Killing No Murder

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Photo of the French edition of Killing No Murder

Killing No Murder is a pamphlet published in 1657 during The Protectorate period of the English Interregnum era of English history. The pamphlet of disputed authorship advocates the assassination of Oliver Cromwell. The publication was in high demand at the time of its distribution. Cromwell was said to[who?] have been so disturbed after the publication of Killing No Murder that he never spent more than two nights in the same place and always took extreme precaution in planning his travel.

Text from Killing No Murder

The first section of the text reads as follows:

"To his Highness, Oliver Cromwell.

To your Highness justly belongs the Honour of dying for the people, and it cannot choose but be unspeakable consolation to you in the last moments of your life to consider with how much benefit to the world you are like to leave it. 'Tis then only (my Lord) the titles you now usurp, will be truly yours; you will then be indeed the deliverer of your country, and free it from a bondage little inferior to that from which Moses delivered his. You will then be that true reformer which you would be thought. Religion shall be then restored, liberty asserted and Parliaments have those privileges they have fought for. We shall then hope that other laws will have place besides those of the sword, and that justice shall be otherwise defined than the will and pleasure of the strongest; and we shall then hope men will keep oaths again, and not have the necessity of being false and perfidious to preserve themselves, and be like their rulers. All this we hope from your Highness's happy expiration, who are the true father of your country; for while you live we can call nothing ours, and it is from your death that we hope for our inheritances. Let this consideration arm and fortify your Highness's mind against the fears of death and the terrors of your evil conscience, that the good you will do by your death will something balance the evils of your life."

A full scan of the book is available online, see the 'external links' section below.

Possible Authors

Killing No Murder was published under the pseudonym 'William Allen' but the authorship is largely attributed to one of three individuals or some combination of the three. The individuals generally attributed with authorship are (in order): Colonel Silius Titus, Edward Sexby or William Allen.

Silius Titus

Colonel Titus was a politician and one of two individuals who claimed authorship of the work. Titus' claim could stand on its own merit due to the highly sarcastic nature of the document—a trait often attributed to Titus. In response to claims that he often "made sport of the House" and didn't take matters seriously, Titus remarked that things were not to be taken seriously simply because they were dull.[1] Titus' tone can be seen throughout the document and on that alone, many attribute the work to him before he admitted to writing it. Additionally, Charles II of England awarded Titus the title of Gentleman of the Bedchamber for his service in authoring the work.[2][3]

Edward Sexby

Edward Sexby had returned to England to try where Miles Sindercombe had failed in exacting the call for assassination found in Killing No Murder. After failing, he was caught trying to escape to Amsterdam and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. It was there that Sexby went insane and died a year later in 1658. Before his death, he was coerced by Sir John Barkstead to admit his participation in the writing of the pamphlet.

William Allen

While it was often assumed that the document was written under a pseudonym, another theory suggested that William Allen, a former New Model Army trooper[4] and Republican who had ties with Edward Sexby and Thomas Sheppard, had penned the document. The trio (Allen, Sexby and Sheppard) had agitated Cromwell in the past by expressing their concerns about the Army's attitude toward Parliament. It is possible that Allen, therefore, wrote the document brazenly himself before he died but is more likely named as the author as retribution from one of the other two authors.


  1. Parishes - Bushey | British History Online
  2. Monday 7 May 1660 (Pepys' Diary)[not in citation given]
  4. [1]

External links