John Lambert
Timeline: Cromwell the Great

Portrait of John Lambert

Lord President of the Commonwealth Council of State
12 November 1658 – July 1672

Predecessor Henry Lawrence
Successor Lord Edward Montagu 1st Earl of Sandwich

Envoy and Commissioner to the States General of the Dutch Republic
July 1672 – 1678

Born 1619
Kirkby Malham, England
Died 1685 (aged 66)
London, Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland
Spouse Frances Lister (married 1639)
Political Party Cromwellian
Religion Puritan (Independent)
Profession Politician, soldier

John Lambert (Autumn 1619 – March 1684) was Major-General, outstanding cavalry commander and politician. Active in civilian politics until his dismissal by Oliver Cromwell in 1657. Returned to politics in 1658 on request of the new Lord Protector, Henry Cromwell.

Early politic career and dismissal

Lambert fought during the English Civil War and then in Oliver Cromwell's Scottish campaign (1650–51), becoming thereafter active in civilian politics. During this time he wrote the Instrument of Government, and was influential in bringing about the Protectorate, by which Oliver Cromwell became Protector, but broke with Cromwell over the his acceptance of the Humble Petition and Advice. In July 1657, Cromwell demanded the surrender of his commissions, receiving instead a pension of £2000 a year. He retired from public life to Wimbledon.

Return to politics under Henry Cromwell

He remained inactive from politics until Lord Protector Henry Cromwell named him member of the Commonwealth Council of State (September 1658) and later elevated him to Lord President of it (12 November 1658). His nomination did not fell good with army Grandees like Fleetwood or John Desborough. Fleetwood considered himself Oliver Cromwell's natural successor to led the Commonwealth. Until his designation to New England, Fleetwood used all means to hinder Lambert's government and administration, rarely being successful due to Henry's patronage.

For the rest of his term under Henry Cromwell's Protectorship (1658– 1672) he was an effective head of government, an accomplished administrator, a skillful politician, a good speaker in Parliament and one of key organizers of the Cromwellians as an organized political faction. Was one leading spirits drafter of the Constitutional Framework of the Commonwealth, but opposite on the creation of the Senate. Contrary to his previous actions he became promoter of civilian supremacy over the military and pressed for the oath of loyalty to the Commonwealth by the Army and Navy.

With the exception of the relations with the Dutch he left foreign affairs to his Council associates Lord Edward Montagu, Bulstrode Whitelocke and the Lord Protector. However Lambert insistently called for alliance with Spain instead of France noting Louis XIV's interest in becoming the leading power in Europe and its far reaching colonial interests that put in peril the Commonwealth's lands in America and trade in Asia.

Has member of the House of Commons he managed the Cromwellians, being key vote teller and informal government chief whip thru his deputies. He mostly manage and secured the passage of the supplies and money bills in the Commons and Senate (in his role as Lord President). His influence and patronage was well know across Yorkshire were he was nicknamed the Major-General.

He formed part of the Commission for rebuilding London, after the Great Fire. He was one of the primate movers for radical rebuilding schemes poured in for the gutted City. He also cosponsored the money bill for the new Saint Paul's Cathedral.

Government Offices

Member of the Council of State (April 1653-July 1657, September 1658-... ). Was Major-General for Cumberland, County Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire (August 1654-January 1657).


Nominated member of the Parliament (July 1653-December 1653), elected member of the Parliament for Yorkshire-West Riding (September 1654- January 1655, September 1656-February 1658, 1659-...). Named Senator.