Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Friday, December 1. The Bill for assessments was continued (fn. 1) and finished, and ordered to be reported upon Monday next.
Upon this day's debate, it was moved that all ministers who had livings of 60l. or under, shall be exempted from paying any taxes; or, at least, that they should be rated but for so much personal estate. But to that several things were objected.
1. That thereby they would exempt all the malignant ministers, who now are reduced, in general, to those small livings; and their friends, who had got into the best livings, would partake nothing of this indulgence.
3. It may prove dangerous in the precedent; in regard, the clergy, of old, pretended a right and privilege to be exempted from secular charges, and this may give them an opportunity and temptation to revive that old claim.
4. It is held dangerous, in any state, and of evil consequence, to exempt any orders or degrees of men from the public charge. For then, that order so exempted, being no way sensible of the charge, will not care how much be laid; nor regard those ways and means which may conduce to the ease of the rest of the people.
5. The parsons, who, heretofore, have had, and in all ages will have, a great influence upon the affections and suffrages of the people, when they find themselves exempt from charge, will not care how much they preach it up, and lay heavy burdens upon their brethren, which they themselves will not be able to touch with their little fingers.
Lastly. Admit they should be exempted or eased, who must bear their part of the rest of the charge ? For every county, and every hundred in the county, and every town in that hundred has its certain proportions, and so has every estate of freehold within that town.
Now, to ease the parson, either the soldier must abate it, or the Commonwealth lose it, or else the rest of the town must bear it. And then, perhaps, a poor man of 5l. per annum, who pays his tithes duly to his parson, must not only do so, but he must also help to pay the taxes of the parson, who hath a living ten times as good as his; while he, poor man, must starve, almost, for want of bread. Which will draw great odium upon the parson; and if the thing were feasible, yet now it would be very unseasonable, in regard of the present interruption it would put upon the service, the rates being now known and certain. But, upon such an alteration, it would make a great confusion, and breed delay in the collection. (fn. 2)
Saturday 2. (fn. 3)—Was spent in the debate on the nomination of the Council; whether the Protector should nominate, and the Parliament approve, or the Parliament nominate, and the Protector approve.
It was moved, that before this came to the question, it be resolved what qualifications should be required, and what the salary. The debate being very earnest, it was desired that there might be no salary, nor any Parliament-man chosen, and then the heats, who should nominate, would not be so great.
It was said to be the Parliament's right to nominate. They were to be the Council of the Commonwealth and the Parliament's Trustees. Therefore, it was fit that the Parliament should choose them, especially being to be trusted with greater matters than ever any former Council were; as, namely, the election of the Protector, the government of the militia and of the whole Commonwealth, in the intervals of Parliament.
1. They were a great body, and so not so fit to nominate; and, if fit, yet perhaps not so able; and, if fit and able, yet perhaps they could not do it in all respects so conveniently, in regard that it was necessary, there should be some personal knowledge, opinion, and affection, between the Protector and his Council, and certainly the Parliament cannot choose so well as the Protector himself.
2. To put the Protector upon the point of approving or refusing, there will be this unhappiness in it, either the Protector must accept and approve of all that are nominated unto him, and that may prove very inconvenient; or if he shall make use of his judgment to refuse any, look, how many he doth refuse, so many he must necessarily disoblige in the highest point that can be. That will but make him so many enemies, and create discontents and factions against him, upon personal respects. Whereas, on the contrary, if the Protector nominates, and the Parliament shall refuse or disapprove, there is no danger thereby to the Parliament, and the person so refused will be sure to be blasted for ever.
It was objected, that he that hath the nomination hath the compass of three nations to choose in, but he that approves is confined to the number nominated. Besides, he that hath the nomination, has the first step to preferment in his power, and hath a bar and a negative upon any other, for he that approves only, cannot properly prefer any.
On the other side, it was said, that if the Parliament hath the nomination, it must be by a balloting box, and that was found to have much deceit, and to be capable of practice, and was called indeed no better than a juggler's box; or it must be openly in the House. That hath been found to have many inconveniences; every man being led by particular interest and affection, and, in fine, so many difficulties, as make that way very dilatory and tedious.
It was also said, that if Parliament should nominate, it might be possible that it bring in the old line again, and, at best, if they should nominate, it could not be expected that if the Council should prove bad or insufficient, that ever they would punish them, or call them to account, in regard they were persons preferred by themselves.
It was objected, that most of the arguments might be pressed with much more weight and advantage against the Protector's nomination and the Parliament's approving. But it seems strange, that the Council should nominate the Protector, and the Protector nominate the Council. By such a reciprocation we may judge of the consequences. Besides, the Protector himself, in his speech in the Painted Chamber, calls it your Council, meaning the Parliament's Council, and that he would have to be a check upon him. Now it is strange for a man to choose his own check. The treaties of Uxbridge demanded the same thing of the late King. (fn. 4)
It was objected, that as it was to be our Council, so all the business was our business, and if we should only approve, how safe could it be for any single person to take personal exceptions, against any one that should be nominated by the Protector ? Who dares oppose him openly, whom the Protector shall have so good opinion of, and who shall come to have so great power and opportunity to avenge himself of any opposer?
Notwithstanding all these reasons, it was put to the ques tion, and carried by a divided House, (fn. 5) that the persons who shall be of the Council, shall be such as shall be nominated by the Lord Protector, and approved by the Parliament. (fn. 6)
Monday 4. The Bill for the assessment (fn. 7) was read the second time, and all the Commissioners names agreed, and ordered to be engrossed. But the proportions were to stand as formerly for these three months, in regard that the speedy necessity of this assessment could not permit time to debate that.
Much was said by the members of both nations, in order to an abatement of the assessment. The misery and poverty of the nation were at large represented. Therefore, although heretofore Scotland was rated at 10,000l. per mensem, yet it was thought fit for these three months, only to lay them at the former rate of 8000l. and afterwards to raise them to a due proportion, as the Parliament should see cause. (fn. 8)
Wednesday 6. The number and continuance of the standing forces (fn. 9) were debated, and voted to be such as shall be agreed upon by the Lord Protector and the Parliament. Upon some jealousies, lest this vote should seem in the mean time to imply a disbanding of all the forces, until such agreement should be obtained, it was moved, and pressed with much earnestness, that a proviso be added to that vote to this purpose; "that this shall not extend to alter the constitution of the army and forces, as it now stands."
This was conceived of too great a latitude, in regard the present constitution was 57,000 and odd, and in case the Parliament and Protector should not agree, this vote might imply a consent of the Parliament, to the holding up of such a force. It was therefore laid aside.
Then it was pressed again, that the proviso might be thus: that it shall not extend to the reducing of the land-forces to a less number than to 30,000. (fn. 10) But, because that might imply a consent to the establishment of such a number for ever, especially, in case the Protector and Parliament should not agree, this, therefore, was also laid aside, and any thing else of that nature, out of an expectation that, before the Bill should pass, the Protector and Parliament would certainly agree in stating of the number, and in all other things, in relation to the standing forces.
Resolved, that the exercise of the Chief Magistracy of this Commonwealth, and the people thereof, is, and shall be in the Lord Protector, assisted with a Council; the exercise of which power shall be according to the laws, and according to such limitations as are, or shall be, agreed upon in Parliament. (fn. 11)
Resolved, that all writs, process, commissions, patents, grants, and other things, which heretofore did or might, lawfully, have passed or issued in the name or style of the Keepers of the Liberties of England, by authority of Parliament, shall pass and issue, in the name of the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging.
Resolved, that such titles of honour, as shall be hereafter conferred in this Commonwealth, shall be derived from the Lord Protector, and that no title of honour hereafter to be conferred by the said Lord Protector, shall be hereditary, without consent of Parliament.
Resolved, that it shall not be in the power of the said Lord Protector, to pardon any person lawfully convicted of murder. (fn. 12)
Then they proceeded to the fourth article, and voted that the Lord Protector, by the advice and consent of the major part of his Council, shall have power to direct in all things, concerning the keeping and holding a good correspondency with foreign kings, princes, and states.
And that he shall have the benefit of all forfeitures, and confiscations, not already granted, or otherwise lawfully vested in any other person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, according to the trust reposed in him by law, and as shall be agreed upon by Parliament. (fn. 13)
Then they debated upon the fifth article, and voted the power of making war to be only in the Lord Protector and the Parliament; and that, sitting the Parliament, no peace shall be concluded but by consent of Parliament; and, in the intervals of Parliament, the power of making peace shall be in the Lord Protector and the Council, with such reservations and limitations as the Parliament shall approve. (fn. 14)
After this, we proceeded to the tenth article, and voted that the persons to be chosen within England and Wales, and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, to sit and serve in Parliament, shall be, and not exceed the number of four hundred.
Although it was strongly moved in behalf of the city of London, and the Universities, that some more members be added to them, it was voted and settled according to the Instrument. Yet it was urged that the City of London paid the sixteenth part of the charge of the nation, (fn. 15) and that the Universities were but equal in number with the towns.
Nevertheless, it was conceived that London's interest was rather too big already, than in proportion it ought to be. For the Universities, it was not fit to countenance any factions between them and their towns; but to let them go hand in hand, and in an equal balance. Besides, both the cities and the Universities had many great friends in Parliament, always, besides those who did particularly serve for them.
Then they proceeded to the distribution of the members, to the several counties and places, and voted them, as they came from the report. Which, for the most part, did agree with the Instrument, (fn. 16) saving as to Queenborough.
Some gentlemen of Kent, being earnest to have that membership conferred, some to the county, some to Maidstone, some to the Cinque Ports, some to one place, some to another, Mr. Garland, who served for that place, suddenly and jocularly moved the Speaker, that we give not any legacies before the Speaker was dead. Which conceit so took with the House, as for that time Queenborough was reprieved, but was voted for the future to be dismembered, and to be added to the county.
It was moved also for Woodstock, that that might not be dismembered; but it was according as was reported. (fn. 17) Morpeth, in Cumberland, was moved to have a member, and that one shall be taken from the county, (fn. 18) but that was denied. The towns in Cornwall were dismembered, and a member added to Bodmin, there. (fn. 19) The rest all passed according to the Instrument.
Then they proceeded to the thirty-second article, and voted that the office of the Lord Protector over these nations, shall be elective, and not hereditary. Wherein it was observable, that there was not any, the least debate upon it, nor one negative to the question.
Then they debated the thirty-fourth article, and voted, that the great officers therein named, shall be chosen by the approbation of Parliament; and added to them the Chief Baron, and all the Barons and Judges of the Courts at Westminster, the Judges of Ireland, and the Judges of the Courts of Justice in Scotland. And it was moved, but not granted, that the Lord Mayor of London, and strongly pressed, that at least the Lieutenant of the Tower, might have the Parliament's approbation.
Resolved, that the true Reformed Protestant Christian religion, as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and no other, shall be asserted and maintained, as the public profession of these nations. (fn. 20)
Friday 8. It was voted, that no laws shall be made to compel any person or persons to conform to the doctrine, worship, and discipline, publicly professed, without consent of the Lord Protector and Parliament.
Provided, that such Bills as shall be hereafter agreed upon by the Parliament, requiring from such ministers and preachers of the Gospel, as shall receive the public maintenance for instructing the people, to subscribe to the doctrine and public profession, and such Bills also as shall be presented, for compelling people to come to church upon the sabbath-day, (fn. 21) or to other congregational and Christian meeting-places, shall pass into and become laws, within twenty days after the presentation to the Lord Protector, although he should not give his consent thereunto.
Saturday 9. (fn. 22) The like vote was passed, as to such laws as should be made for the restraining of atheism, blasphemy, damnable heresies, popery, prelacy, licentiousness, and profaneness, which took up the whole day's debate. (fn. 23)
Tuesday 12. The enumeration of heresies was referred to a Committee (fn. 26), and the debate of atheism, blasphemy, and profaneness, taken up; which were conceived to be words of that general notion, as might expose the godly party, and people hereafter, to some danger of suffering under those laws. (fn. 27)
Not agreeing hereupon, it gave occasion of reviving a motion, (fn. 28) which had been made often times before, against the books of one Biddle; (fn. 29) the one containing two catechisms, (fn. 30) the other entituled "Twelve Arguments, refuting the common opinion of the Deity of the Holy Ghost," (fn. 31) which was condemned to be burnt by the common hangman, and a committee appointed to examine the book, to send for the parties and printers, to restrain them if they see cause, and to suppress his keeping of a school. (fn. 32)
Wednesday 18. This day was spent in the debate of another part of the proviso to the Lord Protector's negative in matters of religion, viz. that such Bills as were presented to the Lord Protector, for restraining such as should publish, print, or preach any thing against the profession established, should pass into and become laws, without the Protector's consent.
After a whole day's debate, the word "publish," was agreed to be left out, and to be made no part of the question. But the words, "preach and print," were voted upon the question, to be part of it. But then came the latter part of the question, which, indeed, was cardo rei, the very hinge of all. Whereby, it was endeavoured to exclude the necessity of the Lord Protector's concurrence in making of laws to such purposes. Whereby they would, in a manner, disable him from being what they had voted him, that is, a Protector; especially in that point which is of most weighty and tender consideration of any, that is, the freedom of the tenderness of our consciences.
This could not be agreed upon, (fn. 33) so it was deferred until the next day. Only Biddle, whose books were condemned the day before, was now apprehended, and brought before the bar, and committed to the Gatehouse. (fn. 34)
Thursday 14, (fn. 35) Friday 15. Voted, that the damnable heresies, shall be enumerated, and by this Parliament, (fn. 36) and that the printing and preaching be intended only against such fundamental doctrines as shall be agreed upon by the Lord Protector and Parliament. (fn. 37)
Note, that when the question was wholly put upon the proviso, whereby it was provided that laws should be made without consent of the Lord Protector, against "popery, prelacy, licentiousness, or profaneness," it was moved and desired, that to those words there might be added the word "presbytery," but it was not seconded by any. (fn. 38)
Likewise, when it was voted that there should be no printing nor preaching against such fundamentals as shall be agreed upon by the Lord Protector and Parliament, it was moved, that the twenty articles which were brought in by the Divines, and presented to the House, as all fundamental, and necessary to salvation, might pass the approbation of the House, and the Lord Protector's consent, and so that that vote might refer to those articles. But, upon perusal of the articles, they were laid aside, and not thought fit to be further proceeded upon at that time. (fn. 39)
The articles of religion being thus voted, they proceeded (fn. 40) to the rest of the articles of the Government, namely, the thirty-ninth and fortieth; and agreed them all in substance, according to the Instrument.
They did also agree upon the form of the oath for the Protector, and likewise for the Council; and last of all, that immediately after the death of every Lord Protector, if a Parliament be not then sitting, or not then already summoned, a Parliament be summoned to meet forthwith. (fn. 41) This being done, there remained nothing more of the Instrument to be debated; but only the number of the standing forces, and their continuance, and the consideration of the revenues, which were ordered for the next day's business.
The petition of divers lords of manors, and owners of commons, and inter-commoners, being fen grounds, in the Isle of Ely, and counties adjacent, in behalf of themselves, the tenants, and others, was read, and committed to the Committee for the fens of Lincolnshire. (fn. 42)
Resolved, that for maintaining of 10,000 horse and dragoons, and 20,000 foot, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the defence and security thereof, and also for a convenient navy of ships for guarding the seas, a revenue be raised, to continue until forty days after the time appointed for the sitting of the next Parliament, unless the Protector and the Parliament, the Parliament sitting, or the Protector and his Council, in the intervals of Parliament, shall otherwise think fit to lessen the same, in the mean time. (fn. 43)
It was represented, that for the last seven years the assessments had run at 90,000l. per mensem, besides the sales of revenues, bishops, deans, and chapters, seizures, forfeitures of papists and delinquents, and several other advantages.
Yet, notwithstanding, there are great arrears of debts upon us. Therefore, if we keep up our forces, or our charge as high now, when we have voted but 60,000l., we must needs expect a vast debt, and an impossibility to discharge it. It will make the nation needy and necessitous; and in fine, will bring ruin upon us.
But, for this proportion of 30,000 men, it may well be that the 60,000l. per mensem may suffice; and if that number be not enough we can enlarge it, when we fall upon the consideration of the militia. (fn. 43)
That a constant yearly revenue of 200,000l. per annum, be settled and established upon the now Lord Protector, and the succeeding Lords Protectors, for the time being, respectively, for defraying the necessary charges for administration of justice, and other expenses of the Government, and for the support of his and their state and dignity, as may be for the honour of this Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. And that the said 200,000l. per annum, be constantly paid out of the public receipt of the Exchequer, by warrant of the Lord Protector and the Council; and shall not be taken away nor diminished, without the consent of the Lord Protector and Parliament. (fn. 46)
After which, we proceeded upon the thirty-first article, and voted it, in substance, according to it, whereby the particular way of raising the revenue (fn. 47)—
Tuesday 19. Mr. Read reports from the Committee to whom the blasphemous books, written by John Biddle, were referred, the rude and obstinate behaviours and misdemeanours (fn. 48) of the said John Biddle; and of Richard Moone, and John Cottrell, the printer and publisher of the said books, before the said Committee; and that they refused to tell their names, or to give answer to any questions demanded of them by the said Committee.
Eodem die, post meridiem. Resolved, that the Committee, to whom the preparing of a Bill upon the votes concerning the Government is referred, be empowered to consider of the printed Instrument, intituled " the Government of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and, where they find any thing defective in the votes, which hath not been already debated in the House, to resort to the House with such particulars as may be fit to be supplied without altering the substance of what the House hath already voted. (fn. 49)
Thursday 21. The House being informed, that there was one did deliver divers books at the door, this day, intituled, "Dissertatio de Pace, &c. or a Discourse touching the Peace and Concord of the Church." (fn. 50)
He was, by command of the House, called in: and being called to the bar, Mr. Speaker, by command of the House, demanded his name. He answered, Philip Dancy; that he lives in Lombard Street, and is a Norwich factor: and being showed one of the said books, acknowledgeth, that he did deliver some books of this sort and title, to divers members of this House.
Being demanded, who was the author of this book, he saith, the author he is ignorant of: (fn. 51) and being demanded, who delivered the books to him, saith, he can tell; but craves pardon for his silence in it; saith, he received them this morning. But, being asked where he received them, and who printed thein, craves, pardon therein also, and thereupon withdrew.
He was called in. And being come to the bar, and being demanded his name, answered Thomas Carpenter; that he lives in Paul's Church-yard, at Richard Moone's house. Saith John Danyell, apprentice to Moone, wished him to deliver them to this man in the morning.
Resolved, that this book be referred to the consideration of the Committee, to whom Biddle's books be committed, to examine the substance thereof, and who were the authors, printers, and publishers; with power to send for persons, papers, witnesses, and to secure such persons as they find cause, until the House be acquainted therewith. That the quorum of the said Committee be five.
Resolved, that the Serjeant-at-Arms be required to enter into the house of Richard Moone and John Cottrell, or any others, where the said printed books, intituled " Dissertatio de Pace, &c. or a Discourse touching the peace and concord of the Church," or any of them shall be found, and to seize all the said books.
Resolved, that the merchants, commonly calling themselves merchants of the intercourse, residing in London and elsewhere, within this Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, shall pay, and be liable to pay, all such sum and sums of money as shall be assessed and taxed upon them, or any of them, as any merchant-strangers; any privilege of exemption, by colour or pretence of the great intercourse made in the time of King Henry VII. and Philip, Duke of Burgundy, or otherwise, to the contrary notwithstanding.
Saturday 30. The House being informed, that one Theauro John, in the lobby, without the door of the Parliament, did there draw his sword, and struck at divers persons; and ran with his sword against the door of the House.
He was, by order of the House, brought to the bar. Where, being demanded by Mr. Speaker, what his name was, answered, Theauro John. Being asked, why he came hither ? Saith, he fired his tent, and the people were ready to stone him, because he burnt the Bible, which he acknowledgeth he did; saith, it is letters, not life; and he drew his sword, because the man jostled him at the door: saith, he burnt the Bible, because the people say it is the word of God, and it is not; it deceived him. And saith he burnt the sword and pistols and Bible, because they are the Gods of England. He did it not of himself. And being asked, who bid him do it; saith, God. And thereupon was commanded to withdraw.
Resolved, that the said Theauro John be committed to the Gate-house, Westminster, in order to a further proceeding against him, both for drawing his sword at the Parliament door, and for burning the Bible; and affirming that the same is not the word of God. And that there be a charge given to the keeper to take notice of any persons as shall resort to him.
Resolved, that it be referred to a Committee to examine him; and to present to the House their opinion what is fit to be done, in respect of both these offences. (fn. 53) And that it be referred to a Committee, to whom the business touching Biddle is referred, to report with speed.
Resolved, that it be referred to Mr. Serjeant Glyn, Mr. Lechmere, Mr. Recorder, Mr. .Turner, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Long, Mr. Beale, Mr. Brisco, Colonel Birch, Lieutenant Colonel Kelsey, Mr. Lister, Mr. Bedford, Mr. Timbs, or any three of them, to prepare a Bill, upon the debate of the House touching Quakers; with power to them, to receive informations, from the members of this House or others touching these persons; the better to enable them to describe them in this bill.