Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Saturday, February 5,1658–9.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge was moving that the petition of John Lilburne's (fn. 1) widow be read.
It was read, and referred to a Committee. (fn. 2)
Mr. Bodurda and Mr. Manley moved that Major-General Ludlow sat, and had not taken the oath. (fn. 3)
The petition was read. It was from the inhabitants of Worcester, that they had chosen Mr. Gyles, (fn. 4) but that Mr. Streete, a person who had been in arms, and a common swearer, was chosen by the profane rabble, and Cavaliers.
Mr. Weaver. I move that a Committee be appointed to examine this business; also the qualifications of all members, and that an order be placed at the door, that all persons that know themselves in their consciences unqualified, may forbear to sit, at their perils. This was done in the Long Parliament, and it was to good purpose. Many members left us.
Mr. Starkey. In regard this gentleman is a member, it is his privilege to be heard in his place. Before you refer it to a Committee let him be heard for himself. It is a condemnation, to speak before he is heard.
Ordered, that Mr. Thomas Streete, one of the members of this House, named in the said petition, be required to attend the House; and to give his answer to the House, concerning the matters complained of in the said petition, on Tuesday morning next.
Mr. Bodurda renewed his motion, (fn. 5) and said that since he moved, he perceived two or three more members were come in.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. Let not such a thing as this interrupt your moved business. The debate will cause heat. I desire not to question Scotland or Ireland, who have no colour at all to sit. (fn. 6)
The oath is interpreted to a clear contrary sense than as I took it. I hope such a dry bone as I am may do some help in this work. I thank God, I begin to love all those that I hated. I beseech you, put off this debate.
Mr. Starkey. Ratio suadit, authoritas vincit. I cannot think this to be so slight a matter as to be put off. The law is judge. The Petition and Advice: you will not let reason or argumentation be against that. If it had not been now moved, I could wish it had been left till Monday be over. Let the law be read, and you declare it. That is all that is now required.
Mr. Henley. We come here upon the Petition and Advice; through which is the greatest bond of amity that can be. We must stand upon this foundation. Where shall the righteous stand, if the foundations be shaken ? Four hundred have taken the oath. Why should two or three refuse it, or, at least, not forbear to sit till they have taken it ? Nature and reason require not to question the authority that called us. If any members sit here that are profane, or have been Cavaliers, and not given some signal testimony (fn. 7) of their affection, they ought not to sit.
Mr. Neville. You have been often told you sit here on the Petition and Advice. I hope you sit here by the people's choice. I would not have that urged here, sit liber judex. You are judges of the law.
The oath of allegiance was done by as free consent as ever; yet it was resolved in the Long Parliament to dispense with it in some cases. Oaths are of a subtle nature. (fn. 8) Not but that any man may safely take this oath; for they are no part of the legislature till they sit here, and it does not bind us not to alter the legislature. We are free to debate any part of it.
Mr. Trevor. We sit here, it is true, by the people's choice, but upon the Petition and Advice. There is no better way to preserve the peace of this House than by preserving unity; that we may all sit on one footing of account. There are a hundred members to come in; and shall all these be admitted without an oath? The consequence would be dangerous. I hope you will not break in upon your Petition and Advice, in such a great and essential point as this.
Colonel Terrill. I do not conceive you sit upon the Petition and Advice, though I do very much honour it. It was left imperfect. The English Parliament is called by the law, the old writ, without reference to the Petition and Advice.
Mr. Scot. The qualifications are positive. The distribution relative; so you sit here by a lapse. It was the sense of the Long Parliament to alter the distribution. (fn. 9)
That which frights you, is your Petition and Advice. The essential of our title is from the people. This may be a sine qua non. I will not say the contrary. The Chief Magistrate, he that exercises the power, has a very good army to justify it. (fn. 10) I have heard of a law of Parliament every year, and a triennial Parliament, (fn. 11) which, if not this way, might have been called another way. These gentlemen are tender conscienced.
Put off the other qualification till Wednesday; and if you will debate, debate the three-score Scotch and Irish members; and have an account brought in to validate the members for Scotland and Ireland. I would have either an ad journment or a preterition, that those that arc coinc in may sit; and the others not sit till they be sworn.
Colonel Eyre. I was chosen the latter end of the Long Parliament. I refused the oath. The Commissioners reported it to the House, that I scrupled it. The oath was dispensed with, and I sat as a member.
Mr. St. Nicholas. I would have it either adjourned or laid aside. You have precedents in the case, that oaths have been dispensed with. I question if it was not Lord Fairfax's case about the engagement. (fn. 12)
Mr. Chaloner. If it had not been for the Petition and Advice, you had not sat here at this time. Yet we sit not here on that Petition and Advice. You sit here by the old laws. I question whether some are old enough to take an oath.
One hundred and twenty gentlemen of as much integrity as themselves, without arrogancy I speak it, were kept out. A dishonourable act. I shall move you in time that no such abominable order may stand in your book; as to refer us to a test without doors, after we sent in a letter. (fn. 13) Except it be the single person, I hope we shall have a liberty to debate it all. If you lay it not aside, I doubt all will come in question. Take first the qualification of Scotch and Irish members (fn. 14) into debate, as more honourable and more satisfactory to the House.
Sir William Wheeler and Colonel White moved to the orders of the House. A gentleman in grey clothes had sat three days; and being asked if he was a member, he refused to answer it. They desired he might be examined about it.
Being at the bar he was asked his name, he said William King; and that he had a Petition by word of mouth; and that Sir John Dethick gave him joy that he was a Parliament man, (fn. 15) and thereupon he came and sat; as not knowing but he was chosen. (fn. 16)
Mr. Goodrick. This is the person that owned the pamphlet, the Twenty-five Queries, which has treason in every line. It questions the nomination of his Highness; reflects likewise on this House, as if some members were about to betray the liberties of the people. It reflects upon the Army, as if no commission were of force since the Protector's death.
Mr. Trotter. The like by mere ignorance! and much ado to keep him from the Tower! You need not seek more matter. You hear enough against him. It is a high breach of your privilege. I desire that he may be committed to the Tower, that you examine the pamphlets afterwards.
Colonel Okey. I move that he be not sent to the Tower. That is too chargeable a prison. I hope in time we shall regulate these things. (fn. 17)
Mr. Fowell. In this pamphlet of Twenty-five Queries, twenty-four are treason. (fn. 18) He labours to subvert the Government, invites the army, ministers, all professions, to sedition, and reflects upon the Parliament, as not freely chosen. I move to examine the party by a Committee, or at the bar.
Colonel Birch. Haply this man may neither be a wise man nor a fool. I would have him asked as to the book, and his place of habitation, &c. It may be, he will discover more. Let him withdraw, and then examine him by a Committee if you find cause.
Mr. Knightley. I move not to complicate the question. His offence is high enough to have him committed. Else it will be thought that we must pick some other fault, before we can commit him. I would have him sent to Newgate.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. You may often read in ancient journals, of men intruding into your House. Imprisonment was the least punishment. I would not have the question complicated. It is not proper to examine him upon his knees. Let him not have that advantage against you, as to report he was committed for the queries.
On this he withdrew. (fn. 19)
He was called in again. He said he was born in Pope's Head Alley. He is a vintner, a profession that has been oppressed. He never was a scholar since twelve years old, and is glad he was not; for an elder brother, that was a scholar, wronged him.
He said he was committed to Finsbury Prison, (fn. 20) and kept in chains. He appealed to Sir John Dethick for redress. He moved he might deliver his petition by word of mouth. He denied, as he hoped to answer it before God, that ever he delivered a book. This was contrary to what two members had affirmed. He began to talk idly, and so was commanded to withdraw.
Colonel Allured. He had much wrong by being ordered to be chained. It was the design of his brother to prejudice him in his estate. (fn. 21)
Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I move not to take it up so late. Let us rise and have pity on ourselves, the better to be prepared on Monday; that, if God please, we may agree to what he thinks is best for us.
Mr. Hoskins. I move to appoint a Committee about the maintenance of ministers in Wales, as the minister moved yesterday. (fn. 22)
Mr. Freeman. I am glad the minister's doctrine has made such an impression, that you take this into consideration. There are 20,000l. per annum in South Wales. How it is employed, I wish it were examined. Souls have been starved.
Serjeant Maynard. It seems the sheep are committed to the wolf. Scandalous ministers, it seems, have scandalous judges. (fn. 23)
Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper. There is a vast treasure arising out of these revenues. I never heard of any account. I have passed through Wales, and found churches all unsupplied, except a few grocers, or such persons, (fn. 24) that have formerly served for two years.
It was moved, and so ordered, that the question be divided, and that there be several Committees appointed to examine the revenues of the Church, and ministers' maintenance in North and South Wales, Monmouth, the four northern counties, and Yorkshire; and that all members that serve for those places be of those Committees. The Committee for Wales to meet on Tuesday, and for the northern counties on Wednesday next, in the Exchequer and Duchy Chamber.
The debate about the oaths of the three members fell. (fn. 25)
Resolved against Sir Francis Norris. Mr. Jenkinson (fn. 26) was there.
Sir Arthur Haslerigge said, he spent 1200l. in the beginning of the Long Parliament, which he felt yet; and gave 1600l. at first coming into the Irish war against the rebels; so that he had something when he began.
"I have so," said he. "Time will work all things." (fn. 27)
The Committee adjourned till Tuesday. (fn. 28)