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.
Saturday, April 16, 1659.
Mr. Cooper prayed.
Mr. Speaker took the chair at nine.
Colonel Grosvenor. I took notice of a great number of people called Quakers, in the Hall yesterday and to-day. (fn. 1) I wish you would take some course with the Petition that has laid a long time before you; and that they be dispersed.
Mr. Annesley. They are a fanatic crew. I would have their Petition referred to a Committee, to put it off your hands.
Mr. Fowell. I move to whip them home as vagrants.
Mr. Danby. I move that a law be provided to suppress that railing against the ministers.
He instanced what Mr. Bulkeley and Dr. Reynolds (fn. 2) had overheard some of them say: "the priests and lawyers are bloody men, give them blood to drink."
Sir Walter Earle. I except against the title "friends," and "the Parliament so called," in the Petition. (fn. 3)
The petition was read. It was directed for "The Speaker of the Commons assembled in Parliament; these are for him to be read to the House of Commons." (fn. 4)
Sir William D'Oyly. I am against proceeding against them as vagrants; but would refer the business to a Committee.
Mr. Swinfen. Order them, every of them, to go to their calling, and apply themselves to the law, which is their protection.
Captain Baynes. I move to clear them, and make them innocent persons. Many of them were imprisoned for not taking the oath of abjuration.
Major-general Kelsey. No reasoning by scripture will convince them; (fn. 5) for they make that but a nose of wax. (fn. 6) They call miscalling the ministers speaking the truth. The justices of the peace do well to imprison them. (fn. 7) I cannot be a pleader for them. Disturbers of the peace, they deserve it. They will not conform to the law.
As to those that lie imprisoned for not taking the Oath of Abjuration, I would release them. I would have some time for their continuance in prison; but not an unlimited extent.
Call two or three of them to come in, and advise them to return to their homes, and you will command by your members, that if any be illegally imprisoned, which does not yet appear, they may be released.
Mr. Fowell. The justices of peace cannot imprison for not taking the Oath of Abjuration.
Colonel West. I cannot justify them in their affronts to the ministers. Refer it to a Committee to hear their grievances, which is the right of the commoners of England, and that gentleman (fn. 8) was mistaken who moved to whip the commoners of England.
Mr. Lechmere. You are not, as a Christian Magistracy, bound to bend your laws to every Pretender's conscience. I am against referring it to a Committee. Who dare attend it, unless the gentleman who spoke last? I dare not. They refuse to answer upon oath, which is juramentum purgationis. All that were imprisoned at the time of the Protector's death for contempt of court, were, of course, then delivered by law if they looked after it.
Their language is as little justifiable as the— (fn. 9) of Rome. For their railings against the ministers, see their books. The question will be, whether you will dispense with that cast of the hat. I have known when you could not bear some petitioners coming hither. You have sent out members to receive their address. To rid your hands of this business, do as Mr. Swinfen moved.
Colonel Kenrick. Refer it to a Committee. You receive and examine petitions without respect of persons.
Mr. Steward. They complain not of any thing done contrary to law, but according to law. Though they seem but a small number, yet lesser beginnings have grown to great heights. In their books I find a denunciation of judgment. They will easily believe they are the persons appointed by God to execute this judgment. They are not of that simplicity as is moved, but wolves under sheep's clothing.
Mr. Stephens. Some I look on as persons seduced. Those I pity. Others, as seducers; those I pity not. The Jesuits have too great a stroke amongst them. (fn. 10) Let them repair to the Committee of Grievances. It will fall out that most are imprisoned for transgressing a fundamental law. I hope you will not dispense with their contempt.
The question was read, as to their repairing to their habitations, &c.; but—
Colonel West moved, that the first question was for a Committee; and prayed that might be first put.
Mr. Scot. Refer it to the several knights of the shire to send to the Justices at the next sessions, to inquire into this business, and to redress their grievances according to law.
Mr. Attorney-general. Till the ordinary course fail, they ought not to apply to you.
Mr. Annesley. Now I have read the Petition I am against either committing the Petition or calling them in. The Petition is unreasonable, and declares their desire that is neither consonant to the laws of God or man. Declare also the petitioning tumultuous. Unless you declare against the thing itself, you will be troubled next week with as many.
Mr. Reynolds. I move that it be referred to a Committee, to clear your members of the scandal laid upon several of them.
They say they are imprisoned for meeting together in the fear of God, for not swearing, for visiting their friends, and speaking the truth; all which are in themselves good, and it is a strong reflection.
If you pass this, the people will think all is true that they say, and that you will not question it, because so many members are concerned. I am one.
Some moved for a Committee to go out to them; others to send the Serjeant; others to call them in. Others moved for declaring that this House doth take notice of their tumultuous assembling themselves together, and their contempt of magistracy.
Mr. Reynolds. Change the word "tumultuous" for "numerous."
Mr. Attorney-general. Every assemblage of persons of an unlawful number, is tumultuous.
Mr. Jenkinson was against the word "tumultuous."
Mr. Thomas was for the word "ministers" to be added.
Mr. Gewen. This minds me of what Solomon says, (fn. 11) "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit." I would have the word "tumultuous," for they are so in petitioning against the magistracy.
Lieutenant-general Ludlow in favour. (fn. 12)
Mr. Boscawen. You will give them too great a reputation abroad, to say they are numerous. They will be thought 20,000.
Sir Walter Earle and Mr. Shaw were against the word "petitioners;" for their address appeared not to be a petition.
Resolved, that the answer to be given to the persons that presented this paper is, that this House hath read their paper, and the paper thereby referred to; and doth declare their dislike of the scandals thereby cast upon magistracy and ministry; and doth therefore order, that they and other persons concerned, do forthwith resort to their respective habitations, and there apply themselves to their callings, and submit themselves to the laws of the nation, and the magistracy they live under.
Mr. Goodrick moved, that Colonel West deliver this answer. Others moved that the Serjeant might do it.
Colonel West said he was most unfit, in regard he moved for a Committee; and therefore moved that the Serjeant might carry it.
The question was put, if the Serjeant-at-Arms do return the aforesaid answer, to the persons that presented the aforesaid papers to the House.
Mr. Speaker declared for the Noes.
Mr. Higgons and another young gentleman, declared for the Yeas.
It was held not fit to divide for such a trifle. The Yeas should have gone out. Therefore it was ruled that they might be called in.
Colonel Bennet. I move against calling them in.
Colonel Eyre. For your bearing public testimony against them, I would have them called in; and their hats taken off before they come in. (fn. 13)
Sir John Coplestone. I move that Moore, and two or three of the most considerable, be called in.
Moore was a justice of peace. One of them, worth 10,000l., is in nomination to be an Alderman of Colchester. His name James Furnas.
Others moved to take the first at hand, lest you call a tumult about the doors.
The Serjeant went out with the mace, with two or three of their names that were most considerable.
It was ordered that he should take off their hats, and tell them they must only hear Mr. Speaker.
They were called in, two of them, with their hats off.
Mr. Speaker declared the judgment.
They strove to speak, but were not permitted; only one of them as they went out said, "The name of the righteous shall live; but the name of the wicked shall rot."
Mr. Poole moved, that this vote be printed. (fn. 14)
Mr. Annesley. I hope the time is not lost.
Now it is over, I would have you apply yourselves in a Grand Committee, upon the report from the Committee of Inspections. Money answers all things.
Mr. Reynolds. I second it; but first give a little light to your Committee by a debate in this House, as was usual; that you may not tumultuate your debate. If this be done, which is in the bottom of the bag, and must be done, we shall, I hope, be able to buoy up our reputation, so as to be a nation again.
He further reported a claim of Lord Marquis Argyle for 12,000l., charged by order of the Protector and Council, upon the excise in Scotland, part paid. (fn. 17)
The House rose at almost one.
The Committee of Privileges sat upon the business of Pembroke.
Mr. Hewley was in the Chair.
They sat late, and were so equally divided upon the question, that there was ten and ten; and it came to the Chair to cast it.