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He owned property both in the City of London, especially around Tower Hill, and in Essex, especially Little Stambridge Hall. The Bourchier family from which Elizabeth sprang does not seem to have been connected with the noble families of that name, including the late medieval Bourchier Earls of Essex; nor, as far as we can tell, was Elizabeth related to the Sir William Bourchier who married Cromwell’s relative Katherine/Catherine Barrington and who fathered the regicide Sir John Bourchier.We know virtually nothing about Elizabeth’s childhood and upbringing, though she must have received some sort of education as she evidently was literate.Elizabeth had been born in 1598, the eldest of twelve children (nine sons and three daughters) of Sir James Bourchier and his wife Frances, who was a daughter of Thomas Crane of Newton Tony, Wiltshire.Sir James, an only son, had inherited land and property from his father, and seems himself to have been a successful and prosperous businessman in London, reportedly involved in the fur and leather trades.Alternatively, the match may have come about through existing family links, for in 1614 Elizabeth’s maternal aunt, Eluzai Crane, had married Oliver’s uncle, Henry Cromwell of Upwood.However it came about, the marriage appears to have been a happy one, producing nine children and surviving the strain of Cromwell’s frequent absences on military campaign over the period 1642-51.After all, it may be that Elizabeth did have one or more pregnancies over this period but that they resulted in miscarriages or still births.

We know of nine children of the marriage of Oliver and Elizabeth. During the opening decade of their marriage, Elizabeth conceived quite regularly – in or around January 1621, May 1622, October 1623, January 1626, April 1627, September 1628 and April 1631.

As well as James (born and died 1632) who died in infancy, Robert (born 1621, died 1639) died in his late teens and Oliver (born 1623, died 1644), who fought for parliament as a junior officer in the opening stages of the civil war, died young and unmarried of natural causes, perhaps smallpox, while serving in the garrison at Newport Pagnell.

Bridget Cromwell (born 1624) was the Cromwells’ eldest daughter and the eldest of their children to survive into full adulthood.

We know very little about the couple’s early married life beyond where they were living – in Huntingdon until 1631, in St Ives from 1631 to 1636, in Ely from 1636 until late 1646 and thereafter in London – and the dates of their children’s births.

By the early 1650s Elizabeth and her family were living in lodgings adjoining Whitehall Palace and in spring 1654, soon after her husband became Lord Protector, they moved into newly redecorated apartments in Whitehall Palace itself and at Hampton Court.

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