Cromwell, Elizabeth (1598–1665)

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Cromwell, Elizabeth (1598–1665)

Lady Protectress. Name variations: Elizabeth Bourchier; though her name was Elizabeth she was called Joan by the cavaliers. Born Elizabeth Bourchier in 1598; died at Northborough Manor, in Northamptonshire, England, the home of her son-in-law John Claypole, in 1665; buried in the local church; eldest of six children of Sir James Bourchier (a merchant of the shire of Essex but no relation to the noble Bourchiers of Essex) and Frances Crane Bourchier ; married Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), on August 22, 1620; children: Robert (b. October 1621); Oliver (b. February 1623); Bridget Cromwell (1624–c. 1660); Richard (b. October 1626–1712); Henry (b. January 1628); Elizabeth Cromwell , later Lady Claypole, known as Bettie (b. July 1629–d. August 6, 1658); Mary Cromwell (1636–1712), countess of Fauconberg; Frances Cromwell (1638–1721), also known as Lady Rich, later known as Lady Russell.

The plump and pretty Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, endured a great deal of mockery from the scandalmongers and satirists. They called her Protectress Joan—Joan then being a generic term for a rustic. Along with the absolutely unproved accusations of "drunkenness," she was seen as a conventional domestic, a stingy one at that. But "there was more to Mrs. Cromwell than mere household management," writes Antonia Fraser . Rather, she was shrewd, with the ability to manage her husband and steer him in political affairs.


Fraser, Antonia. Cromwell: The Lord Protector. NY: Alfred Knopf, 1973.

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Cromwell, Elizabeth (1598–1665)

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