Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Saturday, June 13, 1657.
Sir William Strickland and Sir Thomas Wroth moved, that they were old men, and it was time for them to think of their graves, and settlement of their estates. They therefore moved, that the Bill for the Probate of Wills might be read.
Mr. Speaker. I must acquaint the House that, at some hands or others, there is a high breach of privilege, by talking what things pass in the House. And, for my part, there is a great reproach upon me. I bear all the blame in the business of the Vintners. They say that, had it not been for me, they should have had time till November next.
Colonel Castle and Mr. Godfrey moved, that those that had security by the 400,000l. subsidy, that security being taken away, and arrears of 140,000l. discharged by the Act of oblivion, it is but just that, if you will not give them an equivalent security, at least they should have the faith of the nation.
Major-General Disbrowe. This motion is against the orders of the House; and, it relating nothing to the report, you are now to go on with the report to agree with the Committee; and for new motions, they may come in more properly at another time.
The first part of the Report, touching the stating of the accounts of Public Faith, and what debts shall be allowed being passed, the latter part of it was read, as to the way of satisfaction, by sale " of the forest lands," (fn. 1) and the lands in "the four excepted counties in Ireland." (fn. 2)
Major-General Disbrowe and Major Aston. If you sell your forests, you will destroy your navigation. (fn. 3) The counties in Ireland may go far beyond the satisfaction. Do not engage your security till you know what your debts are. It will not be honourable for you to retract your security.
Colonel Shapcott. I am confident there may be as much discovered of lands purchased by false Bills, as will satisfy all those debts. I know where, for a 1000l., they have got many 1000l. a year; and will undertake to discover it.
Mr. Highland. This satisfaction is as empty as was the remainder of the 400,000l. offered yesterday. If you intend them a real satisfaction, it must be as propounded. As to the forests, there is not wood upon half or a third of the forests. Those counties in Ireland are not yet disposed of.
As to discoveries, you will hardly make so much of them as is pretended. I have heard that gentleman speak often of that. But this will shake the foundation of all men's estates, that have been sold over and over, and you ought to have discovered those fraudulent estates within a year. When you borrowed this money, you promised that those that lent you money freely, should be paid out of the estates of delinquents, and those that fought against you; out of the estate of the King, that traitor.
Colonel Gorges. You have given the counties in Irelandin security to the poor retired officers and soldiers who have ventured lives and all for you; which is more than the lending a sum of money. Though that way of discoveries be so much slighted, I know it may be considerable. In two months we drew out 200,000l. and, in as much time, we, or any you should employ, would get as much more.
Mr. Fowell. There may be great sums made out of fraudulent debentures, upon these discoveries; and though there be a great debt due to me, yet I have no hopes of being satisfied by the ways propounded. You have no other way to make up your revenue, but by improving of the forests and those four counties. As to reserving the timber, who will buy the land, if you reserve the timber ?
Major-General Kelsey. These lands are all your refuge upon any occasion or strait. The best way to make up your revenue, is to improve them at a rent. I would have you take some speedier course. This will not be done in seven years. I am confident the nation will never grudge to pay a tax of six or three months, for satisfaction of this debt.
Major Beake. I hope you will never sell the forests, hut reserve them for the revenue, and that they may be improved at good rents, and so in time take off much of your charge. My motion is, that they may have their security transferred upon the four counties in Ireland.
Mr. Gary. I incline rather that a tax be laid for this. Nothing lies harder upon me than this business of the poor people that did so freely contribute. It is the most righteous thing that fraudulent debentures should satisfy these, that are true debts; or rather leave it generally that you will take care to give speedy satisfaction.
Captain Baynes. If you have your debts stated, you have done half your work. The way of satisfaction will be easy. But, if you publish it abroad, that you will satisfy them by lands or taxes, you will encourage men to counterfeit debentures. I would have you put a check upon disposing of any of the lands in Ireland, till the public debts be satisfied. Your best way will be to dispose of the forests by sale, reserving a fee farm-rent. There is no care at all now taken of the forests. The wood and deer are destroyed, and the people, so they could but have their inclosures free from deer, would quit all their interest in the forest. Now they fully enjoy and claim the whole. So that, in time, you will have nothing at all. If you should sell them for ready money, it would not give you above two or three years' purchase; but I would have none disposed of, till all debts be stated.
Colonel Sydenham. You are now upon a work that will give you the greatest reputation that ever Parliament had. You are now about to satisfy your best friends, that came out to your help, upon principles of honesty and religion. They are poor, and if you assign lands to them, they must sell again. It may be, that which you give them for 20s. they may sell for 12d. it may be 4d.; and people that watch such opportunities, and have money, will prey upon their necessities.
As to the forests, I doubt by the time that all Commoners, claimers, and other rights, be set out, the forests will not yield so much. However, I would have that improved for a public revenue. I wish there were a way of revenue in view, that the people might see how that, in time, they may be eased of taxes. I hope there may be a great revenue made out of the four counties in Ireland. If the poor people see that their hopes are raised out of the dust, it will raise your reputation higher than any thing you can do. I am confident, when your debts appear what they are, no good man will grudge to contribute his share to the satisfaction.
Major-General Goffe. I am sorry to hear that your faith is grown so despicable that poor people, after all this attendance, should take 4s. or 5s. per pound. I would have you make it your care that no man should sell his debentures under 20s. per pound, but would have all fully satisfied. God has much taken away that objection that you are not able. The nation is in a good condition, and we are able to pay. I would have it done by a general tax, after you know how it is stated.
Mr. Butler. I am glad to see that you are about so good a work. It is just that men should be satisfied that have lent you money, and also the poor soldiers that have bled for you. I have been none of those that have gained by the times. I am likely to be no gainer.
2. Lands in Ireland. If you dispose not of them they will be gone, piece after piece, and those persons would people those counties, or the forest lands, any where, where you would assign them. You might reserve a fee-farm rent upon them.
Colonel Cooper. I see no better way to satisfy this debt than by the way that is propounded. As to fraudulent debentures, it is hard to pay the public debts by public cheats. You did appoint some test to those debentures, and they passed that. Now if, after all this time, you come to discoveries of that kind, you will bring a flaw upon every man's estate. Those that sold the debentures are now turned informers, and those that would cheat one way may cheat another way, and then they may inform against all debentures, and cast a disgrace upon them all.
I cannot say what reputation a tax will have abroad, having now a tax upon them already. I doubt this would savour ill. I would have you put the question to agree with the Committee; and the House by this time are so possessed of the debate, that they know how to give their vote.
There are delinquents' estates unsold to 200,000l., and under the notion of giving small sums, I fear me they will slip away from you insensibly. Here is one Bill for the Earl of Derby, which will give away that from you, that for mending three words in one Act, will yield you 10,000l., to be paid in six days.
Colonel Jones. I move to re-commit this report. Those people before you are of the poorer sort, and lands will not satisfy their needs. It will be a long time before you can put the forests into a way of sale. Besides, those lands and the lands in Ireland, are not in that condition as to be sold at any considerable rate. You will be puzzled to make up your revenue; and if it be laid in the balance, whether you will continue a tax to perpetuity for the revenue, or raise a present tax to pay those debts, the latter will be taken. I would have your Committee consider how a way may be found for ready money, to pay the poorer sort; and for the richer it is not just to propound a satisfaction till you understand your debt. That is not natural; and where wit and wickedness meet together, it will be a great temptation to counterfeit Bills.
Colonel Sankey. You will do no good by re-committing this. I think it is well propounded to you to sell the forest lands, reserving a rent, which will answer your end, as to making up your revenue. I know no reason but you should revive the motion of the other day of that 200,000l. if so much remain out of the new buildings over and above 200,000l. to make up the 400,000l.
Captain Hatsel. I move to re-commit if I Would not have those lands sold at this time. You cannot sell them at any rates, so as to give suitable satisfaction to those poor people. Those that live in the west, what shall they do with lands in Ireland, or in those forests ? A land-tax will not be so pleasing at this time to raise this money.
Mr. Waller. I have as much commiseration for those people as those that have expressed it with the greatest resentment; but I doubt that what was propounded will not do your work. As to the forests, I wonder men should forget that there is a Chief Magistrate, who must have a revenue. If we dispose of this, that must raise it, we shall entail a tax upon the people that posterity will not be able to cut off. As to reserving the timber, it is a strange proceeding for me to sell a wood, and reserve the timber. You will have but few chapmen. As to sending them amongst the wild beasts and birds in Ireland for satisfaction, it is but to add misery to affliction. Besides, you have debts in Ireland to which lands there are most properly applicable.
Major-General Whalley. I move to re-commit this Report, that a speedy way may be propounded for satisfaction after the debts shall be stated; and that a declaration may be published to this purpose. But, indeed, for you to propound a security before you know what is your debt, is most unnatural.
Mr. Bampfield. The generality of the honest, good men of the nation are concerned in this. For my part, I should freely agree with the Committee that those lands be disposed of. But if this relish not, I shall move that the votes already passed, in order to this, be put into a Bill; for the stating of the debt, and calling officers to account.
Mr. Godfrey. This is short of satisfaction, and will but put people to a greater loss than before, unless you propound also a way of satisfaction; that at least a stop may be made to the disposition of the lands, until this debt be satisfied.
The question being put for sale of the lands, (fn. 4) it passed in the negative.
Mr. Pedley and Mr. Godfrey. If you put it, that these lands shall not be disposed of till these debts be satisfied, you exclude all satisfaction by those lands. These words should be added to the question—" by the sale of those lands or otherwise."
These words being excepted against, these words were added—" until some provision be made for satisfaction, &c.;" and the question thus penned passed. (fn. 5)
Resolved, that it be referred back to the same Committee to prepare and bring in a Bill to these purposes. Divers persons of the long robe were added; as Mr. Pedley, Crooke, Bampfield, and Carter. (fn. 6)
Colonel Sydenham. This argument reaches through all the Ordinances and Acts that you have confirmed. I suppose you have not read those, here, no more than this. It is but for a short time that you are moved to confirm it. I would have you put the question.
Major-General Disbrowe seconded that motion, and it was resolved accordingly. (fn. 7)
The Lord Deputy. To retrench your charge in Ireland is the way to plant it, and the way to make it yield you better hopes. It was moved that the assessments might be brought down to 7000l.; but, to prevent dispute, I desire you would put it at 8000l. per mensem.
Mr. Bond. If you will make England Issacher's ass, we shall break down at last. The Long Parliament thought fit to lay 30,000l. per mensem. Then they would not plant. We give them 64,000l. in this. When we come to touch upon any of their lands, as to-day about the Public Faith, there is a noli me tangere presently. Here are such arguments in and out, by the adventurers and soldiers for Ireland. I never saw Ireland.
Colonel Cooper. If that gentleman had ever been in Ireland, he would have been of another opinion. He talks of burdening England; but I hope, to do justice will never burden England. It was thought that 12d. per pound was enough for England, and we (fn. 8) pay 6s. and 6s. 8d. per pound.
Mr. West. I should be as ready to gratify the honourable person that moved this as any man, for the most unparalleled acts of his; but I beseech you consider what you are going to do; to give away 64,000l. at one vote. This is considerable. You laid the tax in a full House, upon a full debate. I desire you would put it off till Monday morning, and then resume this debate. Many counties that are burdened have appealed to you, and cannot be relieved. I hear no new arguments, more than what was urged at the former debate.
Mr. Goodwin. I speak to your question. I would have you consider where this must lie. It will be upon England. Ireland is in a rising condition, and improves every day. I would not have you to abate any thing.
Mr. Heylinge. I am informed that Ireland improves every day; that which was 20l. per annum last year, is now 50l. My motion is, that the first year they may pay 8000l., the second year 9000l., and 10,000l. the last year.
Yeas 45. The Lord Deputy and Colonel Jones, (fn. 9) Tellers.
Major-General Whalley. I move that you would abate 1000l. I confess I could not abate 2000l. and satisfy my conscience. The question was put to abate 1000l., and passed in the affirmative. (fn. 10)
But the House was weary, and it was moved that this was a new motion, and it was. past one. (fn. 11) So the debate was waived; and it was " Resolved, that the proportion of England, for the assessment for three years, be 35,000l. by the month." (fn. 12)
Mr. Secretary moved, that you would appoint a day to receive the report from your Committee for inspecting the Treasury. (fn. 13)