By his directions Harrison then fetched in a small band of Cromwell's musketeers and compelled the speaker Lenthall to vacate the chair.
On the entry of the army into London in 1648, Deane superintended the seizure of treasure at the Guildhall and Weavers' Hall the day after Pride "purged" the House of Commons, and accompanied Cromwell to the consultations as to the "settlement of the Kingdom" with Lenthall and Sir Thomas Widdrington, the keeper of the great seal.
WILLIAM LENTHALL (1591-1662), English parliamentarian, speaker of the House of Commons, second son of William Lenthall, of Lachford, Oxfordshire, a descendent of an old Herefordshire family, was born at Henley-on-Thames in June 1591.
According to Clarendon, a worse choice could not have been made, for Lenthall was of a "very timorous nature."
On the 4th of January 1642, however, when the king entered the House of Commons to seize the five members, Lenthall behaved with great prudence and dignity.
Having taken the speaker's chair and looked round in vain to discover the offending members, Charles turned to Lenthall standing below, and demanded of him "whether any of those persons were in the House, whether he saw any of them and where they were."
Lenthall fell on his knees and replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."
On the outbreak of the great rebellion, Lenthall threw in his lot with the parliament.
On the 26th of July a mob invaded the House of Commons and obliged it to rescind the ordinance re-establishing the old parliamentary committee of militia; Lenthall was held in the chair by main force and compelled to put to the vote a resolution inviting the king to London.
Lenthall and Manchester, the speaker of the Lords, headed the fugitive members at the review on Hounslow Heath on the 3rd of August, being received by the soldiers "as so many angels sent from heaven for their good."
The removal of the king had left the parliament supreme; and Lenthall as its representative, though holding little real power, was the first man in the state.
Cromwell directed Colonel Harrison, on the refusal of Lenthall to quit the chair, to pull him out - and Lenthall submitted to the show of force.
In the second protectorate parliament, summoned by Cromwell on the 17th of September 1656, Lenthall was again chosen member for Oxfordshire, but had some difficulty in obtaining admission, and was not re-elected speaker.
The protector, hearing of his "grievous complaint," sent him a writ, and Lenthall was elated at believing he had secured a peerage.
Lenthall, however, had no wish to resume his duties as speaker, preferring the House of Lords, and made various excuses for not complying.
Lenthall was now restored to the position of dignity which he had filled before.
On the 6th of June it was voted that all commissions should be signed by Lenthall and not by the commander-in-chief.
Lenthall now turned his attention to bring about the Restoration.
He had been in communication with Monk for some time, and on Monk entering London with his army (3rd February 1660) Lenthall met him in front of Somerset House.
On the 6th of February Monk visited the House of Commons, when Lenthall pronounced a speech of thanks.
Lenthall notwithstanding found himself in disgrace at the Restoration.
In the House of Lords, however, Monk's testimony and intercession were effectual, and Lenthall was only declared incapable of holding for the future any public office.
Unmindful now of the privileges of parliament, he consented to appear as a witness against the regicide Thomas Scot, for words spoken in the House of Commons while Lenthall was in the chair.
Lenthall died on the 3rd of September 1662.
He left one son, Sir John Lenthall, who had descendants.
His brother, Sir John Lenthall, who, it was said, had too much influence with him, was notorious for his extortions as keeper of the King's Bench prison.
There are numerous references to Lenthall in his official capacity, and letters written by and to him, in the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, and in various MSS.
He defeated the strange bill which sought to exclude lawyers from parliament; and to the sweeping and ill-considered changes in the court of chancery proposed by Cromwell and the council he offered an unbending and honourable resistance, being dismissed in consequence, together with his colleague Widdrington, on the 6th of June 1655 from his commissionership of the Great Seal (see Lenthall, William).
Robert Lenthall, who joined the Newport company in 1640 when driven from Massachusetts, probably brought with him antipaedobaptist convictions.