Saturday, December 6, 1656.
An Act for the Forest of Deane (fn. 1) read the second time.
Colonel Shapcot and Mr. Bond proposed that it might be
Resolved, that it be committed to the same Committee. (fn. 2)
Colonel Rouse moved for the order of the day, Nayler's.
Sir Christopher Pack. I move that a short Bill touching the Earl of Huntingdon may be read, as ordered.
An Act for confirmance of the Sale of certain lands sold by
the late Earl of Huntingdon, for payment of his debts, &c.
was read a second time and committed.
The House resumed the debate upon the report made
yesterday, touching James Nayler, and, after debate, he was
sent for and heard at the bar of the House. So far in the
Diurnal. (fn. 3)
I was not at the beginning of the debate, but with the
Mr. Floyd. I would have you make a court for the trial
of Nayler, that you may keep your legislative power, and
proceed judicially. It is not only malum prohibitum, but
malum in se. It is against the law of God, of nature, and
nations too: Though the bishops be taken away, the law
against blasphemy is not taken away. I would have a particular court erected to hear and determine.
Lord Strickland. It is a hard case that we should have
no law in force to try this gentleman, but you must have recourse to your legislative power. This House never took up
that power but upon extraordinary occasions, with a protestando not to draw it into precedent. If there were a law to
try him without, others are better judicatories in such cases;
but to condemn him first, and then try him, as was offered
to you, is very hard.
I think it but fair that he should have a fair trial, to hear
what he will say, and hear the witnesses, if they agree in the
evidence, and then condemn him or acquit him.
Colonel Cox. This is a matter of great moment. If there
had been a law to this purpose, you had not had this trouble.
The eyes of all the nation are upon you for this issue.
The world abroad says it is liberty of conscience has brought
this fellow before you. I am of the same opinion. I am as
much for liberty of conscience as any man, but when one
runs into these extravagancies I think he exceeds that liberty.
To the order of your proceedings. First, call the party
hither and read the charge, and ask him, guilty or not guilty,
and thereupon order your proceeding, before you prepare a
bill; for I would have him have all the fair way of trial that
may be. It concerns his life.
Resolved, That Mr. Bodurda be heard again to this business.
Mr. Bodurda. I am sorry it should fall to my lot to put
you to the question. For my speaking, I rise not to trouble
you with long speeches. I find the House divided: some
would have him called to the bar; others tried at law. I offer
I would have you first put it to the question, whether to
agree with the Committee, and whether this be a sufficient
charge whereon to arraign this person.
Major-General Disbrowe. I shall offer an expedient,
though haply foolishly: that this fellow may be banished; for
life is precious, and you have matter enough, already, to
ground such a sentence upon.
Major Audley. I move that his Highness's advice may be
desired in it, and yet, in the mean time, that you would provide a law against such blasphemy for the future, and proceed when you have thus advised.
Mr. Church. I desire he may be called to the bar, as
often moved. That you would set apart one of these three
days, which you have left, to seek God in this business; for
if we be not tender in God's honour, he will not honour us.
We ought to be zealous in this business as in Achan's case. (fn. 4)
Mr. Highland. It would make any tremble to hear, these
horrid things, and to think what this fellow's profession was,
and what it is now. To deny God, or to make himself equal
with God. We ought to vindicate God's honour, if his
name be upon us, but we must honour him as well in the
order and justness of our proceedings; not to judge before
you hear. All judges are tender in this. You have heard
no witness against this man. Let him have a fair trial. I
am against his banishment; for you must send him to some
of your plantations, and there he will infect more: the like
consequence will be if you imprison him. I would have him
brought to the bar, and let him hear the charge against him
read. Haply he will confess as much as you will desire of
him. If he be guilty of these things, let him not longer infect
Mr. Bampfield. The calling him to the bar, is but a mean
to delay the business. The great argument is, that you are
not to credit what you have from others' eyes or ears. You
believe your Committees' Report in all other matters, that
concern the lives, liberties, and estates of three nations. Nay,
without the report of a Committee, you have, at one breath,
concluded that all the men that have been cut off in the
Spanish war, were justly cut off, and that shall be cut off in
that service; for you have, without further examination,
agreed the Spanish war to be undertaken upon just grounds,
and you will pursue it. (fn. 5) The like has been formerly done,
in votes that have cut off the lives of 100,000 persons without
any examination. You ought to credit the Committee then,
certainly, in a matter of lesser nature, though I would have
you tender in this business. You see by the eyes of your
Committee, and what they do is the act of this House, I am
sure, in other cases.
Again, The manner of the proceeding at this Committee
was more solemn and exact than at other Committees; for I
believe most of the House were there.
As to that of the want of an oath: We did charge them, in
the most solemn manner that we could possibly devise, that
they would be careful in what they said, what was the concernment, before whom, in whose presence. We had no
power to administer an oath.
But it does not only depend upon these affirmations of the
witnesses; but upon Nayler's own confession. There lies the
main stress. It was foul enough before, but the ugliness of
it, upon his examination, and his carriage at the Committee
did more appear than before. It did more than fasten the information, which was but historical to the matter.
He confessed that the woman said these words and expressions, which Mr. Piggott, by Providence, came to the Committee and informed; " Rise up, my love, my dove, my
fairest one, why stayest thou amongst the pots;" only he
denied the woman's kissing his hand. (fn. 6)
I conceive you have the matter-of-fact fully before you;
and the objections answered, to the evidence, which wholly
depends upon his own confession.
If you bring him to the bar, upon what will you proceed ?
If you take his answer in parts, then you must debate the
parts. If to the whole, he may, with the Archbishop, desire
time to answer to it; (fn. 7) so you shall know where you begin, but
where you will end I know not, if you take this course. The
first question ought to be, as it was first moved, whether this
offence be blasphemy, or no.
Colonel Sydenham. I should be sorry to spend your time
in this business, but I cannot advise you to go a greater pace
than ought to be. I know nothing of the shortness of your
time, this gentleman, haply, knows more of it. (fn. 8)
I have met with no argument to convince me that we should
agree with the Committee before you hear the party. I would
not have such a thing drawn into precedent. 1. It may be any
man's case, hereafter, to be accused for an offence, and from
the bare Report of a Committee, to have the sentence of death
passed upon him without further hearing. This gentleman
told you now, what a full Committee there was at this examination, and yesterday he told you how hard it was to get a
2. If the stress of the whole lie upon his own confession,
your work will be easier if you call him to the bar.
3. This gentleman told you, that every time that the party
went off from the Committee, they were more satisfied with
the matter of fact, than before. I would have this House also
satisfied in this.
4. It is said you agree with the Committee in matters of
great consequence that concern life and liberty, &c. but you
do not undertake to be the executioner. For that of the
Spanish war, it differs certainly from this case: we do not
draw the blood upon us, for they are and were our enemies.
This Report is of many particulars, and like Strafford's
case. The charge is accumulative blasphemies.
Mr. Ashe, the elder.—You ought first to declare him guilty
of such a crime: then draw up the Bill of Attainder against
him, and then call him to the bar. But your previous question is to agree with the Committee.
Mr. Croke. Under favour, this gentleman, though an old (fn. 9)
Parliament-man, is mistaken in the manner of your proceedings. It is against the orders of the House to speak again today, for at this rate I know not where. you will, end.
We are most of us, as private, persons, satisfied with the
matter of fact, wherein the worthy reporter has taken a great
deal of pains, in the faithful report of it. Every man, I
hope, that professes the name of Christ, will bear his testimony against this blasphemy.
But, by all rules of law and justice, you ought first to call
him to the bar; haply he may deny matter of fact, haply
matter of law. He may say it is not blasphemy, I would
have him called to the bar.
Major-General Skippon. I move that he may answer positively to the Report.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I move that it may be respited till
Monday. It is now twelve, (fn. 10) and it will take your time so
long that you will be forced to sit as long as you did yesterday, which will not agree with many men's healths that are
Major-Beake. You have two questions before you. First,
to agree with the Committee. Second, to call Nayler to the
I am for the first. The objection, it seems, lies against the
truth of the Report. Certainly greater solemnity could not
be at a Committee than was at this Committee; almost 150
there. You have given greater credit to a Committee in matters of property and liberty, instanced in the bills for sale, &c.
A matter of the like nature cannot possibly fall before you,
as private persons. I presume few of us but do believe that
the confession was, re vera, true, and it is fixed in every man's
breast. Those that argue from the greatness of the punishment, look further than I can divine.
I suppose none can tell what his sentence shall be till the
offence be agreed on. If you want a law, who can supply it,
as in the case of a Strafford, but a Parliament. Shall punctilios and modalities and forms, bind and tie up a Parliament?
We are not thus strait-laced; arguments from consequences
are not good in these cases; when the nature of the thing ties
us punctually to perform it.
Every man is satisfied that this ought highly to be taken
notice of. You are no more bound to precedents than in
Stratford's case. You may create a form when you please.
It is a notorious reflection upon the Committee, to give them
absolutely the lie.
If the party stand mute or deny, where are you then. For
my part, I conceive your proper question is, to agree with
Major-General Goffe. By the orders of the House the
other is the proper question.
Captain Baynes. However others look upon Nayler, I
look upon him as a man, an Englishman. I would have him
so tried as to bring in a bill of attainder against him, or leave
him to the law. It is below you to honour him with a trial
here; but if it must be otherwise, let him be called to the
bar, and proceed judicially against him, lest the precedent be
of dangerous and ill consequence to other persons, whose lot it
may be, in other cases.
Mr. Bedford. When, in the long Parliament, you did by
a law confiscate men's estates and lives and liberty, both in
England and Ireland, had you any more, nay so much, evidence as in this case, though, I presume, justly too. For
my part, as a private person, I am sufficiently convinced of
the matter of fact. Yet, to the end we might be unanimous
in this thing, I desire he may be called to the bar and heard:
but although he should deny it, I dare affirm it. He did speak
blasphemy in my hearing, which is sufficient to conclude my
Sir William Strickland. I have taken an oath to stand
for the liberty of Parliament. I always understood a Report
from a Committee to be good evidence against an offender.
I would not have this passed without clearing the honour of
Parliament. With this salvo for your honour and liberty, for
general satisfaction call him to the bar, that all the world may
know you do him more liberty than you needed. I would
have your proceedings justified as much as may be, and him
Colonel Briscoe. Qui per alium per se is the case of your
Committee, and if you agree with the Committee, what needs
further examination ?. I always understood a Report to be
evidence, else you reject what is your liberty, as I have heard,
though not so well acquainted with the orders of the house,
that frustra fit per plura quod fieri potest per pauciora. My
opinion is clear that the question is to agree with the Committee.
Mr. Lister. That no more time may be spent, call him to
the bar. For my part, I am not satisfied with the Report in
all particulars. I desired at the Committee, in the close of
the business, that he might be heard again, to see whether the
notes that the gentleman had taken did agree with Nayler's
sense or no. So I desired he might be called, but was overruled.
Resolved, That Nayler be forthwith called to the bar and
have the charge read to him, whereunto he is to give his
answer Yea or No.
Captain Hatsel was speaking to have the debate put off till
Monday, but Colonel Purefoy took him down.
The Master of the Rolls resumed Captain Hatsel's motion.
In a matter of this consequence you ought to take time fully
to hear the whole matter.
Mr. Bond. That gentleman ought to have asked your
leave before he had spoken against the vote, immediately before he was orderly taken down.
Mr. Speaker. In regard the third part of the House, was
gone, it was properly moved to adjourn.
Mr. Downing. I wonder what the word "forthwith"
means, if it may be taken away by a subsequent vote. It is
to no purpose to make laws or orders, if the word "forthwith" cannot be understood. I think it looks more like immediately than like Monday morning; else I understand
James Nayler being brought to the bar, refused to kneel or
to put off his hat. The House agreed beforehand that they
would not insist upon his kneeling, being informed that he
would not do it, and that he might not say that was any
part of his crime. They would not give him that advantage;
but commanded the serjeant to take off his hat.
Mr. Speaker asked him of his name and country as in the
Report, whereunto he answered after the old way of canting; (fn. 11)
confessed all but that passage about Mrs. Roper. "It might
be," said he, "she kissed me. It was our manner; but when
I found their extravagancies I left them. All that knew
me, in the army and elsewhere, will say I was never guilty of
lewdness; or so reputed. I abhor filthiness. See if any can
The clerk read the charge to him in parts, which he, upon
the matter and in effect, confessed, what was in the Report,
saying, "I do not much mind what is behind; I believe the
Committee, many of them, will not wrong me;" or, "I stand
to what they testify;" or the like expressions he used;
"It is likely I said so;" "I cannot say against it," &c.
Being asked about assuming the title of the fairest of ten
thousand, he shifted it notably thus. He that has a greater
measure of Christ than 10,000 below him, the same is the
fairest of 10,000.
Question. King of Israel; assumed you thus?
Answer. As I have dominion over the enemies of Christ, I
am King of Israel spiritually.
Q. Are you the judge of the world?
A. I cannot deny what I said at the Committee. But the
Speaker, desirous to help him, here said, " Mind what you
say; are you the judge, have you no fellow-judges." Then he
answered " No;" saying again," I hope you have so much
justice and charity as not to wrest my words;
"God set up this Vessel as a sign of his coming, but hot li
mited in this vessel, though it is thence that the hope of Israel
Q. Why did you ride into Bristol in that manner ?
A. There was never any tiling since I was born so much
against my will and mind as this thing, to be set up as a sigh
in my going into these towns; for I knew that I should lay
down my life for it.
Q. Whose will was it, if not yours ?
A. It was the Lord's will, to give it into me to suffer
such things to be done in me; and I durst not resist it,
though I was sure to lay down my life for it.
Q. How were you sure ?
A. It was so revealed to me of my father, and I am willing
to obey his will in this thing.
Mr. Speaker. A sign is not only set up to direct the (fn. 12) —:—
to his own, but to direct others.
A. True; such as will turn to Christ, by this sign to repentance, Christ is come to them: haply some are not able
to bear this.
Q. Are there any more signs than yours ?
A. I know no other sign. There may be other signs in
some parts of the nation; but I am set up as a sign to this
nation, to bear witness of his coming. You have been a long
time under dark forms, neglecting the power of godliness, as
bishops. It was the desire, of my soul, all along, and the
longing expectation of many godly men engaged with you,
that this nation should be redeemed from such forms. God
hath done it for you, and hath put his sword in the hands of
those from whom it cannot be wrested. That sword cannot
be broken, unless you break it yourselves, by disobeying the
voice, the call, and rejecting the sign set up amongst you to
convince them that Christ is come.
He denied their kneeling to him as was informed.
It is likely the women kneeled as much to others. It is an
evil that bears that testimony. It is not true. They gave no
worship to me, I abhor it, as I am a creature.
Mr. Speaker. Christ came long since, and you say he is
but now come in the flesh.
A. It is well for those that can witness him long since
come in the flesh. It is but of late he is come to me; but
I say he is again come in the flesh, and he is daily manifested
in the flesh; though none can bear it.
As to those words of the woman, Arise my love, my dove,
my fairest one, why stayest thou amongst the pots ? I own it
no other way than as it was spoken in the Canticles, of Christ's
I am one that daily prays that magistracy may be established in this nation. I do not, nor dare affront authority. I
do it not to set up idolatry, but to obey the will of my Father,
which I dare not deny. I was set up as a sign to summon
this nation, and to convince them of Christ's coming. The
fullness of Christ's coming is not yet, but he is come now.
After a great deal more said to this purpose, which I could
not take, he withdrew; and the Speaker desired if he had
omitted any thing, he would inform him, or if any desired
any more questions might be asked him.
Sir Gilbert Pickering offered another question (being unsatisfied) about what his hope was in Christ's merits, and how
he prayed to that Christ that died at Jerusalem. Whereupon
Nayler was called in again, and answered pretty orthodoxly to
those questions, and gave an account of his faith in God and
Major-General Skippon. Was against calling him in, or
asking any more questions, saying, He hath confessed enough
to vindicate the Committee, who deserve thanks, for they have
been very faithful and painful in the business. It now lies
with us, (being fully possessed of the matter-of-fact) not to
suffer the honour of God and the truths of the Gospel, to be
thus trampled upon. We shall see what judgments will come
upon us. God now looks what you will do. Indeed, my
heart trembles at those things remarkable, which will follow
your remissness herein. I am afraid there will nothing come
of this business, and then sin and judgment lie at your doors.
These Quakers, (fn. 13) Ranters, (fn. 14) Levellers, (fn. 15) Socinians, and all
sorts, bolster themselves under thirty-seven and thirty-eight
of Government, (fn. 16) which, at one breath, repeals all the acts
and ordinances against them.
I heard the supreme magistrate say, " It was never his intention to indulge such things;" yet we see the issue of this
liberty of conscience. It sits hard upon my conscience; and
I choose rather to venture my discretion, than betray conscience by my silence. If this be liberty, God deliver me from
such liberty. It is to evil, not to good, that this liberty extends. Good Sir; discharge your duty to God in this thing,
and put the question to agree with the Committee.
Lord President. [Lawrence.] The business before you
is of great weight; the House is thin, the time spent. I desire
you would adjourn this debate till Monday.
Mr. Ashe, the elder. I hope you are fully satisfied that the
matter-of-fact is fully represented to you, so as you may freely
agree with the Committee.
Colonel Briscoe. It is very clear that he does assume the
peculiar attributes of Christ, though he does it with a distinction of visible and invisible; an evasion obvious to every sophister. But, in the thing, I am very ready to give my vote
to agree with the Committee,
Mr. Butler. It lies much upon your hands to vindicate
share of public interest.—See Whitlock, p. 385, Parl. Hist. xix. 121—123.
the honour of God. This fellow has not only committed
blasphemy himself; but, I fear me, he caused-many others to
The time of discovering this business works much with me;
that such an indignity to Christ should be done, sitting a Parliament that professes so highly to the inteiest of Jesus
Christ. Do we not undertake his cause, to manage it against
Spain, where his name is blasphemed, and shall we suffer
him to be blasphemed at home ?
I confess my own weakness and timidity bid my silence;
but, I humbly beseech you, make no delay in it. I cannot
hold my peace, lest my conscience dog me to my chamber, to
my curtains, to my grave.
Mr. Pedley. Put the question, whether what you have
heard from James Nayler is not, in substance, agreeable with
the Report before you from the Committee, and then proceed
to your judgment.
Mr. Speaker. It were best to adjourn.
Sir William Strickland. Nothing has been reported from
the Committee, but is, to a grain, agreed by the party's own
confession at the bar. I hope you will approve of the way of
the proceedings of the Committee, and adjourn the rest till
Monday. You have now hell groaning under expectation of
this issue, what you will do in this business. I would have
us put on courage; and let not the enemies of God have the
upper hand, to have liberty to blaspheme his name. It is
the cause of God, and ought not to be slighted.
Colonel Sydenham. Adjourn till Monday morning; Nobody has been James. Nayler's advocate: but this business
ought to be fully debated, whether it is blasphemy. Some
will say it is but an error, &c. If you put the question to
agree with the Committee, you exclude their votes that would
weigh the matter of fact; and haply some may demur to the
matter in point of law; some, in matter of fact; so that, in
my opinion, you are not ripe for such a question, to agree
with the Committee. Again, there are many circumstances
and things, of small consequence in respect of the main; will
you, in the gross, agree all this to be blasphemy ?
Mr. Downing. You are judge and jury. You have heard
the prisoner at the bar, and will you leave the business in the
midst, after issue joined ? Can I charge my memory till Monday with what is fresh in my memory now ? Have you not
the evidence plain before you, and how can you leave off in
the midst of an examination ? Are not juries kept without
meat and drink; yea, carried from cart to cart, county to
county, till they agree in lesser matters, (fn. 17) and shall we break
off in this ?
Mr. Speaker. I remember what a gentleman in another
Parliament said of the result of our long debates, that it was
but as the verdict of a starved jury. It will not be so with
us, for many members have dined, though others fast.
Mr. Bedford. You should put the question, whether by
the evidence you have heard, James Nayler is guilty of
horrid blasphemy, and not delay the business further; for it
is high time to proceed in a matter of this nature.
Major-General Goffe. I am of opinion with Nayler in one
thing, that he is set up as a sign. He has fulfilled a scripture, that false Christs should arise, "to deceive, if it were
possible, the very elect." It ought to be a warning to us, to
know how we stand. The Scripture is fulfilled saying, "Lo!
here, lo! there is Christ; but do not believe them."
The Report helps us well to understand the matter of fact,
and what he hath confessed; I would have you, upon the
whole matter, agree that James Nayler is guilty of blasphemy.
Mr. Speaker. Do not complicate the question, for he may
be guilty of matter of fact, and not of matter of law. You
involve all by this means. I would put the question simply.
Colonel Chadwick. The proper question is, to agree with
the Committee in the Report; or, otherwise, whether that
question should be put.
Major-General Disbrowe. I believe that James Nayler
is guilty of blasphemy, (fn. 18) but I shall not hinder your question
to agree with the Committee in the Report.
Sir Gilbert Picketing. It is most Parliamentary to agree
with the Report, in parts, and debate it so all along.
Major Audley. It is a gross mistake to agree with the Report in gross. I cannot agree to this; but rather to proceed upon your own knowledge. What you have heard with
your own ears from him, may be the ground of your proceeding now; or otherwise to examine it in parts.
Captain Hatsel. The Committee did proceed with much
integrity and care, to answer all ends. While I was there, his
own answers were sufficient convictions, as to the matters
charged against him.
Resolved, To agree with the Committee in the Report.
Resolved, To adjourn the further debate of this business
till Monday; and no other business to intervene.
This debate held till almost four, which spoiled the sitting
of all Committees; (fn. 19) I question whether it has not left them
all, sine die, unless some met only to adjourn. I went to
look after Committees after five, but found none, only Sir
Gilbert Pickering very serious with the clerk in the lobby,
copying but Nayler's charge, to be better prepared against