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Welsh History Review


Vol. 3, nos. 1-4 1966-67

The parliamentary army and the crown lands

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AS a result of the civil war and its aftermath, the state owed very
large sums of money to the army for arrears of pay and for
obligations incurred on behalf of the state. In April 1649 it was
decided to secure these debts on the royal estates, and when the act
for the sale of these estates was passed in July 1649 the soldiers
were allowed to use their claims on the state-their debentures-to
pay for purchases.1 A very large amount of the property was in the
event bought by regiments or by smaller groups of soldiers. The
immediate purpose of this essay is to try to discover the reality
behind collective purchases of this kind. It has also a more general
purpose-to shed as much light as a pilot survey can on the social
composition of the parliamentary armies; for one of the conclusions
of this investigation into the reality behind the regimental purchases
is that it differed greatly from one regiment to the next in a way
which illuminates the differing character of the regiments.
It has often been supposed that collective purchases were a facade
for purchases by a small number of grandees who bought up the
debentures of the rest of the army at very low rates and carved
great estates for themselves out of the Crown property. Thus
a leading modern historian of the period writes that when the Crown
lands came to be sold 'most of the purchasing power was already
accumulated in the hands of a relatively small circle of officers'.2
In the light of this view I have chosen to investigate three group
purchases, two of them by regiments- Twisleton's and Okey's-
and one by a less formal group, the supernumeraries of north
The choice of Twisleton's regiment is determined by the fact that
James Berry, the Major of this regiment, has been quoted as an
instance of an officer who profited from regimental purchase.3 This
regiment was one of the New Model regiments of horse and consisted
of six troops of 100 men each, exclusive of officers. In the autumn
1 C. H. Firth and R. S. Rait (eds.). The Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum (1911).
pp. 168-91; S. J. Madge. The Domesday of Crown Lands (1938). pp. 319-26.
J. E. C. Hill, Puritanism and Revolution: studies in interpretation of the English
Revolution of the seventeenth century, p. 177.
8 Ibid., p. 177.
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