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year; but in the month of November, 1652, a bill was introduced into Parliament for the sale of the late King's houses and lands exempted from the operation of the former Act, among which, as we have seen, was Hampton Court. The bill at first proceeded pretty smoothly, and on November 27th it was “Resolved that Hampton Court, together with Bushey Park and the other two parks, the Harewarren, and Meadows there, with the Appurtenances belonging to the State there, be sold for ready money."
This resolution, however, was not suffered to stand for more than a month; for when the question was put, on December 29th following, that "Hampton Court, etc., do stand in the bill,” the House divided, when thirty voted with the noes, and eighteen voted with the yeas, “so it passed with the negative." The minority, however, were by no means disposed to acquiesce in this decision, and on December 31st, "the question being propounded that leave should be given to speak against the vote that Hampton Court and other lands thereto belonging should not be sold by the bill, and the question being put, that this question be now put, it passed with the affirmative. And the main question being put: It was Resolved that leave shall be given to speak against the vote.” The question being thus re-opened, the debate resulted in a reversal of the previous decision of the House, which perhaps had been arrived at by a snap division, and “the Mansion-House, commonly called Hampton Court, in the County of Middlesex, with the Barns, Stables, Outhouses, Gardens, Orchards, Yards, Courts, belonging to or used and enjoyed with the said Mansion House, with the Park commonly called the House Park, and the two Parks there, the one called the middle Park, and the other called Bushey Park,” were accordingly ordered to stand part of the bill, which was passed into law on the last day of the year.
But the question was yet far from having been finally determined, for the full survey of Hampton Court being completed on April 5th, 1653, and laid on the table of the House a few days after, the Parliament, probably at the instigation of some of Cromwell's friends, who knew of the liking he had taken to Wolsey's palace, passed a resolution on Friday, April 15th, 1653, that "the House called Hamp
ton Court with the appurtenances, and the three Parks thereunto belonging, and what is contained in the survey, be staid from sale until the Parliament take further order : And that the Trustees and Contractors be enjoined to forbear to make sale thereof accordingly.” Nevertheless, on the 23rd of August, this vote, on the recommendation of the Committee for raising moneys, was again rescinded, and the Manor and Palace of Hampton Court were once more to be put up to auction.
Ere a month had elapsed, however, namely, on the 20th of September, another departure was taken, by the Parliament resolving that “there should be an offer of Hampton Court to the Lord General (Cromwell) in exchange for New Hall upon a proportionate value," and that “Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper do tender this offer to the Lord General from this House.” But the time was not yet ripe for such an assumption of state and dignity, and Cromwell, while returning “his humble acknowledgments for the great respects of the House towards him therein,” yet desired that it would "proceed to dispose thereof according to their former resolution." Not much heed, however, was paid to this pretence of disinterestedness, for it was ordered that " the house called Hampton Court, with the outhouses and gardens thereunto belonging, and the little park wherein it stands, be stayed from sale until the Parliament take further order."
The parks, other than the House Park, were, however, put up to auction; and contracts were entered into by the Trustees of the Royal Lands for the sale, on November 15th, 1653, of Bushey Park and its appurtenances to Edmund Backwall for £6,638 75.; and, on December 3rd, of the Middle Park to Colonel Norton for £3,701 195. The fee of the Manor and Honour of Hampton Court had previously been sold to a Mr. John Phelps, of London, gentleman, for £750.
But almost immediately after these transactions, that is to say on the 16th of December, 1653, the whole aspect of affairs was changed by Cromwell being proclaimed Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, when steps were at once taken to re-acquire, on behalf of the State, the premises recently sold.
CROMWELL OCCUPIES THE PALACE.
There was at first some difficulty in effecting the necessary surrenders on reasonable terms, because the purchasers had not only already paid the purchase-money and entered into possession, but had even disposed of part of their interests to other persons. However, after some negotiations, arrangements were eventually agreed upon for the redemption by the State of all the parks and lands sold, on the return of the purchase-moneys, and the payment of some £2,000 surplusage by way of profit to the purchasers and their assignees.
As to the manor, Mr. Phelps was easily induced to consent to a re-conveyance of it to Cromwell for £750, the price he had paid for it. This was effected on August 30th, 1654; and in the year 1657 Cromwell's name is entered in the Court Rolls as owner of the manor.
In the meanwhile an order was issued directing that "the house at Hampton Court, with the Park and all the lodges, stables, and outhouses, and the houses in the Park, be forthwith cleared for the Protector's use; and all persons concerned to take notice and conform." Thus did the royal Palace of Hampton Court, the home of so many of England's Kings and Queens, pass into the hands of the Regicide, Oliver Cromwell.
OLIVER CROMWELL'S PRIVATE LIFE AT HAMPTON COURT.
FROM the 16th of December, 1653—the date of Cromwell's installation as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland--we find that “His Highness," as he was henceforth designated, resided very frequently at Hampton Court, his visits, whether of short or of long duration, being all carefully chronicled in the official journals of the time. When the Protector came to reside at Hampton Court for any length of time, the members of the Council also came with him ; "and there,” says one of the newspapers of the day, “the great affairs of the nation are transacted with labour and care as if they were at Whitehall.” His first visit after his promotion to his new dignity took place on April 15th, 1654, when we find it duly notified that " His Highness went this day to Hampton Court, and returned at night.” Soon after this, his often-repeated journeys backwards and forwards from London to the palace, attracting the attention of his enemies, who were always on the look-out for an opportunity of despatching him, a plot was entered into by some desperadoes, with the intention of lying in wait to murder him, when he was on the road to Hampton Court.
The conspirators were, however, unable to agree as to the point in the journey where the assassination should be attempted; so it was put off until the Protector was coming back, before which time he received information of the danger threatening him, and returned another way.
If they had succeeded in perpetrating the crime, the others engaged in it were to have murdered the rest of the Council, and seized on Whitehall, “sparing only some that they had excepted, and some to be cruelly tortured." Another party was to seize the Tower. To a third was intrusted the redoubtable task of overpowering the Lord Mayor and aldermen; while Charles II. was to be proclaimed king, and “was presently to be sent for, and with all his. crew from all nations, whither they had fled, to hasten for England, and seize on all forts and harbours.” The conspirators, however, among whom was a brother of the Portuguese ambassador, having been tracked, arrested, and brought to trial at Westminster, were condemned to death.
We could hardly believe that so dastardly a plot could have emanated even from the baser sort among the chivalrous Cavalier party, did we not know that about a month before its concoction a proclamation had been issued by Charles II., in which, after reciting the “accursed ways and means of a certain low mechanic fellow, by name Oliver Cromwell,” went on to give, in the King's name, “free leave and liberty to any man whomsoever, within any of our three kingdoms, by pistol, sword, or poison, or by any other ways or means whatsoever, to destroy the life of the said Oliver Cromwell; wherein they will do an act acceptable to God and good