Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Monday, December 22, 1656.
A Petition of the Earl of Derby (fn. 1) was read and referred to a Committee.
The Petition of the tenants of the manor of Hanslop, in the County of Bucks, (fn. 2) for lands of 1,000l. per annum, which they hold by lease, against Thomas Tirrell, Counsellor-atlaw.
He hath cut down the wood where the petitioners ought to have house-bote; (fn. 3) hath raised more monies out of those woods and forfeitures, than the purchase cost him; he hath threatened many of their lives, &c.
Sir Thomas Wroth and Mr. Goodwin. If you receive all petitions of this nature, there will be no need of paying salaries to the judges. I see nothing in the Petition but what Westminster-hall may determine. I desire it may be rejected.
Captain Baynes and Mr. Robinson. If it were no more than the title of this petition, it were reason enough to reject it; for it is directed to the knights, citizens, and burgesses, assembled in Parliament. This looks upon us as a House of Commons; as if the House of Lords were alive. Besides, the petition in itself is not to be retained; for though it pretend for the Commonwealth; yet it is between party and party: and the Long Parliament, by ordinance, did declare that they would meddle with no such business; unless in cases of mal-administration.
The Master of the Rolls. This day hath brought you work enough for half a year, and another day will stuff you sufficiently. There is relief enough at law. I would have you to reject this petition, if it were for no other reason but for the countenance of justice.
Lord Whitlock. This petition is clearly determinable in the inferior courts of justice. This gentleman had a lease for years, determinable at Michaelmas next, and has purchased the reversion. Now they would overthrow all.
Major-General Disbrowe and Major-General Boteler. It claims a right for the Commonwealth, and it will be proved the petitioners are well affected to the Government; the defendant a delinquent under decimation. If there were no more than between party and party, I should move for rejecting it; but it is the public concernment, profit to the Commonwealth.
The petition of the tenants of Epworth, (fn. 4) in the Isle of Axholme, in the county of Lincoln, touching some commons encroached upon, the lords there setting 12d. an acre upon them. They desired to be left to law, or relieved here.
Mr. Hall offered another petition from tenants of the same place. For saving time, he desired both might be considered together. Both the petitions were read, being much to the same purpose. The people pretend they are Cavaliers, and threaten them with swords, &c.
Major Morgan. I am not against the committing of these petitions, to the end that both parties may be heard. I desire to offer you a petition on the behalf of the participants and tenants and freeholders, within the Isle of Axholme.
It was directed to be read. It complained against the tumults of the former petitioners, partly occasioned by the instigation of Lieutenant-Colonel Lilburn, (fn. 5) and Major Wildman, (fn. 6) and one Munk; one man killed, and fourteen men wounded; all laid waste. Complaint was made to the Exchequer, but they could not be relieved there. It was left out of the Act of Oblivion, upon Major-General Whalley's report, that the tumults were very rebellious, and would not be suppressed without armed men.
Major-General Whalley. Part of this isle lying in Not tinghainshire, and part in Lincolnshire, they have spent their monies, and now come to knocks. Our forces have been troubled to suppress the tumults. The Council has been troubled with the business. I desire it may be referred to a Committee, either to end the business, or to state the matter of fact.
Mr. Robinson. I move that the level of Hatfield in Yorkshire, (fn. 7) may also be referred to this Committee; it being all one business. I am nothing concerned in it, but as it relates to the county I serve for.
The letter was read: first, the superscription, directed to Sir Thomas Widdrington, Speaker, to be communicated to the Parliament. Then the name, Oliver Protector. Then the letter. It was concerning the arrears due to the brigade of Cheshire, (fn. 8) who bore a great share in the heat of Worcester fight, and ever since have been unpaid.
A petition from the Cheshire brigade to the same purpose, that they might be relieved, for their arrears, out of the pub lic lands, the King's, &c.: and that two months' pay in arrear be paid out of some treasury.
Mr. Robinson. This person, if the Bill now before you, touching rogues, were passed, might come within the compass of it. I hope you are not going about to grant briefs to all that will ask them. There are other ways to relieve the petitioner.
Resolved, that Sir Gilbert Pickering and Mr. Godfrey be added to this Committee. A plot, a jeere. (fn. 9)
Major-General Howard presented the tenant's petition. Mr. Speaker took it, and said, two petitions were to be read, in order, before it; yet opened the title, that it was from the tenants of Westmoreland against Lord Pembroke, (fn. 10) and threw it from him upon the table.
Mr. Berkeley offered Sir John Stowell's (fn. 11) petition, and desired it might be read, on Monday, the second time.
Mr. Bampfield and Major-General Whalley. The least you can do is to give it a hearing. It concerns the faith of the nation; the faith of the Parliament. The last Parliament thought themselves obliged.
The petition of Edward Dendy read, set forth, that he had 200l. per annum, land in Ireland, settled upon him, for his eminent services, per the Lord Deputy, and the Commissioners, but he is now put to trouble by the adventurers, and Sir John Barrington particularly. He desires the suits may cease. Some Acts of Parliament whereby the adventurers claim, are with a saving of former grants.
Lord Fleetwood, Colonel White, and Colonel Holland. The adventurers have not their due encouragement. Many obstructions lie in the way, which hinders your plantation. They desire it may be referred to the Committee to find out an expedient to further that work.
Dr. Clarges and The Master of the Rolls proposed, that the business of the inhabitants of Gloucester might be referred to the same Committee. They have lands assigned them in Ireland, for their losses; valued, per last Parliament, at 10,000l. They suffered their houses to be burned down for your service. They have done eminent service for you.
Major-General Whalley proposed, that they might have some recompense out of Ireland. Colchester was considered in the like kind. They have done you service which ought not to be forgotten. You had not sat here, I believe, but for them. They only hindered the king's coming to London. I desire it may be referred to the same Committee.
Captain Crofts and Mr. Attorney-General. True, it is settled by Act of Parliament; but the Commissioners for the adventures of Ireland send them hither, and these Commissioners back again to Ireland. It is the fault of the Act that it is not said who shall execute it.
He hath done good service: First, took up arms in Dorset, till betrayed and taken prisoner by Sir Antony Ashley Cooper. Hath laid out 2000l. and odd, which he borrowed, and pays interest for it at 8l. per cent., which comes, by single interest, to 1500l. He is threatened daily to be arrested for the sums aforesaid, being unable to pay them.
Captain Baynes. I am against the petition, and all of this kind, for the poor people's sakes, who increase their charge by staying here, and undo whole families, as in the Long Parliament. I know you are not able to satisfy them.
Mr. Robinson. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, by whom this gentleman suffered, may satisfy him; for we are not able, at present, to do it. We shall put the poor people to charge by attending, and do them no good. I wish it were referred to the gentlemen that serve for Dorset, to find out a way to satisfy the petitioner.
Mr. Butler. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper has done you good service, (fn. 12) and the petitioner doth not say his sufferings were by him.
He married Katharine, daughter of Lord Goring. (fn. 13) She eloped from him, and at Oxford, and other places, had children by other men. She hath contracted great debts, &c. Desires he may be divorced from her, that those children may be declared bastards, and not inherit his estates, and that he may be relieved against those debts. He would have some of the long robe consider it and give their opinion.
Sir Thomas Wroth. It is not every man's luck to have a good wife. No man in this House has so bad a wife. It is fit the gentleman should be relieved, that bastards may not inherit his estate. He is a person of ancient family, (fn. 14) and highly injured by the debts she has contracted. We were petitioned in the Long Parliament. The Lord Chief-Justice has settled alimony upon her, but she deserves no more than a dog. I would have it cut off, and that the Bill be read.
Mr. Robinson. It is no jesting business. It is a sad case to have such a wife; and to have a posterity put upon him that is none of his own. I desire the petition may be referred to a Committee, to hear both parties, and then judge.
Lord Strickland. I would not have us to suppose this business to be so, till we have examined it. As the petitioner is a person of quality, so is she; but for us to judge parties unheard, is very unequal. By this mean's any man that is weary of his wife may.be quit of her by petition.
Mr. Attorney-General. This business is notorious. The matter of fact is but too true. I wish there were a law in general provided for this. It is only fit for a Parliament. She sought for alimony (fn. 15) in the Chancery, but durst not prosecute it. It may as well be heard upon a bill as upon the petition, as in Sir John Brooke's case the other day. (fn. 16)
Major-General Disbrowe. We shall grow angry at one. (fn. 17) I desire the Bill may not be read, but refer it to a Committee.
Mr. Recorder. It is not parliamentary, under colour of a petition, to bring in a Bill. It is giving too hasty credit to a business of this nature. By this rule a Bill may be brought in to every petition. Again, it is very unequal to condemn, before parties are heard on both sides.
Colonel Markham stood up very often to offer a petition, but he could not get in, and was very angry with Mr. Robinson for interrupting him. Colonel Markham said, that he took more liberty to speak than any man, and had spoke two or three times to this business. Mr. Robinson stood up to justify himself, and reflected upon Colonel Markham as if new members were not well acquainted with these proceedings. High dispute seemed likely to arise, but Mr. Speaker determined the controversy by leaving the chair, without a question.
Mr. Speaker said he had also a copy of very good verses from the same hand, to offer. (fn. 18)