The Restoration’s most-wanted

by mercuriuspoliticus

Found via the British Museum database: a set of playing cards from 1679 satirising the Rump Parliament. These are so wonderful that I have reproduced the descriptions on each of them as well as the images themselves.


(AN473109001, © The Trustees of the British Museum)

I: ‘A Committe of Godwin Nye Peters and Owen discouering the marks of Grace in Ministers.’
II: ‘Onsley Father and Sonne’
III: ‘S.r Gilbert Gerard and his two sonns.’
IIII: ‘The Rump roasted salt it well it stinks exceedingly.’
V: ‘The E. of Pem: in ye H: of Com[m]: thanks ye Speaker for his Admission.’
VI: ‘Worsley an Inckle Weaver a man of Personal Valor.’
VII: ‘Nathaniel Fines whereby hangs a tale.’
VIII: ‘Lambert Kt of ye Golden Tulip.’
IX: ‘Huson the Cobler entring London.’
X: ‘The Rump and dreggs of the house of Com: remaining after the good members were purged out.’
Knave: ‘Hugh Peters shews the bodkins and thimbles giuen by the wives of Wappin for the good old cause.’
Queen: ‘The Damnable engagement to be true and Faithfull.’
King: ‘The Saints think it meet that the Rump make a League Oneale’


(AN473083001, © The Trustees of the British Museum)

I: ‘The High Court of Iustice or Olivers slaughter house.’
II: ‘Vane Father and Sonne.’
III: ‘Simonias slandring ye High Preist to get his Place.’
IIII: ‘Laird of Warreston an arrant Knaue Au my Saul man.’
V: ‘S.r W. Waller looses two Armys yet getts by ye bargaine.’
VI: ‘Kelsey a sneaking Bodice maker a Gifted Brother’
VII: ‘Marshall curseing Mevoz.’
VIII: ‘Don Haselrigg Kt of ye Codled braine.’
IX: ‘Lenthall runns away With his Mace to the Army.’
X: ‘A Comittee for Plunder’ed Ministers Miles Corbet in the Chaire’
Knave: ‘H Martin moues ye House that ye King may take the Couenant.’
Queen: ‘The takeing of the Holy League and Covenant.’
King: ‘S.r H Milmay solicits a Cityzens wife for wch his owne Corrects him’


(AN473105001, © The Trustees of the British Museum)

I: ‘Bradshaw the Iaylor, and ye Hangman keepers of the Liberty of England.’
II: ‘Parry Father and Sonne.’
III: ‘H: Martin defend Ralph who design’d to kill the King.’
IIII: ‘Argyle a muckle Scotch Knaue in gude faith Sir.’
V: ‘Nye and Godwin Olivers Confessors.’
VI: ‘Skippon a Waggoner to S.r F. Vere one of Oliuers Hectors.’
VII: ‘Feek the Seer.’
VIII: ‘Scot Olivers Clerk or Tally man.’
IX: ‘A Comittee at Derby house to continue the Warr.’
X: ‘A Comitte at Haberdashers Hall to spoyle the Caualeers as the Iews did the Egyptians.’
Knave: ‘S.r H Vane finds a distinction betwixt a Legal & and Evangelical Conscience’
Queen: ‘The Lady Lambert and Oliver under a strong Conflict.’
King: ‘Bradshaw in ye High Court of Iustice insulting of the King.’


(AN473087001, © The Trustees of the British Museum)

I: ‘A Free state or a tolleration for all sort of Villany.’
II: ‘Lenthall Father and Sonn.’
III: ‘Bulstrod and Whitlock present to Oliver the Instruments of Governm.t’
IIII: ‘A Covenanting Scot & an English Independent differ about ye things of this world’
V: ‘Sr H. Mildmay beaten by a footboy a great breach of Priviledge’
VI: ‘Desbrow Olivers Champion haueing a Cannon in each Pocket.’
VII: ‘Harrison the Carpenter cutting down ye horne of ye Beast in Daniel’
VIII: ‘Pride Oliver.s Drayman’
IX: ‘The Army entring the City persuing the Apprentices.’
X: ‘Oliver seeking God while the K. is murthered by his order.’
Knave: ‘Ireton holds that Saints may pass through all formes to obtaine his ends.’
Queen: ‘Ioane hold my Staff Lady Protectoresse.’
King: ‘Oliver declars himself and the Rebells to be the Gadly Party’

Many of the targets of the playing cards were dead by 1679, so their message would have been ideological, rather than for the purposes of recognition like some modern-day equivalents. That said, some of the satire is incredibly specific. The king of spades, for example, shows John Bradshaw presiding over the trial of Charles I and paraphrases some of the last words exchanged between the two as Charles attempted to question by whose authority he was being tried.

Equally, some of the cards would have required a very detailed memory or understanding of civil war politics by the card’s consumers. Here are a few of the more obscure references:

  • The six of hearts shows Charles Worsley, commander of the troops who expelled the Rump in 1653 and subsequently one of Cromwell’s major-generals. The loom is a reference to the fact that his family owed their money originally to the cloth trade.
  • The seven of hearts shows Nathaniel Fiennes running away – presumably from the siege of Bristol, which he surrendered in 1643. The pun – ‘whereby hangs a tale’ – is presumably a reference to the fact that Fiennes was sentenced to death for doing so and only rescued by lobbying from the earl of Essex and others.
  • The six of diamonds shows Colonel Thomas Kelsey, one of Cromwell’s major-generals. The reference to being a ‘Bodice maker’ probably refers to his apprenticeship as a draper.
  • The seven of diamonds shows Stephen Marshall, a puritan divine. The reference to ‘cursing Mevoz’ (sic) is a jibe at one of the most famous sermons he preached to the Long Parliament, published as Meroz Cursed. He was part of a wider group of divines linked to the earl of Warwick and would later go on to be chaplain to the earl of Essex.
  • The three of spades shows Henry Marten defending Edmund Rolph, a leading agitator within the New Model Army who in 1648 was accused of a plot to kill Charles I while part of the garrison at Carisbrooke Castle in the Isle of Wight.
  • The queen of spades shows John Lambert’s wife Frances, a perennial target of accusations of being Cromwell’s mistress, up to no good with Oliver.
  • The three of clubs shows ‘Bulstrod’ and ‘Whitlock’ – obviously a reference to Bulstrode Whitelocke. Splitting him into two could be a simple error, but equally I wonder if it is perhaps a dig at Whitelocke’s Janus-like ability to trim his sails to the direction of the prevailing ideological wind.
  • The five of clubs shows Sir Henry Mildmay and seems to be a reference to him being abused in the street in 1648 by a servant of the Duke of Richmond.
  • The eight of clubs shows Colonel Thomas Pride as a drayman – a dig at Cromwell’s family being involved in brewing which was a longstanding part of royalist satire.

You can buy a modern reproduction of this deck here.