One was a minister to King Henry VIII and the other was part of the decision to execute King Charles I. With the same last name could these two historical figures have been related?
Oliver Cromwell was related to Thomas Cromwell. Thomas Cromwell would have been Oliver’s great, great, great uncle. It’s through Oliver’s paternal side that linked him back to Thomas Cromwell whose sister, Catherine Cromwell, was Oliver Cromwell’s great, great grandmother. Both Oliver and Thomas were pivotal figures in England’s history.
You can read more below about how the two were related and what each of them did to leave their mark on the world.
Thomas Cromwell is Oliver Cromwell’s Great Uncle
Thomas Cromwell was born to Walter Cromwell and Katherine Maverell at some point in 1485. Just three years earlier, Walter and Katherine had a daughter whom they named after her mother.
Katherine Cromwell was born in 1482 and she was the great, great grandmother of Oliver Cromwell. They also had another younger sister named Elizabeth.
Their father was a blacksmith and successful merchant who also owned an Inn and Brewery. He was well respected in their hometown of Putney and ended up being appointed as the Constable of Putney at one point.
Katherine ended up marrying a welsh lawyer named Morgan Williams and they had a son Richard. Richard was employed by Thomas Cromwell and he ended up changing his last name from Williams to Cromwell.
Richard Cromwell was Oliver’s great grandfather. He was knighted by King Henry VIII and was a key participant in the Dissolution of Monasteries.
Richard Cromwell fathered Sir Henry Cromwell who was the grandfather of Oliver Cromwell. It was Henry’s son Robert who had Oliver with Elizabeth Steward.
It was because of the family’s relation to Thomas Cromwell and Oliver’s great grandfather Richard’s involvement in the Dissolution of Monasteries that they were very wealthy.
You can watch the below video from The Cromwell Museum that talks all about his Oliver Cromwell’s ancestry.
That’s the entire breakdown of the family connection between Oliver and Thomas Cromwell. But, how exactly did they each affect England’s history?
Thomas Cromwell: Executed by the King
Up until the 1950s, many historians thought of Thomas Cromwell as a latch-on to King Henry VIII and lacking any true power. However, after further research, this view changed.
Thomas is viewed as Henry VIII partner-in-crime and right-hand man. Although King Henry VIII has gotten most of the credit for the protestant revolution in England, a lot of the movement was at the hands of Thomas Cromwell.
Throughout his service to the King, Thomas Cromwell helped discredit any of the King’s opponents like Thomas More and Anne Boelyn. He was also the mastermind behind England cutting ties with Rome.
He had immense power, however, he made critical errors in judgment which led to his ultimate downfall.
As this article from History Extra reveals, Thomas mistakenly tried to have the King marry Anne of Cleves who Henry hated. Then he erroneously appointed himself not one but two Earlships.
These actions gave the British royals the opportunity to convince King Henry VIII that Thomas Cromwell was a traitor. He was beheaded on June 10, 1540.
Oliver Cromwell: Executed the King
The story of Oliver Cromwell is in stark contrast when compared to Thomas Cromwell. Thomas was a country boy who rose to the highest ranks in the kingdom while Oliver was a rich boy the descendant of knights.
Like his ancestors, Oliver rose to prominence in the British Parliament until it was dissolved by King Charles I in 1529 for 11 years. It was reinstated in 1540 and Oliver returned to his seat.
However, in 1542 the English Civil War broke out due to the Westminster Parliament and the King disagreeing on how to deal with the Irish insurrection. Cromwell became a military commander of the parliament’s forces.
Although he had no experience, he proved to be an effective leader. The parliament side eventually took the Royalist’s surrender at Oxford in June 1646.
The Second British Civil war broke out two years later when a parliamentary agreement could not be found and King Charles I tried to regain power by force. Cromwell was once again a pivotal figure on the Parliament side.
Eventually, it was decided that the only way to stop the civil war was to execute King Charles I on grounds of treason. Oliver Cromwell was one of the main signers of this order.
The British Commonwealth was then established with Oliver Cromwell became the first Lord Protector.