CROMWELL, Oliver (1599-1658). Autograph letter signed ('O. Cromwell') to Richard Mayor ('Deere Brother', the father-in-law of his son, Richard), Alnwick, 17 June 1650, one page, folio, integral address leaf, red wax seal, contemporary endorsement (seal tears professionally repaired, a few light stains in both leaves), and another item. Provenance: Sang Collection, Sotheby's NY, 14 February 1986 (lot 445); Spiro Family Collection, part I, Christie's, 3 December 2003 (lot 81).
CROMWELL'S FAMOUS DENIAL OF PERSONAL AMBITION. 'You see how I am imployed, I neede pittye. I knowe what I feele, great place and businesse in the world is not worth the lookinge after ... I have not sought theise thinges. Truly I have beene called to them by the Lord and therfore am not without some good assurance that Hee will inable his poore worme, and weake servant to doe his will, and to fullfill my generation.' The letter which concludes with this passage of self-reflection is an apology for his apparent neglect of his duties towards his family, opening with an explanation of his not writing, on account of 'The exceedinge crowde of businesse' at London, and an assurance of his affection, enquiring after 'the little bratt' (his grand-daughter Elizabeth), and referring to the failings of his son (Richard). 'I could chide both Father and the mother for their neglects of mee, I knowe my Son is idle butt I had better thoughts of Doll [his correspondent's daughter, Dorothy] ... I hope you give my sonn good councell I believe Hee needes itt. Hee is in the dangerous time of his age, and it's a very vaine world'.
Written shortly after his elevation to commander-in-chief of all the Commonwealth forces of England, and while travelling North for his campaign against the Scottish supporters of Charles II. Richard Cromwell had married Dorothy Mayor in 1648, and her father, a Hampshire squire, became one of Oliver Cromwell's closest friends. Several of Cromwell's letters to Mayor refer to the weaknesses of Richard who, on his father's death in 1658, briefly succeeded him as Lord Protector. (2)