William Lenthall

William Lenthall, by Unknown artist, after 1643 - NPG 12 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Lenthall

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, after 1643
56 1/2 in. x 45 in. (1435 mm x 1143 mm)
Purchased, 1857
Primary Collection
NPG 12

Sitterback to top

  • William Lenthall (1591-1662), Speaker of the House of Commons. Sitter in 9 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

William Lenthall was a successful lawyer when he was appointed recorder of Woodstock, the district which he represented in the last parliament of James I. At the opening of the Long Parliament on 3 November 1640 Lenthall was unanimously elected Speaker of the House of Commons. When Charles I entered the House in 1642 to arrest the five members, he asked Lenthall to identify whether they were present, to which he answered that he was unable to respond as he was a servant of the House. Appointed Master of the Rolls in 1643 and as one of the two commissioners of the Great Seal (1646-8), in 1647 he abandoned the post of Speaker and, fearing mob violence, left London. He is seen in this portrait painted in the 1640s in his robes as the Speaker of the House of Commons, a position which he resumed for the restored Long Parliament of 1659.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1643back to top

Current affairs

Signing of the Solemn League and Covenant. The treaty forms an alliance between the English Parliament and Scottish Covenanters. Sir Henry Vane emerges as the leading spokesman of the English delegation.
The Westminster Assembly, comprising of clergymen and politicians, is appointed by the Long Parliament to restructure the Anglican Church.

Art and science

The authorised version of Religio Medici (A Doctor's Religion), by Norwich physician Sir Thomas Browne, is published. A type of personal memoir, the work gained Browne a European reputation.
Parliament issues a licensing order stipulating that all books are examined prior to publication, inciting John Milton to write Areopagitica, 1644.


Aged four, Louis XIV inherits the French throne. He would become the longest reigning monarch in European history.
Charles I orders James Butler, Duke of Ormonde, to arrange a ceasefire with the Catholics Confederates in Ireland, allowing Ormonde's Irish troops to fight against the Parliamentarians in England.

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