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recruiters. In 1641 Charles I gave his consent to a bill which declared that the Long Parliament could not be dissolved save by its own consent. That Parliament sat until 1653 when Cromwell forcibly dissolved it. Out of just over 500 original members, about 200 joined the king and many others died or were killed: the small size of the House of Commons became a political embarrassment. After 1645 the absentees were replaced by ‘recruiters’, returned at by-elections, and by March 1647 244 new members had been brought in. By the time of its dissolution, fewer than 100 members of the pre-war House of Commons were in attendance.

J. A. Cannon

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