Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Monday, January 19, 1656–7.
Mr. Robinson reported from the Grand Committee upon the Bill for uniting of Ireland into one Commonwealth with England, (fn. 1) that the said Grand Committee do desire the House will appoint another day for the said Grand Committee to sit.
Ordered, that the House be resolved into a Grand Committee, upon the Bill for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England, (fn. 2) on Friday morning next.
Ordered, that this petition be referred to the Committee to whom the petition of Mr. Scot is referred, and that this Committee, as to this business, have power to send for persons, papers, witnesses, and records; and that it be referred to this Committee to prepare a Bill to this House concerning divorces and alimony, and where it is fit to place the same. (fn. 3)
Mr. Bodurda. You have had two letters from his Highness, to which you have returned no answer. I have a report upon one of them, which I have had in my hand this month almost, touching the Cheshire brigade. (fn. 4) I desire it may be read. But he was called down, in regard (as Mr. Speaker said) he knocked the former business on the head, which was a good business.
Lord Chief-Justice. This complaint ariseth from a suit depending in the Upper Bench, in the case of one Herne, who was duly elected a Fellow of All Souls, where, upon his application to us, we granted a mandamus, as was warrantable by former precedents, in a case lately before Lord Rolle, in a serious debate. We are, by our oaths, bound to grant process in such cases.
Mr. Speaker. The proceedings at law ought not to be stopped upon this petition. I desire not to hinder it, but it comes in very irregularly, for here is no hand to it, not so much as the Vice-Chancellor's, or any others. A private person cannot do it.
The place where that design was hatched is in Flanders, a place fit for such designs of assassination, at the Spanish court there. Two parties are in it, the old malignant, and the levelling party. It is carried on by one Sexby (fn. 5) there.
Three of them we have taken. First, one Cecil, a late trooper: second, one Sindercomb, who was in the mutiny in Scotland, and disbanded. The proof was not then full enough against him to hang him: I hope it will now be sufficient. Third, one John Toope, who was trusted to be of the Life-guard. He discovered it to us the same night it was to take effect. It will be made out that both parties were privy to it. Toope and Cecil have confessed something upon their examinations; but Miles Sindercomb stands mute. I hope we shall discover more of them.
Mr. Secretary. These are all the examinations that we have taken in this business. We are in further pursuit of thediscovery. This Boys is the chief agent. He is now in Flanders. It is likely that it is not his name, but he is a con. siderable person of the late King's party; who, I believe, will be found implicated in this assassination. This will appear by a discovery, in part, by a paper found about Sir Thomas Peyton, now a prisoner in the Tower; who, being suspected to hold close correspondence with Charles Stuart, was searched by one John Rogers, a soldier appointed to search his chamber for papers.
He had read it three or four times, and desired he might read it. This paper was found the 6th of December last, whereupon Sir Thomas Peyton was sent for, and all that he would say to it, is in this paper, which the clerk read. He confessed such a paper came to his hand writ upon the top of it, the 30th of December. He conceived it to he of dangerous concernment. But how it came to him ? It was by a porter from Blackfriars, as he believes, in regard he demanded monies for it.
Mr. Secretary made a relation of a wicked design to take away the Lord Protector's life, and to fire Whitehall, and presented the examinations of John Cecil and John Toope, taken upon oath before Francis White and William Jesop, Esquires, two of his Highness's Justices of Peace for the liberty of Westminster, which was read.
Mr. Secretary also made another relation of another design, and presented the examination of John Rogers of the Tower of London, gentleman, taken upon oath the 8th day of December, 1656, before Sir John Barkstead, Knight, and the examination of Sir Thomas Peyton, taken the 8th of December, 1656, which examinations were delivered back to Mr. Secretary by order. (fn. 6)
Sir William Slrickland. We are obliged to give thanks to God for this and all other deliverances, without whose providence a hair cannot fall from our heads. It is not improbable that the Levellers (fn. 7) and the Cavaliers may join together in this assassination, or any other wicked thing, to overthrow the Government. We cannot be too thankful for such a mercy; which was extended to us, as well as to his Highness. I cannot tell what to say to it, but would have it transferred back again, that the offenders may be all discovered and punished.
Judge-Advocate Whalley. I thought it my duty, hearing of some of the names of the plotters, as Colonel Overton, to say what I know of my own knowledge; and do affirm that when General Monk, and some other officers, with myself, went to search Colonel Overton's chamber, we found a sealed paper, wherein was expressed that 600l. was distributed to six several persons, who should have murdered my Lord Protector. (fn. 8) I thought good to acquaint you.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. I know not what to say to it, but that we should solemnly give thanks to God for this deliverance; which, certainly, was not only a deliverance to his Highness, but to us all. I believe none of us that sit here had been safe, if this design had prospered. It has pleased God to add this to our former mercies, and we ought to appoint a day of thanksgiving for it; but whether public or private, I shall not determine, but do think private best.
Lord Broghill. This is a sufficient experience of mercy whereupon to ground a thanksgiving. It will be a means to stop the mouths of your enemies; both Charles Stuart (fn. 9) and the rest, to hear that the representatives of the three nations have such a sense of this deliverance, that they do appoint a day of thanksgiving for it. It is a mercy very thanks-worthy.
Mr. Highland. It is an universal mercy, and it ought to be universally observed upon one day, by all the three nations. It was so in scripture. They appointed one day for all. I desire we may observe that rule. Again, it is not convenient for countrymen that come with their cloth, and other things, to London, upon such a solemn day here, they knowing nothing of it. They lose their market. I desire that it may be upon Thursday fortnight.
Sir Christopher Pack. Thursday and Friday are the days when carriers come in. (fn. 10) I desire it may be upon a Tuesday.
Major Beak. It is against the nature of thanksgiving to keep a day in private, but I hope that will be overruled. I de sire Mr. Warren may be one of those to preach that day, and that the place may be Margaret's, Westminster.
Aldermon Foot. If so, then I desire Mr. Jenkins (fn. 11) may be appointed; for why need we fetch them out of the country, having enough about us to do the duty ?
Mr. Robinson. Ministers tell us our faults. It is fit we should tell them theirs. Their reading of sermons (fn. 12) makes their voice lower. I doubt we are going to the episcopal way of reading prayers too.
Mr. Church moved that Mr. Mead (fn. 13) might preach for one, and that charity might be better observed than when the fast was last kept in the House. Nothing was given at the door to the poor.
He said he used not to read his sermons. (fn. 14) He said something of an evil man that read his sermons. This caused laughter.
The Master of the Rolls. This will be a very good expedient to let the world see that there is a right understanding between his Highness and us, and that we are cemented. It will be much satisfaction, that we have such a sense of this blessing, that we should go in a body, and congratulate his Highness's safe deliverance.
Lord Broghill. I should have been for waiting upon his Highness to congratulate this mercy, if it had not been moved before. Now it is afoot, I would not have it laid aside, but that a day may be appointed to this purpose, to wait upon his Highness.
Lord Whitlock. I would not have us take an occasion, from going to his Highness, to desire his consent to the Declaration. It cannot be too solemn a congratulation. I would have us appoint a time on purpose. It was never known that ever the whole House waited upon his Highness for his consent to any business.
Lord Chief-Justice Glynn. We cannot do this too solemnly. I desire that a Committee may be appointed to attend his Highness, to know when this House shall wait upon him, to congratulate with him for this deliverance.
Mr. Speaker. I desire you would direct me what I should say to his Highness. Haply, I may be surprised, as before we were. His Highness may appoint to-morrow morning. Unless you will have me to say nothing but what you shall formate (fn. 15) to me.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. If it were not against the orders of the House to call up any man to speak, there was a very good pattern propounded to us as to the manner of addresses to his Highness, upon another occasion, about three or four months ago. I confess I liked that method well, as a means to unite and procure a right understanding between us and his Highness. I wish we might follow that way. I remember very well what this speech was, and who spoke it.
It was Major-General Goffe, upon the debate about the thanksgiving for the late victory from Spain. (fn. 16) It was a long preachment, seriously inviting the House to a firm, and a kind of corporal union with his Highness. Something was expressed as to hanging about his neck like pearls, from a text out of Canticles, &c. (fn. 17)
Resolved, that the Committee appointed to prepare the narrative of the grounds and reasons of setting apart Friday three weeks, for public thanksgiving, do attend his Highness, the Lord Protector, to desire his Highness to appoint a time when this House may attend his Highness upon this occasion.
Major-General Goffe stood up once to offer some words to the former question, but I believe he had a good mind to answer Sir Gilbert Pickering's call, as tickled, &c.; and so stood up again a little after, and expressed, that this application was very seasonable, and no doubt would gain the ends of a firm union between his Highness and us, to the discouragement of our enemies. He desired that the Speaker might express our sense of the former deliverances of his Highness, as well in public as private, and that it might also look forward to his preservation, whereupon much of ours did depend. He repeated something of his former preachment, but I remember not.
Mr. Ashe, the elder. That which the gentleman has moved, will do very well for your directions, as to the first part of your speech. I would have something else added, which, in my opinion, would tend very much to the preservation of himself and us, and to the quieting of all the designs of our enemies;—that his Highness would be pleased to take upon him the government according to the ancient constitution; (fn. 18) so that the hopes of our enemies' plots would be at an end. Both our liberties and peace, and the preservation and privilege of his Highness, would be founded upon an old and sure foundation.
Sir William Strickland. It is very late to enter upon such a debate as this I desire you would adjourn, and take up the debate which should have come on this morning, to-morrow morning. I would not have any thing added that might clog the business. I doubt not but you will be able to express the sense of the House, when we shall wait upon his Highness.
Major-General Disbrowe. I know not what that gentleman means by his expedient for his Highness's preservation. I doubt that will be but a slender prop, without taking care to secure his enemies. That, in my thoughts, is the best fortification for all honest men. I desire you would adjourn till to-morrow, and then take up the debate upon the Bill before you.
Mr. Robinson. I understand not what that gentleman's motion means, who talks of an old constitution, so I cannot tell how we should debate upon it. The old constitution is Charles Stuart's interest. I hope we are not calling him in again. (fn. 19) I know not what it means. This gentleman would have his Highness to be Charles Stuart's viceroy, or some such thing. You have a Bill before you, (fn. 20) I would have you go on with that as the best expedient for your preservation.
Mr. Downing. I believe that motion is of more concernment to you than the Bill before you. Government is the foundation of security. I am sorry I was not at your debate in the morning. Government is not to be made by six men. Those Governments are best which are upon proof, and long experience of our ancestors, (and not such as are only in notion,) such whereby the people may understand their liberty, and the Lord Protector his privilege. The people must not be fitted to the government but the government to the people. There was a passage in the narrative, that our enemies took advantage of our unsettlement. Men go away, but constitutions never fall. This is no merriment. It is a matter which ought seriously to be weighed. When men pull down their houses that are ruinous, they try awhile by setting up shrowds, but finding them drop in, they build their houses again. I cannot propound a better expedient for the preservation, both of his Highness and the people, than by establishing the government upon the old and tried foundation, as was moved to you by a grave and well-experienced person. I shall not enter into the merits of the business, but desire this may be seriously debated, and a day appointed.
Mr. Highland. That gentleman that moved this was one of those (fn. 21) that was for the pulling down of what he would now set up again. That was King, Lords, and Commons; a constitution which we have pulled down with our blood and treasure. Will you make the Lord Protector the greatest hypocrite in the world, to make him sit in that place, whereby corruption, and idolatry, and superstition,— (fn. 22) which God has borne testimony sufficiently against, before the Protector and many of you within these walls. Can he beget a fit governor ? A Parliament, a Council can choose such an one. Are you now going to set up kingly government, which, for these thousand years, has persecuted the people of God ? Do you expect a better consequence ? I beseech you consider of it! what a crime it is to offer such a motion as this ! Do you expect a thanksgiving day upon this ? I desire this motion may die, as abominable. This will set all the honest people of this nation to weeping and mourning. 1 beseech you, that such a thing as this may never receive footing here. I hope we have gotten from our former bondage, blindness, and superstition, that great persecution we and our ancestors groaned under.
Captain Hatsel. I desire that you would not enter upon such a debate as this, at this time a day. It is late. Adjourn, and take it up to-morrow morning, that every one may speak his mind to it, and if it be found for the safety of the nation, it were fit it should be determined with all solemnity.
Mr. Bodurda. It is the opinion of those that do contrive the ruin of this commonwealth. They go upon good and rational ground, to consider what probability there is of their designs prevailing, upon the removing of his Highness's person. It is a matter that you ought to take into consideration. If it can be found for the safety of the nation, the alteration of the Government, you ought not to omit it, in order to the deliverance which you have appointed to give thanks for. If either a natural or ail accidental death should happen to his Highness, as who can tell how soon, who can tell the consequence ? I think it is very well worth a serious debate, and ought to precede the other. I therefore desire that we may take this debate up to-morrow morning.
Sir Thomas Wroth. I conceived the Government was so well settled before, that it needed not to admit of a debate to alter it. Yet, seeing it is so pressed upon the account of preservation, and safety of the nation, let it have a full and serious debate. I doubt not but weighty arguments may be brought, as well against as for, hereditary government. I know not what else can be meant by the motion; but I think to-morrow is too short a time. I desire you would appoint a longer day, that every man may be prepared to speak to this business with judgment and according to his conscience; and that, in the meantime, you would go on to the business before you.
Divers stood up to speak to this business, others to adjourn this debate, others cried to appoint to-morrow. for the decimation Bill. The debate fell asleep, I know not how, but I believe it was by consent, (as I heard Mr. Nathaniel Bacon and others say, as they came out) and only started by way of probation. I have not seen so hot a debate vanish so strangely, like an ignis fatuus. But I had forgot that,
Resolved, that the debate upon the Bill for continuing and assessing of a tax for maintaining of the militia, formerly adjourned to this day, be adjourned until to-morrow morning, the first business, nothing to intervene.
In the Court of Wards' chamber, sat Captain Lister's Committee, (fn. 23) Sir Edward Rhodes in the chair, where Serjeant Maynard was to make his defence. (fn. 24) When he had spoken, the Committee appointed him to have a chair set, and to keep on his hat. The reason given for that privilege was, because he was a member of Parliament. He had his counsel there besides, who pleaded for him; and Captain Lister had two counsellors, Mr. Alien and Mr. Finch. They proceeded a little, but the Grand Committee of Religion called us away.
The Grand Committee for Religion sat till seven, upon the debate about bringing in a Bill for tithes, and a great dispute, and the House divided, whether the question should be general or particular, only to the tithes of ministers, &c., in regard a Committee of Religion had nothing to do with other matters. But it was urged, on the other side, that tithes of ministers and impropriators were so complicated, in all laws, statutes, and ordinances, that they could not be sundered. We were the greater party, three to one, so it was,
Resolved, that it be referred to a sub-Committee to consider the statutes and ordinances concerning tithes, and that they do bring in a Bill for, and amendment, and supply of such laws, for the better payment of tithes, and other dues and duties to parsonages and vicarages.