The Diary of Thomas Burton: 23 March 1658-9

Pages 235-244

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, March 23, 1658–9.

I came late and found the House in debate upon the report touching Dartmouth. The question was, whether the borough by prescription, or their corporation should choose.

The Report of the Committee was against the inhabitants, and two hours debate were spent about it. The question was put to agree with the Committee.

Mr. Speaker declared for the Noes.

Colonel Clark declared for the Yeas.

The Noes went out.

Noes 119. Sir John Northcote and Mr. Reynell, Tellers.

Yeas 113. Mr. Higgons and Sir Walter St. John, Tellers.

The question being put to agree with the Committee, it passed in the negative. The next question moved was to recommit it.

Sir Henry Vane moved to assert the right of the people, and save your Committee a trouble. A fundamental right in the people cannot be taken out by any charter or corporation whatsoever.

The Lord Marquis of Argyle came in this day He went out with the Noes.

Mr. Turner. I move to clear it, whether it be a corporation, or a borough by prescription.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I have heard it often asserted in this House for law, that the fundamental right of the people could not be given away. It was theirs by the law of nature.

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)

Mr. Speaker excepted against it.

Lieutenant-general Ludlow moved to assert the right of the inhabitants.

But it was resolved, to recommit it upon the whole debate.

Mr. Streete stood up to have spoken. I suppose it was touching his own business.

The order of the day was read.

Mr. Speaker acquainted the House touching a mistake in the report about Poole, as if there had been two indentures; but there was but one, so the mistake was amended.

After altum silentium.

Captain Hatsell. Divers gentlemen that serve for Ireland can speak well. I desire to hear what they can say for themselves; and first, as to the point of their withdrawing.

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?

I desire to go on as to the matter of right. I shall state the matter, and pass no judgment.

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.

Now, if the Long Parliament, and all powers since, have the care of us hitherto, how come we now to be shaken off?

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.

Sir Thomas Stanley. I am not to speak for Ireland, but for the English in Ireland.

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.

If upon a natural account, they have more equity than Scotland, they have, upon a just account, as much right as they, except in a little formality.

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.

Captain Whalley. It is a maxim in Parliament, equitas sequitur legem.

I found not much in it. (fn. 11)

Mr. Annesley. They desire to hear what is objected against their right, and they will answer it as well as they can.

Mr. Speaker was going to put the question.

Mr. Weaver stood up. I should have been glad to have heard what right in law they have to sit. Nought is offered yet, as to the legal part.

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.

I shall acquiesce in your vote for Scotland, though I must still say they have no right of law.

I would have your question, upon the legal right of the Irish members.

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 ?

Venienti occurrite morbo. It is neither safe, just, nor honourable to admit them. Let them rather have a Parliament of their own.

Mr. Stingsby Bethel. The first question moved was about their legal right. I pray that may be the question.

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.

There is no way to punish judges in case of bribery. To come over here to complain he must bring the justice of his cause. No taxes can be abated, impose what you will.

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.

Their grievances can never be redressed. Elections can never be determined. Though they were but a province, there were their courts of justice, and Parliaments, as free as here.

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.

I pray that they may have some to hear their grievances in their own nation, seeing they cannot have them heard here.

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!

Sir Arthur Haslerigge moved to adjourn.

He was called to speak to the Chair. He said he looked on nobody but the clock. The reason of looking to the Chair was that one might not brow-beat another; and because we were to speak to the Chair.

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.

Sir James Harrington. I move to adjourn till to-morrow. Yesterday you left out law; now it is said there is no reason.

Mr. Bristow. If there be no law, there is more equity. If you please, put the question for their continuance, this Parliament, and bring in a Bill to confirm them.

Mr. Neville moved to adjourn, because divers were to speak.

After a little debate about adjourning, the question was put, if the question for the continuing of the Irish members shall be now put. It passed in the affirmative.

The main question was put.

Mr. Speaker declared for the yeas.

Mr. Reynolds declared for the noes.

The House was divided. The yeas went out, (contra in the case of Scotland) per Speaker's mistake.

Yeas 156. The Earl of Linlithgow and Mr. Secretary Thurloe, Tellers.

Noes 106. Lord Lambert and Mr. Annesley, Tellers.

So it was resolved that the members returned to serve for Ireland shall continue to sit as members in this present Parliament.

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.

Colonel Morley admitted it to be an old question, but it might be dressed up with several new additions. He would not have us surprised; nor our debate locked up.

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.

The report of Haslemere, in Surrey, was made. Hooke was cast out, and Westbrook admitted.

The Grand Committee of Grievances sat.

Colonel Terrill was in the chair.

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)


  • 1. See supra, p. 232.
  • 2. See supra, p. 230, note.
  • 3. In 1172, the date of "the first expedition of the English into Ireland." Soon after "Henry II. himself," says Mr. Molyneux, "landed at Waterford, with an army, and finding that his subjects of England had made a very good hand of their expedition, he obtained from Earl Richard Strongbow a surrender of Dublin, with the cantreds adjoining, and all the maritime towns and castles." Case of lreland, pp. 4, 5.
  • 4. "All the Archbishops, Bishops, and Abbots of Ireland, came to the King of England, and received him for King and Lord of Ireland, swearing fealty to him and his heirs for ever. The kings also, and princes of Ireland, did, in like manner, receive Henry King of England, for Lord of Ireland, and became his men, and did him homage, and swore fealty to him and his heirs against all men. And he received letters from them with their seals pendant, in manner of charters, confirming the kingdom of Ireland to him and his heirs; and testifying that they in Ireland had ordained him and his heirs to be their King and Lord of Ireland for ever." Ibid. p. 7.
  • 5. "As King of Ireland, at a Parliament held at Oxford, [Northampton, 1176.] Soon after, King John, being then about twelve years of age, came into Ireland. The Irish nobility and gentry immediately repaired to him; but, being received by him and his retinue with some scorn and derision, by reason of their long rude beards, quas, more patrio, grandes habebantet prolixas, they took such offence thereat, that they departed in much discontent." Ibid. p. 24. (See Girald. Camb. Hib. Expug. c. 35.)
  • 6. Rather, according to Mr. Molyneux," by this donation, Ireland was most eminently set apart again, as a separate and distinct kingdom by itself, from the kingdom of England; and did so continue until the kingdom of England descended and came unto King John, about twenty-two years after his being made King of Ireland." Ibid. pp. 24, 25.
  • 7. "Ponens," says Matthew Paris, "Vicecomites aliosque ministros, qui populum regni illius juxta leges Anglicanas judicarent." This was in 1210. Ibid. p. 27.
  • 8. "In a Parliament held at Drogheda, (10 Hen. VII.,) it is enacted, that all statutes, late (that is, before that time) 'made in England, concerning the common and publique weal of the same, from henceforth be deemed effectual in law, and be accepted, used, and executed, within this land of Ireland, in all points." Ibid. pp. 41, 42.
  • 9. Of England, only.
  • 10. In 1648.
  • 11. Meaning, I suppose, his speech.
  • 12. See vol. ii. p. 119, note*.
  • 13. See supra, p. 232.
  • 14. See supra, p. 233.
  • 15. See vol. iii. p. 366, note *.
  • 16. Dr. Richard Busby, Chief Master of Westminster School for fiftyfive years, being appointed in 1640. In that capacity he walked in the procession at the funeral of the late Protector. He died in 1695, aged eighty-nine. His name appears already to have become, as it still continues, proverbial for magisterial severity.
  • 17. See supra, p. 119.
  • 18. Of Chief Register.
  • 19. This question was thus determined next year, by the restored Long Parliament, after Monk (as the finale of his intrigue for Charles Stuart,) had replaced the secluded Presbyterians, who presently passed "a Bill for conferring of 20,000l. on Captain General George Monk, for his signal services;" and invested him with the stewardship of Hampton Court and its appurtenances:— "March 15th, 1659, 60. Resolved, that the difference between Walter Long, Esquire, a member of Parliament, and the Lady Jermyn, and her children and trustees, touching the office of Chief Register in Chancery, be, and is hereby referred, by consent of all parties, unto Denzill Hollis, Esquire, and Sir Harbottle Grimstone, finally to hear and determine the same, if they can; and if they cannot determine the said difference, then that they two do choose an umpire. Journals, vii. 877.