Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Saturday, May 2, 1657.
A Bill for establishing of several lands in the counties of Dublin and Kildare, in Ireland, upon John Blackwell the younger, Esquire, and his heirs, and for confirmation of the letters patent to him made, was this day read the third time; and, upon the question, passed.
Ordered, that the Lord Protector's consent shall be desired to this Bill. (fn. 1)
"A Bill for settling of Worcester House, in the Strand, in the county of Middlesex, upon Margaret, Countess of Worcester, during the life of Edward, Earl of Worcester, and some discoveries in lieu of the arrears of her fifths." (fn. 2)
Mr. Burton. I move for the commitment of it, for it wants a title, and it is fit you should give a name to your own gift. Also, it relates to the Act for sale of Estates for Treasons; and to several orders and ordinances about fifth parts.
Colonel Cooper, Mr. Bond, and Sir John Thorowgood, moved that the Records and Committees sitting there, (fn. 3) might be continued.
Major Morgan reported from the Committee to whom the business of John Blont, Esquire, and others, against Mr. Levingston and others, was referred, that the Petition of the said Mr. Blont and others, being to reverse certain fines, upon the suggestion of force and fraud; and fines being the common assurance of the nation, upon which all men's estates depend, cannot be reversed otherwise than in Parliament; and having depended in former Parliaments, to the great charge of both parties, the Committee are of opinion, that for those reasons, and that the thing may receive an end, sitting this Parliament, that this cause be heard at the bar of the House, with what convenient speed may be; and that both parties be required to attend accordingly. (fn. 4)
Mr. Bacon moved to adjourn till Tuesday, and not slack your former vote, but see the great business over before you do any thing else; and then that business, and Mrs. Bastwick's (which Colonel Gorges moved), will come time enough.
The Master of the Rolls. It is a dangerous precedent to admit of an appeal in this case. You will never be quiet for men's clamours. Any man will pretend that the fine was unduly obtained, and better a mischief than an inconvenience, and it will shake all men's inheritance.
Sir Richard Onslow spoke twice, for a day to be appointed this day month. If there be force and fraud in the case it was only fit for Parliament to relieve the parties. Those two are the only enemies to men's rights.
Mr. Speaker. I was of counsel in this case, where, for two hours together, I argued, and it was fully argued at the Common Pleas bar. It cannot be heard till this day month, because Lord Craven's business must be heard before it.
Colonel Shapcott. As to the matter-of-fact, I doubt there are great delays on both sides. I attended at the Committee, last Parliament, and found nothing but delay in it. Counsel spoke two or three hours together, the same things over and over again.
Mr. Hoskins. It is but just and reasonable that the depositions should be heard, where the witnesses are dead. They cannot be kept alive, and it is hard that survivorship of witnesses should carry on a cause. Yet I would have those depositions allowed, saving to the parties their just exceptions. Some of them are printed.
The Master of the Rolls. You are going to hear a cause judicially, which, in the consequence, is of the greatest concernment that can be to the House. So I hope you consider what you are going to do. You must go according to the rules of justice. You cannot hear affidavits, but only depositions.
Mr. Speaker. I did argue it in the Common Pleas, that affidavits should not be allowed, but only depositions; yet they were allowed of there, as being very proper; for they were judges most properly of the fine. As a Serjeant at Law, I am bound to vindicate the Common Pleas.
Resolved, that either party at this hearing, shall have use of the depositions taken in Chancery, in the cause, of such witnesses as are dead, or cannot be here, against whom no just exception shall be taken. (fn. 5)
Resolved, that Mr. Speaker have power to give warrants under his hand, for such witnesses as either side shall desire to attend on that day. (fn. 6)
The Master of the Rolls reported from the Committee appointed to attend his Highness, that they did attend his Highness yesterday, and presented and read unto him the Resolves and the Order of the House, which his Highness took some time to consider of, and answered that he would give a speedy and a positive answer, and that he would acquaint the Committee with it. (fn. 7)
Sir John Reynolds. We have more reason to expect an answer now than ever, because his Highness has promised it. I therefore move that you would adjourn till Tuesday, and let no business interfere with the great affair.
The House adjourned itself accordingly. (fn. 8)