Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 5, 1642-45. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.
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A Message sent by his Majesty to Prince Rupert, Apr. 18, 1643.
Trusty and welbeloved Nephew Prince Robert, although we know that your own Knowledge and Experience can conduct you in all military Affairs, and that you loving Affection unto us hath been approved by many Testimonies and real Demonstrations in your constant and faithful Service, personally performed in our War, which we have endeavoured so much to decline, seeking and heartily pursuing after Peace, which Desires of ours cannot yet be obtained; we would have you therefore with us patiently wait the Divine Opportunity, which can in a Moment settle and compose the universal Distractions of our Kingdom, and by no means seek to anticipate Divine Revenue on our Subjects. For we are fully persuaded, that a great Part of our loyal People do recant, and deeply cogitate and think on the Fractions and Divisions of our dislurbed State, and do wish, that by some happy and effectual Means, they might be once closed again: But as the Beginning is the Hardest in all Matters of Importance, so now our Subjects being entred into this Labyrinth of Error and refractory Disobedience, cannot suddenly find out the Clew of Reason and religion Loyalty to guide and lead them back again; the Way of Peace and Accommodation is that which is pretended to be so hard to find, and like absurd and weak Actions that can only fit their Humour and Fancy unto one Part, so our Kingdom being now made the Stage of War, they can present nothing but daily Skirmishes, taking of Towns, and many hostile Passages, whereas instead of performing the Parts of Soldiers, it would become them far better to fall down on their Knees, and with a loving Submission, comply with us for the Happiness and Peace of our Kingdom, the Ruin whereof (as in other Countries) must needs be the Consequent and Effect of a Civil War. We do thus open our Mind unto you, that you may have a clear Prospect into our merciful Thoughts in the Prosecution of this War, which we follow and maintain not voluntarily, but being necessitated thereunto, and we wish that our People had never been so far blinded and drawn into false Opinions of us and our integrious Intents (as well shall answer one Day, if it be our own Faults, before the high Tribunal) that we must use so sharp a Medicine as the Sword to cure their Malady and their deceived Understandings, and that ungrounded Opinion should prevail amongst them above all our former Royal Expressions, and Pathetical Implorations of Heaven, as the constant Witness of our Thoughts and Actions. But yet all this cannot make us forget our selves as they do; we will contain our selves within the Limits of a King, and our good Example shall wound our Subjects with the Thought of their Unkindness deeper than the Sword, which wounds but gently, but Conscience strikes home indeed; all our Subjects shall ever find us in the midst of Arms and successful Victories, (which we attribute to God) merciful, and not in any Thing desirous of the Bloodshed of our People; and, as after the merciless Battle at Edghill, we gave you our Newphew, and all our Soldiers, most hearty Thanks for the great Valour and loyal Service that Day personally expressed; but yet withal we told you, That we were sorry there had been so much Effusion of Blood, and that all in both Armies were our Subjects, for wholes Loss in that merciless. Battel we were exceedingly and deeply grieved; so our tender Affections to our Subjects shall be ever such, that we shall always smart in their Calamities, esteeming them as our own. And as we have largely express'd how we stand affected to our People, and what our Grief for them is, that this intestine Civil War should be still prosecuted to our and their great Detriment, Loss, and Sorrow, so we would have you, welbeloeved Nephew, and all others that imploy their Endeavours to do us Service in an hostile Manner, to mingle Severity with Mercy, that your and their Carriage and Behaviour Towards our Subjects, may gain upon their Opinions, and take their Affections rather than their Towns, that they may know our Army is the Power of their King, armed not to their Destruction but Conversion; and therefore we lovingly charge and desire you our affectionate Nephew Prince Robert, to look on our People, in all your Marches and Attempts, as on our People and Subjects, capable of reclaiming, though now misted; we would have therefore all your Actions as derived from us, and the Influence of our Mercy shew us a King tender of the Welfare of our Subjects, and as a Father will not deal with his offending Children with any rigorous Violence, but doth declare his Justice with a compulsive Unwillingness, so do you imitate us in carrying Affections and Intentions to our Subjects, not as Lyons, but as Friends disagreeing, that may hereafter be happily reconciled; since it doth shew a Prince more near to Heaven to preserve than destroy. And since this civil Flame cannot be suddenly quenched, let us not pull down the Kingdom into Ruin and Devastation, but go on which this War in a saving Way, since the Loss is as great on our Side as on our Sebjects Part, we send you this Premonition, because we expect daily to be more engaged with Hostility, and great Forces are advancing towards us, with what Intentions we know net, but such they appear, that we must resolve to oppose them and their Pretences, as contradictory to our Desire and Commands, and prejudicial to the Safety of our Person; and therefore we would have you know our Royal Will and Pleasure is, to be merciful in all our Designs whereunto we shall by the Instigation of an Army advancing towards us be provoked, desiring you and all our loving Subjects and Commanders to deal temperately, and with as much Courtesy and Humanity with all our other Subjects on the contrary Part, as if all our Performances and Actions in hostile Manner were by them necessitated, and not by us desired; for though we have chosen Oxford yet a while to be our Place of Residence, and of our Army, for the Safety of our Person, we doubt not but that as the Soul is not contained in One but every Part of the Body, so our Power will be so largely diffused and extended through all and every Part of our Kingdom, that we shall not want sufficient Strength to resist any opposing Forces, if any be so imptous to attempt such Violence against us, under specious and fair Shews and Pretences. We know that our Army is much maligned, as if it were repugnant to the Good of the Commonwealth to accept of our Subjects Service in these great and civil Distractions, do you therefore, good Nephew, by your managing all Affairs in this Civil War, teach our People to be undeceived in us their merciful King; let your fair Actions make it appear that you are no Malignants, no evil Counsellors, but that you stand in Defence of us as much as they pretend to do, and that you seek not the Ruin and Destruction of our Kingdoms, which Aspersions are cast upon you, which can be no acceptable Service unto us, that so all car Subjects may be convinced, that all the Calamities which this Civil War shall introduce upon this Land, are occasioned by malevolent Opinion and ungrounded Fury, and not from us: And as you have begirt and besieged our City of Litchfield, so have a Care of spilling or shedding innocent Blood which is amongst them; but spare, when you may destroy; save, where Time and Opportunity gives advantage: Let our Subjects, if they will or desire it, have free Quarter, and march with Bag and Baggage forth of our City, provided they do not use any Outrages, or offer Violence to the said Town of Litchfield, and hereof fail not as you desire the Good of us, who desire nothing more than the Good, Happiness, and peaceable Government of our Kingdom, and not the Effusion of the Blood of our Subjects, Mercy being the highest Attribute of a King.
The two Houses set forth an Ordinance in the Beginning of this Month, reciting, That being fully satisfied and resolved in their Consciences, that they have lawfully taken up Arms, and may and ought to continue the same for the necessary Defence of themselves and the Parliament from Violence and Destruction, and of this Kingdom from Foreign Punishment, which are the only Causes for which may have raised, and do continue an Army and Forces, which cannot possibly be maintained, nor the Kingdom subsist without the speedy Raising of large and considerable Sums of Money proportionable to the great Expences which now this Kingdom is at for the Supporting of the said Army, and for the Serving of the whole Kingdom, our Religion, Laws, and Liberties from utter Ruine and Destruction; which, that it may be done with as much Ease and Indifferency to the good Subjects, as the Exigency of the Times will permit, the said Lords and Commons do ordain, That the weekly Sums therein mentioned shall be charged, rated, taxed, and levied on the several Counties, Cities, Towns, &c. viz. upon the City of London the Sum of 10000 l. per Week, Westminster 1250l. Middlesex 750l &c. amounting the Whole throughout England and Wales, to 34108 l. 13s. per Week. But by this Ordinance the same was to continue but for 3 Months, and tho' they rated all the Counties, yet they would only levy it on the Places in their own Power.
It is this Day Ordered by the Commons House of Parliament, That the Committee for Examinations, or any four of them, have Power to appoint such Persons, as they think fit, to search in any House or Place, where there is just Cause of Suspicion, that Presses are kept and employed in the Printing of scandalous and lying Pamphlets; and that they do demolish and take away such Presses and their Materials, and the Printers Nuts and Spindles which they find so employed, and bring the Master-Printers and Workmen-Printers before the said Committee; And that the Committee, or any four of them, have Power to commit to Prison any of the said Printers, or any other Persons that do contrive, or publickly or privately vend, fell, or publish any Pamphlet, scandalous to his Majesty, or the Proceedings of both or either Houses of Parliament, or that shall refuse to suffer any Houses or Shops to be searched, where such Presses or Pamphlets as aforesaid are kept; and that the Persons employed by the said Committee, shall have Power to seize such scandalous and lying Pamphlets as they find, upon search, to be in any Shop or Warehouse, sold, or dispersed by any Person whomsoever, and to bring the Persons that so kept, published, or sold the same, before the Committee: And that such Persons as the Committee shall commit for any of Offences aforesaid, shall not be released till the Parties employed for the Apprehending of the said Persons, and seizing their Presses and Materials, be satisfied for their Pains and Charges. And all Justices of the Peace, Captains, Offices, and Constables, are required to be assisting in the Apprehending of any the Persons aforesaid, and in searching of their Shops, Houses, and Warehouses; And likewise all Justices of Peace, Officers, and Constables, are hereby required from Time to Time to apprehend such Persons as shall publish, vend, or sell the said Pamphlets. And it is further Ordered, That this Order be forthwith printed and published, to the End that Notice may by taken hereof, that the Contemners of this Order may be left inexcusable for their Offence.
It is this Day Ordered by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, That the Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of London, for the better Securing and Safety of the said City, Suburbs, Parliament, City of Westminster, and Borough of Southwark, shall have Power to intrench and stop all such High-ways, and By-ways leading into the said City, as well within as without the Liberties, as they shall see Cause; And shall also have full Power and Authority, according to their Discretion, to fortify and intrench the Places aforesaid with such Out-works, and in such Places, as they shall think meet; And for his and their Furtherance and Assistance, to call in all, or any Deputy-Lieutenants, Justices, of the Peace, Bailiffs, constables, and other Ministers, Officers, and other his Majesty's loving Subjects to be aiding and assisting, as they will answer the contrary at their Peril. And it is further Ordered, That the Deputy-Lieutenants, and Justices of Peace for the County of Middlesex and Surrey, City of Westminster and Borough of Southwark, or any three or more of them, within their several and respective Limits, shall have Power to impose upon the Inhabitants with the said Trenches and Fortifications, and without the Liberties of the said City, towards the Charges of fortifying the said Places as aforesaid, upon every House that shall be yet for, or may be valued worth 5 l. per Year, 6d. had for every House of greater Rent after the Proportion of 2d. in the Pound, that the Tenant of the said House payeth, if he hold it at a Rack-rent, or otherwise, after the Rate that the said House shall be valued to be worth; which Assessment shall be forthwith made and collected in all the Parishes, Precincts, and Liberties aforesaid, and paid to the Treasurer chosen, or to be chosen, by the Common-Council of the City of London, to be disbursed as aforesaid, the said Money to be paid by the said Tenant or Inhabitant where Houses are inhabited, who is to deduct the same out of his next Rent payable to the Landlord, if it be a Rack-rent, and by the Landlords where Houses shall stand empty: And it is further Ordered, That whereas the Common-Council of London, have in this Time of imminent Danger passed an Act for the Fortifying of the City of London, and other Places above mentioned, in pursuance where of a Committee of Common-Council-men and others, are appointed and have already proceeded in the said Fortifications before this Ordinance could be effected, it is hereby declared, That their said Pursuance of that Act, and executing the Same, is a good Service to the Commonwealth, and the Said Parties, and all such Engineers, or others, that shall be employed by them shall be by Power of Parliament saved harmless both for what they have done, and shall do herein for Time to come.
A Declaration of the Lords & Commons assembled in Parliament, That the Sheriffs of London, shall be saved and kept harmless by the Authority of both Houses, for not publishing some late Messages and Proclamations lately sent them in his Majesty's Name.
Whereas divers Proclamations, Writs, and Messages, some under the great Seal, and some under the privy Signet, have been directed and delivered unto Alderman Langham and Alderman Andrews then and yet Sheriffs of the City of London and County of Middlesex, commanding them in his Majesty's Name to execute the Same, which Proclamations, Writs, and Messages, being contrary to the Priviledge of Parliament, and some of them containing Matters tending to the Scandal of the Proceedings thereof, and to the Prejudice of the Common wealth, were, by Order of both or either House of Parliament, forbidden to be executed; And the said Sheriffs, in Obedience thereunto, according to their Duty, did forbear to execute the Same, the Lords and Commons do declare, that they well approve of the ready Conformity of the said Sheriffs to their commands; And do further declare and ordain, That the said Sheriffs shall be by the Authority of both Houses, be saved and kept harmless from all Damages and Inconveniencies that shall or can happen unto them for obeying the said Orders, or for any Act or Thing they have done or shall do, in pursuance of the said Order or Orders.
Sir John Gell having recruited his Forces, designed to march towards Stafford, and Intimation was given to Sir William Brereton to draw that Way, and join with him. The Earl of Northampton, Col. Hastings, and other of the King's Forces that lay in Stafford, being advertis'd of Gell's Approach, march'd out to meet and give him Battel; which they did on Sunday March 19, on Salt-Heath (by some call'd Hopton-Heath) near Stafford. The Earl charg'd with much Bravery, and was received with good Resolution, both Parties fighting with undaunted Courage, but after two or three Hours sharp Engagement, the Parliamentarians growing weak and ready to be utterly defeated, it happened that Sir William Brereton came in to their Relief with a considerable Body of Horse and Dragoons, and falling furiously upon the Rear of the King's forces, whilst Sir John Gell, with his new revived Troops, plied their Front, cut off many of them, amongst whom the Earl of Northampton valiantly fighting, was slain, and his Forces retreated into the Town of Stafford; Gell and Brereton kept the Field for some Hours, and then likewise retreated to refresh their Men. We shall conclude this Year with the Tragedy of two eminent Citizens of Bristol, who, tho' not executed till some time afterwards, were in this Month apprehended. The Occasion and Manner where of was this.
Several of Citizens and Inhabitants of Bristol had designed to have delivered that City into the Hands of the King's Forces, and appointed March the 7th, in the Night, to be the Time; but the same Evening Col. Nathaniel Fiennes (2d Son to the Lord Say) had Notice there of, and prevented it, seizing upon divers of the Persons concerned in that Design, of whom the Chiefest were Mr. Robert Yeomans, the last Year Sheriff of Bristol, and Mr. George Boucher, a Citizen there of good Estate; who, with several others, had for some considerable Time been carrying it on, and for that Purpose held Correspondence with the Court at Oxford: And a Commission was obtained and sent from his Majesty to Mr. Yeomans to raise Forces, and to constitute Commanders for the King's Service; and Mr. Boucher contrived an Oath or Protestation to be taken by all that joined themselves in this Association, in these Words:
I Do voluntarily protest, before Almighty God, upon the Faith of a Christian, That I will to the Utmost of my Power, and with the Hazard of my Life and Fortunes, defend my dread Sovereign Lord King Charles, his Rights, Crown, and Dignity, against all Force and Forces which are or shall be raised within his Majesty's Dominions, without his royal Assent, Authority, and Command.
After communication of Counsels, and many Messages interchang'd between Oxford and Bristol, it was resolved, That upon Monday the 7th of March, in the Night, Prince Rupert with a strong Party of the King's Forces should advance to Durdon-down (not a full Mile from the City) and those within the City were to seize two of the Ports, viz. Froomgate and Newgate, and having secured the Guards there, were to open the said Gates and let in Prince Rupert and his Troops, who were to have Notice given them to approach by the Ringing of St. John's and St. Michael's Bells; the Confederates were to be distinguish'd by white Tape in their Hats, and the Word to be Charles. According to which Project, divers of them were met armed at Mr. Yeoman's House, and others at Mr. Bouchers, and waiting the appointed Hour (which was Three in the Morning) to fall upon their Work. But that Evening late, a little Boy declared, That divers Musquets were carried into Mr. Yeoman's House; whereupon a more diligent Eye was kept upon them, and at last a Guard ordered to search the House, who were first denied Entrance, but afterwards let in, where they found a considerable Number of Men and Arms; there was some small Offer of Resistance, but the most were endeavouring an Escape over the Top of the House, and divers were taken both there and at Mr. Bouchers. Prince Rupert with his Forces came that Night to the Down, expecting till five of the Clock next Morning the Signal and Opening of the Gates; but several Pieces of Ordnance being in the Morning discharged that Way, perceiving the Design frustrated, his Highness drew off.
The Parliament being advertis'd hereof, sent down a Commission to Col. Fiennes, giving him and the other Officers there Power to call a Councel of War, and proceed against the Prisoners by Law-Martial. And on the 8th of May, Mr. Yeomans received this Sentence.
Upon due Consideration of the Articles exhibited on May the 8th, by Clement Walker, Esq; Advocate to his Council of War, against Robert Yeomans and others the late Conspirators in this City; and upon due hearing of the Answers and Defence of the said Robert to the several Articles, and also upon Examination and Proofs before them taken upon Oath, it is unanimously adjudg'd by this Court, That the said Robert Yeomans is guilty of traiterous Intelligence and Correspondency with the Enemy, and of a traiterous and wicked Conspiracy to betray his Town into the Hands of the Enemy. And hereupon this Court doth adjudge and pass Sentence of Death upon him as a Traitor and Conspirator, and accordingly doth Order, That the said Robet Yeomans shall be returned to the Place of his former Imprisonment; and from thence be brought before the main Court of Guard, there to be hanged by the Neck till he die.
- 1. That he had framed a Protestation to defend the King, &c. [being the Protestation before recited.]
- 2. That he had raised Men, and provided Arms and Ammunition of all Sorts, Crows of Iron, Pick-axes, Axes, and Iron-wedges, with Torches and Links to further the Design of suppressing the Court of Guard at Froom-gate.
- 3. That he conspired, with others, to let in Prince Rupert, a foreign Prince, who being entred the City, should put to Death and Plunder all the Inhabitants of that City that came not out to assist and join with them.
- 4. That he did undertake to give Prince Rupert a Signal when he should make his Approaches to the City, by ringing St. John's and St. Michael's Bells.
- 5. That he certified Prince Rupert, that the Design of giving him Entrance into the Town was discovered, and advised him to Retreat.
- 6. That he forced open the Croud-door (being a Burial-place under the Quire) in St. John Baptist's Church, with an Intention to use it for a Prison to secure such as should make resistance, whether they were of the Guard, or others, whilst they were in pursuance of their Design.
- 7. Lastly, That he had Locks and other Provisions to chain up the Passages at St. John's Gate, in case any of the Parliament Horse should rush in upon them whilst the Work was in doing.