11 FEBRUARY 1905, Page 15


Sia,—An interesting document of the great Protector, whose fame is year by year being more cleared from the mists of calumny, has lately come to light at the Northampton Free Library. It is an indenture of the 14 Charles I. (1638), and is a release by Oliver Cromwell of an annuity of £30 per annum, which he had enjoyed for some six years, secured in some land at Cottesbrook, Northamptonshire. The deed throws some fresh light on the early life of the Protector. In it he is described as Oliver Cromwell, gentleman (spelt Crumwell throughout, save in his signature), now or late a servant of the Right Honourable Oliver Lord St. John of Bletsoe. We must assume, therefore, that to his then peaceful occupation of grazier at St. Ives he joined the stewardship (since servant and steward were then synonymous terms) of some of the adjoining St. John estates. Cromwell and the St. Johns were close friends. The families had intermarried, and one of the most striking letters in Carlyle's great work is that one, the second extant, of Cromwell to Mrs. St. John. In it he breaks into that pathetic outburst of a penitent soul where he says : " I lived in and loved darkness, and hated light : I was a chief, the chief of sinners." The annuity was paid in half-yearly instalments on the Feasts of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Michael the Archangel, and they were to be made in the south porch of the grey old church of Cottesbrook. One can picture the future Protector riding over the miry tracks that lay between his Fen home and the distant Northamptonshire village to receive them "in good and lawful money of Englioid," as the deed quaintly recites it. His signature is a bold and characteristic one, typical of the man, and the entire deed one of great local and historic interest.—I am, Sir, &c.,