Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Wednesday, June 10, 1657.
Mr. Downing moved, that the Bills for Three Years' Assessment upon Scotland and Ireland might be brought in to go hand in hand with that for England; and the same was ordered to be brought in accordingly.
Sir Christopher Pack. Before the last Bill, you were speaking of proportioning the assessment, and it was deferred till the next Bill. I hope you will now consider of a proportion, and especially consider of the city of London, who have a long time laid under the burthen of an excessive charge.
Colonel Shapcott. I have seen one alteration in forty-nine, and another long before that, and it is fit there should be a proportion. First, to begin with the proportions upon the nations, I propound that it be thus proportioned: upon England, 35,000l., Ireland, 9000l., Scotland, 6000l.
Captain Baynes. The contract with Ireland upon the adventurers going over, was to pay 10,000l. for a time, and afterwards 12,000l., which time is out. I desire you will go according to that proportion.
Colonel Cooper. You are now going upon an equal proportion, and I hope you will not go according to a contract made without doors, that signifies nothing to a Parliament. But if you go by that rule it will be as broad as long; for there 120,000l. upon England, besides the fee farm rents, at 3d. an acre, which goes away with a fourth of your profit.
Mr. West. It is not for the House to make England the pack-horse, to bear what the others will not. I have read of filia devoravit matrem, I wish it may not be so in Ireland. I stand up to second the motion that 35,000l. may be laid upon England, and the rest proportioned, after.
Colonel Cooper. I shall acquaint you with matter of fact, very faithfully, and with integrity. I know that in Ulster, at the least, a third-part is paid; and other parts pay as high. We must bear what you lay upon us; but this is the way to have us pay nothing hereafter.
Colonel Sydenham. I presume that gentleman intended to persuade, not to threaten you to an abatement. It has been our misfortune to have conquered nations lie still upon our charge; if Rome had done so with her colonies, she had not profited by her conquests. It is hard that we should bear always the burden. They pay nothing to highways, which we are charged with. I desire you would lay 10,000l. a-month upon Ireland; and I think it is a very easy charge.
Mr. Alderman Tigh. The assessments are excessive in Ireland; and you will undo the people for ever if you lay any fresh burden upon them. So I move to lay 36,000l. upon England; 7000l. upon Ireland; 7000l. upon Scotland.
Colonel Sankey. It would be really for your advantage to abate them for three or seven years. I think 5, or 6,000l. over-charge will be enough, and be a good refreshment to you. The highways are very chargeable to us there. The Tories cause taxes upon us. The wolves disperse and destroy our flocks.
Major Morgan again, upon motion to speak. The Romans always lost their conquests by laying too great burdens upon them; so that that argument is mistaken. Our churches, bridges, sessions-house, and all houses, are pulled down; not one standing. (fn. 1) We have three beasts to destroy, that lay burdens upon us:—
1st, is a public Tory, on whose head we lay 200l., and 40l. upon a private Tory's. (fn. 2) Your army cannot catch them; the Irish bring them in. Brothers and cousins cut one anothers' throats.
It is not your interest to flay, but to clip your sheep, if you hope for another fleece. I am ashamed to tell you what a proportion I think is fit at this time. If I should tell any thing (though it be never so true), I should gain no credit by it, if it seem improbable. If you spare it awhile, haply, in some time, it may be able to pay as much as England. I know some in Ireland that pay 15s. in the pound. I know others; but speak of a third-part.
Captain Baynes. Ireland has most reason to pay land-taxes; for that England and Scotland raise all your customs and excise in regard of their populousness, (fn. 3) that being raised by the consumption. Buying lands so cheap, they may in reason pay a greater proportion. Many have had their lands at an easy rate. I can bring good reasons why, if Ireland pay 12,000l., it is but proportionable to 30,000l. per annum for England. As to the contract, they were bound to pay only that, be the assessments upon England never so much. Though we were trebled, they must bear no more. The burden lies very well upon them that may bear it; for they had their lands very cheap. If you put 10,000l. a-month, you abate them in those three years, 100,000l.; and that is a good compensation for the 20,000l. that they give towards the Spanish war.
Mr. Bodurda. It is a hard thing to pass a sentence upon the justice of your proportion in this case. It is not the greatness of some few persons' estates that can raise such a tax as this. It must be, that the ploughman, the honest countryman, and farmer pay most. I like not a debate upon this account, if it could be helped. I would not have us be penny-wise and pound-foolish; otherwise there is a great part of that nation unplanted. But I know no reason why Scotland, that is so fully planted, should be spared, and the burden at this time laid upon Ireland. My motion is, that 8000l. may be laid upon Ireland; and I doubt that 36,000l. will come to be the proportion of England.
Colonel White. I would not have our own people oppressed because they are in Ireland. It will not lie upon the Irish I do not conceive Ireland bound by the contract, as you have broken in upon it in laying the 20,000l. Let that go; and I think a sixth-part of what England and Scotland bears will be equal for Ireland; that is 8000l.: but if you please to put it at 9000l. I shall not be against it.
Colonel Matthews. Look upon the contract again. They, of their own accord, came to an agreement at 12,000l. when they were less quiet than now. They are settled in their possessions more than ever, and there is more reason to pay. I would have you look upon your own nation.
Lord Lambert. Lay such a proportion upon Ireland as may increase; for they grow better and better. Begin with 8,000l., next 9,000l., and next 10,000l. It is requisite that you give a signification of favour to Ireland with respect to England; yet it should be eased, as Ireland appears able.
So it passed in the affirmative, (fn. 4) and the debate was adjourned till two. The House rose at one.
Dr. Clarges. I cannot express the poverty of Scotland. Ireland has too few inhabitants, (fn. 5) and they have too many. I move that 5,000l. a-month be laid.
Major Audley. I wish we had taken this into consideration in the morning, while it was fresh in our memory; that we might not forget that we are Englishmen. I think, in my conscience, if you take measure by what you have done to Ireland, you cannot lay less upon Scotland than 10,000l. But if you take measure by England, then 6,000l. is enough.
Mr. Downing. For saving your time, though 5,000l. be enough, yet if you please, put 6,000l.. I could say much for Scotland: being employed, all along, in that business. I know what Sir Henry Vane and the commissioners (fn. 6) computed, that Scotland was a twelfth to England, and a tenth as to the people. I know it to be very poor; therefore I desire you would put the greater sum first.
Major-General Whalley and Colonel White. You have not time now to proportion it, neither in a Grand Committee nor otherwise. Continue this for six months, and in the meantime take care for a proportion.
Mr. Godfrey. Take it into consideration, and try what you can do in this case. If you find that you want time, you may make it for six months. Haply some other rule may be propounded, as that of ship-money. (fn. 7) We may take the equality, though not the illegality of it.
Mr. Lister. You have not time now to consider, the proportions. The place for which I serve (fn. 8) stands as much in need of an abatement as any; but it were better to let it alone till next meeting.
Mr. Bond. I must justify what was said as to the rule of ship-money. It was cast out of this House, with great indignation (fn. 9) and would never be admitted. It was long debated whether to go by the 36 or 35 Eliz., and it was carried for the 35 Eliz., and indeed that has pinched some counties. There was 200l. more clapped on Dorset, the county for which I serve, when we had not a member here.
Mr. Church. If it be put off now, I despair of ever doing it. God knows whether we shall ever have the like opportunity of doing justice. You know who says, put not off till to-morrow. (fn. 10)
Mr. Highland. I would not have you do any thing now. I should be loth to meddle with that ugly rule of shipmoney. Lay it for six months, and consider it next meeting; lest the House run upon the same rock that the Long Parliament did, in passing things in a thin House. There were many members excluded then, and more now. (fn. 11)
Mr. Fowell. The rule of the ship-money was a rule: and an ell of velvet, and an ell of canvas, may be measured by the same ell. It was the policy of the King and his council to lay it proportionably, to the end that the equality might take off the illegality. But I think you have not time now to consider this. I would have a clause in the Bill, that it may be taken into consideration at the next meeting.
Captain Baynes. I hope you will never take such an unjust rule as that of ship-money, or any old rule: for that many towns and places are wholly destroyed, and, without a survey, I know not how you can do it. I am sure I have two counties to speak for (fn. 12) that are overburdened.
Colonel Sydenham. I look upon the way propounded as very impracticable. It is not a day's journey in this business, or a forenoon, that will do the work. Every member will expect the liberty to speak something for his county. It is better not to promise the nation, than to disappoint them. I would have no clause to mention a proportion.
If you go to proportions, and tell the nation so, they will be afraid that assessments shall be perpetuated upon them. I would have you not to engage yourselves in a debate of this nature at this time. It will be impracticable, difficult, and impossible; and not for your service. Besides, the House is thin, and you have not time to debate it now.
Colonel Jones. We may, in the present Bill, go to the proportions. The proviso will be but like a continual claim. We have had promises of abatement. I would have us try what progress we can make in it, and if we find it difficult, leave it till next sessions; but I am not for making it for six months only.
Sir John Hobart. I am glad to see and hear this debate. So far as I have observed, I find the disproportion more grievous than the tax itself. Every one, it is true, complains of a disproportion; but when we come to divide the child, (fn. 13) we shall see who is burdened. It is true, every man is bound to say for his county; but he is more bound to justice. The general concernment of justice is more our interest than any county. This is a far greater time (fn. 14) than ever a tax was laid for. I would not have you put it off with a proviso. I doubt my eyes shall never see a land-tax laid down.
The gentleman (fn. 15) that said we should have much ado to make up the revenue of 130,000l. surely contradicted himself; for he said he hoped that assessments would be taken off, and that we had a fair promise of abatement. Por my part, unless you do something in this, I think you continue a burden very long.
Sir William Strickland. It was not the true mother that divided the child. It may be that some that are thought to be easy, will appear to be heavy enough; if you should find that some have paid more in one year than others shall pay in forty years. Some have been utterly undone.
Mr. Vincent. There may be an inequality, and yet no injustice; the miseries of those counties, upon which grounds those abatements were made, remaining. Some have lost more in six hours than would pay their assessments in six years. I hope you will not judge men unheard. This must be a work of time. I move that you would put it for six months, and proportion it next meeting.
Mr. Secretary. I admit that rule, that no man ought to be condemned unheard. As I would have that a rule for one, so I would have it for the other. Many of us are overburthened. Those that are eased would not willingly come to a proportion. I would have something done in it.
Sir William Strickland. All rules and proportions are the best done by men's abilities. The child unborn will not forget our miseries, if he live to David's seventy years. If you will not raise combustions and stirs in counties, then you must alter the proportions. We are but now three or four that serve for Yorkshire, (fn. 16) and should be twenty-eight or thirty.
Mr. Speaker and Sir William Strickland. For your honour, never mention ship-money. Had that gentleman been one, when it was condemned in Parliament, he would never have mentioned it. It is neither agreeable to the rule of physic nor divinity, to apply such a remedy. That gentleman is given to change. The judges have been pulled off the bench for it. (fn. 17)
Lord Lambert. I would have no tittle of ship-money remain. It will appear that it is not so just a rule as is moved. I wish you may find a better way than you have laid aside. I have known something of that, that four, five, or six counties, will be double, treble, or four times what they were before. If you reduce it to any rate, it will not be fit to do any thing in this; till all the members be heard that serve for the several counties. I hope you will hear every man, what he can say to the proportions. If it be any old rule, there have been great alterations. Some poor villages have become great towns; others that were great towns, have become depopulated. You will, it may be, if you go by a very old rule, find London a little town. Whenever we meet again, let us have the liberty to consider that rule, and give every man liberty to speak to it.
Judge Smith. I am sorry to see your affairs so disproportionable to your time. I doubt you are upon a business that will scarce be ended in our days. I am afraid we can do nothing in it, though I stand as much in need of ease as any. I am sorry to bear such a rule prescribed.
I hope that monstrum horrendum, ship-money, will never have a mention here, as a rule. It was as well unequal, as illegal. In the county where I lived, an Earl, viz. Earl Louth, paid but 40s. to ship-money, and my shoemaker 3l. I paid myself but 7s. It was very unreasonably laid, and I wonder to hear it in this place.