Barebones Parliament (April - Dec 1653)


What did the Barebones want and do?

  • A codification of the Law into a small pocket-book, abolition of Court of Chancery, abolition of tithes (compulsory taxes paid to the Church), abolition of a gentleman's right to nominate men to church livings 
  • Fifth Monarchists wanted the introduction of the Law of Moses

To the gentry, all this represented an attack on property rights. 

What they actually did:

  • Act to settle Ireland, act to link Scotland, England and Ireland 
  • 1653 Civil Marriage Act to allow marraige outside Church 
  • August 1653 voted to abolish Court of Chancery, where was only saved by dissolution of Barebone's in Dec 1653
  • In some month Barebone's voted by 56-22 in favour to abolition of tithes. This was too much for moderate members 
  • While the radicals attended a prayer meeting, moderates came to the chamber and voted themselves out of existence. 
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Barebones Parliament (April - Dec 1653)

  • When Cromwell dissolved the Rump, he had to decide what to replace it with. Fearing an election, he and the Council of Army officers decided to opt for a nominated assembly 
  • Lambert wanted a small executive Council of State, dominated by army leaders but with civilian members as well, while others wanted a nominated assembly of saints 
  • Called Barebone's by its enemies because one of MPs chosen was a leather merchant and Baptist lay preacher called Praise-God Barebon 
  • In fact Cromwell at first saw it as a body which might draw up a new Constitution but once it met, it decided to call itself a parliament 
  • Radicals in fact in a minority of 40 or so (only 11 or 14 committed Fifth Monarchists) but they tended to dominate discussions in their quest for Godly reform. Socially the members were not from the lower orders, most of the were lesser gentry status 
  • Their programme of reform sounded radical. They failed not because they were fanatical but because they threatened too many vested interests
  • First assembly to have representatives of Scotland and Ireland 
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