John Pym (1584-1643) – Pivotal Parliamentary figure and opponent of the King

John Pym, who was born in 1584 and died in December 1643, was one of the most important Parliamentary figures in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Civil Wars.

He earned a reputation as a parliamentary revolutionary, leading opposition to the arbitrary rule of Charles I. Throughout this time, Pym’s leadership in the Commons was vital for the Parliamentary cause and as a result unsurprisingly he was one of the five MPs who the King and his soldiers unsuccessfully attempted to arrest in the Commons’ Chamber in January 1642.

After hostilities began Pym played a prominent role in shaping the strategy of the Parliamentary cause, especially in negotiating and establishing the all-important alliance with the Scottish Presbyterians through the Solemn League and Covenant, before his career and life were suddenly ended, probably by cancer.

In this programme, Contributing Editor Professor Andrew Hopper of the University of Oxford discusses the importance of Pym with distinguished historian, Dr Stephen Roberts who was the Section Editor of the newly published volumes of the History of the House of Commons between 1640 and 1660.

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John Pym (1584-1643) - Pivotal Parliamentary figure and opponent of the King
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Andrew Hopper

Andrew Hopper

Professor of Local and Social History

Andrew Hopper is Professor of Local and Social History in the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He…

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Stephen K. Roberts

Stephen K. Roberts

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Historical Society and the Learned Society of Wales

Stephen K. Roberts has deep roots in and around Bridgend, Glamorgan, and was educated there and at the Universities of Sussex, Exeter and London. His doctoral thesis…

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The Speech or Declaration of John Pym, Esq
The Protestation of 1641/2: Fifth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (London, 1876), part I, appendix III.
‘I, A.B., do in the presence of Almighty God, promise, vow and protest to maintain and defend, as far as lawfully I may, with my life, power and estate, the true reformed Protestant religion, expressed in the doctrine of the Church of England, against all popery and popish innovations within this realm, contrary to the same doctrine, and according to the duty of my allegiance, his majesty’s royal person, honour and estate, as also the power and privileges of parliaments, the lawful rights and liberties of the subjects, and every person that maketh this protestation, in whatsoever he shall do in the lawful pursuance of the same; and to my power, and as far as lawfully I may, I will oppose and by all good ways and means endeavour to bring to condign punishment all such as shall, either by force, practice, counsels, plots, conspiracies, or otherwise, do anything to the contrary of anything in this present protestation contained; and further, that I shall in all just and honourable ways, endeavour to preserve the union and peace betwixt the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland: and neither for hope, fear, nor any other respect, shall relinquish this promise, vow and protestation.’