Who’s who?

During the 12 days of debating in St Mary’s Church, Putney, dozens of the people in attendance were not recorded as having spoken. The majority of the debating involved the following people:

Oliver Cromwell

One of the leaders of the Parliamentary army, Cromwell chaired the General Council for several days of the Putney Debates. He sided with his son-in-law Henry Ireton during the debates about the right to vote.

Henry Ireton

A leading figure in the New Model Army and a member of Parliament, Ireton was the most defiant speaker in favour of maintaining the existing rules regarding the right to vote.

Thomas Rainborough

Colonel of a New Model Army foot regiment, Rainborough was one of the leading speakers proposing an extension of the number of Englishmen who were allowed to vote.

Edward Sexby

One of the leading agitators, Sexby was an outspoken critic of both Cromwell and Ireton during the debates. He spoke in defence of the common soldier, and when attacking those who wished the voting rights to remain as they were, he asked: ‘Do you not think it is a sad and miserable condition, that we have fought all this time for nothing?’

Robert Everard

Another of the agitators, Everard was the main point of contact between the agitators and member of the General Council in the days leading up to the debates.

John Wildman

Wildman was one of the two civilians present at the debates. He is the most likely author of An Agreement of the People, a Leveller pamphlet which called for the law to be applied to all men, regardless of their status, and for freedom of religious expression. Immediately following the debates, Wildman became very involved in the Leveller movement in London.

Maximilian Petty

Petty was the other civilian at Putney. He is recorded as condemning the power of the king to veto bills passed by Parliament, which would prevent them from becoming law. He later accepted a compromise position on the extension of the right to vote, which allowed all men, excepting apprentices, servants, and beggars.


In the midst of the passionate debates about England’s political future was one man making detailed notes of what was said:

William Clarke

Clarke was 24 years old when he sat among the men at Putney scribbling down the speeches of the debaters. He had a real sense of the importance of the events as they were happening, and of the need to record them. Fifteen years later, with the monarchy restored to power after eleven years of an English Republic, Clarke wrote up the debates from his shorthand notes.