Thursday, December 18, 1656.
It was past ten before I came into the House. I hear this
A Bill for the holding the Sheriff's Court for the County of
Wilts, in the Borough of Devizes, was read the first time.
Captain Lister called me aside, and told me a long story in
very high terms against Captain Atkinson, and that one of
them should fall. He would complain to O. P. (fn. 1) and he said
Richard Hilton has confessed all before Major-General How;
and would not go back from what he had said.
Sir William Roberts and Sir Thomas Wroth. Explain
your order, whether Nayler shall be whipped this day or on
Saturday. The order read.
Major-General Whalley. If he is set in the pillory, immediately after his whipping, it will go near to kill him.
Resolved, that the whipping of James Nayler, from Westminster to the Old Exchange, is to be on this day. (fn. 2)
Per Major Burton. An additional Act for encouragement
of trade and navigation, was read the second time.
Mr. Bond, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Lloyd proposed, that
this Bill might be committed to the Committee of Trade.
They took some exceptions to it.
Resolved, that this Bill be committed to the Committee
Mr. Bampfield delivered the petition from the west,
which was read, and it was said to be signed by many thousands, but no hands to it.
Mr. Robinson excepted against it, because no hands to it.
Major-General Howard. There is another petition from
the north, signed by three ministers at the door ready to
attest it, viz. Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle.
Per Mr. Marbury. Another from Cheshire, read.
Per Mr. Aldworth. Another from Bristol.
Per Colonel House, from Cornwall. No hands to it, but he
did affirm the petition. Another for Exon and Devon.
Alderman Tigh. I have received a letter from Dublin,
desiring me to represent unto you the growing of the Quakers there.
Colonel Coker said he had a letter to the same purpose from
Mr. Westlake had another letter, from Exeter.
Alderman Foot proposed that all these petitions might be
referred to the same Committee, for they increase in other
places, and ought to be taken a speedy course with.
Lord Chief-Justice Glynn. It is high time to take a course
with them. They daily disturb our courts of justice; several
indictments against them; their persons and. pamphlets daily
pestering of us. I was, in my private opinion, against punishing old offences with a new punishment, and am also for tender consciences. But those that openly profess against the ministers and ordinances and magistracy too, it is fit they should
be taken a course withal; for they grow to a great number.
There was a Bill in last Parliament against them; I desire
that may be confided, with all those petitions, to a Committee,
to provide a law against them.
Sir William Strickland. I am sorry to see such a thin
House upon this occasion. They are a growing evil, and the
greatest that ever was. Their way is a plausible way; all
levellers against magistracy and propriety [property.] They
say the Scriptures are but ink and paper. They are guided
by a higher light. They deny all ordinances, as marriage, &c.
Sir Thomas Wroth. They are a very numerous party, and
ought to be taken a course withal speedily. I desire you
would refer it to the same Committee, that your time may
not be further spent in this business.
Mr. Fowell. It is high time to take a course with them.
They deny all ministry and magistracy to be the word of
God, &c.; affront all authority, and increase daily.
Mr. Bedford. I had a report in my hand last Parliament,
and stood up to report it; these are the heads of it, that
it is high time to take a course with them.
Major-General Whalley. It is a hard thing to make a law
against them. Some do acknowledge scripture, magistracy,
and ministry; others, not. Good ministers is the only remedy to suppress them: only make a law against blasphemy,
and let them that commit James Nayler's fault, have his punishment. But for their denying of the magistracy and ministry, you have laws against them already. Bind them to
their good behaviour.
Lord Whitlock. If there be any such people as deny magistracy and ministry, we may easily guess the consequence.
Cutting of throats must necessarily follow. That which I do
most except against, is the disturbance of the public peace
of the nation. I am much against the general words Blasphemy and Quakerism. This is like the word, incumbrance, the
more general, the more dangerous for the people of England.
I would have it referred to a Committee to bring in, by a particular law, what persons shall be punished, but not to leave
it in the general.
Major-General Skippon. We are all full of the sense of the
evils spread all the land over, and our indulgency to them
may make God to cause them to become disturbers of our
I am for tender consciences, as much as any man; but it is
one thing to hold an opinion, another thing to hold forth an
opinion. If a man be a Turk or a Jew, I care not so he do
not openly hold it forth.
I am for enumeration of their blasphemies, for I would not
have any honest man surprized by a general Jaw. I would
have Biddle, (fn. 3) and his sect, also considered by the same Committee, which are also dangerous, as well as Quakers.
Mr. Briscoe. I have no petition from the county (fn. 4) for
which I serve, but I am sure I have as much occasion
to complain as any, for they are numerous in those parts,
and, principally, occasioned by the ignorance of these people
in the principles of religion. They meet in multitudes, and
upon moors, in terrorem populi. I have a long time feared,
that they and the people of a contrary judgment, should
fall by the ears together. I desire it may be referred to the
Mr. Puller proposed, that the ordinances against blasphemy
might be inspected by the same Committee, and that a law
might be brought in against blasphemy.
Major-General Boteler. They are most their friends that
labour to suppress and prevent that wickedness. I hope we
shall never have cause for the like debate; which would be
prevented if there were a law now made. It is one thing to
pass a sentence upon a man without a law, another thing to
make a law. I desire a Bill may be brought in.
Mr. Godfrey. Unless you provide a law against them, in
general, it was to little purpose to punish this man. The
sect is dangerous, the increase numerous, prevention very necessary. I desire it may be referred to the same Committee
to bring in a Bill against them.
Major Brooke. I desire you would spend some time in
making a law against these, else all the laws you make here
will be to no purpose. They will overturn all laws and
Government, unless you timeously strengthen the banks.
They meet in thousands in our country, and certainly will
overrun all, both ministers and magistrates. I desire that
you would make no delay in this business. Ere long, it
will be too late to make a law.
Sir. Christopher Pack. Though you have no petition
from London, yet we are no less infested with them then
other parts of the nation. They knew you were about making a law against them, but I desire that it may be referred to a Committee, and it will appear our grievances are
as great as any.
Mr. Butler. In pity to these people's souls, I desire
there may be a law against them. Lenity may work upon
some, and severity upon others. They have been reclaimed
from disturbing of ministry, and haply, by fair means, other
works may be done.
Mr. Robinson. I am against referring it to a Committee
to bring in a law against them, under the name of Quakers.
Some may be called Quakers that are not so. It is an offence, indeed, to keep on their hats before the magistrate;
for, lay aside magistracy, and expect confusion. I would
have the petition considered by the same Committee, and see
how far the offences extend to the disturbance of the peace.
It is the magistrate's interest to have an influence upon
all factions, and not drive the Government into one faction,
whilst they hold nothing out to the disturbance of the peace.
Under the general notion, you may bring all, nay any man,
to be tried by this law. As to the superintendency of the
Church, if the supreme magistrate should assert Arianism,
he must be tried by this law. I would first have the petitions considered, and the substance and heads reported, and
then a Bill to be brought in.
Major-General Kelsey seconded that motion; and that, under the general word Quakers, it might not be referred to a
Committee to provide a law, but first to report the heads and
substance of the petitions, and their opinions in it.
Captain Baynes. I have not heard so many petitions read
together, and not committed in order. I am against refering it to a Committee in general terms. But let it be enumerated in the Bill, the offences particularly, that a man
may certainly know how he transgresses the law, and when
he is free.
Colonel Sydenham. I am as much against the Quakers
as any man, but would not bring in a law against Quakers by a
general word. It is a word that signifies nothing, individuum
vagum nearly. It is like the word Lollards or Puritans,
under the notion whereof, many godly persons are now under
the altar, their blood being poured out. It is of dangerous
consequence to make a law under general terms, and leave it
to after ages to interpret your meaning. Let it be plainly
explained what the offences shall be. But your proper way
now, is to refer the petitions to a Committee, who may take
out the heads of them, and represent their sense to you, and
then you may make a law as you see occasion.
Mr. Bond. If men boggle at the word Quaker, leave it
out. If we had had a law against them, we should not have
troubled ourselves with this fellow. They are a generation
that begin to lisp already. It will make men wear their
swords. I desire the Question may be put.
Lord Strickland. You will not find in all your statutebooks a definition of Quaker or Blasphemy. Other States
never do it, further than as disturbers of the peace. We
know how laws against Papists were turned upon the honestest men. We may all, in after ages, be called Quakers. It
is a word nobody understands. I would have it left to your
Committee to consider of the heads of the petitions, and represent them to you, and then you may make a law against
them. But we all know how the edge of former laws against
Papists has been turned upon the best Protestants, the truest
professors of religion, the honest Puritan, as they called him,
a good profession, but hard to be understood, as this word
Quaker will be in after ages.
Resolved, that the petitions be referred to Nayler's Committee, who are to consider of the same, and report the heads
to the House, fittest for a Bill, and to suppresss the mischief.
A great debate whether it should be referred to Nayler's
Committee, or to a new Committee. Mr. Robinson offered
to name a Committee before the Speaker had said, " Gentlemen, name your Committee;" but .Mr. Speaker said it was
Resolved, at last, that it be referred to Nayler's Committee.
Mr. Bampfield and Mr. Bond. Make an order to send the
three women and the man to the House of Correction for
three months, and rid your hands of them. They lie at
Lord Strickland knew Dorcas Erbury to be an honest minister's daughter in Wales. He would not have them, sent
to the House of Correction till their crime be examined.
Mr. Godfrey. It is neither just nor honourable for a
Parliament to condemn one for his own confession, in giving
testimony against another. You ought not to build any
judgment or sentence upon what they confessed there; but
now examine, as against them.
Mr. Robinson. That way of proceeding against a witness
was never known but in Lord — (fn. 5) case, where his footman bore witness against him, by which testimony he died
for the crime, and afterwards they hanged up the footman
for what he had confessed against himself.
Colonel Sydenham, I cannot but wonder to see the strange
temper of the House in this business; how zealous they were
for that high sentence against Nayler, though there was no
law at all for it, and never quiet till it was done; and now,
how different. A punishment far lesser would content them
against these women; who, in my opinion, were greater
offenders than Nayler, inasmuch as they actually committed
idolatry. He denied all honour to himself. For my part, I
am altogether unsatisfied by what law you do this. I doubt
you have opened a gap to prostitute both life, member, and
liberty, to the arbitrary power of men, who by a vote may do
what they will.
Divers others spoke to this purpose, to prevent present doom.
Resolved, that the examination of the crimes of these
women be referred to the same Committee to propound the
Lord Fleetwood. You have voted a war with Spain long
since, and have made no provision for monies to carry it on.
I desire a day may be appointed to consider of that business with all speed.
Some said Tuesday next, others a longer day; but, at last,
Resolved, that the House in a grand Committe do debate
that business to-morrow morning.
Lord Strickland reported two letters from the King of
France, for the naturalization of Monsieur de Sebrand's child,
four years old.
Resolved, that it be referred to the Committee for Naturalization.
We dined with the Clpthworkers at the Leg.
At the Committee of Trade, in the Duchy Chamber, we
sate till after eight, upon the business of the Clothworkers
against the Merchant Adventurers, touching the exportation of
white cloths, undressed. (fn. 5) Mr. Rich, of counsel, for the Clothworkers, and one. Skinner, a notable nimble fellow, I suppose, clerk to the Merchant Adventurers. There was at the
Committee, Mr. Downing, Sir Christopher Pack, Alderman
Foot and Mr. Rolle, his son-in-law, Mr. Moody, Mr. Disbrowe, Captain Hatsell, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Collins,
Major Burton, Mr. Tymbes, Mr. West, and myself, but we
came to no resolution, so adjourned the debate till Tuesday
See the case at large upon my file of letters.
After dinner I was a while at the Leg, with Major-General
Howard, Mr. Briscoe, Mr. Fenwick, Captain Lilburn, Lord
Eure, and other Scotchmen, about the Borders Bill, and we
perfected it almost.