Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

December 2005


Oliver Cromwell's opening speech to the Assembly of Saints (BarebonesParliament) on 4 July 1653 has been singled out as 'the high-water markof radicalism' because his millenarian and reformist language revealed theinfluence of London-based Fifth Monarchists. 1 But Cromwell began hisspeech not with biblical references but with 'that case ofWales, which Imust confess for my own part I set myself upon, if I should inform youwhat discountenance that business of the poor people of God there had' bythe Rump's refusal to renew the Propagation Act 'to the discountenancingof the honest people there', despite the seemingly obvious proof 'thatGod kindles a seed there . . . hardly to be paralleled since the primitivetimes'.2 In other words, Cromwell brought in the Saints because theRump had refused to renew the 1650 Act for the Better Propagation andPreaching of the Gospel in Wales. The connection between Westminsterpolitics and Welsh religion was certainly uppermost in Cromwell's mindin 1653, even if this was not his main motivation.3 Indeed, metropolitanPuritans had a surprisingly intimate connection with Wales.