King Charles' Restoration in 1660 had a very direct effect on the fortunes of John Maitland, 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, who had lost his estates during the Commonwealth period and also spent nine years in jail, without any idea if he would ever be released. His imprisonment was relatively comfortable by 21st century standards. State prisoners usually had a suite of rooms. John Maitland whilst in Portland Castle had a complete floor of the castle, with four large rooms at his disposal, and leave to dine with local dignitaries. We don’t know where he was lodged at the Tower of London or Windsor Castle (strangely there are no records, even of prisoners in and out) but we do know that he was able to go shopping in Windsor, and also to buy books by mail order from Antwerp. The Chief has several in his possession.

Released from custody in March 1660, Lauderdale borrowed money to travel to Holland to seek office and was rewarded with the position of Secretary for Scotland, based in Whitehall with daily access to the King.

Significance of the Restoration

The Restoration was more than just the installation of Charles on the English & Scottish thrones. It was the start of a sixty year process which converted Britain from a monarchy to a quasi republic, so an understanding of the beginning of the process is worthwhile.

Essentially, in 1660, 1689 and then from 1714 to 1720 the steps were taken, mostly peacefully and always without bloodletting which established the constitutional monarchy which Britain enjoys today, as one of the longest lasting constitutional settlements in the world.

In 1660 and again in 1689 the monarch and parliament agreed the terms on which the monarch would rule – i.e. subject to the constraints of law and parliamentary authority. Twice in less than thirty years parliament decided to install a king to reign in Britain. Finally the Act of Settlement of 1701 decreed that the crown should go to descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, the granddaughter of King James VI of Scotland and 1 of England. Thus George, Elector of Hanover, was an heir of King James Ist & VIth, and hence of Stuart descent.

George spoke no English at his accession, (though he became proficient later) and spoke French, good Latin, and some Italian and Dutch. He was obliged to delegate parliamentary management and government administration to Sir Robert Walpole as First Lord of the Treasury. By the time his son George II succeeded to the throne in 1727, the precedents of parliamentary rule were well established, and no attempts were made thereafter to change these arrangements. Britain was by now a republic in all but name, albeit with a hereditary, but non executive head of state.

The Restoration

From 1649 after the execution of King Charles I, Britain was under military rule. Parliament had been neutered by Pride’s Purge in 1648 when troops of the New Model Army under the command of Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly removed from the Long Parliament all the members who could not be relied upon to vote for the execution of the King.

The dictatorship, in the guise of a Commonwealth, headed by Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, suppressed the remains of the parliament, and the country was subsequently ruled by gauleiters, known as Major Generals.

This system collapsed when Cromwell died in September 1658 and was succeeded in the classic style beloved by autocratic presidents by his son. Richard Cromwell proved incompetent and the army forced his resignation in May 1659.

Britain fell into anarchy. The situation resembled that which we see in the Middle East today when governments collapse and the leaders of different militias manoeuver for power. In Britain there were several armies, led by generals whose names need not concern us. The navy, well managed and competent, with an excellent combat record also took an interest under various admirals.

However, problems quickly arose. Without a proper parliament, people refused to pay taxes, and the military went unpaid, to their great distress. Unpaid troops helped themselves to provisions where they could find them. People feared rule by religious extremists.

Royalist activity

In the Spanish Netherlands Charles presided over an impoverished and starving court. His advisors, especially Sir Edward Hyde, later Earl of Clarendon debated how to profit from the new situation. Hyde took the view that Charles should not use force to seize or attempt to seize the throne. The trick was to get an invitation from the people.

Despite this advice, the Sealed Knot, a Royalist group, supported Booth’s Rebellion in 1659. This failed ignominiously. The Sealed Knot itself had been penetrated by Commonwealth agents.

Hyde opened cautious negotiations with Commonwealth leaders, but was rebuffed or ignored. The Commonwealth, like any other autocracy was determined to defend itself.

The problem facing Commonwealth officials and military commanders was not if they should support the King, but when they should declare their support. If done too soon, and discovered by the Commonwealth authorities, the penalty was death for treason. However, if they moved too late, the penalty was a lack of thanks from the newly empowered monarch.

Thanks to his secretary, and cousin, Samuel Pepys, we know a good deal about the dilemmas faced by Admiral Sir Edward Montagu, later the 1st Earl of Sandwich. Pepys also acted for Sir George Downing who had engineered Charles expulsion from Holland and later turned his coat with great finesse.

In October 1658 Montagu issued a declaration by the Navy to defend the new Protector against Charles Stuart. In November he participated in Oliver Cromwell’s lavish, quasi royal funeral. In March 1659 he took his fleet to the Baltic, and in May summoned Pepys to join him with despatches. These probably included an appeal from Richard Cromwell for the support of the fleet and possibly overtures from Charles. Richard Cromwell abdicated in May. Around this time Charles received a briefing on Montagu which indicated he was ready to change sides. Charles sent lavish offers to Montagu - an earldom and substantial land grants. Montagu replied that the time was not yet ripe. During the summer a republican MP joined the fleet to supervise and spy on Montagu. Montagu was charged with negotiating secretly with Charles, and stripped of his honours and of his lodgings in Whitehall. His papers were seized. He was deprived of his command and retired to his home at Hinchinbrook in Cambridgeshire. Pepys stayed in London to keep him advised of events.

In October the army excluded the Speaker and most MPs from the remnants of Parliament, which was reduced to 42 members – known as the Rump (hindquarters) Parliament. There were riots in London, put down violently by the army.

On 1st January 1660, Samuel Pepys began his diary. He was working for both Montagu and also George Downing, English Ambassador to the Hague, running their errands in London and keeping them informed of events.

General Monck, commanding an army in Scotland, received requests from the City of London for support. Monck had not yet made his mind up how to use the forces at his disposal. He had opened communications with the King in 1658 by sending William Bruce (later a distinguished architect who remodeled Thirlestane and extended Holyroodhouse) to Holland as his envoy.

Pepys negotiated the return to Montagu of his Whitehall apartment, and celebrated his success by giving a dinner party in his master’s dining room.

General Lambert, a strong republican, led his army north to Newcastle to confront Monck’s army, which moved from Haddington near Edinburgh to Coldstream on the Tweed to meet the threat. Monck had £20,000 in his war chest, which meant he could pay his troops regularly. Lambert’s army in contrast was unpaid and showed no inclination to advance on Coldstream. Lambert retreated south, and on New Year’s Day Monck’s army crossed the Tweed to start the march on London. Lambert’s army melted away, and he was soon reduced to 50 cavalry.

Monck received orders to disband his army, but unlike Lambert’s unpaid troopers, Monck’s army was determined to remain embodied and to march on London. As the army marched, Monck received numerous petitions demanding that the Commonwealth be deposed and a free Parliament elected.

Early in February Monck reached St Albans, 20 miles north of London, where the long unpaid Commonwealth army was mutinous. A few mutineers were hanged. Monck’s troops were paid. On February 3rd, Monck rode into London, with his army in full parade order and their best uniforms, wearing the red coats which became a feature of the British army. Monck kept his counsel, refusing to commit himself to an oath of loyalty “until he had consulted his troops”.

On the 10th February Monck prepared a letter to the Rump parliament – all 42 of them – which demanded the reinstatement of the Parliament as it was in 1648, before Cromwell’s purges, followed by free elections in April. Monck was known to be cautious, and would not have issued this challenge without being certain of the support of both his army and the civil population.

This letter was delivered on the 11th. Pepys was in Westminster Hall when it arrived. The Rump sent messengers to Monck to demand his immediate attendance in Parliament to explain himself. His reply was “All will be well, if you strictly observe the advice of the letter…”

On the 21st February, Monck’s forces attended Parliament to ensure that all the formerly excluded members would be admitted. To pacify the unpaid troops, he circulated a letter explaining that the reconstituted Parliament would be in a much stronger position to raise taxes to pay them than the discredited Rump.

Monck now moved into St James’ Palace. The government ordered the release of prisoners, including the Earl of Lauderdale. Monk became Captain General of all land forces, and joint General at Sea with Montagu, who was reinstated. He then addressed the serious question of arrears of pay, and raised a loan in the City for this purpose.

Monck had spent his career as a firm republican, and a friend of Oliver Cromwell, but now recognized changed circumstances. It was clear that the new Parliament would look for the restoration of the king.

Meanwhile Charles was in some danger in Brussels. Monck received a warning from the Portuguese government that Charles was in danger in Brussels. Spain was at war with the Commonwealth, and Charles, once he was seen to be likely to become king would be a valuable hostage. Portugal also offered Charles marriage to the Infanta of Portugal, with a dowry of Tangiers and Bombay, together with a very large sum of money and alliance with England.

At the end of March Monck decided to respond to Charles’ overtures and sent the warning, together with his advice on the terms which Charles should offer for his restoration. These had been the subject of discussion in London for some time. Monck adopted the proposals of Lenthal, Speaker of the House of Commons. They became the basis of the Declaration of Breda.

Charles learned on 3rd April of the plan to arrest him, and left Brussels in haste at 0300 and rode for Breda in North Brabant. When the guards came to his lodgings in Brussels on the morning of the 4th , they found the rooms empty.

Edward Hyde, his principal advisor saw the opportunity he had been awaiting. Charles now issued his important Declaration of Breda on the 4th April 1660.

Declaration of Breda

This was Hyde’s masterpiece, negotiated with General Monck, and to his credit Charles agreed to the concessions proposed. The key promises were

A general pardon for crimes committed against the King or his father during the Civil War and the Interregnum for all those who recognised Charles as the lawful king, with exceptions to be determined by Parliament

Retention by the current owners of property purchased during the same period, subject to Parliamentary approval

Religious toleration and freedom of worship

Settlement of pay arrears to members of the army commanded by General

Monck, which would be taken into service under the crown.

There was some small print – Regicides were excluded from the pardon. Recognition of land sales upset many royalists who had been compelled to sell land in order to pay fines – they were not able to recover their property. In contrast, those, including the Earl of Lauderdale, whose land had been confiscated by the state, were able to regain access to their estates.

Lauderdale was not only restored to his estates, but also pursued the erstwhile tenants to pay him the rents they had collected during his imprisonment.

These promises were confirmed by the Act of Pardon, Indemnity and Oblivion passed by the new Parliament in 1660. Disgruntled royalists described it as “indemnity for the King’s enemies and oblivion for his friends” because so many were unable to recover the estates which they had been forced to sell.

The new Convention Parliament (so called because it had not been summoned by the Monarch) met on 25th April. It was predominantly royalist. On the 1st May the Declaration of Breda was presented to Parliament, which at once voted for Charles’ immediate restoration. The City of London (which had opposed Charles Ist and was anxious to make amends) raised £100,000, half for Charles and half to pay the army. On the 3rd May Montagu presented the Declaration to his senior captains, to secure their loyalty to the restored regime, Pepys reading it to them.

On the 8th May the Convention Parliament heard heralds proclaim Charles King, and the process was repeated several times in Whitehall, Temple Bar and finally the Guildhall where Monck presented it to the army and took the salute along with the Lord Mayor.

On the 9th May a bill of Pardon, Indemnity and Oblivion was presented to Parliament, which made an exception for seven regicides. The following day Monck instructed Montagu to go to Holland to fetch the King.

On the 14th May Charles left Breda for the Hague, and on the 23rd embarked on the Naseby – immediately re-named the Royal Charles. On the 29th May, his 30th birthday, he made his formal entrance into London.

Managing the transition

Charles was ready to forgive and forget. He employed many men who had held office under the Commonwealth – for example the Royal navy was largely led by the men who commanded the highly successful Commonwealth navy. We will look at two leading personalities as examples. Neither declared their positions until early 1660, though they had made overtures to the court much earlier.

General Monck – was he a royalist ? He was not a royalist when he commanded the army in Scotland. We do, however, know that he had opened negotiations via William Bruce to cover his position shortly after Oliver Cromwell’s death in September 1658. However, he was careful to avoid written communications which might have compromised him. He led his army to restore order in London which was threatened by anarchy as rival forces maneuvered for power.

On his way south he became aware of public demand for a free parliament and restoration of the King to the English throne. His overt actions were to insist on admission of all past MPs to the Long Parliament and then to force a free election to replace it. He was very careful to ensure that he had general backing for his actions – and was not a committed Royalist until it became apparent that this was what the people wanted.

He was offered several positions of authority by the Rump administration, but refused them.

By early 1660 he was in regular contact with Charles’ advisors, and it is argued that the terms of the Declaration of Breda were strongly influenced by his advice. His actions seem to have been based on his observations of public opinion and concerns as he led his troops to London. On the 29th March he first issued orders in the name of the King.

Monck, who commanded the only paid and disciplined force in Britain, took a leading role in securing Charles return and was justly and amply rewarded with a Dukedom.

Admiral Montagu – like Monck - had been a loyal servant of the Commonwealth, had urged Oliver Cromwell to accept the Crown, – and was regarded as one of the few officers on whom the new Protector could rely.

By early 1659 he appears to have started to plan his conversion to Royalism and made overtures to Charles after Richard Cromwell’s deposition in May 1659. Pepys trip to the fleet in the Baltic may well have been to carry confidential correspondence.

The indications are that by mid 1659 he had made his intentions clear to the King, but was not to declare himself a Royalist to Pepys until March 1660. In that month he was appointed joint general-at-sea along with Monck and a member of the Council of State. It is thought he was seen as a counter weight to Monck, whom he was reported to dislike. He appointed Pepys as his secretary, though it is apparent that Pepys knew nothing at this stage of his correspondence with Charles.

By April 1660 Charles regarded him as one of his principal supporters and sent him a personal copy of the Declaration of Breda. Early in May Montagu summoned his captains to secure their support for the King. Montagu’s support had been regarded as vital in early 1660. He was rewarded with the Earldom of Sandwich and made Knight of the Garter immediately after Charles arrival in Kent.


Return of the King by Charles Fitzroy,

Samuel Pepys by Clare Tomalin