath at this stage completely undermines

the possibility offered by Ashley that Monck refused the earlier oath in service

to the king because he was opposed to oaths in general. It also makes a

mockery of the idea that Monck was a simple professional soldier. By choosing

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one side and then defecting to the other, Monck showed himself to be more

concerned with his own survival than principle or authority. It establishes a

clear example of rational thought and decision making

It is from his service in Ireland that two other events of note come to occur.

The first was his reaction as Major General in Ulster to the execution of

Charles I. Unlike another parliamentary commander in the country, Inchiquin,

Monck remained loyal to the purged Parliament. A defection from the former

royalist would not have been extreme. He had served the King both in Ireland

and during the civil war, if only briefly, and it is not inconceivable that his

principles might have been stirred by the combination of Pride’s Purge and the

following execution. Yet Monck accepted the new regime indeed in the words

of Ashley he “accepted the new republican regime in England and was as firm

as he knew to be with those who did not.”13

The second event was Monck’s agreement with Owen O’Neill in 1649. The

Ulster Scots, under Sir George Munro, had made it clear they would not serve

the new regime. Monck was unable to swear the covenant the Scots required

lest he be construed as a traitor in London. His position was tenuous. His

13 Maurice Ashley, General Monck, Pg. 61.

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forces were low on supplies and would have been outnumbered had O’Neill

combined with the royalist forces of Ormonde and Inchiquin. Monck, along

with Sir Charles Coote in Londonderry and General Jones in Dublin were the

remaining loyal Parliamentarians in Ireland. O’Neill had a sizeable force at his

command and had already made overtures to the council of state in London

concerning the future. He was willing to conclude a deal in return for

“toleration of the catholic religion, security of possession of catholic lands, and

indemnity and oblivion for the outrages of 1641.”14 Monck was concerned to

keep at least one of his potential enemies from the field. He thus agreed to a

deal under which he “resolved to give [O’Neill] the necessary powder on

condition of an offensive and defensive alliance for three months, during which

O’Neill bound himself to make no terms with Ormonde or Inchiquin or with

any opponent of Parliament”15

In the end it was of little use. Inchiquin somehow received news of the

exchange of powder and ambushed the men O’Neill had sent to retrieve it on

their way back from Dundalk. With the agreement now undermined Inchiquin

proceeded to invest Dundalk, which Monck was in no position to hold for

more than a few days. Under the surrender terms many of Monck’s troops

14 Roger Hainsworth, The Swordsmen in Power: War and politics under the English Republic 1649-1660. Pg. 60.
15Richard Bagwell, Ireland under the Stuarts Vol. II, Pg. 182.

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enlisted with Inchiquin’s forces and only Monck and a few other officers

returned to England. Despite his loss of Dundalk and the treaty with O’Neill

he retired to Devon with the thanks of the Council of State and the Parliament.

These two instances are not designed to undermine Monck or to paint him in a

negative light. They do show that Monck was capable of a considerable degree

of flexibility when it came to interpreting his principles, interpreting his orders

also, and dealing with situations. These attributes were important because they

were to be of great use to him during the months of crisis surrounding the end

of the protectorate and the restoration of the king. Even more importantly they

were consistent with his actions to that point. Far from being a simple

professional soldier Monck displayed considerable political know how. He was

capable of judging situations and acting in a way that advantaged him most.

The next example of this facility reinforces and confirms this view of Monck.

This particular occasion was his decision not to come to Richard Cromwell’s

aid in April 1659. As Roger Hainsworth and others point out, Richard

Cromwell was considerably more astute, far more capable and achieved more

than his historical nickname “Tumbledown dick” implies16. Richard had made a

16 Roger Hainsworth, The Swordsmen in Power: War and politics under the English Republic 1649-1660. (1997)

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surprisingly good start of continuing the protectorate. However the army was

suspicious of his intentions and those of the new parliament he had secured. It

should be noted, given the make up of the parliament that their fears were not

ungrounded. By deft political manoeuvring and compromise Richard managed

to reach April balancing competing demands. It was at that point that he faced

impossible odds.

The Parliament failed to tackle the finances of the regime, and instead began to

concern itself with the future of the army. The army as Hutton says “Accepted

him only with Fleetwood as an informal, and then formal, intermediary”17. This

angered the ordinary foot soldiers and the senior commanders alike. They felt

pushed by the latest threat from Parliament, were suspicious of the Protector’s

ambitions and they were concerned for their own welfare. It is unsurprising

that they refused to obey Richard and his regime.

Monck might have been expected to act in Richard’s defence. He had after all

been a loyal supporter of the elder Cromwell and owed much of his position to

that now dead commander. He had offered his advice to Richard early in the

17 Hutton, Ronald. The Restoration. Pg. 41

- 27 -
new Protectors’ regime in a letter18delivered through Dr. Clarges, Monck’s

brother in law. Yet Monck remained inactive because the soldiers of his units

were set against the Protectorate if not necessarily Richard himself. Assuredly

he must have felt depressed by this event and indeed his subsequent attempt to

resign his commission must have been partly influenced by this occurrence.

It does indicate however the key ability that Monck had now displayed on

several occasions to interpret both duty and principle flexibly. Monck can thus

be viewed to be the most rational of actors, when despite his overwhelming

sympathy and association with the protectorate of the Cromwell’s he would not

act because he knew his attempt would fail. He was further conscious that even

close to him the soldiers of his own units could not be trusted to support him.

Each of his actions was weighed up and considered on the basis alluded to

earlier. What were his chances of success, how likely or vigorous was

opposition going to be?

The final display of this aspect of Monck’s personality occurred during the

crisis itself and warrants examination because it is an example of Monck’s

rational decision making ability in action. While we do not know what Moncks

18 Birch, T, Thurloe State Papers, VII. Pg. 387-8

- 28 -
exact motives or goals were in declaring for the Purged parliament in October

1659 what we do know and what can be said is that he envisioned a future

without the cabal of officers around Fleetwood and Lambert. Thus any

pretence at negotiation was just that, pretence. Hutton suggest it was an effort

to spin out the inevitable clash between himself and Lambert19. Monck

benefited greatly by waiting. At the same time his enemies suffered great harm.

The coherency and local popularity of Lamberts forces which were

inadequately supplied and relied on free quarter to keep them fed was gradually

being undermined.

The reality was that Monck never had any intention of keeping any deal. No

situation could have emerged in which an agreement that was satisfactory to

him would be reached, though it is important to note that this knowledge was

not available to his contemporaries. They thus had faith in negotiation at least

for a sufficient period to allow events develop in Monck’s favour. Hutton as

much as acknowledges this when he suggests the spinning out of negotiations

was merely a ploy and a play for time.

19 Hutton, Ronald. The Restoration. Pg. 79.

- 29 -
So in this final guise Monck emerges as the rational, unscrupulous actor he was.

By acting only when he knew the rewards and benefits outweighed the risks,

Monck was capable of disarming his opposition and ending the first phase of

the crisis unreservedly in his favour. With the pretensions of the grandees

crushed many other factors would now come into play. The following chapters

will deal with these and consider their implications and effects on Monck’s

character also.

- 30 -
Chapt er

Having looked at Monck’s personality and character, the focus of consideration

must move on to events. In doing so, events will be considered for their

impact. First on Monck’s chances of success and on the trajectory of his aims,

which after all changed as his circumstances did, and also affected other players

in the crisis. Secondly they will be viewed as key elements in Monck’s and those

other players’ calculations and rational decision-making. The most practical

method for doing this is to examine the timeline from the ousting of the Rump

by the Grandees through to the return of the king in May 1660.

It is possible to divide the period from the fall of the restored Rump in 1659 to

the return of the King in May into three distinct phases. Phase one constitutes

that time before Monck crossed the Berwick (including his actions dealing with

Scotland) and ending with the collapse of the Grandees and their pretensions

to power in the dying days of December. Events in this period shaped the

ascendancy of Monck and confirmed the collapse of the Grandees’ aims.

The second phase can be viewed as running from the crossing of the Berwick

until the dissolution of the Rump parliament on16th March 1660. This period

covers the key decision by Monck to allow the secluded members to return to

- 31 -
the Rump and to declare for a full and free parliament. In essence this brought

an end to the republic. In many ways this period covers the clash between the

restored rump and the flow in favour of conservatism and a Royal return.

The last and final phase extends from the end of the Rump to the return of the

king and covers the final decision by Monck to opt for a restoration and the

actions both of the King and parliament that made that conclusion to the crisis


Phase One: October 1659-December 1659

When one considers the events of this period perhaps the most momentous for

the stability of the republic following the coup of the Grandees was the trio of

letters from Monck himself to Speaker Lenthall, Lambert and Fleetwood.

These shattered the image of a united army acting in the defence of the

commonwealth. Anything that happened after this event happened without the

legitimacy that unity of the army offered. It also suggested several problems

that had to be dealt with by the Grandees and their new council of state.

Firstly, even if Monck’s personal attachment to the rump could be discounted

by sceptical colleagues, some element of the army was at least claiming to be in

- 32 -
support of the now once again defunct parliament. That opposition,

furthermore, was capable of resisting and mounting effective operations against

their own forces. In short, it offered the daunting prospect of conflict, if not

right away then when the campaigning season opened. Even successful

operations against Monck would force the grandees to delay other actions to

stabilise their state. Thus the second and complimentary problem arose. The

need to deal rapidly with the security threat posed by Monck caused the

Grandees to divert vital management resources to that threat, depriving them

of key abilities when they were most needed. Even negotiations with Monck

took away resources from those other desperate tasks. Monck had the

advantage of not having to deal with these issues.

So the opening salvo of the crisis, which had in Scotland been preceded by a

purge of his own forces by Monck to remove radicals and suspect officers,

already changed the stakes. Monck had presented problems and possibilities

previously unsuspected and unexpected by the new council of state. He would,

by pacifying and neutralising the Scots over the following weeks, create even

larger ones and make his victory in the crisis more likely.

Perhaps Monck’s greatest single achievement in preparing for his clash with the

Grandees was ensuring peace in Scotland. By doing so he removed the danger

- 33 -
that Scottish forces would rise against the English occupation and also made it

unlikely that he could be accused of abandoning his duty or sacrificing English

security for personal ambition. The novel element of this balance was that

options for the future of Scotland remained open and no administration was

bound by agreements made by Monck. In this he showed his usual political

‘nous’ but was also the beneficiary of incredible luck.

His political skill has to be acknowledged especially in the context of the type

of regime that Monck had presided over in Scotland during his time as

Governor. As Julia Buckroyd highlights, in her intriguing article on the 1659-

1660 period in Scottish history, “The whole tenor of the Cromwellian

administration ... had been to limit the power of the nobility as far as possible.

Monck’s repeated imprisonment of and demands for assurances of good

behaviour from the nobility made it most unlikely that he would suddenly

reverse his policies.”20Yet despite this, Monck was able to establish a balance

between competing Scottish interests one that allowed the nobility an increased

role but did not pose a danger of Royalism emerging in the ascendant. The

factor of luck emerges when one considers the possibilities Monck’s departure

offered to men wishing to cause mischief in Scotland.

20 Buckroyd, J. Scottish Historical Review Pg. 11

- 34 -
Despite drawing off so many troops and marching south in January, it is

unlikely that a sufficiently large and well trained force could have been

mustered to challenge the remaining, well trained, well positioned, well-

supplied and veteran troops who remained in Scotland. However consider

events counterfactually for a moment. Had even a small force, ill equipped,

badly led and ultimately unsuccessful tried to take advantage of the absence of

the commander and the majority of his forces what would have been the


Monck’s cloak of respectability would have vanished, as he would, quite rightly,

have been painted as more concerned about his personal goals then security.

The morale of his troops facing enemies to their rear and to their front (at least

prior to Lambert’s collapse) would surely have been diluted. Indeed given his

initial problems in creating a stable unit from the troublesome and quarrelsome

ranks21 it is unlikely that he would have ever stabilised the force. This is a

crucial point as the superior morale of Monck’s troops was vital to his success

in waiting out Lambert on the Tweed and allowing circumstance to undermine

his opponents. Given the damage done to Lambert’s troop’s morale by such a

position (although that, as we will see, was a degree more complex) this

21 Well over 100 officers and NCOs were purged from the ranks and several incidents of desertion were

- 35 -
consideration is important. In doing this and ensuring that events in Scotland

were more in the nature of non-events, Monck secured room for manoeuvre

and freed his hands for action.

Another aspect of this peace was that local government continued in Scotland

without any breakdown and tax assessments could continue to be collected.

This meant that Monck had a Treasury that could be replenished. This fact was

later to prove a significant boon to the General in his conflict with the


The rest of this period can only have been viewed by the Grandees and their

putative administration as a series of astounding hammer blows. Events played

out almost routinely against them. It must have seemed that sense had returned

to the situation when Monck had engaged in negotiations and the exchange of

commissioners. Yet even accepting negotiation with Monck showed that the

Grandees were on the back foot, disadvantaged by a move that took them by

surprise. The rejection by Monck of the agreement his commissioners had

made, displayed the strength and the weakness of the relative players. What

emerged was that Monck was unyielding in the North. His forces had

solidified; his hold of Scotland assured and his opponents would have had the

worst of any engagement, especially if they had advanced into Scotland. The

- 36 -
Grandees on the other hand were meekly forced to accept a reopening of

negotiations, for what other alternative but conflict, did they have?

The defection of the Portsmouth garrison December 3rd showed that the

Scottish contingent was not the only opposition to the seizure of power and

also that the opposition was not confined to a limited element. Monck was now

not the only centre of opposition. This was reinforced by the presence of

Haselrig and Morley in Portsmouth, both considerably more radical than

Monck in their outlook. Further, the different fronts appealed to different

opponents of the Grandees drawing support from both edges of any base the

Grandees might have had.

The move by the fleet under Vice Admiral Lawson a mere ten days later,

displayed the Grandees inability to provide security and stability even in

London. Both these events worsened the already considerable problems faced

by the Grandees. Crucially they also reflected the deepened scope of

opposition. The fleet had initially resolved not to act against the Grandees.

That the fleet chose now to join in the expression of opposition showed the

grandees to have a weak handle on events in general.

- 37 -
If Portsmouth and the defection of the fleet damaged the prestige and stability

of the Army, then the rising of Fairfax in Yorkshire robbed the grandees of any

moral legitimacy they had left. Fairfax, as the former commander of all the

senior officers, could not be dismissed as Monck or Morley might have been,

as just one ambitious officer. Nor could he be labelled as one who desired a

return to a royalist system, having played so large a part in the king’s defeat.

The impact of this particular event however damaged the morale and

disposition of Lambert’s forces in the field. Faced now with opposition to the

rear and the front, Lamberts forces began to disintegrate. The added authority

of Fairfax, parliamentary commander in the struggles against the executed King

surely aided that disintegration.

How little, by itself, the coup, by forces under Broghill in Ireland, must have

meant amidst the welter of disastrous news. It was if anything merely a sign of

the flow of events and the likely path events would take in the future. The

hammer blows that the army commanders had experienced from events shook

their self-belief. Fleetwood could not see a way to continue because; barring

bloodshed, there was no way forward. Events had closed all options previously

available to the Grandees after they removed the Rump. Faced now with the

only option of surrender in the face of credible and likely overwhelming

- 38 -
opposition or a bloody repression, the would-be forgers of a new republican

alliance caved.

Phase Two: 1st January 1660 - 16th March 1660

So as the final days of December closed around the principle actors in the

drama, events had changed for good the political lie of the land and the

possibilities profoundly. That this was the case was demonstrated on January

4th. As Monck marched towards London with his forces (having crossed the

Berwick on 1st January) the Lord Mayor and common council of London sent

their sword bearer to meet Monck and express to him their desire for a full

parliament. This request was an explicit call for either a new house or the

readmission of the excluded members to the Londoners. It seemed a

reasonable request considering the absence of any London representation in

the rump. At this early stage however that a body as influential as the City of

London would call for something directly against the Rump’s interests

strengthened Monck’s hand and made clear that the Rump was not necessarily

safe. Further, it suggested to Monck that potential allies against the Rump

existed within the capital.

- 39 -
This confirms that very little of the events of the previous three months had

been to the benefit of the Rump itself (except of course that they were now

reinstated) and much advantage had accrued to Monck. Without having to

engage fellow English men Monck had spearheaded the return of the Rump

parliament. Yet even if the Parliament was back in place it was by no means

back in power. Its power rested on the muskets and horsemen of Monck’s

regiments and his wishes were all but clear.

Parliament was in the awkward position of being beholden to a man whose

intentions for their existence were unclear. At best they had an uneasy alliance,

but it was clear that they viewed Monck as a rival for power and that he in turn

was not as loyal a servant as he might at one stage have appeared. Events and

influences again acted in Monck’s favour and against his opposition.

For the Rump, Monck’s dallying with Fairfax in York for two days was even

more worrying. What was their agenda? Were they in collusion? Was Monck

intent on restoring the Monarchy and was Fairfax to join him? The loyalty of

Fairfax to the Republic was not absolute after all. He had resigned with as

much haste as possible following the execution of the King and was deemed to

have disapproved of the Purge that had led to it. The power of Fairfax’s name

had been made manifest by the muster in York his rising had prompted.

- 40 -
The weakness of the Rump in the face of Monck’s challenge and the other

opponents was further demonstrated by the order of the 30th January which

moved Fleetwood’s troops out of London. Cosmetically this was a boon to the

Rump which could not trust those soldiers. In reality it merely highlighted the

fact that Monck’s regiments were the last trustworthy units in the land and with

them rested the power. In the same way as events had acted against the leaders

of the October Coup events were moving against the Rump and in favour of


A mutiny by soldiers over pay on February 2nd was echoed by an apprentice riot

over liberty and showed the extreme tensions which were still to be dealt with

by the rump and its officers. While these troubles might be considered as

merely demonstration of discontent they also showed the weakness of the state

in financial and fiscal terms. As had been clear form the last years of Oliver’s

rule, the republic was bankrupt. Its debts had mounted to an extraordinary

extent, overdue pay to soldiers had mounted and current expenditure exceeded

current income by a significant degree. The Rump had shown itself incapable

of managing the finances during its last tenure. It had also shown itself

incapable of providing stability. These events highlighted for all, the gap

between rhetoric and reality and demonstrated further the fact that Monck’s

military might was the only stable linchpin remaining in the state. But if the

- 41 -
reality of Monck’s strength was growing other events were showing how

hollow the Rumps claim to legitimacy and prominence were.

On February 8th the common council of London refused to pay taxes until

parliament was filled22. Essentially they repeated the requests made to Monck

on 4th of January, and backed this demand with action. Monck, by now in

London, vacillated over the next few days. He initially acted on Parliament’s

orders to take down the posts and chains set up to defend the principle gates of

the city. But on the 9th February as he acted in “obedience to the civil power”23

Monck came up against opposition from his own ranks.

A decisive encounter with his officers ensued. Accommodation was reached

and the posts and chains were removed but not the portcullis. Senior officers

such as Colonel Thomas Saunders and Major Nathaniel Barton pleaded with

Monck to change his course on the evening of the 10th. The seemingly ever

present Dr. Clarges, Monck’s Brother in law, also championed resistance. This

event is critical in understanding Monck. He had not yet acted in open defiance

of the Rump, not yet used his power to destabilise the renewed regime. It is a

mark of his flexibility that he waited till it seemed that all other options were

22 Morrah, Patrick 1660: The Year of the Restoration, Pg. 65

23 Ibid, Pg. 66

- 42 -
closed and even his own officers were demanding action against the Rump

before he did indeed act.

Thus on 11th February Monck who history and historians paint as a bluff man

stunned his opponents, or rather his erstwhile allies, with yet another incendiary

letter24. This one demanded the end of the filling up of the rump and that the

house would quickly brings itself to conclusion allowing for a free parliament.

It was news of this missive leaking out to the general public that led to the

celebrations and seemingly ostentatious revelry. Monck had effectively won the

public relations battle by a landslide. His popularity soared and conversely that

of the rump, what was left of it, disappeared.

Monck had chosen his moment well. As Morrah records by the 16th February

addresses from Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Oxford had arrived promising that

“until the parliament was filled up, no taxes would be paid”25. The delay in

issuing writs for the filling up of the house gave others the chance to push for

the readmission of the members excluded during Prides purge in 1648. In an

example of Monck following the path of least resistance and making decisions

based on rational judgements, he secured the support of some 73 secluded

24 Baker, R. A Chronicle of the Kings Of England Pg. 598

25 Morrah, Patrick, 1660: The Year of the Restoration, Pg. 72

- 43 -
members and ensured their safe arrival in the house on the morning of the 21st


Interestingly Monck made sure that his version of this change made its way to

the army before any other version might. A meeting between him and his

officers produced a missive that was copied and sent to all army units in

England, Scotland and Ireland.

While events were to follow a long course before the newly expanded Rump

dissolved and the new parliament was to sit, Monck had created the conditions

that made his the deciding voice in national affairs. He had neutralised all major

opposition and events had worked in his favour. The Grandees had collapsed

with more alacrity than might have been expected, the Rump had been

outmanoeuvred and most importantly the army was quiet. As yet of course the

General had not declared for the king nor had he entered negotiations to

secure his return. However, as the Rump dissolved itself on the 16th March

1660 he must have been well aware of the legitimacy of the incoming

parliament and certainly he was conscious of the likely leanings of any such

newly elected house. If the second phase was over with the end of the Rump

then the third phase, in which Monck used his pre eminence to ease the return

of the King was about to begin.

- 44 -
Phase Three: 17th March - 25th May

In many ways the events of the last few months before Charles Stuart’s return

were driven by Monck rather than, as had been the case to date, events driving

Monck. But others had an effect on the course of events, their contribution,

along with others will be considered in the next chapter. What must be dealt

with now is the nature of the last phase. Superficially this period may seem to

have been the least contentious. After all the main decisions regarding the

future had been made. The long parliament was dissolved and a new parliament

was about to come into being with a renewed mandate and thus greater

legitimacy. The army had been cowed by purges and its radical leaders were

marginalised. As Hutton says, “By the beginning of March at the latest, it must

have been obvious to George Monck that the policy he had initiated was

making a royal restoration likely.”26

The meeting between Monck and his cousin Sir John Grenville on the 17th

March was the catalyst for contact between Monarch and General. Monck’s

advice was taken with a degree of scepticism by the King. After all, as Hutton

26 Hutton, Ronald, Restoration, Pg. 106

- 45 -
points out, Monck was a man who had played a significant role in destroying

the king’s forces at Dunbar. The King and his counsellors considered the

terms but “they were no more willing to be bound [by them] than by

others.”27However the alliance now between Monck and his party and the king

and his counsellors made certain that the return would be relatively untroubled.

The only event which might have derailed the process occurred on the 10th

April Lambert escaped from the Tower and sought to rally the forces of the

republic to resist the slide into monarchy. Monck acted vigorously and swiftly,

sending two flying columns to apprehend Lambert once the location of his

gathering was discovered. It was a mark of the change in atmosphere and

expectations that Lambert’s attempt brought about only muted unrest and did

not result in a widespread mutiny. This proves the efficiency of the purges

Monck had used to bolster the ranks of the army and to remove the

malcontents and radicals. Even Hutton, who considers the affair of more

importance than it truly warrants, admits that the defeat of Lambert was in a

sense inevitable because as he eloquently comments, “men like Ingoldsby who

had signed away the old king’s life, Monck, who had destroyed the present

27 Ibid, Pg. 108.

- 46 -
king’s soldiers, Pury, whose father had voted for the commonwealth, and

Streater, who had printed defences of one, were now determined to end it.”28

The Convention Parliament met on the 25th April. Initially the old

parliamentary Lords managed to hold back the tide of royalist opinion that the

elections had revealed by occupying the House of Lords and electing their own

speaker. But by the 27th the hereditary peers had regained the Lords for the

majority opinion. On the 1st May 1660 Sir John Grenville presented letters

from the king, first to the Lords, then to the Commons, asking for support.

Both houses complied. On the 2nd the army sent out an address of loyalty to all

the regiments and garrisons in England, Scotland and Ireland. Those who

refused to endorse the address were to be noted and their names forwarded to

Monck. The Navy underwent a similar process on the 3rd and on the 8th the city

of London approved the decision of parliament. Everything was set for the

return of Charles which happened on 25th May.

Events had been guided carefully in this last phase. Certainly it had none of the

dangers of the first two phases. Monck must surely have known, before he met

Grenville that the most likely option was restoration, unless he intended to

28 Ibid, Pg. 116.

- 47 -
seize power for himself. Yet the outbreak by Lambert shows that nothing was

decided until the king was firmly on the throne again. Indeed one cannot help

but wonder how much it would have taken to make George Monck shift once

more with the wind? How might events have changed if Lambert’s rebellion

had garnered more support or been more successful? These questions can only

be considered counterfactually and as such can only result in speculation. It

remains to say that this last phase saw the likely outcome of Restoration

become reality and that reality was one in which Monck had played a significant

part. Having considered in depth the role events played in the crisis and in the

shaping of Monck’s goals we must now turn to the impact of individuals on the

crisis and its development.

- 48 -
Chapt er

Monck’s personality and his rational assessment of events has been examined

thus far, the effect events themselves had on his decisions has also been

explored. The last crucial component in that rational decision-making process

must be the effect and influence that other actors had on Monck’s decision

making. Hutton has pointed out that Monck’s officers cannot be ignored when

considering the question of what motivated Monck. He after all, had to tackle

their concerns on a regular basis. The most important body in that regard was

the Army under his command in Scotland. That force will be the first focus of

this chapter.

Looking at the Army of Scotland intriguing questions present themselves. The

army George Monck led down into England was very different from the army

whose reaction on the overthrow of Richard Cromwell had been to accept

“this with enthusiasm, and [Monck] had to send to Richard privately expressing

this inability to act, and to write to the General Council openly his support.”29

What had happened to allow Monck act as he did in October? What placed

him in a position to act then, when earlier he had been unable?

29 Hutton, Ronald, The Restoration, Pg. 40

- 49 -
It was indicative of Monck’s weakness in the early days after the overthrow of

the protectorate that he had been forced to accept a purge of his officer corps

by the successful Grandees and the Rump Parliament. Both these groups were

concerned about what they viewed as reactionary forces within Monck’s units.

The officers he was forced to cashier were those he trusted and who

sympathised with his more conservative outlook.

It is perhaps not surprising then that the reverse happened as he seized control
of events following his decision to resist the removal of the Rump in October.
He removed officers he distrusted or considered too radical from his ranks in
Scotland after sending his trio of letters which reached London on 20th
October 1659. Thomas Talbot, a known supporter of Lambert and commander
of one of the regiments of foot was in England. His regiment however was
considered trustworthy. Moncks own regiment was “Full of politicians and
extremists”30. Using the trusted soldiers of Talbot’s regiment Monck’s unit was
purged at gunpoint.

Monck then reinstated the officers previously cashiered by the Rump

parliament and removed those officers they had imposed upon him. By the

time he actually crossed over the Tweed and marched south his army was

effectively purged. Using methods similar to those used on his own regiment in

Edinburgh he expelled from all his units those soldiers and officers distrusted

30 Davis, Geoffrey, The Restoration of Charles II: 1658-1660, Pg162.

- 50 -
by him and his close associates. The table below shows the losses for just three

of Moncks Regiments, His own Wilkes’ and Cobbet’s31.

Monck’s lost Wilkes’ lost Cobbet’s Lost

One Lt. Col 1 Major One Lt. Col

One Major 2 Lieut. 3 Field Officers

4 Capts. 2 Ensigns 5 Capts.

7 Lieut. Others later 6 Lieut.

4 Ensigns 2 Ensigns

Quarter master and 9


The very fact that he had to purge his units indicates distrust, but more

importantly for this discussion, it indicates why Monck was forced to play for

time. The state of his army forced his hand as much as his actions forced the

hand of his opponents. He was wise to distrust several of his officers. They

had, after all, been against the protectorate and wished for a far more radical

solution or settlement than Monck himself could ever have envisaged. But as

Davies points out, “Monck, like Cromwell before him, saw that a cashiered

31 Ibid, Pgs. 160-165.

- 51 -
officer has little or no influence with his late regiment, provided that the

remaining officers did not share his views.”32

This then represents the first major influence Monck’s soldiers had on his

decisions, forcing him to adopt a cautious approach to advancing into England.

This was ramified by his concern to ensure Scotland remained calm in his

absence and in effect limited his scope for swift action. He was fortunate in

many ways that his opponents were as circumscribed in their ability to act as he


So what did the purges achieve for Monck? Primarily it removed dangerous

men and opponents of his plans (such as they were) and thus their ideas. This

was vital for the stability of the army. Another bonus to the purges was that it

installed men of a similar disposition and ideology to Monck and his senior

commanders. This meant that he could rely on them to follow orders but more

importantly that they would need less convincing to follow his chosen path. In

appointing or reappointing these men he created an officer corps who had

been reinstated at his behest and thus had an interest in his victory as any other

32Davies, Geoffrey, The Restoration of Charles II: 1658-1660, Pg. 164

- 52 -
outcome would endanger their newly regained or simply new positions. This

group of officers had no option then but to be personally loyal to him.

The changes necessary in the army affected Monck’s planning and the pace of

his actions. But in other ways they also strengthened his hand at key moments.

The army’s stability once the purges and reinstatements were completed meant

that Monck was the only commander fielding a fully formed, fully trained and

fully equipped army. Further as has been noted it was an army with a dedicated

officer corps and one, which was as immune as he could make it to radical


An equally important influence on Monck was that of officers. One for

instance, Colonel John Clobery, it is now known, was a royalist and had contact

with royalist agents through his correspondence with Dr. John Barwick. While

it is unlikely that the Colonel was too open in his views it is not inconceivable

that his advice at moments of consultation and planning would have been

tinged by his leanings. The influence that men such as Clobery exerted was vital

to the changing state of play during the crisis.

As has already been noted in earlier chapters the officers were to have a big

effect on Monck during his time in London. The crunch came when ordered to

- 53 -
confront the city of London in early February, men such as Hubblethorne

refused to partake in the destruction of London’s defences. This encounter

between officers and commander sealed the fate of the Rump and depending

on how you read Monck’s personality, either gave him the chance he desired to

break the hold of the rump or allowed him to move along the path of least


It should be recalled however that despite what was to occur later, there was as

yet little indication that the officers of Monck’s force favoured the return of the

king. Even if they had been at that early stage, their soldiers’ opinions were

certainly not in favour of royal return and there is no reason to believe that

Monck’s instincts favoured such a manoeuvre either. Indeed the thrust of this

thesis has been to show exactly how late that decision was actually taken, at

least in Monck’s mind.

In conclusion then, the army’s influence was twofold. At a basic level the need

to establish the reformed army forced Monck to play a long game and one

which gave him time to secure his position in Scotland. On another level

Monck’s close circle of officers influenced his actions at a key point already

highlighted and most probably at other junctures throughout the crisis. That

influence was far more subtle and less noticeable than the direct confrontation

- 54 -
that was witnessed on that occasion in London on the 10th February. It took

place no doubt in numerous untold and unrecorded ways. For instance, it could

have taken the form of advice to their commander on which officer ought to

be promoted, or which trooper ought to be made an NCO. Or even it may

have taken the form of advocating one course of action over another which

taken at face value might not have been seen as driving any particular agenda

but as part of an overall scheme would seem suspect or questionable. However,

in the context of a military command in which officers advise and council their

seniors who then make a decision and given the eventual confrontation which

occurred between the officers and Monck it is not unreasonable speculation. So

Monck’s officers and men played a role in shaping his course and thus the

course of the state during the crisis.

But having considered the effect Monck’s men had on the crisis, attention must

now turn to his opposition and their forces. In many ways it appears that

Monck was waiting for was the tipping point.33. All he had to do was wait for

33 This term has been used recently to describe that point at which regimes crumble. Prior to the collapse the
regime may appear to be secure and unchallenged but a constant application of pressure has undermined the
foundations of the regime and once this point is passed, collapse is swift and seemingly inevitable. Examples of
this trend have been seen recently both in Eastern Europe with regimes such as East Germany and Romania
and in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

- 55 -
the regime to pull itself down. He knew it was unpopular and that his side

would benefit from delay and the enemy grow weaker.

The differences between Monck’s forces and those of Lambert and the army in

England were pronounced. Monck had, thanks to his free use of the purge, a

reasonably stable fighting force. It is true that it had taken some time to settle

down and bed in new officers and promoted soldiers. Yet Monck had the

advantage of having enough supplies and money to pay and feed his army. His

treasury was full, having recently been sent a subvention by the parliament in

London and having the power to collect the assessment in Scotland. He had

also, as has been highlighted in other chapters, taken great pains to ensure that

local government and tax collection did not dissolve in Scotland34. In

comparison the Grandees were faced with a tax revolt by portions of the state

and thus they suffered from a lack of funds to equip Lambert’s forces.

However, the soldiers Monck led had no reason to expect the army of England

to collapse. They must surely have been conscious that the prospect of civil war

lay ahead of them. Not to mention the prospect of fighting against soldiers they

only recently fought alongside. This worry was also faced by Lambert. His

34 CF pg. 26

- 56 -
soldiers were also being asked to fight their former comrades. Whereas

Monck’s motto was simple and explicable, he was fighting for parliament, what

was Lambert to tell his men, except perhaps to appeal to the “good Old


Controlling the officer corps however must have been relatively easy for

Lambert as they were solidly behind the recent actions of their commanders.

However such control did not ensure the loyalty of the soldiers. The fate of

Richard Cromwell provides an illustration of the perils of loyalty amongst the

officer corps but not the soldiers. When the clash came between him and the

warlords in April 1659, he lost out to their superior command of the army rank

and file. They did respond to his summons, “Instead, inadequate pay, the

propaganda of the commonwealthsmen, and perhaps the visceral distrust of

Richard Cromwell himself made the common soldiers vote with their boots to

end parliament and to put the leadership of the nation firmly back with the

council of officers.”35As events progressed rapidly in those three months

between October and December Lambert was to find exactly the same

problem. Once Fairfax had declared for the Rump his forces began to melt

35 Seward, The Restoration, Pg. 117

- 57 -
away and he himself was lucky to escape the advance of Monck and evade the

troopers of Fairfax in Yorkshire.

Another concern when exploring opposition to Monck is the loss that Lambert

represented to the Grandees. Lambert’s skills were lost to the council of

officers by sending the General North to confront Monck. Lambert was

dealing with Monck’s challenge and therefore away from the centre. Had he

been free to deal with the challenges events placed at the feet of his fellows

officers, his superior capacity and ability might well have helped secure their

future. As it was his talents in the field and his popularity amongst the troops

failed to overcome the absence of proper supplies and the devastating blow

that was Fairfax’s call to arms in Yorkshire.

As a counterpoint, the weakness at the core of the coup seems to be

concentrated in Fleetwood. This man had long been at the centre of national

affairs having fought in the civil wars and achieved high rank; he was related to

the Cromwell’s by marriage and also popular amongst the troops. However, he

lacked the ruthlessness or the desire to retain power once he had seized it.

Fleetwood was unwilling to engage in the heavy repression necessary to

maintain their regime. The Council of officers were also faced with the need to

raise revenue significantly, as had every administration since the early 1650s,

- 58 -
but lacked the mandate that even the Rump parliament had to raise


Given the origin of the Revolution and the noises made during the years of

Charles’ Personal Rule it was unthinkable for the Grandees to act without

approval from some form of representative assembly. They were faced at that

moment with the absence of their most talented and charismatic figure. They

were concurrently bedevilled by problems that had destroyed several other

administrations, weighed down by the continuing prospect of conflict with

Monck in the North, the Rumpers in Portsmouth and the fleet in the Thames,

and beset by crisis after crisis. The Grandees must have felt some relief when in

the dying days of December they relinquished control back to the Rump and


As an individual who merits mention, Lord Fairfax stands out. His record to

that point in defence of the Republic was exemplary. He had commanded

parliamentary forces in a succession of civil wars against the king and stood by

when the army and their allies in parliament engineered the execution of the

King. Even though it can be assumed that he had not been totally in favour of

the purge and its consequences, Fairfax had not raised forces against the

progress of the protectorate or the republic. That he chose to do so in 1659 is

- 59 -
interesting and indeed challenging. Had he sensed a change in the atmosphere

amongst his peers in Yorkshire or, was he like Monck exploiting the weakness

of his opponents?

Whatever his motivation he, like Monck, affected the evolution of the crisis in a

radical way. His declaration of support changed the nature of the conflict. It at

once robbed the already damaged image of the Grandees as an army of unity. If

first one section of the army and then the former commander of that force

declared the actions of the army of England wrong and unjustified the ordinary

soldier was faced with a dilemma. Who was more trustworthy? Fairfax it is clear

swung that balance in favour of those supporting a return to parliamentary rule.

His consultations with Monck and the subsequent push from Yorkshire

confirms that he and the local elite in Yorkshire were as intent as the city of

London to see a change in the parliament. Yorkshire was one of the counties to

threaten to withhold taxes unless the parliament was filled up or a new one

elected. Fairfax himself was elected to the Convention Parliament. Fairfax then

brought legitimacy to Monck’s cause and established a moderate following for

the General that was closely in tune, it seems, from the returns to the

Convention Parliament, with the general feeling in the country. His influence

then was to make a return to Monarchy more likely and to push Monck’s

- 60 -
course, consciously or otherwise ever further in that direction. As Monck was

to discover during the early months of 1660, that was the prevailing flow of

opinion and thus the path of least resistance.

On reflection the cabal of men around Monck seems perfectly formed to bring

about a restoration. Price, his chaplain, who seems to have had a great deal of

access, if perhaps not the influence he himself imagines, was a covert Royalist.

Dr. Clarges his brother in law was an excluded member of parliament, as was

Morrice his trusted advisor once he reached London. Both men played a part in

the build up to restoration. Morrice was later to serve the King after his return.

Their exclusion during Pride’s purge indicates their sympathy and both showed

it in those early months. That Morrice had tended to Monck’s holdings in

Devon while the general had campaigned indicated the level of trust between

the two men. It was through Morrice that the letter carried by Sir John

Grenville was finally presented to Monck. Clarges seems, as already mentioned,

to have been everywhere during the crisis especially at crucial moments

influencing the generals mindset. This is shown by his presence at the meeting

between Monck and his officers in London on 10th February.

That the general had such a group of people about him who could on the one

hand advise him and most likely advise in a certain direction is startling. He was

- 61 -
certainly one of the few senior generals who had such a diverse group about

him. He was fortunate in having that group to either back or counter the

arguments he would have faced from the officers in his army.

Their other purpose was to act as a link to the outside world. Morrice was well

connected in Devon. Clarges had been a member of parliament for London

and would be so again. Their presence, the sway of the City, and the influence

of Fairfax and his fellow Yorkshire men meant that where the rump had a

limited mandate and the grandees too had suffered from this constriction,

Monck can be viewed as having had a wider remit broader support and this in

the final call was crucial.

The friends, allies and, relations close to Monck influenced and guided the

General and worked alongside him in bringing about an end to the crisis.

Certainly he must have been guided in the direction of restoration given their

own leanings. In short this group like many other groups and individuals

around Monck affected his decision making and in some ways eased the

transition to Monarchy.

- 62 -
Conc lusio n
Co ntext

Having considered the effect Monck’s personality had on the crisis, the role

played by events and the influence people and groups had on the progress

towards restoration it is time to place these details in a more general context.

The atmosphere in which these events took place was one of deep unrest. The

republican regimes were unpopular and the state of society unsettled. Davies

highlighted this as one of several reasons for the fall of the republic and the

restoration36. As Hutton described it “the direct cause of the restoration was

that the enfranchised public mandated a Parliament to produce one, after fierce

agitation against the existing regime.”37This work would contest that this

disaffection arose only after the Cromwellian experiment proved itself to be an

insufficient replacement for monarchy. There was after all, a significant

grouping of former Parliamentary followers for whom any action after Colonel

Pride’s purge, was viewed as illegitimate. To a degree the restoration of the king

represented a triumph for their more conservative viewpoint over the radicals

who had executed the monarch in 1649, a counter revolution in all but name.

36 Davis, Geoffrey, The Restoration of Charles II: 1658-1660

37 Hutton, Ronald, Restoration, Pg. 119

- 63 -
The question of a shift in generations emerges in this context too, yet another

explanation referred to in Davies’s text. In this regard late Protectorate Britain

resembles the current state of play in Iran. The analogy is not perfect yet the

comparison illuminates problems present in both cases. The generational divide

between the older more mature and battle hardened men who had experienced

the years of civil war and the young of the city of London and the provinces

who had not, is reflected in Iran. The revolutionaries who overthrew the

despotic regime in Iran remain entrenched in the order of society acting as they

do on the council of elders advising the Ayatollah and the president. From their

perspective, they act as the guardians of the revolution and the new order. They

are determined to protect the people’s rights, even against their wishes and

against their elected representatives. They echo the Grandees and Republican

Politicians who tried desperately to find a formula that could gain popularity

and legitimacy.

Opposed to old revolutionaries in Iran, the radicals on the streets are the

students who remain restless and unconvinced by the rhetoric and intentions of

the elite. Most of them believe the principles of the revolution are designed

more to keep the Conservatives in power and society under control than to

improve the position of the people. They now form the same troubled mass

that their fathers and mothers did twenty years ago. For them the target of rage

- 64 -
is not the Shah nor even America, but the regime which holds them down and

tramples their rights.

They play the role the apprentices and youths played in the closing days of the

crisis in Republican Britain. Those youths were troubled by the decay in trade.

They were worried by the instability they knew could only worsen their

prospects. They had experienced the army more as a boot trampling their

liberty than the protector of their rights. They viewed with scepticism the

republican ideals. Their forebears of the 1640’s were to be the foot soldiers and

horse troopers of Parliament in the civil wars, they were the foot soldiers or at

least the masses, of the counter revolution. On the street the modern Iranian

students throw stones at the forces of the revolution just as London

apprentices threw roof slates at soldiers of the parliamentary and army regimes

in 1659 and 1660.

In Iran the reformist politicians, Human rights lawyers, teachers, print

journalists and moderate clerics gain power from the activities and unrest

amongst the students. They are determined more than anything to see a return

to stability and a return to practicality in national affairs. These men attempt in

Iran to draw the extremist revolutionaries into compromise by using the

system. It is here that the analogy breaks down. In Britain, more radical action

- 65 -
was taken by this element in society. Instead of working in the system they

plotted to overthrow the system and in the end succeeded. It was a disparate

group composed of conservative landed elites, royalist conspirators, religious

moderates, and excluded members of parliament. Its activity was not coherent;

indeed often it was counterproductive and mistimed as Booth’s failure shows.

The group produced both Booth’s uprising and the call to arms of Fairfax in

Yorkshire. It is fair to include Monck within its ranks.

It is clear that major differences exist between the two periods. The disparities

are equally illuminating and must be considered. The crucial likeness is the

fractured nature of both societies, the sense that both lack or lacked a

settlement or an agreed structure acceptable to the majority of the population.

What made Britain in 1659 different from Iran of 2003? Most significant was

that a focus point for dissent existed. Charles Stuart may have been the king in

exile but for those opposed to the commonwealth and the republican ideals in

general, he provided a point of reference. He also provided an existing option

for continuing government and what is more, one that had proved tolerable to

many in the past. The King in parliament had been acceptable to most sections

in society until 1640. Following the civil wars it had remained the choice of a

- 66 -
majority of Parliamentarians, despite a wish to place some restraints on the

Monarch’s freedom.

The other decisive factor and the dynamic most central to this premise was the

presence of a tool for instigating change. That tool was George Monck and the

army of Scotland. As this thesis has demonstrated Monck determined his

course of action by rational assessment of his options. As these options

dwindled and it became clear that the only viable route forward was restoration

of the Monarchy, Monck changed course to enable this event.

Yet vital to understanding the nature of Monck and his path to restoration is

appreciating the changing circumstance he encountered. Events moved in his

direction constantly and not always with his knowledge or involvement. The

collapse of the Grandee’s aims was heralded by his announcement of

opposition, but executed by the succession of blows delivered by various

sources from October to December 1659. No one incident on its own would

have been sufficient to undermine their rule but combined they exposed the

fragile nature of their control.

In those events and occurrences, and in Monck’s calculations, the influences of

certain discrete groups and individuals were important. Ranging from the

- 67 -
declaration of Fairfax in Yorkshire, to the loyalty of Monck’s soldiers, these

groups or individuals affected the progress of the crisis.

Success rested on the fact that more people were convinced that restoration

benefited them to a greater degree than the existing system. This holds true of

the City of London and its unruly apprentices, the Politiques to whom Hutton

refers38, the army or what was left of it following the purges and confusion of

the crisis, and most importantly for Monck.

In the final analysis, George Monck’s role in restoring the Monarchy was

principally not to oppose it. Instead he consistently followed the path of least

resistance, always ensuring that the wind was behind his sails. He subtly or not

so subtly shifted his position to ensure that he was supported by a majority. He

only considered the option of restoration when it became clear that this was a

feasible route forward and after it became clear that his officers supported that


This work has contended that the restoration was the product of a mix of

forces. It has gone further to suggest that the balancing of those forces required

38 Hutton, Ronald. The Restoration, Pg. 73

- 68 -
the capacity of a rational actor, George Monck. That contention remains

coherent and is supported by the evidence. It offers the most comprehensive

and complex description of the influences and events which affected Monck,

his decisions, and thus the course of the crises that led to restoration.

- 69 -
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