Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Wednesday, April 13, 1659.
The sad and lamentable Petition of the sole son and surety alive, general assignee and executor of the deceased Sir William Dick in Scotland, and of his numerous distressed and dispersed poor families, for the public, was this day read, and was to have satisfaction of several sums of money claimed to be owing by the nations of England and Scotland to Sir William Dick, his late father, deceased, and to have a protection to prosecute the said Petition in the Parliament.
A Committee was appointed to examine the matter-of-fact, in the aforesaid Petition of Sir Andrew Dick, and to report the same to the House.
Resolved, that Sir Andrew Dick shall have a protection for two months, to follow his Petition in Parliament; and that Mr. Speaker do sign a protection for him, accordingly. (fn. 1)
Sir George Booth presented a petition touching the arrears of the supernumerary forces disbanded in the county of Lancaster, Chester, and Westmorland, (fn. 2) which was referred to a Committee.
A petition was also offered from other counties, of the same nature. (fn. 3)
Colonel Gorges. I move not to call up persons to attend at charge, unless you were in a condition to pay them. The public faith creditors were, last Parliament, like to tear a noble person out of his coach. Those arrears are so great, as it was made out at Worcester House, that nine millions will not pay them. (fn. 4)
Mr. Gewen. The Portreve of Taviatock, Devon, has returned by one indenture, and the burgesses by another, and the Sheriff returned that by the burgesses.
Mr. Bodurda. I heard that the Sheriff made an election at one end of the town, and the Portreve at another; whereby, it is in the power of the Under-Sheriff to send whom he pleases.
Serjeant Maynard. I would have the Sheriff highly fined. This was never known, till of late, to return two indentures. He ought to receive the indenture from the office, and return that. The Clerk of the Commonwealth cannot return the other.
It was moved, to refer it to the Committee of Privileges and Elections.
Mr. Lechmere. This is a Fortreve; neither Mayor, Bailiff, nor Corporation.
Mr. Fowell. The Portreve is the proper officer.
Serjeant Maynard. If the Sheriff return an Indenture otherwise than from the proper officer, he must not be sent for as a delinquent, but must be heard first.
Resolved, that the Clerk of the Commonwealth in Chancery, be, and is hereby required, to receive the indenture signed by the Portreve of Tavistock, in the county of Devon, upon the last election of a burgess for the said borough, in the place of Captain Hatsell, elected for the borough of Plympton, as well as for the said borough of Tavistock.
Resolved, that it be referred to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, to examine the matter concerning the last election for the borough of Tavistock; and why the indenture signed by the Portreve of the said borough was not returned and filed, to the writ delivered in to the office of the clerk of the Commonwealth, in Chancery, by the Sheriff, and to report the same to the House.
Lord Lambert and Mr. Attorney-general moved, that Colonel Terrill do make the report from the Grand Committee for Grievances, now offered by him, concerning the Countess of Worcester, to-morrow morning.
Lord Fairfax and Mr. Hewley moved, that the Committee appointed to consider of the petition of the sick and maimed soldiers, belonging to Ely House and the Savoy Hospital, (fn. 5) shall have power to send for parties, witnesses, papers, and records. Resolved, accordingly.
Mr. Annesley moved, that no votes or resolutions of this House, be printed without leave. (fn. 6)
Mr. Attorney-general moved, that "debates," be added.
Mr. Speaker. The votes, besides, are misprinted. (fn. 7) It was offered, that that might be inserted in your vote, as a reason of prohibiting the press. It is not for your honour to suffer it. It makes your votes and proceedings too cheap, and tends to lay you low. (fn. 8)
Mr. Raleigh. I move that an admonition be given to the worthy members, not to publish your debates. I speak it of my own knowledge, of the speeches, and persons' names that were sent into Holland in letters, and in letters sent back again, touching the debate of the business of the sound. (fn. 9)
Mr. Lechmere. It was expulsion, ipso facto, formerly.
The order was read touching the business of money. (fn. 10)
Sir Henry Vane. I move to go speedily about it, to prevent inconveniences which will come upon us, unawares. Difficulties will grow. It will concern you to look through your business.
Captain Baynes. The duty is so oppressive, from the manner of levying it, that in Yorkshire one may travel sixty miles, and neither have ale nor beer for money.
Mr. Noell stood up and made his excuse.
1. My farm is not beer and ale. My design in taking it was to advance the revenue, for the public good; that all might go to market aright; that trade might be balanced. I paid 39,000l. odd money before, and 2000l. yesterday. I ought to have a defalcation of 10,816l. for the salt of Scotland. By my covenant, I ought to have the defalcation. Let me have that, and I shall not be long till the rest be paid.
I am much surprised in the bargain, but I plead not that now. I have not laid out any of that money for my own occasions. I have paid 7000l. more into the Exchequer than ever I received. It is dispersed in all parts of England, and justices are slow in assisting. I could plead all the pleas that others have done, and that more properly. I never purse one penny of it. Be it never so little, I pay it into the Exchequer. I was induced to take it, by one that pretended to know more of it than I did. When he came to estimate it he found his mistake. It broke his heart. I hope I shall never love the world so well.
I would fain have turned the farm into his Highness's hands. His Highness declared, in the mean time, that he and his present Highness, were sensible of the propriety of preserving me from the extremity of this contract.
I had the excise of Scotland at 12,000l. granted to me as a compensation; but could never have it in possession. I would have the whole matter considered as you shall think fit. I shall strip myself of all I have, rather than incur the displeasure of the Parliament. I am a merchant, and unfortunately fallen into this farm. I confess myself in a snare, by falling into this farm. I beg I may be out of it I shall pay the money as fast as I can.
I humbly beg either to go on with cheerfulness, and to stand right in your eye, or that I may be quit. I have an estate in several parts of the world; and if I fall under your displeasure, the inconveniences may be greater than can be expressed. (fn. 11)
Colonel Birch. This is only as to the 65,000l. per annum on inland commodities. There are other arrears due from him. I would have the whole matter before you.
Captain Stone. That is a mistake; for there is, indeed, 12,000l. more arrears due from him the 20th March past, but that is touching the customs of sea-coal, (fn. 12) which comes in upon another account.
Colonel Whetham and Colonel Birch opened the inconveniency of farming those commodities; and how the Farmers, being merchants, ingross the commodity.
Captain Stone. I verily believed he had a hard bargain. I believe so still; but, of the defect of the law, he knew it before his contract. He never applied to the Commissioners of Appeals, who are to give him the defalcation. It will be another kind of sum than what he reduces it to, of 10,800l. The abatement he claims is 10,390l., for nine months' time, that it was kept from him. The other lease was not determined in August.
Colonel Birch. There is no reason of abatement. He knew it before his contract, that another person had a lease in being, and nine months to expire; and he might expect that the old Farmer would fill the country full of salt, as he had done before, when he had it in farm. And as Best (fn. 13) had done before him.
Those that farmed it with Mr. Noell, at that time of the salt duty, grew to great estates. An ill bargain, we hear of; it being a good one, never. No doubt but he will import a good deal, before his farm determine. It may be as much as seven years. To demand 1000l. for four months detaining it from him, and the whole year of the salt of Scotland is but 5000l., I understand not. The country will be ruined if you go this way to work.
Captain Baynes. I never heard he was a loser by any farm. He may well afford to lose by one. He has many partners and good security. The substance of what he moves is, it broke his partner's heart. He may appeal to a power out of doors. Proceed upon this as you did in the case of the Farmers of London.
Mr. Lloyd. I have a great respect for that gentleman; but we must deal plainly here. Some years past, this gentleman, and others, had the farm of silks; by which, upon the defalcations of this kind, as the Commissioners told me, the state lost 12,000l.
The matter is before you. The contracts were made with no strangers. They knew, well enough, what every county would raise. They had them all in farm before, many months, for their consideration. Counsel were consulted with, and there was good security. You will find this will disjoint all your contracts. All England will expect an abatement.
If there be any thing of defalcation for the four months, let it be excused; but for other matters, I know nothing inducing you to make an abatement. If you please, let his lease commence as the 1st of August. That will save a defalcation.
I am against the farming the excise of salt, if it could be helped. That spoils the trade of the country in France.
Mr. Lechmere. You had delivered up the country too often, a prey to such persons; if justices of peace were not persons of discretion and conscience.
Such general tergiversation and denial, I doubt, presages something at the bottom, in this juncture of Parliament, to divide, and distract, and obstruct you. I hope such easy reasons will not prevail with you in this time of necessity.
I am glad to hear good security is taken. Let the recognizance be transmitted into the Exchequer. It must go that way. If you delay it, it must come to that at last. I know no reason why you should not require your money forthwith.
They never appealed to me as a Justice of the Peace, though I was within two miles of them.
Mr. Bayles. I move, that you use not cruelty to them, to disable them from paying you hereafter; but rather encourage them, by enjoining persons to pay their duty.
Resolved, that the respective Farmers of the Excise be required to pay in to the public Exchequer, on or before the first day of the next term, all the respective debts and sums of money due in arrear, and owing by them or any of them to the Commonwealth.
Colonel Birch. You used to receive 12,000l. per week; now, not a quarter part of it. So that, if you take not another course to enable them, you will lose your ends.
It is informed you, what two Justices (fn. 14) did order, to enable them. The two next Justices committed the parties that distrained. I would have those two Justices of the Peace sent for to your bar.
Mr. Onslow reported it.
Mr. Bayles moved it.
Mr. Annesley. These are only general complaints. I would have it referred to a Committee to examine all complaints, that they may be encouraged.
Mr. Scot. Those two Justices complained on, Gunston and Wilcocks, were at the door yesterday, and I believe are now there; and they can justify what they did, to be according to law, upon the statute of forcible entries.
I, in fault of a better counsel, advised them to come to you to satisfy you about the complaint. There is Captain Pride, son of Sir Thomas Pride, or I know not what you will call them. (fn. 15)
Colonel White. They themselves make their obstructions in Yorkshire. They appealed to one Justice. He was ready to relieve them if another would join; but they would have him act upon the Act of 49, which gives power to one Justice of the Peace, and their own interpretation put upon it; and if they could but get one Justice of the Peace to do it, they would ask no more.
There is a great complaint of the extravagancy of the Farmers; how they draw people into bonds, whole parishes, without either reading the bonds or giving them copies, though they desired it, and offered twelvepence for every copy. It is clear they intend to break the duty and the people too; and, in conclusion, to break with you. Such a clamour is all over the country, that I fear ill consequences.
Take such course that they may not only pay forthwith; but take care that they may run no farther in debt. They raise in Yorkshire near 100,000l. per annum, and pay but 15,000l. per annum, having raised it from 9000l. per annum.
Mr. Stephens. Delatus versatur in universalibus. They tell you, in general, there are arrears due to them, but tell you none in particular.
Put this off your hands, and let them see to have their contracts made good.
The Farmers were called in.
Mr. Speaker told them, that the House was not satisfied with their excuses. They knew their contracts; and, no doubt, had covenants from those who owe the duty to make payment to them. Therefore, the House ordered them to pay in all arrears before the first day of next term.
Thereupon, they withdrew. (fn. 16)
Colonel Bennet offered a paper for one of them, which was irregular. He was partner with another man who has done him wrong.
Sir William D'Oyly. He may sue his articles. It is not proper for you to meddle in it.
Sir Henry Vane. I doubt they intend but to gain time. The longer they keep money in their hands the worse for you. They will keep it till they can make better conditions with you.
There is no doubt as to Mr. Noell's money. He has it ready. He has three farms. Two of them are not included in your order; but the gentleman being a member of your House, no doubt but he will take care to have it all ready.
If you please, to the end you may settle the business of the Excise, and understand your revenue and the whole report before you; let it be debated in a Grand Committee for your safety, and that the nation may see you take this in hand.
Resolved, that it be referred to a Committee, to prepare and bring in a Declaration upon the debate concerning the excise now had in the House.
Mr. Annesley, and others, to meet in the Speaker's chamber this afternoon, at two of the clock; and the care hereof is, more especially, referred to Mr. Attorney of the Duchy.
Resolved, that the debate upon the report from the Committee of Inspection, be resumed to-morrow morning.
The House rose at one of the clock.
The Committee for the Ministers (fn. 17) sat in the Inner Court of Wards.
T. B. was in the Chair, and adjourned till Friday.
The Committee for Lame Soldiers, &c. (fn. 18) met and adjourned till to-morrow afternoon.
In the Speaker's Chamber, Mr. Hewley delivered papers to me.
Several Committees sat.
The Grand Committee of Grievances sat.
Colonel Terrill was in the Chair.
Serjeant Wylde moved to have his own petition (fn. 19) read to be restored to the office of Chief Baron; it being given him by the Long Parliament by ordinance and letters patent, tempore Caroli.
It was resolved by all the lawyers, that that part of his petition for his arrears was just; but the other part, to be restored to the office of Chief Baron, was not proper.
1. The place was vacant three years, and he never sought for redress, though several Parliaments have been, since.
2. Though it was granted to him quamdiu se bene gesserit, and so for life; yet it was agreed by all judges, 1 Eliz., 1 Jac., and 1 Car., that all commissions that run so, were determined by the death of the King.
3. Though the ordinance did appoint the Great Seal to give him letters-patent, the ordinance was not constitutive, but the letters-patent were; and the ordinance did only appoint him to constitute by the patents.
4. The place is full, being supplied by a worthy person who holds it by letters-patent, from his late and present Highnesses.
Ellis, Prideaux, Cartwright, Shqftoe, Terrill, &c. so resolved nemine contradicente.
The Committee for drawing up a Declaration for more due payment of the Excise, met in the Speaker's Chamber.
Mr. Lechmere was in the Chair.
Resolved, that it shall be paid during the sitting of this Parliament, unless this House shall in the mean time take other order.
Whence two questions arose.
1. Whether the Declaration should run in the name of both Houses.
2. Whether this House could alter it, being established by law.
It was long debated, whether the words "the Parliament," should be inserted, instead of the words "this House;" but carried for the words "this House" to stand, by nine against seven, which is a clear re-admitting the purse to the House of Commons, notwithstanding the law of Excise.
Mr. Stephens and Sir Henry Vane said it was so declared in 3 Car.
Mr. Bodurda, in the debate, happened to say that the Protector might dissolve the Parliament when he pleased, and it was ill taken.
Sir Henry Vane and Mr. Stephens affirmed the contrary; and that he had no such absolute power. His trust was otherwise, and it was a breach of trust in the Chief Magistrate to do it; and he could not, by the law, dissolve Parliament till all grievances were heard, which was one principal end of calling Parliaments. But this debate fell asleep, happily; and was thought collateral to what was referred to the Committee. (fn. 20)