This collection of Leveller Tracts contains the main "Agreements of the People", Petitions, Remonstrances (or Complaints), and Declarations which were drawn up by Levellers between 1646 and 1659 in which they stated what they believed in, what changes they wanted Parliament to make, and declarations of what principles lay behind these demands. We also include an anti-Leveller satire to show how their opponents regarded these views and demands.
For further information about the Levellers and our collection of their writings, see:
Tracts on Liberty by the Levellers and their Critics (1638-1660), 7 vols. Edited by David M. Hart and Ross Kenyon (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2014-16).
T.78 [1646.10.12] (3.18) Richard Overton, An Arrow against all Tyrants and Tyranny (12 October 1646).
Tract number; sorting ID number based on date of publication or acquisition by Thomason; volume number and location in 1st edition; author; abbreviated title; approximate date of publication according to Thomason.
The collection includes the following:
Four Agreements of the People
Petitions of the People and the Army
Other Documents such as Remonstrances (Complaints), Declarations, and Manifestoes
An anti-Leveller satire
“The Liberty of the Freeborne English-Man, Conferred on him by the house of lords. June 1646."
The medallion is surrounded by the words “John lilburne. At the age of 23. The Year 1641.” Made by G. Glo. Beneath is a poem which states:
Gaze not upon this shaddow that is vaine, But rather raise thy thoughts a higher straine, To GOD (I meane) who set this young man free, And in like straits, can eke (also) deliver thee. Yea though the lords have him in bonds againe LORD of lords will his just cause maintaine.
T.115 [1647.11.03] (4.14) [Several Hands], An Agreement of the People for a firme and present Peace, upon grounds of common-right and freedome (3 November 1647).
[Several Hands], An Agreement of the People for a firme and present Peace, upon grounds of common-right and freedome; As it was proposed by the Agents of the five Regiments of Horse; and since by the generall approbation of the Army, offered to the joynt concurrence of all the free Commons of England. The Nmaes of the Regiments which have already appeared for the Case, of The Case of the Army truly stated, and for this present Agreement, viz.
Of Horse: 1. Gen. Regiment, 2. Life-Guard, 3. Lieut.Gen. Regiment, 4. Com.Gen. Regiment, 5. Col. Whaleyes Reg., 6. Col. Riches Reg., 7. Col. Fleetwoods Reg., 8. Col. Harrisons Reg., 9. Col. Twisdens Reg.
Of Foot: 1. Gen. Regiment, 2. Col. Sir Hardrosse Wallers Reg., 3. Col. Rainsboroughs Regiment, 5. Col. Overtons Reg., 6 Col. Lilburnes Reg., 7. Col. Backsters Reg.
Printed Anno. Dom. 1647.
This tract contains the following parts:
3 November 1647.
TT1, p. 566; Thomason E. 412. (21.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
Having by our late labours and hazards made it appeare to the world at how high a rate wee value our just freedome, and God having so far owned our cause, as to deliver the Enemies thereof into our hands: We do now hold our selves bound in mutual duty to each other, to take the best care we can for the future, to avoid both the danger of returning into a slavish condition, and the chargable remedy of another war: for as it cannot be imagined that so many of our Country-men would have opposed us in this quarrel, if they had understood their owne good; so may we safely promise to our selves, that when our Common Rights and liberties shall be cleared, their endeavours will be disappointed, that seek to make themselves our Masters: since therefore our former oppressions, and scarce yet ended troubles have beene occasioned, either by want of frequent Nationall meetings in Councell, or by rendring those meetings ineffectuall; We are fully agreed and resolved, to provide that hereafter our Representatives be neither left to an uncertainty for the time, nor made uselesse to the ends for which they are intended: In order whereunto we declare,
That the People of England being at this day very unequally distributed by Counties, Cities, & Burroughs, for the election of their Deputies in Parliament, ought to be more indifferently proportioned, according to the number of the Inhabitants: the circumstances whereof, for number, place, and manner, are to be set down before the end of this present Parliament.
That to prevent the many inconveniences apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in authority, this present Parliament be dissolved upon the last day of September, which shall be in the year of our Lord, 1648.
That the People do of course chuse themselves a Parliament once in two yeares, viz. upon the first Thursday in every 2d. March, after the manner as shall be prescribed before the end of this Parliament, to begin to sit upon the first Thursday in Aprill following at Westminster, or such other place as shall bee appointed from time to time by the preceding Representatives; and to continue till the last day of September, then next ensuing, and no longer.
That the power of this, and all future Representatives of this Nation, is inferiour only to theirs who chuse them, and doth extend, without the consent or concurrence of any other person or persons; to the enacting, altering, and repealing of Lawes; to the erecting and abolishing of Offices and Courts; to the appointing, removing, and calling to account Magistrates, and Officers of all degrees; to the making War and peace, to the treating with forraign States: And generally, to whatsoever is not expresly, or implyedly reserved by the represented to themselves.
Which are as followeth,
1. THat matters of Religion, and the wayes of Gods Worship, are not at all intrusted by us to any humane power, because therein wee cannot remit or exceed a tittle of what our Consciences dictate to be the mind of God, without wilfull sinne: neverthelesse the publike way of instructing the Nation (so it be not compulsive) is referred to their discretion.
2. That the matter of impresting and constraining any of us to serve in the warres, is against our freedome; and therefore we do not allow it in our Representatives; the rather, because money (the sinews of war) being alwayes at their disposall, they can never want numbers of men, apt enough to engage in any just cause.
3. That after the dissolution of this present Parliament, no person be at any time questioned for anything said or done, in reference to the late publike differences, otherwise then in execution of the Judgments of the present Representatives, or House of Commons.
4. That in all Laws made, or to be made, every person may be bound alike, and that no Tenure, Estate, Charter, Degree, Birth, or place, do confer any exemption from the ordinary Course of Legall proceedings, whereunto others arc subjected.
5. That as the Laws ought to be equall, so they must be good, and not evidently destructive to the safety and well-being of the people.
THese things we declare to be our native Rights, and therefore are agreed and resolved to maintain them with our utmost possibilities, against all opposition whatsoever, being compelled thereunto, not only by the examples of our Ancestors, whose bloud was often spent in vain for the recovery of their Freedomes, suffering themselves, through fradulent accommodations, to be still deluded of the fruit of their Victories, but also by our own wofull experience, who having long expected, & dearly earned the establishment of these certain rules of Government are yet made to depend for the settlement of our Peace and Freedoms, upon him that intended our bondage, and brought a cruell Warre upon us.
For the noble and highly honoured the Free-born People of ENGLAND, in their respective Counties and Divisions, these.
Deare Country-men, and fellow-Commoners,
For your sakes, our friends, estates and lives, have not been deare to us; for your safety and freedom we have cheerfully indured hard Labours and run most desperate hazards, and in comparison to your peace and freedome we neither doe nor ever shall value our dearest bloud and wee professe, our bowells are and have been troubled, and our hearts pained within us, in seeing & considering that you have been so long bereaved of these fruites and ends of all our labours and hazards, wee cannot but sympathize with you in your miseries and oppressions. It’s greife and vexation of heart to us; to receive your meate or moneyes, whilest you have no advantage, nor yet the foundations of your peace and freedom surely layed: and therefore upon most serious considerations, that your principall right most essentiall to your well-being is the clearnes, certaintie, sufficiencie and freedom of your power in your representatives in Parliament, and considering that the original of most of your oppressions & miseries hath been either from the obscuritie and doubtfulnes of the power you have committed to your representatives in your elections, or from the want of courage in those whom you have betrusted to claime and exercise their power, which might probably proceed from their uncertaintie of your assistance and maintenance of their power, and minding that for this right of yours and ours we engaged our lives; for the King raised the warre against you and your Parliament, upon this ground, that hee would not suffer your representatives to provide for your peace safetie and freedom that were then in danger, by disposing of the Militia and otherwise, according to their trust; and for the maintenance and defense of that power and right of yours, wee hazarded all that was deare to us, and God hath borne witnesse to the justice of our Cause. And further minding that the only effectual meanes to settle a just and lasting peace, to obtaine remedie for all your greivances, & to prevent future oppressions, is the making clear & secure the power that you betrust to your representatives in Parliament, that they may know their trust, in the faithfull execution whereof you wil assist them. Upon all these grounds, we propound your joyning with us in the agreement herewith sent unto you; that by vertue thereof, we may have Parliaments certainly cal’d and have the time of their sitting & ending certain & their power or trust cleare and unquestionable, that hereafter they may remove your burdens, & secure your rights, without oppositions or obstructions, & that the foundations of your peace may be so free from uncertainty, that there may be no grounds for future quarrels, or contentions to occasion warre and bloud-shed; & wee desire you would consider, that as these things wherein we offer to agree with you, are the fruites & ends of the Victories which God hath given us: so the settlement of these are the most absolute meanes to preserve you & your Posterity, from slavery, oppression, distraction, & trouble; by this, those whom your selves shall chuse, shall have power to restore you to, and secur you in, all your rights; & they shall be in a capacity to tast of subjection, as well as rule, & so shall be equally concerned with your selves, in all they do. For they must equally suffer with you under any common burdens, & partake with you in any freedoms; & by this they shal be disinabled to defraud or wrong you, when the lawes shall bind all alike, without priviledge or exemption; & by this your Consciences shall be free from tyrannie & oppression, & those occasions of endlesse strifes, & bloudy warres, shall be perfectly removed: without controversie by your joyning with us in this Agreement, all your particular & common grievances will be redressed forthwith without delay; the Parliament must then make your reliefe and common good their only study.
Now because we are earnestly desirous of the peace and good of all our Country-men, even of those that have opposed us, and would to our utmost possibility provide for perfect peace and freedome, & prevent all suites, debates, & contentions that may happen amongst you, in relation to the late war: we have therefore inserted it into this Agreement, that no person shall be questionable for any thing done, in relation to the late publike differences, after the dissolution of this present Parliament, further then in execution of their judgment; that thereby all may be secure from all sufferings for what they have done, & not liable hereafter to be troubled or punished by the judgment of another Parliament, which may be to their ruine, unlesse this Agreement be joyned in, whereby any acts of indempnity or oblivion shalbe made unalterable, and you and your posterities be secure.
But if any shall enquire why we should desire to joyn in an Agreement with the people, to declare these to be our native Rights, & not rather petition to the Parliament for them; the reason is evident: No Act of Parliament is or can be unalterable, and so cannot be sufficient security, to save you or us harmlesse, from what another Parliament may determine, if it should be corrupted; and besides Parliaments are to receive the extent of their power, and trust from those that betrust them; and therefore the people are to declare what their power and trust is, which is the intent of this Agreement; and its to be observed, that though there hath formerly been many Acts of Parliament, for the calling of Parliaments every yeare, yet you have been deprived of them, and inslaved through want of them; and therefore both necessity for your security in these freedomes, that are essentiall to your well-being, and wofull experience of the manifold miseries and distractions that have been lengthened out since the war ended, through want of such a settlement, requires this Agreement and when you and we shall be joyned together therein, we shall readily joyn with you, to petition the Parliament, as they are our fellow Commoners equally concerned, to joyn with us.
And if any shall inquire. Why we undertake to offer this Agreement, we must professe, we are sensible that you have been so often deceived with Declarations and Remonstrances, and fed with vain hopes that you have sufficient reason to abandon all confidence in any persons whatsoever, from whom you have no other security of their intending your freedome, then bare Declaration: And therefore, as our consciences witnesse, that in simplicity and integrity of heart, we have proposed lately in the Case of the Army stated, your freedome and deliverance from slavery, oppression, and all burdens: so we desire to give you satisfying assurance thereof by this Agreement wherby the foundations of your freedomes provided in the Case, &c. shall be setted unalterably, if we shall as faithfully proceed to, and all other most vigorus actings for your good that God shall direct and enable us unto; And though the malice of our enemies, and such as they delude, would blast us by scandalls, aspersing us with designes of Anarchy, and community, yet we hope the righteous God will not onely by this our present desire of setling an equall just Government, but also by directing us unto all righteous undertakings, simply for publike good, make our uprightnesse and faithfulnesse to the interest of all our Countreymen, shine forth so clearly, that malice it selfe shall be silenced, and confounded. We question not, but the longing expectation of a firme peace, will incite you to the most speedy joyning in this Agreement: in the prosecution whereof, or of any thing that you shall desire for publike good, you may be confident, you shall never want the assistance of
Your most faithfull fellow-Commoners, now in Armes for
Edmond Bear }Lieut. Gen. Regiment.
Robert Everard }
George Garret }Com. Gen. Regiment.
Thomas beverley }
William Pryor }Col. Fleetwoods Regiment.
William Bryan }
Matthew Weale }Col. Whalies Regiment.
William Russell }
John Dover }Col. Riches Regiment.
William Hudson. }
Agents coming from other Regiments unto us, have subscribed the Agreement to be proposed to their respective Regiments, and you.
For Our much honoured, and truly worthy Fellow-Commoners, and Souldiers, the Officers and Souldiers under Command of His Excellencie Sir THOMAS FAIRFAX.
Gentlemen and Fellow Souldiers;
THe deepe sense of many dangers and mischiefes that may befall you in relation to the late War, whensoever this Parliament shall end, unlesse sufficient prevention be now provided, hath constrained Us to study the most absolute & certain means for your security; and upon most serious considerations, we judge that no Act of Indempnity can sufficiently provide for your quiet, ease, and safety; because, as it hath formerly been, a corrupt Party (chosen into the next Parliament by your Enemies meanes) may possibly surprize the house, and make any Act of Indemnity null, seeing they cannot faile of the Kings Assistance and concurrence, in any such actings against you, that conquered him.
And by the same meanes, your freedome from impressing also, may in a short time be taken from you, though for the present, it should be granted; wee apprehend no other security, by which you shall be saved harmlesse, for what you have done in the late warre, then a mutuall Agreement between the people & you, that no person shall be questioned by any Authority whatsoever, for any thing done in relation to the late publike differences, after the dissolution of the present house of Commons, further then in execution of their judgment; and that your native freedome from constraint to serve in warre, whether domestick or forraign, shall never be subject to the power of Parliaments, or any other; and for this end, we propound the Agreement that we herewith send to you, to be forthwith subscribed.
And because we are confident, that in judgment and Conscience, ye hazarded your lives for the settlement of such a just and equall Government, that you and your posterities, and all the free borne people of this Nation might enjoy justice & freedome, and that you are really sensible that the distractions, oppressions, and miseries of the Nation, and your want of your Arreares, do proceed from the want of the establishment, both of such certain rules of just Government, and foundations of peace, as are the price of bloud, and the expected fruites of all the peoples cost: Therefore in this Agreement wee have inserted the certaine Rules of equall Government, under which the Nation may enjoy all its Rights and Freedomes securely; And as we doubt not but your love to the freedome and lasting peace of the yet distracted Country will cause you to joyn together in this Agreement.
So we question not: but every true English man that loves the peace and freedome of England will concurre with us; and then your Arrears and constant pay (while you continue in Armes) will certainly be brought in out of the abundant love of the people to you, and then shall the mouthes of those be stopped, that scandalize you and us, as endeavouring Anarchy, or to rule by the sword; & then will so firm an union be made between the people and you, that neither any homebred or forraigne Enemies will dare to disturbe our happy peace. We shall adde no more but this; that the knowledge of your union in laying this foundation of peace, this Agreement, is much longed for, by
Yours, and the Peoples most faithfull Servants.
WE desire you may understand the reason of our extracting some principles of common freedome out of those many things proposed to you in the Case truly stated, and drawing them up into the forme of an Agreement. Its chiefly because for these things wee first ingaged gainst the King, He would not permit the peoples Representatives to provide for the Nations safety, by disposing of the Militia, and otherwayes, according to their Trust, but raised a Warre against them, and we ingaged for the defence of that power, and right of the people, in their Representatives. Therefore these things in the Agreement, the people are to claime as their native right, and price of their bloud, which you are obliged absolutely to procure for them.
And these being the foundations of freedom, its necessary, that they should be setled unalterably, which can be by no meanes, but this Agreement with the people.
And we cannot but mind you, that the ease of the people in all their Grievances, depends upon the setling those principles or rules of equal Government for a free people, & were but this Agreement established, doubtlesse all the Grievances of the Army and people would be redressed immediately, and all things propounded in your Case truly stated to be insisted on, would be forthwith granted.
Then should the House of Commons have power to helpe the oppressed people, which they are now bereaved of by the chiefe Oppressors, and then they shall be equally concerned with you and all the people, in the settlement of the most perfect freedome: for they shall equally suffer with you under any Burdens, or partake in any Freedome. We shall onely adde, that the summe of all the Agreement which we herewith offer to you, is but in order to the fulfilling of our Declaration of Iune the 14. wherein we promised to the people, that we would with our lives vindicate and cleare their right and power in their Parliaments.
Edmond Bear }Lieut. Gen. Reg.
Robert Everard }
George Garret }Com. Gen. Reg.
Thomas Beverley }
William Pryor }Col. Fleetwood Reg.
William Bryan }
Matthew Wealey }Col. Whaley Reg.
William Russell }
John Dober }Col. Rich Reg.
William Hudson }
Agents coming from other Regiments unto us, have subscribed the Agreement, to be proposed to their respective Regiments and you.
T.167 [1648.12.15] (5.25) Anon., Foundations of Freedom, Or An Agreement of the People (15 December, 1648)
[Anon., sometimes attributed to Lilburne or Overton], Foundations of Freedom, Or An Agreement of the People: Proposed as a Rule for future Government in the Establishment of a firm and lasting Peace. Drawn up by severall wel-affected Persons, and tendered to the consideration of the Generall Councell of the Army. And now offered to the Consideration of all Persons who are at liberty by Printing or otherwise, to give their Reasons, for, or against it. Unto which is annexed severall Grievances by some Persons, offered to be inserted in the said Agreement, but adjudged only necessary to be insisted on, as fit to be removed by the next Representatives. Publish’d for satisfaction of all honest Interests.
London, Printed for R. Smithurst, 1648.
15 December, 1648.
TT1, p. 700; Thomason E. 476. (26.).
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
THis Agreement having had its conception for a common good, as being that which contains those Foundations of Freedom, and Rules of Government, adjudged necessary to be established in this Nation for the future, by which all sorts of men are to be bound, I adjudged it a just and reasonable thing to publish it to the view of the Nation, to the end that all men might have an opportunity to consider the Equity therof, and offer their Reasons against any thing therein contained, before it be concluded; That being agreeable to that Principle which we profess, viz. to do unto you, as we would all men should do unto us; not doubting but that the Justice of it will be maintained and cleared, maugre the opposition of the stoutest Calumniator, especially in those clear points in the Reserve so much already controverted, viz. touching the Magistrates power to counsel or restrain in matters of Religion, and the exercise of an arbitrary power in the Representative, to punish men for state offences, against which no Law hath provided; which two things especially are so clear to my understanding, that I dare with confidence aver, That no man can demand the exercise of such a power, but he that intends to be a Tyrant, nor no man part with them, but he that resolves to be a slave. And so at present I rest,
HAving by our late labors and hazards made it appear to the world, at how high a rate we value our just Freedoms, and God having so far owned our cause, as to deliver the enemies thereof into our hands, we do now hold our selves bound, in mutual duty to each other, to take the best care we can for the future to avoid both the danger of returning into a slavish condition, and the chargeable remedy of another War: For as it cannot be imagined that so many of our Countrymen would have opposed us in this quarrel, if they had understood their own good, so may we safely promise to our selves, that when our common Rights and Liberties shall be cleared, their endevors will be disappointed, that seek to make themselves our Masters: Since therefore our former oppressions, and not yet ended troubles have been occasioned, either by want of frequent national meetings in Councel, or by the undue or unequal constitution thereof, or by rendring those meetings ineffectual; we are fully agreed and resolved to provide, that hereafter our Representatives be neither left for uncertainty for time, nor be unequally constituted, nor made useless to the end for which they are intended.
1. That to prevent the many inconveniences apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in authority, this present Parliament be dissolved upon or before the last day of April, in the year of our Lord 1649.
2. That the people of England being at this day very unequally distributed, by Counties, Cities, or Burroughs for the election of their Representatives, be more in differently proportioned, and to this end, That the Representative of the whole Nation, shall consist of 300 Persons; and in each County, and the places thereto subjoyned, there shall be chosen to make up the said Representative at all times, the several numbers hereunder mentioned.
|THe County of Kent, with the City of Rochester, and the Burroughs, Town, and Parishes therein||11|
|The City of Canterbury||1|
|The County of Sussex, with the City, Burroughs Towns, and Parishes therein||7|
|The County Town of Southampton||1|
|The County of Southampton, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||6|
|The County of Dorset, with the Town of Pool, and all other Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||6|
|The City of Exeter||2|
|The County of Devon, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Plymouth||11|
|The Town of Plymouth||1|
|The County of Cornwal, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||6|
|The City of Bristow||2|
|The County of Sommerset, with the Cities of Bath and Wells, and the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Taunton||8|
|The Town of Taunton||1|
|The City of Salisbury||1|
|The County of Wilts, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||7|
|The County of Berks, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Reading||6|
|The Town of Reading||1|
|The County of Surrey, with all the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Southwark||5|
|The Burrough of Southwark||2|
|The City of London||8|
|The City of Westminster||1|
|The County of Middlesex, with the Towns and Parishes therein||7|
|The County of Hartford, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||8|
|The County of Buckingham, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||8|
|The City of Oxon||1|
|The University of Oxon||1|
|The County of Oxford, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||4|
|The City of Glocester||1|
|The County of Glocester, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||7|
|The City of Hereford||1|
|The County of Hereford, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||4|
|The City of Worcester||1|
|The County of Worcester, with the Towns, Burroughs, and Parishes therein||5|
|The City of Coventry||1|
|The County of Warwick, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The Town of Northampton||1|
|The County of Northampton, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The County of Bedford, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The University of Cambridg||1|
|The Town of Cambridg||1|
|The County of Cambridg, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||4|
|The County of Essex, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Colchester||10|
|The Town of Colchester||1|
|The County of Suffolk, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Ipswich||10|
|The Town of Ipswich||1|
|The City of Norwich||2|
|The County of Norfolk, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||9|
|The County of Lincoln, with the City, Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||11|
|The County of Rutland, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Huntington, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||3|
|The Burrough of Leicester||1|
|The County of Leicester, with other Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The County of Nottingham, with Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The County of Darby, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||6|
|The County of Stafford, with the City of Liechfield, and the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The County of Salop, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||5|
|The Town of Shrewsbury||1|
|The City of Chester||2|
|The County of Chester, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||4|
|The County of Lancaster, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||7|
|The City of York||2|
|The Town of Kingston upon Hull||1|
|The County of York, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||13|
|The County of Durham, with the City of Durham, and the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||3|
|The Town of Newcastle||1|
|The Town of Berwick||1|
|The County of Northumberland, with the other Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Cumberland, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Westmerland, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Anglesley, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Brecknock, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Cardigan, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Carmarthen, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Carnarven, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Denbigh, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Flint, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Monmouth, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||3|
|The County of Clamergan, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Merioneth, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Montgomery, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||2|
|The County of Radnal, with the Burroughs, and Parishes therein||1|
|The County of Pembrooke||1|
1. THat the Electors in every Division, shall be Natives or Denizons of England, such as have subscribed this Agreement; not persons receiving Alms, but such as are assessed ordinarily towards the relief of the poor; not servants to, or receiving wages from any particular person. And in all Elections (except for the Universities) they shall be men of one and twenty yeers old, or upwards, and House-keepers, dwelling within the Division, for which the Election is; Provided, that until the end of seven yeers next ensuing the time herein limited, for the end of this present Parliament, no person shall be admitted to, or have any hand or voyce in such Elections, who have adhered to, or assisted the King against the Parliament in any of these Wars or Insurrections; or who shall make or joyn in, or abet any forcible opposition against this Agreement; and that such as shall not subscribe it before the time limited, for the end of this Parliament, shall not have Vote in the next Election; neither, if they subscribe afterwards, shall they have any voyce in the Election next succeeding their subscription, unless their subscription were six months before the same.
2. That until the end of fourteen yeers, such persons, and such onely, may be elected for any Division, who by the rule aforesaid, are to have voyce in Elections in one place or other; Provided, that of those, none shall be eligible for the first or second Representatives, who have not voluntarily assisted the Parliament against the King, either in person before the fourteenth of June, 1645. or else in Mony, Plate, Horse, or Arms, lent upon the Propositions before the end of May, 1643. or who have joyned in, or abbetted the Treasonable Engagement in London, in the yeer 1647. or who declared or engaged themselves for a Cessation of Arms with the Scots, who Invaded the Nation the last Summer, or for complyance with the Actors in any the Insurrections of the same Summer, or with the Prince of Wales, or his accomplices in the revolted Fleet.
3. That whoever, being by the Rules in the two next preceding Articles incapable of Election, or to be elected, shall assume to Vote in, or be present at such Elections for the first or second Representative, or being elected, shall presume to sit or Vote in either of the said Representatives, shall encur the pain of confiscation of the moyety of his estate, to the use of the Publike, in case he have any estate visible, to the value of fifty pounds. And if he have not such an estate, then he shall encur the pain of imprisonment for three months. And if any person shall forcibly oppose, molest, or hinder the people (capable of electing as aforesaid) in their quiet and free Election of their Representatives; then each person so offending, shall encur the pain of confiscation of his whole estate, both real and personal; and if he have not an estate, to the value of fifty pound, shall suffer imprisonment, during one whole yeer, without bayl or mainprise. Provided, that the offender in each such case be convicted within three months, next after the committing of his offence.
4. That for the more convenient Election of Representatives, each County, with the severall places thereto conjoyned, wherein more then three Representatives are to be chosen, shall be divided by a due proportion into so many parts, as each part may elect two, and no part above three Representatives. And for the making of these Divisions, two persons be chosen in every Hundred, Lath, or Wapentake, by the People therein, (capable of electing as aforesaid) which People shall on the last Tuesday in February next between eleven and three of the Clock, be assembled together for that end at the chiefe Towne, or usuall meeting place in the same Hundred, Lath, or Wapentake; And that the persons in every Hundred, Lath or Wapentake so chosen, or the Major part of them, shall on the fourteenth day after their Election, meet at the Common Hall of the County-Towne, and divide the County into parts as aforesaid, and also appoint a certain place in each respective part or Division, wherein the People shall alwaies meet for the choice of their Representatives, and shall make Returnes of the said Divisions, and certain places of meeting therein, into the Parliament Records in writing under the hands and seales of the major part of them present: And also cause the same to be published in every Parish in the County before the end of March now next ensuing: And for the more equall Division of the City of London, for the choice of its Representatives, there shall one person be chosen by the People in every Parish in the said City (capable of Election as aforesaid) upon the last Tuesday in February aforesaid; on which day they shall assemble in each Parish for the same purpose, between two and four of the clock: And that the persons so chosen, or the major part of them, shall upon the fourteenth day after their Election, meet in the Guild Hall of the said City, and divide the same City into eight equall parts or Divisions, and appoint a certain place in every Division respectively, wherein the People of that Division shall alwaies meet for the choice of their Representatives, and shall make Returne thereof; and cause the same to be published in the manner prescribed to the severall Counties, as in this Article.
5. That for the better provision for true and certain Returnes of persons elected, the chiefe publique Officer in every Division aforesaid, who shall be present at the beginning of the Election, and in absence of every such Officer, then any person eligible as aforesaid, whom the People at that time assembled shall choose for that end, shall regulate the Elections, and by Poll or otherwise clearly distinguish and judge thereof, and make true Returne thereof, in writing indented under the hands and seales of himselfe, and of six or more of the Electors, into the Parliaments Records, within one and twenty daies after the Election, and for default thereof, or for making any false Return, shall forfeit 100 l. to the publique use.
4. That one hundred and fifty Members at least be alwaies present in each sitting of the Representatives, at the passing of any Law, or doing of any Act whereby the People are to be bound.
5. That every Representative shall within twenty daies after their first meeting, appoint a Councell of State for the managing of publique affaires, untill the first day of the next Representative, and the same Councell to act and proceed therein, according to such instructions and limitations as the Representatives shall give, and not otherwise.
6. That to the end all Officers of State may be certainly accomptable, and no Factions made to maintain corrupt interests, no Member of a Councell of State, nor any Officer of any salary Forces in Army or Garrison, nor any Treasurer or Receiver of publique moneys, shall (while such) be elected to be a Representative: And in case any such Election shall be, the same to be void; and in case any Lawyer shall be chosen of any Representative, or Councell of State, then he shall be uncapable of practise as a Lawyer, during that trust.
7. That the power of the Peoples Representatives extend (without the consent or concurrence of any other person or persons) to the enacting, altering, repealing, and declaring of Lawes; to the erecting and abolishing Officers of Courts of Justice, and to whatsoever is not in this Agreement excepted or reseryed from them:
8. That the Councell of State, in case of imminent danger or extream necessity, may in each intervall, summon a Representative to be forthwith chosen, and to meet, so as the Sessions thereof continue not above forty daies, and to it dissolve two moneths before the appointed time for the meeting of the next Representative.
9. That all securities given by the publique Faith of the Nation, shall be made good by the next and all future Representatives, save that the next Representative may continue or make null in part or in whole, all gifts of moneys made by the present House of Commons to their own Members, or to any of the Lords, or to any of the Attendants of either of them.
10. That every Officer or Leader of any Forces in any present or future Army, or Garrison that shall resist the Orders of the next or any future Representative, (except such Representative shall expressely violate this Agreement) shall forthwith after his or their resistance, by vertue of this Agreement, loose the benefit and protection of all the Lawes of the Land, and die without mercy.
These things we declare to be essentiall to our just Freedomes, and to a through composure of our long and wofull distractions. And therefore we are agreed and resolved to maintain these certain Rules of Government, and all that joyne therein, with our utmost possibilities, against all opposition whatsoever.
These following Particulars were offered to be inserted in the Agreement, but adjudged fit, as the most eminent grievances to be redressed by the next Representative.
1. IT shall not be in their Power, to punish or cause to be punished, any person or persons, for refusing to answer to Questions against themselves in criminal Cases.
2. That it shall not be in their Power, to continue or constitute any proceedings in Law, that shall be longer then three or four months, in finally determining of any Cause past all Appeal, or to continue the Laws (or proceedings therein) in any other Language, then in the English tongue.
3. It shall not be in their Power, to continue or make any Laws, to abridg any person from Trading unto any Parts beyond the Seas, unto which any are allowed to Trade, or to restrain Trade at home.
4. It shall not be in their Power, to continue Excize longer then twenty days after the beginning of the next Representative, nor to raise moneys by any other way, except by an equal rate, proportionally to mens real or personal Estates; wherein all persons not worth above thirty pound, shall be exempted from bearing any part of publike Charge, except to the poor, and other accustomary Charge of the place where they dwell.
5. It shall not be in their Power, to make or continue any Law, whereby mens Estates, or any part thereof, shall be exempted from payment of their Debts; or to continue or make any Law, to imprison any mans person for Debts of any nature.
6. It shall not be in their Power, to make or continue any Law, for taking away any mans life, except for Murther, or for endeavoring by force, to destroy this Agreement; but shall use their uttermost endeavor, to propound punishments equal to Offences, That so mens Lives, Limbs, Liberties, and Estates, may not as hitherto, be lyable to be taken away upon trivial or slight occasion; and shall have special care, to keep all sorts of people from Misery and Beggery.
7. They shall not continue or make a Law, to deprive any person, in Case or Tryal, from the benefit of Witnesses, as well for, as against him.
8. They shall not continue the grievance and oppression of Tithes, longer then to the end of the first Representative; in which time, they shall provide for, and satisfie all Impropriators: Neither shall they force any person, to pay toward the maintenance of the publike Ministers, who out of Conscience cannot submit thereunto; but shall provide for them in some other unoppressive way.
9. They shall not continue or make a Law, for any other ways of Judgment or Conviction of Life, Liberty, or Estate, but onely by twelve sworn men of the Neighborhood.
10. They shall not continue or make a Law, to allow any person to take above six pound per cent. for loan of Money for a yeer.
11. They shall not disable any person from bearing any Office in the Common-wealth, for any opinion or practise in Religion, though contrary to the publike way.
Unto these I shall adde.
I. That the next Representative, be most earnestly pressed, for the ridding of this Kingdom of those Vermine and Caterpillars, the Lawyers, the chief bane of this poor Nation; to erect a Court of Justice in every Hundred in the Nation, for the ending of all Differences arising in that Hundred, by twelve men of the same Hundred, annually chosen by Freemen of that Hundred, with express and plain Rules in English, made by the Representative, or supreme Authority of the Nation, for them to guide their Judgments by.
II. That for the preventing of Fraud, Thefts, and Deceits, there be forthwith in every County or Shire in England, and the Dominion of Wales, erected a County Record for the perfect Registring of all Conveyances, Bills, and Bonds, &c. Upon a severe and strict penalty.
III. That in case there be any need after the erection of Hundred Courts of Majors, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenants, &c. That the People capable of Election of Parliament men, in the foregoing Agreement, be restored by the Representative, unto their native, just, and undoubted Right, by common Consent, from amongst themselves, annually to chuse all the foresaid Officers in such maner, as shall be plainly and clearly described, and laid down by the supreme Authority of the Nation: And that when any Subsidies or publike Taxes be laid upon the Nation, the Freemen of every Division or Hundred, capable of Election as aforesaid, chuse out Persons by common Consent from amongst themselves, for the equal division of their Assessments.
IV. That the next Representative, be earnestly desired to abolish all base Tenures.
T.179 [1649.01.20] (6.2) John Rushworth, A Petition concerning the Draught of an Agreement of the People (20 January 1649).
John Rushworth, A Petition from His Excellency Thomas Lord Fairfax And the General Councel of Officers of the Army, To the Honourable, the Commons of England in Parliament assembled, Concerning the Draught of An Agreement of the People For a secure and present Peace, by them framed and prepared. Together with the said Agreement presented on Saturuday, Jan. 20. And a Declaration
of his Excellency and the said General Councel, concerning the same. Tendered
to the Consideration of the people. By the Appointment of the Generall Councel
of Officers of the Army. Signed John Rushworth, Sec.
London, Printed for John Partridge, R. Harford, G. Calvert, and G. Whittington. 1649.
[Also known as "The Officers’ Agreement".]
The Tract contains the following parts:
20 January 1649.
TT1, p. 716; Thomason E. 539. (2.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
The humble Petition of his Excellency Thomas Lord Fairfax, and the General Councel of Officers of the Army under his Command, concerning the Draught of An Agreement of the People, by them framed and prepared.
IN our late Remonstrance of the 18 of November last, we propounded (next after the matters of publike Justice) some Foundations for a general settlement of Peace in the Nation, which we therein desired might be formed and Established in the nature of a generall Contract or Agreement of the People; and since then, the matters so propounded be wholly rejected, or no consideration of them admitted in Parliament (though visibly of highest Moment to the Publique) and all ordinary Remedies being denyed, we were necessitated to an extraordinary way of Remedy; whereby to avoyd the mischiefs then at hand, and set you in a condition (without such obstructions or diversions by corrupt Members) to proceed to matters of publique Justice and general Settlement. Now as nothing did in our own hearts more justifie our late undertakings towards many Members in this Parliament, then the necessity thereof in order to a sound Settlement in the Kingdom, and the integrity of our intentions to make use of it only to that end: so we hold our selves obliged to give the People all assurance possible, That our opposing the corrupt closure endeavoured with the King, was not in designe to hinder Peace or Settlement, (thereby to render our employments, as Souldiers, necessary to be continued,) and that neither that extraordinary course we have taken, nor any other proceedings of ours, have been intended for the setting up of any particular Party or Interest, by or with which to uphold ourselves in Power and Dominion over the Nation, but that it was and is the desire of our hearts, in all we have done, (with the hindering of that imminent evil, and destructive conjunction with the King) to make way for the settlement of a Peace and Government of the Kingdom upon Grounds of common Freedom and Safety: And therefore because our former Overtures for that purpose (being only in general terms, and not reduced to a certainty of particulars fit for practise) might possibly be understood but as plausible pretences, not intended really to be put into effect, We have thought it our duty to draw out these generals into an intire frame of particulars, ascertained with such circumstances as may make it effectively practicable. And for that end, while your time hath been taken up in other matters of high and present Importance, we have spent much of ours in preparing and perfecting such a draught of Agreement, and in all things so circumstantiated, as to render it ripe for your speedier consideration, and the Kingdoms acceptance and practise (if approved,) and so we do herewith humbly present it to you. Now to prevent misunderstanding of our intentions therein, We have but this to say, That we are far from such a Spirit, as positively to impose our private apprehensions upon the judgments of any in the Kingdom, that have not forfeited their Freedom, and much lesse upon your selves: Neither are we apt in any wise to insist upon circumstantial things, or ought that is not evidently fundamental to that publique Interest for which You and We have declared and engaged; But in this Tender of it we humbly desire,
HAving by our late labors and hazards made it appear to the world at how high a rate we value our Just Freedom, And God having so far owned our cause as to deliver the Enemies thereof into our hands, We do now hold our selves bound in mutuall duty to each other to take the best care we can for the future, to avoyd both the danger of returning into a slavish condition, and the chargeable remedy of another War: For as it cannot be imagined, That so many of our Country men would have opposed us in this Quarrell, if they had understood their own good, so may we hopefully promise to our selves, That when our Common Right and Liberties shall be cleared, their endeavors will be disappointed, that seek to make themselves our Masters, since therefore our former oppressions, and not yet ended troubles, have been occasioned, either by want of frequent National Meetings in Councel, or by the undue or unequal Constitution thereof, or by rendering those meetings uneffectual. We are fully agreed and resolved (God willing) to provide, That hereafter our Representatives be neither left to an uncertainty for time, nor be unequally constituted, nor made useless to the ends for which they are intended.
1. That to prevent the many inconveniencies, apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in supream Authority, this Present Parliament end and dissolve upon, or before the last day of April, in the year of our Lord. 1649.
2. That the People of England (being at this day very unequally distributed, by Counties, Cities and Burroughs, for the Election of their Representatives) be indifferently proportioned: And to this end, That the Representative of the whole Nation shall consist of four hundred persons, or not above; and in each County, and the places thereto subjoyned, there shall be chosen, to make up the said Representative at all times, the several numbers here mentioned; VIZ.
|In the County of Kent, with the Burrough, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are hereunder particularly named)||ten. }||10|
|The City of Canterbury, with the Suburbs adjoyning, and Liberties thereof,||two. }||2|
|The City of Rochester, with the Parishes of Chatham and Strowd,||one. ]||1|
|The Cinque Ports in Kent and Sussex, viz. Dover, Rumney, Hyde, Sandwich, Hastings, with the townes of Rye and Winchelsey,||three. }||3|
|The County of Sussex, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes (therein except Chichester and the Cinque Ports)||eight. }||8|
|The City of Chichester, with the Suburbs and Liberties thereof,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Southampton, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder named,||eight. }||8|
|The City of Winchester, with the Suburbs and Liberties thereof,||one. ]||1|
|The County of the town of Southampton,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Dorset, with the Burroughs, Townes and Parishes therein (except Dorchester)||seven. }||7|
|The Town of Dorchester,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Devon, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder particularly named,||twelve.}||12|
|The City of Excester,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Plymouth,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Barnstaple,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Cornwall, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein,||eight. }||8|
|The County of Somerset with the Burroughs, Townes and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder named,||eight. }||8|
|The City of Bristoll,||three. ]||3|
|The Towne of Taunton-Deane,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Wilts, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein (except Salisbury),||seven. }||7|
|The City of Salisbury,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Berks, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein, except Reading,||five. }||5|
|The Town of Reading,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Surrey, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Southwarke,||five. }||5|
|The Burrough of Southwarke,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Middlesex, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder named,||four. }||4|
|The City of London,||eight. ]||8|
|The City of VVestminster, and the Dutchy,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Hartford, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein,||six. }||6|
|The County of Buckingham with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein,||six. }||6|
|The County of Oxon, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are here under-named)||four. }||4|
|The City of Oxon,||two. ]||2|
|The University of Oxon,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Glocester, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein (except Glocester)||seven. }||7|
|The City of Glocester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Hereford, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therin (except Hereford)||four. }||4|
|The Citie of Hereford,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Worcester, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except Worcester)||foure. }||4|
|The City of Worcester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Warwicke, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein (except Coventrey)||five. }||5|
|The City of Coventrey,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Northampton, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein (except Northampton)||five. }||5|
|The Town of Northampton,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Bedford, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
|The County of Cambridge, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are here under particularly named)||foure. }||4|
|The University of Cambridge,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Cambridge,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Essex, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except Colchester)||eleven.}||11|
|The Town of Colchester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Suffolk, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are hereunder named)||ten. }||10|
|The Town of Ipswich,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of S. Edmonds Bury,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Norfolk, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are hereunder named)||nine. }||9|
|The City of Norwich,||three. ]||3|
|The Town of Lynne,||one. ]||1|
|The Town of Yarmouth,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Lincoln, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except the City of Lincoln, and the town of Boston)||eleven.}||11|
|The City of Lincoln,||one. ]||1|
|The Town of Boston,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Rutland, with the Burroughs, Townes, and Parishes therein,||one. }||1|
|The County of Huntington, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Leicester, with the Burroughs, Townes and Parishes therein (except Leicester)||five. }||5|
|The Town of Leicester,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Nottingham, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein (except Nottingham)||foure. }||4|
|The Town of Nottingham,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Derby, with the Burroughs, Townes, and Parishes therein (except Derby)||five. }||5|
|The Town of Derby,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Stafford, with the City of Lichfield, the Burroughs, towne and Parishes therein,||six. }||6|
|The County of Salop, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except Shrewsbury)||six. }||6|
|The Town of Shrewsbury,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Chester, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein (except Chester)||five. }||5|
|The City of Chester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Lancaster, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein (except Manchester)||six. }||6|
|The town of Manchester, and the Parish,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Yorke, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes, therein, except such as are here under named,||fifteen. }||15|
|The City and County of the City of Yorke,||three. ]||3|
|The Town and County of Kingston upon Hull,||one. ]||1|
|The town and Parish of Leeds,||one. ]||1|
|The County Palatine of Duresme, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein, except Duresme and Gateside,||three. }||3|
|The City of Duresme,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Northumberland, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein, except such as are here under named,||three. }||3|
|The Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne, with Gateside,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Berwicke,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Cumberland, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Westmerland, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein,||two. }||2|
|The Isle of Anglesey (with the Parishes therein)||two. ]||2|
|The County of Brecknock, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Cardigan, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Caermarthen, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Carnarvon, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Denbigh, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein||two. ]||2|
|The County of Flint, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Monmouth, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
|The County of Glamorgan, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
|The County of Merioneth, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||two. }||2|
|The County of Mountgomery, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Radnor, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Pembroke, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
Provided, That the first or second Representative may (if they see cause) assigne the remainder of the foure hundred Representors, (not hereby assigned) or so many of them as they shall see cause for, unto such Counties as shall appear in this present distribution to have lesse then their due proportion. Provided also, That where any Citie or Burrough to which one Representor or more is assign’d shall be found in a due proportion, not competent alone to elect a Representor, or the number of Representors assign’d thereto, it is left to future Representatives to assigne such a number of Parishes or Villages neare adjoyning to such City, or Burrough, to be joyned therewith in the Elections, as may make the same proportionable.
3. That the people do of course choose themselves a Representative once in two yeares, and shall meet for that purpose upon the first Thursday in every second May by eleven of Clock in the morning, and the Representatives so chosen to meet upon the second Thursday in June following at the usuall place in Westminster, or such other place as by the foregoing Representative, or the Councell of State in the intervall, shall be from time to time appointed and published to the People, at the least twenty daies before the time of Election. And to continue their Session there or elsewhere untill the second Thursday in December following, unlesse they shall adjourne, or dissolve themselves sooner, but not to continue longer. The Election of the first Representative to be on the first Thursday in May, 1649. And that, and all future Elections to be according to the rules prescribed for the same purpose in this Agreement, viz.
This course is to hold for the first Representative, which is to provide for the ascertaining of these Circumstances in order to future Representatives.
4. That one hundred and fifty Members at least be alwaies present in each sitting of the Representative, at the passing of any Law, or doing of any Act, whereby the people are to be bound; saving, That the number of sixty may make an House for Debates, or Resolutions that are preparatory thereunto.
5. That each Representative shall within twenty dayes after their first meeting appoint a Councell of State for the managing of Publique Affaires, untill the tenth day after the meeting of the next Representative, unlesse that next Representative thinke fit to put an end to that trust sooner. And the same Councell to Act, and proceed therein, according to such Instructions and limitations as the Representative shall give, and not otherwise.
6. That in each intervall betwixt Bienniall Representatives, the Councell of State (in case of imminent danger, or extreame necessity) may summon a Representative to be forthwith chosen, and to meet; so as the Session thereof continue not above foure-score dayes, and so as it dissolve, at least, fifty dayes before the appointed time for the next Bienniall Representative, and upon the fiftyeth day so preceeding it shall dissolve of course, if not otherwise dissolved sooner.
7. That no Member of any Representative be made either Receiver, Treasurer, or other Officer, during that imployment, saving to be a Member of the Councell of State.
8. That the Representatives have, and shall be understood, to have, the Supreame trust in order to the preservation and Government of the whole, and that their power extend, without the consent or concurrence of any other Person or Persons, to the erecting and abolishing of Courts of Justice, and publique Offices, and to the enacting, altering, repealing, and declaring of Lawes, and the highest and finall Judgement, concerning all Naturall or Civill things, but not concerning things Spirituall or Evangelicall; Provided, that even in things Naturall and Civill these six particulars next following are, and shall be understood to be excepted, and reserved from our Representatives, viz.
9. Concerning Religion, we agree as followeth:
10. It is agreed, That whosoever shall by Force of Armes, resist the Orders of the next or any future Representative (except in case where such Representative shall evidently render up, or give, or take away the Foundations of common Right, Liberty and Safety contain’d in this Agreement) shall forthwith after his or their such Resistance lose the benefit and protection of the Laws, and shall be punishable with Death, as an Enemy and Traitour to the Nation.
The form of subscription for the Officers of the Army.
Of the things exprest in this Agreement, The certain ending of this Parliament (as in the first Article) The equall or proportionable distribution of the number of the Representators to be elected (as in the second.) The certainty of the peoples meeting to elect for Representatives Bienniall, and their freedome in Elections with the certainty of meeting, sitting and ending of Representatives so elected (which are provided for in the third Article) as also the Qualifications of Persons to elect or be elected (as in the first and second particulars under the third Article) Also the certainty of a number for passing a Law or preparatory debates (provided for in the fourth Article) The matter of the fifth Article, concerning the Councel of State, and the sixth concerning the calling, sitting and ending of Representatives extraordinary; Also the power of Representatives, to be, as in the eighth Article, and limitted, as in the six reserves next foling the same; Likewise the second and third particulars under the ninth Article concerning Religion, and the whole matter of the tenth Article; (All these) we doe account and declare to be Fundamentall to our common Right, Liberty, and Safety; And therefore doe both agree thereunto, and resolve to maintain the same, as God shall enable us. The rest of the matters in this Agreement, wee account to be usefull and good for the Publike, and the particular circumstances of Numbers, Times and Places expressed in the severall Articles, we account not Fundamentall, but we finde them necessary to be here determined for the making the Agreement certain and practicable, and do hold those most convenient that are here set down, and therefore do positively agree thereunto.
Concerning the Agreement by them framed in order to peace, and from them tendred to the People of England.
HAVING ever since the end of the first War longingly waited for some such settlement of the Peace and Government of this Nation, whereby the Common Rights, Liberties and safety thereof, might in future be more hopefully provided for, and therein something gained, which might be accounted to the present age and posterity (through the mercy of God) as a fruit of their labours, hazards and sufferings, that have engaged in the common cause, as some price of the bloud spilt, and ballance to the publique expence and damage sustained in the War, and as some due improvement of that successe, and blessing God hath pleased to give therein: And having not found any such Establishment assayed or endeavoured by those whose proper worke it was, but the many addresses and desires of ourselves, and others, in that behalfe, rejected, discountenanced and opposed, and onely a corrupt closure endeavoured with the King, on tearmes, serving onely to his interest, and theirs that promoted the same; And being thereupon (for the avoidance of the evil thereof, and to make way for some better settlement) necessitated to take extraordinary wayes of remedy (when the ordinary were denied;) Now to exhibit our utmost endeavors for such a settlement, whereupon we, and other Forces, (with which the Kingdome hath so long beene burthened above measure, and whose continuance shall not be necessary for the immediate safety and quiet thereof) may with comfort to our selves, and honesty towards the publique, disband, and returne to our homes and callings; and to the end mens jealousies and fears may be removed concerning any intentions in us to hold up our selves in power, to oppresse or domineer over the people by the sword; And that all men may fully understand those grounds of Peace and Government wherupon (they may rest assured) We shall for our parts acquiesce; We have spent much time to prepare, and have at last (through the blessing of God) finished a Draught of such a settlement, in the nature of an Agreement of the People for Peace amongst themselves; Which we have lately presented to the Honourable the Commons now assembled in Parliament, and doe herewith tender to the people of this Nation.
We shal not otherwise commend it, then to say, It contains the best and most hopefull Foundations for the Peace, & future wel Government of this Nation, that we can devise or think on, within the line of humane power, and such, wherin all the people interested in this Land (that have not particular interests of advantage & power over others, divided from that which is common and publique) are indifferently and equally provided for, save where any have justly forfeited their share in that common interest by opposing it, and so rendred themselves incapable thereof (at least) for some time: And we call the Consciences of all that reade or hear it, to witnesse, whether wee have therein provided or propounded any thing of advantage to our selves in any capacity above others, or ought, but what is as good for one as for another: And therefore as we doubt not but that (the Parliament being now freed from the obstructing and perverting Councels of such Members, by many of whom a corrupt compliance with the Kings Interest hath beene driven on, and all settlement otherwise hath hitherto beene hindred) Those remaining worthy Patriots to whom we have presented the Agreement, will for the maine allow thereof, and give their seale of Approbation thereby; So we desire and hope, That all good People of England whose heart God shall make sensible of their, and our common concernment therein, and of the usefulnesse and sutablenesse thereof to the publique ends it holds forth, will cordially embrace it, and by subscription declare their concurrence, and accord thereto, when it shall be tendred to them, as is directed therein; wherein, if it please God wee shall finde a good Reception of it with the people of the Nation, or the Well-affected therein, We shall rejoyce at the hoped good to the Common-wealth, which (through Gods mercy) may redound therefrom, and that God hath vouchsafed thereby to make us instrumentall for any good settlement to this poor distracted Country, as he hath formerly made us for the avoiding of evill. But if God shall (in his Righteous Judgement towards this Land) suffer the people to be so blinded as not to see their own common good and freedome, endeavoured to be provided for therein, or any to be so deluded (to their own and the publique prejudice) as to make opposition thereto, whereby the effect of it be hindred, we have, yet, by the preparation and tender of it discharged our Consciences to God, and duty to our native Country in our utmost endeavours for a settlement, (to the best of our understandings) unto a just publique interest; And hope we shall be acquitted before God and good men, from the blame of any further troubles, distractions, or miseries to the Kingdom, which may arise through the neglect or rejection thereof, or opposition thereto.
Now whereas there are many good things in particular matters which our own Reasons & observations or the Petitions of others have suggested, and which we hold requisite to be provided for in their proper time and way (as the setting of moderate Fines upon such of the Kings party, as shal not be excepted for life, with a certain day for their coming in and submitting, and an Act of pardon to such as shall come in and submit accordingly, or have already compounded, The setling of a Revenue for all necessary publique uses, in such a way as the people may be most eased, The assigning and ascertayning of securities for Souldiers Arrears; and for publique Debts and Damages. The taking away of Tithes, and putting that maintenance which shall be thought competent for able Teachers to instruct the people, into some other way, lesse subject to scruple or contention, the clearing and perfecting of Accompts for all publique Monies, the relieving of prisoners for Debt; the removing or reforming of other evills or inconveniencies in the present Lawes, and Administrations thereof, the redresse of abuses, and supplying of Defects therein, the putting of all the Lawes and proceedings thereof into the English tongue, the reducing of the course of Law to more brevity and lesse charge, the setling of Courts of Justice and Record in each County or lesse Divisions of the Kingdome, and the erecting of Courts of Merchants for controversies in trading, and the like.) These and many other things of like sort being of a particular nature, and requiring very particular and mature consideration, with larger experience in the particular matters then we have, and much Caution, that by taking away of present Evills greater inconveniences may not ensue for want of other provisions in the room thereof, where it is necessary; and we (for our parts) being far from any Desire or thought to assume or exercise a Law-giving, or Judiciall power over the Kingdome, or to meddle in any thing save the fundamentall setling of that power in the most equall and hopefull way for Common Right, Freedom, and Safety (as in this Agreement) and having not meanes nor time for, nor the necessitie of some present generall settlement admitting the delay of, such a consideration, as seems requisite in relation to such numerous particulars, we have purposely declined the inserting of such things into this Agreement. But (as we have formerly expressed our desires that way, so) when the matters of publique Justice, and generall settlement are over, we shall not be wanting (if needfull) humbly to recommend such particulars to the Parliament, by whom they may more properly, safely, and satisfactorily be provided for, and we doubt not but they will be so, such of them, at least, as are of more neare and present concernment, by this Parliament, and the rest by future Representatives in due time.
And thus we recommend for present the businesse of this Agreement without further addition to the best consideration of all indifferent and equall minded men, and commit the issue thereof (as of all our wayes and concernments) to the good pleasure of the Lord, whose will is better to us then our own, or any inventions of ours, who hath decreed and promised better things then we can wish or imagine, and who is most faithfull to accomplish them in the best way and season.
T.191 [1649.05.01] (6.11) John Lilburne, William Walwyn, Thomas Prince, Richard Overton, An Agreement of the Free People of England (1 May 1649).
John Lilburne, William Walwyn, Thomas Prince, Richard Overton, An Agreement of the Free People of England. Tendered as a Peace-Offering to this distressed Nation. By Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburne, Master William Walwyn, Master Thomas Prince, and Master Richard Overton, Prisoners in the Tower of London, May the 1. 1649.
Matth. 5.verse 9. Blessed are the Peace-makers for they shall be called the children of God.
London, Printed for Gyles Calvert at the blaclkspread-Eagle at the West end of Pauls, 1649.
The Tract contains the following parts:
1 May 1649.
TT1, p. 740; Thomason E. 571. (10.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
IF AFFLICTIONS make men wise, and wisdom direct to happinesse, then certainly this Nation is not far from such a degree therof, as may compare if not far exceed, any part of the world: having for some yeares by-past, drunk deep of the Cup of misery and sorrow. We blesse God our consciences are cleer from adding affliction to affliction, having ever laboured from the beginning, of our publick distractions, to compose and reconcile them: & should esteem it the Crown of all our temporal felicity that yet we might be instrumentall in procuring the peace and prosperity of this Common-wealth the land of our Nativity.
And therefore according to our promise in our late Manifestation of the 14 of Aprill 1649. (being perswaded of the necessitie and justnesse thereof) as a Peace-Offering to the Free people of this Nation, we tender this ensuing Agreement, not knowing any more effectuall means to put a finall period to all our feares and troubles.
It is a way of settlement, though at first much startled at by some in high authority; yet according to the nature of truth, it hath made its own way into the understanding, and taken root in most mens hearts and affections, so that we have reall ground to hope (what ever shall become of us) that our earnest desires and indeavours for good to the people will not altogether be null and frustrate.
The life of all things is in the right use and application, which is not our worke only, but every mans conscience must look to it selfe, and not dreame out more seasons and opportunities. And this we trust will satisfie all ingenuous people that we are not such wilde, irrationall, dangerous Creatures as we have been aspersed to be; This agreement being the ultimate end and full scope of all our desires and intentions concerning the Government of this Nation, and wherein we shall absolutely rest satisfied and acquiesce; nor did we ever give just cause for any to beleeve worse of us by any thing either said or done by us, and which would not in the least be doubted, but that men consider not the interest of those that I have so unchristian-like made bold with our good names; but we must bear with men of such interests as are opposite to any part of this Agreement, when neither our Saviour nor his Apostles innocency could stop such mens mouthes whose interests their doctrines and practises did extirpate; And therefore if friends at least would but consider what interest men relate to, whilst they are telling or whispering their aspersions against us, they would find the reason and save us a great deale of labour in clearing our selves, it being a remarkable signe of an ill cause when aspersions supply the place of Arguments.
We blesse God that he hath given us time and hearts to bring it to this issue, what further he hath for us to do is yet only knowne to his wisedom, to whose will and pleasure we shall willingly submit; we have if we look with the eyes of frailty, enemies like the sons of Anak, but if with the eyes of faith and confidence in a righteous God and a just cause, we see more with us then against us.
After the long and tedious prosecution of a most unnaturall cruell, homebred war, occasioned by divisions and distempers amongst our selves, and those distempers arising from the uncertaintie of our Government, and the exercise of an unlimited or Arbitrary power, by such as have been trusted with Supreme and subordinate Authority, wherby multitudes of grievances and intolerable oppressions have been brought upon us. And finding after eight yeares experience and expectation all indeavours hitherto used, or remedies hitherto applyed, to have encreased rather then diminished our distractions, and that if not speedily prevented our falling againe into factions and divisions, will not only deprive us of the benefit of all those wonderful Victories God hath vouchsafed against such as sought our bondage, but expose us first to poverty and misery, and then to be destroyed by forraigne enemies. And being earnestly desirous to make a right use of that opportunity God hath given us to make this Nation Free and Happy, to reconcile our differences, and beget a perfect amitie and friendship once more amongst us, that we may stand clear in our consciences before Almighty God, as unbyassed by any corrupt Interest or particular advantages, and manifest to all the world that our indeavours have not proceeded from malice to the persons of any, or enmity against opinions; but in reference to the peace and prosperity of the Common-wealth, and for prevention of like distractions, and removall of all grievances; We the free People of England, to whom God hath given hearts, means and opportunity to effect the same, do with submission to his wisdom, in his name, and desiring the equity thereof may be to his praise and glory; Agree to ascertain our Government, to abolish all arbitrary Power, and to set bounds and limits both to our Supreme, and all Subordinate Authority, and remove all known Grievances.
I. That the Supreme Authority of England and the Territories therewith incorporate, shall be and reside henceforward in a Representative of the People consisting of four hundred persons, but no more; in the choice of whom (according to naturall right) all men of the age of one and twenty yeers and upwards (not being servants, or receiving alms, or having served the late King in Arms or voluntary Contributions) shall have their voices; and be capable of being elected to that Supreme Trust, those who served the King being disabled for ten years onely. All things concerning the distribution of the said four hundred Members proportionable to the respective parts of the Nation, the severall places for Election, the manner of giving and taking of Voyces, with all Circumstances of like nature, tending to the compleating and equall proceedings in Elections, as also their Salary, is referred to be setled by this present Parliament, in such sort as the next Representative may be in a certain capacity to meet with safety at the time herein expressed: and such circumstances to be made more perfect by future Representatives.
II. That two hundred of the four hundred Members, and not lesse, shall be taken and esteemed for a competent Representative; and the major Voyces present shall be concluding to this Nation. The place of Session, and choice of a Speaker, with other circumstances of that nature, are referred to the care of this and future Representatives.
III. And to the end all publick Officers may be certainly accountable, and no Factions made to maintain corrupt Interests, no Officer of any salary, Forces in Army or Garison, nor any Treasurer or Receiver of publick monies, shall (while such) be elected a Member for any Representative; and if any Lawyer shall at any time be chosen, he shall be uncapable of practice as a Lawyer, during the whole time of that Trust. And for the same reason, and that all persons may be capable of subjection as well as rule.
IIII. That no Member of the present Parliament shall be capable of being elected of the next Representative, nor any Member of any future Representative shall be capable of being chosen for the Representative immediately succeeding: but are free to be chosen, one Representative having intervened: Nor shall any Member of any Representative be made either Receiver, Treasurer, or other Officer during that imployment.
V. That for avoyding the many dangers and inconveniences apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in Authority; We Agree, that this present Parliament shall end the first Wednesday in August next 1649, and thenceforth be of no power or Authority: and in the mean time shall order and direct the Election of a new and equall Representative, according to the true intent of this our Agreement: and so as the next Representative may meet and sit in power and Authority as an effectuall Representative upon the day following; namely, the first Thursday of the same August, 1649.
VI. We agree, if the present Parliament shall omit to order such Election or Meeting of a new Representative; or shall by any means be hindered from performance of that Trust:
That in such case, we shall for the next Representative proceed in electing thereof in those places, & according to that manner & number formerly accustomed in the choice of Knights and Burgesses; observing onely the exceptions of such persons from being Electors or Elected, as are mentioned before in the first third, and fourth Heads of this Agreement: It being most unreasonable that we should either be kept from new, frequent and successive Representatives, or that the supreme Authority should fall into the hands of such as have manifested disaffection to our common Freedom, and endeavoured the bondage of the Nation.
VII. And for preserving the supreme authority from falling into the hands of any whom the people have not, or shall not chuse, We are resolved and agreed (God willing) that a new Representative shall be upon the first Thursday in August next aforesaid: the ordering and disposing of themselves, as to the choice of a speaker, and the like circumstances, is hereby left to their discretion: But are in the extent and exercise of Power, to follow the direction and rules of this agreement; and are hereby authorised and required according to their best judgements, to set rules for future equall distribution, and election of Members as is herein intended and enjoyned to be done, by the present Parliament.
VIII. And for the preservation of the supreme Authority (in all times) entirely in the hands of such persons only as shal be chosen thereunto—we agree and declare: That the next & al future Representatives, shall continue in full power for the space of one whole year: and that the people shall of course, chuse a Parliament once every year so as all the members thereof may be in a capacity to meet, and take place of the foregoing Representative: the first Thursday in every August for ever if God so please; Also (for the same reason) that the next or any future Representative being met, shall continue their Session day by day without intermission for four monthes at the least; and after that shall be at Liberty to adjourn from two monthes to two months, as they shall see cause untill their yeer be expired, but shall sit no longer then a yeer upon pain of treason to every member that shall exceed that time: and in times of adjurnment shall not erect a Councel of State but refer the managing of affairs in the intervals to a Committee of their own members, giving such instructions, and publish them, as shall in no measure contradict this agreement.
IX. And that none henceforth may be ignorant or doubtful concerning the power of the Supreme authority, and of the affairs, about which the same is to be conversant and exercised: we agree and declare, that the power of Representatives shall extend without the consent or concurrence of any other person or persons,
1. To the conservation of Peace and commerce with forrain Nations.
2. To the preservation of those safe guards, and securities of our lives, limbes, liberties, properties, and estates, contained in the Petition of Right, made and enacted in the third year of the late King.
3. To the raising of moneys, and generally to all things as shall be evidently conducing to those ends, or to the enlargement of our freedom, redress of grievances, and prosperity of the Commonwealth.
For security whereof, having by wofull experience found the prevalence of corrupt interests powerfully inclining most men once entrusted with authority, to pervert the same to their own domination, and to the prejudice of our Peace and Liberties, we therefore further agree and declare.
X. That we do not impower or entrust our said representatives to continue in force, or to make any Lawes, Oaths, or Covenants, whereby to compell by penalties or otherwise any person to any thing in or about matters of faith, Religion or Gods worship or to restrain any person from the profession of his faith, or exercise of Religion according to his Conscience, nothing having caused more distractions, and heart burnings in all ages, then persecution and molestation for matters of Conscience in and about Religion:
XI. We doe not impower them to impresse or constrain any person to serve in war by Sea or Land every mans Conscience being to be satisfied in the justness of that cause wherein he hazards his own life, or may destroy an others.
And for the quieting of all differences, and abolishing of all enmity and rancour, as much as is now possible for us to effect.
XII. We agree, That after the end of this present Parliament, no person shall be questioned for any thing said or done in reference to the late Warres, or publique differences; otherwise then in pursuance of the determinations of the present Parliament, against such as have adhered to the King against the Liberties of the people: And saving that Accomptants for publick moneys received, shall remain accomptable for the same.
XIII. That all priviledges or exemptions of any persons from the Lawes, or from the ordinary course of Legall proceedings, by vertue of any Tenure, Grant, Charter, Patent, Degree, or Birth, or of any place of residence, or refuge, or priviledge of Parliament, shall be henceforth void and null; and the like not to be made nor revived again.
XIIII. We doe not impower them to give judgment upon any ones person or estate, where no Law hath been before provided, nor to give power to any other Court or jurisdiction so to do, Because where there is no Law, there is no transgression, for men or Magistrates to take Cognisance of; neither doe we impower them to intermeddle with the execution of any Law whatsoever.
XV. And that we may remove all long setled Grievances, and thereby as farre as we are able, take away all cause of complaints, and no longer depend upon the uncertain inclination of Parliaments to remove them, nor trouble our selves or them with Petitions after Petitions, as hath been accustomed, without fruit or benefit; and knowing no cause why any should repine at our removall of them, except such as make advantage by their continuance, or are related to some corrupt Interests, which we are not to regard.
We agree and Declare,
XVI. That it shall not be in the power of any Representative, to punish, or cause to be punished, any person or persons for refusing to answer to questions against themselves in Criminall cases.
XVII. That it shall not be in their power, after the end of the next Representative, to continue or constitute any proceedings in Law that shall be longer then Six months in the final determination of any cause past all Appeal, nor to continue the Laws or proceedings therein in any other Language then English, nor to hinder any person or persons from pleading their own Causes, or of making use of whom they please to plead for them.
The reducing of these and other the like provisions of this nature in this Agreement provided, and which could not now in all particulars be perfected by us, is intended by us to be the proper works of faithful Representatives.
XVIII. That it shall not be in their power to continue or make any Laws to abridge or hinder any person or persons, from trading or merchandizing into any place beyond the Seas, where any of this Nation are free to Trade.
XIX. That it shall not be in their power to continue Excise or Customes upon any sort of Food, or any other Goods, Wares, or Commodities, longer then four months after the beginning of the next Representative, being both of them extreme burthensome and oppressive to Trade, and so expensive in the Receipt, as the moneys expended therein (if collected as Subsidies have been) would extend very far towards defraying the publick Charges; and forasmuch as all Moneys to be raised are drawn from the People; such burthensome and chargeable wayes, shall never more be revived, nor shall they raise Moneys by any other ways (after the aforesaid time) but only by an equal rate in the pound upon every reall and personall estate in the Nation.
XX. That it shall not be in their power to make or continue any Law, whereby mens reall or personall estates, or any part thereof, shall be exempted from payment of their debts; or to imprison any person for debt of any nature, it being both unchristian in it self, and no advantage to the Creditors, and both a reproach and prejudice to the Commonwealth.
XXI. That it shall not be in their power to make or continue any Law, for taking away any mans life, except for murther, or other the like hainous offences destructive to humane Society, or for endevouring by force to destroy this our Agreement, but shall use their uttermost endeavour to appoint punishments equall to offences: that so mens Lives, Limbs, Liberties, and estates, may not be liable to be taken away upon trivial or slight occasions as they have been; and shall have speciall care to preserve, all sorts of people from wickedness misery and beggery: nor shall the estate of any capitall offendor be confiscate but in cases of treason only; and in all other capitall offences recompence shall be made to the parties damnified, as well out of the estate of the Malifactor, as by loss of life, according to the conscience of his jury.
XXII. That it shall not be in their power to continue or make any Law, to deprive any person, in case of Tryals for Life, Limb, Liberty, or Estate from the benefit of witnesses on his or their behalf; nor deprive any person of those priviledges, and liberties, contained in the Petition of Right, made in the third yeer of the late King Charls.
XXIII. That it shall not be in their power to continue the Grievance of Tithes, longer then to the end of the next Representative; in which time, they shall provide to give reasonable satisfaction to all Impropriators: neither shall they force by penalties or otherwise any person to pay towards the maintenance of any Ministers, who out of conscience cannot submit thereunto.
XXIV. That it shall not be in their power to impose Ministers upon any the respective Parishes, but shall give free liberty to the parishioners of every particular parish, to chuse such as themselves shall approve; and upon such terms, and for such reward, as themselves shall be willing to contribute, or shall contract for. Provided, none be chusers but such as are capable of electing Representatives.
XXV. That it shal not be in their power, to continue or make a law, for any other way of Judgments, or Conviction of life, limb, liberty, or estate, but onely by twelve sworn men of the Neighborhood; to be chosen in some free way by the people; to be directed before the end of the next Representative, and not picked and imposed, as hitherto in many places they have been.
XXVI. They shall not disable any person from bearing any office in the Common-wealth, for any opinion or practice in Religion, excepting such as maintain the Popes (or other forraign) Supremacy.
XXVII. That it shal not be in their power to impose any publike officer upon any Counties, Hundreds, Cities, Towns, or Borroughs; but the people capable by this Agreement to chuse Representatives, shall chuse all their publike Officers that are in any kinde to administer the Law for their respective places, for one whole yeer, and no longer, and so from yeer to yeer: and this as an especial means to avoyd Factions, and Parties.
And that no person may have just cause to complain, by reason of taking away the Excise and Customs, we agree,
XXVIII. That the next, and all future Representatives shall exactly keep the publike Faith, and give ful satisfaction, for all securities, debts, arrears or damages, (justly chargeable) out of the publike Treasury; and shall confirm and make good all just publike Purchases and Contracts that have been, or shall be made; save that the next Representative may confirm or make null in part or in whole, all gifts of Lands, Moneys, Offices, or otherwise made by the present Parliament, to any Member of the House of Commons, or to any of the Lords, or to any of the attendants of either of them.
And for as much as nothing threateneth greater danger to the Common-wealth, then that the Military power should by any means come to be superior to the Civil Authority,
XXIX. We declare and agree, That no Forces shal be raised, but by the Representatives, for the time being; and in raising thereof, that they exactly observe these Rules, namely, That they allot to each particular County, City, Town, and Borrugh, the raising, furnishing, agreeing, and paying of a due proportion, according to the whole number to be levyed; and shall to the Electors of Representatives in each respective place, give Free liberty, to nominate and appoint all Officers appertaining to Regiments, Troops, and Companies, and to remove them as they shall see cause, Reserving to the Representative, the nominating and appointing onely of the General, and all General-Officers; and the ordering, regulatng, and commanding of them all, upon what service shall seem to them necessary for the Safety, Peace, and Freedom of the Common-wealth.
And in as much as we have found by sad experience, That generally men make little or nothing, to innovate in Government, to exceed their time and power in places of trust, to introduce an Arbitrary, and Tyrannical power, and to overturn all things into Anarchy and Confusion, where there are no penalties imposed for such destructive crimes and offences,
XXX. We therefore agree and declare, That it shall not be in the power of any Representative, in any wise, to render up, or give, or take away any part of this Agreement, nor level mens Estates, destroy Propriety, or make all things Common: And if any Representative shall endevor, as a Representative, to destroy this Agreement, every Member present in the House, not entering or immediately publishing his dissent, shall incur the pain due for High Treason, and be proceeded against accordingly; and if any person or persons, shall by force endevor or contrive, the destruction thereof, each person so doing, shall likewise be dealt withal as in cases of Treason.
And if any person shal by force of Arms disturb Elections of Representatives, he shall incurr the penalty of a Riot; and if any person not capable of being an Elector, or Elected, shal intrude themselves amongst those that are, or any persons shall behave themselves rudely and disorderly, such persons shal be liable to a presentment by a grand Inquest and to an indictment upon misdemeanor; and be fined and otherwise punish’d according to the discretion and verdict of a Jury. And all Laws made or that shall be made contrary to any part of this Agreement are hereby made null and void.
Thus, as becometh a free People, thankfull unto God for this blessed opportunity, and desirous to make use thereof to his glory, in taking off every yoak, and removing every burthen, in delivering the captive, and setting the oppressed free; we have in all the particular Heads forementioned, done as we would be done unto, and as we trust in God will abolish all occasion of offence and discord, and produce the lasting Peace and Prosperity of this Common-wealth: and accordingly do in the sincerity of our hearts and consciences, as in the presence of Almighty God, give cleer testimony of our absolute agreement to all and every part hereof by subscribing our hands thereunto. Dated the first day of May, in the Yeer of our Lord 1649.
London, Printed for Gyles Calvert at the black spread-Eagle at the West end of Pauls.
T.92 [1647.03] (4.3) [Several Hands but probably a major role by William Walwyn], [also known as “The Petition of March”], To the Right Honourable and Supreme Authority of this Nation, the Commons in Parliament assembled (March 1647).
[Several Hands but probably a major role by William Walwyn], [also known as “The Petition of March”], To the Right Honourable and Supreme Authority of this Nation, the Commons in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of many thousands, earnestly desiring the glory of God, the freedome of the Commonwealth, and the peace of all men.
March 1647 (no day given).
TT1, p. ??; Thomason Note: [For the text of the Petition of John Lilburne and the London Levellers drawn up in March 1647. See below: 11 Sept. 1648. E. 464. (19*.)]
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
This Petition, along with several others from May 1647, is reprinted in Lilburne's "Rash oaths unwarrantable" (31 May, 1647) (T.97).
To the Right Honourable and Supreme Authority of this Nation, the Commons in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of many thousands, earnestly desiring the glory of God, the freedome of the Commonwealth, and the peace of all men. [n.p.].
That as no Civill Government is more just in the constitution, then that of Parliaments, having its foundation in the free choice of the people; and as the end of all Government is the safetie and freedome of the governed, even so the people of this Nation in all times have manifested most heartie affections unto Parliaments as the most proper remedie of their grievances; yet such hath been the wicked policies of those who from time to time have endeavoured to bring this Nation into bondage; that they have in all times either by the disuse or abuse of Parliaments deprived the people of their hopes: For testimony whereof the late times foregoing this Parliament will sadly witnesse, when it was not onely made a crime to mention a Parliament, but either the pretended negative voice, (the most destructive to freedome) or a speedie dissolution, blasted the fruit and benefit thereof, whilst the whole Land was overspread with all kinds of oppressions and tyranny, extending both to soule and body, and that in so rooted and setled a way, that the complaints of the people in generall witnessed, that they would have given any thing in the world for one six moneths freedome of Parliament. Which hath been since evidenced in their instant &: constant readinesse of assistance to this present Parliament, exceeding the Records of former ages, and wherein God hath blessed them with their first desires, making this Parliament the most absolute and free of any Parliament that ever was, and enabling it with power sufficient to deliver the whole Nation from all kinds of oppressions and grievances, though of very long continuance, and to make it the most absolute and free Nation in the world.
And it is most thankfully acknowledged that ye have in order to the freedome of the people suppressed the high Commission, Star-Chamber, and Councell-Table, called home the banished, delivered such as were imprisoned for matters of conscience, and brought some Delinquents to deserved punishment. That ye have suppressed the Bishops and Popish Lords, abolished Episcopacy, and that kind of Prelatick persecuting government. That ye have taken away Ship-money and all the new illegall Patents, whereby the hearts of all the well-affected were enlarged and filled with a confident hope, that they should have seen long ere this a compleat removall of all grievances, and the whole people delivered from all oppressions over soule or body: But such is our miserie that after the expence of so much precious time, of blood and treasure, and the ruine of so many thousands of honest families in recovering our Liberties, we still find this Nation oppressed with grievances of the same destructive nature as formerly, though under other notions; and which are so much the more grievous unto us, because they are inflicted in the very time of this present Parliament, under God the hope of the oppressed. For, as then all the men and women in England were made liable to the summons, attachments, sentences, and imprisonments of the Lords of the Councell-boord, so we find by wofull experience and sufferings of many particular persons, that the present Lords doe assume and exercise the same power, then which nothing is, or can be more repugnant and destructive to the Commons just liberties.
As then the unjust power of Star-Chamber was exercised in compelling of men and women to answer to Interrogatories tending to accuse themselves and others; so is the same now frequently practiced upon divers persons, even your cordiall friends that have been, and still are punished for refusing to answer to questions against themselves, and nearest relations. As then the great oppression of the high Commission was most evident in molesting of godly peaceable people, for non-conformity, or different opinion and practice in Religion, judging all who were contraryminded to themselves, to bee Hereticks, Sectaries, Schismaticks, seditious, factious, enemies to the State, and the like; and under great penalties forbidding all persons, not licenced by them, to preach or publish the Gospel: Even so now at this day, the very same, if not greater molestations, are set on foot, and violently prosecuted by the instigation of a Clergy no more infallible then the former, to the extreame discouragement and affliction of many thousands of your faithfull adherents, who are not satisfied that controversies in Religion, can be trusted to the compulsive regulation of any: And after the Bishops were suppressed, did hope never to have seen such a power assumed by any in this Nation any more.
And although all new illegall Patents are by you abolished, yet the oppressive Monopoly of Merchant-adventurers, and others, do still remain to the great abridgement of the liberties of the people, and to the extreme prejudice of all such industrious people as depend on cloathing, or other woollen manufacture, (it being the Staple commodity of this Nation,) and to the great discouragement and disadvantage of all sorts of Tradesmen, Sea-faring-men, and hindrance of Shipping and Navigation. Also the old tedious and chargable way of deciding controversies, or suits in Law, is continued to this day, to the extreame vexation and utter undoing of multitudes of Families; a grievance as great and as palpable as any in the world. Likewise, that old, but most unequall punishment of malefactors, is still Continued, whereby mens lives and liberties are as liable to the law, and corporall pains as much inflicted for small as for great offences, and that most unjustly upon the testimony of one witnesse, contrary both to the law of God, and common equity, a grievance very great, but litle regarded. Also tythes, and other enforced maintenance are still continued, though there be no ground for either under the Gospel; and though the same have occasioned multitudes of suites, quarrels and debates, both in former and latter times. In like maner, multitudes of poore distressed prisoners for debt, ly still unregarded, in a most miserable and wofull condition throughout the Land, to the great reproach of this Nation. Likewise Prison-Keepers, or Goalers, are as presumptuous as ever they were, both in receiving and detaining of Prisoners illegally committed, as cruell and inhumane to all, especially to such as are well-affected, as oppressive and extorting in their Fees, and are attended with under-officers, of such vile and unchristian demeanour, as is most abominable. Also thousands of men and women are still (as formerly) permitted to live in beggery and wickednesse all their life long, and to breed their children to the same idle and vitious course of life, and no effectual meanes used to reclaim either, or to reduce them to any vertue or industry.
And last, as those who found themselves aggrieved formerly at the burdens & oppressions of those times, that did not conform to the Church-government then established, refused to pay Shipmoney, or yeeld obedience to unjust Patents, were reviled and reproached with nicknames of Puritans, Hereticks, Schismaticks, Sectaries, or were termed factious or seditious, men of turbulent spirits, despisers of government, and disturbers of the publike peace; even so is it at this day in all respects, with those who shew any sensibility of the fore-recited grievances, or move in any manner or measure for remedy thereof, all the reproaches, evills, and mischiefs that can be devised, are thought too few or too little to bee laid upon them, as Roundheads, Sectaries, Independents, Hereticks, Schismaticks, factious, seditious, rebellious disturbers of the publike peace, destroyers of all civill relation, and subordinations; yea, and beyond what was formerly, nonconformity is now judged a sufficient cause to disable any person though of known fidelity, from bearing any Office of trust in the Commonwealth, whilest Neuters, Malignants, and dis-affected are admitted and continued. And though it be not now made a crime to mention a Parliament, yet is it little lesse to mention the supreme power of this honourable House. So that in all these respects, this Nation remaineth in a very sad and disconsolate condition; and the more, because it is thus with us after so long a session of so powerfull and so free a Parliament, and which hath been so made and maintained, by the aboundant love and liberall effusion of the blood of the people. And therefore knowing no danger nor thraldome like unto our being left in this most sad condition by this Parliament, and observing that ye are now drawing the great and weighty affaires of this Nation to some kind of conclusion, and fearing that ye may ere long bee obstructed by somthing equally evill to a negative voice, and that ye may be induced to lay by that strength, which (under God) hath hitherto made you powerfull to all good workes: whilest we have yet time to hope, and yee power to help, and least by our silence we might be guilty of that ruine and slavery, which without your speedy help is like to fall upon us, your selves and the whole Nation; we have presumed to spread our cause thus plainely and largely before you: And do most earnestly entreat, that ye will stir up your affections to a zealous love and tender regard of the people, who have chosen and trusted you, and that ye will seriously consider, that the end of their trust, was freedome and deliverance from all kind of temporall grievances and oppressions.
1. And that therefore in the first place, ye will bee exceeding carefull to preserve your just authority from all prejudices of a negative voice in any person or persons whomsoever, which may disable you from making that happy return unto the people which they justly expect, and that ye will not be induced to lay by your strength, untill ye have satisfied your understandings in the undoubted security of your selves, and of those who have voluntarily and faithfully adhered unto you in all your extremities; and untill yee have secured and setled the Common-wealth in solid peace and true freedome, which is the end of the primitive institution of all governments.
2. That ye will take off all Sentences, Fines and Imprisonments imposed on Commoners, by any whomsoever, without due course of Law, or judgement of their equalls: and to give due reparations to all those who have been so injuriously dealt withall, and for preventing the like for the time to come, that yee will enact all such Arbitrary proceedings to bee capitall crimes.
3. That ye will permit no authority whatsoever, to compell any person or persons to answer to questions against themselves, or nearest relations, except in cases of private interest between party and party in a legall way, and to release all such as suffer by imprisonment, or otherwise for refusing to answer to such Interrogatories.
4. That all Statutes, Oathes and Covenants may be repealed so farre as they tend, or may be construed to the molestation and ensnaring of religious, peaceable, well-affected people, for non-conformity, or different opinion or practice in Religion.
5. That no man for preaching or publishing his opinion in Religion in a peaceable way, may be punished or persecuted as hereticall, by Judges that are not infallible, but may be mistaken (as well as other men) in their judgements, least upon pretence of suppressing Errors, Sects or Schisms, the most necessary truths, and sincere professors thereof may bee suppressed, as upon the like pretence it hath been in all ages.
6. That ye will, for the encouragement of industrious people, dissolve that old oppressive Company of Merchant-Adventurers, and the like, and prevent all such others by great penalties for ever.
7. That yee will settle a just, speedy, plaine and unburthensome way, for deciding of controversies and suits in Law, and reduce all Lawes to the nearest agreement with Christianity, and publish them in the English Tongue, and that all processes and proceedings therein may be true and also in English, and in the most usuall Character of writing, without any abreviations, that each one who can read, may the better understand their owne affaires; and that the duty of all Judges, Officers, and practicers in the Law, and of all Magistrates and Officers in the Commonwealth may be prescribed, and their fees limited under strict penalties, and published in print to the view and knowledge of all men: by which just and equitable meanes, this Nation shall be for ever freed of an oppression more burthensome and troublesome then all the oppressions hitherto by this Parliament removed.
8. That the life of no person may be taken away, under the testimony of two witnesses at least, of honest conversation; and that in an equitable way ye will proportion punishments to offences, that so no mans life may be taken, his body punished, nor his estate forfeited, but upon such weighty and considerable causes as justly deserve such punishments; and that all prisoners may have a speedy tryall, that they be neither starved, nor their families ruined, by long and lingring imprisonment; and that imprisonment may be used onely for safe custody untill time of triall, and not as a punishment for offences.
9. That tythes and all other enforced maintenance, may be for ever abolished, and nothing in place thereof imposed; but that all Ministers may be paid onely by those who voluntarily contribute to them, or chuse them, and contract with them for their labours.
10. That ye will take some speedy and effectuall course to relieve all such prisoners for debt, as are altogether unable to pay, that they may not perish in prison through the hard-heartednesse of their Creditors; and that all such as have any estates, may bee inforced to make paiment accordingly, and not to shelter themselves in prison to defraud their Creditors.
11. That none may be Prison-keepers, but such as are of approved honestie, and that they may be prohibited under great penalties to receive or detaine any person or persons without lawfull warrant: That their usage of prisoners may be with gentlenesse and civility, their fees moderate and certain, and that they may give security for the good behaviour of their under-Officers.
12. That ye will provide some powerfull meanes to keep men, women, and children from begging and wickednesse, that this Nation may be no longer a shame to Christianity therein.
13. That ye will restraine and discountenance the malice and impudency of impious persons, in their reviling and reproaching the well-affected, with the ignominious titles of Round-heads, factious, seditious and the like, whereby your reall friends have been a long time, and still are exceedingly wronged, discouraged, and made obnoxious to rude and prophane people, and that ye wil not exclude any of approved fidelity from bearing office of trust in the Common-wealth for non-conformity; but rather Neuters and such as manifest dis-affection or opposition to common freedome, the admission and continuation of such being the chief cause of all these our grievances.
These remedies, or what other shall seem more effectuall to your grave wisdomes, we humbly pray may be speedily applied, and that in doing thereof, ye will be confident of the assistance of your Petitioners, and of all considerate well-minded people, to the uttermost of their best abilities, against all opposition whatsoever, looking upon our selves as more concerned now at last to make a good end, then at the first to have made a good beginning: For what shall it profit us, or what remedy can we expect, if now after so great troubles and miseries this Nation should be left by this Parliament in so great a thraldome, both of body, mind, and estate?
We beseech you therefore, that with all your might whilest he have time, freedome and power, so effectually to fulfill the true end of Parliaments in delivering this Nation from these and all other grievances, that none may presume or dare to introduce the like for ever.
And we trust, the God of your good successe, will manifest the integrity of our intentions herein, and that our humble desires are such, as tend not onely to our owne particular, but to the generall good of the Common-wealth, and proper for this Honourable House to grant, without which this Nation cannot be safe, or happy: And that he will blesse you with true Christian fortitude, suitable to the trust and greatnesse of the worke yee have undertaken, and make the memory of this Parliament blessed to all succeeding Generations.
Shall ever be the fervent desire of your humble Petitioners.
T.98 [1647.06.05] (4.6) Anon., A Solemne Engagement of the Army (5 June 1647).
Anon., A Solemne Engagement of the Army, under the Command of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax; with a Declaration of their Resolutions, as to disbanding; and a brief Vindication of their principles and intentions in relation to divers scandalous things suggested against them. Together with the representations of the dis-satisfactions of the Army, in relation to the late Resolutions for so sodain disbanding: shewing the particulars of their former grievances; wherein they did remaine unsatisfied: and the reasons thereof, unanimously agreed upon, and subscribed by the Officers and Souldiers of the severall Regiments, at Rendezvous neare New-Market on fryday and saturday June 4. and 5. Presented to the generall, and by him to be humbly presented to the Parliament. With his Excellencies Letter to the Speaker June the 8. sent with the same.
London; Printed for George Whittington, at the Blew Anchor in Cornhill neare the Royall Exchange. 1647.
8 June 1647.
TT1, p. 517; Thomason E. 392. (9.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
of the Army under the Command
of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax;
with a Declaration of their Resolutions,
as to disbanding; and a briefe Vindication
of their principles and intentions in relation
to divers scandalous things suggested
Together with the representations of the dis-satisfactions of the Army, in relation to the late Resolutions for so sodain disbanding: shewing the particulars of their former grievances; wherein they did remains unsatisfied: and the reasons thereof, unanimously agreed upon, and subscribed by the Officers and Souldiers of the severall Regiments, at the Randezvous neare New-Market on fryday and saturday June 4. and 5.
Presented to the Generall, and by him to be humbly presented to the PARLIAMENT.
With his Excellency’s Letter to the Speaker June the 8. sent with the same.
London; Printed for George Whittington, at the Blew Anchor in Cornhill neare the Royall Exchange.
In my Last I promised to send you by the next an Account of the Proceedings and Resolutions of the Army at the Iate Randezvous: I have sent you the same in two Papers unanimously agreed upon there, by both Officers and Souldiers: I finde in one of them divers things which your later proceedings since the Resolution of disbanding may have given satisfaction unto: But the Army having then no knowledge thereof, it was thus passed and delivered to mee, and I cannot but send it to them: you may see what they then did remaine unsatisfied in.
Understanding, that his Majesty and your Conumssioners were much straitened and disaccommodated in the House at Childerley, I went thither yesterday to advise with your Commissioners about the disposal of his Majesty, for more conveniency to himselfe and them, then that place did afford: The Conunissioners were pleased wholly to refuse giving of any advice or opinion at all in the businesses and therefore the King declaring his Resolution not to goe Holdenby, unlesse he were forced, yet complaining much of the inconveniency he suffered where he was, and pressing for a remove to New-Market, and your Commissioners not Judging it inconvenient for him to be there: I ordered Col. Whalley this day to attend his Majesty, and the Commissioners thither, with a trusty and sufficient Guard of two Regiments of Horse, which accordingly was this day done, and his Majesty, with the Commissioners, gone to New-Market, but not through Cambridge. This businesse taking up the sole time yesterday, and it being necessary his Majesty should be disposed of : Before the place of Randezvous could well be resolved on, this morning at a Councell of Warre, it was judged inconvenient, and scarce possible to draw to a Randezvous to morrow early enough to dispatch anything; Therefore it is appointed on Thirsday morning at nine of the Clock: and in regard of his Majesties going to New-Market, it was thought fit by the Councell of Warre, that the place of Randezvous might be altered from New-Market-Heath to Triploe- Heath, five miles from this Towne: I shall take care that your Commissioners if they come to New—Market, may have notice of this alteration from the former appointment.
Your most humble servant,
Cambridge June 8. 1647.
For the Honorable William Lenthall, Esquire, Speaker of the
Honourable House of Commons.
The Command of his Excellency
Sr. THOMAS FAIRFAX,
Read, assented unto, and subscribed by all
Officers, and Souldiers of the several Regiments,
at the generall Randezvous, neare
Newmarket, on the fift of June,
Whereas upon the Petition intended and agreed upon in the Army, in March last, to have been presented to the Generall, for the obtaining of our due and necessary concernments as Souldiers; the Honourable House of Commons, being unseasonably prepossessed with a Copie thereof, and (as by the sequell we suppose with some strange misrepresentations of the carriage and intentions of the same, was induced to send down an Order for suppressing the Petition, and Within two or three dayes after, upon further misinformation, and scandalous suggestions, of the like or worse nature, and by the indirect practice of some malitious and mischievous persons (as we suppose) surprizing or otherwise abusing the Parliament. A Declaration was published in the name of both Houses, highly censuring the said petition, and declaring the Petitioners, if they should proceed thereupon, no lesse then enemies to the State, and disturbers of the publick peace. And whereas at the same time and since, divers eminent Officers of the Army have been brought into question and trouble about the said Petition, whereby both they and the rest of the Officers were disabled, or discouraged for the time, from further acting or appearing therein on the souldiers behalfe; And whereas by the aforesaid proceedings and the effects thereof, the souldiers of this Army (finding themselves so stop’t in their due, and regular way of making knowne their just grievances, and desires to, and by their Officers) were enforced to an unusuall (but in that case necessary) way of correspondence and agreement amongst themselves, to chose out of the severall Troops and Companies severall men, and those out of their whole number, to chose two or more for each Regiment, to act in the name and behalfe of the whole souldiery of the respective Regiments, Troops and Companies, in the prosecution of their rights and desires in the said Petition, as also of their Just vindication and writing in reference to the aforesaid proceedings upon and against the same, who have accordingly acted and done many things to those ends, all which the souldiers did then approve as their owne Acts. And whereas afterwards, upon the sending downe of Field-Marshall Skippon, and those other Officers of the Army that were Members of the House of Commons, to quiet distempers in the Army, fresh hopes being conceived of having our desires againe admitted to be made knowne, and considered in a regular way, and without such misrepresentations as formerly, the Officers and souldiers of the Army (except some few dissenting Officers) did againe Joyne in a representation of their common grievances, and the Officers (except as before) did agree upon a Narrative accompt of the grounds, rise, and growth of the discontents in the Army, and their proceedings in relation thereunto, with an overture of the best expedients, to remove or satisfie the same, both which were presented to the same Members of the House, and by them reported to the House, and whereas the Parliament having thereupon voted, and ordered some particulars, onely toward satisfaction of our grievances, hath since proceeded to certaine resolutions of sodaine, disbanding the Army by peeces, which resolutions being taken, and to be executed before full or equall satisfaction given to the whole Army, in any of the grievances, before effectuall performance of that satisfaction in part, which the preceeding Votes seem’d to promise, as to some of the grievances, and before any consideration at all of some others most materiall, (as by the result of a generall Councell of Warre on Satterday, May 29.) was in generall declared, and is now more fully demonstrated, in particular by a representation there upon, agreed unto by us: we all cannot but looke upon the same resolutions of disbanding us in such manner, as proceeding from the same malicious, and mischievous Principles and intentions, and from the like indirect practices of the same persons abusing the Parliament, and is as the former proceedings against us before mentioned did, and not without carnall and bloudie purposes (for some of them have not stuck to declare or intimate) after the body of the Army should bee disbanded, or the souldiers divided from their Officers: then to question proceed against, and execute their malicious intentions upon all such particular Officers, and souldiers in the Army, as had appeared to act in the Premisses in the behalfe of the Army; and whereas upon a late Petition to the Generall from the Agitants, in behalfe of the souldiers (grounded upon the preceeding considerations relating to the same resolutions of disbanding the same generall Councell of Warre to prevent the danger, and inconveniences of those disturbings, or tumultuous actings, or confluences which the dissatisfaction and Jealousie thereupon also grounded, were like sodainely to have produced in the Army to advise the Generall, first to contract the Quarters of the Army, and then to draw the same to an orderly Randezvous for satisfaction of all, and that his Excellencie would immediately send up to move and desire the Parliament to suspend any present proceeding upon the said Resolution of disbanding, to resume the Consideration of the grievances, and desires sent up from the Army, and not to disband it in pieeces before just and equall satisfaction given to the whole; And where as some of the Regiments appointed for disbanding, upon notice thereof withdrawing themselves from the Quarters adjacent to the appointed Randezvous, & drawing towards the Head Quarters; and the contracting the Quarters according to the said advice of the Councell of Warre.
Wee the Officers and Souldiers of severall Regiments hereafter named, are now met at a generall Randezvous, and the Regiments appointed us aforesaid to be disbanded, have not appeared, nor can appeare; but are resolved not to appeare at the severall and respective Randezvous, appointed as aforsaid for their disbanding; and divers other thing have bin done by severall other partyes, or Members of the Army, necessarily relating to the good & concernment of the whole in these affaires: Now for as much as wee know not how far the malice, Injustice, and Tiranicall Principells of our enemies, that have already prevailed so far to abuse the Parliament and the Army (as is afore mentioned) in the past proceedings against the Army may further prevaile to the danger and prejudice of our selves, or any officers, or Souldiers of the Army, or other persons that have appeared to act anything in behalfe of the Army, or how far the same may further prevaile to the danger or prejudice of the Kingdome in raising a new warre, or otherwise: Therefore for the better prevention of all such dangers, prejudices, or other inconveniences that may ensue; and withall for better satisfaction to the Parliament and Kingdome, concerning our desires of confering to the authority of the one, and providing the good and quiet of the other, in the present affaires of disbanding, and for a more assured way whereby, that affaires may come to a certaine issue, (to which purpose we herein humbly implore the present and continued assistance of God, the Righteous Judge of all) wee the Officers and Souldiers of the Army subscribing here unto; doe hereby declare, agree, and promise, to and with each other, and to, and with the Parliament and Kingdome as followeth.
1. That wee shall cheerfully and readily disband when thereunto required by the Parliament or else shall many of us be willing (if desired) to ingage in further Services either in England or Ireland, having first such satisfaction to the Army in relation to our Grievances and desires heretofore presented, and such security; That we of our selves (when disbanded, and in the condition of private men) or other the free-bome people of England (to whom the consequence of our Case doth equally extend) shall not remaine subject to the like oppression, injury or abuse, as in the premisses hath been attempted and put upon us while an Army by the same men’s continuance, in the same credit and power (especially if as our Judges) who have in these past proceedings against the Army so farre prevailed to abuse the Parliament and us, and to endanger the Kingdome; and also such security that we our selves, or any member of this Army or others, who have appeared to act any thing in behalfe of the Army in relation to the premisses before recited, shall not after disbanding be any way questioned, prosecuted, troubled, or prejudiced for any thing so acted, or for the entring into, or necessary prosecution of this necessary agreement: (we say) having first such satisfaction and security in these things as shall be agreed unto by a Councell to consist of those generall Officers of the Army (who have concurred with the Army in the premisses) with two Commission Officers, and two Souldiers to be chosen for each Regiment, who have concurred, and shall concur with us in the premisses and in this agreement. And by the major part of such of them who shall meet in Councell for that purpose when they shall be thereunto called by the Generall.
2. That without such satisfaction and security, as aforesaid, we shall not willingly disband, nor divide, nor suffer our selves to be disbanded or divided.
And whereas we finde many strange things suggested or suspected to our great prejudice concerning dangerous principles, interests and designes in this Army (as to the overthrow of Magistracy, the suppression or hindering of Presbytery, the establishment of Independent government, or upholding of a generall licentiousnesse in Religion under pretence of Liberty of Conscience, and many such things) we shall very shortly tender to the Parliament a Vindication of the Army from all such scandals to cleare our Principles in relation thereunto, and in the meane time we doe disavow and disclaime all purposes or designes in our late or present proceedings to advance or insist upon any such interest, neither would we (if we might and could) advance or set up any other particular party or interest in the Kingdome (tho imagined never so much our own) but shall much rather (as far as may be within our spheare or power) study to promote such an establishment of common and equall right and freedome to the whole, as all might equally partake of but those that doe by denying the same to others, or otherwise render themselves incapable thereof.
T.100 [1647.06.14] (4.8) [Signed by John Rushworth, attributed to Henry Ireton], [Declaration of the Army], A Declaration, or, Representation From his Excellency, Sir Thomas Fairfax, And the Army under his command, Humbly tendred to the parliament (14 June 1647).
[Signed by John Rushworth, attributed to Henry Ireton], A Declaration, or, Representation From his Excellency, Sir Thomas Fairfax, And the Army under his command, Humbly tendred to the parliament, Concerning the iust and Fundamentall Rights and Liberties of themselves and the kingdome. With Some humble Proposals and Desires. June 14, 1647. By the appoyntment of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, With the Officers and Souldiers of his Army, Signed John Rushworth, Secretary.
London, Printed for George Wittington at the Blew Anchor in Corn-hill, neere the Exchange. 1647.
14 June 1647.
Not listed in TT.
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
A Declaration, or Representation from his Excellency, Sir Tho. Fairfax, and of the Army under his Command, Humbly tendred to the Parliament.
THAT we may no longer be the dissatisfaction of our friends, the subject of our enemies malice (to worke jealousies and misrepresentations upon) and the suspition (if not astonishment) of many in the Kingdome, in our late or present transactions and conduct of businesse, we shal in all faithfulnesse and clearnesse professe, and declare unto you, those things which have of late protracted and hindred our disbanding, the present grievances which possesse our Army, and are yet unremedied, with our desires, as to the compleat settlement of the liberties, and peace of the kingdome, which is that blessing of God, then which (of all worldly things) nothing is more dear unto us, or more pretious in our thoughts, we having hitherto thought all our present enjoyments (whether of life or livelihood, or nearest relations) a price but sufficient to the purchase of so rich a blessing; that we, and all the free-born people of this Nation, may sit down in quiet under our Vines, under the glorious administration of Justice, and righteousnesse, and in the full possession of those Fundamentall Rights and Liberties, without which we can have little hopes (as to humane considerations) to enjoy either any comforts of life, or so much as life it selfe, but at the pleasures of some men, ruling meerly according to will, and power.
It cannot be unknown what hath passed betwixt the Parliament and the Army, as to the service of Ireland. By all Which, together with the late proceedings against the Army, in relation to their petition and grievances, all men may judge what hath hindred the Army from a ready engagement in that service, and without further account or Apologie as to that particular, then what passages and proceedings themselves (already made publicke), doe afford, we doe appeale to your selves, whether those courses, to which the Parliament hath (by the designes and practises of some) been drawne, have rationally tended to induce a cheerfull and unanimous undertaking of the Army to that service, or rather to break and pull the Army in pieces with discontent and dishonour, and to put such disobligations and provocations upon it, as might drive it into distemper, and indeed discourage both this Army and other Souldiers from any further engagement in the Parliaments service. And we wish all men would (with us) upon the whole carriage, seriously consider, whether (in the intentions of those who have by false informations, and misrepresentations put the Parliament upon such wayes) the timely and effectuall reliefe of Ireland, seem really to have been intended, or rather (with the breaking, or disbanding of this Army) to draw together, or raise such other forces, and of such a temper as might serve to some desperate and distructive designes in England. For which, (besides the probable suspitions from their carriage of the businesse) we have beforehand, in the transaction thereof, had more then hints of such a designe, by cleare expressions to that purpose, from many of the Officers of the Army, that have been perswaded, and appeared most forward, to engage as for Ireland, on the tearmes proposed. And, that such a designe hath all along been driven, seemes now too evident, by the present disposing of those Forces that have been engaged for Ireland, by the endevours of some, to gain a power from the Parliament of ordering those Forces for some service in England, and by the private listings of men for service there, without any publick authority of Parliament. And (all this) by the same persons, who have all along, appeared most active, and violent in the late proceedings against the Army.
As to the just discontents and dissatisfactions of the Army, in relation to their grievances, and their non-compliance to the late orders for sudden disbanding by peece-meale (before more full and equall satisfaction were given to the whole) we desire you to look back to the Papers already published, of the grievances themselves, the Narrative of the Officers, and the late Papers from the generall Counsell of Warre at Bury, and late generall Randezvouz neare Newmarket: and (we thinke) your late resuming the consideration of these things (as to a further satisfaction) doth much justifie the desires and proceedings of the Army, in the past particulars, hitherto.
And though (had we (upon our first addresses) for our undoubted Rights and Dues) found a free, and candid reception, with a just consideration, and a reasonable satisfaction, or at least a free answer therein, we should have been easily perswaded to have abated or forborne much of our Dues, and not to have enquired into, or considered (so farre as we have) either the possibilities there are for more present satisfaction of Arreares, or the credit of future securities proposed, yet since upon these former addresses, we have found such hard dealing, as in the said Papers is set forth, and those additionall (though hitherto but partiall) satisfactions, comming so hardly as they have, we finde no obliging reasons in the least, to decline or recede from what is our due; but rather still to adhere unto our desires of full and equall satisfaction, in all the things mentioned in the aforesaid Papers, not onely in behalf of our selves, and the Army, but also the whole Souldiery throughout the whole Kingdome, who have concurred, or shall concurre with us in the same desires.
And to all our former desires, as Souldiers, we cannot but adde this (wherein we find our selves so nearly concerned in poynt of Justice and Reputation) that more care, and a stricter course may be taken for making good all Articles granted upon Surrenders, according to the true intent and meaning of them. As also for Remedy and Reparation in case of any breach; (and this) without those delayes which divers have found, as prejudicial to them or more, then if they had been totally denied the performance of them.
Nor will it now (wee hope) seeme strange or unseasonable to rationall and honest men, who consider the consequence of our present case, to their own, and the Kingdoms, (as well as our) future concernments in point of right, freedome, peace and safety, if (from a deepe sence of the high consequence of our present case, both to our selves (in future) and all other people) we shall, before disbanding, proceed, in our own and the Kingdoms behalf, to propound, and plead, for some provision, for our, and the Kingdoms satisfaction, and future security in relacion to those things, especially considering, that we were not a meere mercinary Army, hired to serve any Arbitrary power of a State, but called forth and conjured, by the severall Declarations of Parliament, to the defence of our owne and the peoples just rights, and liberties, And so we tooke up Armes, in judgement and conscience to those ends, and have so continued them, and are resolved according to your first just desires in your Declarations, and such principles as we have received from your frequent informations, and our own common sence concerning those our fundamentall Rights and Liberties, to assert and vindicate, the just power, and Rights of this Kingdome in Parliament for those common ends premised, against all arbitrary power, violence and oppression, and against all particular parties, or interests whatsoever. The said Declarations still directing us to the equitable sence of all Laws and constitutions as dispencing with the very Letter of the same, and being supreame to it, when the safety and preservation of all is concerned, and assuring us, that all authority is fundamentally seated, in the office, and but ministerially in the persons, neither doe or will these our proceedings (as we are fully and in conscience perswaded) amount to any thing, not warrantable before God and men, being thus far, much short of the common proceedings in other Nations, to things of an higher nature then we have yet appeared to. And we cannot but be sencible of the great complaints, that have been made generally to us of the Kingdome, from the people where we march, of arbitrarinesse and injustice, to their great and insupportable oppressions.
And truly such Kingdomes, as have according both to the law of Nature and Nations, appeared to the vindication and defence, of their just rights and liberties, have proceeded much higher, As our brethren of Scotland: who in the first beginning of these late differences, associated in Covenant, from the very same grounds and principles (having no vissible form, either of Parliament or King to countenance them) and as they were therein justified, and protected by their own, and this Kingdome also, so we justly shall expect to be.
We need not mention the States of the Netherlands, the Portugals, and others, all proceeding upon the same Principles of right and freedome, And accordingly the Parliament hath declared it no resistance of Magistracie, to side with the just Principles, and law of Nature and Nations, being that Law upon which we have assisted you. And that the Souldiery may lawfully hold the hands of that Generall, who will turne his Cannon against his Army on purpose to destroy them; the Sea-men the hands of that Pylot, who wilfully runnes the Ship upon a Rock, (as our brethren of Scotland argued.) And such were the proceedings of our Ancestors of famous memory, to the purchasing of such Rights and Liberties as they have enjoyed through the price of their blood, and we (both by that and the later blood of our deare friends and fellow Souldiers, with the hazard of our own) doe now lay claim unto.
Nor is that supreame end, (the glory of God) wanting in these cases, to set a price upon all such proceedings of Righteousnesse and Justice, it being one witnesse of God in the World to carry on a Testimony against the Injustice and unrighteousnesse of men, and against the miscarriages of Governments, when corrupted or declining from their primitive or originall glory.
These things we mention, but to compare proceedings, and to shew that we are so much the more justifiable, and warranted in what we do, by how much we come short of that height and measure of proceedings, which the people in free Kingdomes and Nations have formerly practiced.
Now having thus farre cleared our way in this businesse, we shall proceed to propound such things as we do humbly desire for the setling and securing of our own and the Kingdomes common right, freedome, peace, and safety, as followeth.
1. That the Houses may be speedily purged of such members, as for their Delinquency, or for Corruptions, or abuse to the State, or undue Elections, ought not to sit there: whereof the late elections in Cornwall, Wales and other parts of the Kingdome afford too many examples, to the great prejudice of the peoples freedome in the said elections.
2. That those persons, who have, in the unjust and high proceedings against the Army, appeared to have the will, the confidence, credit, and power, to abuse the Parliament, and the Army, and indanger the Kingdom in carrying on such things against us (while an Army) may be some way speedily disabled from doing the like or worse to us (when disbanded, and disperst, and in the condition of private men) or to other the free-born people of England in the same condition with us, and that for that purpose, the same persons may not continue in the same power (especially as our and the Kingdoms Judges in the highest trust) but may be made incapable thereof for future.
And if it be questioned who these are, we thought not fit particularly to name them in this our representation unto you, but shall very speedily give in their names, and before long shall offer what we have to say against them, to your Commissioners, wherein we hope so to carry our selves, as that the world shall see we aime at nothing of private revenge, and animossities, but that justice may have a free course and the Kingdome be eased, and secured by disenabling such men (at least) from places of Judicature who desiring to advantage, and set up themselves, and their party in a generall confusion have indeavoured to put the Kingdom into a new flame of warre, then which nothing is more abhorrent to us.
But because neither the granting of this alone, would be sufficient to secure our own, and the Kingdoms rights, liberties, and safety either for the present age or posterity, nor would our proposing of this singly be free from the scandal, and appearance of faction or designe onely to weaken one party, (under the notion of unjust or oppressive) that we may advance another (which may be imagined more our own) we there fore declare.
That indeed wee cannot but wish that such men, and such onely might be preferred to the great power and trust of the Commonwealth, as are approved, at least, for morall righteousnesse; And of such wee cannot but in our wishes preferre those, that appeare acted thereunto by a principle of Conscience and Religion in them. And accordingly we doe and ever shall blesse God for those many such Worthies, who, through his providence, have been chosen into this Parliament, And, to such mens endeavours (under God) wee cannot but attribute that Vindication, (in part) of the peoples Rights and Liberties, and those beginnings of a just Reformation, which the first proceedings of this Parliament appeared to have driven at, and tended to, though of late obstructed, or rather diverted to other ends and interest by the prevailing of other persons of other principles and conditions.
But yet wee are so farre from designing, or complying to have an absolute or arbitrary power fixed or settled for continuance, in any persons whatsoever, as that, (if we might be sure to obtaine it) wee cannot wish to have it so in the persons of any, whom wee could most confide in, or who should appeare most: of our own opinions or principles or whom wee might have most personall assurance of, or interest in, but wee doe, and shall much rather wish, that the Authoritie of this Kingdome in Parliaments (rightly constituted, that is, freely, equally and successively chosen, according to its originall intention) may ever stand and have its course. And therefore wee shall apply our desires, chiefly to such things, as (by having Parliaments setled in such a right Constitution) may give most hopes of Justice and Righteousnesse, to flow downe, equally to all, in that its ancient Channell, without any Overtures, tending either to overthrow, that foundation of Order and Government in this Kingdome, or to ingrosse that power for perpetuity into the hands of any particular persons, or party whatsoever.
And for that purpose, though (as wee have found it doubted by many men, minding sincerely the publique good, but not weighing so fully all consequences of things) it may and is not unlike to prove, that, upon the ending of this Parliament, and the Election of New, the Constitution of succeeding Parliaments, (as to the persons Elected) may prove for the worse many wayes, yet since neither in the present purging of this Parliament, nor in the Election of New, wee cannot promise to our selves, or the Kingdome, an assurance of Justice, or other positive good from the hands of men, but those who for present appeare most righteous and most for common good (having an unlimited power fixed in them during life or pleasure) in time, may become corrupt, or settle into parties, or factions, or, on the other side, in case of new Elections, those that should so succeed, may prove as bad or worse then the former. Wee therefore humbly conceive, that, (of two inconveniences the lesse being to be chosen) the maine thing to be intended in this case (and beyond which humane providence cannot reach, as to any assurance of positive good) seemes to be this, viz. to provide, that however unjust or corrupt the persons of Parliament-men, in present or future, may prove, or whatever ill they may doe to particular parties (or to the whole, in particular things,) during their respective termes, or periods, yet they shall not have the temptation or advantage of an unlimited power fixt in them during their own pleasures, whereby to perpetuate injustice and oppression upon any, (without end or remedy,) or to advance and uphold any one particular party, faction, or interest whatsoever, to the oppression or prejudice of the Communitie, and the enslaving of the Kingdome untol all posteritie, but that the people may have an equall hope, or possibilitie, if they have made an ill choice at one time, to mend it in another, and the members of the House themselves may be in a capacitie, to tast of subjection as well as rule, and may so be inclined to consider of other mens cases, as what may come to be their owne. This wee speake of, in relation to the House of Commons, as being entrusted, on the peoples behalf, for their interest in that great and supreame power of the Common-wealth, (viz. the Legislative power, with the power of finall judgement,) which being, in its own nature, so arbitrary, and in a manner unlimited (unlesse in point of time) is most unfit and dangerous (as to the peoples interest) to be fixt in the persons of the same men during life, or their own pleasures. Neither, by the originall Constitution of this State, was it, or ought it to continue so, nor does it (where-ever it is, and continues so) render that State any better then a meere Tyranny, or the people subjected to it, any better then Vassalls: But in all States, where there is any face of common freedome, and particularly in this State of England (as is most evident, both by many positive Lawes, and ancient constant custome) the people have a right to new and successive Elections unto that great and supreame trust, at certain periods of time, which is so essentiall and fundamentall to their freedome, as it is, cannot, or ought not, to be denied them, or withheld from them, and without which the House of Commons is of very little concernment to the interest of the Commons of England. Yet in this wee would not be mis-understood, in the least, to blame those Worthies of both Houses, whose zeale to vindicate the Liberties of this Nation, did procure that Act for continuance of this Parliament, whereby it was secured from being dissolved at the Kings pleasure, (as former Parliaments had been) or reduced to such a Certainty, as might enable them the better to assert and vindicate the liberties of this Nation, (immediately before so highly invaded, and then also so much endangered.) And these wee take to be the principall ends and grounds, for which, in that exigency of time and affaires, it was procured, and to which wee acknowledge it hath happily been made use of, but wee cannot thinke it was by those Worthies intended, or ought to be made use of, to the perpetuating of that supreame trust and power in the persons of any during their owne pleasures, or to the debarring of the people from their right of Elections (totally new) when those dangers or exigencies were past, and the affaires and safety of the Common-wealth would admit of such a change.
Having thus cleared our Grounds and Intentions (as wee hope) from all scruples and misunderstandings, in what followes we shall proceede further to propose what wee humbly desire for the selling and securing of our owne and the Kingdomes Rights and Liberties (through the blessing of God) to posterity, and therefore, upon all the Grounds premised, we further humbly desire as followeth,
3. That some determinate period of time may be set, for the continuance of this and future Parliaments, beyond which none shall continue, and upon which new Writs may of course issue out, and new Elections successively take place according to the intent of the Bill for Trienniall Parliaments.
And herein we would not be misunderstood to desire a present or suddain dissolution of this Parliament, but only (as is exprest before) that some certaine period may be set for the determining of it, so as it may not remaine (as now) continuable for ever, or during the pleasure of the present Members, And we should desire that the period to be now set for ending this Parliament, may be such as may give sufficient time for provision of what is wanting and necessary to be passed in point of just Reformation, and for further securing the Rights and Liberties, and setling the peace of the Kingdome. In order to which we further humbly offer.
4. That secure provisions may be made for the continuance of future Parliaments, so as they may not be adjournable or dissolveable at the Kings pleasure, or any other wayes then by their owne consent during their respective periods, but at those periods each Parliament to determine of course as before. This we desire may be now provided for (if it may be) so as to put it out of all dispute, for future, though we thinke of right, it ought not to have beene otherwise before.
[And because the present Distribution of Elections for Parliament Members is so very unequal, and the Multitude of Burgesses for decayed or inconsiderable Towns (whose Interest in the Kingdom would in many not exceed, or in others not equal, ordinary Villages) doth give too much and too evident Opportunity for Men of Power to frame Parties in Parliament to serve particular Interests, and thereby the Common Interest of the whole is not so minded, or not so equally provided for: We therefore further desire,
5. That some Provision may be now made for such Distribution of Elections for future Parliaments, as may stand with some Rule of Equality or Proportion, as near as may be, to render the Parliament a more equal Representative of the whole, as for Instance, That all Counties or Divisions and Parts of the Kingdom (involving inconsiderable Towns) may have a Number of Parliament-Men allowed to their Choice, proportionably to the respective Rates they bear in the Common Charges and Burdens of the Kingdom, and not to have more, or some other such like Rule.]
And thus a firme foundation being laid in the authority and constitution of Parliaments for the hopes, at least, of common and equall right and freedome to our selves and all the free-born people of this Land, we shall for our parts freely and cheerefully commit our stock or share of interest in this Kingdome, into this common bottome of Parliaments, and though it may (for our particulars) goe ill with us in one Voyage, yet we shall thus hope (if right be with us) to fare better in another.
These things we desire may be provided for by Bill or Ordinance of Parliament to which the Royall Assent may be desired: when his Majestie in these things, and what else shall be proposed by the Parliament, necessary for securing the Rights and Liberties of the people, and for setling the Militia and Peace of the Kingdome, shall have given his concurrence to put them past dispute. We shall then desire that the Rights of his Majestie and his posterity may be considered of, and setled in all things, so farre as may consist with the Right and Freedome of the Subject, and with the security of the same for future.
5. We desire, that the right and fredome of the people, to represent to the Parliament by way of humble Petition, their grievances (in such things as cannot otherwise be remedied then by Parliament) may be cleared and vindicated, That all such grievances of the people may be freely received & admitted into consideration, and put into an equitable and speedy way, to be heard, examined, and redressed (if they appeare reall) and that in such things for which men have remedy by law, they may be freely left to the benefit of law, and the regulated course of Justice, without interruption or checke from the Parliament, except in case of things done upon the exigency of Warre, or for the service and benefit of the Parliament and Kingdome in relation to the Warre, or otherwise, in due pursuance and execution of Ordinances or Orders of Parliament.
More particularly (under this head) we cannot but desire, that all such as are imprisoned, for any pretended misdemeanor, may be put into a speedy way for a just hearing and triall, and such as shall appeare to have beene unjustly and unduly imprisoned, may (with their liberty) have some reasonable reparation according to their sufferings and the demerit of their oppressors.
6. That the large powers, given to the Committees or Deputy Lieutenants during the late times of Warre and destraction, may be speedily taken into consideration, That such of these powers as appeare not necessary to be continued, may be taken away, and such of them as are necessary may be put into a regulated way, and left to as little Arbitrarinesse, as the nature and necessity of the things wherein they are conversant will beare.
7. We could wish that the Kingdome might both be righted & publikely satisfied in point of Accounts, for the vast summes that have been levyed and paid, as also in divers other things wherein the Common wealth may be conceived to have beene wronged or abused; But we are loath to presse any thing, that may tend to lengthen out further disputes or contestations, but rather such as may tend to a speedy and generall composure, and quieting of mens minds, in order to Peace, for which purpose we further propose.
8. That (publique Justice being first satisfied by some few examples to posterity out of the worst of excepted persons, and other Delinquents, having past their Compositions) some course may be taken (by a generall Act of oblivion or otherwise) whereby the seeds of future Warre, or fewds, either to the present age, or posterity, may the better be taken away, by easing that sence of present, and satisfying those feares, of future Ruine or Undoing, to persons or families, which may drive men into any desperate wayes for selfe preservation or remedy, and by taking away the private remembrances and distinction of parties, as farre as may stand with safety to the rights and Liberties wee have hitherto fought for.
There are (besides these) many particular things which wee could wish to be done, and some to be undone, all, in order still to the same ends, of common right, freedome, peace, and safety. But these proposalls aforegoing, being the principall things wee bottome and insist upon, wee shall (as wee have said before) for our parts acquiesce for other particulars in the Wisdome and Justice of Parliaments. And whereas it hath been suggested or suspected, that in our late, or present proceedings, our design is to overthrow Presbytery, or hinder the settlement thereof, and to have the Independent governement set up, we doe clearely disclaime, and disavow any such designe; We onely desire that according to the Declarations (promising a provision for tender consciences) there may some effectuall course be taken according to the intent thereof, And that such, who, upon conscientious grounds may differ from the established formes, may not (for that) be debarred from the common Rights, Liberties, or Benefits belonging equally to all, as men and Members of the Commonwealth, while they live soberly, honestly, and inoffensively towards others, and peacefully and faithfully towards the State.
We have thus freely and clearely declared the depth and bottome of our hearts and desires in order to the Rights, Liberties and Peace of the Kingdome, wherein we appeale to all men, whether we seeke any thing of advantage to our selves, or any particular partie whatever, to the prejudice of the whole, & whether the things we wish and seek, do not equally concern & conduce to the good of others in common with our selves, according to the sincerity of our desires and intentions wherein, (as we have already found the concurrent sence of the people in divers Counties by their Petitions to the Generall, expressing their deepe representment of these things, and pressing us to stand for the Interest of the Kingdome therein, so,) we shall wish and expect to finde the unanimous concurrence of all others, who are equally concerned with us in these things, and wish well to the Publique. And so trusting in the mercy and goodnesse of God to passe by and helpe any failings or infirmities of ours, in the carriage or proceedings hereupon, we shall humbly cast our selves and the businesse upon his good pleasure, depending onely on his presence and blessing for an happie issue to the peace and good of this poore Kingdome, in the accomplishment whereof, wee desire and hope, that God will make you blessed Instruments.
June 14th 1647
By the appointment of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, with the Officers and Souldiery of his Army, Signed,
T.120 [1647.11.23] (4.15) [Signed by Several], To the supream Authority of England, the Commons in Parliament assembled [The Petition of November] (23 November 1647).
[Signed by Several], To the supream Authority of England, the Commons in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of many free-born people. Together with a Copy of the Order of the Commitment of five of the Petitioners, viz. Mr. Thomas Prince, and Mr. Samuel Chidley in the Gate-House. Capt. Taylor, Mr. William Larner, and Mr. Ives in Newgate. As also some Observations upon the said Order.
This Tract contains the following parts:
23 November 1647.
Not listed in TT.
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
That as the ground of the late war between the King and you, was a contention whether he or you should exercise the supreame power over us, so its vain to expect a settlement, of peace amongst us, untill that point be clearely and justly determined, that there can be no liberty in any Nation where the Law giving power is not solely in the people or their Representatives.
That upon your Invitation, the people have hazarded their lives, consumed their estates, lost their trades, and weltered in blood to preserve that your just authority, and therein their own freedoms.
That notwithstanding, for attributing the supream authority of this Nation to this Honourable House, which alone represents the people, we have been accounted the off-scouring of the land, we have had our Petitions burned, our persons imprisoned, and many other wayes abused.
That when the ears of the chosen deliverers were stopped, the Law of Nature enjoyned us to addresse our selves to the Army, from whom we had reason to expect relief, according to their many promises and engagements.
That those promises seeming to be wholly forgotten by the ruling part of the Army; it pleased God to raise up the spirits of some Agents therein, to consider of an agreement of the people upon grounds of common right; & to offer it to the Generall Gouncell of the army for their concurrence; the matter wereof (seriously debate being had thereupon) was so far from being disallowed, that a necessity of ending this Parliament at the day prefixed therein, was concluded; the providing for a constant succession of Parliaments thought necessary, that the people should be more equally represented was confessed; and a certain rule to be set between the people and their representative was judged fit, and the supream authority of this nation acknowledged by that Councell to be where the Agreement placeth it: And particularly Lievtenant General Cromwell, and Commissary General Jreton declared, that in case they did not Act for the settlement of those freedoms, yet they would never oppose.
That those Agents in further discharge of their duty to their Country; did not long since present unto this Honourable House the said Agreement, with a petition relating thereunto.
That the same Agreement, with another Petition, was lately offered to the Generall, by a worthy Commander, and divers Officers of the Army, at the first generall Rendezvouz neare Ware: and all that was done in a further prosecution, was a peaceable proposing of the same Petition, to the Souldiery, for their concurrence: and we wonder that we should now be reputed mutinous, to offer a Petition to the Souldiery when it was esteemed formerly good service to draw them to an ingagement.
That notwithstanding all this clear open and legal dealing, in those our friends, for the performance of their solemne engagements, both they and we, who adhered to them, are reproached and slandered with imputations of plottings and designing not only the Kings death, in a base murderous way; and of imbrueing the nation in blood, but of strange endeavours to levell all mens estates, and subvert all Government and although the scandals are but the same which the open enemies formerly cast upon your selves, yet our just endeavours for freedom, are so ill resented by this meanes, that some of us are imprisoned, and others threatned to be proceeded against as persons disaffected to this Honourable House, whereas the true object of our enemies mallice is, that authoritie of yours, which we labour to preserve. Yet such is our sad condition, as our actions and intentions are in like manner misapprehended by you, though we doubt not but the Agreement duly weighed, will demonstrate all such reproaches to be only the invention of wicked men to exasperate you against us.
And therefore we beseech you in your bowells of compassion to an oppressed people, to review and debate impartially the particulars of that Agreement of the people, wherein many thousands have already concurred: And to suffer us by your countenance, to use our Native Liberty, in moving the people for an happie union amongst themselves, in selling those foundations of Common freedom; that thereby this honourable house, may with more assurance of the peoples alliance, proceed forthwith (without attending for the assent and concurrence of any other) to deliver them from all kind of tyranny and oppression.
And that you would be pleased to account of the sufferings of our dear fellow Commoners Co. Ayers, Ca. Bray, and others at the severall Rendezvouz of the Army, only for their just and peaceable persuance of freedome.
And especially that you will make inquisition for the blood of that Soldier, viz. Richard Arnall of Col. Lilburns Regiment, which was shot to death neere Ware.
And we further desire, that without prejudice against our persons, it might be laid to heart, that the large effusion of blood, and the many spoyles made in the late War, cannot be justified upon any other ground, then the settlement of those freedoms contained in the Agreement, and in your just indeavours to clear and secure those you may expect the blessing of peace and prosperity,
And your petitioners shall pray.
Die Martis. November, 1647.
Resolved, that Thomas Prince, Cheesemonger, and Samuel Chidley be forthwith committed prisoners to the prison of the Gate-house, there to remain prisoners during the pleasure of this House, for seditious and contemptuous avowing and prosecuting of a former Petition and paper annexed, stiled an agreement of the people, formerly adiudged by this house, to be destructive to the being of Parliaments, and fundamentall government of this kingdom.
Hen. El. Cl. Par. Dom. Com.
By vertue of an Order of the House of Commons, these are to require you to receive from the Sergeant at armes his deputie or deputies, the bodies of Thomas Prince, Cheese monger, and Samuel Chidley into the prison of the Gate house Westminster, and them safely to detain as your prisoners, untill the pleasure of the house be signified to you to the contrary, and for so doing this shall be your Warrant.
William Lenthall, Speaker.
Dated 23. Novemb. 1647.
To the Keeper of the prison of
the Gate house of Westminster.
O men of England that love your freedom I beseech you observe the injustice, arbitrarynesse, and tyranny of this your Parliament, who have invited you, and caused your deare friends to expend their blood upon pretences to deliver you from injustice and arbitrary powers. See their Rmon. of May 26. 1642.
1. Observe their palpable injustice in stiling an humble, rationall and iust petition (presented in a peaceble manner) a seditous and contemptuous, avowing a former petition, these men declared formerly, that they ought to receive petitions, though against things established by law, and now when a petition striks at their corrupt interest, its seditious because its against a vote of theirs, and what damnable endeavours here are to deceive you Commons, they represent these mens petition as a contempt of them when they rendred them the highest honour in their petition.
2. Observe their injustice in committing these your brethren without laying any crime to their charge, by the law, sedition nor faction is no crime, for no man knows what is sedition or faction, but they put unknown reproachfull tearms upon their just petition to deceive you, and let me informe you, that these treacherous dissemblers that put these infamous tearms upon the petition, durst not suffer this petition to be printed with their votes concerning it, for when they ordered the votes should be printed, an honest member moved that the petition it selfe might be printed with them, that the people might see the reason of such votes, and these Hypocrites opposed it with rage and fury, will ye be alwayes thus abused O yee Commons.
3. Observe the falshood and lyes in their vote. First, these petitioners did not avow any former petition or paper annexed, as this vote say they did. 2ly. The House did never adiudge the Agreement to be distructive to the being of Parliments, &c. but only the petition of the Agents of the Army, they never durst debate the Agreement, lest they should be forced by the strength of reason to consent to it, they shut their eyes and will not see, for many of the greatest opposers have confessed its iust, but they love not the light because their deeds are evill. But seeing it was never debated in one particular, could a iudgement be passed upon it, and have you not a wise, faithfull Parliament, that would not debate the particulars of such great concernment to settle a peace.
4. Observe how these men exercise an absolute tyranny over you, ruling by their crooked wills, and damnable lusts, they commit your fellow Commoners to prisons amongst Theeves and Murtherers, only for begging for their fredoms, and this during their pleasure, that is, till their base malicious humors be satisfied. According to law and justice, imprisonment is only for safe custody of persons, untill the appointed day of tryall in the ordinary Courts of justice, and it was the Councell table and High Commission that ruled by their lusts, which imprisoned men during their pleasure, and yet these Apostates dare in the face of the sun proclaime their wickednesse and arbitrarinesse, by committing men during their lust. Certainly their consciences tell them that these faithfull, honest petitioner did not offend, for if they had known any offence, they would have been ready to have proceeded against them, or reserved them for tryall which they intend not. O yee Commons of England! can you still beare it? to see your freedomes undermined, and your brethren abused, and presidents made daily for inslaving you to the wills and lusts of tyrants, when will you shew your selves English men? O now! now is the opportunity. O! that you might see even in this your dayes the things that belong to your peace and freedom, before they be hid from your eyes.
Lilburne's "Petition of 19 January, 1647" can be found in T.136 [1648.02.14] (5.7) [John Lilburne], A Declaration of some Proceedings of Lt. Col. John Lilburn (14 February, 1648) and in T.207 (6.22) John Lilburne, An Impeachment of High Treason against Oliver Cromwel, and his Son in Law Henry Ireton Esquires (10 August 1649).
T.207 [1649.08.10] (6.22) John Lilburne, An Impeachment of High Treason against Oliver Cromwel, and his Son in Law Henry Ireton Esquires (10 August 1649).
John Lilburne, An Impeachment of High Treason against Oliver Cromwel, and
his Son in Law Henry Ireton Esquires, late Members of the late forcibly dissolved
House of Commons, presented to publique view; by Lieutenant Colonel Iohn Lilburn
close Prisoner in the Tower of London, for his real, true and zealous affections
to the Liberties of his native Country. In which following Discourse or Impeachment,
he engageth upon his life, either upon the principles of Law (by way of indictment,
the only and alone legall way of all tryals in England) or upon the principles
of Parliaments ancient proceedings, or upon the principles of reason (by pretence
of which alone, they lately took away the Kings life) before a legal Magistracy,
when there shal be one again in England (which now is the leasst there is not)
to prove the said Oliver Cromwel guilty of the highest Treason that ever was
acted in England, and more deserving punishment and death.
Then the 44 Judges hanged for injustice by King Alfred before the Conquest; or then the Lord chief Justice Wayland and his associates tormented by Edw. 1. Or, then Judg Thorpe, condemned to dye for Bribery in Edw. 3. time; Or, then the two dis-threned Kings. Edw 2. and Rich. 2. Or, then the Lord chief Justice Tresillian, (who had His throat cut at Tyburn as a Traitor in Rich. 2. time, for subverting the Law) and all his associates; Or, then those two grand Traytorly subverters of the Laws and Liberties of England, Empson and Dudley, who therefore as Traytors lost their heads upon Towerhill, in the beginning of Henr. 8. raign; Or, then trayterous Cardinal Wolsey, who after he was arrested of Treason, poysoned himself; Or, then the late trayterous Ship-Money Judges, who with one Verdict or Judgment destroyed all our propertie; Or, then the late trayterous Bishop of Canterbury, Earl of Strafford, Lord-Keeper Finch, Secretary V. Vindebanck, or then Sir George Ratcliff, or all his Associates; Or, then the two Hothams, who lost their heads for corresponding with the Queen, &c. Or, then the late King Charls whom themselves have beheaded for a Tyrant and traytor.
In which are also some Hints of Cautions to the Lord Fairfax, for absolutely breaking his solemn Engagement with his souldiers, &c. to take head and to regain his lost Credit in acting honestly in time to come; in helping to settle the Peace and Liberties of the Nation, which truly, really, and lastingly can never be done, but by establishing the principles of the Agreement of the Eric. People; that being really the peoples interest, and all the rest that went before, but particular and selvish.
In which is also the Authors late Proposition sent to Mr Holland, June 26. 1649. to justifie and make good at his utmost hazard (upon the principles of (illegible), Law, Reason, and the Parliament and Armies ancient Declarations) his late actions or writings in any or all his Books.
Ier. 5. 26, 27, 8, 29. For among my peoyle are found wicked men: they lye in wait as he that setteth snares, they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage usefull of Birds, so are their houses full of deceit; therefore they are become great, and waxin rich. They are waxen fat, they shine; yea, they overpass the deads of the weeked; they judg not the cause, the cause of the Fasthertess, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy doe they not judg. Shall I not visit for those things, saith the Lord? Shall not my soul be avenged of such a Nation as this?
Imprinted at London, Anno Dom. 1649.
The Tract contains the following parts:
10 August 1649.
TT1, p. 763; Thomason E. 508. (20.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
THat the devouring fire of the Lords wrath, hath burnt in the Bowels of this miserable Nation, untill its almost consumed.
That upon a due search into the causes of Gods heavie judgements, we find(a) that injustice and oppression, have been the common Nationall sinnes, for which the Lord hath threatned woes, confusions and desolations, unto any people or nation; Wo (saith God) unto the oppressing City, Zeph. 3. 1.
That when the King had opened the(b) Flood-gates of injustice and oppression(c) upon the people, and yet peremptorily declared, that the People, who trusted him for their good, could not in, or by their Parliament require any account of the discharge of his trust; and when by a pretended negative voice(d) to Laws, he would not suffer the strength of the Kingdom, the Militia, to be so disposed of, that oppression might be safely remedied, and oppressours brough to condigne punishment, but raised(e) a War(f) to protect the subverters of our Laws and Liberties, and maintain Himself, to be subject to no accompt, even to such oppressions, and pursuing after an oppressive power, the Judge of the earth with whom the Throne of iniquity can have no fellowship, hath brough him low and executed fierc wrath upon many of his adherents.
That God expects justice from those before whose eyes he hath destroyed an unjust generation, Zeph. 3, 6, 7. and without doing justly, and relieving the oppressed, God abhors fastings and prayers, and accounts himselfe mocked, Pro. 19. 8. Isa. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. & 29. 13, 14. & 58. 45, 5, 6, 7. & 66. 2, 3. Jer. 6. 19, 20. & 7. 9, 10, 11, 14. Amos. 5. 6, 7. 15. 21, 22, 23. Mich. 6. 6, 7, 8.
That our eyes fail with looking to see the foundations of our Freedoms and peace secured by this Honorable House, and yet we are made to depend upon the Will of the King, and the Lords, which were never chosen or betrusted by the People, to redresse their grievances. And this Honorable House, which formerly declared that they were the Representatives of all England, and be trusted with our estates, liberties and lives, 1 part Book of Decla. 264. 382. do now declare by their practice, that they will not redresse our grievances, and settle our freedoms, unlesse the King and the Lords will.
That in case you should thus proceed, Parliaments will be rendred wholy uselesse to the People, and their happinesse left to depend solely upon the will of the King, and such as he by his Patents creats Lords; and so the invaluable price of all the precious English bloud, spilt in the defence of our freedoms against the King, shall be imbezelled, or lost; and certainly, God the avenger of bloud, wil require it of the obstructors of justice and freedom, Judges 9. 23.
That though our Petitions have been burned, and our persons imprisoned, reviled, abused, only for petitioning, yet we cannot despair absolutely of all bowels of Compassion in this Honorable House to an enslaved perishing people. We will nourish some hopes that you will at last consider our Estates are expended, the whole trade of the Nation decayed, thousands of families impoverished, and mercilesse Famine is entring into our gates, and therefore we cannot, but once more essay to pierce your ears with our dolefull cries for Justice and Freedom, before your delays wholy consume the Nation. In particular, we earnestly intreat;
First that seeing we conceive this Honorable House intrusted by the People, with all power to redresse our grievances, and to provide security for our Freedoms, by making or repealing laws, Erecting or abolishing Courts, displacing or placing Officers, and the like; and seeing upon this consideration, we have often made our addresses to you; and yet we are to depend for all our expected good, upon the wills of others, who have brought all our misery(g) upon us: that therefore in case this Honourable House will not, or cannot according to their trust, relieve and helpe us, that it be cleerly declared; that we may know to whom as the Supreame power, we may make our present addresses before we perish, or be enforced to flie to the Prime Laws of nature(h) for refuge.
2. That as we conceive all Governours and Magistrates being the Ordinance(h) of men, before they be the Ordinance of God; and no authority being of God approbationally, but what is erected by the mutual consent of a People; and seing this Honorable House alone represent or ought to represent the people of this Nation; that therefore no person whatsoever be permitted to exercise any power or authority in this Nation, who shall not cleerly and confessedly receive his power from this House, and be always accountable for the discharge of his trust, to the people in their representers in Parliament; or otherwise, that it be declared who they are which assume to themselves a Power according to their own wils, and not received as a trust from the People, that we may know to whose Wills we must be subject, and under whom we must suffer such oppressions as they please, without a possibility of Justice against them.
3. That considering, that all just power and Authority in this Nation, which is not immediately derived from the people, can be derived only from this honourable House; and that the People are perpetually subject to Tyranny, when the Jurisdiction of Courts, and the power and Authority of Officers are not cleerly described, and their bounds and limits(i) prefixed: That therefore the Jurisdiction of every Court of Judicature, and the power of every Officer or Minister of Justice, with their bounds and limits, be forthwith declared by this Honorable House, and that it be enacted, that the Judges of every Court, which shall exceed its jurisdiction, and every other Officer or Minister of Justice, which shall intermeddle with matters not coming under his Cognisance, shall incur the forfeiture of his and their whole estates: and likewise, That all unnecessary Courts may be forthwith abolished; and that the publick Treasury, out of which the Officers solely ought to be maintained,(k) may be put to the lesse charge.
4. That whereas there are multitudes of complaints of Oppression by Committees of this House, determining particular matters, which properly appertains to the cognizance of the Ordinary Courts(l) of Justice; and whereas many persons of faithfull and publick spirits have been and are daily molested, vexed, imprisoned by such Committees, sometimes for not answering Interrogatories, and sometimes for other matters, which are not in Law criminal; and also without any legal Warrants expressing the cause, and commanding the Jaylor safely to keep their bodies untill they be delivered by due course(m) of Law: And by these oppressions the persons and estates of many are wasted and destroyed; That therefore henceforth no particular cause, whether criminal or other, which comes under the cognizance of the Ordinary Courts of Justice, may be determined by this House, or any Committe thereof; or any other then by those Courts whose duty it is to execute such Laws as this Honourable House shall make, and who are to be censured by this House in case of injustice: Alwayes excepted, matters relating to the late War, for indemnity for our assisters; and the exact observation of all Articles granted to the adverse(n) Party; and that henceforth no person be molested or imprisoned by the will or arbitrary powers of any or for such matters as are not crimes(o) according to Law. And that all persons imprisoned at present for any such matters, or without such legal Warrants as above-said, upon what pretence, or by what Authority soever, may be forthwith released, with due reparations. See the Armies Book of Declar. pag. 11. 31. 32. 33. 34. 45. 97.
5. That considering its a Badge of our slavery to a Norman Conqueror, to have our Laws in the French Tongue; and it is little lesse then brutish vassalage to be bound to walk by Laws which the people(p) cannot know, that therefore all the Laws and Customs of this Realm be immediately written in our mother-Tongue(q) without any abbreviations of words, and in the most known vulgar hand, viz. Roman or Secretary; and that Writs, Processes, and Enrolments be issued forth, entred, or inrolled in English, and such manner of writing as aforesaid.
6. That seeing in Magna Charta, which is our native Right, it is pronounced in the name of all Courts, That we will sell to no man, we will not deny, or defer to do any man either Justice or Right: notwithstanding we can obtain no Justice, or Right, neither from the common ordinary Courts, or Judges, nor yet from your own Committees, though it be in case of indempnity for serving you, without paying a dear price for it; that therefore our native(r) Right be restored to us, which is now also the price of our blood; that in any Court whatsoever, no moneys be extorted from us, under pretence of Fees to the Officers of the Courts or otherwise; And that for this end sufficient salaries or pensions be allowed to the Judges, and Officers of Courts, as was of old out of the common Treasury, that they may maintain their Clerks and servants, and keep their Oathes uprightly, wherein they swear to take no Money or cloaths, or other Rewards, except meat and drink in a small quantity, besides what is allowed them by the King: and this we may with the more confidence claim as our Right, seeing this honorable House hath declared, in case of Ship-money, and in the case of the Bishops Canons, that not one penny by any power whatsoever, could be levyed upon the people, without common consent in Parliament, and sure we are that the Fees now exacted by Judges and Clerks, and Jaylors, and all kinde of Ministers of Justice, are not setled upon them by Act of Parliament, and therefore by your own declared principles, destructive to our property;(s) therefore we desire it may be enacted to be death for any Judge, Officer, or minister of Justice, from the highest to the lowest, to exact the least moneys, or the worth of moneys, from any person whatsoever, more then his pension or salary, allowed from the common Treasury. And that no Judg of any Court may continue above three years.
7. That whereas according to your owne complaint in your first Remonstrance of the(t) state of the Kingdom, occasion is given to bribery, extortion, and partiallity by reason that Judiciall places, and other Offices of power and Trust are sold and bought; that therefore for prevention of all injustice, it be forthwith Enacted, to be death for any person or persons whatsoever, directly or indirectly, to buy, or sell, or offer or receive moneys or rewards, to procure for themselves or others any Office of power or Trust whatsoever: See for this purpose 12 R 2. c. 2. & 5. & 6. Ed. 6. c. 16. & 1 patt Cooks Institutes, fol. 3. 6. & fol. 233 b. and 234. a.
8. Whereas according to Justice and the equitable sense of the Law, Goals, and Prisons ought to be only used as places of safe custody, untill the constant appointed time of speedy tryals(u); and now they are made places of torment and the punishment of supposed offenders, they being detained many years without any Legall tryals; that therefore it be Enacted, that henceforth no supposed offender whatsoever may be denyed his Legall tryall at the first Sessions, Assizes, or Gaol-delivery, after his commitment(w) end that at such tryal, every such supposed offender, be either condemned or acquitted.
9. Whereas Monopolies of all kindes have been declared by this Honorable House, to be against the fundamentall Lawes of the Land, and all such restrictions of Trade, doe in the consequence destroy not only Liberty but property; that therefore all Monopolies whatsoever, and in particular that oppressive Company of Merchant-Adventurers be forthwith abolished, and a free Trade restored; and that all Monopolizers may give good reparation to the Commonwealth, and to particular parties who have been damnified by them, and to be made incapable of bearing any Office of power or trust in the Nation; and that the Votes of this House Novemb. 19. 1640. against their sitting therein, may be forthwith put in due execution.
10. Whereas this House hath declared in the first Remonstrance of the(x) state of the Kingdome, that Ship-money and Monopolies which were imposed upon the people before the late Warre, did at least amount to 1400000l. per annum: and whereas since then, the Taxes have been double and treble; and the Army(y) hath declared that 1300000l. per annum would compleatly pay all Forces and Garrisons in the Kingdom; and the Customes could not but amount to much more then would pay the Navie: so that considering the vast summes of moneys raised by proposition-money, the fift and twentyeth part, sequestiations, and compositions, excise, and otherwise, it is conceived much Treasure is concealed; that therefore an Order issue forth immediatly from this Honourable House to every parish in the Kingdome, to deliver in without delay to some faithfull persons, as perfect an accompt as possible, of all moneys levyed in such Town, City or Parish; for what use or end soever, since the beginning of the late Warre, and to return the severall Receivers names, and that those who shall be employed by the severall Parishes in every Shire or County, to carry in those accompts to some appointed place in the County, may have liberty to choose the receiver of them; and that those selected persons by the severall parishes in every County or Shire, may have liberty to invest some one person in every of their respective Counties or places, with power to sit in a Committee at London or elswhere, to be the Generall Accomptants of the Kingdom, who shall publish their Accompts every month to the publick view, and that henceforth there be onely one Common Treasury, where the Books of Accompts may be kept by severall persons, open to the view of all men.
11. Whereas it hath been the ancient Liberty of this Nation, That all the Free-born people have freely elected their Representers in Parliament, and their Sheriffs, and(z) Justices of the Peace, &c. and that they were abridged of that their native Liberty, by a Statute of 8th of H. 6, 7. and the 27 H. 8th. 24. That therefore, that Birth-right of all Englishmen, be forthwith restored to all which are not, or shall not be Legally disfranchised for some criminall cause, or are not under twenty one years of age, or servants, or beggars; and we humbly offer, That every County may have its equall Proportion of Representers; and that every County may have its severall Divisions, in which one Representer may be chosen: and that some Representatives of every Parish proportionably may be the Electors of the Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Committee men, Grand-jury men, and all Ministers of Justice whatsoever in the respective Counties; and that no such Minister of Justice may continue in his Office above one whole yeer without a new(aa) Election.
12. That all Statutes for all kind of Oaths, whether in Corporations, Cities or other, which insnare consciencious people, as also all other Statutes injoyning all to hear the Book of common-Prayer, be forthwith repealed and nulled, and that nothing be imposed upon the consciences of any, to compel them to sin against their own consciences.
13. That the too long continued shame of this Nation, viz. permission of any to suffer such poverty as to beg their bread, may be forthwith effectually remedied; and to that purpose, that the poor be enabled to chuse their Trustees to discover all Stocks, Houses, Lands, &c. which of right belong to them and their use, that they may speedily receive the benefit thereof, and that some good improvement may be made of waste Grounds for their use; and that according to the promise of this Honourable House in your first Remonstrance, care be taken forthwith to advance the native commodities of this Nation, that the Poor may have better wages for their labour, and that Manufactures may be increased, and the Herring fishing upon our own Coasts may be improved for the best advantage of our own Marriners, and the whole Nation.
14. Whereas that burthensom Tax of the Excise lies heavie onely upon the poorer, and most ingenuous and industrious People, to their intolerable oppression; and that all persons of large Revenues in Lands, and vaste estates at usury, bear not the least proportionable weight of that burthen, whereby Trade decayes, and all ingenuity and industry is discouraged; That therefore that oppressive way of raising money may forthwith cease, and all moneys be raised by equall Rates, according to the proportion of mens estates.
15. That Mr Peter Smart, Doctor Leighton, M. Ralph Grasion, M. Hen. Burton, Doctor Bastwick, M. William Prynne, Lieut. Colonel John Lilburn, the Heirs and Executors of M. Brewer, M. John Turner, and all others that suffered any cruelty, or false, illegall imprisonment, by the Starchamber, the high Commission, or Councel-board, as also M. Alderman Chambers, and all others that suffered oppression before the Parliament, for refusing to pay illegall imposts, customs or Ship-money, or yeeld conformity to Monopolizing Patentees, may, after seven yeers attendance for justice and right, forthwith by this House receive legall and just Reparations out of the Estates of all those, without exception, who occasioned, acted in, or procured their heavie sufferings, that so in future Ages men may not be totally discouraged to stand for their Liberties and Freedoms, against oppressors and Tyrants.
16. Whereas we can fix our eyes upon no other but this Honorable House for relief in all these our pressing grievances, untill we shall be enforced to despair, we therefore desire that the most exact care be had of the right Constitution thereof: And therefore we desire that all Members of this House chosen in their Nonage, may be forthwith ejected, and that all Votes for suspension of Members from this House, may be forthwith put in execution; Provided, that the House proceed either finally to expel them, that others may be elected in their stead, or they be restored to serve their Country: And likewise that all Lawyers who are Members of this House (by reason of their over awing power over Judges of their own making) may wholly attend the Peoples service therein; and that every of them may be expelled the House, who shall hereafter plead any cause before any Court or Committee whatsoever during his Membership in this House. And we do further desire, that every Member of this House may be enjoyed under some great penalty, not to be absent above three dayes, without the expresse license of this House; and not above one month, without the license of the place by which they are betrusted: And likewise that no Law may be passed, unlesse two third parts of all the Members of this House be present, and that the most speedy care be had to distribute Elections equally throughout the Nation; and that the extent of the Power and Trust of this honorable House be cleerly declared, with the true end and intention thereof, viz. To make just Laws, binding all alike for the preservation and equal good of all, but not to execute Laws.
Now whereas the particular requests in our Petitions are for the most part never debated in this House, but when we are at any time rightly interpreted in our meanings and intentions, we onely receive thanks for our good affections or promises, that in due time our desires shall be taken into consideration: and by such delayes our destractions are daily increased, and our burdens-made more heavie: therefore we desire that a Committee be forthwith appointed by this Honourable House, who may be enjoyned under some penalty, to sit from day to day, untill they have debated every particular of our request, and reported their sense of the justnesse and necessitie of them to this House, that we may attend for an Answer accordingly: and that a time be fixed when such a Committee shall make their report. And we further desire the same Committee may be invested with power to hear all our other complaints, and offer sutable remedies to this Honourable House, and to bring in the Appeals of any persons from the Judges at Westminster to this Honourable House, against their injustice, briberie, or illegall delay and oppression.
Now O ye worthie Trustees! Let not your ears be any longer deaf to our importunate cries: let not our destruction be worse then that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment. Let us not pine away with famine, and be worse then those who die by the sword. Oh dissolve not all Government into the prime Laws of Nature, and compel us to take the naturall remedie to preserve ourselves, which you have declared no people can be deprived of.(bb) O remember that the righteous God standeth in the Congregation of the mighty, and judgeth among the gods, and saith, How(cc) long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy; deliver the poor and needy, and rid them out of the hands of the wicked.
Ezek. 24. 6. 8. 9. 10. Amos 5. 9, 10, 11, 12. Mic. 2. 2, 3. & 3. 3. 4, 9, 10, 11, 12. Nahum 3 1. 2. 19. Hab. 1. 3. 4, 6. & 2. 8. 11, 12. 17. Joe 3. 6, 7. 8.
by Shipmony, Loanemony, Coat & conduct mony, Patents Monopolies, &c.
See the Remonstrance of the State of the Kingdom Decem 1641. p. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15.
See the Kings Answer to the Petition of Right, and also the Parlia. Remon. of May 19. 1642. 1 part Book Dec. pag. 254. 284, 285. See the Kings Answer to the Par. Dec. of May 26. 1642. p. 298.
See the Ord. for Militia. 1641. 1 Book Dec. p. 89. 105. 106. 114, 126. 175, 176. 182. 243. 283, 292.
See the Par. Votes May 20. 1642. 1 part Book Dec. 259 See also p. 465. 509. 576. 580. 584. 617, 618.
See the Kings Deccla. of the 12 of Aug. 1642. 1 part Book Dec. p. 522. 526. 528. 548. & p. 617. 726, 728.
See 1 part book Dec. p. 44, 150. 182. 426. 637. 690.
See Col. Nath. Fienne’s his Speech against the Bishops Canons, made in 1640, in a book called Speeches and Passages of Parl. from 3. Novemb. 1640. to June 1641. p. 50. 51. 52.
See your Remonstance of the State of the Kingdom, book Dec. p. 6. 8. 15. See also the act made this Parliament, that abolished the Star-chamber and High-Commission.
See the statute of Westminst 1. made 3. Ed. 1. chap. 26. & 20. Ed. 3. 1. and the Judges Oath made in the 18. of Ed. 3. Ann. 1334. recorded in Pultons collections of Statutes, fol. 144.
See the 29. c. of Mag. Charta, & Sir Ed. Cooks Exposition upon it in his 2 part Instit. f. 46. to 57. and the Petit. of Right.
See the Petition of Right made in the 3 of the King, and Sir Edward Cooks 2 part Institutes. f. 52. 53. 315. 589. 590. 591. 615. 616. and 661.
See Psa. 15. 4. Exod. 5. 3. Deu. 23. 21. 22. 2 Sam. 21. 5, 6. Eccl. 5. 4, 5.
See Rom. 4. 15.
See 36. E. 3. 15. & 1 Cor. 14. 7, 8, 11, 16, 19, 23. See also the English Chronicles, in the Reign of Wil. conqueror.
See Exo. 24. 7. & 31. 18. & chap. 34. & Deut. 30. 12, 13, 14. & 5. 1, 5, 24, 27, 31. and 6. 1, 6, 7, 8. and 9. 10. and 11. 18, 19. 20. and 27. 8.
See Sir Edward Cook in his 1 part. Inst. l. 3. c. 13. Sect. 701. fol. 368. Where he positively declares it was the native and ancient rights of all Englishmen, both by the Statutes and common Law of England, to pay no Fees at all to any administrators of Justice whatsoever. See also 2 part Inst. f. 74, 176, 209, 210, and 176. And he there gives this reason why Judges should take no Fees of any man for doing his Office, because he should be free and at liberty to doe justice, and not to be fettred with golden Fees, as fetters to the subversion or suppression of truth and Justice.
See the Articles of high Treason in our Chronicles against. Judg Tresilian, in Richard the seconds time; and the judgment of Justice Thorpe for taking money in Edward the Thirds time, 3 part Cooks Instit. fol. 145, 146, 147: 163: 164: 165.
See 1 part Book Dec. p. 9.
See Sir Ed. Cook 1 part Instit. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 438. fol. 260. a. who expresly saith, Imprisonment must be a safe custody, not a punishment; and that a prison ought to be for keeping men safe, not to punish them. See also 2 part Institut. f. 43. 315. 589. 590. 591. & 3. part fol. [Editor: illegible] 35. & 4 part 168.
See the Statute of the 4 E. 3, 2. 12 R. 2. 10.
See 1 part Book Declar. page 14.
See the Armies last Representation to the House.
28 Edw. 1. Chap. 8. & 13. See 2 part. instit. fol. 174, 175, 558, 559. where Sir Ed. Cook positively declares that in ancient times by the common Law of England, the Coroner, the high Sheriff, Justices of peace, Verderors of Forests; yea, and in times of Warre, the Leaders of the Counties souldiers, were chosen in full Counties by the Freeholders.
It hath been a Maxime amongst the wise Legislaters, that whosoever means to settle good Laws. must proceed in them with a sinister, or evill opinion of all mankinde, and suppose that whosoever is not wicked, it is for want of opportunity; and that no State can be wisely confident of any publick Minister continuing good, longer then the Rod is over him. It is the opportunity of being ill that must be taken away, if ever we mean to be happy; which can never be done but by frequency of change: Speeches and Passages, pag. 17.
See your Declaration of the 19 of May, 16. 12. 1 book Declarat. pag. 207. And your Declaration of Novemb. 1642. pag. 690. 726. 728. as also pag. 150. See the Armies book of Declarat. p. 39. 40.
Psal. 82, 1, 2, 3, 4.
T.150 [1648.09.11] (5.15) Anon, The Petition of 11 September 1648 (11 September, 1648).
[Anon. but sometimes attributed to Walwyn, Overton, or Lilburne], [The Petition of 11 September 1648], To the Right Honourable, the Commons of England In Parliament Assembled. The humble Petition of divers wel affected Persons inhabiting the City of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamblets, and places adjacent.
11 September, 1648.
TT1, p. 672; Thomason E. 464. (5.).
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.) Note: there is a broadsheet version and a pamphlet version.
in Parliament assembled.
The humble Petition of Thousands wel-affected persons inhabiting the City of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamlets, and places adjaciet.
THat although we are as earnestly desirous of a safe and well-grounded Peace, and that a finall end were put to all the troubles and miseries of the Common-wealth, as any sort of men whatsoever: Yet considering upon what grounds we ingaged on your Part in the late and present Wars, and how far (by our so doing) we apprehend our selves concerned, Give us leave (before you conclude us by the Treaty in hand) to acquaint you first with the ground and reason which induced us to aid you against the King and his Adherents. Secondly, What our Apprehensions are of this Treaty. Thirdly, what we expected from you, and do still most earnestly desire.
Be pleased therefore to understand, that we had not ingaged on your part, but that we judged this honorable House to be the supreme Authority of England, as chosen by, and representing the People; and intrusted with absolute power for redresse of Grievances, and provision for Safety: and that the King was but at the most the chief publike Officer of this Kingdom, and accomptable to this House (the Representative of the People, from whom all just Authority is, or ought to be derived) for discharge of his Office: And if we had not bin confident hereof, we had not bin desperately mad to have taken up Armes, or to have bin aiding and assisting in maintaining a War against Him; the Laws of the Land making it expresly a crime no lesse than Treason for any to raise War against the King.
But when we considered the manifold oppressions brought upon the Nation, by the King, his Lords and Bishops; and that this Honourable House declared their deep sense thereof; and that (for continuance of that power which had so opprest us) it was evident the King intended to raise Forces, and to make War; and that if he did set up his Standard, it tended to the dissolution of the Government: upon this, knowing the safety of the People to be above Law, and that to judge thereof appertained to the supreme Authority, and not to the supreme Magistrate, and being satisfied in our Consciences, that the publike safety and freedom was in imminent danger, we concluded we had not onely a just cause to maintain; but the supreme Authority of the Nation, to justifie, defend and indempnifie us in time to come, in what we should perform by direction thereof; though the highest.
And as this our understanding was begotten in us by principles of right reason, so were we confirmed therein by your own proceedings, as by your condemning those Judges who in the case of Ship-money had declared the King to be Judge of Safety; and by your denying him to have a Negative voice in the making of Lawes; where you wholly exclude the King from having any share in the supreme Authority: Then by your casting the Bishops out of the House of Lords, who by tradition also, had bin accounted an essentiall part of the supreme Authority; and by your declaring to the Lords, That if they would not joyn with you in setling the Militia, (which they long refused) you would settle it without them, which you could not justly have done, had they had any reall share in the supreme Authority.
These things we took for reall Demonstrations, that you undoubtedly knew your selves to be the supreme Authority; ever weighing down in us all other your indulgent Expressions concerning the King or Lords; it being indeed impossible for us to believe, that it can consist either with the safety or freedom of the Nation, to be governed either by three or two Supremes, especially where experience hath proved them so apt to differ in their Judgments concerning freedom or safety, that the one hath bin known to punish what the other hath judged worthy of reward; when not only the freedom of the people is directly opposite to the Prerogatives of the King and Lords, but the open enemies of the one have bin declared friends by the other, as the Scots were by the House of Lords.
And when as most of the oppressions of the Common-wealth have in all times bin brought upon the people by the King and Lords, who nevertheless would be so equal in the supreme Authority, as that there could be no redress of Grievances, no provision for safety, but at their pleasure. For our parts, we profess our selves to be so far from judging this to be consistent with freedom or safety, that we know no greater cause wherefore we assisted you in the late Wars, but in hope to be delivered by you from so intolerable, so destructive a bondage, so soon as you should (through Gods blessing upon the Armies raised by you) be inabled.
But to our exceeding griefe, we have observed that no sooner God vouchsafeth you victory, and blesseth you with success, and thereby inableth you to put us and the whole Nation into an absolute condition of Freedom and Safety: but according as ye have been accustomed, passing by the ruine of the Nation, and all the blood that hath been spilt by the King and his Party, ye betake your selves to a Treaty with him, thereby putting him that is but one single person, and a publike Officer of the Common-wealth, in competition with the whole Body of the People, whom ye represent; not considering that it is impossible for you to erect any Authority equall to your selves; and declared to all the world that you will not alter the ancient Government, from that of King, Lords, and Commons: not once mentioning (in case of difference) which of them is supreme, but leaving that point (which was the chiefest cause of all our publike differences, disturbances, wars, and miseries,) as uncertain as ever.
In so much as we who upon these grounds have laid out our selves every way to the uttermost of our abilities: and all others throughout the Land, Souldiers and others who have done the like in defence of your supreme Authority, and in opposition to the King, cannot but deem our selves in the most dangerous condition of all others, lest without all plea of indempnity for what we have done; as already many have found by losse of their lives and liberties, either for things done or said against the King; the law of the land frequently taking place, and precedency against and before your Authoritie, which we esteemed supreme, and against which no law ought to be pleaded. Nor can we possibly conceive how any that have any waies assisted you can be exempt from the guilt of murderers and robbers, by the present laws in force, if you persist to disclaim the supreme authoritie, though their own consciences do acquit them, as having opposed none but manifest Tyrants, Oppressors, and their adherents.
And whereas a Personall Treaty, or any Treaty with the King, hath been long time held forth as the onely means of a safe and wel-grounded Peace; it is well known to have been cryed up principally by such as have been alwaies dis-affected unto you; and though you have not contradicted it, yet it is believed that you much feare the issue thereof; as you have cause sufficient, except you see greater alteration in the King and his party then is generally observed, there having never yet been any Treaty with him, but was accompanied with some underhand-dealing; and whilst the present force upon him (though seeming liberty) will in time to come be certainly pleaded, against all that shall or can be agreed upon: Nay, what can you confide in if you consider how he hath been provoked; and what former Kings upon lesse provocations have done, after Oaths, Laws, Charters, Bonds, Excommunications, and all tyes of Reconciliations, to the destruction of all those that had provoked and opposed them: yea, when yourselves so soon as he had signed those Bills, in the beginning of this Parliament saw cause to tell him, That even in or about the time of passing those Bills, some designe or other was on foot, which if it had taken effect, would not only have rendred those Bills fruitlesse, but have reduced you to a worse condition of confusion, than that wherein the Parliament found you. And if you consider, what new Wars, Risings, Rovolting invasions, and plottings have been since this last cry for a Personall Treaty, you will not blame us if we wonder at your hasty proceedings thereunto: especially considering the wonderfull Victories which God hath blessed the Armies withall.
We professe we cannot chuse but stand amazed to consider the inevitable danger we shall be in, though all things in the Propositions were agreed unto; the resolutions of the King and his party have been so perpetually violently and implacably prosecuted and manifested against us; and that with such scorn and indignation, that it must be more than such ordinary Bonds that must hold them. And it is no lesse a wonder to us that you can place your own security therein, or that you can ever imagin to see a free Parliament any more in England.
The truth is (and we see we must either now speake it, or for ever be silent,) We have long expected things of an other nature from you, and such as we are confident would have given satisfaction to all serious people of all Parties.
Upon the eleventh of September, 1648. this Petition was delivered into the House.
The House received this Petition, and returned answer thereunto, which was to this effect, viz. That the House gave them thanks for their great pains & care to the publike good of the Kingdom, & would speedily take their humble desires into consideration.
T.178 [1649.01.19] (6.1) Anon., The humble Petition of firm and constant Friends to the Parliament (19 January 1649).
[Anon.,] To the Right Honourable, the Supreme Authority of this Nation, the Commons of England in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of firm and constant Friends to the Parliament and Common-wealth, Presenters and Promoters of the Large Petition of September 11. MDCXLVIII.
18 January 1649.
TT1, p. 715; Thomason 669. f. 13 (73.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
[Anon.], To the Right Honourable, The Supreme Authority of this Nation, the Commons of England in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of firm and constant Friends to the Parliament and Common-wealth, Presenters and Promoters of the late Large Petition of September 11. 1648. (n.p., 19 January 1649).
That having seriously considered how many large and fair opportunities this honourable House hath had within these eight yeers last past to have made this Nation absolute free and happy; and yet that until this time, every of those opportunies have (after some short space of hope) faded, and but altered, if not increased our bondage.
When we call to mind what extraordinary things the Army undertook (and this honourable House approved) in behalf of the liberties of the people, in the yeer 1647 and that nevertheless, the first fruits of their great and unexpected success, was a more oppressive Ordinance for enforcing of Tyths, than ever had bin before, and which hath bin severely executed, and is still continued, to the extreme vexation of Friends, and encouragement of Pulpit Incendiaries; And how that great and wonderful opportunities wasted it self away in contending with, and imprisoning of cordial Friends, or in tampering with known enemies, and at length ended in a most dangerous and bloudy war; whereas rightly applied, it might have given peace and security to the Nation for many Generations.
These things considered, although we exceedingly rejoyced in your just and excellent Votes of the 4. of this instant Ianuary, as a people who had long suffered the reproches of Sectaries & Levellers, for maintaining the supreme original of all just power to be in the people, & the supreme Authority of this Nation to be in this honourable House, (which our burnt Petitions, and that of Sept. 11. do fully witness. Yet since we understand, that within few daies after you admitted a message from the House of Lords, and gave an accustomed respect thereunto. We have bin very much troubled, how already the same doth essentially derogate from your foresaid Votes.
And since also, we have seen a printed Warrant of his Excellency the Lord General Fairfax, directed to his Marshal General, for suppressing of unlicensed Books and Pamphlets, authorising him (upon the oath of one witness) to take all persons offending into custody, and inflict upon them such corporal punishments, and levie such fines upon them, as your Ordinances impose; and not to discharge them, until after payment and punishment; And further, to make diligent search in all places where the said Marshal shall think meet, for unlicensed printing presses, employed in printing scandalous, unlicensed pamphlets. Books, &c and to seise and carry away such printing presses, &c. And likewise to make diligent search in all suspected printing houses, ware-houses, and other shops and places whatsoever, for such unlicensed books, &c. And in case of opposition, to break open (according to your Ordinances) all dores and locks, and to apprehend all persons so opposing and take them into custody, till they have given satisfaction therein. And all this by vertue of an order of yours of the fift of this instant Ianuary. Since we have seen this, we profess, we cannot but already fear the issue and consequence of those excellent Votes, nothing more dangerous to a people, than the mis-application of their supreme entrusted Authority; and therefore we entreat herein to be excused, though we appear herein, as in a cause of very great Importance.
For what-ever specious pretences of good to the Common-wealth have bin devised to over-aw the Press, yet all times fore-gone will manifest, it hath ever ushered in a tyrannie; mens mouths being to be kept from making noise, whilst they are robd of their liberties; So was it in the late Prerogative times before this Parliament, whilst upon pretence of care of the publike. Licensers were set over the Press, Truth was suppressed, the people thereby kept ignorant, and fitted only to serve the unjust ends of Tyrants and Oppressors, whereby the Nation was enslaved; Nor did any thing beget those oppressions so much opposition, as unlicensed Books and Pamphlets.
A short time after the begining of this Parliament, upon pretense of publike good, and at the solicitation of the Company of Stationers (who in all times have bin officiously instrumental unto Tyrannie) the Press again (notwithstanding the good service it immediately before had done) was most ungratefully committed to the custody of Licensers, when though scandalous Books from or in behalf of the Enemy then at Oxford was the pretended occasion; yet the first that suffered was M. Lawrence Sanders, for Printing without license, a book intituled, Gods Love to Mankind; and not long after, M. John Lilburn, M. William Larnar, and M. Richard Overton, and others, about books discovering the then approching Tyrannie; whilst scandalous Pamphlets nevertheless abounded, and did the greater mischief, in that Licensers have never bin so free to pass, as good men have bin forward to compile proper and effectual answers to such books and pamphlets: And whether Tyrannie did soon follow thereupon, the courses you were forced unto in opposition, and the necessities you were put upon for your preservation, will most cleerly demonstrate. And if you, and your Army shall be pleased to look a little back upon affairs, you will find you have bin very much strengthened all along by unlicensed Printing; yea, that it hath done (with greatest danger to the doers) what it could to preserve you, when licensed did its utmost to destroy you; and we are very confident, those very excellent and necessary Votes of yours fore-mentioned, had made you a multitude of enemies, if unlicensed printing had not prepared and smoothed your way for them, whereas now they are received with great content and satisfaction.
And generally, as to the whole course of printing, as justly in our apprehensions, may Licensers be put over all publike or private Teachings, and Discourses, in Divine, Moral, Natural, Civil, or Political things, as over the Press; the liberty whereof appears so essential unto Freedom, as that without it, its impossible to preserve any Nation from being liable to the worst of bondage; for what may not be done, to that people who may not speak or write, but at the pleasure of Licensers?
As for any prejudice to Government thereby, if Government be just in its Constitution, and equal in its distributions, it will be good, if not absolutely necessary for them, to hear all voices and judgements, which they can never do, but by giving freedom to the Press; and in case any abuse their authority by scandalous Pamphlets, they will never want able Advocates to vindicate their innocency. And therefore all things being duely weighed, to refer all Books and Pamphlets to the judgement, discretion, or affection of Licensers, or to put the least restraint upon the Press, seems altogether inconsistent with the good of the Commonwealth, and expresly opposite and dangerous to the liberties of the people, and to be carefully avoided, as any other exorbitancy or prejudice in Government.
And being so, we beseech you to consider how unreasonable it is for every man or woman to be liable to punishment, penal or corporal, upon one witness in matters of this Nature, for compiling, printing, selling or dispersing of Books and Pamphlets, nay to deserve even whipping (as the last yeers Ordinance, an Engine fited to a Personal Treaty) doth provide a punishment, as we humbly conceive, fit only for slaves or bondmen. But that this honourable House, that is now by an extraordinary means freed from that major part, (which degenerating from the true Interest of the people, were the unhappy authors of that Ordinance) and reduced to that minor part, which we alwaies hoped did really oppose the same, should now approve thereof, and of all other Ordinances of like nature; and not onely so, but in cases so meerly Civil, to refer the execution thereof to a Military power: This is that which in the present sense and consequence thereof, afflicts us above measure; because according to this rule, we may we know not how soon, be reduced under a military jurisdiction, which we humbly conceive, we ought not to be, and which above any thing in this world, we shall desire in this and all other cases for ever to avoid.
And therefore we most earnestly entreat. First, That as you have voted your selves the supreme Authority, so you will exactly preserve the same entire in it self, without intermixing again with any other whatsoever.
Secondly, That you will precisely hold your selves to the supreme end, the Freedom of the People; as in other things, so in that necessary and essential part, of speaking, writing, printing, and publishing their minds freely; without seting of Masters, Tutors, and Controulers over them; and for that end, to revoke all Ordinances and Orders to the contrary.
Thirdly, That you will fix us onely in a Civil Jurisdiction, refering the Military to Act distinct, and within it self, except in cases of warlike opposition to Civil Authority.
Fourthly, That you will recal that oppressive Ordinance for Tyths, upon treble damages; that so, as we have rejoyced in the notion, we may not have cause to grieve, but to rejoyce also in the exercise of your supreme Authority; and that the whole Nation in this blessed opportunity may receive a full reward of true Freedom for its large expense of bloud and treasure, and by your Wisdom and Fidelity, be made happy to all Future Generations.
Die Jovis, January 18. 1648.
The House being informed that divers Inhabitants within the Citie of London and Borough of Southwark, were at the Dore; they were called in, and then presented a Petition to this House; which after the Petitioners were withdrawn, was read, and was entituled, The humble Petition of firm and constant friends to Parliament and Common-wealth, the Presenters and Promoters of the late large Petition of Sept. 11. 1648.
Ordered by the Commons assembled in Parliament, that the said Petition be referred to the Committee appointed yesterday to consider of Petitions of this nature.
Hen. Scobell cler. Parl. Dom. Com,
The Petitioners being again called in, M. Speaker by command of this House gave them this answer. Gentlemen, The House have read your Petition, and have referred it to a Committee to consider of the matters of consequence therein; and have taken notice of your continued good affections to this House, and they have commanded me to give you thanks for your good affections, and I do accordingly give you thanks for your good affections.
Hen. Scobell Cleric. Parl. Dom. Com.
T.175 [1649.05.05] (6.27) Anon., The humble Petition of divers wel-affected Women (5 May, 1649).
Anon., To the Supream authority of this Nation, the Commons assembled
in Parliament: The humble Petition of divers wel-affected Women inhabiting
the Cities of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamblets, and
Places adjacent; (Affecters and Approvers of the late large Petition) of
the Eleventh of September, 1648. In behalf of Lieutenant Col. John Lilburn,
Mr. William Walwyn, Mr. Thomas Prince, and Mr. Richard Overton, (now Prisoners
in the Tower of London) and Captain William Bray, Close-prisoner in Windsor-Castle;
and Mr. William Sawyer, Prisoner at White-Hall,
Imprinted at London, 1649.
5 May 1649.
TT1, p. 741; Thomason 669. f. 14. (27.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
The humble Petition of divers well-affected Women inhabiting the City of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamblets, and places adjacent, In behalf of Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburn, Mr. William Walwyn, Mr. Thomas Prince, and Mr. Richard Overton, now Prisoners in the Tower; and Captain William Bray close Prisoner in Windsor-Castle; and Mr. William Sawyer prisoner in White-hall, Affecters and Approvers of the late large Petition of the 11. of September, 1648.
THat so great is our particular sorrow and affliction under the grievous weight of the publick Calamity and distress, that with longer patience we are not able to undergo the woe and misery thereof, or longer to sit in silence; for our oppressions are too many and great for us, we are not able to bear them and live; we are even distracted in our selves, we know not which way to turn us; and if oppression make a wise man mad, how is it better to be expected from us that are the weaker vessel?
We are so over-prest, so over-whelmed in affliction, that we are not able to keep in our compass, to be bounded in the custom of our sex; for indeed we confess it is not our custom to address our selves to this House in the Publick behalf, yet considering, That we have an equal share and interest with men in the Common-wealth, and it cannot be laid waste, (as now it is) and not we be the greatest & most helpless sufferers therein; and considering that poverty, misery, and famine, like a mighty torrent, is breaking in upon us, divers already dying weekly of Famine about the City; and we are not able to see our children hang upon us, and cry out for bread, and not have wherewithall to feed them, we had rather dye then see that day; And considering that for the prevention of the publicke calamity, our husbands, our children brethren and servants, have uncessantly waited upon this House with Petitions and addresses (while we in silence have sate at home) and instead of your good acceptance thereof, their Petitions have been sleighted and rejected, some burnt by the hand of the Common Hangman, others voted treasonable and seditious, and the Authors and Promoters guilty of high Treason, and to be proceeded against as Traytors, and upon that account severall have bin fetched from their Houses in a warlick manner and imprisoned: So that our hearts are in continuall fear of our husbands, our sons or servants, while they are promoting any thing in the behalf of the Comon-wealth, or waiting upon you with petitions, that we can neither eat, nor drink in peace, or sleep in quiet, so mightily are we terrified at the hostile violence now exercised; which hath so exasperated and stird up our spirits within us, that if our husbands, sons or servants must be imprisoned and suffer as traytors for upholding the Cause of the people in their native freedom and right, we are resolved in our weak endeavours for the same ends to suffer and perish with them, not knowing what good issue God may bring out of the same: this we know that for our encouragement and example, God hath wrought many deliverances for severall Nations, from age to age by the weake-hand of women: By the counsell and presence of Deborah, and the hand of Jaell, Israell was delivered from the King of Canaan, Sisera and his mighty Host, Iudges 4. and by the British women this land was delivered from the tyranny of the Danes (who then held the same under the sword, as now is endeavoured by some Officers of the Army) and the overthrow of Episcopall tyranny in Scotland was first begun by the women of that Nation. And therefore we shall take the boldnesse to remember you;
That our Husbands, our selves and friends have done their parts for you, and thought nothing too deare and pretious in your behalf, our mony, our plate, jewels, rings, bodkins, &c. have bin offered at your feet: And God Almighty hath blest the hearty and well meant endeavours of those that have assisted you with answerable success, so that no impediment remaines but that you may remove every yoake, and make good those promises of freedom and prosperity to the Nation, by which good men were invited to your service.
Yet not withstanding we know not yet what oppression is removed, we know many that are brought upon us, yea those very particulars of tyranny that were complained of in former Rulers, and were the just cause of Gods displeasure against them, and so of their destruction; are yet practised by your selves in the Case of Lievtenant Colonel Iohn Lilburne, Master William Walwyn, Master Thomas Prince, and Master Richard Overton, as if God Almighty had now relinquished you, and did permit you to doe those things that not only contradict your selves, but pronounce your own condemnation out of your or own mouthes.
And forasmuch as the violent force and illegall proceedings upon them is every mans case, and that souldiers by the same rule may be sent we know not how soon to our own houses, to fetch our Husbands children or servants from us to the like affrightment of us and ours, as sadly befell unto these; and seeing that to this condition all are subjected by the perfect force and terror of the sword, we are even startled and stand amazed at your defection, that your hearts should be so hardened, as to justifie what the Counsel of State have done in commitment of those men who are persons that have ever manifested a most hearty affection to the peace and prosperity of the Common-wealth, and most compassionately tender and sensible of others sufferings; and this dealing with good men is but a bad requitall for the blood and treasure of the people. We have had many good words, promises and declarations from you, but where are your works? it is not your words, your declarations and acts of Parliament (as you call them) will feed or cloath us or our children, while our husbands, servants and best friends are imprisoned by your Arbitrary Warrants, while Trading is utterly driven away, all kinds of Provision for Food at a most excessive rate, multiudes ready to starve and perish for want of work, employment necessaries, and subsistance; Tythes, Excise, Monopoiles continued, to the extreme disheartning of Tillage and Trade, Taxes more and more then ever, and those rigorously executed, the Souldiers being put upon Streining for goods in case of default of paiment, that truly the lives of our selves and families are full of troubles, fear, grief, repining and anguish of Spirit; and all those our greivances we must impute to the evill use that is made of your Authority, for it is all acted upon us in your name; so that till you vindicate your selves by your good works to the People, from those ourages and cruelty of the Sword upon us, we cannot see how you can pass innocent and free from the vilest guilt.
And therefore by all the obligations that lie upon you from God, your Country, those good men that have lost or ventured their lives for you; for your own sakes and posterities, we beseech you.
That laying all self-respect and vain affectations of wealth or Greanesse aside, (wherein true happinesse indeed consists not) you would be pleased to set your selves cordially and sensibly to remove the burthens of the people, and settle this common-wealth upon foundations of true freedom, and for a present testimony of your sencere intentions therein,
That Lieut. Col. John Lilburn, M. William Wallin, M. Thomas Prince, and Mr. Richard Overton, now prisoners in the Tower, and Captain William Bray close Prisoner in Windsor Castle, and Mr. William Sawyer prisoner in White-hal, may be forthwith released, with reparation from those that have done them so much injury and damage, and in such sort as others may be careful how they exceed the bounds of Law and Reason. Also, that the Souldiers may never be authorise to intermedle in the Civill Authority, or be used but in cases of War, and forcible resistance.
And then, if any person have ought against them, we intreat they may (from first to last) be proceeded against as by the Law of the Land is already provided, and not otherwise in a tittle: Our said Friends, in our esteem, and in the apprehensions of all unbyassed men we have heard of, being so far from being guilty of Treason, that we are fully perswaded it will never go well with this Nation, either in its Peace, Freedom, or prosperity, so long as such men are so ill requited for all their pains, costs, labours and hazards in behalf of the Common wealth; nor untill their motions, counsels and propositions are better regarded; there never having been desired or offered to this House things for common good, so essentially necessary in their several seasons: as, that Petition that was burnt by the Hangman, that of the 11. of Septemb. and the Agreement of the People; the last whereof, as the finall result of the rest, we intreat may finde large encouragement from this Honourable House; that so we may speedily have a new and equall Representative.
We also intreat, that you will be pleased to declare particularly wherein the said Book laid unto their charge, tendeth to the hindrance of the relief of Ireland, or the continuance of free-quarter, or is treasonable in it self, because you have by your Declaration made the same, and the abetting thereof in any person to be no less then Treason. For our selves, not being satisfied of any such thing in the Book, and no particulars being mentioned by you, how or wherein it is treasonable, your Declaration is no other then a snare to us, our Husbands, Children and Servants, whereby unawares we may be entrapt in our discourses about any thing contained in the said Book.
Also, that you will be very wary in making any thing to be treasonable, or a capital offence, that is not essentially destructive to civil Societie: then which we know nothing more, then the exercise of an arbitrary Power, or continuance of Authoritie Civil or Military, beyond the time limited by Trust or Commission, or the perverting of either to unjust, bloudy, or ambitions ends; things which our said Friends, with others, have much complained of and for which principally we beleeve their lives are (by those that are guilty) so violently pursued, that it appeareth, there was an intent by sudden surprize in the said-night to fetch them from the Tower to White-hall there to murther them, if by the pretence of Law they could not destroy them.
So that their condition is very sad and desperate, their enemies being absolute Judges over them, masters of all power, answerers hitherto of all petitions, and directors of all things concerning their tryall, so as we are amazed to consider, which way their deliverance should come, and should despaire but but that we trust God will be pleased to raise up deliverance from amongst you, in preserving of whom you will preserve your selves, your wives, children and the whole Nation from bondage and misery, and thereby discharge a good conscience in the trust you have undertaken, and become the joy and rejoycing of your Petitioners and all well-minded people, who otherwise are like to spend their dayes in nothing but misery, bewailings and lamentations.
All those Women that are Approvers hereof, are desired to subscribe it, and to deliver in their Subscriptions to the women which will be appointed in every Ward and Division to receive the same, and to meet at Westminster Hall upon Munday the 23 of this instant April 1649, betwixt 8 and 9 of clock in the fore noon.
T.242 [1654.10.18] (7.25) Thomas Saunders, The Humble Petition of Several Colonels (18 October, 1654).
Thomas Saunders, John Okey, Matthew Alured, To His Highness the Lord Protector, etc. and our General. The Humble Petition of Several Colonels of the Army.
18 October, 1654.
TT2, p. 85; 669.f.19 (21.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
The humble Petition of several Colonels of the Army,
See the Decl. of June 14. 1647.THat as Members of the Army we have solemnly declared (not without Appeals to God for our sincerity therein) that we did engage in judgment and conscience for the just Rights and Liberties of our Country, and not as a Mercenary Army: Yet our high estimation, and tender regard of, and great confidence in your Highness, who hath engaged with us in the same Quarrel, hath made us attend in silence your Councels and Determinations to the utmost extremity.
But finding you to have been of late upon transactions of highest moment, whereupon the life or death of a good cause, and the Publike Interest of the Commonwealth doth depend; and that the price of our blood is brought to the utmost Crisis of danger, we hold our selves obliged in conscience and duty, to God, our Country, and your self, to testifie to your Highness the integrity of our hearts, in adhering to that old cause mentioned in our Publike Declarations and Engagements to the Parliament and People; and humbly to minde your Highness of the Tyranny against which we engaged, and of the Fundamental Rights and Freedomes we intended to redeem out of the Tyrants hands, with the price of our blood: And in this, we shall confine our selves to that, whereunto the whole Army by their General Councel agreed, not only before, but also after that high exemplary Justice done upon the late King for his Tyranny and Oppression.
See the Remanstrance from S. Albons, Novem. 16. 1648. p. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.And in order to bring him to Justice, we then declared his Tyranny to consist in his opposition of the Supreme Trust of Parliaments, concerning the Peoples safety in their absolute command of the Militia, when they judged it necessary, and of their purses to raise moneys, and of their Power to call all Officers of Justice, and Ministers of State to accompt, he pretending that none of these Powers might be exercised without him; and that the Peoples chosen Trustees in Parliament, could not provide for the peoples safety and welfare, but at, and according to his pleasure; and that whatsoever he did either with the Militia which he challenged, or whatsoever mischiefs against the people, neither Parliaments, or any Power on earth could call to an accompt, attach, or meddle with his Sacred Person.
P. 14, 19.And we then also declared, that the Publike Interest of Right and Freedome originally contended for by us, were constant successive Parliaments, to be freely and equally chosen by the People, as their Representors for all matters of Supreme Trust and concernment, both for safety and welfare; and that those Parliaments should have the Supreme Power and Trust in all civil things whatsoever, in making Laws, Constitutions, and Offices, and removing of any publike grievances, and in giving final judgment concerning War or Peace, and the whole safety and welfare of the People.
See p. 2.And that nothing should be imposed upon, or taken from the People, but by their Parliaments: and if any attempts be made otherwise, that the People should not he bound thereby but free.
And that no person whatsoever should be exempt from attempt unto, or punishment by the Peoples Parliaments.
That principle of the Kings unaccomptableness being the grand root of Tyranny, and declared by us, to be begotten by the blasphemom arrogancy of Tyrants, upon their servile Parasites.
Now our Consciences bearing us witness, that we have dipt our hands in blood in this cause, and that the blood of many thousands hath been therein shed by our means, we tremble and fear before the Lord, in the sence of that accompt we must render for all that precious blood, if we should by silence give away the freedome purchased for our Country at so dear a rate, or be instruments to subject the people unto the same, or the like kinde of thraldome, from which God hath delivered then by so many signal providences, (little less then Miracles.)
We having therefore seriously and sadly considered the present great transactions, and the Government, in the settlement whereof our assistance is required, and are pressed in our Consciences to declare to your Highness in all humbleness and soberness of minde, that we sadly resent the dangerous consequences of establishing that Supreme Trust of the Militia at least for the space of two years and an half of every three years in a single Person, and a Councel of his own, whom he may controul by a Negative voice at his pleasure.
And also that during the Session of Parliaments the single Persons interest therein shall be paramount to the interest of Parliaments, and this Power to be over such a Militia, as the late King durst not claim; that is to say, A standing Army, which may in a short tract of time, by the policy of any Single Person that shall succeed, be made wholly Mercenary, and be made use of to destroy at his pleasure the being of Parliaments, and render all the blood and treasure expended in this cause, not only fruitless, but us and our Posterities under an absolute Tyranny and Vassallage, both in our consciences, persons, and estates, the danger being beyond comparison higher (if any such single person be corrupt) then it could have been to have allowed the late Kings Claim to that Ancient Militia, which was, to command the Country to Array, the Arms being in the Countryes own custody, and themselves, or men of their own chusing to bear them, who had no particular interest to oblige them to obey any of the Kings illegal commands against themselves and their Country; whereas a standing Army under a single person, which in time cannot rationally be supposed to be otherwise then Mercenary, will have an interest of subsistance and preferment, in opposition to the Commonwealths Interest, to oblige them to his commands.
And many late examples have evidenced to the whole world, That such a commander of the Militia, will at his pleasure be Master of all Parliaments, Freedomes, and resolutions, and of all our Birth-Rights now purchased by our blood, especially considering, that according to that which is imposed upon the present Parliament, no Parliaments shall ever dare to propose any thing against a single persons Command of the Militia, if he should refuse, during their Session, to dispose the same as they shall advise:
So that whatsoever provisions are seemingly made, either for just liberty of conscience, or for securing the property of our persons, or estates, they are all made void secretly in this, and subjected only to the mercy and will of any succeeding single person, whose heart may be corrupted with ambition, covetousness, lust, pride, or desire of Domination.
And upon the same accompt we are sensible, that the next greatest Part of the Publike Interest engaged for, which is the Legislative Power in Parliaments to make or repeal Lawes, constitute Offices, and to make War or Peace, even this shall depend upon the will and pleasure of the single person: for he still not only have a challenge of a share in the Legislative Power, but an absolute Negative Voice to all Bills containing any thing in them contrary to the matters contained in the Government; under which pretence, a corrupted single Person may, under a colour of Right, prevent any Bill passing into a Law, by averring,See the Government, Article 24. that somthing therein is contraryto the Government: But if any Bill whatsoever pass into a Law, without the single Persons consent, it must be by the Parliaments Declaration against him, that he is obstinate, and will not consent to the Bill, though he cannot satisfie them why he should not; and how probable it is, that the Parliament shall dare to declare in such manner against him that hath the Command of thirty thousand men obliged to him for their pay and preferment, we conceive every considerate man may judg: And besides, how dangerous a clog this will be upon the Power of Parliaments, when no Law can be made without the single Persons consent, without hazard of a War, by so declaring against him, as must render him odious to the people, which is not to be supposed will be born by him.
And how little less this is in effect then an absolute Negative Voice, (the opposing whereof in the late King, cost so much blood) is not hard to judg.
And if the single Person should attempt the highest Tyranny upon the People, such is the Power vested in him, and in such a manner, that the Parliament cannot execute Justice upon him according to his Demerits, unless it shall be supposed, that contrary to nature, he shall assent to have Justice done upon himself; for the Parliament cannot by the Government make a Law to take away the Command of the Militia from the single Person without his own consent, and how then can they proceed to higher Acts of Justice against him, if cause be? But indeed the Power vested in him, renders him able to protect himself from Justice, as the late King might have done,See the Remonstrance of Novemb. 1648. From S. Albons. (speaking as men) if he had been guarded by a standing Army, payed, and preferred by him, and the honest People, without any formed Forces or Arms, as now. And this, we conceive, to be of perpetual prejudice to the Publike Interest, for which we engaged. For the power of punishment, and the subjection of every person unto Justice, is that essential part of Publike Interest, which is the Fence and Guard of all the rest in the depraved estate of mankinde.
See the Government, Article 27.And in regard of our former asserting that Ancient Freedome of our Country that no moneys should be levied upon them, but by Parliaments: We sadly apprehend the evil consequences that may ensue upon the Power of the said Protector, and his Councel, to levy upon the people so much moneys, as will maintain a Fleet and an Army of 30000. men, and 200000 l. per annum over and above, that the way of levying the same must not be altered, but by the consent of the succeeding Protectors.
Now having in our deepest thoughts conscientiously weighed the Premises, calling to minde our former Declarations to the People, with our Protestations and Appeals to God in our streights, That we did in the integrity of our hearts, seek only the security of the Publike Interest of Right and Freedome, and not the advancement of our selves, or any particular party or interest; and considering, that we have born up the Name of God in our Undertakings, and have done all in his Name; and finding in our apprehensions the Publike Interest of Right and Freedome so far from security, that the first Foundations thereof are unsetled, and the Gates are open, that may lead us into endless troubles and hazards, the Government not being clearly setled, either upon the bottom of the Peoples Consent, Trust, or Contract, nor a Right of Conquest, the honest People of England not being conquered, nor upon an immediate divine designation; and our ears being filled daily with taunts, reproaches, and scandals, upon the profession of honesty, under colour that we have pretended the Freedomes of our Country, and made large professions against seeking our private interests, while we intented only to set up our selves.
These things thus meeting together, do fill our hearts with trouble and sadness, and make us cautious of taking upon our selves rashly any new Engagements, although none shall more faithfully serve your Highness in all just designs then your Petitioners: And we are hereby enforced to make this humble Address, and to pray your Highness most serious thoughts of that high price of blood and treasure which the Commonwealth hath paid for it’s Right and Freedom, which was naturally and morally due unto it before, and of the accompt that must be given to the dreadful God for all the blood we have shed; and that we can be deemed no better then Murderers, if the integrity of our hearts in the prosecution of the just ends of the War, do not render us justifiable therein: and to the intent, that the whole Publike Interest contended for, may be certainly secured to the People, and our Consciences discharged in that great duty: That a full and truly free Parliament may without any imposition upon their Judgments and Consciences, freely consider of those Fundamental Rights and Freedomes of the Commonwealth, that were the first Subject of this great Contest, which God hath decided on our side, according as the same have been proposed to the late Parliament by the General Councel of the Army, in the Agreement of the People, which remains there upon Record: That by the assistance and direction of God they may settle the Government of the Commonwealth, and the wayes of Administration of Justice, and secure our dearly-bought freedome of our Consciences, persons, and estates, against all future attempts of tyranny; and such a settlement will stand upon a Basis undoubtedly just by the Laws of God and man; and therefore more likely to continue to us and our Posterities: And in your Highness prosecution of these great ends of the expence of all the blood and treasure in these three Nations, your Petitioners shall freely hazard their lives and estates in your just defence.
And shall ever pray, &c.
This Petition was subscribed and owned by these three, and had been by many more Colonels of the Army, if the Lord Protector had not upon search of Col. Allureds Chamber taken it away, and imprisoned him for two daies, whereby any further Subscriptions were prevented.
T.103 [1647.07.17] (4.11) [Richard Overton], An Appeale from the degenerate Representative Body the Commons of England assembled at Westminster (17 July 1647).
[Richard Overton], An Appeale from the degenerate Representative Body the Commons of England assembled at Westminster: To the Body Represented, The free people in general of the several Counties, Cities, Townes, Burroughs, and places within this Kingdome of England, and Dominion of Wales. And in especiall, To his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax (Captaine Generall) and to all the Officers and Souldiers under his Command. By Richard Overton, Prisoner in the infamous Goale of Newgate, for the Liberties and Freedomes of England.
2. Cor. 10. 16. And when all Israel saw (as now England seeth doth the Parliament) that the King would not hearken unto them, the people answered the King, saying, What portion have we in David? And we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse: Every man unto his tents, O Israel, and now David, see to thine owne house: [so all Israel went to their tents.]
Cap. 11.4. Thus saith the Lord, yee shall not goe up nor fight against your brethren, returne every man to his house, for this thing is done of me: [And they obeyed the words of the Lord, and returned from going against Jeroboam.]
London, Printed in the yeare, 1647.
This tract contains the following parts:
17 July 1647.
TT1, p. 533; Thomason E. 398. (28.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
FROM THE DEGENERATE
REPRESENTATIVE BODY OF
the Commons of England Assembled
To the Body Represented,
The free people in Generall of the severall Counties, Cities, Townes, Burroughes and Places within this Kingdom of England, and Dominion of Wales.
And in especiall,
To His Excellency, Sir Thomas Fairfax (captaine Generall) and to all the Officers and Soldiers under His Command.
Right Excellent and Illustrious Generall, Honourable and Noble Officers, Faithfull and honest Gentlemen Soldiers, And all other duly respected Fellow Subjects, and free Commoners, of Wales.
This Kingdome of England, and Dominion of Wales.
It is confessed, that our English Histories and Records of the Actions and Transactions of our Predecessours, both of antient and late times, (so far as I can understand) do not afford me any example or president for any APPEALE from Parliaments to people, neither is there any such liberty provided in the Letter of our law: So that by such as preferre presidents and formalities, formes and figures, before the substance, life and spirit of all just presidents and Lawes, I may probably be censured and condemned for this present enterprize, as an open and desperate enemy to Parliaments and Magistracy, a subverter and destroyer of all Nationall Lawes and Government, and a reducer (to my power) of Kingdomes and people into confusion: To such I shall returne even the late words of (our now degenerate Parliament) That Reason hath no president, for Reason is the fountaine of all just presidents, I Book Decl. fol. 264.298. 709. 726. therefore where that is, there is a sufficient and justifiable president.
And if this Principle must be granted of, and obeyed by all, as by no rationall man can bee denyed, then the Act of Appeale in this nature if grounded upon right Reason is justifiable and warranted, even by That which gives an equitable Authority, life and being to all just Lawes, presidents and formes of Government whatsoever, for Reason is their very life and spirit, whereby they are all made lawfull and warrantable both for Settlement, Administration and Obedience; which is the highest kind of justification and Authority for humaine Actions that can be; for greater is that, which gives Being and justifieth, then that which receiveth and is justified: All Formes of Lawes and Governments may fall and passe away; but right Reason (the fountain of all justice and mercy to the creature) shall and will endure for ever; it is that by which in all our Actions wee must stand or fall, be justified or condemned; for neither Morality nor Divinity amongst Men can or may transgresse the limits of right reason, for whatsoever is unreasonable cannot be justly tearmed Morall or Divine, and right reason is only commensurable and discernable by the rule of merciful justice and just mercy; it is graduall in its Quantity, but one in its Quality; severall are its Degrees, but its perfection and fulnesse is only in God, and its several Branches and Degrees are only communicable, and derivated from Him, as severall Beames and Degrees of heat from the Body of the Sunne, yet all heat; so in Reason there are different degrees, as, from Morality to Divinity, and under those two heads, severall subordinate Degrees, all derivated and conveyed from the Creator (the originall Fountaine) to the creature, yet all one and the same in nature, the difference only lying in the degree of the thing, not in the thing it selfe; as, a Dwarfe is as much a man as a Gyant, though not so bigge a man; and so, though the gifts and graces of God are one radically, yet different in their species, and all from one and the same spirit, which can Act nothing contrary to its owne nature, and God is not a God of irrationality, and madnesse, or tryranny: Therefore all his communications are reasonable and just, and what is so, is of God.
And upon this Principle, as upon a firme and sure foundation all just Lawes and Governments are founded and erected; and in particular, the fundamentall Lawes and Government of this Kingdome; for, it is a sure and radicall Maxime in our Law, Nihil quod est contra rationem, est licium, Nothing which is against reason is lawfull, Reason being the very life of the Law of our Land: So that should the Law be taken away from its Originall reason and end, it would be made a shell without a kernill, a shadow without substance, a carkasse without life, which presently turnes to putrifaction; and as Reason only gives it a legall Being and life, so it only makes it authoritive and binding; if this be not granted, lust, will, pride, and what the Divell and corruption will, may be a Law; for if right reason be not the only being and bounder of the Law over the corrupt nature of man, that what is rationall (the which injustice and tyranny cannot be) may only and at all times be legall; and what is legall, to be simply and purely rationall, the which mercy and justice must be whensoever, wheresoever, and by whomsoever it be, for in it selfe it is legall, rationall and just, or else all would fall into confusion, disorder, madnesse and cruelty: and so Magistracie would cease, and be converted into inhumanity and tyranny.
So that it being most evident and cleare to the eye of Rationall Man, that this fundamental principle may not (in being to Magistracy it selfe) be expulsed the precincts of Magisteriall Government, but must be preserved (as the apple of its eye) intire and absolute therein, for all present and future supplies, as a sure and safe refuge to fly to in all straites and extremities whatsoever for preservation, safety, removall of oppressions, &c. or else no safety or reliefe from oppression either publique or private, to be lawfully attempted, pursued, or had: So that where that principle is, there legality and authority must be, and is concomitant to, and inseperable there-from, never to be altered while the Sun and the Moone endures; by it Kings and Kingdoms have their essentiall legall Being, without which they cease from being either Kings or Kingdomes. Therefore, that which doth institute, constitute, and authorize the regality of Kings and Kingdomes, certainly must needs be sufficiently authoritive for a particular, as for this expedient of mine, or the like, in case it be found under the protection and authority of the said principle of right Reason; as, I shall clearely evidence it to be.
First then, be pleased to consider, that it is a firme Law and radicall principle in Nature engraven in the tables of the heart by the finger of God in creation for every living moving thing, wherein there is the breath of life to defend, preserve, award, and deliver it selfe from all things hurtfull, destructive and obnoctious thereto to the utmost of its power: Therefore from hence is conveyed to all men in generall, and to every man in particular, an undoubted principle of reason, by all rationall and iust wayes and meanes possibly he may, to save, defend and deliver himselfe from all oppression, violence and cruelty whatsoever, and (in duty to his own safety and being) to leave no iust expedient unattempted for his delivery therefrom: and this is rationall and iust; to deny it, is to overture the law of nature, yea, and of Religion too; for the contrary lets in nothing but selfe murther, violence and cruelty. Now the unreasonable oppression of my selfe, my wife, brother and children, under the Arbitrary tyranny of the Westminster Lords, and the wayes and means that I have used for delivery therefrom considered, and weighed in the ballance of this naturall radicall principle of reason, this mine attempt of Appeale (though of a desparate nature) will be found the only meane wherein I may discerne any probability of reliefe for my selfe, my wife and my brother, to be brought unto iustice, as by and by I shall make both the one and the other more manifest and plaine.
Secondly, necessity is a law above all lawes, and this principle conveyeth and issueth forth authority and power, both to generall and particular cases, even to the taking up of unusuall and unexemplary courses for publique and particular deliverances, and yet such acts warrantable in, and by all sorts and societies of people whatsoever, and the actor, or actors thereof justified thereby: And upon this Principle, the Neitherlanders made an hostile defence and resistance against the King, of Spaine, their then Soveraign Lord, for the recovery of their just rights and freedomes; And upon the same point rose the Scotch up in Armes, and entrcd this Kingdome, without all formall countenance or allowance of King or Parliament, and were justified for that very act by this present Parliament. Yea, and even this Parliament upon the same principle, tooke up Armes against the King. And now (right worthy patriots of the Army) you your selves upon the same principle, for recovery of common right and freedome, have entered upon this your present honourable and Solemne Engagement, against the oppressing party at Westminster, and plead yourselves justifiable thereby, and tell them in the fifth pag. of your Declaration, That the Parliament hath declared it no resistance of Magistracie to side with the just principles and law of nature and nations, being that law upon which you have assisted them. So that if I be condemned for a Traytor by all or any of you, whether Scotch, Parliament or Army, for proceeding upon the said iust principles and law of nature, for common right and freedom, I tell you plainly, that out of your owne mouthes you shall be judged no less Traytors then my selfe, yea, allowers of that in your selves, which for treason you condemn in others: And if I suffer death by any party of you, all and every such person and persons, deserves to be hang’d, drawn, and quartered for Traytors by the same law, for if it be just against the one, it is also just against the Other, for iustice is no respecter of persons.
Now concerning my necessity to this course for reliefe, I shall by and by make evident and plaine to every common capacity; which being made evident, your Excellency, with the Officers and Soldiers under your command, are bound to endeavour my protection and safety (to your power) with your own in this enterprize of mine, undertaken upon your own principle for common right and freedome, and as well may you deliver one another up to the Gallowes, for this present Solemne Engagement of yours, as not visibly appeare in my vindication and justification together with your own, proceeding upon the very same principle with your selves for the same end.
Thirdly, The equity of the Law is Superiour to the Letter, the Letter being subordinate and subject thereto, and looke how much the Letter transgresseth the equity, even so much it is unequalle, of no validity and force: Yea, if the Law should comptroule and overthrow the equity, it is to be comptrouled and overthrowne it selfe, and the equity to be preserved as the thing, only legally, obligatory and binding. And by this principle (worthy Officers and Soldiers) you have charged the Parliament from their own Declarations to warrant this your present Expedition as in the 4 page of your own Declaration, is made manifest: To which principle, together with your selves, and with them I lay claime to a title for an equall justification and protection from the Letter of the Law, with the edge of that Sword (which both Parliament and Armie by that principle award from themselves) may not be sheathed in my bowells for though I am prisoner in the hands of mine enemies, yet can I not be condemned of them for this enterprize, without their owne condemnation of themselves in theirs against the King. So that in this act I do not outstrip the protection of that, which themselves have declared authorative against the letter of the Law, but am in all iustice and reason as iustifiable as themselves; or as this present Army in either or both their Engagements.
Fourthly, All betrusted powers if forfeit, fall into the hands of the betrusters, as their proper centure: and where such a forfeit is committed, there it disoblegeth from obedience, and warranteth an Appeale to the Betrusters, without any contempt or disobedience, to the powers in the least; for such an Appeale in that case is not at all from the power, but from the persons, not forsaking the power, but following of it in its retreat to the Fountaine. For as formerly the Parliament averred, and as now this honourable Army assumeth (Armie Declaration, pag. 4) All authority is fundamentally seated in the office, and but ministerially in the persons; therefore, the persons in their Ministrations degenerating from safety to tyranny, their Authority ceaseth and is only to be found in the fundamentall originall, rise and situation thereof, which is the people the body represented; for though it ceaseth from the hands of the betrusted, yet it doth not, neither can it cease from its being, for Kings, Parliaments, &c. may fall from it, but it indureth for ever, for were not this admitted, there could be no lawfull redresse in extremity, yea, magistracy it selfe should be transitory and fading like, as is corruption, of no certaine duration or moment, but it is unchangeable and certaine, man perisheth but it indureth: it alwayes is either in the hands of the Betrusted or of the Betrusters, while the Betrusted are dischargers of their trust, it remaineth in their hands, but no sooner the Betrusted betray and forfeit their Trust, but (as all things else in dissolution) it returneth from whence it came, even to the hands of the Trusters: For all iust humaine powers are but betrusted, confer’d and conveyed by ioynt and common consent, for to every individuall in nature, is given an individuall propriety by nature, not to be invaded or usurped by any, (as in mine Arrow against tyranny is proved and discovered more at large) for every one as he is himselfe hath a selfe propriety, else could not be himselfe, and on this no second may presume without consent; and by naturall birth, all men are equall and alike borne to like propriety and freedome, every man by naturall instinct aiming at his owne safety and weale: And so it is, that there is a generall communication amongst men from their severall innate properties to their Elected Deputies for their better Being, Discipline, Government, Property, and Safety.
Now as no man by nature may abuse, beat, torment or afflict himself, so by nature no man may give that power to another, seeing he may not doe it himselfe, for no more can be communicated to the generall, then is included in the particulars whereof the generall is compounded; for that were to goe beyond it selfe, for Being to goe beyond the power of being, which is impossible. So that if the betrusted act not for the weal and safety of the betrusters, they depart from their iust power, and act by another, which cannot be tearmed either humaine or divine, but unnaturall and divellish, rendring such usurpers as Monsters amongst men. Now these premises considered, I doe confidently conclude (if confidence may be derived from the iust principles of nature) that the transgression of our weal by our trustees, is an utter forfeiture of their trust, and cessation of their power: Therefore, if I prove a forfeiture of the peoples trust in the prevalent party at Westminster in Parliament assembled then an Appeal from them to the people is not Anti-parliamentary, Anti-magesteriall, not from that Soveraign power, but to that Soveraign power. For the evidence whereof I shall first present a discovery of their dealings with me, relating to the publique, and then their common course to the generall.
First then briefly concerning my selfe, upon the 11. of August 1646. the House of Lords sent (without any summons or other due processe for appearance) their Emisaries with a file of Musqueteers who beset mine house and entred the same, one with his drawn sword, and another with a Pistoll ready cock’d in his hand, and surprized me in my bed without any appearance or shew of any warrant eitheir legall or illegall, and in that warlike manner being led, and brought before a Committee of the said house, and afterwards before the house, where being put High Commission like to answer to Interrogatories against my selfe, the which I refusing to answer, & not being willing to yeeld my right as a Comoner into their prerogative clutches, I appealed from them being mine improper incompetent judges, unto the House of Commons, my legall Peers and Equalls, as by the great Charter of England I was bound, which in severall late printed papers I have made evident and clear to the view of all men, I was under pretence of contempt in word and gesture against that house, and for refusing to answer Interrogatories committed to Newgate, there to be kept till their Lordships pleasure should be further signified. And afterwards the House of Comons receiving mine Appeale, I was turned over with mine honoured friend and fellow sufferer in the said cause Lieut. Col. John Lilburn, unto the Committee for consideration of the Commoners Liberties, Mr. Henry Martin possessing the Chair, before whom in our contest betwixt the Lords about the right and freedome of the Commons of England; upon examination of the jurisdiction and prerogative of the one, the right and propertie of the other, we were both found illegally imprisoned, and that Act of the Lords desperate invasion and intrusion upon the Commoners freedoms, and our selves as legally free, as if no such arbitrary warrants had been issued forth against us. Whereupon in contempt and defiance of the Arbitrary domination of the Lords over the Commons, scorning to dance attendance any longer after their arbitrary warrants, resolved that as their Lordships found warrants, so should their Lordships find leggs to obey them, for being free from their arbitrary jurisdiction from the crown of my head, to the sole of my foot, mine should not dance after their pipe. Whereupon I was most incivilly and inhumanely dragged to Newgate headlong through the streets upon the stones through all the dirt and the mire, and being reviled, otherwise abused and beat, I was thrown into the common Gaole amongst Rogues and Fellons, and laid in double Irons. And since this time which was the 3. of November 1646 to this present 8 of Iuly. 1647. I could not prevaile with the Chair-man to make my report unto the House thereby to obtaine any reliefe. But as I am informed, that worthy Gentleman hath neither to been necessitated and inforced to forbearance through an absolute indisposition to iustice in the house, by the prevalency of a powerfull faction therein, though for my part I have been ever utterly averse to that lingring prudence, and have earnestly solicited the contrary, let the issue fall with me or against me.
Further, the tyranny of these Lords not ceasing here against me, they send their Catch poules to my house againe, where finding my wife in with her three small Children about her, tooke her and my brother away and brought them before the Lords prerogative Barre, rifled, plundered, and ransacked mine house exposing my 3. helplesse small children to the streets, and all this before any indictment, presentment, or other due processe of law preceeding. And by reason my wife would not be subiect to the arbitrary and diabolicall accustomary proceedings of that house, to answer to interrogatories, or to make oath against her husband or her selfe, concerning his or her life, liberty or goods, was, together with my brother, himselfe also refusing subjection to the said illegall procedings committed during pleasure to the New prison in Maiden lane, where ever since he hath continued in miserable durance and opression.
And then under the colour of another Order from the said house, most inhumanely and barbarously they dragged her away from that prison, with her tender infant of halfe a yeares of age in her armes headlong upon the stones, through the streets, in the dirt and mire, reviling and abusing her by the way with the scurielous names of Whore Strumpet, &c. and then not allowing her so much humane compassion, as might have been justly expected even from Turks, Infidels and Pagans they denyed her the mercy to be imprisoned with her husband, which either grace or nature might have taught them in the height of their Arbitrary passion, had they the least spark either of the one or the other in them, but as persons voyd of both, without all respect to the Law of God, or of Nature they violently divided her from mee, and in the foresaid most contemptible manner threw her into the filthy Gaole of Bridewell, that common shore, center and receptacle of Baudes, Whores, Pick-pockets &c. though for her own part shee never was, nor ever could be so much as taxed of the least in civility or immodesty either in countenance, word, action or gesture all the dayes of her life, but alwayes lived in all honest and godly conversation; in which infamous place shee hath ever since bin kept in cruel restraint, not permitting her to have the liberty to visite her husband, or to enjoy the comfort of her children about her, or to go a little abroad a with Keeper to take the fresh ayre, though for the want thereof her life hath been visibly and palpably endangered (a benefit ordinarily allowed to Whores and Pick-pockets imprisoned there) though unreasonable Gratuity, and extraordinary Surety was offered therefore to the Keepers. And in this our unnaturall and cruell division in three severall prisons, my selfe in one, my wife in another, my brother in the third, and my three children exposed to the mercy of the wide world; and our selves deprived of all meanes and wayes by industry to procure any livelihood, and all that we had for our subsistance and reliefe seised upon without all lawfull judgement, verdict of our equalls, Indictment, or other due processe of Law preceeding contrary to the Fundamentall Laws of the Kingdom, and under this unreasonable oppression & crueltie without the value of one halfe-peny from the Lords for reliefe, wee are forcibly kept at an extraordinary charge, in those their severall starving, stincking murthering Prison-houses, seven shillings being exacted and extorted weekly for my lodging, three shillings and six pence for my wifes, foure shillings for my brothers, besides the charge of subsistance for us and our children. And being reduced to this miserable condition, I prepared a Petition and Appeale (since published in print) in the behalfe of my wife and brother to the House of Commons, which for the better credence of our miserable condition, was presented by a competent number of women but notwithstanding all the agitation and sollicitation that we could use, an admission thereof into the House (so much as to be read) could not, nor can hitherto be obtained, & all through the prevalent power of a confederate Faction in the House, obstructing all reliefe and redresse of the people; so that, by that deluding over voting party in the House I am deprived and bereft of all meanes and hope of redresse whatsoever: the cause of Lieu. Col. John Lilb. and mine betwixt us as Commoners, and the jurisdiction of the Lords, as Lords depending upon the Determination of Parliament which so far as in the eye of reason we can judge, will never be till this House either be purged of the factious party therein, or else a new Parliament called. And the case being so with us, that betwixt Cannot and Will not, no right or justice can be had for us either from King, Parliament, or any Court of justice in the Kingdome whatsoever, and being not able to see my selfe, my wife brother and children perish under hopelesse & endlesse expectation of mercy from the hands of mine enemies, I Am forced to this desperate Attempt for finall destruction or present release, for on deliverance I am resolved by life or death if possibly I may, a sudden death to me being better and rather to be chosen then lingring destruction, the latter being so much the more terrible and cruell, by how much the more tedious then present.
Now therefore being driven thus to this desperate necessity and pinch; and further, the Parliament themselves having declared, that it is the liberty of every subject to enjoy the benefit of the Law and not arbitrarily and illegally be committed to prison, nor to have his or their lives, liberties, goods or estates disseased or taken away, but only by due processe of Law, according to Magna Charta, and the Petition of Right, which condemnes all High Commission like Interrigatory proceedings in a mans owne cause, enjoyning speedy Trialls for all causes whatsoever, without any intermission or obstruction to the due course or processe of Law. 1 part. Book Decl. p. 6, 7, 38, 77, 201, 277, 268, 458, 459, 660, 845. But being utterly denyed the Benefit of the Law of the Land, and of the just Declarations of Parliament through an obstructing party in the House: I must therefore, and do hereby in pursuance of my own safety (a principle warranted by the Parliaments owne Declaration to every particular man to provide for, even from the very Law of Nature, 1. part. Book Decl. p. 44 and p. 728.) make mine Appeale, and doe by these presents Actually and formally APPEALE from and against the Members Representative (as in their present mixture with, and continuance of Traytors and Tyrants) assembled at Westminster unto the Body Represented, (the true originall Soveraigne Authority of Parliaments) the free borne Commoners within this Kingdom of England, and Dominion of Wales for protection and reliefe against those obstructers of justice and judgement to wit, Denzil Hollis, Sir Phil. Stapleton, Sir Wil. Lewis, Sir John Maynard, Major Generall Massey, Mr. Glyn, Recorder of London, and from & against al other their Accomplices & Confederates members in the House of Commons, and charged, June 4. 1647 with High Treason against the Fundamentall Lawes, Rights and Liberties of the Commons of England, by His Excellency, Sir Thomas Fairfax and the Officers and Soldiers under his Command to be prosecuted in behalfe of themselves and the whole Kingdom. In this my Appeale craving no other benefit for my selfe, my wife and my brother, but a speedy deliverance from our severall respective Imprisonments till such times as the House shall be purged and cleansed from those corrupt and putrified members, (the obstructers and perverters of common right and freedom in the House, that I may not be passed upon, or judged in point of publique liberty and freedome, wherein every free commoners right interest and freedome is included by such as are open and declared enemies thereto, for it is most unreasonable and unjust that I should be subjected to the Arbitriment and Determination of mine and the Kingdomes enemies, for in so doing I should not only yeeld up my selfe to destruction, but therein betray the Commoners right and freedom (for which I have thus long contended) now at the last to be delivered up in my condemnation by those men to the Arbitrary jurisdiction of the Lords: For should my cause be overthrowne by the voyce of the oppressour, and this kind of exorbitant Domination setled and entailed to the Prerogative of the Lords, then the lives, persons and estates of the Commoners of England would all be laid waste to the wiles and pleasures of those prerogative usurpers; our lives; our wives, our persons and estates to be deprived, divorsed, imprisoned, & plundered at pleasure, not to be our own any longer, but theirs. And therefore the case being thus in the House and with mee, and in mine, with the Commons of England, I shall and do from henceforth utterly disclaime and renounce all triall and judgement by the degenerate Members Assembled therein, & shall hold all Orders and Ordinances whatsoever proceeding from them, though under the name of the two Houses of Parliament assembled at Westminster, as altogether invallid, and void of all Parliamentory authority and power, not obligatory or binding at all to the people, but to bee opposed and resisted to the death as counterfeit Orders and Ordinances, abusing the name and authority of Parliament, for it is no priviledge of Parliament for Traytors and Tyrants to fit and make Orders and Ordinances of Parliament, and then to publish them under the guize and vizor of that Soveraigne Authority no more then it is for any person to coyne or counterfeit the Image and superscription of the King, for Treason and Tyranny are inconsistent with the Being and priviledge of Parliament; for it is not their sitting upon the benches, or standing within the wals of that House which makes them Parliament men, or their Orders or Ordinances Parliamentory, authoritive and binding, but the discharging of their trust in moving and acting only for the weale and safety of the people [as] I their impowrers and trusters barely for that end. So that in deed and in truth that cannot bee said, or ought to bee reputed an Order or Ordinance of Parliament, which is contrary to their trust and the end of their Election and Session, for being our Parliament Deputys, doth not invest them with a Priviledge to destroy or save as at their pleasure, and to do with us as they list, we cannot do so with our selves, our power over our selves is but for our safety; therefore how can theirs which are but our deputies be for our woe.
Wherfore, so long as those Traytors to their Trust are not removed from their Session, but continued therin, over-powring and over-voting the dischargers of their Trust even so long they are in the maine degenerate from the naturall Essence and Being of the Parliament of England, for if the major part be fallen into the capacity of Tyrants and Traytors, sure their Parliamentary Being is therewith defunct and deceased.
For how can it in that capacity be tituled the Parliament of England? have they not in that degeneration devested and degraded themselves from their betrusted authority of the people, and become no longer their representory Deputies, or Trustees, except tyranny and oppression be the very substance and end of their Trust? certainly tyrants and oppressors cannot be the Representers of the Free-men of England, for freedom and tyranny are contraries, that which representeth the one, doth not represent the other; therefore such as are the representers of Free-men, must be substantial and reall Actors for freedome and liberty, for such as is the represented, such and no other must the figure or representation be, such as is the proportion, countenance and favour of the man, such and so must be the picture of the man, or else it cannot be the picture of that man, but of some other, or of something else, as the picture of a grim, meager, frowning face is, not the picture of an amiable, friendly smiling countenance; so tyranny neither is nor can possibly be the Representor of Freedome; therfore, though such in the House were once otherwise by their election, yet now they have changed themselves into a contrary capacity, and are so to be reputed and esteemed off; and I for my part do so, and no otherwise esteem of them, and do hereby proclaime and protest against them to all the free-men of England and Dominion of Wales, as so many traytors to the safety and weale of the people, both the eleven Members that are charged, and all such as are coactours and voters with them in further oppressions and tyrannies, over-swaying and bearing downe the voters for freedome and justice; imploring and beseeching all lovers of freedome and justice within His Majesties Dominions of England and Wales, as one man to rise up in the cause of the Army for the removall of those obstructors and traytors, and the bringing of them to a speedy and legall triall, that the wicked may be taken from before the face of the King, that his Throne may be established in righteousnesse and judgement, the liberty and freedom of the people recovered from the hands of oppressors and tyrants, and the Kingdom setled in peace and tranquillity, which only is, and ever shall be the prayers and endevours of your Appellant.
Now for the further clearing and making good of mine Appeal, I shal (as I promised before) briefly touch the accustomary course of their oppressive tyrannous cariage to the generality, whereby their degenerate state and capacity will more clearly appeare. But for brevity sake I shall omit the severall new oppressions, exactions and burthens wherewith the people are loaded every where, even till their backs are ready to break as everyman by woful experience can witnesse; and shall only relate to the maine & principall end of their Election and Session, which is for bearing the cries and groanes of the people, redressing and easing their grievances: And as touching this matter, this is their course, in stead of Reliefe for oppression, themselves do oppresse, and which is worst, then stop the mouthes of the oppressed; crutiate and torment, and not suffer the tormented to complain, but even torment them for complaining, sleight, reject and crush their Just and necessary Petitions, which is the highest kind of tyranny in the world, shut their doores and eares against the cry of the people, both of Country and City, yea, though the burthens of the oppressed are so great, that multitudes in a peaceable manner have attended the House daily with Petitions for no other thing, then for the Removall of oppression, and recovery of freedome, according to the fundamentall Lawes of this Kingdom, which they often Declared, covenanted, protested, and sworne with hands lifted up to the most high God to performe faithfully and truly.
Yet these very men contrary to their many Oathes, Covenants, Declarations, Vowes and Protestations, call the Petitioners Rogues, Villains, seditious, factious fellowes, and bid a pox of God on them, offer to draw their Swords at them, lift up their Canes at them in a menacing manner, shake them by the shoulders, and otherwise abuse them, and not only so; but imprison some of them, as Mr. Nicholas Tew, Mr. Browne, and Major Tuliday, the two first of them Prisoners to this houre, the third under Bayle; and they stay not here, but their arogance mounts higher and higher, even vote their Petitions Seditious, breach of their Priviledges, and cause them to be burnt by the hand of the Common hang man, (Missing side note: See the declaration at large in L. Col. Lil. late book intitled Rash Barbes unwarrantable.) even such petitions wherein was contained the Liberties and freedomes of the Commons of England, and no jot of anything either in word or circumstance that was not just, honest and reasonable, and their sworn duties to performe, and for which was, and is, the very end of their Election and Session to, and in the capacitie of Parliament: Yet these matters, even the Rights and freedomes of the people are rendred matters of Sedition, and to be set on fire and burnt, and that in the most contemptible manner, by the hands of the Common hangman: O most unheard of, unparaleld Treasonl heare O Heavens and judge Oh ye free Commoners of England, &c. where, and what is become of your Lawes, & libertyes: thus would they doe with your persons, even burne them by the hand of the Common hangman, had they but as much power over them as they have over your petitions and papers, and virtually they have don noe lesse for essentally and really they have burnt the Great Charter of England, for in those petitions were contained the cheifest heads of that Charter, by virtue whereof you hold your very lives, liberties, & goods, so that in that Act they did as much as in them lay, set all England on fire, burne and destroy all the lawes, Rights and liberties there of; and if this bee not High Treason, and an open and visible forfeiture of their Parliamentory Being and trust, I would faine know what is: I could adde unto this, their Declaration against the Army, stiling their petition (which was honest just and reasonable and their dutys to grant them effectually,) to be a dangerous petition, and all such to bee enemies to the state and disturbers of the publick Peace as proceeded therein making it enmity to the State, and disturbance of the publicke PEACE, humbly to Petition for the price of their Blood, and Sweat of their Brows, so dearly earned in the purchase of their and our safeties and freedome: and to this I could adde their setling the Militia into the hands of men of their owne faction in the City of London and in other parts of the Kingdome for the violent setlement of their owne pernitious tyrannicall ends, with multitude of other impieties, and cruelties, treacherous and treasonable acts and proceedings against the freedomes of the people, but for brevity sake at this present I shall commend to your pervsall and weighty consideration a most excellent and worthy treatise, intituled Plain truth without Feare, or Flatery, written (as the Title declares) by AMON WILBEE. the contents whereof, as concerning the traitorous partie in the House, I doe hereby actually lay unto their charge, to make them good against that partie upon the perill of my life, and concerning the equity and truth of the Charge therein contain’d against Denzill Hollis & the rest of that traiterous Faction I doe account it and owne it as if writ by my self, though for my part I do seriously professe unto the world that I was till I read it as ignorant of the writing composeing printing publishing or Author thereof as the Child that is unborne, yet such is the equity, honesty and truth thereof that had, I ten thousand lives, I would engage them all for the justification and maintenance thereof, and this will I say concerning that AUTHOR, that He deserves to weare the LAURELL from all that have writ (in that observant natture) since the Parliament began. The matters therein considered together with their desperate suppression of the petitionary endeavours of the well affected of London, besides their slighting, rejecting and refusing all other Petitions of the oppressed inslaved Countries, as from Buckinghamshire, Hartfordshire, &c. Except from Parties which co-operate for the advancement of the Prerogative and priviledge Faction, all others being fob’d off, with a Complementall acknowledgement of the good affections of the Petitioners, and with a Verball returne of thankes, and that the House would take their businesse into further consideration, or the like; which being all, and the most that ever could be obtained from them; when their Aspect was most indulgent towards US, and fairest for our Liberties, I say, those their Treasonable proceedings, Oppressions, and Tyranies duly weighed and considered, how can still their PARLIAMENTARY Being, and Station be granted? If it bee, sure it must bee pictured with the Heeles upward, for I may as well bee parswaded out of my Christen-Name, as made to beleive, it stands derect upon its feete; When I see it plainely reversed before mine eyes, for I shall never while I enjoy my senses, bee so stupid and blockish, to esteeme Ruine for Safety; Retrograde motion for direct Progression: now, this their Trayterous course of stopping and burning Petitions, abusing and imprisoning Petitioners, of it selfe is an absolute election, or putting the people out of the protection of PARLIAMENT; no rationall man can gainesay it; for Oppression is no Protection, offence no Defence. He that will not releife, is no Reliever; and hee that Oppresseth for complainning of Oppression, must needs be a Tyrant in the highest measure. Therefore loving Countrey-men and friends, I beseech you, lay your hands on your hearts & consider, what greater tyrannie and oppression can be, then to be oppressed and so to be deprivd of the means of relief, left hopelesse and helplesse, all passages of succour and support stopped and blocked up, the waters of your reliefe utterly dried up? Oh rub open your eyes for shame, rouse up your spirits, resume and take up your strength and authority into your owne hands, disowne and disclaime those desperate tyrants and traytors, and cast them forth from your trust as dirt and dung, or salt that hath lost its savour, for wherewith now shall they be savoured? Halters and Gallowes is more fit for them then places in Parliament: What, will you be more fearfull of them to bring them to justice, then they were of you to burne your Lawes and your Liberties? for shame never let an English spirit be taxed with that dishonour; you have Othniells, Ehuds, Baraks, and Gideons, before you, even a mighty and puissant vertuous Army, which hath most gallantly and honourably engaged for your and their own safety and protection from those unnatural tyrants and usurpers, to remove them from the Seat of your Authority, and to bring them to justice, that you and your children after you, may be delivered from the feare and prejudice of their cruelties, dwell in peace and safety, enjoy the price of your labour and travell quietly and freely to your selves, be absolute Lords and possessors of your owne, and to be made true and reall Freemen indeed; fall therefore into their assistance and protection, and trust no longer your perjured traiterous Trustees dissembled at Westminster, but save your selves from that cursed and wicked generation, now is the opportunity, doe not procrastinate nor delay, least your destruction be of your selves, I have discharged the trust of my sufferings unto you, which hath been simply and purely for your sakes, and have not drawne backe my hand from any thing for your weale, which to others have seemed too hot or too heavy to lift, and my conscience beares me witnesse of the honestie and uprightnesse of my heart for your preservation and safety, as its principal aime and intent in this Appellation of mine unto you, I am but one, and can discharge but the duty of one unto you, if you will suffer your selves, your Lawes and your Liberties, to be conquered and destroyed, I cannot help it, it is of your selves, and not of me, I have hitherto done my share, doe you but yours, and the worke will be presently done: I may chance be condemned for a mad-man and foole, but if you sit still and yeeld up your selves, as contented slaves, I cannot see, how you can be excused of madnesse or folly: Come, come, now is no time to sit thrumming of caps, if they will not give us leave, to use our tongues and our pens to present and make knowne our grievances, we must take leave to make use of our hands and swords for the defence and redemption of our lives, our Lawes and our Liberties, from the hand of the destroyer, for our safety must be maintained.
And can any reasonable man conclude, that our protection and assistance of them, and their protection and assistance of us are not relatives, and one dependent on the other? For what is the reason, that we have engaged our lives and estates thus in their defence, but that they should be as faithfull a protection unto us: Now our safety and protection lieth in the full and just enjoyment of our Lawes, our Rights, and Freedomes, and delivery from bondage and thraldome, the which being utterly denyed us, are wee not quite out of their protection, and left to shift for our selves, either to destroy or be destroyed? For can they think that their powerfull Priviledge doth extend not to leave the Commonalty of England so much, as even nature hath instincted in the very wormes of the earth, as exanimate and stupid as a blocke, worse then the bruit beasts of the field, which all to their power will save and defend themselves from mischiefe and harme? Certainely, they cannot expect it, for it is no more then their owne Doctrine hath taught us, and therefore no Blasphemy, Treason or Heresie, for they tell us, Dec. 2. Nov. 16. 6 Booke Dec. 1. Part 696. & pag. 150. That obedience doth not bind us to cut our owne throats, how then, can they expect that we should be our own butchers?
Deare friends, our destruction is beyond the Priviledge of Parliament, it is out of the compasse of that Betrusted Authority; while they move in the Sphere of our safety, their motions are Parliamentary, legall, and authorative, and to be obeyed, defended, and maintained, but on the contrary, the contrary must be concluded, for contraries have contrary consequents. For there is a difference betwixt their Parliamentary, and their owne Personall capacity, and their actions are answerably different; therefore, the rejection, disobedience, and resistante of their personall commands, is no rejection, disobedience, or resistance of their Parliament Authority: So that he that doth resist their personall commands, doth not resist the Parliament, neither can they justly be censured or esteemed as Traytors, Rebells, Disturbers, or Enemies to the State, but rather as Preservers, Conservers, and Defenders thereof.
And upon this principle of justice and reason, they grounded and justified their War against the King, witnesse their owne words, Book Dec. part 1. pag. 276. where they say by the Statute of 25. Edw. 3. It is a leavying of Warre against the King, when it is against his Lawes and Authorities, though it be not immediately against his Person, and the levying of force against his personall commands, though accompanied with his presence, if it be not against his Lawes and Authority, but in maintenance thereof, is no levying of Warre against the King, but for him; for there is a great difference betwixt the King as King, and the King as Charles Steward: Therefore pag. 279. they say, That treason which is against the Kingdome, is more against the King then that which is against his person, because hee is King: for that very Treason is not Treason as it is against him as a man, but as a man that is a King, and as he hath relation to the Kingdome, and stands as a Person intrusted with the Kingdome, discharging that trust: Even so, by the equity of the same reason, the represented Commons of England, in the like case, may justly make the same returne unto the Bodie Representative, as thus: It is a levying of warre against the Parliament of England, when it is against the Lawes, Rights, and Freedomes of the people of England, though it be not immediately against the persons of the Members in Parliament, and a levying of force against their personall arbitrary commands, though accompanied with their presence, if it be not against the Lawes, Rights and Freedomes of the people, but in maintenance thereof, is no levying of war against the Parliament, but for the Parliament, for there is a great difference betwixt Members in Parliament, as Members in Parliament, and Members in Parliament, as they are personally, Philip Stapleton, Denzill Hollis, &c. And therefore well may the Commonality of England reply, That Treason which is against the Commonalty, their Lawes, Rights, and Freedomes, is more against the Parliament, then that which is against their persons, because they are Members of Parliament. For that very Treason is not Treason, as it is against Philip Stapleton, Denzill Hollis, and the like, considered as they are men, but as men that are Parliament Members, and as they have relation to the people in generall, and stand as persons intrusted with their Lawes, Rights, and Freedomes, discharging their trust. This is as directly point blank against the Members in Parliament, as ever it was against the King, they must admit of this principle against themselves, or else they must grant themselves to be Rebells and Traitors in warring against the King, for they had no way, under heaven, or to this day have any way to justifie their leavying and maintaining of warre against him but that; for it was the very Axeltree upon which the equity of their proceedings were moved, and that by which still they stand justifiable in the eye of reason and justice: therefore the Members in Parliament, either in the particular or in the generall, because they are men intrusted in that capacity, may not therefore turne oppressors and tyrants at pleasure, for it is not their being in Parliament, or being Parliament-men, that will justifie their invasions and incursions upon the freedomes of the people; for as themselves have granted concerning the King, that the King is for the Kingdome, not the Kingdome for the King, and that the Kingdome is no more his owne, then the People are his owne: If he had a propriety in this Kingdome, what would become of the Subjects propriety in their Lands throughout the Kingdome, or of their Liberties? Book Dec. 1. part p. 266. even so may the Commonality of England reply to their Parliament-Members, that they are made for the people, not the people for them, and no otherwise may they deale with the people then for their safety and weale, for no more then the people are the Kings, no more are the people the Parliaments, having no such propriety in the people, as the people have in their goods to doe with them as they list. As they will not grant it to be the Prerogative of Kings, neither may wee yeeld it to be the Priviledge of Parliaments, for the safety of the people is the reason and end of all Governments and Governours, Salus populi est suprema Lex, the safety of the people is the supreme Law of all Commonwealths; all other Lawes, Edicts, Ordinances, Orders, &c. (such as most of our late pretended Parliamentarie ones have been) being contradictory thereto, are all traiterous and Antimagisteriall, to be opposed and resisted to the death, and the contrivers, promoters, and actors thereof, to be apprehended, judged and condemned, and executed as traytors to the safety of the people.
And whereas we have engaged our lives and fortunes against the King, to free his person from a traiterous and wicked Counesell about him, and the same they justified for ous by the rule of necessity, and safety, even so and much more, by vertue of the same principle may the body represented doe to the body representative, there being a more desperate and traytorus Counsell therein, for Immedicabile vulnus ense rescidendum est, ne pars sincera trahantur, the putrified and incurable members are to be cut of for the safety of the whole: for it was not the end of our undertakings to pull downe one kinde of oppressors to set up others more desperate and dangerous then the old, to remove a wicked Counsell from the King, and then to set up and tollerate a Counsell more traiterous and wicked in the Parliament, no, our ends and intents were simply against obstructions, and obstructers of justice and judgement, oppressions and oppressors, and to bring such Delinquents and Traytors to justice, whereby all impediments and obstacles to our freedomes might be removed; we did not ingage against them simply because they were concommitant to the King, but because they were seducers and perverters of justice, invaders and destroyers of our just Lawes and Freedomes: Therefore it is in vaine for our Members in Parliament to think that we will justifie or tollerate the same among them, which we would not indure in the King, to pluck off the Garments of Royalty from oppression and tyranny, to dresse up the same in Parlament Robes: No, no, that was ever and is farre from our hearts, and wee shall justifie or allow the same no more in the one then in the other, for to allow it in the one is to justifie it in the other, for it is equally unequall in both, and in it selfe resistable wheresoever it is found, for were it not resistable, all defensive war whatsoever were unlawfull: And upon this poynt we moved against the King, the equity thereof arising from an inherent principle of nature, concording with the Commandement of God, for were not tyranny in it selfe resistable, then a man might lawfully murther himselfe or give power to another to be his Butcher, but in regard by the Law of God in nature and in his word both the one and the other is verily unlawfull, therefore such kind of inhumanity and tyranny is to be resisted both in proper person and otherwise, shall we therefore be so inhumane, so unnaturall and diabolicall, to destroy and murther our owne selves, we may as well execute our selves with our own hands, as give leave to others to be our murtherers, for the matter would be all one in the execution, it would only differ in the instrument; therefore if we may not take that leave to our selves, nor give it to another, then wee must resist it in others as well as in our selves, for not to hinder is to give leave, and no hindrance can be without resistance, and if resistance must be, as is of necessity to be granted then in all reason and equity we are bound to use the most efectuall manner of resistance, If our destruction be endeavoured by another, faire means is to be used, but if that will not prevaile, we are bound to kill rather then to be killed: And upon this ground, in case we have to deale with a mighty and furious enemy, we are bound to the utmost of our power, to arme and fortifie our selves for our just and necessary defence, and by force of Armes to repell and beat back the invading assaulting enemy, whether it be an enemy for the confusion and exterpation of our persons, or for destruction and ruine of our Laws, our freedomes and liberties, for bondage and slavery are not inferiour to death, but rather to be more avoyded, condemned and resisted then present destruction, by how much the more that kind of destruction is more languishing then present, and in pursuance of the just and necessary defensive Opposition we may lawfully, and are in Conscience bound to destroy, kill and slay the otherwise irresistable enemy for our own preservation and safety whether in our lives, our Lawes or our liberties: And against the justice of this defensive principle no degrees, Orders or titles amongst men can or may prevaile, all degrees Orders and titles, all Lawes, Customs and manners amongst men must be subject to give place and yeeld thereunto, and it unto none, for all degrees and titles Magisteriall, whether emperiall, regall, Parliamentarie, or otherwise are all subservient to popular safety, all founded and grounded thereon, all instituted and ordained only for it, for without it can be no humane society, cohabitation or being, which above all earthly things must be maintained, as the earthly soveraigne good of mankind, let what or who will perish, or be confounded, for mankind must be preserved upon the earth, and to this preservation, all the Children of men have an equall title by Birth, none to be deprived thereof, but such as are enemies thereto, and this is the ground-worke that God in nature hath laid for all common-wealths, for all Governours and Governments amongst men, for all their Lawes, executions and Administrations: therefore all contrary Governments and Governours are ungodly, unnaturall, diabolicall, and trayterous, to be abhorred, condemned and resisted by all possible ways and meanes whatsoever: And from hence ariseth the true definition of Treason, for indeed Treason is no other then a destruction to humane society or actions overwhelming or apparently tending to the utter over throw of publick safety co-habitation and peace, or to the vassalage, bondage and thraledome of a people or Country; such actions and Actors are only treasonable and trayterous and no other, although it be the custome of tyrants and opressors unhappily intrusted with Imperial Regal or Parliament Authority to proclaim, condemne and execute such cheifly for traytors as are enemies to their opressions and tyrannies, their boundlesse prerogatives, arbitrary Domination, or the like, even as our degenerate Members dissembled at Westminster have done in the late Petitioners case of the Armie, making it a matter of Treason to petition for justice and right.
Now in regard, the Body naturall for its owne safety may prune, amputate and cut of the corrupt putrified Members from the Body Representative, yea utterly renounce, oppose, resist, and dissolve all the Members therein upon totall forfeiture of, and reall Apostacy from the true representative capacity of Parliament, and that this is most evident and cleare; it then inevitably followeth, that this naturall Body, by vertue of its instincted, inherent naturall Soveraignity, may create, or depute any person or persons for their Deputy or Deputies for the removall of those dead, corrupt, putrified Members from the seat and name of their Formall Authority, and for the supression of injustice and tyranny, recovery of liberty and freedome; but it may be, it will be objected, that by reason of distraction, confusion and disorder at such an exigency in the Body naturall, such a new deputation is not likely, or cannot possibly be formally effected, and therefore those forementioned Members though never so corrupt and destructive, must be continued and subjected unto. I answer, that the Body naturall must never be without a mean to save it selfe, and therefore by the foresaid permanent unalterable rule of Necessity and safety, any person or persons (in discharge of their duty to God, themselves and their Countrey) may warrantably rise up in the cause and behalfe of the people, to preserve them from imminent ruine and destruction, such person or persons, doing in that act no more then everie man by nature is bound to performe: For as everie man by the verie bond of nature and neighbourhood, in case his neighbours house be on fire, is bound forthwith without anie formall or verball deputation of the owner, to endeavour the quenching thereof with his utmost power and abilitie; even so and much more may the same bee said and of a whole Countrey or Kingdome, for necessitity in that case of extremity justifies the act of safety and preservation, in anie, though without anie formall election, deputation or condition from the people in generall thereto; for such Formalities must give place unto the maine, being but circumstances in comparison thereof, and a Kingdome or Commonwealth must not be neglected and lost for a trifle; in the cause of popular safety and freedome, wee must not straine at a gnat and swallow a camell, catch at the shadow and loose the substance, dote on formality while we lose our freedomes; we are bound to lay hold on every thing that comes next to hand, rather then perish; it is not the part of the just and mercifull Freemen of England to behold the Politike Bodie of this Commonwealth fallen amongst a crew of thieves, as Hollis, Stapleton, &c. stript of its precious raiment of freedome and safety, wounded and left groveling in its blood, even halfe dead, and passe by on the other side like the mercilesse Priest and the Levite: no, now is the time for the compassionate Samaritane to appeare to binde up its wounds, to powre in wine and oyle to engage in the defence and preservation of a distressed miserable people, for greater love and mercie cannot be amongst men then to take compassion, over the helpelesse and destitute.
Therfore, this Evangelicall principle of mercy (being of the nearest communication to the nature of God) is a warrantable ground for the solemne engagement of the Armie, like the compassionate Samaritan, to bind up the wounds of the almost murthered Lawes and Liberties of England; so that their Christian compassion and pity over the abused, beat, and wounded naturall Body of the land, is as an inpugnable Bulwarke of defence against the violent invective calumnies and reproaches of malitious tongues & Pens, and wil be an undoubted badge of everlasting honor through all generations to come, against which time and envie will never be able to prevaile. And in case they be inforced to a defensive resistance, in so doeing they will be no resisters, despisers, contemners or oppugners of Magistracy, Authority or Government, for tyranny is no Magistracie, therefore the resistance of Tyrants is no resistance of Magistrates, except it be of such so nominally; but really and essentially monsters and pests of humanity; for Magistracy hath its proper compasse and confines, and the actors and actions in that compasse are thereby rendered Magisteriall actors and actions to be obeyed by all, and resisted by none; and so such as are resisters thereof, are no Resisters of Magistracy, Authority and Government; but the resistance of the excursions or actions out of that compasse and capacity, is no resistance of Magistracy or Magistrates, for it is not their persons which makes their Ministrations Magisterial, but their Ministerial Magistration which makes their persons Magisteriall persons: for Magistracy is not inherent or consistent in the person, but in the office; their persons must run a parallell line in their Ministration with their office, or els their formall deputation or Commissions will not inright them into the true definition of Magistrates; for the office is but accidentally consistent in the forme or externall Commission, radically and essentially in the due Ministration.
Now Magistrarcy in its nature, institution, and administration, is for such a kinde of safety Nationall and generall, as wherein every individuall or particular person, of what sort or society soever, may fully and freely enjoy his liberty, peace and tranquillity, civill and humane; it is an Ordinance amongst men and for men, that all men may have an humane subsistance and safety to live as men amongst men, none to bee excepted from this humane subsistance, but the unnaturall and the inhumane, it is not for this opinion, or that faction, this Sect or that sort, but equally and alike indifferent for all men that are not degenerated from humanity and humane civility in their living and neighbourhood: And therfore the destroyers and subverters of humane society, safety, cohabitation and being, are to be corrected, expulsed, or cut off for preservation of safety, and prevention of ruine both publike and private: and thus is Magistracy for the praise of them that doe well, and for the punishment of those that doe evill.
And as for matters of conscience or opinion about Religion or Worship, with which humane society, cohabitation, and safety may freely subsist and stand together, that doth not fall under the power of the Magisteriall sword, either for introduction and setlement, or for extirpation and subversion; for the limits of Magistracy extend no further then humanity, or humane subsistance, not to spirituallity, or spirituall being; and no further, then its owne nature extends, no further may its compulsive power be stretched: And this is the true distinction for matter of subjection, betwixt God and Cæsar, and what is Gods wee must in the first place give unto God, and what is Cæsars, in the second place, freely and readily we must give unto Cæsar; the inward man is Gods prerogative, the outward man is mans prerogative; God is the immediate Lord over the inward, and mediately over the outward, but man is onely Lord over the outward, and though immediate thereover, yet but by Deputation or Commission from him who is thus both over the one and the other: And God who onely knoweth the heart, and searcheth the reines, hath reserved the governation thereof to himself as his own prerogative, and the onely means which he useth in this kinde of Government, that by his Ministers must be dispensed, is onely by the word, not by the sword; for the sword pierceth but the flesh, it toucheth but the outward man, it cannot touch the inward; therefore where by the word (to wit by Doctrine or Argumentation) the proper means to work upon the intellectualls and affections a conversion, is not nor cannot be obtained, there no humane compulsive power or force is to be used, either for plantation or extirpation.
And therefore it was that Christ refused the sword for the promulgation and setlment of his doctrine, for it was spirituall, and such were the weapons he used for that warfare of his; and therefore in immitation of his patterne (and practice of the Apostles) we must rather suffer for matters of faith, then be enforced or enforce thereunto: But it does not therefore follow, that by defensive force we may not maintaine, our naturall humane being and subsistance upon earth; for the contrary doctrine would tend to the utter confusion of humanity, the depopulation of Nations, Kingdomes, and Countries; though for the spirituall warfare, we are confined to spirituall weapons; yet for this humaine naturall warfare, humaine and naturall weapons may and are to be used, each according to its kinde; so that neither the one nor the other, in their distinctive propriety and administration is distructive or contradictory one to another, but both may properly meet and stand together in one individuall, without the least incroachment or prejudice to each others propriety: And if the Magistrate should so farre extend his compulsive force under pretence of religion and conscience, to the destruction of our humane subsistance or being, we may upon the points of your humane subsistance and being, lawfully make our defensive resistance, for in it selfe it is defendable against all opposition or destruction from whence or from whomsoever it shall be. And of this defensive resistance, none in duty can be excused, but in case of an utter depravation of power, for indeed it is granted of all, that where no power is, there no defence can be expected, and in the case of destruction in that kinde, the patient is innocent, and cleare from the guilt of his owne ruine: where nothing is given, there nothing is required; but unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, Luke 12.48.
Therefore these premises premised, and deliberately weighed, I appeale to all moderate and rationall commoners to judge impartially about this matter, whether now, without all check or scruple of conscience, in maintainance and presuance of this Defensive principle of resistance, we may not every man of us (in duty to our owne natures, and to our native Countrey in generall) to the utmost of our lives and fortunes, be assistant and united to this faithfull Armie that now is, or to whomsoever shall rise up, and appeare in the defensive cause of this Kingdome, for the recovery of our naturall humane rights and freedomes, that all orders, sorts, and societies of the Natives of this Land, may freely and fully enjoy a joynt and mutually neighbourhood, cohabitation and humane subsistance, one as well as another, doing unto all men as we would be done unto; it being against the radicall Law of nature and reason, that any man should be deprived of an humane subsistance, that is not an enemy thereto; hee that is fit for neighbourhood, cohabitation, humane society and fellowship, and will freely comply and submit thereunto, ought not to be abridged of the same in the least measure; hee that shall deny, oppose and resist this, the same as an enemy to mankinde, and is guilty of the highest kinde of Treason that is, and deservs to be stoned, as was Hadoram by the children of Israel for his execution of the tirannicall commands of King Rohoboam, with stones that he dye, and to be cast out as the excrements of mankinde, unworthy of humane buriall, as once the Scots served one of their tyrannicall Kings, who after they had drag’d him at an Horses tayle at their pleasure, they threw his body into a Jakes, as Mr. Prin mentions in his power of Parliaments.
And therefore all Decrees, Edicts, Injunctions, Lawes, Ordinances and Orders whatsoever, or from whomsoever, which tend to the extirpation, suppression, or confusion of such a sort or party of men which are not onely meet but free and willing to maintaine, preserve, and uphold humane society, fellowship, tranquillity, and being; doing to all men as they would have all men doe unto them, are all trayterous, antimagisterall unhumane, and diabolicall, and the authors thereof no other then traytors and rebels to the nature of man.
Now therefore except such vipers and pests of humanity be divested from all legislatives and coercive authority, it is not possible that such inhumanities and tyrannies in government can be prevented or removed, for such Governours, such government, such Law-givers, such Lawes: If the wicked and unjust be not removed from the throane of government, it is impossible, that any such throane should be established in righteousnesse: therefore as all such tyrannies and inhumanities are resistable and of no man (that is not without naturall affection) to be received or obeyed; so every rationall honest Common-wealths man is in duty bound even from the just principles of divinity, humanity, and reason, with all his strength and might, either by pollicy or by force, or by both, to endeavour the extirpation and removall of such usurpers and oppressors, from the seat and place of Government, and to be ayding and assisting with life, person, and estate, to all ingagements and endeavours to bring such inhumane usurpers to exemplary justice: and this our Common-wealth swarming with such Monsters in nature and humanity, overspreading the whole Land with these tyrannies and oppressions, must either speedily be purged and cleansed, especially in the legislative and compulsive Authority thereof from that unnaturall faction, or else nothing but bondage, tyranny, and oppression remaineth for the inheritance of us, and our children after us.
Now in regard both King and Parliament are become captives through the force and pollicy of a powerfull faction at Westminster, that neither the one, nor the other can be any reliefe or protection to the people from injustice and oppression, both being upon the point dethroaned, the one from his Regall, the other from its Parliamentary Essence and being; So that in effect they are both dead unto the people: And now as the case stands, no publique visible Head, either Regall or Parliamentary, or other appearing on foot in the Kingdome for the people to fly to for succour and reliefe, or protection against the visible destroyers and subverters of their liberties but this renowned and faithfull Army; for it is now the only formall and visible Head that is left unto the people for protection and deliverance.
I shall therefore presume (most excellent Generall, honourable Officers, faithfull Adjutators, and Gentlemen Souldiers) and doe hereby presume in pursuance of my owne safety, and of righteous judgement betwixt the free Commoners Right, and the jurisdiction of the Lords, to make my humble addresse and appeale unto this Army, as to the naturall Head of the Body naturall of the people at this present, wholly (as much as in me lieth) resigning, submitting, and offring my person and cause unto your defensive protection, that in the behalfe of the people to whom I have appealed, you would, as in duty you are bound, contribute your best assistance for the liberty of the one, and just determination of the other, that neither my person nor yet my cause (which is every Commoners case) may be left to the tryall, censure and sentence of mine, and this Kingdomes enemies; but that both person and cause may be protected (as much as in you lieth) from them, and from all mischiefe and prejudice which their malice and violence may attempt against either or both; for the better facillitation and advancement of their owne arbytrary and tyrannicall ends and designes, appealing thus for my selfe and my cause for no other end, but that impartiall justice may freely proceed upon both without respect of persons or things; which I conceive is not reasonably to be expected from the judgement and determination of mine, and this Kingdomes enemies; this is cordially and freely my desire, that if I have done ought that either by the Law of God, of Nature, Reason, or the just Lawes of the Land, worthy of death, or other punishment whatsoever, that then the due execution thereof may be entailed to your just and solemne engagement, that your selves may cause it, and see it performed upon me accordingly without mercy: But if my person, and my cause in the eye of Religion, reason, and the just knowne Lawes, of this Land be found justefiable thereby and those severall afflictions, imprisonments, and miseries upon my selfe, my wife, brother, and Family by the Arbitrary Prerogative of the Westminster Lords be found illegall and tyrannicall, and their proceedings by vertue of their Lordly Prerogative, as actions apparantly, and openly tending to the utter subvertion of the fredomes and rights of the Commons of England, that then also, (as you have engaged your selves for common right to be derived, to every particular) you would actually & effectually make good that engagement to me in particular, not only your for the formall and legall deliverance of my selfe, my wife, and my brother (imprisoned also by vertue of their Lordly Prerogative) but also for our just and full reperations according to the Law of the Land, even as the nature of our respective abuses, imprisonments, &c. and the demerit of our Oppressioners shall impartially and justly deserve; and that justice may be answerably executed upon those Usurpers and Oppressors. notwithstanding their greatnesse to the future terrefying of such Prerogative Oppressors and oppressions, preservation and safety of the due right and freedomes of the people both to present and succeeding Posterity; and this is but just and reasonable, for why should not justice touch their Prerogative Lordships, as well as the meanest Commoners, and why should such sufferings at their hands passe without due reperation, for should they, it would be an encouragement to such Arbitrary spirits to be as exorbitant for the future as these; for where there is no punishment, there neither is nor will be any feare: So that if the notorious Act of their Prerogative fury, not only upon me and mine, but upon divers in the like nature, as Liv. Col. John Lilburne, Mr. Larners two servants, &c. be passed by without exemplary punishment and Mulct, the Commons will not be righted, nor will their Lordships be curbed in their exorbitant ambition; for should it be so smothered and passed by, the Commoners right would be more abused and invaded then, which then if wee should never be delivered by you, for by our durance the cause would be still kept on foot in expectation of future such determination; but if so delivered, it would be wounded, if not utterly quashed and destroyed by you, scarce ever to be recovered or reared up againe to this pitch: And this that I require, in point of liberty and reperation is no more, then what your selves have intituled me justly to claime at your hands; for have you not told us (as an Article of your engagement to see it performed before you disband) That all such as are imprisoned may be put into a speedy way for a just hearing and tryall, and such as shall appeare to have beene unjustly, and unduely imprisoned, may with their liberty have reasonable reparations according to their sufferings, and the demerit of their Oppressors (as is expressed in the 11. page your owne Declaration.)
Wherefore (truly honoured and faithfull Armie) thinke it not strange that thus in particular I have presumed to cast myselfe and my cause into the verge of your solemne engagement for the publique, for my cause in it selfe is generall, and every free borne Commoners case in the Kingdome, and my person one of that generall for which you have solemnely engaged and declared your selves for safety, deliverance, and protection; now you cannot engage and declare for the generall, but the particulars thereof must be joyntly and severally intituled thereto: Therefore this which I thus claime and expect from your hands, you cannot in justice and honour to your owne undertakings deny me; if you doe, you must deny your selves, and your solemne engagement, and so render your selves to the Kingdome as others have done before you, even deluders and deceivers of the people, and thereby instate the people into a just capacity of Insurrection against you, as well as your selves are now against others.
But being fully perswaded of the uprightnesse and innocency of your intentions, I shall expect that your workes will give witnesse to the truth of your words; for otherwise, they will bee but as empty shels, or as a dead letter to the people: Be therefore quick and active, and bee not demur’d, protracted and delayed by the old beaten subtile Foxes of Westminster into your owne, and our destruction: Can you imagine that they intend you any good? what have they done I pray you as hitherto, but fob’d, befool’d, and deluded you; say and unsay, backward and forward, hither and thither, no man knowes whither, and all but to circumvent, delude, and delay you, that they might gather time and ground.
For they well know what it is that hath lost the affections of the people, you must not think, they can be so insensible, as therof to be ignorant; and now they would run you upon the same rock whereon they have split themselves, to wit, the distaste of the people, that your wounds may be their cure; and assure your selves your ruine if you trace in their steps will be swifter then theirs; therefore thinke not to dally with, and beare the people in hand (as they have done before you) with faire promises, engagements, Declarations, Remonstrances, &c. and not to put the same into speedy execution; for the affections of the people will not admit of delayes, quick expedition will sharpen, but protraction will turne the edge of their spirits; If you dally with us, and befoole our expectations too long, we shall turne our pens, our hearts, and our hands against you, for our affection and concurrence with you, is but for our safety and protection, expecting more faire and honest dealing from you, then ever we could obtaine from the hands of our false Trustees at Westminster; have a care therefore how you interpose your owne light, and follow their Ignis fatuis, into their delusions and delayes, for if you doe not timely beware, your friends will become your enemies, their spirits begin to decline, and their tongues are busied with feares and surmises, therefore from the inch you may judge of the elle; though for a while the Countries may beare the burthen of your Quarters with patience, yet assure your selves, in a small time they will turne impatient, clamour and cry out against you; for the Countries cannot, as indeed there is no reason they should, indure to be oppressed; for such and so great hath beene their oppression, that it is in vaine to suppose, that an additionall oppression will gaine an acceptance or tolleration amongst them; you doe but now the worke of the enemy, for if you will play but a while with their Rattles and Gew-gawes, they will be provided, (what though the redemption of time and the losse of your credits) to give you an encounter, and then be sure the people must suffer, their blood and their treasure must pay for your negligence, therefore expect that the mischiefes of your demurres will be set uppon your account, when all flesh shall appeare, every man to receive according to his deeds.
Therefore right worthy and faithfull Adjutators, be advised to preserve that power and trust reposed in, and conferred upon you by the body of the Army intire and absolute, and trust no man, whether Officer or Souldier, how religious soever appearing, further then hee acts apparantly for the good of the Army and Kingdome: marke them which would and doe bring you into delayes and demurres, let their pretences be what they will be, their counsels are destructive; I am afraid, that your Officers are not too forward to interpose all delayes; therefore as I dare not totally condemne them, but honour them so farre as they have dealt honourably in your engagement, I onely advise you to bee cautious and wary; and keepe up your betrusted power and authority, and let nothing be acted, done, or concluded, without your consent and privity, for by that meanes the cause in a clandestine underhand manner may be given away; and what doe you know, but there is a designe amongst you, to take the power of all Adjutation from the hand of the private Souldier? for why must your late papers bee published, By the appoyntment of his Excellencie, Sir Thomas Fairfax and the Councell of Warre, as your Remonstrance and others, and not as formerly, by his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax with the officers and Souldiers of the Armie? are not the Souldiers as authoritive as formerly, or are they cast out, as if they had nothing to doe with the businesse? Sure I cannot judge that you will altogether bee befooled of your power; if you doe, I am sure we shall all be befooled with you; if that once be accomplished, then farewell our hopes in the Armie; for I am confident, that it must be the poore, the simple and meane things of this earth that must confound the mighty and the strong: therefore your Officers that seeke not themselves, and have no sinister ends nor designes in their brests, will be contented that your betrusted power be preserved intire in your hands till the end of your worke be accomplished; and rather then they will any wayes seeme to infringe it, be continued in their addition to your adjutation onely for advise and consultation, not for controll and conclusion, not desiring a negative voice any more in your Adjutation, then they and you would allow the King in the great councell of Parliament; that so the sence and minde of the Armie may not be prevented or denyed: If I erre in this caution and advice, I am sure that I erre not in my faithfull affections to your solemne engagement, and therefore the better to be excused; for my intentions are honest and upright therein, not minding mischiefe or prejudice against any, but solely and simply ayme and intending the good of the Army and Kingdome thereby.
If you wil own me & my cause, I shal take it as a grateful & acceptable service of love & affection, not only to my selfe but to the almost destroyed freedomes of the Commoners of England; if not, I have reckened my cost, and can in this cause for my Countrey upon honest and just priviledges, lay downe my life, as freely and as willingly, as my most malicious enemies can make it a sacrifice to their fury: Doe therefore, as it seemeth good in your owne eyes; I have discharged my conscience, and what I have done, I have done; and commit the issue thereof unto God, And so remaine,
From my Prerogative Captivity in Newgate (the Lords benediction) July 10. 1647.
Yours and this Kingdomes faithfull friend and servant for the just Lawes, Rights, and Freedomes of the people, to the death,
1. That for the future, the election and expulsion of Parliament Members may be so setled in the Electors, that none may be hindered, debard, or expulsed from serving his Country under any colour or pretence whatsoever, as for refusing the Covenant or other wise without order first, assent or concurrence of their Countrey.
2. That for the better security of the interest and power of the people, all titles, by Prerogative, Priviledge, Pattent, Succession, Peerage, Birth or otherwise to sit and act in the Assembly of Parliament, contrary to, and without the free choice and Election of the People, be utterly abrogated, nuld and made voide, and that all such so sitting, may be removed from sitting therein.
3. That the authority of Parliament may bee preserved and secured for the future from the obstructions and prejudice of a negative voyce in any person or persons whatsoever.
4. That every County may have liberty to choose some certaine number amongst themselves, to inquire and present to the Parliament, what be the just Lawes, Customes, and Priviledges of each County, and that those County Commissioners, be bound to receive all, and every impeachment, and impeachments, by any person or persons whatsoever, of the respective Counties, against any of their owne respective Knights or Burgesses in Parliament, for falsifying and betraying, his or their Countries trust, or any wise indeavouring the introduction of an arbitrary power in this Land. And that the said Commissioners have power and be firmely bound to impeach and attach in the name of their respective Counties, their said Member or Members, and to bring him or them to a legall and publique tryall. That in case such be found guilty, justice may be executed, and others in their roome, by the free choyce of the People bee sent. And in case any such Commissioner, or Commissioners shall refuse to prosecute any such complaint or impeachment, that then hee or they be ajudged guilty of Treason.
1. That all Courts which are not established by the just old Law of the Land: and all illegall offices, and Officers, belonging to the same, and all other vexatious and unnecessary Courts, be abolished by act of Parliament. And that provision bee made that for tyme to come, no Courts or Officers whatsoever may be obtruded upon the free Commoners of England, either by Royall grant, Pattent, Act of Parliament, or otherwise contrary to the old Law of the Land.
2. That according to the old Law and custome of the Land, long before, and sometime after the Conquest, There may bee Courts of Judicature for the speedy tryall and determination of all causes, whether Criminall or Civill, erected and established in every Hundred, for the ease and benefit of the Subject, to be holden according to the old custome once or twice every moneth, for the ending of all causes Criminall and Civill whatsoever, which shall happen in the respective Hundreds. That the Freemen of England may have a sudden, quick and easie dispatch of their suits, and be eased also of their vexations and chargable travellings from all parts of the Kingdome, for processe and tryall of their suits unto Westminster Hall.
3. That all such Officers, as by the ancient and common Lawes of this Nation, are illegible, and to be chosen by the free Commons, as Mayors, Sheriffes, justices of peace, &c. may be left to the free Election of the people, in their respective places, and not otherwise to bee chosen. And that all such publique affaires (now in being) Not so elected and allowed, may be forthwith removed, and others by the free choice of the people be constituted in their roomes.
1. That the extortions, and oppressive fees of Goalers may bee redressed and eased, and that strict and severe provision be made against all Goalers, and their deputies, to restraine them for the future from the like extortions and cruelties, now frequent in all Goales of the Land. And that there may be a strict and severe Inquisition after the blood of such prisoners as have beene murthered and starved by the cruelties of Goalers, that so the persons guilty thereof may have justice executed upon them.
2. That no Prisoners be put in irons, or to other paine, before conviction and condemnation.
3. That there may be cleanly and wholesome provision made in all the Goales of England, for the lodging of Prisoners, at the charge and cost of the State, and that no fees for Chamber-rent, for entering or deliverance, or any thing in lieu thereof, be exacted or demanded under a severe penalty.
4. That neither the high Court of Parliament, nor any other inferior Court or Magistrate whatsoever, may commit any free man of England to prison upon any pretended contempts, as is frequent in these dayes, but onely for transgression and breach of the knowne Lawes of the Land. And for the future (to award the free Commons of England from the revenge of arbitrary spirits,) that strong provision be made by Act of Parliament to that end.
5. That there may be a severe penalty provided against all Goalers and their Deputies, which shall receive any prisoner persons whatsaever, without a lawfull charge or commitment drawne up in writing, according to the true forme of the Law, with a lawfull cause therein expressed, and with a lawfull conclusion, him safely to keepe untill hee shall be delivered by due processe or Law, according to Magna Charta, and the Petition of Right, and not at the will and pleasure of the Committee.
6. That strong provision be made against all such Goalers as shall detaine any person or persons in prison after a lawful] discharge, as is frequent in all the Goales of the Land, whereby many poore free Commoners of England have been starved and dyed of hunger.
7. That all criminall persons that are condemned and reprived, may be acquit and set free.
1. That all Lawes of the Land (lockt up from common capacities in the Latine or French tongues,) may bee translated into the English tongue. And that all records, Orders, Processes, Writs, and other proceedings whatsoever, may be all entered and issued forth in the English tongue, and that in the most plaine and common Character used in the Land, commonly called Roman, or Secretary, and that without all or any Latine or French Phrases or Tearmes, and also without all or any abreviations or abridgements of words, that so the meanest English Commoner that can but read written hand in his owne tongue, may fully understand his owne proceedings in the Law.
2. That no free Commoner of England be inforced to put either by the high Court of Parliament, or by any subordinate Court, Officer or Minister of lustice, whatsoever in the Land to make Oath, or to answer to any Interrogatories concerning himselfe in any criminall case, concerning his life, liberty, goods or free-hold. And that neither the High Court of Parliament, not any subordinate Court, Officer or Minister whatsoever, before Indictment, presentment, verdict of 12 men, or other due processe of Law, may take away any free Commoners life, liberty, goods, or free-hold, contrary to the State of Magna Charta, cap. 29.25. Edw. 3. cap. 4.28. Edw. 3 cap. 3.41. Edw. 3.c.3. 1 Eliz. cap. 1 &c.
3. That all Statutes made for the compulsion of persons to heare the Common Prayer Booke, and for the exercise of other Popish Rits, and Ceremonies, may be abrogated and taken away, and that all and singular persons indicted, imprisoned, or otherwise molested upon the aforesaid Statutes may be inlarged and relieved.
4. That neither Membership in Parliament, Office nor function, whatsoever in the Magistracy of the Land, may be any protection or demurre in any wise against the due processe or course of the ancient and common Lawes of this Realme, but that in all cases of treason, murther, Burglary, and fellonie, in all Actions, Suites, and civill proceedings whatsoever, the greatest Man or men in the Realme, may be made equally lyable at all times and seasons, and in all places in the Land to the tryall, sentence and execution of the Law, with the meanest Commoner.
5. That all wicked persons that shall beare false witnesse against any free man of England concerning his life, liberty, goods or free-hold upon legall discovery, and probation thereof, be adjudged, and condemned of their lives, liberties, and free-holds, according to that which they would have done unto their Neighhours.
6. That the cruell practise of imprisoning Debtors may be provided against, and that due Rights and properties may be recovered upon more mercifull tearmes then by way of imprisonment.
7. That according to the Law of God, and the old Law of the Land, matters of theft may not be punished with death, and that such Malefactors may make satisfaction either by just restitution to the party wronged, or by an answerable servitude, and that such offenders upon the second conviction (lawfully had) be brand markt visibly in the most eminent part of their face, and confind to a singular habit. And upon the third lawfull conviction, to be put to perpetuall servitude, for the benefit of the State, saving to the party wronged, a competent deduction thereon, for restitution according to the theft. that upon all occasions of warre, such Bond-men may be taken for the Military service, and the impressing of free-men on that behalfe in some measure spared.
8. That every English Native, who hath goods, Wares and Merchandize, may have freedome to transport the same to any place beyond the Seas, and there to convert them to his owne profit, it being his true and proper inheritance to doe, according to the Statutes of 14. Edw. 3.2.12. Hen. 7.6. and therefore to the end the old trade ingrosing Company of Merchants may be dissolved, and the like for the future prevented.
1. That the grievous oppressions by Tythes and forced-maintenance for the Ministry be removed, and that the more easie and Evangelicall practice of contribution be granted, and confirmed for the benefit of the Subject, and his freedome therein, for prevention of the Lordlinesse, in and the Commotions, oppressions and, tyrannies, that might happen by the Clergy.
That all ancient Donations for the maintenance and continuance of Free-Schooles which are impropriate or converted to any private use, and all such Free-Schooles which are destroyed or purloyned of any freedome for propriety may be restored and erected againe, and that in all parts or Counties of the Realme of England, and Dominion of Wales destitute of Free-Schooles (for the due nurture and education of children) may have a competent number of Such Schooles, founded, erected, and indowed at the publique charges of those respective Counties and places so destitute, that few or none of the free men of England may for the future be ignorant of reading and writing.
That all ancient charitable Donations towards the constant reliefe of the poor, impropriate, and converted to other use, and all Hospitalls that are either impropriate, corrupted or vitiated from their primitive constitution and end, or be deprived of any of their franchise, profits or emoluments, may be restored, relieved, and rectified, and safely preserved to the reliefe and maintenance of poore Orphants, Widowes, aged and impotent persons, &c. And that there be a convenient number of Hospitalls, founded, erected, and constituted in all the Counties of England and Wales, at the publique charge of the respective Counties, for the good education and nurture of poore fatherlesse or helplesse children, maintenance and reliefe of poore widowes, aged, sick, and lame persons. And to that end, that all the Gleabe-Lands in the Kingdome, may be converted to the maintenance and use of those charitable houses.
That all grounds which anciently lay in Common for the poore, and are now impropriate, inclosed, and fenced in, may forthwith (in whose hands soever they are) be cast out, and laid open againe to the free and common use and benefit of the poore.
That strong provision be made that neither the Parliament, nor any inferior Court, Officer, or Minister of the Law whatsoever, may in any wise let, disturb, or molest any person or persons, from contriving, promoting or presenting any Petition or Petitions concerning their grievances, liberties, to the High Court of Parliament.
T.108 [1647.08.21] (9.11) Anon., A Remonstrance of the Shee-Citizens of London (21 August, 1647).
Anon., A Remonstrance of the Shee-Citizens of London. And of many thousands of other the free-borne Women of England. Humbly shewing their desires for the attaining of a free trade, for the Kings speedie coming to London, for the maning of their works, and for the redresse of their many other grievances, and burdens they now lie under.
Printed in the yeare 1647.
21 August, 1647.
TT1, p. 548; Thomason E. 404. (2.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
WE the assistants and co-equalls of the famous Citizens of London, the better parts of the Trained Bands, and Common Councell men, having of a long time beheld the many infranchisements, Donatines and immunities attained by our fellow-feelers, the City of London and the parts adjacent, and for our selves in particular, have purchased nor archieved any thing worthy to be recorded and talked of by posterity as an act of speciall grace and concernment, though we confesse that under our husbands wee have been often comforted as with those sweet watry distillations which hath as from a limberk issued from them, yet we must give notice that your blandum mysterium acted by one man alone, cannot content each of us, being inspired with heroik thoughts, such as famous Messalina and Cleopatra owned, we meane that we should bee tied by the leg with the feeble cords of one only mans hamstrings, who through continuall exercise are become most faultringly feeble, for through the hardnesse of these times denying them their former height of nourishment, they grow worse and worse daily in their occupation, and even by nature are debarred to spend so freely on us as in times past, for the removall of which severall inconveniencies, we shall humbly remonstrate.
That whereas this sterrill maladie is occasioned by a strict subjugation of us the free-borne women of England, by a law strictly forbidding any of us to scan the tremeter of any but to each of them to whom we are bound and obliged, we conceive that this prohibition tendeth to the detriment not onely of us but of the whole Kingdom, & that wanting that free commerce which nature licenseth, the Kingdome cannot choose but be disappointed of many generous soules, which if otherwise it is likely to be enriched with, in case of a free propagation, and which doth pierce us through with an earnest and longing contrition; this Island is now thinly inhabited, by reason of the late warres, wherein so many well-tried and able proficients have been untimely massacred, so that not onely themselves are perished for the present, but wee are also utterly deprived of the hopes wee were in of their after able performances for the good of the Kingdome, which consisteth in nothing more then in being fully replenished with people; we therefore with joynt consent, having taken into our consideration, the great decay of Males, that is likely inevitably to happen, if timely prevention, be not thought on, have thought fit to remonstrate that for the future, we shall not beare such seared soules about us, as one woman, to live by the daily and nightly sweat of onely one mans browes when he perhaps though doing his utmost, is not able to satisfie nature, but shall for our owne contentments, the ease of men and for the speedie peopling of the Kingdome, shall every one of us desire the assistance of so many (of whose abillitie we are sufficiently assured) as may produce numerosa proles, a vast Generation, not only to defend us at home, but also to prevent invasions from afarre, and we desire also (since to us by consequence) according as that stiffe slander for the subjects Liberties Col. Lilburn hath noted, belongeth every immunitie of Magna Charta, that in case of our husbands defaults, or debillities, we may our selves trade a broad in the Country, and utter our warres to our best advantage for it is not, as in the youth of the world when Lot was so free of his flesh, that he begot Moab, and Ammon, in his sleep nature, is now growne old, and stoopeth under the weight of time, we must have Eringoes, and Lobsters, to beget that, which in the worlds infancie, a carrot or a crab-fish equalled every thing decaies, and there is a generall declining in all things, there is an alteration, and defect in the condition (of bodies) over the whole frame, and sisteme of nature, the clouds doe forbare to raine downe their geniall showers, neither doe the flowers blush, with such perfumed fires as in the first morning of the world, the fire, which heretofore, was the mother of May creatures, as the Salamander the Pirausta and others, is now growne quite fruitlesse and barren, the ayre, doth not bestow such a vitall, and broodall incubation upon the earth, and if this decay be in the greater Microcosme of nature, it must needs be in the lesse Microcosme of man, and therefore we who are of a substance hot and drie, and every whit as vigorous, as in the first nonage of the world ought not to be debarred of that right, to which we were created, but that the disabillities of one man should be supplied, with the abillities of another, which cannot be attained unlesse we shift our condition, and be licensed a free trade.
Which that we may the sooner attain, we conceive no way conducing more to our desire, then that his Majestie speedily come to London, there to reside with honour and safetie; for let the world know, to our unspeakeable grief, we have these many yeares missed the societie of his retainers, those imbroidered Courtiers, who heighten their longings at more charge, then if each of them constantly kept at rack and manger foure Flanders mares, and the heavenly dew that they were wont daily to water us with, and to our infinit joy, jog us, when we were coacht jogging to mile-end, to Islington, and Braineford, stuffing our bellies with cakes, and creame; and while our husbands good men, were either handselling their wares, or canselling their bonds, not dreaming that we also, were bartering their commodities for our best advantage: we therefore desire, that his Majestie may with all speed repaire to London, as the primary way for us to attaine our wishes, and till then, like the thirstie earth chapt for lack of rain, wee wait for-------
But least preturbances should arise & we sleep too supinely and though the royall partie be subjugated, we be any way damnified, by a wounded foe, we shall not carelesly levell aud let our works be entred by those, of whose trust and fidelitie we have not ample experience, for some may give us an alarum, and yet want ammunition to maintain the fight; may charge us once, and yet afterward prove so lumpish, that afterward they must be forced, and dandled to the incounter; and whom we may be constrained to provoke to the skirmish, defying them with hot trenchers and warme napkins, applied to our bodies; we therefore doe desire that such should man our works, and sleep in our quarters, who shall bee sufficient, not only to please, but defend us from the incursions, of any craftie and disabled enemie; and should it so happen, (as who knowes the issue of things) that we should be surprized, our hopes and assurance is this, that though their onset be never so hot and fierce, yet we shall occasion their retreat, to be coole and tame: yea were they as strong as Sampson or Milo, we shall soone quaile their Courage, if not at the first, yet the second incounter; but this, if they should gaine our works; but we assure our enemies, which may serve as a terror to disswade them from daring, to give an assault; that if we shall not find them well weaponed, (for we hate Souldiers that are not for the punctillo) but either dulled with often service, or their weapons broken near the handles, through their former fool-hardinesse and desperate valour, in daring to scale, though incountered with S. Anthonies Fire, that we shall give to such no quarter, but shall reserve them as Pageants for mirth, at our pleasures to transluce.
NOw if to these our desires our husbands prove refractorie and opposite, we entreat them to consider that wee neither for prayers or threats will any longer be debarred of our just rights, and that they would neither remember that Lucullus Cæsar, Pompey, Anthony, Cato, and divers other gallant men, were--- and knew it, though they would not make a stirre about it, and that there was in all that time but one gullish coxcombe Lepidus that died with anguish.
T.130 [1648.01.22] (9.21) Anon., The Mournfull Cryes of many thousand Poore Tradesmen (22 January, 1648).
Anon., The Mournfull Cryes of many thousand Poore Tradesmen, who are ready to famish through decay of Trade. Or, the warning Teares of the Oppressed.
22 January, 1648.
TT1, p. 586; Thomason 669. f. 11. (116.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
OH that the cravings of our Stomacks could bee heard by the Parliament and City! Oh that the Teares of our poore famishing Babes were botled! Oh that their tender Mothers Cryes for bread to feed them were ingraven in brasse! Oh that our pined Carkasses were open to every pittifull Eye! Oh that it were knowne, that wee sell our Beds and cloaths for Bread! Oh our Hearts faint and wee are ready to swoone in the top of every Street.
O you Members of Parliament and rich men in the City, that are at ease, and drinke Wine in Bowles, and stretch your selves upon Beds of downe, you that grind our faces and Flay off our skins, will no man amongst you regard, will no man behold our faces black with Sorrow and Famine, is there none to Pity. The Sea-monster drawes out the brest and gives suck to their young ones, and are our Rulers become cruell like the Ostrich in the Wildernesse, Lament. 4. 3.
OH yee Great men of ENGLAND, will not (thinke you) the righteous GOD behold our Affliction, doth not hee take notice that you devour us as if our Flesh were Bread? are not most of you eyther Parliament-men, Commitee-men, Customers, Excize-men, Treasurers, Gouernours of Townes and Castles, or Commanders in the Army, Officers in those Dens of Robbery the Courts of Law? and are not your Kinsmen and allies, Collectors of the Kings revenue, or the Bishops rents, or Sequestrators? what then are your ruffling Silkes and Velvets, and your glittering Gold and Silver Laces, are they not the sweat of our Browes, and the wants of our backes and bellies?
Its your Taxes, Customes, and Excize, that compells the Country to raise the price of Food, and to buy nothing from us but meere absolute necessaries; and then you of the City that buy our Worke, must have your Tables furnished, and your Cups overflow; and therefore will give us little or nothing for our Worke, even what you* please, because you know wee must sell for monyes to set our Families on worke, or else wee famish: Thus our Flesh is that whereupon you Rich men live, and wherewith you decke and adorne your selves. Yee great men, is it not your Plenty and abundance which begets you Pride and Riot? and doe not your Pride beget Ambition, and your ambition Faction, and your faction these Civill broyles; what else but your Ambition and Faction continue our Distractions and Oppressions? Is not all the Controversie whose Slaves the poore shall bee? Whether they shall be the Kings vassalles, or the Presbyterians, or the Independant factions? and is not the Contention nourished, that you whose Houses are full of the spoiles of your Countrey, might be secure from Accompts, while there is nothing but Distraction, and that by the tumultuousnesse of the People under prodigious oppression. you might have faire Pretences to keepe up an Army, and Garrisons, and that under pretence of necessitie you may uphold your arbitrary Government by Committees, &c.
Have you not upon such pretences brought an Army into the bowels of the City, and now Exchange doth rise already beyond Sea, and no Marchants beyond Sea will trust their Goods hither, and our owne Marchants conveigh their* Estates from hence, so there is likely to bee no importing of Goods, and then there will be no Exporting, and then our Trade will bee utterly Lost, and our Families perish as it were in a moment.
O yee Parliament men heare our dying Cry,The Merchants have already kept back from the Tower, many hundred thousand pounds, and no bullion is brought into the Tower, so that money will be more scarce daily. settle the Common-wealth, settle the Common-wealth! strive not who shall bee greatest untill you be all confounded. You may if you will presently determine where the supreame Power resides, and settle the Iust common Freedomes of the Nation, so that all Parties may equally receive Iustice and injoy their Right, and every one may bee as much concerned as other to defend those common Freedomes; you may presently put downe your Arbitrary Committees and let us be Governed by plaine written Lawes in our owne Tongue, and pay your ministers of Iustice out of a common, Treasurie, that every one may have Iustice freely and impartially.
You have in your hands the Kings, Queenes, and Princes revenue, and Papists Lands, and Bishops, and Deanes, and Chapters lands, and Sequestred lands, at least to the value of Eighteene hundred thousand Pounds by the yeare. Which is at least five hundred Thousand pounds a yeare more then will pay the Navie and all the Army, and the Forces which need to bee kept up in England and Ireland; and out of that the Kingdomes debts would bee payd yearely; whereas now you runne further into Debt daily, and pay One thousand pounds by the Day at least for use Money; besides you may if you will Proclaime Liberty, for all to come and discover to a Committee of dis-ingaged men, chosen out of every County, one for a County to discover to them what Monies and Treasure, your owne Members and your Sequestrators, &c. have in their hands, and you may by that meanes find many Millions of money to pay the Publique debts. You may find 30000. l. in Mr. Richard Darley’s hand 25000. l. in Mr. Thorpes hands*, a Member of Yours who first Proclaimed Sir John Hotham Traytor. And thus you may take off all Taxes presently, and so secure Peace, that Trading may revive and our Pining, hungry, famishing Families bee saved.
And O yee Souldiers who refused to Disband, because you would have Iustice and Freedome, who Cryed till the Earth ecchoed Iustice, Iustice; forget not that Cry, but cry speedily for Peace and Iustice, Louder then ever. There is a large Petition of some pitifull men that’s now abroad, which containes all our desires, and were that Granted in all things, wee should have Trading againe, and should not need to begge our Bread, though those men have so much mercy as they would have none to cry in the streets for Bread.
Oh though you bee Souldiers, shew bowels of Mercy and Pity to a hunger starved People; Goe downe to the Parliament, desire them to consume and trifle away no more time, but offer your desires for Vs in that large Petition, and cry Iustice, Iustice; Save, save, save the Perishing people; O cry thus till your importunity make them heare you.
O Parliament men, and Souldiers! Necessity dissolves all Lawes and Government, and Hunger will break: through stone walls, Tender Mothers will sooner devoure You, then the Fruit of their owne wombe, and hunger regards no Swords nor Cannons. It may be some great oppressours intends tumults that they may escape in a croud, but your food may then be wanting as well as ours, and your Armes will bee hard diet. O hearke, hearke at our doores how our children cry Bread, bread, bread, and we now with bleeding hearts, cry, once more to you, pity, pity, an oppressed inslaved people: carry our cries in the large petition to the Parliament, and tell them if they be still deafe; the Teares of the oppressed will wash away the foundations of their houses. Amen, Amen so be it.
[* ] And since the late Lord Major Adams, you have put in execution an illegall, wicked Decree of the Common Councell; whereby you have taken our goods from us, if we have gone to the Innes to sell them to Countrimen; and you have murdered some of our poore wives that have gone to Innes to find Cuontrimen to buie them.
[* ] M William Lenthall, Speaker of the House, to cover his cozenage, gave two and twenty thousand pounds to his servant M. Cole, to purchase Land in his own name, though for his use; which hee did, and then dyed suddenly, and the Land fell to his Sonne, and the widow having married a Lawyer, keeps the Land for the childs use, and saith he knowes not that his predecessor received any monie from the Speaker, and now Master Speaker sueth in Chancery for the Land. A hundred such discoveries might be made.
T.168 [1648.12.21] (5.26) [William Walwyn], No Papist Nor Presbyterian (21 December, 1648)
[William Walwyn], No Papist Nor Presbyterian: But the modest Desires and proposalls of Some well-affected and Free-born People: Offered to The Generall Councell of the Armie, for Redresse of Grievances, In order to the late Representative, and Agreement of the People.
Quod tibi non vis, alteri ne feceris.
Published for generall satisfaction, 1649.
21 December, 1648.
TT1, p. 705; Thomason E. 477. (17.).
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
HAving long and sadly expected the settlement of this Kingdome in a firme and lasting Peace, freed from all Tyranny and oppression, and that the Free-borne People of this Land may enjoy such Immunities and Priviledges as of right belong unto us, which we being in some present and apparent hope (by the goodnesse of God) to enjoy; and having alwaies professed and owned that Principle of doing to others as we would be done unto, have thought fit to propound to those, who are at present impowered and intrusted by us the People, as our Representatives, some additionall grievances to be inserted into the Peoples Agreement, and these as well in behalfe and out of a fellow-feeling of others interests, as of our owne, being clearly in order to that so often repeated and promised Liberty of Conscience; which promise we are confident hath caused some interests to acquiesce, which otherwise might in all probability have assisted or adhered unto our professed enemies, even in the time of ours and the Armies greatest Existence; But now since God has been pleas’d to subjugate our enemies, and thus far to advance and owne this cause, we hope this successe of the sword will not cause any of the chiefe Officers of the Army or others to recede from their former principles, or forget their so often declared Liberty of Conscience without exception; In confidence whereof, and in order whereunto, we propound as followeth.
1. That all penall Statutes against non-conformists in Religion may be forthwith repealed, and made null, since for the most part all the well-affected and conscientious men of this Kingdome are as well concerned therein, and lyable thereunto, as the Papists. And that all Justices of Peace, Pursuivants, or other Persecutors, that shall any waies proceed upon any of those Statutes, may be severely punished.
2. That the Oathes of Supremacy and Allegiance, with the Nationall Covenant, and all other compulsory Oathes may be effectually declared against, and taken away.
3. That there may be a free and unmolested exercise of Religion, at least in private houses, for all sorts of People that professe Christ, none excepted.
4. That no person be forced to pay or contribute towards the maintenance of the publique Ministers, who out of Conscience cannot submit thereunto, but that they may be provided for in some other unoppressive way.
5. That (as it hath been well propounded by others against Lawyers, and the expence and protraction of Law Suites,) so likewise, that the excessive Fees of Physicians may be regulated and reduced, whereby the poore for a small and reasonable Fee may have the benefit of their skill; As in France, a Physicians common Fee for coming to a patient is a Quard escu, or 1. sh. 6. d.
6. That the Lands and Goods of all Papists, who cannot be lawfully charged or convicted by two sufficient witnesses either to have been in Arms against the Parliament or to have aided or assisted the King, be immediately discharged of all sequestrations, and unjust seizures, since that delinquency being cleared, it will follow, that they suffer meerly for Conscience sake, if still sequestred.
7. That Papists in Armes may be no worse dealt with in their Compositions then others in Armes; since to lay a Fine or mulct upon their Religion, is no waies in order to Liberty of Conscience.
8. That no person be disabled from bearing any Office in the Common-Wealth, for any opinion or practise in Religion, though contrary to the publique way.
9. That all persons whatsoever now in durance, who cannot be charged with any crime against the State, or are not imprisoned for debt, but that suffer only for Conscience sake, may be forthwith discharged.
Some perhaps may here object, that to grant thus much, would be too much in favour of the Papists; Whereunto we answer, That as we beare them no more love then what one Christian is bound to shew unto another, and their tenets much lesse; so we are clear of opinion, that it cannot perfectly be said to be Liberty of Conscience, nor can it be warranted by Scripture, that they or any others that weare the Title of Christians, should be excluded; besides, if any restrictions or penalties shall be continued on the Papists, though for the present we and other well-affected persons may be secure and unmolested, yet we know not how soon the same Lawes or penalties by any change of times, may be laid upon us; As hath been too evident of late yeares, when as the penall Statutes which we know were primarily intended against Papists and their Adherents, were made a foundation for the Bishops to exercise their Lordly and tyrannicall wills over many peaceable and conscientious men, for non-conformity in matters of Religion.
Here we may add the consistency of Liberty of Conscience, with many, nay most Governments, whether Monarchicall, Popular, or mixt, As in France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, &c. where diversity of Faith exiles no confidence, but persons of all Religions are indifferently employed and found faithfull in Offices and places of greatest trust.
Againe if there be such penalties and restrictions put upon mens Consciences, they cannot be termed Free-borne People, and English Natives, but rather aliens, outlawes or men bar’d of all propriety of persons and goods, and without the protection of the Lawes, which are every mans birth-right; and what is the case of others to day, may be ours to morrow, according to the ebb or flow of fortune.
Here perhaps some others will object and say, that though all other Religions ought to be tolerated, yet Papists ought not, because they are Idolaters; whereto if you will take the answer, which we have heard some of them deliver (for we think it just to hear all parties, and hold it a work of Charity to convert any, by arguments from the Written Word) their answer is this, that they give not Pictures or such representations (as they call them) any Soveraigne honor, which is that that properly belongs to God, but an inferiour or relative kind of reverence or honor.
And if we take Papists in our or the common received sence, yet we cannot say they are such Idolaters, as those mentioned in the old Testament, who absolutely adored, even with Soveraigne honor, the Images of false Gods, which these Papists (for ought we can learne) doe not doe, but doe adore the Image of the true God; and therefore cannot properly be called Idolaters, at least in Scripture sence, but rather superstitious and Popish persons.
But supposing it to be lawfull or warranted by the Word of God, to persecute the Papists or any other sort of people professing Christ, yet we have observed in these last 7. years of their persecution, (which we confesse has been very severe, and we beleeve that their persecutors, if they ever get the power, will be as rigid and unchristian towards us) when many of them have been hang’d, drawn and quartered, others 7. or 8. yeares imprisoned onely for refusing such oathes as we, or perhaps the persecutors themselves cannot in conscience take, and many of their Estates sequestred onely for non-conformity in matters of Religion, yet we doe not see that this persecution hath any thing at all abated or lessened the number of them, but that they are rather increas’d by suffering; so that whether we respect our own principle, of doing to others as we would be done unto, or be steered by reasons of Religion or of common policy, we humbly offer and think fit, that no Agreement of the People be concluded (or offered to publike test) by any Representative, but that as a principal & materiall part which belongs to God, Liberty of Conscience to all that professe Christ without exception may be inserted, and the foresaid grievances redressed; so shall we with all true and Free-borne English men joyne hands and hearts against all Enemies to Peace and Godlinesse.
T.185 [1649.03.21] (6.5) [Signed by Robert Ward, Thomas Watfon, Simon Graunt, George Jellis, William Sawyer (or 5 “Beagles”), but attributed to Richard Overton or John Lilburne], The Hunting of the Foxes (21 March 1649).
[Signed by Robert Ward, Thomas Watfon, Simon Graunt, George Jellis, William
Sawyer (or 5 “Beagles”), but attributed to Richard Overton or John Lilburne], The Hunting of the Foxes from New-Market and Triploe-Heaths to White-Hall,
by five small Beagles (late of the Armie.) Or The Drandie-Deceivers Unmasked
(that you may know them.) Directed to all the Free-Commons of England, but
in especiall, to all that have, and are still engaged in the Military Service
of the Common-Wealth. By Robert Ward, Thomas Watson, Simon Graunt, George Jellis,
and William Sawyer, late Members of the Army.
Printed in a Corner of Freedome, right opposite to the Councel of Warre, Anno Domini, 1649.
The Tract contains the following parts:
21 March 1649.
TT1, p. 732; Thomason E. 548. (7.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
When we remember our solemn Engagement at Newmarket and Triploe-Heaths, and but therewith consider and compare the strange actings that have been, and still are carried on in the name of the Army (as if upon the accompt of that Engagement) we are even startled at the palpable contrariety and disparity that appeareth betwixt them; for the difference is as great and as wide, as betwixt bondage and freedom: So that it hath put us upon consideration to finde out and discover, where the fault lurketh; and upon serious thoughts, wee cannot impute the declinings of the first Principles of the Army, to the Army it self, but rather to some Persons of private and dangerous interests, usurping and surprising the name of the Army; like as it was said of the 11 impeached Members, concerning the Name and Authority of Parliament, imprinting the face and stampe of that Authority upon their prodigious designs, to the great abuse of the Parliament, as this must needs be of the Army. These, as too many such there be, are Foxes of the deepest kinde, more deceitfull and pernitious than their predecessours; and that such there are, wofull experience puts it out of question: and who they are the print of their footsteps is so evident, that you may trace them from step to step, from hole to hole to their Master Den, where you may finde the whole litter of Foxes in conspiracy, and you may know them by their shapes. Thus then to their footsteps.
When in the times of Stapteton & Hollis, the then faction was aspired to that height of tyranny and insolency, as to overtop the authority and native freedom of the People, threatning generall vassalage to the whole Nation, then the private souldiery (to interpose betwixt the people and their destroiers) drew themselves into that solemn Engagement of June 5. 1647. in the attempting and transaction of which they found no small opposition (as may well be remembred) amongst the Officers; and at that time Cromwell highly dissented, notwithstanding the earnest solicitation and importunity of many friends, til he was forced for fear of imprisonment, to fly to the then engaging souldiery (the day after the first Rendezvous) for refuge, and then Cromwell and Ireton, when they saw no other way to preserve themselves and their interest, engaged in the subversion of that domineering, tyrannical faction, and assuming high offices to themselves, acting as generall Officers, without the election of the soldiery, or Commission from the Parliament, being out by the self-denying Ordinance, and the General having no power to make generall Officers.
And being thus seated, even before they were well warmed in their places, they begin to stomack the sitting of the private souldiers in Councel with them; although it is wel known, that the actions of the Army, moving as an Army, in relation to that Engagement, was, first to be concluded of by a Councell, to consist of those generall Officers (who concurred with the Army in their then just undertakings) with two Commission Officers and two soldiers to be chosen for each Regiment; but a Councell thus modelled, was not sutable to their wonted greatnes and ambition, it was somewhat of scorn to them, that a private soldier (though the Representour of a Regiment) should sit cheek by joll with them, and have with an Officer an equall vote in that Councel: This was a thing savoured too much of the peoples authority and power, and therefore inconsistent with the transaction of their lordly Interest; the title of free Election (the original of all just authorities) must give place to prerogative patent (the root of all exorbitant powers) that Councel must change the derivation of its session, and being from Agreement and election of the souldiery to the patent of the Officers, and none to sit there but commission Officers, like so many patentee Lords in the high Court of Parliament, deriving their title from the will of their General, as the other did theirs, from the will of the King: so that the difference was no other, but in the chang of names: Here was (when at this perfection) as absolute a Monarchy, and as absolute a Prerogative Court over the Army, as Commoners, as ever there was over the Common-wealth, and accordingly this Councel was overswarmed with Colonels, Lieut. Colonels, Majors, Captains, &c. contrary to and beyond the tenour of the Engagement.
Hence followed secret murmurings & whisperings amongst the Prerogative Officers against the session and power of the Agitators, and at length palpable endeavors broke forth to suppress them: & so soon as the Officers had wound up themselvs to a faction, sufficient to overtop them, and finding the privity of the Agitators in their Councels was an impediment to their evil interest and ambition, then it was openly given out, That they stood as souldiers, only to serve the State, and might not as free Commons insist upon their liberty; and that the ground of their refusing to disband, was, only the want of Arrears and Indempnity, which, how contrary to their Engagement, Declarations, Representations, See. Hear, O heavens, and judge, O earth! for doth not their Declaration of Jun. 14. 1647. in their persons thus speak.
“We shall before disbanding proceed in our own and the Kingdoms behalf, &c. especially considering, that we were not a Mercinary Army, hired to serve any Arbitrary power of a state, but called forth and conjured by the several Declarations of Parliament to the defence of our own, & the peoples just Rights & Liberties.” And if of our own, then not to destroy our right of Petitioning, for that is in the number of our own, and so formerly owned by themselves. And further some few lines after they thus proceed.
“The said Declaration stil directing us to the equitable sense of all Laws and Constitutions, as dispensing with the very letter of the same, and being supream to it, when the safety and preservation of all is concerned, and assured us. That all Authority is fundamentally seated in the Office, and but ministerially in the Persons:” And then to confirm and justifie their motion, as Commoners in behalf of the People, they cite the Presidents of Scotland, Netherlands, Portugall, and others; adding this, “That accordingly the Parliament hath declared it no resisting of Magistracy, to side with the just principles and law of Nature and Nations, being that Law, upon which we have assisted you; and that the souldiers may lawfully hold the hands of the Generall (and if of the Generall then of Cromwell, Ireton and Harrison) who will turn his Cannon against the Army, on purpose to destroy them; the Sea-man the hands of that Pilot who wilfully runs the ship upon a rock, as our brethren of Scotland argued, and such were the proceedings of our Ancestours of famous memory, &c.”
Here out of their owne mouths it is contest, That the souldiery are not, nor ought to be mercinary; and that the General (and so consequently all the Officers) may be opposed by the souldiery in case of an immanent destruction to them; and how absolutely destructive it is to them, to be deprived of their right as Commoners, and not suffered upon pain of death or cashierment to petition the Parliament, but to be rendred meerly mercinary to the lusts and ambitions of two or three persons, to serve their pernicious ends, let the world judge: This is a case so plain, so obvious and evident, as none can deny, but that it is a palpable subversion of the Right of the Souldiery; and therfore in such a case they are bound to oppose their Officers, and it is no resisting of the General, nor of the Officers, no more than it is a resisting Magistracy, to side with the just Principles and law of Nature and Nations, as themselves have owned and contest, and if they will not stand to it, they must be kept to it.
And besides, if the equity of the Law be superiour (as they say) to the letter, and if the letter should controll and overthrow the equity, it is to be controld and overthrown it self, and the equity to be preserved, then the rule of the same reason doth tell them, that the Officer is but the form or letter of the Army; and therefore inferiour to the equitable or essentiall part, the Souldiery, and to be controlled and overthrown themselves, when they controll and overthrow the Souldiery in the essentials of their being, life, liberty and freedom, as the souldiery are, when by the Officers rendred meerly mercinary, and denied their right of addresse by way of Petition to the Parliament, for to be tortur’d, enslav’d and opprest, and not suffer’d to complain, but tormented and abused for complaining (although to the Parliament, the undoubted right of an English-man) is the highest cruelty, villany and slavery can be imagined, even Tyranny at the height, and therfore to be opposed by the Souldiery.
And thus, and upon these fundamentals of Nature and Reason the Netherlands made their resistance against the King of Spain. Thus rose the Scots up in arms, and entered this Kingdom, immediately before this Parliament, without all formal countenance or allowance of King or Parliament, since owned and justified by this Parliament. Thus this Parliament took up arms against the King: and thus the Parliament of France now taketh up armes: yea thus this Army enter’d upon their solemn Engagement against the oppressing party at Westminster. And thus may the souldiery renue and revive the same, and even oppose, contradict, dispute and overrule the commands of their Officers themselvs to the contrary, and be equally justifiable with the foregoing presidents. But to return to the matter in hand.
When Cromwell and Ireton, and their faction of self interessed Officers thought they had got the souldiery fast by the brain, as to dote sufficiently upon their transaction and conduct of busines, they then decline the Agitators, decline the Engagement, sleight their Declarations and Promises to the people and Army, rendring the Agitatours but as ciphers amongst them, corrupting some with places, overruling and overawing others, and so bringing the transactions of the Army in order to their solemn Engagement, only to themselves, under the impression and name of his Excellency, and his Councel of War, & so by degrees, step after step they cast out the interest of the souldiery from amongst them, destroied the Engagement, and broke the faith of the Army.
So that the honest souldiery not seeing any redresse, the rights and freedoms of the Nation not cleared or secured, no indempnity or security for arrears, or provision for present pay, no determinate period of time set, when the Parliament should certainly end, no publike vindication of the Army from that most horrid Declaration against the souldiery for petitioning, nor of suppressing and burning Petitions, abusing and imprisoning petitioners, &c.
These things the souldiery beholding and observing, endeavored to restore their Agents to a competent power and ability, to make good the faith of the Army to the people, but then they found the hottest opposition from Cromwell and Ireton with his faction of Officers, as who ever cals but to mind the busines of Ware, when Col. Eyer was imprisoned, and M. Arnold a private souldier was shot to death for promoting and assisting the work of the souldiery in reference to the solemn Engagement of the Army, may know.
And then it may be remembred how insolent & furious Cromwell deported himself against the honest observers of the faith of the Army, it being then made death to observe the Engagement, or but speak for the Agitators: O let that day never be forgotten! let not the bloud of that innocent person be here had out of remembrance, till justice be had for the same; neither let our Engagement or the perfidious perjured subverters thereof be forgotten; for here the Engagement was utterly cast aside, and the Adjutators laid by, and after that no more Agitators would be permitted, but the sentence of death, imprisonment, and cashierments for all that endeavored the reviving thereof was denounced: here the right of the soldiery was clearly destroied, and the Gen. Officers became lords of the name of the Army, assuming the same to themselves, and fitting the impression thereof upon all their future actings, to the abuse and surprisall of the Army; although in deed and in truth no transacting since by Cromwell, Ireton, and their Officers, though in the name of the Gen. Councel of the Army, wil be accounted or imputed to the act of the Army, for it is no Gen. Councel, neither doth it represent the Army, neither hath it the Authority or Commission of the Army therin; for it is another Councel, differing from that of the Engagement of the Army, that was by election, this is by force and obtrusion, in that the soldiery were represented, in this only the Officers, that is to consist of those Gen. Officers concurring with the Engagement, two Com. Officers, and two soldiers chosen out of every Regiment, this is only a Councel of war, whose power doth extend to no transaction in the name of the Army, as Commoners, but only to matters of war, as souldiers: therefore their propositions and tamperings with the King, their march up to London, their violent secluding of so many members from Parl. their triall and execution of the King, of D. Hamilton, Holland, and stout Capel, their erection of the high Court, of the Counsel of State, and their raigning in, & overruling the House, their stopping the Presses, committing violent outrages and cruelties therupon, their usurpation of the civil Authority, &c. are not to be esteemed as actions of the Army, they are not to be set upon the score of the soldiery, for the soldiery hath no mouth in their Councels, neither have they therin to do.
Thus it may well be conceived, that their clothing themselves with the glorious Garments of that Engagement, with their manifold Declarations, Remonstrances, &c. was but in order to what time hath since made manifest, to heave out Stapleton and that faction, to grasp the sole dominion into their own hands: for by their fair speeches and fawning dissimulations, they courted the Souldiery and honest party of the Common-wealth into a strong delusion, even to believe their lyes, their enchantments, and sorceries: Never were such Saints, such curious Angels of light; Pharaohs Egyptian Sorcerers were short of these in their Art. And when by that means they had compassed their ends against Hollis and his, they were so far from insisting upon the premises of their former promises and vows, that they resolve upon an Hocas Pocas trick with the King, and so set upon the work (to make him a Pandor to their dominion and power, to make him a skreen betwixt them and the people) and they drive it to a bargain, Cromwel to be made Earl of Essex, and that (beside his George and blew Ribband) to be a Knight of the Garter, his own son to be Bed chamber-man to the Prince, and his Son in law Ireton, either Lord Deputy of Ireland, or at least Field Marshal General of Ireland, and his own Son (that commanded the Gen. Life Guard) said that the King had cast himself upon his father and brother Ireton, to make his terms for him, and restore him again: [Margin note: This was delivered by Lieut. Col. John Lilburne, and offered by him to be made good upon his life, at the Bar of the House of Commons.] And to that end, they frame expedients sutable to his Prerogative Principles, cunningly interweaving the same in their business called the Proposals for the selling a just and lasting Peace (as they called it) in the heads whereof were couched the several foundations of Regal Tyranny, seating the whole power and authority of this Nation, fundamentally in the Kings will, making the same supreme, or a law paramount, to all the determinations of Parliament: This is the unanimous voice of the 1, 2, and 3. particulars, under the first general Proposal, and the last is a seal to them all. But this expedient failing them, as to their exorbitant intents, they cast off those robes of Royalty with which they had rendred themselves acceptable with the King’s adherents, and laid aside the King and them, finding the way of an Agreement of the People to be much affected and endeavoured after among the Souldiery, they also invest themselves with that Robe, to hide their deformity from the Army; and the better to allay all motions after the same, they confess and acknowledge the excellency and goodness of the premisses, they only find the same unseasonable; and this was drest out in such taking Saint-like language, as the religious people might best be surprised, not suspecting any venemous thing to be lurking under the leaf of their holy and sacred pretences: they call Fasts (a certain fore-runner of mischief with them) cry, and howl, and bedew their cheeks with the tears of hypocrsie and deceit, confess their iniquity and abomination in declining the cause of the people, and tampering with the King; and humbly, as in the presence of the all-seeing God, acknowledge the way of an Agreement of the People, to be the way to our Peace and Freedom; and even then, as soon as they had wiped their eys and their mouths, they proceed even to death, imprisonment or cashierment of all such in the Army as promoted or owned that Agreement; and to fan and cull all such Asserters of the Peoples Freedoms out of the Army, they proceed to disband 20. out of a Troup; by which the honest party of the Souldiery was very much weakned, and all the promoters of Freedom discouraged, and the people struck into desperation; which gave rise unto the second war amongst our selves, and invasion of the Scots: But the same by the great blessing of God being over, they finding the old affection of the Souldiers not yet quenched or much cooled, and great motions in the several Regiments after the Freedom of the Nation; they then formalize again, and to keep the honest party in suspense, and to wait upon their motions, and to cease from their own; and the better to make way to the ambitious intents of those Grandees, they then as a cloke, take up the way of an Agreement again, to present themselves amiable unto us; and a great pudder they make in their Councel about an Agreement, and one they brought forth, but such an one as was most abhorred by such as most fought after the way of an Agreement; so inconsistant it was with the true foundations of equal Freedom and Right; but by this means they so far prevailed over the most constant and faithful friends to the People, as to beget an acquiescence in them for a season, till they in the mean time so far effected their business, as to the introduction of an absolute platform of Tyranie, long since hatched by Ireton, for it was he who first offered that expedient of Government by way of a Councel of State, which was soon after the Armies engagement neer New-market-heath, and which ever since he hath kept in the vail, but now the vail is taken away, and it is now presented to the view of all men; But no sooner was this Monster born into the world, but it devours up half of the Parliament of England, and now it is about adorning it self with all Regal magnificence, and majesty of Courtly attendance, &c. and like the 30. Tyrants of Athens, to head it self over the people: This is, and yet this is not our new intended King, there is a king to succeed, this is but his Vice-roy: O Cromwel! whither art thou aspiring? The word is already given out amongst their officers, That this Nation must have one prime Magistrate or Ruler over them, and that the General hath power to make a law to bind all the Commons of England: This was most daringly and desperately avowed at White-hall; and to this temper these Court-Officers are now a moulding, he that runs may read and fore-see the intent, a New Regality! And thus by their Machiavilian pretenses, and wicked practises, they are become masters and usurpers of the name of the Army, and of the name of the Parliament; under which Visors they have levell’d and destroyed all the Authority of this Nation: For the Parliament indeed and in truth is no Parliament, but a Representative Class of the Councel of War; and the Councel of War but the Representative of Cromwel, Ireton, and Harrison; and these are the all in all of this Nation, which under these guises and names of Parliament, Army, General Councel, High Court, and Councel of State, play all the strange pranks that are play’d.
Deer Countreymen and fellow-souldiers, you that by your adventerous hazards and bloud have purchased a precedency in your Native and just Rights; Consider and weigh these things in your hearts, for surely none are more deeply concerned than your selves, none are more highly infringed of their Rights than you; You are not so much as suffered (how oppress’d or abus’d your selves, how sensible of the miseries of the publike soever) to represent your desires or apprehensions to the Parliament; while you are souldiers, you (in their account) are no Free-men, neither have an equal right in the Common-wealth with other of your fellowmembers therein. The General now tells us, if we will petition, we must lay down our swords; these were his own words unto us. It seems he hath forgot the contest of the Army (in which he concurred) with Stapleton and Hollis about their right of Petitioning as Souldiers; Why then (if this must be their received maxime) did he and the General Councel (as by usurpation they call it) present their petition, since we presented ours, and not lay down their swords and their high places, and petition as private Commoners? We are confident it would be an happy day for England, would they but practise that doctrine they preach unto others; But alas deer friends, it is but in this case with them as in all others, they condemned Stapleton and Hollis, because they were not the Stapletons and Hollis’s themselves; they condemned privat correspondencies with the King, because they were not the corresponders themselves; they condemned the force offered to the Parliament by the tumult of Apprentices, &c. because they were not the forcers themselves; they condemned that monstrous declaration of the Parliament against the Souldiers petitioning; they condemned the imprisoning petitioners, and burning petitions, because they were not the Declarers, Imprisoners, and Burners themselves: As who, that doth but consider their waies, may not plainly discern.
But to trace the foot-steps of those Foxes yet a little further, we shall discover their dealings with us. When they heard that the Soldiers were about a petition in behalf of themselves and the people for whom they had engaged, they thereat were highly offended and enraged, and desperate motions upon it were made in their Conventicle (by themselves stiled the General Councel) some moved for an Act of Parliament, that they might have power to try, judge, condemn, and punish all such, whether of the Army or not of the Army, as should disturb them (as they now call it) by petition to the Parl. or otherwise; and upon the modest reply of one, who desired that the execution of civil affairs, might be left to the Magistrate, Col. Huson answered, we have had tryal enough of Civil Courts, we can hang 20. before they will hang one, and in the Lobby at the Parl. dore, the said Huson breathing out bitter invectives against us Petitioners, who then were waiting at the dore for an answer to our petition, said thus openly, O that any of them (speaking of the Petitioners) durst come into my Regiment, they should never go out; we shall never be quiet till some of them be cut off for examples, and then the rest will be quash’d; there are 10. about this Town that better deserve to be hanged, than those Lords that are at their Tryal before the high Court. And now the Colonels, Lieut. Col. Maj. Capt. of this Gen. Councel, are now moulding up to that sweet temper, insomuch that about March 6. they concluded on the Act, it must now be death to petition, or for any Countryman to talk to us concerning ours and their Freedom: This enforceth us to put you in remembrance of their former words, for out of their own mouths they are judged.
In the Book of the Armies Declaration, pag. 17. we humbly represent in their and our behalfs, as followeth: 1. That whereas it pleased the Honourable Houses of Parliament, having received information of a dangerous Petition in the Army, to declare and immediately to publish in print to the Kingdom, that that Petition did tend to put the Army in distemper and mutiny, to obstruct the relief of Ireland, and put conditions on the Parliament: And declaring the Petitioners if they shall continue in the promoting and advancing that Petition, shall be lookt upon, and proceeded against, as enemies to the State, and disturbers to the publick Peace.
We cannot chuse, but with sadnesse of Spirit be deeply sensible that so humble and innocent Addresse could beget so strange an Interpretation.
Yet now Stapleton and Hollis being removed, are not they in the same steps? do not they call the Humble and Innocent Addresses of the Souldiers to the Parliament, Disturbance to their proceedings, and to the Publick Peace? And do not they seek for worse than a Declaration, an Act of Parliament, to put to death for Petitioning? And even as Stapleton and Hollis would have divided and broken the Army, under the pretence of relief for Ireland, do not these men now do the like? it was formerly opposed and condemned by them, it is now their own expedient.
In the particular charge against the 11. Members, pag. 83. Article 5. That the said M. Hollis, Sr Philip Stapleton, and M. Glyn, have been and are obstructers and prejudices of several Petitioners to the Parliament, for redresse of publick grievances: And the said Mr Hollis, and Sr Philip Stapleton, in the moneth of May, last past, did abuse and affront divers Petitions, offering to draw their swords upon Major Tuleday, and others of the said Petitioners, causing Nicholas Tew to be imprisoned in Newgate, and to be detained a long time there, for no other cause, but for having a Petition about him, which was to be presented to the House: O how carefull were they then, of, the freedom of the People to Petition!
In the eighth Article, fol. 85. Hollis is charged with procuring of the foresaid Declaration against the Souldiers petitioning, as a thing to the great dishonour of the Parliament, to the insufferable injury, the just provocations, discouragement, and discontent of the Army, &c.
O Crumwell, O Ireton, how hath a little time and successe changed the honest shape of so many Officers! who then would have thought the Councel would have moved for an act to put men to death for Petitioning? who would have thought to have seen Souldiers (by their Order) to ride with their faces towards their Horse tailes, to have their Swords broken over their Heads, and to be casheered, and that for Petitioning, and claiming their just right and title to the same? Such dealing as this was accounted in their Representation of Iune the 4. and 5. 1647. to be against the right both of a Souldier and a Subject. And in pag. 33. it thus saith, And if our liberty of Petitioning for our due be denyed us, and be rendred such a crime (as by the said Order and Declaration.) we cannot but look for the same, or worse, hereafter, not only to our selves, but to all the free-born People of the Land in the like case. And so this President (if it stand good) would extend in the consequence of it, to render all Souldiers under this Parliament the worst of slaves, and all Subjects little better. And though there hath been of late in other mens cases, too many dangerous presidents of suppressing Petitions, and punishing or censuring the Petitioners, &c.
Then they could say, (pag. 35.) Let every honest English man lay his hand on his heart, weigh our case, and make it his own, (as in consequence it is) and then judge for us and himself. But if we now lay our hands on our hearts, and weigh their present case, what may we say for them or our selves? we may forbear pronouncing the sentence they have said for themselves and us.
In the Declaration, Iune 14. 1647. fol. 44. We desire, that the right and freedom of the People, to represent to the Parliament by way of Petition, their grievances may be cleared and vindicated.
In the Remonstrance, June 23. 1647. fol. 58. They account the suppressing of Petitioning in the Army, an infringement of the Rights and Liberties, both of Souldiers and Subjects. And (fol. 60. of the same Declaration,) a putting the faithfull servants of the Parliament and Kingdom out of the protection of the Law. Divers other passages of moment out of their own Declarations, Remonstrances, &c. might be cited: but here is sufficient to condemne their violence against, and justifie the Souldiery in Petitioning.
Was there ever a generation of men so Apostate so false and so perjur’d as these? did ever men pretend an higher degree of Holinesse, Religion, and Zeal to God and their Country than these? these preach, these fast, these pray, these have nothing more frequent then the sentences of sacred Scripture, the Name of God and of Christ in their mouthes: You shall scarce speak to Crumwell about any thing, but he will lay his hand on his breast, elevate his eyes, and call God to record, he will weep, howl and repent, even while he doth smite you under the first rib. Captain Joyce and Captain Vernam can tell you sufficient stories to that purpose.
Thus it is evident to the whole World, that the now present interest of the Officers is directly contrary to the interest of the Souldiery: there is no more difference betwixt them, than betwixt Christ and Belial, light and darknesse: if you will uphold the interest of the one, the other must down; and as well you may let them bore holes through your ears, and be their slaves for ever, for your better distinction from free men: for what are you now? your mouths are stopped, you may be abused and enslaved, but you may not complain, you may not Petition for redresse; they are your Lords, and you are their conquered vassals, and this is the state you are in: If a Souldier commit but a seeming fault, especially if by their tentred far fetcht consequences they can make it but reflect on their prerogative greatnesse: Oh to what an height that crime as they call it, is advanced? what aggravations and load is laid upon it? and if there be never an Article in their out-landish Mercinary Articles of Warre, that will touch them; yet they find one in their discretionary conclave, that will doe the businesse, for there must be no standing against the Officers; they must be impeached only by their Peers, the Souldier must not say Black is their eye; if they say the Crow is white, so must the Souldier; he must not lisp a sillable against their treacheries and abuses of the State, their false Musters, and cheating the Souldiery of their pay, though it be their constant and familiar practise: that Souldier that is so presumptuous as to dare to Article against an Officer, must be casheered: Quartermaster Harby was but the other day casheered, but for delivering in a Charge of Delinquency against Lieut. Col. Ashfield, for his perfideous confederacy with treacherous Lilburn, that betrayed Tinmouth Castle: and dayly honest men are casheered for complaining against their Officers: no interest must now stand in the Army, that is against the interest of the Officers, we must all bow to their Lordships, and lay down our necks under their feet, and count it our honour that they will but be pleased to tread upon us, but like worms we must not turn again, upon pain of death, or casheerment. This makes us call to mind the saying of Ireton to honest Major Cobbett of Snow hill, who for joyning with the Agents of the Army asked him, if he were not deluded in his understanding in joyning with the giddy headed Souldiers: and advised him not to run against the interest of himselfe and the Officers. And now we have plainly found what that interest was, it was long a forging, but is now brought forth: but like a Viper, we hope it will gnaw out their own bowels.
But now dear friends, that you may see that their Conclave of Officers at White Hall hath suckt into it the venome of all former corrupt Courts, and interests that were before them, we shall shew you how the Court of the High Commission, the Star chamber, the House of Lords, the King and his Privy Councel are all alive in that Court, called the General Councel of the Army.
First if you do but remember, the King to his death stood upon this principle. That he was accomptable to none but God; that he was above the Parliament, and above the People. And now to whom will these be accomptable? to none on Earth. And are they not above the Parliament? they have even a Negative voice thereover: Formerly the Commons could passe nothing without the concurrence of the Lords, now they dare passe nothing without the concurrence of the Conclave of Officers: we were before ruled by King, Lords, and Commons; now by a General, a Court Martial, and House of Commons: and we pray you what is the difference? the Lords were not Members both of the House of Lords, and of the House of Commons, but those are Members both in the House of Officers, (the Martial Lords,) and in the House of Commons. The old Kings person, and the old Lords, are but removed, and a new King and new Lords, with the Commons, are in one House; and so under a more absolute arbitrary Monarchy than before. We have not the change of a Kingdom to a Common wealth; we are onely under the old cheat, the transmutation of Names, but with the addition of New Tyrannies to the old: for the casting out of one unclean Spirit they have brought with them in his stead seven other unclean Spirits, more wicked than the former, and they have entered in, and dwell there; and the last state of this Common wealth, is worse than the first.
Now as for their High Commission and Star-chamber practises, if you will be pleased to view over an Epitomy of our several Examinations before them; you may have a perfect Embleme of those Courts before your eyes; and to that end (and not out of any vain-glorious folly,) we have subjoyned an Abstract of their Interrogatives, with our Answers; together with their Sentence they passed upon us. But first we desire you to take notice, that the matter which they made the occasion of advantage to proceed against us, was a Paper which we delivered to the General, a Copy whereof (lest you should not have seen it) we herewith present you: and then we shall proceed to our Examinations.
We have lately made our humble addresse unto the peoples Representors in Parliament, concerning some relief to our selves and the Commonwealth, by way of Petition, the meanest and lowest degree of an English mans Freedome that we know of, and yet the same (to our astonishment) hath much distasted and imbittered divers of our Superiour Officers (in this Councel convening) against us, as we perceive, and that even unto death.
We therefore being willing to avoid all occasion of offence and division, and to cleare our selves from all imputations thereof, that in Justice and Reason may be conceived against us, desire, that you would be pleased to consider, that we are English Souldiers engaged for the Freedoms of England; and not outlandish mercenaries, to butcher the people for pay, to serve the pernitious ends of ambition and will in any person under Heaven. That we do not imagine our selves absolved from the solemn Engagement at Newmarket Heath, but to be still obliged before God and the whole world to pursue the just ends of the same; and you may remember your many promises and Declarations to the people upon that accompt, which like the blood of Abel cries for justice upon the perfidious infringers and perverters thereof in this Army. You may further remember, that it hath been a principle by you asserted and avowed, that our being Souldiers hath not deprived us of our Right as Commoners, and to Petition the people in Parliament, we do account in the number of our Birthrights; and you may remember that in the time of the domination of Stapleton & Hollis, you complained against their then endeavour to suppresse the liberty of the Souldiers to petition, as an insufferable infringement of the right of the Army and people; and we hope you did not then condemn it in them, to justifie it in your selves: when the power was theirs, it was then condemned; but now it is yours, how comes it to be justified? In the point of Petitioning, we expected your encouragement, and not to have manacles and fetters laid upon it: it is not the bare name or shadow thereof will satisfie us, while we are gull’d of the essence of it self; it is a perfect freedome therein we desire, not therein to be subjected under the Gradual Negative voices of a Captain, a Colonel, your Excllency, or this Councel, to passe the test from one Negative voice to another for its approvement, we account as the most vexatious Labyrinth of thraldom that in this point can be devised, worse then all the opposition and infringements of Stapleton and Hollis; we had rather that in plain terms you would deny us our right of petitioning, and pronounce and proclaim us absolute Slaves and Vassals to our Officers, then secretly to rob us of the right it self. God hath in some measure opened our eyes, that we can see and perceive; and we desire plain dealing, and not to be met half-way with smooth Expedients, and Mediums facing both wayes, with specious and fair pretences, to overtake our sudden apprehensions, and unawares steal upon us, and so be defeated, as too often we have been, to the woe and misery of the people, and of us: but The burnt child dreads the fire.
Further we desire you to consider. That the strength, the honour and being of the Officer, yea and of this Councel (under God) doth consist in the Arme of the Souldier. Is it not the Souldier that endureth the heat and burden of the day, and performeth that work whereof the Officers beareth the glory and name? For what is, or what can the Officer do without the Souldier? If nothing, why are they not ashamed to deny us our right to petition?
We have long waited in silence, even while we could perceive any hopes of any reall redresse from them. But now finding the Military power in an absolute usurpation of the Civill Jurisdiction, in the place of the Magistrate executing that authority, by which the sword of the Magistrate, and the sword of war is incroached into the self same hands under one Military head, which we disclaim and abhorre, as not having any hand or assent therein at all. And we find a strange and unexpected constitution of a Councell of State, Such as neither we or our fore fathers were ever acquainted with, intrusted with little lesse then an unlimited power, & with the whole force both of Sea and Land, into which is combined the most pernitious interests of our rotten State, Lords, Lawyers, Star-Chamber Judges, and dissenters from the proceedings against the King, And which hath already swallowed up half our Parliament, and we fear to be an expedient to cut off our Parliaments, for ever; for if this Councel of State survive the Parliament, how shall we obtain a new Representative, if the Parliament sit but till a new one be ready to take their places, farwell Parliaments farwell Freedoms.
Further we find, the just and legall way of triall by twelve men of the neighbourhood in criminall cases, utterly subverted in this new constitution of an High Court, a President for ought we know, to frame all the Courts of England by, and to which our selves may be as well subjected as our enemies. And considering not one oppression is removed, not one vexation in the Law abated, or one punctillio of freedom restored, or any fair hopes at all appearing, but oppression heaped upon the back of oppression, double cruelty upon cruelty, we therefore from those many considerations, betook our selves as English men to make our address unto the Parliament, as the proper refuge and authority of the people for our and their addresse, in which by birth we challenge a right, as also by the price and purchase of our hazard and blood; and our Civill Rights we cannot yeeld up, we shall first rather yeeld up our lives.
And thus after the weak measure of our understandings, we judge we have given a rationall and full accompt of the occasion and reason of our Petitioning, and we hope satisfactory to your Excellency and this Councell, humbly praying that you will make a charitable and fair construction thereon.
And we further desire, that you will take speciall notice of the serious Apprehension of a part of the people in behalf of the Common wealth, presented to the House by Lievt. Col. John Lilburn, & divers other Citizens of London, and the Burrough of Southwarke, Feb. 26. now published in print. To the which with due thankfulnesse to those our faithful friends the promoters and presenters thereof, we do freely and cheerefully concur, to stand or fall in the just prosecution thereof, as the most absolute medium to our peace and freedom that hath been produced, and we hope it will produce an happy effect upon this Councell, to prevent the otherwise inavoidable dissolation and devision that will ensue upon us all, which to prevent, shall be the faithfull endeavours of.
1. Being call’d in before the Court, the President demanded of him whether he owned the Letter, or no: he answered, Yea; and did admire he should be committed to prison for delivering his judgment to them.
2. They asked him where the said Letter was written, and who was present at the writing thereof: He answered, he thought that Court had abominated the Spanish Inquisition, and Star-chamber practice, in examining him upon Interrogatories, contrary to their own Declarations; and he would rather lose his life, then betray his Libertie.
3. They told him, he had not wit sufficient to compose such a Letter: He answered. The Letter he did own; and as for worldly wisdom, he had not much; but he told the Court, he hoped he had so much honesty as would bear him out in this action; and desired them to remember what Paul spake, how that God did chuse the foolish things of the world to confound the mighty.
4. They said, That notwithstanding what he might think of himself touching honesty, they would not be afraid to proceed in Judgment against him: To which he answered, they might do what they pleased, for he was in their hands, and they might take away his life if they would: but he assured they would bring innocent bloud upon their own heads. They answered, They did not much passe what he did say.
5. They did ask why they did print the Letter: To which hee answered, That he had been in prison, and it was impossible he or they should print in prison.
6. They asked how he proved the Civill and Military sword to be both in one hand. To which he answered. That some that sate in Councel with them, did likewise sit in the Parliament and Councell of State, contrary to what they had propounded to the People in their Agreement.
7. They asked what he had to say concerning the Councel of State. He answered, They did consist of corrupt persons; viz. Starchamber Judges, corrupt Lords, dissenters from the Proceedings against the late King, and of taking away the House of Lords: and trusted with little lesse then an unlimited power: now considering the persons, he told them, it seem’d to him very dangerous.
8. They asked him what he had to say concerning the subversion of our Liberties by the High Court of Justice. He answered: that it was a President (for ought he knew) to frame all the Courts in England by; considering that the lesser doth conform it self to the greater, and to which himself might be brought to tryall as well as others and so deprived of all liberty of exception against Triers.
9. They asked what he said concerning that clause, That no oppression was removed; the King and House of Lords being taken away, the chief cause of all oppression. To which he answered, That it was not the taking away of the King and House of Lords that made us free from oppression; for it was as good for him to suffer under the King, as under the keepers of the Liberties of England; both maintaining one and the same thing; viz. the corrupt administrations in the Law, treble dammage for Tythes, persecution for matter of Conscience, and oppression of the poor.
10. They asked what he thought of the serious apprehension of part of the People, in behalf of themselves and the Commonwealth, delivered to the Parliament by Lieutenant Col. John Lilburn and divers others: To which he being about to answer, they put him forth with confidence that he did own it.
After this they were all committed to prison again: and after three hours call’d again before the Court, and there Sentence read; at which time he told the Court, That they might as well take away his coat as his sword, it being his own proper goods, and never drew it against any but the Nations declared Enemies: and he did appeal from them, to a just God, before whom both they and he should one day appear to give an account of their actions: For the speaking of which, they told him, that by the Articles of War he did deserve death. He told them, it was more than he knew; and so was carried again to prison. And for this deportment, the Marshal General told him he had no more breeding then a Pig.
The President asked him whether he did own the Letter: He answered, he did. Then they asked him when he saw the Letter: He told them, before he came to the Generall. They demanded, how long before: Hee told them, two hours. They asked, when, and at what house, and where he did see it first? But apprehending they had not wherewithall to condemn him, but High Commission like sought an advantage out of his mouth, he replyed, if they had any thing against him as matter of Charge, he desired that they would draw it up against him, and if they would give him time, he would answer it. Yes (said Colonel Baxter) and then he that wrote the Letter, would write the Answer. To which he replyed, It was his pleasure to say so. Then the Judge Advocate asked him, whether he did apprehend the Martiall Sword and the Magisteriall Sword were encroached into one another. He answered, he did apprehend it was so; because he did see daily, that many Souldiers did go about to draw and pull men out of their houses, as well as the Civill Magistrate, yea and more. Then he was asked whether he did own all the Letter: He answered, he did own it all. They told him, there were many lyes in it; and asked whether he did own them. But he replyed, that (as he conceived) there was none: he had set his hand to it, and would own it. Many more such like catchizing Interrogatories they put to him; but as frivolous as these.
The President first demanded of him, whether he did own the Letter: He answered, he did own it. Then Col. Huson standing in the Court, told him, he had proclaimed open Wars against the Generall and the Councell. He answered, that Colonel Huson had past sentence upon him, it was in vain for him to say any thing. One of them replyed, that he knew not the practice of the Court. He answered, that they had no reason to accuse or condemn him for declaring his mind in reference to his Freedom, because they had declared in their own declarations, that in such things a man might write and speak his own mind freely. Nevertheless (he told them) if they had a Charge against him, and would produce it, he would answer it, if they would give him time; although they were not capable to judge him, because they declared he had abused the General and the Councel: and he had never heard, that they who were the Accusers, ought also to be the Judges.
Colonel Baxter asked him, Who wrote the Letter. He answered He came not to accuse himself or friends. Then he asked where it was written, and in whose house? He answered, In London. Baxter asked, why he gave orders to have it printed so quickly? He replied, How can you prove that? Then the Judge Advocate told him, it would have been better for him if he had confest, he had found more mercy from the Court, for his obstinacie would gain him nothing. To whom he replied, They had a limited power, and could do nothing but what God permitted them, and they must once appear before a righteous Judge: but as for their Censure, he valued it not. So he was remanded back to prison.
They demanded if he would own the Letter? He answered, he would, his hand was to it. They asked if he did write it? He answered, he did own it; and desired to know whether they would judge him in matters relating to the freedom of the Commonwealth by their Martial Law? They told him they would, being a Souldier. To which he replied, He was also Commoner of England: but if by their Martial Law he must be judged, he desired to know by what Article, in regard he had broken none? It was answered, upon the Article for Mutinie; and it was death. He replied, he had made no disturbance in the Army; and told them, that in the time of the predominance of Stapleton and Hollis, they then declared the Souldiery might petition the Parliament; but now the power was in their hands, the Souldiery had lost the Liberty thereof; and so desired God and the whole world might be Judge betwixt them. And upon his desiring of them to know whether they had seen the Agreement or no, they answered they had. He replied, it was therein concluded, that the Military sword & the Civil sword should not be encroached under one head. They answered, it was so, but that was left to the next Parliament to alter. But we wish they would tell us when that shall be; it is to be feared, it is never intended; for it is scarce imaginable they will ever venture the test of a new Representative, except they keep it under the sword, as they do this: let us have but a free successive Parliament, and wee’ll run the hazard of it.
Thus he that considereth their catching questions, and but remembreth the High-Commission and Star-Chamber proceedings shall find no difference betwixt these Courts, but in name. Wherefore all English Souldiers or Commoners, that have the least spark of true love to themselves and their Countries freedom, are bound now or never, to unite them selves against those Apostates, those Jesuites and Traitors to the people: Those are the Levellers indeed; for what have they not levelled? There is no trust or confidence ever any more to be had in them: for they have broken their faith with all parties, by which they have advanced themselves to this height of dominion into which they are intruded; and now they reigne as Kings, and sit upon the Throne of their Predecessor, whom they removed, to take succession over the people.
And now we shall give you a Copy of their Sentence they passed upon us, the which Baxter being President (as they call it) pronounced as followeth.
Gentlemen; for so I think I may without offence call you, for as yet you are Souldiers, but truly you are not long to continue so: For you are guilty of high crimes, as your Letter here by you owned doth manifest, being scandalous to the Parliament, Counsel of State, High Court of Justice, and tending to breed mutinie in the Army, for which you have in an high measure deserved death; but through the great mercie of the Court that is waved, and truly they have waved the Sentence again and again, and now they are come as low as possibly they can: and it being late, I shall declare unto you your severall Sentences, which are as followeth.
You shall ride with your faces towards the Horse-tailes, before the heads of your severall Regiments, with your faults written upon your breasts, and your swords broken over your heads, and so be cashiered the Army as not worthy to ride therein; & a Proclamation to be made, that none shall receive you into any Troop, Company, or Garison. And this I would have you look upon as a great mercy of the Court.
Which sentence was accordingly executed upon us, in the Great Palace-yard at Westminster, March 6.
Thus you may see to what passe we are brought. What they have done to us, in the consequence thereof it doth extend equally to you all; for what they have done to us to day, you are liable to suffer to morrow. Thus you may see, they are Wolves in Sheeps clothing, Foxes in the habit of Saints; and their foosteps are in some measure traced and laid open unto you, from their beginning of engageing with the Army to their present Residence in White-Hall: So that from hence we may safely conclude with the saying of Col. Disborrough to Mr. Bull: that they did not intend to keep the Engagement, but provided the Acquiessing businesse at Ware on purpose to make void their engagement, we shall say no more at present, only add a coppy of a petition to the Parliament on which the Soldiers of the Army are proceeding.
That we esteem the liberty of addresse by way of Petition to this Honourable House, a prime and most essentiall part of Freedom, and of right belonging to the meanest member of this Common-wealth.
That we humbly conceive our being Souldiers to be so far from depriving us of our share in this Freedom, as that it ought rather to be a confirmation thereof to us; we having with our utmost hazard of our lives been instrumentall in preserving the same.
That the power of the Officers doth onely extend to the Marshalling and disciplining of the Army, for the better management and execution of marshall Affairs, and that we submitting thereunto, do perform the utmost of obedience that can be required of us as Souldiers. All which notwithstanding, as we are in the capacity of Common-wealths men, we judge our selves as free as any other of the People, or as our Officers themselves, to represent by way of Petition, to this Honourable House, either our Grievances, Informations, or whatsoever else may tend either to the Right of our selves, or the benefit of the Common-wealth. And this is no more then what our Officers themselves have declared to be our Right, and without which we should be our selves the worst of slaves.
That the extraordinary actings of the Army, distinctly of themselves, in reference to the Common-wealth, are grounded upon our solemn Engagement at Newmarket and Triploe Heath, June 14. 1647.
That the Souldiery by that Engagement hath an equall Right and Propriety in and to the Transactions of the Army as Commoners.
That the Officers in matters of that concernment are not (without a free election and consent) the Representers of the Souldiers, as Commoners; but are onely their Conductors in Military matters.
That by vertue of our solemn Engagement, nothing done or to be done, though in the name of the Army, can be taken as the sense or the act of the Army, so as to be imputed to the Army, that is not agreed unto by a Councell to consist of those generall Officers who concur with the Engagement, with two Commission Officers, and two Souldiers to be chosen for each Regiment; or by the major part of such a Councell.
That if your Honors conceive it meet in your actings to concur with the actings of the Army, then it is necessary that with the sense of the Officers you also require the sense of the Souldiers, else not to account of it, or trust to it as the sense of the Army; and without this, we conceive, you cannot be safe, for it is small security, as to the act or faith of the Army, to receive the sense of the Officers, without the concurrence of the Souldiers in Councel, as aforesaid.
That being ejected and deprived of our Right and property in that Councell, we still conceive our selves at freedom to Petition this House; but yet in the late exercise thereof (amongst some of us) we have been very much abused and menaced; and Orders thereupon made by the Generall-Councell, to interrupt our free access to this honorable House, subjecting our petitions for approvement, to pass the Test from Officer to Officer, by which the sense and understanding of the Souldier is surprised and overawed to the pleasure of the Officer, that he must neither hear, see, nor speak but by the eyes, ears and mouth of the Officer; so that the Souldiers right of petitioning is hereby taken from them; for to Petition in that case, can be at most but the bare sence of a few Officers; inconsiderable in comparison of the Souldiery, and so not the minde of the Army, for the Officers disjunct, make not the Army.
That to our great grief we are inforced to complain to this honorable House, that some of us, to wit, Simon Grant, Robert Ward, Thomas Watson, William Sawyer and George Jelles were sentenced by the Court Martiall, to ride with their faces towards their Horse tails; to have their Swords broken over their heads, and to be cashiered the Army, as unworthy therein to bear any Arms, counting it as a mercy of that Court, that their lives were spared; the which sentence was accordingly executed upon them in the great Palace-yard at Westminster, March the sixth: and all was but for petitioning this House, and delivering a paper of account of that action to the Generall-Councell, which is ready, if call’d for to be produced. The consideration whereof doth exceedingly agrieve us, to think that we should in vain undergo our former hardships, that in stead of addition to our Freedoms, we should in this opprobrious manner be rendred the worst of slaves, for we take it as done to our selves: and that to be deprived of our Rights both as Souldiers and English-men, as unworthy to petition or bear Arms, and that by such as are such glorious pretenders to Freedom, is a matter of amazement to us, considering the Crime (as they call it) was no other then above-mentioned.
Wherefore from these weighty Considerations we are enforced to apply our selves again unto this honourable House, and to desire,
First, That as heretofore and according to Right we may be as free to petition this Honorable House, as other our fellow-members in the Commonwealth, and that we may with free and uninterrupted accesse approach with our Petitions (though by enforcement) without our Officers, as the Officers have done in declining of us; and that for our clear satisfaction you would declare unto us, that it is the undoubted freedome of the Souldiery to Petition the Parliament, either singly of themselves, or joyntly with their Officers, or with any other well-affected of the Nation whatsoever, otherwise we cannot but look upon our selves as vassals and mercenaries, bound up by the pleasure and understandings of other men.
2. That the power of the Officers and present Councel of the Army may extend only to the Marshalling and Disciplinating thereof; and that in matters which concern the Common-wealth, we may not be concluded by these Debates, or any thing of that nature taken as the Judgment of the whole Army, but of the Subscribers only, unlesse we shall personally or deputatively give our approbation and consent thereunto.
3. That you would require a revocation of their Order prohibiting us from Petitioning, but by our Officers.
4. That our forenamed fellow-Souldiers, by Order of this Honourable House, may berestored to their former places in their respective Regiments.
5. That according to our solemn Engagement, we may not be divided nor disbanded either in part or in whole, or any of us engaged for Ireland, or any service whatsoever, untill full satisfaction and security be given us in relation to our Rights both as Souldiers and Commoners, that we our selves, when in the condition of private men, and all other the free people of England, may not be subject to the like oppression and tyrannie as hath been put upon us.
6. That the desires of our former Petition which in most particulars hath been shadowed forth by a Petition of the Officers, as also the serious Apprehensions of a part of the people, in behalf of the Commonwealth, presented to this House Feb. 26 by Lieut. Colonell Io. Lilburn, may be speedily taken into consideration, and effectually accomplished, that so we may be more and more encouraged to venture our lives in the protection and defence of so good and just Authority.
T.189 [1649.04.14] (6.9) [Signed by John Lilburn, William Walwyn, Thomas Price, Richard Overton, sometimes attributed mainly to Walwyn], A Manifestation from Lieutenant Col. John Lilburn et al. (14 April 1649).
[Signed by John Lilburn, William Walwyn, Thomas Price, Richard Overton, sometimes
attributed mainly to Walwyn], A Manifestation from Lieutenant Col. John
Lilburn, Mr William Walwyn, Mr Thomas Prince, and Mr Richard Overton, (Now
Prisoners in the Tower of London) And others, commonly (though unjustly) styled
Levellers. Intended for their Full Vindication from the many aspersions cast
upon them, to render them odious to the World, and unserviceable to the Common-wealth.
And to satisfie and ascertain all Men whereunto all their Motions and Endeavours
tend, and what is the ultimate Scope of their Engagement in the Publick Affaires.
They also that render evill for good, are Our adversaries: because we follow
the thing that good is.
Printed in the year of our Lord, 1649.
14 April 1649.
TT1, p. 737; Thomason E. 550. (25.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
Since no man is born for himself only, but obliged by the Laws of Nature (which reaches all) of Christianity (which ingages us as Christians) and of Publick Societie and Government, to employ our endeavours for the advancement of a communitive Happinesse, of equall concernment to others as our selves: here have we (according to that measure of understanding God hath dispensed unto us) laboured with much weaknesse indeed, but with integrity of heart, to produce out of the Common Calamities, such a proportion of Freedom and good to the Nation, as might somewhat compensate its many grievances and lasting sufferings: And although in doing thereof we have hitherto reaped only Reproach, and hatred for our good Will, and been faine to wrestle with the violent passions of Powers and Principalities; yet since it is nothing so much as our Blessed Master and his Followers suffered before us, and but what at first we reckoned upon, we cannot be thereby any whit dismayed in the performance of our duties, supported inwardly by the Innocency and evennesse of our Consciences.
’Tis a very great unhappinesse we well know, to be alwayes strugling and striving in the world, and does wholly keep us from the enjoyment of those contentments our severall Conditions reach unto: So that if we should consult only with ourselves, and regard only our own ease, Wee should never enterpose as we have done, in behalfe of the Commonwealth: But when so much has been done for recovery of our Liberties, and seeing God hath so blest that which has been done, as thereby to cleer the way, and to afford an opportunity which these 600 years has been desired, but could never be attained, of making this a truly happy and wholly Free Nation; We think our selves bound by the greatest obligations that may be, to prevent the neglect of this opportunity, and to hinder as much as lyes in us, that the bloud which has been shed be not spilt like water upon the ground, nor that after the abundant Calamities, which have overspread all quarters of the Land, the change be onely Notionall, Nominall, Circumstantiall, whilst the reall Burdens, Grievances, and Bondages, be continued, even when the Monarchy is changed into a Republike.
We are no more concern’d indeed then other men, and could bear the Yoke we believe as easily as others; but since a Common Duty lyes upon every man to be cautious and circumspect in behalfe of his Country, especially while the Government thereof is setting, other mens neglect is so far we thinke from being a just motive to us of the like sloath and inanimadvertency, as that it rather requires of us an increase of care and circumspection, which if it produces not so good a settlement as ought to be, yet certainly it will prevent its being so bad as otherwise it would be, if we should all only mind our particular callings and employments.
So that although personally we may suffer, yet our solace is that the Common-wealth is therby some gainer, and we doubt not but that God in his due time wil so cleerly dispel the Clouds of Ignominy and Obloquy which now surround us by keeping our hearts upright and our spirits sincerely publike, that every good man will give us the right hand of fellowship, and be even sorry that they have been estranged, and so hardly opinionated against us: We question not but that in time the reason of such misprisions will appeare to be in their eyes and not in our Actions, in the false Representation of things to them and improper glosses that are put upon every thing we do or say: In our own behalfs we have as yet said nothing, trusting that either shame and Christian duty would restrainE men from making so bold with others good Name and Reputation, or that the sincerity of our actions would evince the falshood of these scandals, and prevent the Peoples Beliefe of them; But we have found that with too much greedinesse they suck in Reports that tend to the discredit of others, and that our silence gives encouragement to bad Rumors of us; so that in all places they are spread, and industriously propagated as well amongst them that know us, as them that know us not, the first being fed with jealousies that there is more in our designs then appeares, that there is something of danger in the bottom of our hearts, not yet discovered: that we are driven on by others, that we are even discontented and irresolved, that no body yet knowes what we would have, or where our desires will end; whilst they that know us not are made believe any strange conceit of us, that we would Levell all mens estates, that we would have no distinction of Orders and Dignities amongst men, that we are indeed for no government, but a Popular confusion; and then againe that we have bin Agents for the King, and now for the Queen; That we are Atheists, Antiscripturists, jesuites and indeed any thing, that is hatefull and of evill repute amongst men.
All which we could without observance pass over, remembring what is promised to be the Portion of good men, were the damage only personall, but since the ends of such Rumors are purposely to make us uselesse and unserviceable to the Common-wealth, we are necessitated to open our breasts and shew the world our insides, for removing of those scandalls that lye upon us, and likewise for manifesting plainly and particularly what our desires are, and in what we will center and acquiess: all which we shall present to publike view and consideration, not pertinatiously or Magisterially, as concluding other mens judgements, but manifesting our own, for our further vindication, and for the procuring of a Bond and lasting establishment for the Commonwealth.
First, Then it will be requisite that we express our selves concerning Levelling, for which we suppose is commonly meant an equalling of mens estates, and taking away the proper right and Title that every man has to what is his own. This as we have formerly declared against, particularly in our petition of the 11 of Sept. so do we again professe that to attempt an inducing the same is most injurious, unlesse there did precede an universall assent thereunto from all and every one of the People. Nor doe we, under favour, judge it within the Power of a Representative it selfe, because although their power is supreame, yet it is but deputative and of trust, and consequently must be restrained expresly or tacitely, to some particulars essential as well to the Peoples safety and freedom as to the present Government.
The Community amongst the primitive Christians, was Voluntary, not Coactive; they brought their goods and laid them at the Apostles feet, they were not enjoyned to bring them, it was the effect of their Charity and heavenly mindednesse, which the blessed Apostles begot in them, and not the Injunction of any Constitution, which as it was but for a short time done, and in but two or three places, that the Scripture makes mention of, so does the very doing of it there and the Apostles answer to him that detained a part, imply that it was not esteemed a duty, but reckoned a voluntary act occasioned by the abundant measure of faith that was in those Christians and Apostles.
We profess therefore that we never had it in our thoughts to Level mens estates, it being the utmost of our aime that the Commonwealth be reduced to such a passe that every man may with as much security as may be enjoy his propriety.
We know very well that in all Ages those men that engage themselves against Tyranny, unjust and Arbitrary proceedings in Magistrats, have suffered under such appellations, the People being purposely frighted from that wich is good by insinuations of imaginary evill.
But be it so, we must notwithstanding discharge our Duties, which being performed, the successe is in Gods hand to whose good pleasure we must leave the cleering of mens spirits, our only certainty being Tranquillity of mind, and peace of Conscience.
For distinction of Orders and Dignities, We think them so far needfull, as they are animosities of vertue, or requisite for the maintenance of the Magistracy and Government, we thinke they were never intended for the nourishment of Ambition, or subjugation of the People but only to preserve the due respect and obedience in the People which is necessary for the better execution of the Laws.
That we are for Government and against Popular Confusion, we conceive all our actions declare, when rightly considered, our aim having bin all along to reduce it as near as might be to perfection, and certainly we know very well the pravity and corruption of mans heart is such that there could be no living without it; and that though Tyranny is so excessively bad, yet of the two extreames, Confusion is the worst: Tis somewhat a strange consequence to infer that because we have laboured so earnestly for a good Government, therefore we would have none at all, Because we would have the dead and exorbitant Branches pruned, and better sciOns grafted, therefore we would pluck the Tree up by the roots.
Yet thus have we been misconceived, and misrepresented to the world, under which we must suffer, till God sees it fitting in his good time to cleer such harsh mistakes, by which many, even good men keep a distance from us.
For those weake suppositions of some of us being Agents for the King or Queen, we think it needful to say no more but this, That though we have not bin any way violent against the persons of them, or their Partie, as having aimed at the conversion of all, and the destruction of none, yet doe we verily beleeve that those Principles and Maxims of Government which are most fundamentally opposite to the Prerogative, and the Kings interest, take their first rise and originall from us, many whereof though at first startled at, and disown’d by those that professed the greatest opposition to him, have yet since been taken up by them and put in practise: and this we think is sufficient, though much more might be said to cleer us from any Agency for that Party.
It is likewise suggested that we are acted by others, who have other ends then appear to us; we answer, That that cannot be, since every thing has its rise amongst our selves, and since those things we bring to light cannot conduce to the ends of any but the publike weale of the Nation.
All our Desires, Petitions and Papers are directly opposite to all corrupt Interests; nor have any credit with us but persons well known, and of certain aboads, and such as have given sound and undeniable testimonies of the truth of their affection to their Country: Besides, the things we promote, are not good onely in appearance, but sensibly so: not moulded nor contrived by the subtill or politick Principles of the World, but plainly produced and nakedly sent, without any insinuating arts, relying wholly upon the apparent and universall beleefe they carry in themselves; and that is it which convinces and engages us in the promotion thereof. So that that suggestion has not indeed any foundation in it self, but is purposely framed, as we conceive, to make us afraid one of another, and to disable us in the promotion of those good things that tend to the freedom and happinesse of the Common-wealth. For our being Jesuits, either in Order or Principles, as ’tis severally reported of us; Though the easiest Negative is hardly proved; yet we can say, That those on whom the first is principally fix’d, are married, and were never over Sea: and we think Marriage is never dispenc’d withall in that Order, and that none can be admitted into the Order but such as are personally present. ’Tis hard that we are put to expresse thus much; and haply we might better passe such reports over in silence; but that we beleeve the very mentioning of them publickly, will be an answer to them, and make such as foment them asham’d of such generally condemned wayes of discrediting and blasting the Reputation of other men. For the principles of Jesuits, we professe we know not what they are; but they are generally said to be full of craft and worldly policy; and therefore exceedingly different from that plainness and simplicity that is apparently visible in all our proceedings.
Whereas its said, we are Atheists and Antiscripturists, we professe that we beleeve there is one eternall and omnipotent God, the Author and Preserver of all things in the world. To whose will and directions, written first in our hearts, and afterwards in his blessed Word, we ought to square our actions and conversations. And though we are not so strict upon the formall and Ceremonial part of his Service, the method, manner, and personall injunction being not so clearly made out unto us, nor the necessary requisites which his Officers and Ministers ought to be furnished withall as yet appearing to us in any that pretend thereunto: yet for the manifestation of Gods love in Christ, it is cleerly assented unto by us; and the practicall and most reall part of Religion is as readily submitted unto by us, as being, in our apprehensions, the most eminent and the most excellent in the world, and as proceeding from no other but that God who is Goodnesse it self: and we humbly desire his Majesty daily more and more to conform our hearts to a willing and sincere obedience thereunto.
For our not being preferred to Offices and Places of profit and credit, which is urged to be the ground of our dissatisfaction, we say, That although we know no reason why we should not be equally capable of them with other men, nor why our publick Affection should be any barr or hinderance thereunto: Yet on the other side, we suppose we can truly say of our selves, that we have not been so earnest and solicitous after them as others: and that in the Catalogue of Sutors, very few that are reckoned of us, are to be found. We are very sorry that so general a change of Officers is proposed, which we judge of no small disparagement to our Cause; and do think it best, that in removals of that kinde, the ground should not be difference in opinion, either in Religious or Civil Matters, but corruption or breach of Trust; considering the misery which befalls whole Families upon such Changes; and that discontents are thereby increased: Whereas we hold it necessary that all wayes of composure and acquieting those storms which the preceeding differences and distractions have begotten, be with utmost care and prudence endeavoured.
And whereas ’tis urged, That if we were in power, we would bear our selves as Tyrannically as others have done: We confess indeed, that the experimentall defections of so many men as have succeeded in Authority, and the exceeding difference we have hitherto found in the same men in a low, and in an exalted condition, makes us even mistrust our own hearts, and hardly beleeve our own Resolutions of the contrary. And therefore we have proposed such an Establishment, as supposing men to be too flexible and yeelding to worldly Temptations, they should not yet have a means or opportunity either to injure particulars, or prejudice the Publick, without extreme hazard, and apparent danger to themselves. Besides, to the objection we have further to say, That we aim not at power in our selves, our Principles and Desires being in no measure of self-concernment: nor do we relie for obtaining the same upon strength, or a forcible obstruction; but solely upon that inbred and perswasive power that is in all good and just things, to make their own way in the hearts of men, and so to procure their own Establishment.
And that makes us at this time naked and defencelesse as we are, and amidst so many discouragements on all hands to persevere in our motions and desires of good to the Nation; although disowned therein at such a time when the doing thereof can be interpreted no other but a politick delivering us up to slaughter, by such as we took for Friends, our brethren of severall Churches; and for whom with truth of affection we have even in the most difficult times done many Services: all which, and whatsoever else can be done against us, we shall reckon but as badges of our sincerity, and be no whit discouraged thereby from the discharge of our duties.
For the dissatisfactions that be upon many good mens spirits, for that they are not ascertained whereunto all our motions tend, and in what they will center.
Though, we conceive, they may have received some general satisfaction from what we have formerly at severall times propounded; yet since they were not disposed into such a form and condition as to become practicable; we have, with the best care and abilities God hath afforded us, cast the same into a Modell and Platform, which we shall speedily present unto the view and consideration of all, as the Standard and ultimate scope of our Designes, that so (in case of approvall) it may be subscribed and returned as agreed upon by the People. And thus far, we conceive, we may without offence or prejudice to Authority, proceed; and which we the rather do, because we know no better, and indeed no other way or means (but by such an Agreement) to remove (as much as may be) all disgusts and heart-burnings, and to settle the Common-wealth upon the fairest probabilities of a lasting Peace, and contentfull Establishment.
The Agreement of the People which was presented by his Excellency and the Officers of the Army to the Right Honourable the Commons, in Parliament, although in many things short (according to our apprehensions) of what is necessary for the good of the Commonwealth, and satisfaction of the People; particularly, in that it containeth no provision for the certain removall of notorious and generally complained of grievances: And although it hath some things of much hazard to the Publick,—yet, had it been put in execution, we should scarcely have interrupted the proceedings thereof, since therein is contained many things of great and important concernment to the Common-wealth. But seeing the time proposed therein for reducing the same into practice, is now past, and that likewise the generality of the people have not, or do not approve of the same, for the reasons (as we suppose) fore-mentioned: We have thought fit to revise it, making onely such alterations therein as we conceive really necessary for the welfare, security and safety of the People, together with additionall Provisions for the taking away of those Burdens and Grievances which may without reall prejudice to the Management of publick Affairs be removed.
And because it is essentiall to the nature of such an Agreement to take its rise from the People, we have therefore purposely declined the presentment thereof to the Parliament: and conceive it may speedily proceed to Subscription, and so to further practice, without any interruption to this Representative, untill the season prefix’d in the Agreement, for the assembling another: By whose immediate succession, without any intervall, the Affairs of the Common-wealth may suffer no stop or intermission.
Lastly, We conceive we are much mistaken in being judged impatient, and over-violent in our motions for the publick Good. To which we answer, That could we have had any assurance that what is desired should have otherwise, or by any have been done; and had not had some taste of the relinquishment of many good things that were promised, we should not have been so earnest and urgent for the doing thereof.
Though we know likewise it hath been very customary in such heretofore as never intended any freedom to the Nation, to except only against the season, and to protract the time so long, till they became sufficiently impowred to justifie the totall denyall and refusall thereof. However, the main reason of our proceeding as we do, is, because we prefer the way of a settlement by an Agreement of the People before any other whatsoever.
And thus the world may clearly see what we are, and what we aym at: We are altogether ignorant, and do from our hearts abominate all designes and contrivances of dangerous consequence which we are said (but God knows, untruly) to be labouring withall. Peace and Freedom is our Designe; by War we were never gainers, nor ever wish to be; and under bondage we have been hitherto sufferers. We desire however, that what is past may be forgotten, provided the Common wealth may have amends made it for the time to come. And this from our soul we desire.
Having no mens persons in hatred, and judging it needfull that all other respects whatsoever are to give way to the good of the Common-wealth, and this is the very truth and inside of our hearts.
T.213 [1649.09.21] (9.47) Anon., The Remonstrance of many Thousands of the Free-People of England (21 September, 1649).
Anon., The Remonstrance of many Thousands of the Free-People of England. Together with the Resolves of the Young-men and Apprentices of the City of London, in behalf of Themselves, and those called Levelers, For the Attainment of their just Requestes in their Petition of May 20. 1647. Also their petition of January 19. 1647. and of September 11. 1648. Together with the Agreement of the Free People of England May. 1. 1649. With Their Solemn Engagement for Redeeming, Setling, and Securing the Peoples Rational, and just Rights, and Liberties, against all Tyrants whatsoever, whether in Parliament, Army, or Councel of State.
London, Printed in the yeer, 1649.
21 September, 1649.
TT1, p. 770; Thomason E. 574. (15.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
FOrasmuch as many Adresses have been made by us the Free People of England, to the Supream visible Authority of the Nation, and all have proved Barren and Fruitless, although by us Cordially and Really intended for the firm Setling and Establishment of the Peace, Liberties, and Freedoms of this Distracted and Distressed Nation: Yet notwithstanding all our good Meanings and Intentions (by the Usurped Tyranny of a Traytorous Party amongst them) have not only been mis-construed, but branded with Treasonous, Schismatical, Dangerous, and the like; and our dearest Friends the Promoters thereof, some of them killed, others robb’d, and the rest imprisoned in the Tower, by which means our Distractions are more and more encreased, and our Burdens become so insupportable, that dispairing of any other way of Redress, we are inforced and compelled to make use of that Means Nature teacheth us for our own preservation, and for the preservation of this oppressed Country and land of our Nativity; fully Resolving and Protesting against all those Tyrants and Usurpers now sitting at Westminster, or any their Acts, Ordinances, Decrees, Orders, or Votes; and Denying any the least Obedience to, or observance of the same, till all and every our former Petitions (with the Agreement of us Free People of England) be duely Considered, and fully Granted.
In the mean time we utterly deny the Payment of all Taxes, Assessements, Tythes, or being burdened with Free-Quarter; Resolving (God willing) to shake off that insupportable and Iron-yoak put about our necks by the Usurping Tyrants and Destroyers of the Laws, Liberties, and Freedoms of the People, whether Fairfax, Cromwel, Ireton, Hasterigge, Bradshaw, Harrison, or any of those now in Combination at Westminster, or of those calling themselves a Councel of State: For effectual doing of which;
WEE shall Resolve to run all hazzards in Protecting the Free-People [as much as in us lieth] from the force and violence of the Sword of their and our Enemies, and do our utmost to bring to speedy Justice all those that have already Murdered and Robbed our Friends, whether at Ware, Burford, London, Oxford, or else-where.
All that come unto us, shall [not only be freed from all Taxes, but] have his free Vote [after the Dissolution of this Corrupt Session] to Chuse and Elect a Representative in the Country, or Burrough wherein he liveth, for Setling the FREEDOMS and LIBERTIES of the People upon the permanent and sure foundation of a Popular Agreement.
That all Souldiers that shall Side with us in the just Attainment of those Ends before mentioned, shall have all and every part of their Debenters for past Service assured to them presently upon their Engagement.
Seeing divers Parliament-men, Committees, Sequestrators, Excize-men, and others, have enriched themselves these times of trouble; If any two honest men can testifie upon Oath what every such Parliament-man, Committee-man, Excize-man, or Sequestrator, &c. was worth in Personal Estate at the beginning of this Parliament, or how much he stood indebted at such time as this Parliament began, he shall enjoy only that Estate he then had, and no more: and if indebted, the Debts he hath paid since, [as well as the Estate he hath since got] shall be liable to make Satisfaction to all and every Free Commoner that hath been any wayes damnified either by KING or PARLIAMENT, since the beginning of these un-natural troubles.
That all and every Member of this pretended Parliament, [in case such Witnesses cannot be found] shall be put to his Oath, what Estate he at such time enjoyed.
That all the Lands, Goods, and Hereditaments of the late King, [in case a Free Parliament duely Elected, shall abolish the Kingly Office] shall satisfie the Publick Debts of the Kingdom; and if not enough, the rest to be made good, by way of equal Subsidies, till all the Publick Debts be fully defrayed, and all the Souldiery paid.
That every Free Commoner shall be put into a way, and inabled with Means for his Natural subsistance, and those that deny lawful Labour for their Livelyhood shall be forced therto, or punished as idle Vagrants, or lewd persons.
That after a Settlement according to the Popular Agreement, every man shall be Protected in his just Right of Life and Goods against all pretended and law-lesse Powers whatsoever.
That all Laws and Customs of this Realm shall be written in the plain English tongue, without any Abridgement or Abreviation whatsoever.
That all differences whatsoever, shall be tryed in every Respective County by 12 men of the Neighbor-hood, and that no Offender whatsoever shall be denied a Legal Tryal at the first Sessions after his Commitment; at ever such Tryal or Goal-delivery, to be Acquitted or Condemned, as his Crime shall be proved: And in case he be found Innocent, that those that Prosecured him wrongfully, shall make him satisfaction out of his, or her Estate; and if not able, to be imprisoned twice the time the innocent party was.
That no Monopoly whatsoever, or Restriction of Trade shall be tollerated or allowed, but a Free Trade restored all the Land over: and that all Monopolizers shall give Reparations to the Common-wealth, and the persons that have been damnified by them, or suffer imprisonment accordingly.
That no Officer whatsoever, Chosen or to be Chosen, Continue his Office above one yeer at most, and then a new one to be Chosen by the Generallity of the people; every one above the Age of twenty (except Servants, Beggars, or Criminaries) to have a free voice in the Election, and the major part to carry it by voices or signing of hands thereto.
In case this Common-wealth shall not, or cannot be at peace without one Head or King to Reign over them, that then Certificates shall be forthwith Printed, and sent into all Countries for approval thereof: that if we must have a King, the Crown of England may return to the right Owner: or if most appear against that Government; it may be Governed as Free Estates, and not otherwise: our Persons delivered and acquitted of imprisonment and the rage of cruel Goalers, and we become an absolute Free People, according to Solemn deep Engagements, Vows, and Promises formerly made unto us; and no more become a prey to mercinary bribing Lawyers, Cruel Goalers, that for lucre and gain, sell God, King, Truth, Law, Gospel, Justice, Mercy, Right, Lives, Estates, and Liberties; and expose us [Free People] to Beggary, Shame, Reproach, and Rapine of the Sword of our fellow Subjects, Tyrants, Traytors, and Usurpers: And that hereafter no Lawyer [being a Member of the House] shall be suffered to Plead as a Lawyer whilst he is a Member thereof.
That no man whatsoever be imprisoned for his Religion, but that every one may be obedient to the Moral and Civil Laws of the Land, every one living quietly and Brotherly one by another, notwithstanding difference in judgements or Religion, but by the Bands of Love all may be drawn to the right knowledge of the Truth, and no Compulsion or Persecution used otherwise to subvert or with-draw any man from his Religion or Faith.
Lastly, For the attainment of all these Ends before mentioned, we have drawn our Swords, and are Resolved not to put them up again, till we have obtained the things before specified; not doubting of the Aide and Assistance of all honest and well-meaning men.
And further we Declare, That what Damage any man shall have by joyning with us, either from the pretended Parliament, or their Apostatizing Army, we promise in the Name of Free Commoners to see made good out of the Estates of those that procure any such Damage.
This may serve as a Mirror for all Christian men to look into the Reallity of our Intentions and Resolutions which we have undertaken to free ourselves from Tyranny, Slavery, and Bondage; which we may the more easily facillitate, if we consider that we have the Hands, and the Strength of the Kingdom on our sides, that their power and force are likely to be diminished daily by Revolting from them; together with the power of the Prince being now successeful over them in Ireland, their perfidious joyning with Oneal that barbarous bloudy Rebel, [a profest Papist] their breach of all Oaths, Engagements, and Declarations with the King and Kingdom; their slinging by their Engagement with their Brethren the Scots: their erecting a Tyrannous Councel of State, far worse then the Star-Chamber, Councel-Board, or High-Commission; Burdening the several Counties with increase of Taxes, Sessments, Excise, Free-Quarter, and the like; the barbarous and inhuman imprisoning and shooting to death many Consciencious and godly people: all which we have taken into serious and deep Consideration, knowing that all our Lives are as deeply, and equally engaged, as those that so unjustly suffered; therefore we Protest [as in the presence of the All-seeing Eye] that we shall still go cheerfully forward [notwithstanding those many discouragements we have already received] and therein will Sacrifice all the Remainder of our Lives and Estates, as we have began, we will [by the blessing of God] recover our lately lost Liberties, earned at so dear a rate, as the precious Lives of so many of his dear Saints; revenge the bloud of our Brethren; and so long as we have breath, or strength, to do our utmost endeavors to bring all Tyrants or Traytors [notwithstanding any Priviledge to the Contrary] to exact Tryal, and shall for ever hereafter, as formerly, think it more honor to die like men, then live like slaves under any pretended Authority whatsoever.
And so help us God.
This is already Signed with 98064 hands, and more to be added daily; so soon as we can give notice hereof to our Afflicted Brethren in all the Counties of England and Wales.
T.225 [1651.02.4] (7.10) Anon., A Declaration of the Armie concerning Lieut. Collonel John Lilburn (14 February, 1651).
Anon., A Declaration of the Armie concerning Lieut. Collonel John Lilburn; and their Resolution to establish the People in all their just Rights, Liberties, Priviledges, and Freedomes. With the Remonstrance, and Petition, of the Officers and Souldiers, Citizens and Countrey-men, Rich and Poor; With all the distressed and oppressed People of England; To the Parliament. Together with their Propositions and Desires; and a gallant way propounded, for the taking off all Taxes, a time prefixed; the uniting of all Parties; the establishing of Peace; and making Trade free.
Imprinted at London, for G. Horton, 1652.
This pamphlet contains the following parts:
14 February, 1651.
TT1 p. 827; Thomason E.654 (11).
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
To the Parliament of England; concerning Lieut. Col. John Lilburn; And the humble Petition of the Citizens of London, the free-born Denizens in the respective Counties, Poor and Rich; and all sorts, with all the Distressed and Oppressed People of England.
THe Officers and Souldiers in the Army, having received Advertisements of the heavy Censure which L. Col. Lilburn (at present) lies under a Councel was called, and after a large Dispute, many declared their ardent affection, To stand and jail with so great and faithful an Assertor of England’s Liberties. Others resolved, To submit their Wills, to the Will of the Power that imposed the Sentence, declaring, That they will leave no means nor dangers unattempted, to establish the People in the fulness of their Liberties and Freedoms. Which cordial Result, re-minds me of that most excellent and emphatical Petition of the freemen of England, to the Parliament; A Copy whereof followeth:
THat it being the work of Nature, Reason and Christianity, by which we shall be judged in the last Day, (Mat. 25.) And the very bottom of all pretences in all Corporations and Councels, To cloath the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick, and relieve the oppressed: All former Lawes, statutes, and consultations having been of small effect hitherto: houses of Correction being more apt to make men (from being poor) to become Vagabonds and Beggars, by taking from them the Repute of so much Honesty, as not to be intrusted with employment; and conveying into them a further impudency, or desperateness (as by experience is manifest) and many having of late years perished for want of Necessaries: The Lord having now put into your hands a present opportunity, of adding this great Work to all the mighty works which he hath done by you.
May your Honours be pleased to grant to your Petitioners (all due respects being first had to your great losses & damages, out of Delinquents Revenues) or so many of them as shall be thought fit, and to all the poor of England, the remainder of what is due upon publike Accounts. 2 All or so much of the Commons, Forests, Chaces, &c. as is due unto the Poor. 3 All Mines not wrought on at present, all drowned lands, lands deserted of the Sea, or the like, they agreeing for what is due to any Owner. 4 The sole benefit of all Manufactures, Engines and Inventions either by Sea or Land, by your Petitioners brought into Use in England. 5 All Parish Collections, and concealed or abused Charities, with power to search all Records, Wills, Church-books, & books of Accounts to that purpose, gratis: to be as a publique Treasure of the Land, for all publique Designs, in one common joynt Stock.
And some of your Petitioners will put in sufficient security; 1 To provide all necessaries for the Army. 2 To pay the Arrears of the Army within 5 years. 3 To take off all Taxes within one year, except Customs. 4 To pay all the debts of the publique Faith which remain due at 6. per Cent, within 10 years. 5 To set up a publique Banck, as in Amsterdam, Venice, and other places. And if your Honours shall think good, to grant the Fishings, Customs, and Revenues of the Navy, &c. then your Petitioners will undertake to maintain a constant Navy at Sea, and to secure the Merchants at. 1 per Cent, a month, for the narrow Seas. 2 To take off the Customs from unwrought Materials and Commodities, and Food and Ammunition imported, and lay them upon unwrought Materials and Commodities, and Food and Ammunition exported. 2 To take off all Customs from Manufactures exported, and lay them upon Manufactures imported.
Thus may your Honours be eased of great Burthens; be free to other great affairs; Take away all Taxes and Groanings of the people; Reconcile all parties; Gain the love of the people; Make Trade free; Establish the peace of the Nation; Establish your own peace before God and Man; And bring down the blessings of God abundantly upon all your faithful Endeavours.
As for my own part I am a free-man; yea, a free Denizen of England; and I have been in the field with my sword in my hand, to adventure my life and my bloud (against Tyrants) for the preservation of my just freedom; and I do not know that ever I did an act in all my life, that disfranchised me of my freedom; and by vertue of my being a freeman (I conceive) I have as true a right to all the priviledges that do belong to a freeman as the greatest man in England whatsoever he be; and the ground and foundation of my freedome I build upon the grand Charter of England, which is published and expressed in the 9 of HEN. 3. Chap. 29. which I humbly crave leave to illustrate as followeth, viz. That no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned; or be diseised of his free-hold or liberties; or free Customs; or be out-lawed or exiled; or any wise destroyed: Nor we will not passe upon him, nor condemn him; but by lawful Judgment of his Peers; or by the Law of the Land; we will sell to no man; we will not deny; or defer to any man either Justice or Right. And the priviledges contained herein are my birth-right and inheritance; which priviledges have been ratified and confirmed to the free people of England by the Parliament assembled at Westminster; and many Declarations put out against the late King for violating of them.
And truly, I cannot chuse but remind you, That the Law of England is the birth-right and inheritance of the people of England; yea of the meanest as well as of the richest: And although the Law of England be not so good in every particular, especially in the administrative part of it, as I could wish it were; yet till I can see a better, I (for my part) will make much of that which we have, as the principal Earthly preserver and safeguard of my life, liberty and property for it, viz. Magna Charta Chap. 29. saith, No free-man shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold or free Customes, or be outlawed or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; nor past upon, nor condemned, but by lawful Judgment of his Peers; or by the Law of the Land; and that Justice and Right shall not be sold denied, or deferred to any man. See Sir Edw. Cook’s excellent Exposition upon this in his 2. par. Instit. fol. 46, 47. &c. Printed by the late forcibly dissolved Parliament for good Law. And positively declared, To preserve unto the people inviolably their fundamental Laws and Liberties, in reference to their Lives, Estates, and all things appertaining there unto.
A Charge of High-Treason is preparing to be exhibited against Mr. Ainslow, a learned Professour of the Law, and now prisoner in the Presse-yard at New-gate, for writing and divulging a Treasonable Book against Mr. Attorney-General Prideaux, and divers other Honourable Members: His Tryal is ordered to be upon Friday the 30 of this instant January. At which time, the Articles of Impeachment are to be read; which (its believed) will produce an immediate Sentence, answerable to his demerits, being a matter of great and incomparable consequence.
T.228 [1652.02.28] (7.11) [Several Hands], The Onely Right Rule (28 January 1652).
Several Hands, The Onely Right Rule for Regulating the Lawes and Liberties of the People of England. Presented in way of Advise to His Excellency the L. Generall Cromwell, and the rest of the Officers of the Army, January 28. 1652. By divers affectionate persons to Parliament, Army, and Commonwealth, inhabiting the Cities of London, Westminster, borough of Southwark, and places adjacent. Presenters in the behalf of themselves and others, George Baldwin, Simon Turner, Philip Travers, William Tennant, Isaac Gray, Robert Everard.
Printed for the subscribers, and are to be sold by William Larnar, at the Black-Moore’s Head neer Fleet-bridge, 1652.
28 January 1652
Not listed in TT.
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
The humble and faithfull advice of divers affectionate Friends to the Parliament, Army and Commonwealth of England.
HEaring of your especiall meetings in Councell in order to the setling of the Nation in Peace and Freedome, as persons alwayes ingaged with you in affection and indeavours to the same just ends, and alike concerned in the issue and successe thereof; and knowing by sad experience how prone the wisest have been to mistakings in affairs of this nature, we have deemed our selves bound in conscience to contribute what we conceive requisite, or may be of use for the steering of your course aright, and for the avoyding of those rocks upon which many have fallen for want of due and timely consideration: which cannot be avoided but by a cleare knowledge of the Fundamentall Lawes and Liberties of England, and by a firm resolution to restore every of them without partiality unto their primitive power and efficacy throughout the Land; notwithstanding any corrupt interest, built upon their ruines or abuses.
So that waving all things of innovation (let pretences be never so specious) the first thing necessary to the work you have undertaken, is to satisfie your understandings, what are those Fundamentall Lawes and Liberties, and in the next place by all lawfull means to endeavour their restauration. For, as you once well argued, you are not a mercenary Army, hired to serve any arbitrary power of State (such was the late Kings Army, fighting against the Fundamentall Lawes, to erect his will or corrupt Lawes by former Kings procured subservient to will and power) but called forth and conjured by the severall Declarations of Parliament to the defence of your own and the Peoples just Rights and Liberties, which our Ancestours of famous memory have endeavoured to preserve with the price of their bloud, and you by that, and the late bloud of your deare friends and fellow-souldiers (with the hazard of your own) do now lay claime to; these are your own reasonings when first you disputed the Authority of Parliament, they having first declined the Fundamentall Lawes, which was the onely just ground of declining them.
And as you rightly understood, that being no mercenary Army, but called forth to the defence of your own and the Peoples just Rights and Liberties, you were not bound to obey commands, though of a Parliament, contrary to the Fundamentall Lawes, so much more now are you to understand, That of any men in the world it would worst become you, to be either advisers or procurers of other things then those very true ancient fundamentall Rights and Liberties.
And you see likewise, that notwithstanding the many professions and Protestations of this Army, to maintain the Fundamentall Lawes and Liberties of this Nation, it yet remains under a greater degree of bondage, and fuller of just complaints then ever, because you have slackened your zeale, and there hath not been that diligent perseverance in all lawfull indeavours until their plenary restauration and firm establishment: Your study ought not to be like Conquerors, to make things new, or innovate upon the Fundamentall Lawes (that never-failing means of trouble and confusion) but to cleare them from those many incroachments, violations and abuses both upon the Lawes themselves, and the execution of them, which have almost rendred them of no benefit, and full of vexation to the people of this Nation.
You may please to observe, it is not the being of a Parliament that makes the Nation happy, but their maintaining of the fundamentall Rights and Liberties, nor that in words onely and Declarations, but in the reall and effectual establishment of them; and when they either neglect those, or set up other things contrary, or oppose the establishing of them, they prove themselves enemies, and reduce this Nation into a condition of bondage.
Be pleased to review your Remonstrances and Declarations which in all parts of them have held forth the clearing, setling and securing of the Rights, Liberties, and peace of the Nation, the only justifiable end of all your publique motions and endeavours, appealing to the whole Nation, to the world, and to Almighty God, for the justnesse, reasonablenesse, and common concernment of your desires and intentions therein, yea so wisely carefull were ye over the common Rights and Liberties of the people, and of their safety, that you proposed that in things clearly destructive to those Rights, there might be for the future a liberty for dissenting Members in the Parliament to enter their dissent, and thereby to acquit themselves from the guilt or blame of what evills might ensue, that so the people might regularly come to know who they are that performe their trust faithfully, and who not, an argument amongst others then urged by the Army, importing the greatest zeal and sincerity, to the restoring of the Fundamentall Lawes, that could possibly be expressed.
Nor is there (as we verily believe) any just objection, that should stagger you in perseverance accordingly, although we cannot deny, but that all the old and new Sophisms and delusive arguments devised by corrupt interests, in defence of themselves against the Fundamentall Lawes and Liberties of the people, have been so diligently blown abroad, that we find they have captivated many good mens understandings, and are ready and uppermost almost in all discourses, urging that if you now endeavour the restauration of the antient Fundamentall Lawes and Liberties of England, you seek to re-edifie the things you have thrown down, as Kingly government, which the Parliament, not without sufficient grounds, voted to be uselesse, burthensome, and dangerous; for what, say they, hath been more antient in England, unto which even by the very Lawes were annexed large revenues, and extraordinary trusts, as the Militia, and the like? what more antient authority then the House of Lords, which by the very Lawes of England had Jurisdiction in appeals after Judgement, and both Kings and Peers ever esteemed an essential part of Parliaments; the Bishops likewise of long continuance, and very many Lawes extant in favour of them.
But as truth is more antient then error, and righteousnesse was before sinne, though error and sinne have much to say for their antiquity, so is it answered in these and the like cases; though Kings, and Lords, and Bishops have been of long continuance, and have procured many Laws to be made in severall times, by Parliaments in favour of them, yet upon due examination it will appear, that they are not of Fundamentall Institution, no more then many other corrupt interests, yet extant, which time after time have one made way for another, untill at length they got the sway of all things, sate themselves upmost in all places, oft times filled the seats in Parliament, and then made Lawes in favour of themselves, and each others interest, and in subversion of the Fundamentall Lawes, endeavouring all they could utterly to root them up, and to boot the knowledge of them out of all remembrance.
And therefore to find out what are truly Fundamentall Institutions, you may please to look beyond Kings, and as you passe them, you will perceive that their originall was either by force from without, or from confederacy within the Land, that of their confederates they made Lords and Masters over the people, created offices, and made their creatures officers for life, whereas the true mark of a Fundamentall Institution is only one years continuance in an office, by which mark it is evident, that neither Kings nor House of Lords are of Fundamentall Institution, all true Fundamentall Institutions ordaining election to every office, which is another mark, and that by the Inhabitants of the place where the office is to be exercised; and another speciall mark is, that the main scope and intent of the office and businesse thereof, is of equall concernment to the generall good of all the people, and not pointed to make men great, wealthy and powerfull, all which undoubted marks exclude not only Kings, and Lords, and Bishops, but many other interests of men in this long enslaved and deluded Nation.
So that in removing these uselesse, burthensome and dangerous interests of Kings, Lords, and Bishops, no violence at all hath been done to the Fundamentall Lawes and Liberties of England, but they are so farre cleared and secured from innovation, and many oppressions which attended them.
Nor is there ground for any to suppose, that in restoring the true antient fundamentall Rights of England, there will be a necessity of maintaining any the Courts in Westminster, or their tedious, burthensome or destructive way of proceeding in trial of Causes, both Chancery, and the rest being in all things (except the use of Juries) all of them of Regall institution except the Common Pleas, which is so also, as to its being seated in Westminster: These have sometimes been strengthened by Laws made in Parliaments, which were ever to give place to Fundamentals, being indeed null and void, wherein any particular they innovate upon, or are contrary unto then: All causes by the fundamentall Laws being to be decided and finally ended, past all appeal, in the Hundreds, or County Courts, where parties reside, or where the complaint is made by Juries, without more charge or time then is necessary, so that untill the Norman Conquest, the Nation never knew or felt the charge, trouble, or intanglements of Judges, Lawyers, Attorneys, Solicitors, Filors, and the rest of that sort of men, which get great estates by the too frequent ruines of industrious people, which is another mark to know that all such are not of fundamentall institution, but Regall, and erected for the increase and defence of that interest.
As for those defects which are many times observed in Juries, and some inconveniences which ensue in some cases under other fundamentall Constitutions; it is to be noted, that there is not perfection to be expected in any Government in this world, it being impossible for the wisest men that ever were to compose such Constitutions, as should in every case warrant a just event. Yet so carefull have our Forefathers been, that the Laws of England are as preventive of evill, and as effective for good, as any Laws in the world.
And for Juries, whatever just complaint lies against them, it doth not relate to the Constitution itselfe, (which Kings have often attempted to destroy, as the main fortresse of the peoples liberty) but against such abuses, in the packing and framing of Juries, in their bypassing or over-awing, by the servile and partiall Officers about the Courts, by the Kings Sheriff, or under-Sheriff, and other, by-wayes, that others have found out; all which abuses are matters of just complaint, and require rectification, and ought not to be made use of as a ground of Innovation, or an argument against your fundamentall Constitution.
Others there are, who finding the great importance of Juries to preserve the people’s Liberties, and that through the sense that the people have thereof, it will be but a vain thing to attempt the totall taking them away, have invented a stratagem that will render them instead of being a fountain of equall Justice to the people, the means only of advancing the rich, and an awe upon the middle and meaner sort of men, which they would do upon the common pretence of Prerogative, that onely men of estate and quality ought to be entrusted with the determination and decision of causes, and therefore have contrived that such only as are worth one hundred mark per annum, should be capable of being chosen Jury men, which if obtained, we cannot from thence but make these conclusions.
1. That the Fundamentall Constitution is thereby violated, which gives equall respect to all men, paying Scot and Lot in the places they inhabit.
2. By the same liberty they alter the Constitution in this particular at this time, they may at another time totally take it away.
3. That it is a policy agreeable to that of Kings, in reducing the power of Judgement into the hands of a few, and the rich, who may with much more ease be corrupted, then the generality: It being also a bringing of this Nation to the condition of the French, and making it consist only of Gentleman and Pesants.
You may be pleas’d in the next place to consider the particular of Pressing, or forcing men to serve in the warres against their consents, then which nothing is more contrary to fundamentall liberty; the King did alwayes make use of it, and such abroad, whose government has not that goodnesse and freedome in it, as to invite men voluntarily to its defence; a good government cannot need it, since in that it would be the interest of every man to hazard his life and fortunes for its conservation, and therefore we desire that this antient liberty may be tenderly preserved.
For Tythes, they may (we conceive) be taken away, without violence to any fundamentall Law; the institution thereof being Popish at first, and partly Regall, afterwards changed solely into the Regal Interest, to maintain a numerous sort of ble Sophisters, under pretence of being Ministers of Christ (which they were not) having no qualifications agreeable unto those which were so indeed, to preach up the Regall Interest with their own: Fundamentall institution imposeth no charge upon the people, but for maintenance of the impotent and poor, or for such as are restrained untill time of triall for want of Sureties: All which the Neigabourhood is to levy, or for publique defence against enemies, which is referred by Fundamentall Constitution unto annual chosen Trustees in the Grand Councell of the people, called from the Norman Parliament, upon whom the continued labours and policies of the Conquerors successors have had great influence, by whose endeavours this burthen of Tythes came to have the colour of Law set upon it, though in this, as in all things els, Parliament Law was ever to give way to Fundamentall, being null and void in it selfe, where it innovates upon the antient Rights of the people, and hath been so acknowledged, enacted, and declared by most Parliaments; of so Supreme Authority in this Nation have fundamentalls ever beene, whereof Annuall new elected Parliaments is one and a chiefe, being instituted for preservation, and not for destruction of fundamentalls, for then it might null Parliaments themselves, which could never be within the trust of Parliaments.
But yet so unhappy have Parliaments been in most times since the Conquest, that waving their care of the fundamentall Liberties of the Nation, they have so multiplied Laws upon Laws to their prejudice, that the whole voluminous bulk of the book of Statutes serves but as a witnesse of their defection, and of the prevalence of the Regall interest and his adherents; of which deviation from their rule (the Fundamentall Law) not any one thing is more remarkably pernicious to industrious people, then this of tythes, or inforced maintenance for Ministers, or any other sort of men, except such as are afore-mentioned; so that tythes being utterly abolished, the people are delivered from a most heavy and grinding oppression, and therein restored to Fundamentall Liberty.
And as for those Laws which have been, touching mens Judgements, opinions and practise in matters of Religion, with the proceedings thereupon, and punishments annexed, there is no ground at all for them, the Fundamentall Law of England being as free and clear from any such persecuting spirit, as the Word of God is; questioning none, nor permitting that they should be questioned, or otherwise molested, much lesse punished, but for such things only, as whereby some other person is injured, in person, goods, or good name, or in wife, children, or servant, and therein also it provides, that none be tortured upon any occasion whatsoever, and that no lesse then two lawfull Witnesses are sufficient to prove every fact: Also, that where any accused person can procure Sureties, there be no restraint of the body in prison; what is in common practise contrary hereunto, hath been innovated contrary to Fundamentall Right, and may lawfully be reformed and reduced to its originall state again, and thereby also the people restored to antient right therein, and freed from abundance of mischief and inconvenience.
And so extremely doth the Fundamentall Constitutions of England regard true freedome, that it allows of Bail in any case, without exception, where it can be obtained, and admits no imprisonment of the persons of any for debt, choosing rather that one man should suffer in his estate, then that the bodies of men and women should be, as it were, buried alive in goales and prisons, as thousands have been, and still are, to the hearts grief of all tender hearted people.
But then the fundamental Law provides, that where there is any estate, there satisfaction is to be made, as far as it will reach, leaving still some necessaries for life, otherwise it were more grievous for poor debtors, then for many sorts of wilfull malefactors; for however the present practise is, and long hath been, by the fundamentall Law, the estate even of a capital offender that suffers death for his offence, is not forfeited, but descends to his family, as other mens, after satisfaction made to the parties damnified: These forfeitures no doubt have been the principall cause that many an innocent mans life hath been unjustly taken away, and many a worthy honestman come to be burn’d in the hand; and however Parliaments have been drawn in to countenance such practises, it was the invention of Kings to turn families upside down at pleasure, for to them their forfeitures went, and they gave them to their creatures and Sickovants, so that here you see is work enough for a well-minded Parliament to remove these evills, and to restore our rights in these and many other grand particulars, without interchanging or innovating upon the true Law of England.
The most unreasonable descent of inheritances to the eldest sonne onely, is also no part of the Fundamentall Law, but quite contrary thereunto, that honestly and conscionably provided, that all inheritances should discend to all the children alike, chusing rather that some ill-deserving children should have where they deserve not, then that it should be at the will of parents, or in the power of the Law, to expose many to such inconveniences, and destructive courses, which younger brothers for the most part hath been cast upon: Divers other branches there are of the Fundamentall Law, as is that concerning Juries, the Liberty of Exception against thirty five, without shewing cause, and of as many more as cause can be justly alledged against, untill the party doth evidently see an indifferency in his Tryers, As also to admit no examination of any against themselves, nor punishment for refusing to answer to questions, Nor conviction without two lawful Witnesses at the least; and that it is the duty of the Officer of the Court to declare to every person these his Rights, and to bring them to remembrance, if neglected to be demanded; all this shewes that the Fundamentall Law of England is a Law of Wisdome, Justice and much mercy, such as God will blesse, chosing in all cases rather that some guilty persons should sometimes escape, then that one innocent person should causlesly be condemned.
And whereas it hath beene supposed, that the punishment of theft by death is fundamentall, it is a meer mistake, it, as most other like things, being an innovation, and no way tending to the lessening of offenders, but rather to their encrease, and indeed necessitating, or strongly tempting every one that robs, to murther also: For as the practise long time hath been, one witnesse even of the party himself that is robbed sufficeth for proof, and casts the thief for his life, what way then is more safe for the thief, then to murther whom he robs, to prevent his testimony against his life, seeing he dies, if proved a thief, and can do no more if proved a murtherer? Besides, when the Fundamentall Constitution was in force, it punished offenders according to the nature of their theft, some by pecuniary inulcts, others by corporall punishments, with laborious workings and open shame, at which time it is testified, that a man with much money, or moneys worth, might have travelled in safety all over England with but a white riband in his hand; besides, the Law of death for theft is many times the means why robbers escape, for that many good and tender-hearted people, either upon the consideration above-mentioned, decline prosecution, because if they should prosecute, they must either sweare falsly, and undervalue what they lost, or take away life, where in conscience they judge they ought not; all which would not be, were the punishment proportioned to the offence, as in the Fundamentall Law it is.
As much likewise may be said concerning the servile tenures of Copyholds, how long soever they have been, they are the slavish remains of conquest, inconsistent with true freedome, or the Fundamentall Law of England, and may, and as the rest forenamed, ought to be reduced to the true state of antient right, and the people thereby freed from abundance of torment, and vexation of Spirit.
All Monopolies at home, and all restraint of trade abroad to distinct companies of men, are all opposite to the antient rights of the people, and may justly be reduced to a universall freedome to every Englishman, which will make trade in time to flourish, and wealth and plenty of all necessaries to abound, especially if the way of raising money by custome and Excize were laid aside, being utterly destructive to trade, and rendring the lives of tradesmen tedious and irksome to them, and hath no consistence with Fundamentall right; for according to that rule, no imposition ought to be laid upon trade, but what moneys are at any time found needfull by Parliament, ought to be levied by way of Subsidy, or an equall proportion upon all mens estates, reall and personall, in which course the whole, within two pence or three pence in the pound, is brought into the publike treasury, whereas in the other way, vast sums go to the maintenance of Officers, so as you perceive in this and all other particulars hitherto recited, the most antient right is not only due, but most for the ease and good of the people, you may perceive by what hath been expressed what are our antient rights, and what, how many, and how great have been our almost as antient wrongs and oppressions.
Some of our antient rights remain alive to this day, as Parliaments and Juries, the first of which ought annually to be chosen, which annuall choice hath for many years been intermitted, and that inherent right withheld, which should have some special thing for its excuse, and happy were the people, and doubtlesse happy would it be for this present Parliament also, that it may truly be said they held the Parliamentary power so long, that they might restore the people to their antient native rights, the Fundamentall Laws, to their full force and power, for which end it was, as you declared, that you reserved these, when you excluded the rest; and therefore surely in this and many more respects you are obliged to persevere in putting them in mind thereof, and if you find that they are not able to agree in the performance of this, the proper work of Parliaments then to move them in some short time, to order a new Parliament to be chosen, that they may take place of them, it being in no wise safe for the Parliament to dissolve, untill the new immediately ready to sit when they rise; nor would we for any thing in the world, that Parliaments should be accustomed to be forced, nothing being of more dangerous consequence to Government it self.
Which endeavours and desires we shall be ready to second you in, and we trust you will not omit to do it by way of Petition with all possible speed, that the desires of good men may be satisfied, in seeing this Parliament yet honour themselves, and blesse the Nation with the proper fruit of their so many years labour, hardship and misery, the re-injoyment of their birth-right; Or if that cannot be obtained, you and your friends desiring it, they will not defer to give up their trust into the hands of another Parliament, which when you understand, we shall then desire you to acquaint the people what their antient rights are, and how and by what interests of men they have been withheld from them, that so they may at length beware, and not chuse such men to make them free, whose interest, advantage, and way of living, binds to keep them in perpetuall bondage: And to inform them likewise, that it is not Statute Law, nor the opinion of Judges, and book-cases, not the Prerogative of Princes, Lords, and great ones, nor any thing but their Fundamentall Rights that can render them free or happy, and to perswade them no longer to give ear to such charming as hath been to their bondage and misery: And that you will be as strongly provided against all motions of Innovation, as against the worst of enemies, though they should assail you with seeming arguments from Scripture, the Scripture giving no particular rules for the Government of Nations, the Government of the Israelites being only intended for them, and either binds not, or els it binds in all and every part; so as those who require tythes by that Law, or punish some offences according to that Law, are bound also to circumcise, and to offer Sacrifice, and indeed to fulfill the whole Law, none having power to make choice of one part, and refuse another.
If they urge from the Gospell, that indeed gives most blessed rules for faith and conversation, but as to Government, it is apparant from those words of our Saviour, (who made me a divider of inheritances) that the Gospel intends not so much earthly, as heavenly things; but both old and new Covenants agree in this, that all just agreements and contracts amongst men, (such are our Fundamentall Lawes) ought inviolably to be kept and observed.
The sense of the Law of God is cleare in this, that it is a cursed thing to remove the land-marks of forefathers; nor are any more highly approved of by God himself then the Rechabites, for walking stedfastly in the laws and constitutions of their forefathers.
Nor can any thing be more destructive to Government or humane Society, then for men to admit that they are not obliged to observe the Fundamentall just Institutions of the countrey wherein they were born, there being nothing that tendeth so readily to the shaking of a well-bounded society of men into anarchy and confusion: For, what is it that gives any man propriety in what he hath but Fundamentall Law? What is it els that defends propriety, but Fundamentall Legall Power? Why have you, and we, and thousands more so cried out upon such as pretended a Prerogative above Fundamentall Law, and above Parliaments, but that it was in subversion thereof? Why did our Forefathers and all their posterity, down to our selves, so heavily complain against the with-holding of Parliaments, and against triall of Causes by any other way but by Juries, but that they are both Fundamentall? Why was it alwayes noted as a mark of regall prevalencie in Parliaments when any thing passed there contrary to those ancient Rules? Why upon all complaints of oppression are the amendments alwayes made by that Rule, as that when Parliaments had been deferred, and complaint made, the remedy runs thus: For remedy of grievances and mischiefs which daily happen, a Parliament shall be chosen once every yeare according to Law: where it is evident, the Law was more ancient then the Act of Parliament or amendment.
Also after abuse and innovation in triall of Causes the amendment comes and sayes, That no man shall be attached, fined, imprisoned, exiled or deprived of life, limb, liberty or estate, but by Iuries, according to the Law of the Land: Which shewes the Fundamentall Law to have been time out of mind before Magna Charta or any Statute Law. Why when after judgment in the legall Courts, the Chancery and Parliament had taken cognizance of the same Causes by way of appeale, doth the amendment come and say, henceforth after judgment in the legall Courts the parties shall be in quiet and free from being called either into Chancery or into Parliament, according to the Law of the Land, but in respect to the supremacy of Fundamentalls? Why were Petitioners in former times so carefull not to insert the least syllable contrary to the Fundamentall Law, but that they knew Parliaments were chiefly ordained for their preservation? And it will not be throughly well in England, till Parliaments make answer to Petitioners according to the Rule of the Fundamentall Law. The late Worcestershire Petitioners for Tythes may then know what they may justly expect from them, viz. that they are at liberty either to give or pay tythes, or any other proportion of their incombs, to such whom they will contract with for their labours in teaching divine things, or any other kind of learning, but those that approve not of paying, are not to be enforced; and thus in all things are the English free, wherein their neighbour is not violated.
Had this rule been observed of late years, it had e’re this stopt the mouths of many Petitioners, and begot a better understanding amongst the people, who have been shattered into shivers for want of this principle to unite them, every man stirring and contending as for life for his own opinion; one will have the Parliament do this, another that; others gathering themselves together in knots, and boasting how many hands they had to their petition; a second sort of men to theirs, and so of the rest, how many friends they had in the House for this thing, how many for that; and thus like the builders of Babel, they have been devided for want of knowledge, and fixednesse in and upon the Fundamentalls, which only can give rest to the spirits of the English, the goodnesse whereof having been once tasted, would soon beget a reconcilement; and doubtlesse this way or none must come the true and lasting peace amongst our selves, and by this means only can we ever be made considerable, either against obstinate corrupt interest at home, or against foraign pretenders and enemies abroad, who otherwise observing us to be a floating unbalanced people, and consequently divided and subdivided within our selves, will never cease to disturb this Nation; whereas were we once again bound and knit together with this just and pleasant ligament of fundamentall Law, divide and reign, would not be so frequent in their vanquisht mouths, which indeed is the main ground of the hopes.
Consider we beseech you, how uncertain the rule of prudence and discretion is amongst the wisest and best of men, how unstable that people were that should be every year to make their Laws, or to stablish them, have we not found the Proverb verified, So many men, so many minds; this thing voted by one sort of men as most just and necessary, yea mens estates, and lives, and consciences cast upon it, and those the best of men, when in short time after the same voted down as most unjust and pernicious; infinite instances of this kind we doubt not will come to your remembrance, and therefore not without good cause have our Predecessors given such dear respect to their Fundamentall Rights, that unlesse mens understandings were even bewitched with the sallaries of corrupt interest, they would choose rather to lose their lives, then to part with one of them, esteeming every man, though born in England, no more a true Englishman, then as he maintained the Fundamentall Liberties of his Country.
To conclude, none ever yet denied that we had Fundamentall standing Laws, and such as against which no Statute Law ought to be obeyed; but endeavours you will find have been in all ages for powers to establish themselves, and govern by discretion, upon a pretence of more easie and speedy dispatch of justice, as the late King did, when he by power brake up the short Parliament; before this, he publikely declared, that he and his Lords would with more speed and better justice redresse the grievances of the people, then the Parliament could do.
And though this hath been a disease incident to the strongest to give Laws and inforce them upon the people, yet as it is manifestly against the Fundamentall Rights of the people of England, which you have professedly fought to restore, and not to destroy, having conquered their enemies, not their friends, so have you by Declarations laid grounds against such temptations; and as abhorring all such wicked and unjust intentions, would not have any entertain any such suspition of you; we have very great hopes, that as you will carefully preserve your hands, your strength, and power from being defiled, by imposing Innovations, or continuing such as have been brought upon us, or yet by being instrumentall to such as would, so we trust, and earnestly intreat that you would lay the premises to heart, and by wisdome and perseverance, procure the antient good Laws of England to be re-established amongst us, they being so just, so mercifull, so preservative to all peaceable minded people, so unburthensome to the industrious, so opposite to all self-interest so corrective of any manner of wrong, so quick in dispatching, so equall in the means, so righteous in their judgements, proportioning punishments to offenders, so tender of the innocent, so consonant to right reason, and having no disproportion to all true Christian doctrine, that the goodnesse of them, as well as because they are the tyes, the Bonds and Ligaments of the people, and both your and our Rights and chiefe inheritance, we trust will cause you, like the true sons of your worthy and valiant Ancestor, to be enamored of them, and to be now much more of the same mind, then when you professed that you esteemed neither life nor livelyhood, nor your neerest relations, a price sufficient to the purchase of so rich a blessing, that you, and all the free-borne people of England might sit down in quiet, under the glorious administration of justice and righteousnesse, and in full possession of those Fundamentall Rights and Liberties, without which we cannot be secure of any comfort of life, or so much as life it self, but at the pleasure of some men, ruling meerly according to will and power.
And may the integrity of your hearts so appear in all your actions, as may render you well-pleasing in the sight of God, who hath registred all your Vows (of freeing this Nation from all kinds of bondages) in the dayes of your distresse: Keep therefore your hearts faithfull; As Moses, who when he was to lead the Israelites out of Ægypt, would not leave a hoof in bondage: and in so doing onely, will you be the rejoycing of this Nation to all generations.
T.237 [1653.07.07] (7.20) Anon., The Fundamental Lawes and Liberties of England (9 July, 1653).
Anon., The Fundamental Lawes and Liberties of England claimed, asserted, and agreed unto, by severall Peaceable Persons of the City of London, Westminster, Southwark, Hamblets, and Places adjacent; commonly called Levellers.
Presented to the serious consideration of all the Free-people of this Common-Wealth. July the 9. 1653.
9 July, 1653.
TT2, p. 27; Thomason E.705 
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
IT is a Maxime of Common Right yielded and granted of all hands, of Parliament and Army throughout their several Papers, That the People of England are a free People, the sole Original of their own Authority, and in no wise to be subjected to the Iron yoak of an imposed Government, the Agreement and Election of the Free People being the true Fountain of the Supreme and of all subordinate Authorities of this Land; and what is of other Derivation, the same not to be admited or submitted unto; but declined as Arbytrary, and Forreign.
1 For the People in general have all Law and Authority within themselves, managing their publike Affaires by their Own elected Parliaments or Common councels of England,
2 Judging, deciding, and determining all Matters and Causes whatsoever by their Juries,
3 And in all things betwixt party and party, whether of Bargains, Sales, Conveyances, Bonds, or Releases, the Agreement, Consent, or Contract of the party and parties concerned, is the Law of the Land, Fundamental and unalterable.
So that the People are the Beginning, Medium, and End of, and through the whole Frame of England’s Lawes and Government thus founded and laid by Our Fathers, whose Heires we are, and which we must claim as our chiefest Birth-right and Inheritance: All is prepar’d and ready to our hands, our Lawes made, our Government founded: Our work is not now to tear up these Foundations, to innovate or introduce any new Constitution or Frame of Government, but to maintain, defend, & preserve the Old freed from the Encroachment and Usurpations of Kinges, Lords, and Priests. And within these antient indisputable Boundaries are our Parliaments or grand Councels to be confined: beyond this they are not to swell; hither are they to go, and no farther.
And it is the Inheritance of our Children, which our selves have not power to give away from them.
It is out of the limits of our Trust; for the People, who are the Trusters, are as well limited as their Elected Trustees: they cannot confer more then they have in themselves: this Generation cannot of right dis-inherite the next.
Thus is our Government (if rightly considered) certain and stable, as the Foundations of the Earth, not to be tost and varied from this to that at Will and Discretion (the Parent of Factions, Discentions, and War) but to be preserved as sacred and unalterable: And then the Commonwealth, as it shall be free, so shall it be safe and quiet in it self.
And now the wars being over, we cannot look upon our selves as a conquered people, to receive our Laws and Government at the hand of a Conqueror, Conquest being a Title more proper amongst Beares and Wolves, then amongst the free people of England. The Army being raised not against the People, or for subversion of their Rights, but for the maintenance of their Fundamental lawes and liberties; in doing whereof, they have had the cordial assistance of all the well-affected of this Nation, as part whereof we alwayes esteemed them to be: So that, in subduing the common enemy, we subdued not our selves, nor lost our Birth-rights.
And therefore we cannot deem it any Crime to lay claim unto the Fundamental lawes and liberties of our dear and native Countrey, the constant Claim of our Fore-fathers through all succession of Governments and Changes in this Nation; and to agree unto, maintain, and assert the same, hoping that the Gentlemen convened in Councel at Westminster, will never go about to take that from Us, they never gave Us, Our Lawes and Liberties; but will improve this blessed Opportunity now in their hands, to restore us to the full fruition and enjoyment thereof, which will engage Us freely of our own accords, as occasion shall be offered, to hazard and spend our lives, and all that is near and dear unto Us in their just defence.
And therefore they may (amongst other of the free-born people of England) be pleased to take notice, That amongst other of our Liberties and free Customs of England, these following, as our Fundamentals, we claim and expect in behalf of our selves, and all the rest of the free people of this Commonwealth; and let none think it strange, or that it is our presumption: For our Liberties are our own, and our Childrens after Us; they are not of Grace or Favour: And therefore we crave them not at an Almes, but claim them as Our and our Childrens Right.
As for the Claims of Kings, Lords or Priests, though they challenge great Antiquity in this Nation, yet are they no other then the Fundamentals of Bondage and Tyranny.
Prerogative and Supremacy with that of unknown, unlimited Parliament Priviledge, being the very Mothes and Caterpillars of the Fundamental Laws and Liberties of the Free people of England. For these and all lawes in favour of them, are but the Claim of Domination and Greatness over the people. Wheras this our Claim in behalf of the people, is of certain Maxims & Foundations of our Government, that tends not to the particular advantage of our selves (or any other sort of men) but to the common and universal good and benefit of all, and therefore inconsistent with the other.
The people cannot be a Free people, while the Supream power or Authority is wrested out of their hands, into the hands of one particular, or some few; so much of their Authority as they let go, so much of Bondage they let in; and the prime Badge and principle of their Freedom is, Their own Election; while that is wanting, they are meer slaves, at will and Discretion.
The consideration of which, cannot but put us in minde of the many solemn Vows and promises of the present Army, as to the restoration of the Fundamental Laws and Liberties of England, one place or two we shall recite; Declar. June 14. 1647. they there tell us, That their Desires as to the compleat settlement of the liberties of the people is that blessing of God, then which (of all worldly blessings) nothing was more dear unto them, or more pretious in their thoughts; and all their enjoyments of life or livelihood, or nearest relations, but a price sufficient to the purchase of so rich a blessing, that themselves and all the free born people of this Nation, may sit down in quiet under their own Vines, and under the glorious administration of Justice and Righteousness, and in full possession of those FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS and LIBERTIES, without which we can have little hopes (it is their own words) as to humane consideration, to enjoy any comforts of life, or so much as life it self, but at the pleasures of some men ruling meerly according to will and power.
And in the same Declaration they may remember they professed themselves, Not a meer mercinary Army, hired to serve any Arbitrary power, but called forth and conjured by the several Declarations of Parliament, to the Defence of their own and the peoples just and Fundamental Rights and Liberties, and so took up Armes in judgement and Conscience to those ends; and so resolved to continue, against all Arbitrary power, Violence and oppression. And in their Solemn Engagement made at New-Market Heath, June 5. 1647. they did promise and engage to God and to the People, not to divide nor disband, nor suffer themselves to be divided nor disbanded, untill the full enjoyment of our Freedoms; most seriously promising in several of their papers, not to meddle with the advancement of any particular party or interest whatsoever, but onely minde the COMMON RIGHT and interest of the people.
And therefore it cannot but be matter of amazement unto us, that any Officer or Soldier who hath thus promised and protested for the Fundamental Laws and Liberties of the people, should now question, whether there be any Fundamental Laws and Liberties or no? yea, and affirm, that two lines of them are not to be produced; as we were answered at the delivery of our Petition in the behalf of Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburne (now Prisoner in Newgate, as against the Fundamental Laws of England, so against these Vowes of the Army) whose Liberty forthwith we Claim and Expect; as also the liberty of all others imprisoned contrary to these or any one of these Fundamentals of Common Right.
And of no less astonishment it is unto us, That after we had presented to the General and the Officers of the Army, our Advice concerning the Restoration of the Fundamental Lawes and Liberties of England, we were told at a publike meeting by one of the Councel of Officers, That the things therein presented to their consideration were acknowledged to be just and good, but our persons were so obnoxious to them, that if the Gospel should be brought by our hands to them, and they knew it came downe from Heaven unto us, yet would they reject it for our sakes, or to this effect.
Yet we hope these are but words of passion, such as they will not justifie; for indeed they are of a very ill kinde, of an ill savour unto us, and such as they cannot in conscience or honour seem in the least to countenance; yet if they should as God forbid) or be offended at us for this our Claim and Agreement, we must notwithstanding persist in our affections, and constant peaceable acknowledgement of our Fundamental Rights, and the God of Heaven and Earth be Judge betwixt them and us.
T.250 [1659.02.16] (7.33) Anon., The Leveller: Or The Principles & Maxims Concerning Government and Religion (16 February 1659).
Anon., The Leveller: Or The Principles & Maxims Concerning Government and Religion, Which are Asserted by those that are 12 July 2016, Levellers.
London, Printed, for Thomas Brewster, at the Three Bibles, at the West End of Pauls, 1659.
16 February 1659.
TT2, p. 223; E. 968. (3.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
WHen the Sect of the Christians first arose, the Tyrants wrapped them in Beasts skins, to provoke the Wild Beasts to rend them in pieces; and when Christ their Lord descended to Earth, the Priests and Pharisees, (finding his Doctrine and Holiness against their Interest) cast upon him all the dirt of Blasphemy, Drunkenness, and Confederacy, with the worst of Sinners; and to make sure of his life, they rendred him an Enemy to Government, and told Pilate, that he was no friend to Cæsar, if he let him go: It hath been the common practice of all Tyrants, to cover the face of honesty with the mask of scandal and reproach, lest the People should be enamoured with its beauty; ’tis a Masterpiece in their Politicks, to perswade the People that their best friends are their worst enemies, and that whosoever asserts their rights, and liberties, is factious and seditious, and a disturber of their peace; did not the Grachi in Rome by such policy perish by the Peoples hands, whose liberties they sought to vindicate. And do not some English men now suffer deeply upon the same account, from the Peoples hands for whose sakes they have prodigally hazarded their estates and lives; are not some lovers of their country defamed and esteemed prodigious monsters, being branded with the name of Levellers, whilst those that reproach and hate them, neither know their principles, or opinions concerning Government, nor the good they intend to their very enemies; those that have designed to prey upon the Peoples estates and liberties, have put the frightful vizard of Levelling, upon those mens faces, and most People are agast at them, like children at Raw-head and Bloody-bones, and dare not ask who they are, or peep under their vizard to see their true faces, Principles and designs; doubtless if the People durst but look behind them upon the Bug-bear from which they fly, they would be ashamed of their own childish fear of the Levellers Designs, to make all mens estates to be equal, and to devide the land by telling Noses, they would easily discern (if they durst consider it) that no number of men out of Bedlum could resolve upon a thing so impossible, that every hour would alter by the birth of some child, if it were possible once to make our equal shares; nor upon a thing so brutish and distructive to all Ingenuity and Industry, as to put the idle useless Droan into as good condition, as the laborious useful Bee: Neither could the people think that any number of men, fit to be feared (rather then scorned and pittied) could gain by Levelling estates, for they can never have power and interest enough to disquiet the nation, unless their estates be much greater, than they can be possible upon an equal devision; and surely ’tis a Bugbear fit for none but children, to fear any mans designs, to reduce their own estates to little better than nothing, for so it would be, if all the land were distributed like a three-penny-dole.
But to satisfie such as desire to know, what they are, who are now for destruction sake (though formerly by their enemies scandalously) called Levellers, and what their designs are; I shall tell you their Fundamental Doctrins or Maximes, concerning our Government, and from thence you may make a true Judgment of all their Plots, and either fear them, or favour them accordingly.
I. First, they Assert it as Fundamental, that the Government of England ought to be by Laws, and not by Men, they say, the Laws ought to be the Protectors and preservers under God of all our persons and estates, and that every man may challenge that protection as his right, without a ticket from a Major General, and live under that protection and safely, without fear of a Red-coat, or a Pursevant from White-Hall; They say, that English men ought to fear nothing but God, and the breach of the Laws, not to depend upon the will of a Court and their Council, for the security of themselves and their estates: They say, the Laws ought to Judge of all offences, and offenders, and all penalties and punishments to be Inflicted upon Criminals; and that the pleasure of his Highness, or his Council, ought not to make whom they please offenders, and punish and imprison whom they please, and during their pleasure.
They say also, that the Laws ought to decide all Controversies, and repair every mans injuries, and that the rod of the peoples supream Judicature, ought to be over the Magistrates, to prevent their corruption, or turning aside from the Laws; but that the Magistrates for executing the Laws should not hold their offices at the pleasure of a King, or Protector, lest the fear of displeasing him perverts Justice. In their opinions ’tis highly criminal, that a King, or Protector, or Court, should presume to interpose by letters, threats, or promises, to obstruct the due course of the Laws, or countenance and abet, or discountenance and brow-beat any mans cause whatsoever; In fine, they say, the Laws that are incapable of partiallity, interest, or passion, ought so to govern, as no man should be subject to the crooked will, or corrupt affections of any man.
II. The Levellers second Maxime or Principle about Government, is, that all the Laws, Levies of Monies, War and Peace, ought to be made by the peoples deputies in Parliament, to be chosen by them successively at certain periods of time, and that no Council Table, Orders, or Ordinances, or Court proclamations, to bind the peoples persons or estates; ’tis the first principle of a Peoples liberty, that they shal not be bound but by their own consent, and this our Ancestors left to England as its undoubted right, that no Laws to bind our persons or estates, could be imposed upon us against our wills; and they challenged it as their native right, not to be controuled in making such Laws as concerned their common right and intrests, as may appear by the Parliaments Records in the time of Edward the 2d. and Richard the 2d. The Levellers say, that those whose intrests are in all things one with the whole Peoples, are the only proper unintrested Judges of what Laws are most fit to preserve and provide for that common interest, such are the People in Parliament rightly constituted and methodized, and they may be depended upon, to provide remedies for the Peoples grievances, because they themselves are sharers in every common grievance, and they will be naturally led to study the common good, because they shall share in it; but if a Monarchs pleasure should controul the Peoples Deputies in their Parliaments, the Laws must be fitted for the interest of the Monarch and his family, to keep him in a condition to overtop the People, not for the common and equal good of the whole Nation; and then the Monarchs fears on the one hand, lest the People should be able to diminish his greatness, or that he should hold his greatness at their mercy; and the Peoples fears on the other hand, lest the Monarch should be able to make them slaves, and they come to hold their estates and lives at his mercy: These I say would set two opposite interests, alwayes at contention, in the composing of Laws; and the wisdome and industry of the Peoples Deputies, that should be spent in contriving the advancement of the Peoples common good in the Laws, would be taken up, endeavouring to defend and preserve the Peoples interests, against the Monarchs: Therefore say the Levellers, ’tis equal, necessary, and of natural right, that the People by their Deputies should chuse their own Laws; yet they conceive it would be of much greater good to our Country, if out Parliaments were moulded into a better form, and some Deputies were chosen by the People, only to give their consent or dissent unto Laws proposed; and other Deputies were chosen for Senators, that should consult and debate of the necessity, and conveniency of all Laws, Levies of Monies, War, and Peace, and then propose all to the great assembly of the Peoples Deputies, to resolve; that so the proposing, and resolving Power, not being in the same assembly, all faction and private Interests may be avoyded, which may possibly arise in a single Council, vested with the sole soveraign Law-making Power. This second doctrine of the Levellers, had been fit for all England to have asserted some years since, and then so many Fatherless and Widdows had not now been weeping for their lost Husbands and Fathers in Jamaica, and other forraign Countries, nor had so many families been ruined, nor England impoverished by the loss of Trades occasioned by the Spanish War, begun and prosecuted upon private interests or fancies, without advice or consent of the People in Parliament.
III. The Levellers assert it as another Principle, that every man of what Quallity or Condition, Place or Office whatsover, ought to be equally subject to the Laws; every man say they, high and low, rich and poor, must be Accountable to the Laws, and either obey them, or suffer the penalties Ordained for the Transgressors; there ought to be no more respect of Persons in the execution of the Laws, then is with God himself if the Law be transgressed; no regard should be had who is the offender, but of what kind, nature, and degree is the offence; ’tis distructive to the end of a Government by Law, that any Magistrate or other, should be exempt from the obedience or Justice of the Laws; it dissolves the Government, Ipso facto, and exposeth all the People to Rapine and Oppression, without security of their Persons and Estates, for which the Laws are intended; therefore say they, great Thieves and little must alike to the Gallows: and the meanest man as readily and easily obtain Justice and reliefe, of any Injury and oppression against the greatest, as he shall do against the lowest of the People; and therefore say they, it ought not to be in the power of any single person, to defend himself from the impartiall stroke of the Laws, or to pervert Justice by force; and that brings in their fourth Principle, viz.
IV. That the People ought to be formed into such a Constant Millitary posture, by and under the commands of their Parliament, that by their own strength they may be able to compell every man to be subject to the Laws, and to defend their Country from Forrainers, and inforce right and Justice from them upon all emergent occasions. No Government can stand without force of Arms, to subdue such as shall rebell against the Laws, and to defend there Territories from the Rapine and Violence of strangers, and the People must either hire Mercenary Souldiers to be the Guardians of their Laws and their Country, or take the care upon themselves, by disposing themselves into a posture of Armes, that may make them ready and able to be their own guard: Now say the Levellers, ’tis neither prudent nor safe, that the Peoples Armes should be put into Mercenary Souldiers hands; what reason can induce any People to beleeve that their Laws, estates, liberties and lives, shall be more secure in the hands of Mercenaries, than in their own? who can think his estate, his liberty, or his life in safety, when he knows they are all at the mercy and will of Hirelings, that are led by no other motive, then that of profit or pay, to serve them; and may be led by any proposal or temptation of greater profit or pay, to dissert them.
All ages have afforded sad experiments of trusting their strength in the hands of Mercenary Armies; most Nations who have kept them, (at lest in their own bowels) having been devoured by them; did not the Egyptian King by trusting the Armes in Hirelings hands, lose both his Crown and life, and brought the People to be slaves to the Mamulakes for neer two hundred years? Was not the famous Common-wealth of Rome, ruined, and Inslaved by their negligent permission of Julias Cesar, (upon his advantage of long continuing Genneral,) to form a Mercenary Army? Did not the Inhabitants of Rhegium, perish by the hands of the Roman legion left to be their Mercenary defenders? And were not our neighbours of Amsterdam lately very neer the loss of their estates and liberties, by their own Mercenary Army? And say the Levellers, the people have less reason to trust to Mercenaries to defend their Country from Forraigners, then they have to preserve their estates and liberties from Domestick Oppression; How can their valour or fidelity be depended upon, when a small stipend only obligeth them to either; and if they be Conquered one day, they are ready to serve the Conqueror next day, it being their professed principle, to serve where they can have best, and most certain pay. But say the Levellers, when the People which are owners of a Country, are disposed into a Military form, they fight Pro aris & focis, they are sensible that they have more at stake then a daily stipend, and are in no hopes to better their conditions, by division amongst themselves, or by betraying their Country to Forraigners, Thus say they, is it prudent and safe for the People to be masters of their own Arms, and to be commanded in the use of them by a part of themselves, (that is their Parliaments) whose interest is the same with theirs.
These four foregoing Maximes, contain the sum of all the Levellers Doctrine about our Government in externals; (whose Principles without naming one of them, have been rendred so prodigious, and of such dangerous consequence) but let the reader judge, whether the liberty, happiness, and security, of every English man be not sought in the endeavours, to establish those Foundations of equal Justice and safety; neither can they be charged herein with novelty or unconstancy, the same Fundamentals of Government, having been claimed by our Ancestors as their right, for many hundred years.
And the late long Parliament proposing the same to the People, as the things to be defended by the late Warre; alledging that the King had set up Courtiers to govern instead of Laws, by Imprisoning at pleasure, and during pleasure, and that he had attempted to make proclamations, and Council Table Orders, to be as binding as the Laws, that the People made by their Parliaments; and that the King had exempted himself and others from subjection to the Laws, and pretended a right to the Militia, to command the Peoples Arms without their consent; and in confidence of the Parliaments real intentions and fidelity in what they proposed, the People neither spared, neither treasure nor Blood to preserve themselves, and their declared native rights. And therefore those called Levellers, do now challenge their Principles of Justice and freedome as the price of their blood; and however, many of the Parliaments friends and Adherents, have since disserted their first pretences, yet the Levellers say, they can give no account to the righteous God of the blood they have shed in the quarrel, nor to their own Consciences, of their duty to themselves, their Families and Country, to preserve their Laws, rights, and liberties; if they should not persist in their demands and endeavours, to establish the Government in what form soever, upon the Foundation of the Principles herein declared; and therein they would acquiess, humbly praying the Father of all wisdome, so to direct their Law-makers and Magistrates, that all Gods People might enjoy their spiritual Christian Liberties, in worshiping God according to their consciences; and they heartily wish, that such a liberty may be setled as another Fundamental, or Corner-stone in the Government.
But the designers of oppression, having also thrown dirt in the faces of those, whom they have named Levellers, in the matters of Religion, and aspersed them sometimes as Jesuites, sometimes as Notorious Hereticks, and sometimes are licentious Athiests, men of no religion; ’tis necessary that I should acquaint the reader with their Principles that relate unto Religion; I do not mean to give an account of their faith, for the men branded with the name of Levellers, are and may be under several dispensations of light and knowledge, in spiritual things, in which they do not one judge the other; yet they are all professors of the Christian reformed Religion, and do all agree in these general Opinions about Religion, and the power of men over it.
First, They say, that all true Religion in men, is founded upon the inward consent of their understandings and hearts, to the truths revealed; and that the understanding is so free, that ’tis not in the power of men to compel it to, or restrain it from a consent; nothing but the irresistible evidence of a truth, can gain a consent, and when the evidence is clear to any mans understanding, he himself, (much less another howsoever potent) cannot so much as suspend an assent. Therefore no man can compel another to be religious, or by force or terror constrain the People to be of the true Religion.
Secondly, They say, that the last dictate of every mans understanding in matters of faith and Gods worship, is the last voice of God to him, and obligeth him to practice accordingly; if a man be erroniously informed, yet the misconceptions he hath of truth, bindeth him to practice erroniously, and should he resist that seeming light, (though it should be in truth darkness) his sin would be much greater, and of worse consequence, then if he follows by his actions, his erronious conceptions: Therefore the only means to promote the true Religion under any Government, is to endeavour rightly to inform the Peoples consciences, by whose dictates God commands them to be guided; And therefore Christ Ordained the preaching of the Gospel, as the outward means for converting souls: Faith coming by hearing; and he also Ordained spiritual Ordinances for the Conviction, Instruction, and punishment, of Erronious and Heretical Persons; the Scripture commanding the Erronious to be instructed with the Spirit of meekness, and admonished privately, publickly, &c. And Christ never mentioned any penalties to be inflicted on the bodies or purses of unbelievers, because of their unbelief.
Thirdly, Levellers say, That there are two parts of true Religion, the first consists in the right Conceptions and Receptions of God, as he is revealed by Christ, and sincere adorations of him in the heart or spirit, and the expressions or declarations of that worship outwardly, in and by the use of those Ordinances, that are appointed by Christ, for that purpose. The second part of it, consists in works of righteousness, and mercy, towards all men, done in Obedience to the will of God, and in imitation of his Justice and goodness, to the whole world.
The first part being wholly built upon the Foundation of revealed truths, doth in its own nature absolutely exclude all possibility of any mans being Lord of his Brothers faith, unless the understanding or faith of a Magistrate could constrain the faith or understanding of others, to be obedient to his, or rather to be transformed into the likeness of his: And therefore therein every man must stand or fall to his own Master, and having done his duty rightly to inform his neighbour, must give an account to God of himself only.
But the second part of Religion, falls both under the Cognizance or Judgment of man, and the Law-makers, or Magistrates power. Christ hath taught his followers to judge of mens Religion by their works, by their fruits, saith he, ye shal know them, for men do not gather Grapes of Thorns. Whosoever (be it a Court, or an Army, or a single Person) pretends to Religion, and yet remains treacherous wherein they are trusted, and continue in the breach of their promises, and are not conscientious to do to others as they would that they should do to them, but can without regard to Justice, seize by force of Arms upon the Peoples rights, due to them by Gods Law of Nature, and their Ancestors agreement; and subjects their Persons, and estates, to their wills, or their ambition and covetousness, and make themselves great by Oppressions out of the Peoples purses; those mens Religion men may clearly judge, being in vain by the Scriptures judgment, yea their prayers, and their preaching, as abominable in Gods eyes, as were the Fasts, New Moons, and Sabbaths of the Jewes, (which were then also Gods Ordinances) whilst their hands were defiled with blood, and oppression, and the works of Righteousness and Mercy neglected.
It properly belongs to the Governing Powers, to restrain men from Irreligion in this second part of Religion; that is, from injustice, Faith-breaking, Cruelty, Oppression, and all other evil Works, that are plainly evil, without the devine light of truths that are only revealed; and it is the duty of Governing Powers, to compel men to this part of Religion, that is, to the outward acts of Justice and Mercy; for the inward truth of mens Religion, even in these, is beyond the Mastgistrates Power of Judgement.
Fourthly, They say, that nothing is more destructive to true Religion, nor of worse consequence to humane Society, than the quarrels of Nations or Persons, about their difference of Faith and Worship, and the use of force and punishments, each to compel the other to be of his belief. It cannot be denied, that God in his infinite secret wisdom, is pleased to cause his Spirit to enlighten mens minds with several degrees of Light, and to suffer many to remain in darkness, which be afterwards also enlightened; and therefore their Faith and Worship, if it be sincere, must necessarily and unavoidably differ, according to the different root of Light upon which it grows. Surely Babes in Christ, and strong men, differ much in their apprehensions and comprehensions of the Objects of Faith, and much more those that are not yet born in Christ, though appointed unto Regeneration, and it may be instructed like Cornelius, in some things.
And, as to Opinions about Worship, the thoughts of men must naturally be different, as the mind of one exceeds another in clearness of Light, and capacity of Judging; Now when the most powerful party, seeks by force & punishments, to constrain the Governed or Conquered, to subscribe to their Faith and Opinions, without regard to their own Light or understandings; doth it not (as much as is in mans power) banish all dependance upon the Spirit of God for light, out of mens minds, and constrain them to put out the candle of God within them, that is the light of their own Understandings, and induce them for their worldly respects and safety, to profess a Faith, and practice a Worship, which they neither do, nor dare understand. And by continuence to contract a blindness of mind, and hardness of heart; And is it possible to practise a design more opposite to true Religion, and the propagation of it? And it is evident that those of false Religions, under a pretence of honouring God, by forcing men to be Religious, have blinded Millions of thousands with false Worships. And also, that such as have professed the true Religion in substance, have wickedly opposed the further inlightning work of the Spirit of God, and caused thousands for fear of punishments, to rest satisfied in the profession of a Faith and Worship, which they understand not, and therefore can have no true Religion in them. And Histories will tell plentifully, how pernitions the quarrels grounded only upon difference in matters of Faith, hath been to man-kind, an honest pen would tremble to relate the Murders, and Massacres, the dreadful Wars, and Confusions, and the Ruins, and Desolations of Countries, that have been upon this account; and the same must be to the worlds end, if difference in Opinions about Religions, Worship, and matters of Faith, should be admitted to be a sufficient ground of quarrels; Errors and differences in mens Understands, are from natural unavoidable infirmity, which ought not to be the objects of punishments, or mens angers; ’tis not more likely, that God should make all mens understanding equal in their capacity of Judging, or give to all an equal means or measure of knowledg, then that he should make all mens faces alike. Why then, say the Levellers, should any man quarrel at another, whose Opinion or Faith is not like to his; more then at him, whose Nose is not like to his; therefore say they, let us be unanimous in seeking an establishment of equal freedome and security to the whole People, of the best provisions for commutative and distributive Justice, without partiality; and of the best means of Instructing the whole People in the Spirit of love and meekness; and then true Religion will increase and flourish.
I have now faithfully related the sum of their Principles about Government and Religion, who have been usually called Levellers, and Scandalized with designs against Government and Religion, and Plots, to bring the Nation into Anarchy and Confusion; Let the reader Judge, what colour there is, to suspect those that are thus principled, of such ill designs; or rather, whether freedome, justice, peace, and happiness, can be expected in our Nation, if these Fundamentals of Government be not asserted, vindicated, and practised, and made as known and familiar to the People, as our Ancestors intended the great Charter of the Liberties of England should have been,Statute of 25. Edw. 1. C. 1. when they provided that it should be sent to every City, and every Cathedral Church, and that it should be read and published in every County, four times in the year, in full County.
I have only mentioned the Fundamentals, because they claim these as their Right, and humbly submit the Circumstantials, as to the number whereof Parliaments should consist, and the manner of their Elections, and the order of their debating and resolving of Laws, &c. to the wisdome of the Parliaments. But the reader may well enquire, how those that have asserted these Principles, came to be called Levellers, the People believing generally otherwise of them, then these Principles deserve. Truly the story is too tedious to relate at large; but the sum of it is, that in the year 1648, &c. the Army having been in contest with some members of the long Parliament, they constituted a general Council of Officers, and Agitators for the Souldiers, and then fell into debate of Proposals to be made to the Parliament for a settlement, and then some of that Council, asserted these Principles; and the reason of them, quickly gained the assent of the Major part; but being contrary to the designs of some that were then Grandees, in the Parliament and Army, (but most of them since dead) and had resolved of other things at that time even with the King, who was then at Hampton-Court; it fell into debate in a private Cabinet Council, how to suppress or avoid those that maintained these Principles, and it was resolved, that some ill name was fit to be given to the Asserters of them, as persons of some dangerous Design; and that their reputations being blasted, they would come to nothing, especially if that general Council were dissolved; then was that Council dissolved, and an occasion taken from that Maxime, that every man ought to be equally subject to the Laws, to invent the name of Levellers; and the King, who was to be frighted into the Isle of Wight from Hampton-Court, with pretences that the men of these Principles in the Army, would suddainly seize upon his person, if he stayed there, he was acquainted with those men by the name of Levellers, and was the first that ever so called them in print, in his declaration left on the table at Hampton-Court, when he secretly (as was thought) stole away from thence, and thence it was suddainly blown abroad, with as much confidence, as if they had believed it that first reported it, that a Party of Levellers designed to Levell all mens estates; and since then, the late Lord Protector, knowing these Foundations of Freedome, to be inconsistant with his Designs, hath often mentioned the Levellers Plots, with malice, scorn, and scandal; and now of late generally, whosoever asserts the Peoples Liberties and right of Government by Law, and not by Will, is branded as a Leveller, by the Flatterers.
Now I heartily wish, that my Country-men, may not be mistaken in my candid intentions, in giving them this account: I mean not to Court them as Absolum did his Fathers subjects, to make them believe, that those called Levellers, would use them better then others, if power were trusted in their hands; for our age hath given me experience, that power to inslave the People, ought not to be intrusted in any mens hands, upon the fairést pretences, and most solemn oaths, that that power shall be used to establish their freedome. And ’tis the Levellers Doctrine, that the Government ought to be setled upon such equall Foundations or common Right and freedome, that no man, or number of men, in the Nation, should have the power to invade or disturb the common Freedome, or the common course of impartial justice: and therefore that every Authority ought to be of small continuance, and the several Authorities, to be so ballanced each by other, that without such an agreement of men, against their own interest, as humane prudence, cannot think possible, the People cannot suffer any common Injury; but my meaning in this, is, only to prevent the division of my Country-men into parties, with Animosities each against others, by the couzenage of names or scandals, when it may be they would otherwise joyn hands and hearts for their common Rights and Liberties, if they understood each others minds, and could converse each with other without prejudice, because of the names whereby each hath usually called the others. ’Tis a thred bare plot of Tyrants to divide the People into parties, that they may the more easily master them; but I wish that my Country-men would unite in the equall Principles of common right, and hearken to reason with clearness of mind, whosoever offers it, not regarding whether he that speakes it, is called a Leveller, or a Sectaries or an Anabaptist, or a Presbiter, or a Cavileir, but considering what he sayes; and then the number of hands to defend our Liberties, and properties, would be so numerous, that the ambition of one, or a few, could not hope for successe in attempting a Tyranny over us. And if this poor Paper may have such an effect, that my Country men be not deluded with the idle scandal of Levelling, cast upon honest men, into an opposition of their own welfare, I and many that agree in the publication of this, shall have our ends.
Consider therefore what you here read, and the Lord make you understand the things that conduce to your Peace, and Freedom, and the glorifying his Name in righteousness, in this Nation.
T.153 [1648.09.25] (5.17) Anon., The Remonstrance or, Declaration, of Mr. Henry Martin (25 September, 1648).
Anon., The Remonstrance or, Declaration, of Mr. Henry Martin, and all the whole Society of Levellers; In which is expressed their desires and resolutions touching Liberty and Religion, with their Protestations and Resolutions concerning the same.
We would no God, no King no Order have.
And he that seekes the same we think a Knave:
Wee scorne obedience both to God and Man,
Wee hate all such, wee’ll slay them if we can,
Who thinkest them is homage due;
Wee are all free, I as well as you:
Let King and parliament doe what they will:
Wee’l have no men in power, we will them kill.
When we have thrust them out of doores
Wee’l have a piece a thousand Whores;
All things are common unto those
Which doe their God, their King oppose;
And such are Wee, and this wee’l have,
Or wee will lose our lives, and to the grave;
From thence to Hell, where Pluto wee’l controule,
And give to him both body and soule:
Wee have one God, no Christ, no holy Ghost;
Wee value them no more then a dull post.
Printed in the yeare 1648.
25 September, 1648.
TT1, p. 677; Thomason E. 464. (37.).
(Placeholder: Text will be added 1648–09–25-Anon_RemonstranceMartin.pdf later.)
WEE the Levellers of this Nation, finding by wofull experience, that not only the Cavaliers, but also the Presbyters, are now in Armes against us, as also a company of Semy Independents, all which violently seeking our suppression and ruine, Doe declare to the whole world, the cause of this our conveening and meeting together; and wee shall shew what wee stand for, and doubt not but wee shall have the assistance of al Rebels, Arch-rebels, Theeves petty Theeves, Whoore-masters, Whoore-mongers, drunkards, tiplers, coveteous persons, greedy Epicures, as also the prayers of all women who have poysoned their husbands, murdred their children, baudy house keepers, Whoores, secret and publick, and all others who desire to live as they list: Wee first declare against God the Father, as being nothing to us, who never had, nor never shall have any thing to doe with us; if there be any such power as the ignorant speak and prate so much of: and wee doe stedfastly believe wee had our originall and first being in this world, as flies come in Butchers meat, only blowne there by bad and unseasonable weather, and so begott a generation from one to another, till this present time.
Next wee doe declare against a man they call Christ, who is stiled a Saviour, to be nothing a kin to us, and that he is preached in the wicked obedient fooles Pulpit, to set people a madding, and together by the eares: and wee doe much wonder why people should believe him whom they have not seene, and will not believe us they have seene.
Next wee doe declare against a thing they call the Holy Ghost, for Holinesse wee know not what belongs to it, as being a thing wee were never acquainted with: and for Ghost the Countrey people use to keepe fooles and Children in awe with it as a bugbeare, and therefore wee will not acknowledge any such trash or ridiculous things.
And for Religion wee know not of it, neither doe wee desire to know; what though it be much pratled on in steeple houses, when wee are confident a bawdy house is as much and more to be followed and imbraced? and for those black coats which count so holily of themselves, which indeed is of no more esteeme with us, nor halfe so much as Mrs. Dunce, or any other kinde soule in the City; these fellowes prate an houre together of they know not what, for no other end but to get money: and are not light honest women more to be valued then these fellowes? they feed us with themselves; nay they love us so well, that they will lay themselves downe under, and such is our Religion, and such wee must and will have.
And for a King, wee have too long knowne that man, and have been so abused by him, as if Hee were better then any of us; but now wee will make Him know Hee is our Prisoner, and in our custody, and if Hee will not mend His manners, and turne Leveller speedily, and renounce Religion, Honesty, and Discipline, and keepe as wee doe a thousand Whoores, and protest against Honour, Honesty, and Civility, and send for his woman speedily from beyond the Seas, that wee may have the use of her, as wee have of Mrs. Dunce, and the rest; wee will cause Major Rolph to send Him to the grave, as being not fit to carry guts to a beare.
And for the Prince, wee looke upon him as one of his Fathers Children, that will neither sweare, lye, Whore, nor be drunke, and therefore wee shall use our uttermost endeavours to bring him to condigne punishment with his Father; and for that end wee doe institute Major Rolph, poyson-master Generall of the King and his Brats; wee were in good hopes that the French would have made him a Leveller before now; being the French are men much given to laying women levell with the ground; and truely had any of wee lived so long in France, our notes should have spoken as good French as any Native, more perfect then Cromwels Nose speakes fire and terrour to the Scots.
As for Parliament, that word speakes too great power for any of us to owne; wee had better to have beene subject to one King in three Kingdomes, then five or six hundred Kings in one Kingdome: What though there be a great many in that House which wish and love us well, yer wee shall not take them to be our cordiall Friends till they appeare in our Campes, and renounce both order and rule, and doe as wee doe, which is whore, drinke, sweare, roare, deny God, Christ, Holy Ghost, King, and Religion? when they have done this, wee shall take them into our protection, and all their women though they bring thousands with them out of the City.
And for those dissembling Assembly of black-coats, wee will not have one of them in the world, as being worse then Bishops, nay worse then the Devill himselfe; surely if they were not worse, they would not set out Catechises to perplex us with questions, which neither they nor wee are bound to answer, as being both ridiculous and unnecessary, and not usefull to any end but to make people obedient to that which neither wee nor they knew, nor ever did, or ever will; what doe those fooles tell us of a God or a Christ, being they are nothing a kin or acquainted with us? Wee know the reasons why they are so busie, it is but to get the Tithes of the Kingdome into their hands, when indeed it were better bestowed to maintaine a Stewes for poore old decayed Whoores, who are past their labour, and cannot worke or trade any longer under us.
Next we do declare against those Lawyers who are worse then the Divells tenter-hookes, who are ready to trot to Westminster to plead against us for debt; if wee did but take up some Linnen of a Citizens wife, wee must presently be arested and clapt up in a bell upon earth, and constrained to comply with petty Divels as Lanthall, Booth, the Warden of the fleet, Master of the Marshall-seas, and there to spend our daies without any sport or recreation, unlesse it be with our Landrisses, or such who come to make clean our roomes, when if wee were at liberty we would not touch them with a paire of tonges; but you see the proverb verified in us, that hungry dogs eat durty puddings; and for the Lawyer we will have the two Temples, Lincolnes-Inne, Grays-Inne, and all the Innes of Chancery turned into bawdy-houses, and have all the bookes of Law to wipe their tailes with, and to light Tobacco for us at our comming thither.
Next we do declare against all Magistrates, as Justices of Assize, Justices of peace, high Constables, Constables, as the great and grand enemies to our Levelling, being the only enemies to our freedome and liberty; for we can no sooner get a pritty-Wench in the minde, and fall aboard with her, but presently these petty Knaves with painted staves, presently appeare and sease on us and our creatures, and transport us straight to a Justice of peace, with a company of foolish woodcock Citizens with long bills to guard us, and then Mr. Justice of peace after sends us to Justice Longes powdering Tub, or else puts us to the trouble to find Sureties, and withall binds us to appeare at Sessions, and let the world judge how wee are a free people, when wee are subject to such bonds; can there bee any freedome in bondage? who will not stand for us that either love wine or women?
Next wee do declare against all spirituall and bawdy Courts, which wee thinke were made and authorized from hell, and wee do looke upon all Judges of such Courts, all Doctours in that profession, all Pariters to be the Divells younger Brothers; for I pray how would they huspill and punnish us for using those creatures which they themselves say were made for the use of man? they will tell us old stories of Adam and Eve, and I know not who, people that wee never knew: and for all their talke that Adam kept him to one, God a mercy for nothing, if hee had lived amongst so many hansome women as wee do now, hee would have had more then one hundred; it is no president for them to urge Adams having but one, he must needs be contented with one where there was no more, and yet these men will tye us in a great plenty to a famine: and are not these worse then Pluto himselfe, I pray, who punnish us for using wenches, and poore wenches for using their owne; they make us stand in white sheetes, and aske forgivenesse of them wee never offended or saw with our eies; and is not this a time to declare against such Rogues who punnish us for using natures talents?
Now Gentlemen wee have given you a full narrative of what wee stand for, and what wee will fight against; and wee doubt not but wee shall have all Drunkards, Whore-masters, Prodigals, Swearers, Atheists, and Independents to come to us, and joyne with us in this worke of Deformation, which wee doubt not but to carry on with resolution and fortitude, inspite of Cromwells nose and Fairfaxes head.
Last modified July 14, 2016