William Prynne - From 1660

From 1660

Prynne supported the Restoration, and was rewarded with public office. In April 1660 he was elected MP for Bath in the Convention Parliament. He was bitter against the regicides and the supporters of the previous government, trying to restrict the scope of the Act of Indemnity. He successfully moved to have Charles Fleetwood excepted, and urged the exclusion of Richard Cromwell and Judge Francis Thorpe. He proposed punitive and financial measures of broad scope, was zealous for the disbanding of the army, and was one of the commissioners appointed to pay it off. In the debates on religion he was one of the leaders of the presbyterians, spoke against the Thirty-nine Articles, denied the claims of the bishops, urged the validity of presbyterian ordination, and supported the bill for turning the king's ecclesiastical declaration into law.

As a politician Prynne was during his latter years of minor importance. He was re-elected MP for Bath to the Cavalier Parliament of May 1661. He asserted his presbyterianism by refusing to kneel when the two houses received the sacrament together. A few weeks earlier he had published a pamphlet demanding the revision of the prayer-book, but the new parliament was opposed to any concessions to nonconformity. On 15 July a pamphlet by Prynne against the Corporation Bill was voted scandalous and seditious. In January 1667 Prynne was one of the managers of Lord Mordaunt's impeachment. He spoke several times on Clarendon's impeachment, and opposed the bill for his banishment. On constitutional subjects and points of procedure his opinion had weight, and in 1667 he was privately consulted by the king on the question whether a parliament which had been prorogued could be convened before the day fixed.

He became the Keeper of Records in the Tower of London; as a writer his most lasting works belongs to that period, for the amount of historical material they contain. Histriomastix is the one of his works that receives attention from modern scholars, but for its relevance to English Renaissance theatre. Anthony à Wood found him affable, obliging towards researchers, and courteous in the fashion of the early part of the century. Prynne died unmarried on 24 October 1669.

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