Killing No Murder

Alan Marshall recounts the tale of the men who tried to assassinate Oliver Cromwell.

Lord Protector Cromwell usually chose to go to Hampton Court on Fridays, bent upon spending his weekend in more salubrious surroundings than the noise and pollution of Whitehall. The road to the palace passed through a ‘narrow, dirty … passage where coaches use to go but softly’ and it was there that his assassins, led by the ex-soldier and Leveller Miles Sindercombe, planned their ambush in the autumn of 1656. Armed with guns loaded with twelve bullets apiece and other lead slugs, they intended was to fire these ‘strange engines’ at the Protector’s coach as he passed, hoping to kill the occupant and free England from the ‘tyrant’. Unaware of the fate contrived for him, Cromwell suddenly decided to give up his weekends in Hampton Court, claiming a multitude of business prevented him from taking in the cleaner air of the countryside. So the opportunity passed and Cromwell was not fated to die at the assassin’s hand.

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