Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Wednesday, March 23, 1658–9.
Major-general Kelsey. To save charges, I move rather to lay the business aside wholly. I am well satisfied with the report, and pray to put the question whether the inhabitants have a right or no. The competition laid between Boon and Thompson.
Colonel Morley. You are in the dark. I would, therefore, have it recommitted, lest, being not satisfied in the legality, you be put to dispatch this as you do other things in a prudential way. (fn. 1)
Major Ashton. The gentlemen that serve for Ireland come in obedience to your service. They are not Irish. (fn. 2) I am glad that we have that acceptation with the generality of this House. I shall speak to the matter.
I could willingly withdraw, as to any concern of myself, and durst well trust the House with my affair. But as I am a member for Ireland and an Englishman, I cannot. If it were either personal or criminal, the case were otherwise, but it is upon a constitution.
The members that come in for that place serve no more for Ireland than for England. The interest is twisted and complicated, as Lord Coke says. If we should withdraw, what representatives should we leave here, what would our country say, that we were complimented but of their right?
True, Ireland was anciently a province. Henry II. went thither (fn. 3) and they made a resignation of their power to him, (fn. 4) by confirmation of the Pope. He granted it to his son John (fn. 5) but so, ut non separator ab Anglia. (fn. 6) King John went again into Ireland, and by Act of Parliament ordained that Ireland should be governed by all the laws of England. (fn. 7) This was left in Dublin Castle.
10 Henry VII. came in the statute of Poynings, which made the statute laws also the same in Ireland, only they had Parliaments, as being most fit for that nation. (fn. 8)
I shall disappoint many in my motion. I think it best that they should have Parliaments of their own for that very reason, that votes may not be imposed upon you here. There is a sea between us and Dublin. Divers that came hither to serve you, came with great hazard.
I must now tell you what the constitution of your affairs is at present. I look upon your arms (fn. 9) over your doors. I see nought belonging to an Union. When the war broke out in 17 Car., England had great care not to lose Ireland, and once had gained it almost all; till Ormond's and Inchiquein's revolt, (fn. 10) that you lost it all again but Dublin and Sligo.
In 1653, you had a total recovery of that nation. You had no mind to lose it. An Act was made in the Little Parliament, 1653, which was a good Act to encourage your plantation there, and an act of distribution to the soldiers and adventurers. The first tax that was laid upon them was by that Parliament. Then came an ordinance of his Highness and Council.
Then comes the Parliament in 1656, and attaints all the rebels. Till then, there was no power to dispose of their estates. All was brought in to his Highness; 9,000l. per mensem imposed upon them, and on them to this day.
Will you lay a tax upon us, and we have no representatives? If the Petition and Advice be a law. to impose new taxes on us, surely it is, as to our right of sitting here? You will either refund our money to us and give us a Parliament of our own, or else allow us our possessory right. We are not here as trespassers, but in obedience to your service.
The burthen of assessments is insupportable, by reason of the inequality of the representatives, thirty to four hundred. It is impossible to make any addition to what has been said in the case of Scotland. The only difference is that they have an Act of Union. Ireland being more naturally united, and inseparably, in the substance, needs not so much the formality of a law. Language, habit, laws, interest, in every respect, the same in kind. They differ only in degrees, as a child does from a man. Ireland may say they were born free.
The members for Ireland, and the electors, are all Englighmen, who naturally claim a right to have votes in making laws by which they must be governed. They have fought your battles, obtained and preserved your interest, designed by the famous Long Parliament, obtained by blood, fought for by prayer solemnly. If it be improved, it may bring great glory to God, and good to this nation.
Why then may not this House, that can do miracles, make infants men, bastards legitimate, bondmen free: why may they not do ordinary things? They have done that for Scotland. They being both one thing, why should not they be put both in one case? As to the point of withdrawing, when your sense is known, I shall freely submit.
I found not much in it. (fn. 11)
There cannot be a greater violation of the rights and liberties of the people, than to bring in persons hither to impose laws upon you. I have a particular relation to that nation, and shall serve them in aught, but cannot admit them to sit, till you declare it by law. I would rather they should have a Parliament of their own.
Mr. Gewen. It were better both for England and Ireland that they had Parliaments of their own. I know not if it is meant that salus populi is for England or for Ireland. The native liberty of the people, is to be bound by no laws but such as they make themselves. That which hath been done, may be done. If fifty could make a law, (fn. 12) well may sixty, if they watch their opportunity. Have we not taken an oath to maintain the rights and liberties of the people? Is not this the right of the people to have none but themselves to impose Jaws upon them ?
Mr. Thomas. No man here but is sworn, by covenant or otherwise, to maintain the privileges of Parliament. How does that consist with our privilege, to admit strangers? I would gladly hear what legal right they have. I never knew any admitted upon a prudential right. (fn. 13)
Mr. Annesley. Divers things ought to be considered before you put the question. I shall not dispute the legal right. I cannot find a law for it You have voted those words out. (fn. 14)
England is in no danger of thirty members from Ireland; but if thirty from Scotland should join with them, much mischief might ensue. Whatever has been offered as to the right of Scotland is the same for Ireland, except that of the Act of Union, which is not admitted for a law. If you speak as to the conveniency in relation to England, much more is to be said why they who serve for Scotland should sit here. It is one continent, and elections are easilier determined; but Ireland differs. It is much fitter for them to have Parliaments of their own. That was the old constitution. It will be difficult to change it, and dangerous for Ireland. They are under an impossibility of redress.
Anciently, on records, we find that the records of Ireland would never be trusted by sea. Shall we now trust the people, and would not trust the parchments ? Ireland must have the disadvantage every way.
As you are reducing yourselves to your ancient consti tution, why has not Ireland the same ? Why not Lords and Commons there? They have owned the single person. They never forfeited their right. Nothing hinders their restitution but the thirty members coming hither.
Nine thousand pounds per mensem upon them, and but six thousand upon Scotland; very disproportionable. I shall have my share, what interest soever prevail, whether England or Ireland. You go about to make them foreigners. Scotland pays no customs. Ireland pays not only customs, but increase of customs: 2s. a beast in Lord Strafford's time; and now 6s. 8d. is exacted.
Mr. Hewley. I move, first, to assert Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, and propositions sent to the King. (fn. 15) Settle your own foundations before you take in this. Let some application be made to the Protector, to know why these men are brought in upon us; or rather, apply to the Great Protector. Seek God, lest we be in confusion before we be aware!
I am ready to give my negative to what I have heard from Mr. Annesley, that there is neither law nor justice in it. I see the House in a great musing. The Committee of Grievances are to sit this afternoon.
Colonel Birch, Mr. Trevor, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Bodurda, and others, moved to resume the debate about transacting, &c. to-morrow morning, and nought to intervene; but after halfan-hour's debate it was laid aside: and the House adjourned generally till to-morrow morning at eight.
The House rose at two. The Chair behaves himself like a Busby (fn. 16) amongst so many school-boys, as some say; and takes a little too much on him, but grandly.
Lady Conwath's Petition was offered, and Lady Worcester's report (fn. 17) offered per Mr. Baldwin, but both put off till to-morrow.
There was a very numerous Commiteee, and Lady Jermyn's title to the office (fn. 18) was discussed at the bar by all sides. Query, of the event ? Lady Withrington told me her title was very clear. (fn. 19)