Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Friday, June 12,1657.
Alderman Foot made a speech at the bar, opening the substance of the petition, which was to desire the Bill for the Adventurers for Lands in Ireland might pass before the adjournment or prorogation of the House; to the end, that the honour of the nation may not be violated, nor such a high security impaired. Hereupon the petitioners withdrew, being near forty persons, and the petition was read. (fn. 1)
Major Morgan. I move, not to cross the reading that Bill, that before you settle other men's rights to those lands, you would settle your own title to them. To that purpose that you would order the report upon the bill of attainder, to be made next after the Bill read.
Colonel Jones. I move that the Committee, to whom the proviso in the Bill for New Buildings was referred, may bring them in, ingrossed, with the Bill; and if you have any thing remaining of the Report, that you would perfect it now.
The Lord Deputy. You were pleased to put a mark of your favour (fn. 2) upon me undeservedly. I did not know any thing of such an intention; nor do I undervalue your favour; but think that what you give, is as good as any thing I shall leave to my children. But I consider your condition, that many debts and charges lie upon you, and I am tender of your honour, considering what reproaches may lie upon you by this means. I desire that you would not pass any such sum to me till you be in a better condition.
I have here a paper in my hand from some members that serve for Ireland, relating to the great sufferings of that country, by the high tax now laid upon them, which will undo many families. Scotland is better planted, and easily rated; and England is not so high as Ireland.
Mr. Bond and Sir Richard Onslow. No man has liberty, without leave, to speak against your order. When the Bill comes in, any man may speak against every part of the Bill. It was never known that any members petitioned us, but when we sent them to the Tower.
Mr. Butler. The honourable person has done himself more honour by his self-denial than you have done; so I wish that every man would write after his copy. For the other motion, it may be more proper when the Bill comes in.
The Lord Deputy. If you do it not now, it is as much as to say you will not do it at all. When the proportions upon the several counties are laid, there will be no possibility to add to them. I stand up to second my own motion that you would now do something in it.
Mr. Trevor. This is expressly against the orders of the House. I never saw such a precedent. This petition looks like a remonstrance, or I know not what it is. I would not have you entertain any debate at all upon it I should as freely consider Ireland as any man; but at this time it is utterly improper.
Sir Richard Onslow. I like not this precedent. It is an ill precedent for members to come in upon a petition. (fn. 3)
I consider Ireland as much as any man, but had rather have it to-morrow; and that in the mean time you would consider the proportions of your own counties, and then add a tenth or a twentieth as you think fit.
Colonel Carter. I move you would give leave to speak against your vote, and that in gratification of that honourable person that brought in the motion, that denied himself, by returning the favour that you were pleased to give him.
Mr. Bodurda. I could have spoken sooner, in respect of the burden that lies upon the county for which I serve. (fn. 4) I wish I could propound a proportion to you.
I have had occasion to look into your Journals, and find that the rates were altered in a very thin House. The House was divided upon the question, as it was the other day about alteration of the rates. The Yeas were but 23; the Noes 19. Then it was referred to the Committee of the Army to bring in rates. Upon these rates the House was again divided; the Yeas 28, and the Noes 16. So that the House was one time but 42, and the next time 44. Many counties had not members to serve for them. The rates, before 1649, were set in full Parliament. I desire that might be your rule.
Mr. Highland. Many that were abated then are now burdened, as Kent and Surry. Middlesex is most easy of any in England. I would have it continue at the same, only for six months, and regulate it when you have more time.
Major-General Haynes. This paper (fn. 5) is a pretty artifice, and carefully printed and dispersed. It is on purpose, I doubt not, to gain votes, because the number of counties that were raised are the greater number. The paper does not set forth what those counties paid before they were raised. I shall not propound you the rule of ship-money, though I believe it was very equally laid. If the gentlemen go by those rules, I can make it appear that not above six or seven counties paid the whole assessments. I doubt you will never do it, county by county, unless you agree on a rule. I move that you would go according to a pound's rate, at 12d. a pound.
Mr. Young. I move that you would go by the 400,000l. subsidy. I serve for the county (fn. 6) that was raised 600l. per annum. But if you go county by county, you will never do it, unless you agree on a rule.
Sir Richard Onslow. The ship-money was most equal, unless that two or three counties were burdened by it. That of Northumberland is a mistake. I confess it is not just to come to the proportion, before 1649, though we should be eased by it. We had none to represent us in Parliament then. (fn. 7) So that, though we were of the association, (fn. 8) and stood in need of ease, we were raised instead of it. I would have you go by a pound rate, and let the surveyors be sworn, and then they will make a true presentment; otherwise, if you would go from county to county, and see which is eased, which is raised, and you may take the rule (fn. 9) and abolish the name. It is like physic in a dirty box—the physic is no worse.
Lord Strickland. I am sorry that gentleman can find no other way to relieve his county than by setting up ship-money again. There is a bridge over the water, he stands in no need of a ship. He says that was laid out of doors, by persons that are of no county. I hope he will not say but they are of some county. I know that was as unequally laid as any tax whatsoever. I knew a tapster raised to a knight and a great man, by raising ship-money so high in the town for which I serve; (fn. 10) and as he got this height so he fell; for his children, many of them may be fain to turn tapsters.
That gentleman said his county was in a fever, and therefore, though he got no remedy by it, he got change. So it be but a change, it will please his country. I thought he would have fetched his rule rather from divinity, on " them that are given to change;" (fn. 11) but to fetch it from physic, it is the first cure that ever I heard of that kind prescribed for a fever, to change one's bed.
Mr. Bampfield brought in a Bill against gaming and betting, and persons that live at high rates. (fn. 12) The Bill was read, and wanting a brief—
Mr. West. I move that the Bill be returned back to the gentleman that brought it in. I except against the extravagant powers; and that lawful games are forbidden, such as bowling, which many honest men use. My Lord Protector himself uses it. I would have some gentlemen added to the Committee that are more favourers of lawful recreations.
Mr. Bumpfield. If that gentleman had understood the Bill, he would not have excepted against it. It does not prohibit bowling, but only unlawful games, and betting too excessively. There were very honest worthy persons at the drawing this Bill, Lord Whitlock, Sir L. Long, and myself. (fn. 13)
Mr. Godfrey. None of the rules of proportion propounded are either equal or practicable; whether that of ship-money, the 400,000l., or 120,000l. subsidy. You have a clause in the Act, which was chalked out to you by the little convention, (fn. 14) as a way to bring it to an equality; but, in regard of the straitness of time, you have always let loose that rule by a proviso. Now you are likely to have time enough to find out a way for yourselves. To this purpose, I would have the rate set for the first six months as it is. Lay that by a pound rate, and return the surveys against the next meeting. By this you may trace it out in time, and, comparing the proportions one with another, may draw out an equality at your next meeting.
Mr. Speaker. I remind the House that the first three months' assessments are to be paid in before Michaelmas next. If you go to alter your rates, the assessments will come in but slowly. I doubt you will fail in your design.
Major-General Whalley. I can find no certainty, nor any equality, in any former rates; they are very disproportionable. I am for a pound rate, but not for setting proportions; for there will be a delusion in it. So every county da but pay their sums, it is sufficient. I would have you lay it at 6d. per pound, and the survey to be taken upon oath.
Major-General Disbrowe. I would have no proportion set, but only 6d. per pound; and Commissioners appointed, either by yourselves or my Lord Protector, who, upon oaths, may inquire and give other persons an oath, to find out the value of this. I durst undertake, in any county of England, with some few joined with me, to know the rates, in a month.
Colonel Holland. If this will do your work, it will be the most acceptable work that ever was done in Parliament. If the people can understand that they are to pay but a fortieth part, they will be glad. If you please, leave it to his Highness to appoint Commissioners.
Colonel Cox. Some have thought that this way would overdo it; others, that it would fall short. To save this, I would have a clause in it, that, be it over or short, it may be employed, if made up, by or for the public use. But I would have a strict way of punishing persons that do forswear themselves; and, I am confident, it may be very practicable.
Mr. Bacon. I rise up to further this motion; which is the most equal way. There is a little book published of every tax that has been laid in England, hidage (fn. 15) and the like; but certainly, this of the pound rate is most equal. I would have a Bill brought in to this purpose. I never knew in any assessments a due proportion upon the counties.
Mr. Bodurda. This is very plausible, but not very practicable. There will be more injustice in this way than in the other. In some counties many let their estates on a rack-rent; others for lives; others by old rents. I speak not upon a prudential account, but. this is the way to discover every man's estate; not only his real estate (and the land will bide still), but every man's personal estate will be laid open. I must examine what every alderman is worth; and the chief magistrate, knowing where the money lies, he and his army may command it. I cannot tell what to offer, seeing you have laid the other motion aside.
Lord Lambert. I doubt this will never be made practicable. You can intrust nobody in this, but such persons as are concerned in it. You must allow Commissioners a salary. This is a very uncertain and dilatory way, and will in no measure answer your ends.
Sir John Hobart. I have heard all ways offered to proportion this tax, and find none so equal as ship-money. That of the 400,000l. is most unequal; as, for instance, Devon, which paid 30,000l. of that sum. But I shall lay aside all these ways. You are now about a pound rate, and I have had experience of it myself that it may be done, though it be a great work; but if by this means you can come to an equality, the people will pay 30,000l. more cheerfully than if it were but 1000l., so there be an equality.
Mr. Disbrowe. Here is no wrong or damage to any man in this, because the law imposes it. But all that is feared is; that a man shall do wrong in paying 3d. by giving a false value of his lands, when his neighbour pays 6d. I believe there has been great wrong in that. These are the failings of men.
I lay not much stress upon that way of an oath, because I know not the force of an oath before Commissioners, or how a false oath can be punished, unless it be in a court of record. I had rather have a penalty upon the concealers, as in the case of excise and customs. If it do fall short, the making trial of it will do no harm; it is but making it up. As to that of personal estate, is not every man as liable to have his estate looked into as the assessments are now, and it will be no more then?
Mr. Vincent. I move that the other motion in the morning, (fn. 16) may be revived, about laying it, as in 1649, and that must be your first question, if the way of a pound rate were practicable. I hope, before you call your taxes just or equal, you will consider the sufferings of those that have lost half their estates in standing betwixt you and danger.
It was never known that men should be put to swear in their own cases, so that both as to the modus agendi, and to the thing itself it is impracticable. It is a new way, I shall say no more of it. It is told you that what is overplus shall go to the next month's assessment. We have lately had experience in the last six months, though grudging nothing that is laid by his Highness and the Parliament.
Sir Christopher Pack. How practicable soever it may be in the country, it is impracticable in the city. We have some that have only trades, and no visible estates; and yet are able to afford something to the Commonwealth.
Colonel Chadwick. This way is utterly impracticable. I would rather that you would return to what it was in 1648. Then there was a full Parliament, (fn. 17) now there is not. It was always the care of our ancestors to keep off such courses.
Mr. Moody. I wonder to see such opposition to the question, which ought properly to be put for sixpence per pound, as was first moved; it being so equal that none can except against it. I humbly move that that may be your question, and that you lay aside all the rest.
Sir Richard Onslow. It were well if this 6d. per pound would do your work. Some say it should be double. That would be well for you that pay 2s. per pound. As to that of oaths, I am not so much for them; only I would have the Assessments sworn to. Who know the estates of their neighbours ? They need not go to mathematical proportion. If a jury find not above, but under the value, they are safe; for if it be 12d. it comprehends 10d. As to that of the sufferings of some parts, they have been eased for it; this is an individum vagum. For that of personal estates, the judges used to say every man's estate was visible, &c. My motion is, that it may be at a pound rate.
Captain Baynes. This way is most impossible, unpracticable, and, at the long run, will be most unequal. In several counties, I doubt, there will be great inequality. Gentlemen will labour to keep it down as much as they can; and I doubt, that instead of giving my Lord Protector a substance, we shall give him a shadow. This will come to nothing.
I shall not be against any old rules; but if. you go by a new way, I doubt you will lose your Bill. I do not find any abatement for those counties that bore free quarter, or that they are at all considered. I do not find it yet, though I have examined the rates on the north side and the south side of Trent, and on the south side of Thames, and find no such difference as is spoken of. I am not afraid of any rate, come to what rule you will; though the increase and decrease of the buildings and the riches of this City accounts or another— (fn. 18). Besides, king's, bishops', and dean and chapter lands, are made liable, (fn. 19) which were not before, and some counties have more of these lands than another.
As to this plan of surveying, and searching into men's es tates, it is that which your ancestors would never endure. That the Chief Magistrate should know men's estates, was always avoided. If you appoint strangers to survey, and I should be sorry to be put upon that employment, I have known counties ready to rise in arms, when surveyors were coming into the country.
Colonel Shapcott. I move to have leave to speak against your former vote. All ways that are propounded are very inconvenient and impracticable, and have been tried in other Parliaments, and before Committees, and could never be done.
Mr. Bampfield. This would give a real ease to the county (fn. 20) for which I serve, and I believe it would not raise half that we are now charged with. Yet I apprehend it to be impracticable. It looks something like the numbering of the people. If you take this course, you wholly lay this Bill aside, which has been twice read, and you have not time to read and debate another Bill.
If you go this way to work, it will raise the greatest earthquake and disturbance that ever was in England. Honest, conscientious men will make a just return; others less conscientious, cunning knaves, will venture at low rates, because they know this will be a constant standard. I propound this expedient; that yourself, the chair, appoint five persons; one for the east, another for the west, another for the south, another for the north, and a fifth for the midland. These five to tax all the nation, except their own counties, and let the House set it upon their counties.
Major-General Boteler. I doubt this will neither be practicable in the point of time, nor as to the thing. I wish there had been three months' time to debate it. If you appoint strangers to survey, I doubt you will raise greater disturbance than ever was in England. If assessors are appointed to assess their neighbours, there will be great partiality. I think that way of the 400,000l. is the most equal; but I would rather move, that for six months' time you continue it at the proportions it is now at. I doubt you have not time now to alter it. You may spend two months in it at next meeting.
The way that is propounded looks like a court-project; and though we have no cause to suspect any thing, as there is now a confidence between the Chief Magistrate and the people, we know not what may come next. Our ancestors have always declined such courses. Patience has inured our parts (fn. 21) to bear our sufferings. When you come to ease other counties we shall hope for ease. In the mean time, I would have us continue as we are, in regard of your time, either for six months or for the whole time.
Major-General Disbrowe. I am convinced of the impracticableness of this, which I was so zealous in; and if I had had the least jealousy that it was a court-project, I should have been sorry to have moved it; but in regard, this way will lay your Bill aside that you spent such a debate in, and you have not time now, I move that for six months you continue at the present rates, and take it up after.
Mr. Bond. I had rather have a double charge upon my county (fn. 22) than give way to such a precedent as to lay a pound rate. I have been a week together at this, in the Long Parliament; (fn. 23) and we could never make it practicable. I should be sorry to trust any Chief Magistrate to understand all men's estates. The Alderman (fn. 24) tells you it is impracticable with them. I remember a story, when the Bishop of Canterbury sent for Sir Thomas Soamer, a member that served for the city, and would have him to discover the Aldermen's estates, he would not, and was committed to prison; and this was aggravated as an article against the Bishop of Canterbury.
Colonel Sydenham. This is a very specious way, but it is like some Acts, that have more inconvenience in the practice than in the notion. I would not have you put such a disturbance and confusion in the nation as this will do. I would have you continue it as it is for six months, and put in a proviso, that at your next sessions you will take a course better to proportion it. You have not time to do it now.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I like the way well, by a pound rate; but doubt that in your time you could not do it. I have only one objection against it; the danger of assessors being more favourable and partial in one place than another.
The debate running upon the motion for continuing the assessments as formerly they were, the question was put, and passed in the affirmative. (fn. 25) A proviso was also passed to alter the' rates, as the Parliament should henceforth declare.