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Barebone's Parliament

Barebone's Parliament. When Cromwell expelled the Rump on 20 April 1653, he had no plans for an alternative government and no authority to call elections to a new Parliament. After deliberation, he and his council of officers decided to vest the supreme authority in a nominated assembly, initially for sixteen months. Together they chose 144 members to represent all the English counties, and also Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The assembly met on 4 July and soon voted to call itself a Parliament; it gets its familiar sobriquet from Praise-God Barebone, leather-seller, lay preacher, and MP for London. Barebone was not a typical member, however, for at least four-fifths of the House were gentlemen, and moderate men clearly outnumbered religious and political radicals. But the latter strove disruptively for extreme changes in religion and the law, until the moderate majority, to Cromwell's relief, staged a walk-out on 12 December and resigned their authority back into his hands.

Austin Woolrych

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