Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Thursday, January 1,1656–7.
The House appointed to-morrow sennight, to be set apart for a day of humiliation to be kept in the House; and ordered that Dr. Reynolds, Mr. Barker,† and Mr. Caryl, be desired to be assisting to the carrying on the work of that day of humiliation in the house.
The Master of the Rolls. Private business should not be wholly laid aside. We must relieve those that cannot be relieved elsewhere. There may be a provision for public business too, and not wholly reject private business.
Captain Baynes. An additional Bill for the better improvement and advancing the receipts of the excise and new imposts, was this day read the first time, (fn. 1) wherein was the branch for 12d. a head upon private families.
The poll-money is a new thing; no order for it of this House. It is an incredible sum, never heard of. It may amount to two millions for aught I know. The people will be set all in an uproar. They will bless those that left the Parliament, and curse us that sit here. We are a broken interest. If any thing in the world will make a Parliament stink in the nostrils of the nation, it will make us odious. There have been other ways found out to levy monies for the war. Let it not fall upon us. It is a most cruel and oppressive Bill. I desire it may be thrown out. The poverty of the nation is known.
Mr. Attorney-General. This may be made a good Bill. I had rather it should lie upon the excise, than upon assessments. Here a man has something for his monies. In assessments he has nothing for his monies. This gentleman speaks unseasonably to it, at this time.
The Master of the Rolls. It is a dangerous thing for us to give an arbitrary power over men's persons, and goods, and liberties; to imprison men by any private person. The power of Parliament is very great, but we must do things according to justice. Let us not deliver up the liberties of the people, but know how first. Here is no time limited in this Bill, how long the tax shall continue. Haply, I may not be here at the second reading, and therefore speak now to it. However we may deceive ourselves, we are not so clear in the opinion of the nation; and we ought to be tender in laying a tax upon them.
Mr. Robinson. I like not to put an arbitrary power in a person, much less in inferior officers, to imprison men and seize their goods, and enter into their houses. We shall have a muster-master come into our houses every quarter, to disturb us and reckon over our families. Yet let it have a second reading.
Captain Baynes. We have taken a great deal of pains at this Committee to serve you, and we hope nothing is in the Bill but what we had your order for. The rates upon commodities are no more than was set in the Long Parliament. For that of the poll, at 12d. per head, it is in lieu of excise upon private families. Monies must be had for the wars. If any know a hetter expedient, it were good they would acquaint the House. We have endeavoured to serve you as faithfully as we could in it, without any ends, or respects at all.