Venice: March 1646

Pages 245-250

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 27, 1643-1647. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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March 1646

Mar. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
349. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing can be done with the imprisoned Atkins, as he is kept so closely confined in London that nothing more is heard about him. The Secretary Suriano has carried on active negotiations with others, but has not been able to secure any levy. The permit reported, which Wolter held was not from parliament itself, but from a body of republicans, and consequently, is subject to revocation under the conditions now ruling, and to countless obstacles. Of the many others who offered for the employment, no one else has been able to get it from the Houses, and even if they did, there would still be some risk, in the general turmoil of the government there at the moment. Some of the commanders are trafficking in prisoners of war and thwart each other, taking money from everyone while no one gets any results. It is useless to think of having sureties outside the country, and within it justice is overthrown and partial. If your Serenity does not get the levy, the money at any rate is safe. The Spaniards and French cannot say as much. After throwing away a considerable amount the former out of 3,000 foot have not been able to take more than 5 or 600, while for the service of the latter only 50 have landed at Calais out of 1,200 who were expected.
Suriano states that the Earl of Cler, one of the leading men whose mother is here and among my acquaintance, (fn. 1) the chamberlains, merchants and other friends to whom I directed him, and who are members of the Houses themselves, have told him positively in confidence that parliament will not grant a licence unless it is asked for directly by the most serene republic, but in that case it would be given without delay and possibly some assistance against the Turk as well. Others have intimated that if it is granted, it will be withdrawn when it is on the point of being carried into effect, in order to force your Excellencies to perform some act of recognition towards the parliament of London, which trades upon every opportunity that occurs to obtain from everyone the marks of sovereignty that it claims. The secretary replied very properly that these levies had been undertaken on my initiative upon representations from many quarters that with the season so advanced anything done would prove too late if there was any further delay. I have written to him that if the difficulties prove insuperable he must come away, so as not to lose any more time. I am treating with the Lumaga to have the 30,000 ducats remitted, which were reported at London, and I hope that this will be repaid very shortly, without any loss to your Excellencies.
A Fleming who has some frigates of Dunkirk in the service of the king of England, wishes to detach himself from a falling cause. He offers four or six all ready for the service of your Serenity and might increase the number to 12 in a short time. They are of 200 tons burthen mounting about 20 guns and carrying 80 sailors each.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 8th March, 1646.
Enclosure. 350. Advices from London, of the 22nd February, 1646.
On the 13th inst. the parliament forces entered Chester and Lord Biron, the royalist commander came out. The castle and a fort outside were surrendered in consequence, without delay. Relieved of this important siege Fairfax has taken all his forces to Exeter, which cannot hold out for long. In the West the Prince of Wales has relieved a small place of slight importance, while the parliamentarians have taken Belvoir, of much greater consequence, which also makes it easier to press Newark more closely, but the season prevents a supreme effort for the moment. A part of the garrison of Leicester has surprised and sacked the town of Ashby, returning without loss, the garrison of the castle being too weak to prevent this liberty.
To conciliate the Protestants the king protests that the arrangement with the Irish Catholics was made without his consent and exposes to punishment the minister who, he says, exceeded his powers. (fn. 2) In spite of this parliament will not listen to any overtures for peace, and the king has declared once more that, as he can do no other, he will defend himself, sword in hand to the last drop of blood, being innocent of what is shed henceforth and of the numerous calamities that overshadow the country.
The Resident of Portugal has asked for a pass to go to the king and take leave. This is refused unless he declares that he was sent by his master to parliament itself.
Mar. 9.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
351. In the Pregadi on the 9th March, 1646.
That the English ships King David, Prince and James, carrying wheat, biscuit and troops be relieved of the necessity of finding security for the wheat and biscuits provided they proceed to their destination with the army in Candia.
Ayes, 121. Noes, 5. Neutral, 3.
352. Terms of agreement made on the 28th February with William Rand, captain of the English ship James, now at Malamocco, of 5,000 staia (fn. 3) burthen, with 43 sailors and 22 guns, to carry biscuits, troops or other things to Canea. When he has unladed his cargo he shall be free to go where he pleases.
Approved on the 9th March in the Senate.
Ayes, 122. Noes, 5. Neutral, 3.
353. In the Pregadi on the 9th March, 1646.
Permission to William Rider, an Englishman, to lade his ship, the Marmadina, now at Leghorn, with goods at Venice, after unlading his cargo there and to take them to Spain, in consideration of allowing another of his ships to serve in the Venetian fleet.
Ayes, 103. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.
Mar. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
354. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
An agent of Spain has left Ireland without having been able to fill up his levies. He was expelled by the populace upon the circulation of a report that the Spaniards being united with the parliament of London injury might result therefrom to the Catholics of Ireland.
The States have opposed the equipment of the twenty ships which France proposed to make ready in Holland with the intention of assisting the king of England, as they became suspicious of the design and declared that it was certain they would be used against the parliamentarians, to whom they are drawing closer every day.
Advices of London enclosed.
Paris, the 13th March, 1646.
Enclosure. 355. Advices from London, the 1st March, 1646.
General Fairfax has dealt a finishing stroke at the army of the Prince of Wales, cutting in pieces and capturing 4,000 men commanded by Hopton. (fn. 4) About 500 escaped and the prince fled to Barnstaple. To escape it is thought he will have to leave the country. Fairfax attacked them in a village, where they made a good defence, but a church having caught fire, where the powder was, the noise of the explosion and loss (danno) threw them into confusion, and left them to the fury of the enemy, who captured a rich booty of arms. As a consequence of this Fairfax has redoubled his efforts against Exeter and is expected to have it in a very few days.
The Scots have sent fresh reinforcements to their army in England, and although parliament does not like to see them so powerful in this country, yet the siege of Newark will be much advanced.
The king, by disowning the treaty made by the Earl of Glamorgan with the Irish Catholics, hoped to remove much disapproval (molte ombre) on the part of the English Protestants, but instead this has been increased, as letters have been intercepted from the earl to his wife in which he tells her that his arrest, which has been made, was only a blind, because he had clear commissions from the king under the great seal and signed with his hand. The Catholics in Ireland, moreover, have revolted at his arrest and demand his release with threats and tumult.
Two persons sent by the queen of England to Scotland for some plot in favour of her husband, have been arrested by the parliamentarians. Various letters and instructions have been found, which being published with craft, serve to incense the populace still more against the king. The two persons have been handed over to the Council of War, so that they may be promptly sentenced to death.
Mar. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
356. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary Suriano found in London two individuals of influence (fn. 5) and energy to make the levy. By means of their relations and friends they obtained the permit from the Upper House, composed entirely of nobles, but they were unable to get it through the Lower and more popular Chamber, owing to the opposition of the Company which trades in the Turkish dominions, from fear lest trade should suffer therefrom. He has fulfilled all his instructions in an efficient and praiseworthy manner, and since it is clearly impossible to raise a levy, it is undoubtedly due to his caution and vigilance, that the money has not been thrown away.
[Advices of London enclosed.]
Paris, the 20th March, 1646.
Enclosure. 357. Advices from London, of the 8th March, 1646.
Parliament of Scotland has sent deputies to the London one to give reasons why they cannot withdraw their garrisons out of England, protesting that with their army so far advanced they must have places to secure its retreat for all eventualities. They further ask for money to pay the troops, and that they shall not formulate a fresh project for peace, but show the king what was proposed at Oxbrig a year ago, which his Majesty would be more ready to accept now, under his present necessity. That parliament shall adopt the Presbyterian form of religion, which will constitute a new bond between the two kingdoms and dash the king's hopes of gaining anything through the Scots and separating them from the others.
Hopton's defeat does not seem to have been so great as report stated although even small blows are of great consequence to the royal party. Parliament has printed a list of all the victories and advantages won against the king since the 1st June last and they amount to exactly 72. A leading man of his Majesty's party, has made his peace with parliament by handing over the strong castle of Ashby, which is in the heart of the kingdom on the boundaries of four counties, which suffered great inconvenience from its garrison. The Houses have therefore sent orders for its demolition. (fn. 6) On the other hand the Lord Lieutenant of Glamorganshire has revolted against parliament and gone over to his Majesty. He was besieging Cardiff castle, but the governor of Gloucester and Colonel Langhorn united and completely defeated him, (fn. 7) so that he had to flee, with only 70 horse.
Mar. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
358. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices from London.
Paris, the 27th March, 1646.
Enclosure. 359. Advices from London, the 15th March, 1646.
The Chancellor of Scotland lay the proposal for the establishment of a common religion for the two kingdoms before parliament in London, and they have agreed to this. His other commissions are concerned with the payment of the money claimed by the Scots and the terms of peace to be put before the king. The two Houses have agreed upon the proposals to be made and these are at present being submitted to the Scottish commissioners for their approval. They tend as usual to the subjection of his Majesty and to dim the lustre of the throne.
The king has written further letters to parliament, which has not yet decided to open them, possibly to stop more coming, as their object is to cause divisions and to create dissensions upon the ample offers which he makes for peace.
Corfu, a strong castle in Dorset, the last left to the royalists there, has fallen into the hands of the foe, (fn. 8) and Barbourg, closely besieged, is about to share its fate. Parliament has enjoyed equal success in some other affairs of less importance. Prince Rupert surprised Abington with 1,000 horse and as many foot carried on the cruppers, but when he thought he had it, he was driven out by the garrison, in some strength, which had gathered at the alarm.
Fairfax, advancing into Cornwall has defeated some royalist forces which disputed the passage of the Tamar and marched rapidly against Launston. A report, not yet authenticated, says he has taken it. In addition to a naval force they are raising troops on all sides in the name of parliament, with the intention of investing the king in Oxford to cut off all means of retreat and so force him to flight by the fear of it.


  • 1. Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Stanhope, widow of John Holles, first earl of Clare.
  • 2. The king disavowed Glamorgan in a letter to parliament dated the 29th January.
  • 3. Staia, about a bushel.
  • 4. At Torrington on the 16-26 February.
  • 5. Earl Holles and Viscount Conway, see below.
  • 6. Sir James Hastings surrendered on terms on 28 Feb., O.S. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645-7, page 356.
  • 7. On the 21st February, O.S. Colonel Carne, high sheriff of Glamorganshire, is the person here called Lord Lieutenant. Cardiff Records, Vol. IV., page 150.
  • 8. On the 27th February, O.S.