Oliver Cromwell & A Match Made In Heaven

Oliver Cromwell & A Match Made In Heaven

‘I know thou art an idle fellow …’

One of an exciting selection of manuscripts and autographs that featured in our September 2022 Rare Books sale was a remarkable letter from Oliver Cromwell to fellow parliamentarian power-broker Richard Norton, an old friend whom he fondly knew as ‘Idle Dick’.

Written in the spring of 1648, in the midst of the country’s descent into renewed civil war, the letter contains detailed instructions relating to the proposed marriage of Cromwell’s son and successor Richard to Dorothy, daughter of Hampshire gentleman Richard Maijor.


Cromwell, Oliver letter Lot 51 | Cromwell, Oliver (1599-1658), Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland
Autograph letter signed to Richard Norton (1615-1691), 3rd April 1648 | Sold for £17,640 incl premium


View Lot 51 ⇒


Cromwell came to see his son as lacking devotion to God and being overly fond of good living. He looked to Dorothy and to Dorothy’s father to correct these perceived faults. The marriage produced four children who survived into adulthood, but ended unhappily: Richard went into semi-voluntary exile on the continent in 1660 following the Restoration, after which the couple did not see each other again.


Cromwell, Oliver letter


The personalities of great historical figures often prove elusive, but this extensive and intimate letter, written entirely in Cromwell’s own hand and running to over 700 words, provides an engrossing insight into the domestic arrangements of the future lord protector, his keen eye for financial advantage, and a touching concern for the future well-being of his ‘two little wenches’, identified by Thomas Carlyle as his daughters Mary and Frances, who by their own respective marriages later became Countess Fauconberg and Lady Russell.

A month after writing this letter Cromwell fought his first battle in full command, at Preston, where he routed the invading Scottish force. By January the following year, having outmanoeuvred Fairfax to see through the trial and execution of the king, he was the single most powerful figure in England.




Auction Information


Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

28th September 2022 | Live Online | Edinburgh


View the auction results ⇒




Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps


Lyon & Turnbull’s dedicated team of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps specialists have established an international reputation for their auctions, selling both through our UK auction house, and via live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on books and manuscripts, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to the successful sale of fine antiquarian books, modern first editions, folios, autographed letters and important archives.


Learn More ⇒







Dominic Somerville-Brown



0131 557 8844








0131 557 8844




Recent Articles