Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oliver Cromwell's Military Decree against harming Irish Civilians (Theonomy Applied)

During his campaign in Ireland, Oliver
Cromwell warned his troops that it
would be to their "utmost peril" to
harm innocent Irish civilians.
(credit: George S. Stuart Gallery of Historical
® archive / CC BY -SA 3.0) 
During his military campaign in Ireland, Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658), who would one day be the Lord Protector of England, Ireland, and Scotland, made in 1649 the following decree against harming civilians:

This Declaration is appointed to be printed, and published throughout all Ireland: By special direction fromOliver Cromwell. 

I am informed that, upon the marching out of the Armies heretofore, or of parties from Garrisons, a liberty hath been taken by the Soldiery to abuse, rob and pillage, and too often to execute cruelties upon the Country People : Being resolved, by the grace of God, diligently and strictly to restrain such wickedness for the future,

I do hereby warn and require all Officers, 
Soldiers, and others under my command, henceforth To forbear all such evil practices as aforesaid; and Not to do any wrong or violence toward Country People, or persons whatsoever, unless they be actually in arms or office with the Enemyand Not to meddle with the goods of such, without special order.

And I farther declare, That it shall be free and lawful to and for all manner of persons dwelling in the country, as well gentlemen and soldiers, as farmers and other people (such as are in arms or office with or for the Enemy only excepted), to make their repair, and bring any provisions unto the Army, while in march or camp, or unto any Garrison under my command: Hereby assuring all such, That they shall not be molested or troubled in their persons or goods; but shall have the benefit of a free market, and receive ready money for goods or commodities they shall so bring and sell: 

And that they, behaving themselves peaceably and quietly; and paying such Contributions, proportionately with their neighbours, as have been, are, or shall be duly and orderly imposed upon them, for maintenance of the Parliament's forces and other public uses,—shall have free leave and liberty to live at home with their families and goods; and shall be protected in their persons and estates by virtue Hereof, until the 1st of January next: By or before which time, ' 1st of January next,' all such of them as are minded to reside, and plough and sow, in the 'Army's' quarters, are to make their addresses, for now and farther protections, to the Attorney-General, residing at Dublin, and to such other persons as shall be authorised for that purpose.

And hereof I require all Soldiers, and others under my command, diligently to take notice and observe the same: as they shall answer to the contrary at their utmost perils. Strictly charging and commanding all Officers and others, in their several places, carefully to see to it That no wrong or violence be done to any such person as aforesaid, contrary to the effect of the premises. Being resolved, through the grace of God, to punish all that shall offend contrary 
hereunto, very severely, according to Law or Articles of War; to displace, and otherwise punish, all such Officers as shall be found negligent in their places, and not to see to the due observance hereof, or not to punish the offenders under their respective commands.

Given at
Dublin, the 24th of August 1649.


     [1] Oliver Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches: with elucidations: Volume II, ed., Thomas Carlyle (London: Chapman and Hall, 1871), 139-141. 


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