Cromwell, after whose birthplace the town of Huntington was named, is most remembered by the Irish for his murderous military trip to Ireland, which included the massacre at Drogheda.
The Parliamentarian army swept through Drogheda on Cromwell’s orders on Sept. 11, 1649, slaughtering Royalist troops and civilians in equal measure. About 3,500 were killed.
Twenty-first century Huntington, N.Y., had been planning celebrations for its 350th anniversary when local man William Farrell wrote a letter of complaint.
“Oliver Cromwell was a mass murderer and the father of a system of institutionalized religious intolerance,” Farrell, a Huntington resident, wrote in a letter to the town supervisor, Frank P. Petrone.
“He is clearly ineligible for such homage, and to pay it to him is to insult the memory of his many victims, the suffering of those who survived him by fleeing their homes, and the bravery of our founding fathers, who risked their lives to establish a country free of his legacy.”
Huntington council set up a commission in response and last week a unanimous vote passed a motion stating that Cromwell’s lion would be deleted from the town coat of arms.
Farrell added in his letter: “I have no wish to see my town suffer public humiliation the way South Carolina did when objection was raised to its flying the Confederate flag from its statehouse.”
But the offending crest will continue to be seen in Huntington as the council said that there is not enough money to make the replacements at this time.
Initially, supervisor Petrone stood behind the coat of arms, insisting that “Huntington, N.Y., has a long history of religious tolerance.”
But Ancient Order of Hibernians members in Suffolk County commissioned their historian, David Ring, to investigate the link to Cromwell, who detailed the Lord Protector’s actions during the era when he ruled England, Scotland and Ireland.
Cromwell regarded the massacre at Drogheda as a righteous judgment on the Catholics who had slaughtered the Protestant settlers in the Irish Uprising of 1641.
Later, Wexford suffered a similar fate as Drogheda and Cromwell quickly became one of the most hated figures in Irish history.
This material, including the story of Drogheda, appears to have convinced the town council to dispatch Cromwell’s lion to the dustbin of history.