Venice: January 1644

Pages 57-68

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


January 1644

1644. Jan. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
66. Girolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
With miraculous success in his weakness Waller has struck a serious blow at the king. Picking 2,000 men from the garrison of Reading and other places, the Earl of Craford, a Scot was leading them towards Arundel to the relief of Obton, when Waller surprised him as he was halting at Alton, which is near Farnham, capturing over 1,000 prisoners, the rest being either slain or scattered. (fn. 1) It has been observed that when the king's fortunes are at their highest he always suffers some serious misfortune or loses the opportunity by feeble action. This can only be the consequence of disloyalty among his councillors or executive officers, to whose opinion the fear of making mistakes often induced him to defer his own wise and prudent views. Indications are not lacking that Clafold, who is suspected by the English, cooperated in this incident resulting in the loss of his men, as when he reached Tonmandel he informed Farnham by an improper request to Waller for wine, the indulgence in which gave the parliamentary troops an opportunity to surround the place, yet the earl was able to escape without opposition, with a few horsemen. A part of his prisoners has been brought here in state, the remainder have not refused to take service under Waller, who, reinforced with 500 of Essex's horse, and 3,000 of the Kentish trained bands and with his own men encouraged by this success, has set out for Arundel, under which he is now sitting. Obton left a small garrison there, and retired to Hampshire to unite with Prince Rupert, who is marching towards him with 4,000 horse and 2,000 foot, to attack the enemy with the greatest possible strength.
Warwick has sent some ships towards Plymouth, but we do not hear of anything attempted. On the land side the besieged have made some sorties with success. Warwick has orders to get his ships well supplied for the spring, for which purpose they have voted 60,000l. which they reckon to raise from new taxes on flesh and fowls. Essex also presses for reinforcements for his army and that the 30,000l. a month assigned to it may be sent to Windsor. They are to raise this by taxes on food and clothing. Meanwhile he is taking part in the Council of War sitting at St. Albans upon the governor who surrendered Bristol, who is accused by his rivals of many shortcomings. The sentence is awaited with peculiar interest because he is the son of a member of the Upper House who has played the leading part in these transactions (che ha havuto la miglior parte in questi maneggi), but is now in some disrepute with the party. (fn. 2)
Parliament has decided to erect a sumptuous monument in the chapel of the kings at Westminster to the late Pym. This shows what their aims are to the reflecting eye.
It is announced here that the Duke of Hamilton has fled from Scotland and arrived at Oxford, where the king has had him arrested on the charge of disloyalty. News of such importance requires confirmation, which it is difficult to obtain promptly owing to the hindrances to the passage of letters. The Scottish government sustains parliament here on hope alone, though it is always pressing for money, without any sign of results from what has already been sent. The Scots will get everything that they want because the English cannot hope to hold out without their assistance (non potendo Inglesi sperar di resistir senza questo aggiuto).
The Irish continue to arrive, 13 ships being constantly employed in bringing them over, Colonel Biron assists them with a body of militia, and they will soon constitute a powerful army of valiant infantry, of which the king is exceedingly short. Articles have been presented to his Majesty's commissioners in Ireland with the request that they shall be promptly granted. While they offer in these to be his loyal and faithful subjects they claim that the kingdom shall be independent of England. They admit the Protestants and their churches, but desire liberty for the Catholic religion and the confirmation of privileges. They have not yet received an answer, but it is believed that although the king may incline to satisfy them he will not declare himself at present, to avoid doing himself harm.
The gentleman sent by the French ambassador to Oxford has not yet returned. I gather that he went to persuade the king to allow him to premise to recognise parliament in the way desired, but only in case the negotiations are successfully concluded. But he has not yet settled this question here and it will be very difficult to do so, because such moderate terms are not in accord with their aims.
The Spanish ambassador and the resident of Portugal understanding that parliament had taken note that they were sheltering English priests and had decided to have their houses searched, immediately sent them away, though they are still somewhat alarmed.
I had early notice of the arrest of the courier for Flanders which happened some weeks ago at Rochester by order of the commissioners of parliament and the opening of the packets for Holland, to see if there were any letters of the secretary of state to the Ambassador Gorin, who was there at the time, owing to suspicions about his negotiations. But I was advised at the same time that my packets had not received any outrage, so I did not send duplicates or advise your Serenity, as I now do in accordance with the instructions of the 3rd December., received only this week. Their suspicions are truly extravagant at the present time and cause this government to lose all respect towards everyone, their policy being particular and not universal. Despite this by good fortune this house and my ministry have so far remained free from all molestation. This has not been the case with the Ambassadors of France and Spain or with any other of the residents. On my side, without neglecting any opportunities of serving your Excellencies and obliging the king, I observe great caution in speech and action, as I know it is your wish I should. I will also make more use of the cipher as you direct.
London, the 1st January, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
67. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has sent his dragoman grande to Aleppo, having obtained a catecumaium from the king for the exemption from the duties of the ready money which his nation takes to that mart, and a very considerable reduction also upon silk.
The Vigne di Pera, the 2nd January, 1643 (M.V.).
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Jan. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
68. Advices from the Hague of the 5th January, 1644, forwarded by Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador to the Congress at Munster.
The more the negotiations of Arcurt in England recede into the background the more the States here take heart to send their embassy. To evade the formalities claimed by the parliament it is said that the ambassadors, instead of letters of credence, will have an open mandate consigned to them in which the king and the parliament will be nominated conjointly.
[Italian, from the French.]
Jan. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
69. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has made some suggestion of an offensive and defensive alliance between France and Great Britain, but it is only a suggestion, without any terms.
Paris, the 5th January, 1644.
Jan. 7.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives.
70. The Secretary of England came into the Collegio and spoke and left a memorial. After the memorial had been read the doge replied, Your secretary would have been despatched ere this had not more considerable duties occupied the Council of Ten. Everything has its place and time. This will also be attended to and as soon as possible. We will take into consideration what you have set forth, with the desire to do everything possible for him within the limits of justice, in our desire to please you. With this the secretary made his bow and departed.
The Memorial.
When the incident of my secretary occurred I was the first to inform your Serenity and I felt so strongly about what at the first blush appeared a scandalous act, that instead of defending him I did not want to consider him any longer of my house or as worthy of the king's protection. Since then as clear evidence of his innocence began to appear, the woman herself confessing that she led him into a trap, I have made repeated applications to your Serenity for his release, fearing that the reputation of my king might suffer if so much severity was shown against one of his servants. No attention was paid to all my representations, indeed they only seemed to serve as the occasion for greater severity. So I preferred to fail in my duty and wait for time to show the usual results of your Serenity's clemency than make myself obnoxious without any result. But this has in no wise ameliorated the condition of that poor gentleman, who has suffered imprisonment for six months without hope of seeing the end of his miseries, as despatch by way of justice is postponed and the hope of grace seems further off than ever.
From the inefficacy of my past offices I can only attribute to my lack of merit with your Serenity, though I have always set your favour as the chief object of my actions, and if I have failed it must be from lack of capacity and not of good will. I therefore ask that to please his Majesty this unfortunate young man may be set at liberty, as he has paid the penalty of the most heinous crimes for a mere inadvertence such as might happen with the most circumspect. The favour granted by his Majesty to the Venetian ambassador in a much more serious matter and for his own subject, is so fresh in mind that I hope I have said enough to move your Serenity to respond similarly.
Jan. 8.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
71. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although reinforced by the troops of Prince Rupert Obton has not yet attempted anything against Waller, who is pressing Arundel castle hard and hopes to take it. Some private disputes among Obton's own soldiers have delayed his march, which he is now making towards Soptanton, to check the other, though he cannot stop him, as he is growing stronger every day with men arriving from Kent. As Prince Rupert left Tossiter with a weakened garrison, Essex at once sent 500 horse to reinforce the Earl of Manchester, ordering him to besiege it, while he himself looked after Newport (fn. 3) and his quarters at St. Albans, as by order of parliament he is arranging with his scanty forces to move to Windsor so that it may be easier to fill his ranks and to assist Waller when necessary. In Lincolnshire Meldron, the parliamentary leader, has retaken Ghensbero, a place of importance, considered valuable as it keeps a check upon Niuvarch and is near Yorkshire. (fn. 4) In Bedfordshire some troops of Essex have captured a house of the queen where they took some prisoners, notable for their rank and as loyal servants of the king. As a set off to this the Irish are beginning to make themselves felt. In Cheshire they have taken Biston castle while General Chingh has taken that of Leich in Stafford.
Intent upon observing the effect of the king's two declarations against the great seal, the parliamentarians, in spite of their decision a long time ago have delayed using it up to the present. Now it is being wielded without any reserve, and with it they propose to distribute many of the appointments of the realm, although exercised by others under the legitimate seal in the king's possession.
Widinbanch, formerly secretary of state, and who fled to France, has now arrived at Oxford. It is believed that the king will employ him as he is attached to the predominant Spanish party, which is the only one in which his Majesty can at present confide. The arrest of the Duke of Hamilton was correct, since he was cloaking, as he always has, his intention to serve his native Scotland for his own ambitious ends under the false show of a loyal subject of the king. He made himself a leader of the party to please the Scots and after having assured his Majesty in numerous letters, on his life, that the Scots would not venture to leave their country against him, he has finally fled and come to Oxford, excusing his failure by laying the blame on the calling in of the Irish. He is accused of treason by the very lords who are his followers, so they mean to have him tried with severity.
With the end of disputes in that kingdom there remains little or no doubt of their prompt assistance to the parliament here, whose commissioners are urging the step with all their might. But the border counties are more determined than ever to offer a stout resistance, and if this is not enough, the people there have resolved to leave the country with all their animals and burn it so that the Scots shall not find any comfort (commodo). To the same end the Marquis of Newcastle is going about devastating and sacking suspected places.
These misfortunes of the king and the great disadvantage which he will experience by the coming of the Scots, have induced four lords of the Court to absent themselves. They are trying through the General to make terms with the parliament, which is said to be about to announce a pardon to those who promptly submit. (fn. 5)
The gentleman of the French ambassador returned from Oxford with an inconclusive answer to his request for the recognition desired by parliament. So the ambassador has decided to go there himself, as he has done to-day to explain to his Majesty the advantage of conceding this point. If the king will not consent on any account, the ambassador says he will take leave, so that he may not expose his office to slights any longer.
London, the 8th January, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
72. Advices from the Hague of the 12th January, 1644, forwarded by Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador to the Congress of Munster.
The ambassadors despatched to England to try and bring about peace between the king and parliament are only waiting for a wind to start. The Prince of Orange overcame the opposition which interposed to prevent this voyage, as it seems that the affairs of the king are likely to receive a serious jar if the Scots chance to join in, whereas they were in a very advantageous position without that opposition.
[Italian, from the French.]
Jan. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
73. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Approaching with forces superior to Waller, who is still besieging Arundel castle, Obton did not think it prudent to attack him in his defences, but has withdrawn and is trying to prevent food from reaching his army, which is more numerous than experienced (aguerrita), until further reinforcements reach him.
The Council of War at St. Albans having ended with the condemnation to death of the governor of Bristol and of other commanders, the General Essex has come here to beg for his pardon. This will not be difficult unless the city, which resents the loss because of trade, should oppose it. The general is sending his guns and all his troops, which are reduced to very slender numbers, towards Buckinghamshire, whither he is proceeding in order to be nearer Waller. Prince Maurice is in great difficulties under Plymouth and is losing hope of capturing the place owing to the obstinacy of the defenders, who have sworn to hold it to the last gasp. He has retired with the greater part of his troops leaving only some garrisons in the forts and having swept the country round of food, and he also scours it with his cavalry. It is not yet certain whether he will go still farther off, although it is stated in letters from Court that he is to reinforce Obton, since the king is very anxious for the defeat of Waller, which would leave them without any army worth mentioning in this part.
Through the treachery of the Duke of Hamilton, the leader of his party in Scotland, his Majesty sees that the entry of those forces into England is inevitable. He fears their progress even though the border counties are prepared and determined, while Newcastle has a powerful army to oppose them, when joined with the Irish, as is intended. He has accordingly sent a proclamation here by a herald, (fn. 6) in which, after pointing out the miseries this kingdom must suffer by the introduction of a foreign army which, though sent for, comes for conquest and to impose new laws, he summons to Oxford for the 1st February all the members of parliament without exception, granting a universal pardon, and promising every commodity, in order to consult with him on what is best to be done for the common service of the country. Some of those now in the parliament, more capable and less desperate than the rest, do not approve in their hearts of opening the gates to the powerful assistance of a nation which in former times has caused such jealousy and spread such distress (promulgata l'afflitione sua). To make sure that his Majesty's proclamation shall not afford an inducement to these to declare their opinions, those of the predominant and seditious party have immediately voted a vigorous declaration condemning the proclamation as illegitimate, fraudulent and derogatory to the privileges of parliament. They also contemplate, as a counterblast, granting pardon to all who leave the king and submit, or they will proceed to try and condemn all the absent. In pursuance of this they have forthwith nominated a number of commissioners with orders to proceed rapidly with the trial already begun against the queen. Reports of this having reached the Court while leaving scant hope of any results from the proclamation, have moved some lords, who though with the king are not altogether distrusted by parliament, to exclaim against certain young servants, favourites of the queen, who direct affairs through her influence. Accordingly his Majesty uses tact to remove causes of offence as well as decisions prejudicial to the suspected party.
It seems that the passage of Irish to this kingdom is slackening as that nation also wants to make use of the opportunity to win advantages from the royal commissioners who are there. Parliament also does all that it can with the small party that it retains, to act as a counterpoise to the armistice granted by his Majesty, and it is announced that a protest has been largely signed in that kingdom against this suspension.
The French ambassador having lost all hope of treating with parliament without the recognition claimed, went to Oxford, where he still is. He went intending to persuade the king to accept the conditions, and if he objected, to take leave. What under existing circumstances he will propose to his Majesty remains obscure until his return.
Some people at Wster, where they make most of the cloth of this kingdom being stirred up, through correspondence from here, by the king's last proclamation which obliges them to take it all to Bristol, have made some slight commotion, but it will be put down by some forces sent to those parts.
The letter sent by the secretary of state of the confidential merchants of this mart, urging them to take currants to Bristol, where the trade is increasing greatly, has already produced its effect, as the ship Dragon is on its way to that port with all its cargo, sailing from Zante. Its name has been changed to Mary Elizabeth and it is passing in the interest of Santil of Leghorn, although it belongs to Giannin here. This will give a good start to that trade which I hope will go on prospering. I will do all in my power and I meet with the best possible response from his Majesty and the ministers.
London, the 15th January, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 18.
Consiglio di X. Parti Criminali. Venetian Archives.
74. That a sentence be delivered against Margarita Locarda of Vicenza.
Ayes, 16. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
That she be condemned to a prison without light for three years, and if she escapes she is banished from Venice and its territories for ten years. If she is caught she shall be imprisoned for three years from the time, and so every time.
Ayes, 15. Noes, 0.
For four years instead of three.
Ayes, 1.
75. That sentence be delivered against John Bren, an Englishman.
Ayes, 5. Noes, 10. Neutral, 2.
Not carried and he is acquitted.
Jan. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
76. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Waller obtained the surrender of Arundel castle at discretion, taking prisoner several officers with 1,000 soldiers and munitions and arms. (fn. 7) The loss of this place is not among the most serious of the disasters to the royal arms. What is serious is the loss of officers and soldiers with the slur cast upon his forces, affording the enemy an advantage with the Kentish men. These have sent 2,000 foot to strengthen the garrison of Chichester, which shuts the way into the county, where the movements for which Obton hoped, have been forcibly suppressed and they dare not lift their heads without fresh and vigorous assistance.
Fortune has also favoured Waller by another, incident, for a Dunkirk ship bringing munitions and arms for the king, took refuge from a Dutch one in the port of Arundel and fell into his hands.
A great desire for peace prevails among several leading men of this city, to such an extent that they have frequently discussed in the Common Council and among the militia the question of petitioning parliament to open negotiations. When the king, who eagerly desires any honourable settlement, heard of this he wrote to the mayor and aldermen to urge them to do this and sending six proposals. This was accompanied by letters from the Secretary of State Dighbi to various secret confidants of the Court, with offers and promises in the queen's name. These despatches being intercepted and carried to parliament have been declared seditious, being aimed at dividing parliament from the city, and the act has been stigmatised as a conspiracy. Many have been arrested but they have not ventured to lay hands on the mayor or aldermen. So as not to allow such a plausible occasion to take root in the minds of the people, who are tired of suffering, they assembled all the city companies in the Guildhall, and commissioners of parliament appeared to inform them of the incident, showing the king's conduct in the worst possible light, and poisoning their excellent disposition by false representations (avvelenando con i loro falsi racconti le sue ottimi intentioni). Combined with the discoveries made by the French ambassador and so many other indications this last incident has convinced every one that unless they are compelled by royalist victories or by resolute action of the city, the parliamentarians will never consent to a reasonable adjustment of their own accord, as they profit by the disorders and are in possession of complete control, persons who in a well ordered government would not be considered capable of serving in a subordinate capacity (persone che in un regolato governo non sarebbono meno capaci di haver parte a servire).
It is now a fortnight since, according to their announcements, the Scots forces should have begun their march from Baruich. There is no authentic news of this, but it is surmised that they have moved. Delivered from divisions at home through the perfidious help of the Duke of Hamilton to the royal party, it is to their advantage to take up this affair. In addition to their own security and the steady profit they draw, they can also cherish hopes of becoming the arbiters between the two contesting parties, and gathering the fruits of the dissensions of others. Those who are less rabid are afraid of them, but the desperate do not care.
The king and the loyal party are more perplexed than ever, although Derbyshire has recently declared for him, and the Marquis of Newcastle encourages him with hopes of resistance, seeing that the border counties are so determined, and as Biron with the Irish has beaten Bruerton and taken Nantwich. Some ships of the king have also captured two vessels which were taking munitions and arms to Scotland by order of the parliament. The town of Newcastle is well fortified and supplied, as two ships recently reached the port from Denmark with guns and munitions of war, and falling in with an English ship carrying corn, they brought it in with them.
The French Ambassador Harcourt has sent back from Oxford the hired coaches and horses, which indicates that he intends to make a long stay. He may intend to be present at the meeting of parliament called by the king for the 1st February, and at their discussions, or possibly he does not want to appear here except in passing through, as they have appointed commissioners to proceed with the queen's trial, in his face, without any respect for France.
A courier arrived here three days ago from the Court on his way to Harcourt, it is said to take orders from the queen mother to return home leaving Cressi with the title of agent, to await a better opportunity for treating. But instead of giving him a passport, parliament took his letters and opened them. They found in the packet a long one from Cressi, not in cipher, and from the Ambassador Gorin to the Secretary of State informing him of all his negotiations both in Flanders and France, intimating that 20,000 muskets and other arms bought by him in the country are ready at Dunkirk. As regards France he holds out hope of help, but not on very good grounds, and there was a little note from him to the queen advising her to captivate Harcourt, because anything that he promises will be performed in France. After the reading of these despatches they have lost no time in declaring Gorin guilty of treason to the state ; and feeling against Cressi being very strong, they contemplate sending some one to France, to make remonstrance to the queen there and learn her intentions. But this was in their first heat and they may change their minds after more mature consideration.
Another letter has been intercepted from the Secretary of State Drigbi to the king's agent in Flanders. He informs him that all the negotiations of the French ambassador have fallen through owing to the claims of parliament to recognition. (fn. 8) From this the parliamentarians conclude that the Hispanophile councillors of his Majesty are aiming at removing the suspicions of the Austrians in order to obtain their assistance, especially with the expiry of any hope from Denmark, invaded by the Swedes, (fn. 9) these new politicians being ignorant of their present state.
The Dutch ambassadors have arrived at Gravesend. It is said that instead of credentials they bring an open patent declaring them ambassadors to the king and parliament. I will keep an eye on their negotiations.
London, the 22nd January, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
77. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
All military action in every part of the kingdom has been suspended by an extraordinary snowfall, which has lasted for eight days without intermission. Everyone is watching for the entry of the Scottish forces, the feelings of the rabid being deceived by their desires. They flatter themselves and say they have seen letters from there and heard persons say that the Scots have already entered Newcastle, though the Scottish commissioners themselves say they are without any news. The king, practically abandoning these parts, is sending all his men towards the North, and when this parliament at Oxford is ended, Prince Rupert himself will go to command the Irish, who are under Biron.
Meanwhile a very important event has happened in Ireland to his Majesty's advantage. Encouraged by parliament here and by their own nation, the Scots in that country joined with some of the strictest Protestants there formed an army to upset the truce, but being vigorously attacked by the Catholics, they have been completely routed in a battle lasting eight hours, losing their guns and the scanty remnants being obliged to flee to Scotland, leaving the country clear. That nation is now in a position to help the king better, either by sending a corps to England officially, or by a diversion in Scotland. But feeling they must not lose the opportunity they are trying to gain advantages for themselves, demanding a peace with freedom of religion and other conditions, without which they say they will not be able to leave their own kingdom. It is believed that this matter will be discussed in the parliament in Oxford, and it is feared that though the king might wish to satisfy them he will meet with some opposition and will have to proceed with caution, in order not to prejudice himself in this kingdom where, at least in appearance, feeling is strongest against him for his affection to Catholicism. Prince Rupert has been declared Duke of Sussex by his Majesty, so that he may take part in this assembly. Divisions are feared as the grandees cannot tolerate the influence of the queen's favourite Germen which causes universal whispering (mormoratione universale), injurious to the royal honour and prejudicial to the king's posterity.
The Duke of Hamilton has been sent prisoner to Wales, without being able to secure an interview with the king. His brother, who is secretary of Scotland, is still under guard at Oxford.
The mayor and aldermen of this city, being in no little apprehension and alarm over the intercepted letters from the king advising peace, have desired to clear themselves. For this purpose they invited the two houses of parliament to a banquet yesterday in the great hall of the city, announcing that this was an expression of their determination to live and die with parliament for this cause. This demonstration has pleased the interested parties, but others recognise it as the result of fear, which will be used, however, to extract considerable help in money.
The French ambassador has sent here for his coaches, as he intends to return and leave at once, his negotiations having proved fruitless. The king gave him a cross of diamonds as a present, making an effort in their present poverty, not to recompense him, since he has shown that his sympathies are with this side, but to oblige him, if possible, to further his Majesty's interests in France.
Parliament has sent to Oxford copies of the two intercepted letters, of Gorin to the Queen and of the secretary of state Dighbi to the agent at Brussels, together with one signed by the presidents of the two houses apologising for the opening of the despatches and trying to irritate him against those two ministers, declaring that they have injured his honour. They have done the same in other papers, which have been published, holding up to opprobrium the phrases with which they pretend to commend his actions. In Gorin's letter also there are certain expressions calculated to render Cressi hateful to the people, so that it will be difficult for him to remain here in the capacity of Agent as ordered by his mistress. Accordingly he may go home also, especially as he is not satisfied with that title and wants an ambassadorship. Harcourt is greatly incensed against him, declaring that he has been launched into all these troubles because of his original representations to France about the hopes of a good peace here, with the advantages they desire, and by his lack of foresight in bringing Montegu and by his relations with ministers who are suspect here.
The Dutch ambassadors made their entry into this city only on Wednesday evening, having stayed six days at Gravesend. Many members of both Houses went to meet them at Greenwich with the barques, and General Essex himself received them at the Tower, followed by 30 coaches, and took them to their quarters. They are keeping to themselves until a passport comes from the king, for which they have sent to Oxford.
The ship Rainbow of 400 tons burthen has arrived here from Zante with its entire cargo of this year's currants. Those interested, who are six of the Levant Company have petitioned parliament to permit it to be unladed, pointing out the disadvantage of the trade getting started at Bristol, especially in currants, prohibited here. Parliament has discussed the matter, and the trade to Bristol being confirmed by the advices they have, has given permission, charging the currants with 6 shillings per cent. more than usual. (fn. 10) But the merchants have told me that in spite of this they hope to do good business, and this yoke being now broken that they will have no difficulty in the future. I encouraged them and informed them of the reduction of the duty by the Senate of 2 per thousand of the new duty. They were pleased at this, not having heard anything about it from their agents.
The despatch of last week will come with this one as the commissioners of Rochester have stopped the mails and opened all the letters of merchants and others suspected, both for France and Flanders. I have made sure, however, that my packets have not been touched.
London, the 29th January, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. On the 13-23 December.
  • 2. The governor was Nathaniel Fiennes, son of Viscount Say and Scle.
  • 3. Newport Pagnell, co. Bucks. See Cal. S. P. Dom. 1641-3, page 508.
  • 4. On the 20th December, O.S.
  • 5. Probably referring to Holland, Northumberland, Bedford and Clare, who had been repulsed in their overtures to the king and who returned to Westminster about this time. Clarendon : Hist. of the Rebellion, Bk. VII., pages 367, 368.
  • 6. Dated at Oxford, the 22nd Dec., O.S. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VI., page 361.
  • 7. On the 6-16 January.
  • 8. Digby's letter to de Vic of the 27th December, O.S., printed in Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VI., page 368.
  • 9. Torstensson invaded Holstein on the 12th December.
  • 10. Jordan Fairfax petitioned for permission to unlade the currants ; the Levant Company petitioned against. The Commons voted in favour of granting permission on the 16th January, O.S. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol, III., pages 351, 361, 368.