Richard Salwey came from a prominent family from Richards Castle on the borders of Hereford and Shropshire and was apprenticed to Richard Waring, a London Grocer and prominent new merchant, marrying his daughter Anne. Salwey, a Major, had fought at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and reported back to Parliament on the outcome. He lived in Clapham from 1649 until 1652 and also returned as a resident from 1683-85 and subscribed to a collection of for repairs to the parish school in 1685 not long before his death.
He was one of those who drafted the Commons resolution of 4 January 1649 which proclaimed the legitimacy of the Commonwealth in terms of popular sovereignty while reserving to the Commons full authority with no appeal beyond it,
‘That the People are, under God, the Original of all just Power:
And do also Declare, that the Commons of England, in Parliament assembled, being chosen by, and representing the People, have the Supreme Power in this Nation:
And do also Declare, That whatsoever is enacted, or declared for Law, by the Commons, in Parliament assembled, hath the Force of Law; and all the People of this Nation are concluded thereby, although the Consent and Concurrence of King, or House of Peers, be not had thereunto.’
This reflects Salwey’s position that, however fervently Independent his religious views, his top priority was political reform and the primacy of Parliament.
Salwey held a number of important positions and was elected to the Council of State on a number of occasions coming top of the poll in February 1651. He was also appointed to the Council of Trade and became one of the Commissioners for the regulation of the Navy in 1652. He saw the hand of God supporting the action of a government run by the godly and described English victories in the naval war against the Dutch as ‘miraculous works’ of God’s power which pointed to ‘the more spiritual appearance of our Lord Jesus in his kingdom’.
Although Salwey escaped unpunished immediately after the Restoration, he continued to have difficulties. He was arrested on suspicion of conspiring against the regime in 1662 but released because there was no evidence; he was committed to the Tower for three months in 1663-4 in connection with the Farnley Wood Plot, a rising in Yorkshire designed to overturn the monarchy and return to a Presbyterian church. He was eventually released in early February 1664 on his taking the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, giving security for good conduct, and paying the prison dues. Later, in 1678, Charles II ordered him to absent himself beyond the sea and he was again under suspicion at the time of Monmouth’s rising.
It is hardly surprising that his grandson’s memorial in Ludlow church says of his grandfather that ‘he sacrificed all and everything in his power in support of public liberty and in opposition to arbitrary power’.
I have a particular interest in Salwey because, like him, I have a house in Shropshire (Ludlow) and near Clapham.