The Diary of Thomas Burton: 22 December 1656

Pages 197-208

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Monday, December 22, 1656.

A Petition of the Earl of Derby (fn. 1) was read and referred to a Committee.

The Petition of Captain Ned Lister, against Mr. Maynard, in the behalf of his wife's portion was read and committed for Wednesday afternoon at two, in the Inner Court of Wards.

Colonel Rouse against the Petition, desired it might be left to law.

Major-General Howard offered the tenants of Westmorland's petition, but the Speaker said there were two or three petitions upon the file, to be heard first.

The Petition of the tenants of the manor of Hanslop, in the County of Bucks, (fn. 2) for lands of 1,000l. per annum, which they hold by lease, against Thomas Tirrell, Counsellor-atlaw.

He hath cut down the wood where the petitioners ought to have house-bote; (fn. 3) hath raised more monies out of those woods and forfeitures, than the purchase cost him; he hath threatened many of their lives, &c.

Sir Thomas Wroth and Mr. Goodwin. If you receive all petitions of this nature, there will be no need of paying salaries to the judges. I see nothing in the Petition but what Westminster-hall may determine. I desire it may be rejected.

Captain Baynes and Mr. Robinson. If it were no more than the title of this petition, it were reason enough to reject it; for it is directed to the knights, citizens, and burgesses, assembled in Parliament. This looks upon us as a House of Commons; as if the House of Lords were alive. Besides, the petition in itself is not to be retained; for though it pretend for the Commonwealth; yet it is between party and party: and the Long Parliament, by ordinance, did declare that they would meddle with no such business; unless in cases of mal-administration.

The Master of the Rolls. This day hath brought you work enough for half a year, and another day will stuff you sufficiently. There is relief enough at law. I would have you to reject this petition, if it were for no other reason but for the countenance of justice.

Lord Whitlock. This petition is clearly determinable in the inferior courts of justice. This gentleman had a lease for years, determinable at Michaelmas next, and has purchased the reversion. Now they would overthrow all.

Major-General Disbrowe and Major-General Boteler. It claims a right for the Commonwealth, and it will be proved the petitioners are well affected to the Government; the defendant a delinquent under decimation. If there were no more than between party and party, I should move for rejecting it; but it is the public concernment, profit to the Commonwealth.

Lord Chief-Justice. There is nothing in the petition but what the Courts of Justice may relieve them. I desire it may be rejected.

Sir Gilbert Pickering. If you do reject it, you will not do it with disgrace; for it is of public concernment. I brought in the petition.

Colonel Carter. I would inform the House respecting Mr. Tirrell. I believe he is not under decimation, for he has been a colonel for us.

Resolved, That this petition be laid aside.

Lord Fleetwood offered a petition in Serjeant Dendy's behalf, touching some adventures for Ireland by his Highness's command; but the Speaker directed the petitions ordered to be read.

Lord Whitlock said he would not hinder that petition; but desired that after that, the petitions might he read in order.

Major Morgan proposed, for saving time, to read that petition first.

The petition of the tenants of Epworth, (fn. 4) in the Isle of Axholme, in the county of Lincoln, touching some commons encroached upon, the lords there setting 12d. an acre upon them. They desired to be left to law, or relieved here.

Mr. Hall offered another petition from tenants of the same place. For saving time, he desired both might be considered together. Both the petitions were read, being much to the same purpose. The people pretend they are Cavaliers, and threaten them with swords, &c.

Major Morgan. I am not against the committing of these petitions, to the end that both parties may be heard. I desire to offer you a petition on the behalf of the participants and tenants and freeholders, within the Isle of Axholme.

It was directed to be read. It complained against the tumults of the former petitioners, partly occasioned by the instigation of Lieutenant-Colonel Lilburn, (fn. 5) and Major Wildman, (fn. 6) and one Munk; one man killed, and fourteen men wounded; all laid waste. Complaint was made to the Exchequer, but they could not be relieved there. It was left out of the Act of Oblivion, upon Major-General Whalley's report, that the tumults were very rebellious, and would not be suppressed without armed men.

Mr. Nevil offered a petition to the same purpose.

Major-General Whalley. Part of this isle lying in Not tinghainshire, and part in Lincolnshire, they have spent their monies, and now come to knocks. Our forces have been troubled to suppress the tumults. The Council has been troubled with the business. I desire it may be referred to a Committee, either to end the business, or to state the matter of fact.

Mr. Speaker. I have a letter to acquaint you with from his Highness.

Mr. Robinson. I move that the level of Hatfield in Yorkshire, (fn. 7) may also be referred to this Committee; it being all one business. I am nothing concerned in it, but as it relates to the county I serve for.

The petition of sixty gentlemen in Hatfield Level, to the same purpose.

The petition of the. French and Dutch Protestants there, to the same purpose.

Resolved, that all these petitions be referred to a Committee, to send for papers, persons, witnesses, and records.

The Committee appointed, and to meet on Wednesday in the Exchequer Chamber, at two o'clock.

Resolved, that all the long robe be added to this Committee.

Mr. Robinson was against it, who moved, and it was

Resolved, that all that come may have voices.

Mr. Speaker. Three petitions more must be read; but I desire that his Highness's letter may be first read.

The letter was read: first, the superscription, directed to Sir Thomas Widdrington, Speaker, to be communicated to the Parliament. Then the name, Oliver Protector. Then the letter. It was concerning the arrears due to the brigade of Cheshire, (fn. 8) who bore a great share in the heat of Worcester fight, and ever since have been unpaid.

A petition from the Cheshire brigade to the same purpose, that they might be relieved, for their arrears, out of the pub lic lands, the King's, &c.: and that two months' pay in arrear be paid out of some treasury.

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Speaker proposed that it might be referred.

Resolved, that this petition, with the papers annexed, be referred to a Committee.

Resolved, that it be referred to the Earl of Derby's Committee.

Resolved, that Major-General Bridge and Major Porter be added.

Per Major-General Lambert.

Resolved, that Major Brooke, Mr. Marbury, and Colonel Ireland be added. .

A petition from Andrew Hall, that has had a great loss by fire. He desires something like a brief for his relief, that he may have a collection from churches in Essex, &c.

Mr. Fowell proposed, That this petition may be laid aside. There is another way, by certificate from justices of Peace, and directions of his Highness.

Mr. Robinson. This person, if the Bill now before you, touching rogues, were passed, might come within the compass of it. I hope you are not going about to grant briefs to all that will ask them. There are other ways to relieve the petitioner.

This petition was laid aside, without a question.

A petition against Joseph Holland, by John Hervey, for breach of trust in purchasing of lands. He was dismissed in Chancery, and has no remedy at law, because an alien is in the case.

Mr. Nathaniel Bacon proposed, that this petition be referred.

Resolved, that this petition be referred to the Earl of Derby's Committee, and to present their opinion.

Per Colonel White.

Resolved, that Sir Gilbert Pickering and Mr. Godfrey be added to this Committee. A plot, a jeere. (fn. 9)

Per Major-General Boteler.

Resolved, that Mr. Bampfield, Lord Strickland, and Mr. Tymbes, be added. A plot, a jeer.

Major-General Howard presented the tenant's petition. Mr. Speaker took it, and said, two petitions were to be read, in order, before it; yet opened the title, that it was from the tenants of Westmoreland against Lord Pembroke, (fn. 10) and threw it from him upon the table.

Per Lord Whitlock and Mr. Attorney-General.

Resolved, that Mr. Vassall's petition be read on Monday next.

Colonel Bingham's petition read.

Mr. Berkeley offered Sir John Stowell's (fn. 11) petition, and desired it might be read, on Monday, the second time.

Mr. Speaker. The House has it already.

Mr. Robinson. I desire that the petition may be returned to the gentleman back again. We have had enough of him already.

Mr. Bampfield and Major-General Whalley. The least you can do is to give it a hearing. It concerns the faith of the nation; the faith of the Parliament. The last Parliament thought themselves obliged.

Mr. Robinson, admitted to speak again, said, I desire the gentleman may have it returned. It may hold as long as James Nayler's business.

Mr. Downing. When the petition is read, there is time enough to speak against it. I desire the petitions in order may be read.

The petition of Edward Dendy read, set forth, that he had 200l. per annum, land in Ireland, settled upon him, for his eminent services, per the Lord Deputy, and the Commissioners, but he is now put to trouble by the adventurers, and Sir John Barrington particularly. He desires the suits may cease. Some Acts of Parliament whereby the adventurers claim, are with a saving of former grants.

Lord Fleetwood. There is another petition to the same purpose of Sir Hardress Waller. I desire it may be referred to the same Committee. .

Lord Lambert proposed, that all the adventurers may be considered by the same Committee.

Resolved, that these Petitions be referred to the Committee for Irish Affairs, to Report their opinion.

Lord Fleetwood, Colonel White, and Colonel Holland. The adventurers have not their due encouragement. Many obstructions lie in the way, which hinders your plantation. They desire it may be referred to the Committee to find out an expedient to further that work.

Mr. Attorney-General and Mr. Margetts rose to second the motion, that the obstructions might be considered, and an expedient found out, to remove it.

Major-General Howard proposed, that Mr. Disbrowe be added to this Committee. This motion had like to have thrust out the business.

Dr. Clarges and The Master of the Rolls proposed, that the business of the inhabitants of Gloucester might be referred to the same Committee. They have lands assigned them in Ireland, for their losses; valued, per last Parliament, at 10,000l. They suffered their houses to be burned down for your service. They have done eminent service for you.

Major-General Whalley proposed, that they might have some recompense out of Ireland. Colchester was considered in the like kind. They have done you service which ought not to be forgotten. You had not sat here, I believe, but for them. They only hindered the king's coming to London. I desire it may be referred to the same Committee.

Major Morgan. This is settled already, by Act of Parliament, to the value of 10,000l.

Captain Crofts and Mr. Attorney-General. True, it is settled by Act of Parliament; but the Commissioners for the adventures of Ireland send them hither, and these Commissioners back again to Ireland. It is the fault of the Act that it is not said who shall execute it.

Mr. Robinson. Hull suffered in the same kind; and Lyme, and divers other places, which ought to he considered.

Resolved, that the explanation of this Act, touching the allowance of 10,000l. to Gloucester, for their losses in this service, be referred to the same Committee to find out an expedient, &c.

The Petition of Captain John Arthur was read.

He hath done good service: First, took up arms in Dorset, till betrayed and taken prisoner by Sir Antony Ashley Cooper. Hath laid out 2000l. and odd, which he borrowed, and pays interest for it at 8l. per cent., which comes, by single interest, to 1500l. He is threatened daily to be arrested for the sums aforesaid, being unable to pay them.

Mr. Bond. The Committee of Dorset gave him public faith for it. He is very poor, and hath suffered much for you. I desire it may be referred to the Earl of Salisbury's Committee.

Captain Baynes. I am against the petition, and all of this kind, for the poor people's sakes, who increase their charge by staying here, and undo whole families, as in the Long Parliament. I know you are not able to satisfy them.

Mr. Robinson. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, by whom this gentleman suffered, may satisfy him; for we are not able, at present, to do it. We shall put the poor people to charge by attending, and do them no good. I wish it were referred to the gentlemen that serve for Dorset, to find out a way to satisfy the petitioner.

Mr. Butler. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper has done you good service, (fn. 12) and the petitioner doth not say his sufferings were by him.

The petition of Edward Scot of Scot's Hall, read.

He married Katharine, daughter of Lord Goring. (fn. 13) She eloped from him, and at Oxford, and other places, had children by other men. She hath contracted great debts, &c. Desires he may be divorced from her, that those children may be declared bastards, and not inherit his estates, and that he may be relieved against those debts. He would have some of the long robe consider it and give their opinion.

Major-General Kelsey. I have an Act in my hand for this gentleman's relief, if you please to read it. It will shorten your business. I am satisfied in the matter of fact.

Sir Thomas Wroth. It is not every man's luck to have a good wife. No man in this House has so bad a wife. It is fit the gentleman should be relieved, that bastards may not inherit his estate. He is a person of ancient family, (fn. 14) and highly injured by the debts she has contracted. We were petitioned in the Long Parliament. The Lord Chief-Justice has settled alimony upon her, but she deserves no more than a dog. I would have it cut off, and that the Bill be read.

Mr. Robinson. It is no jesting business. It is a sad case to have such a wife; and to have a posterity put upon him that is none of his own. I desire the petition may be referred to a Committee, to hear both parties, and then judge.

Lord Strickland. I would not have us to suppose this business to be so, till we have examined it. As the petitioner is a person of quality, so is she; but for us to judge parties unheard, is very unequal. By this mean's any man that is weary of his wife quit of her by petition.

Mr. Attorney-General. This business is notorious. The matter of fact is but too true. I wish there were a law in general provided for this. It is only fit for a Parliament. She sought for alimony (fn. 15) in the Chancery, but durst not prosecute it. It may as well be heard upon a bill as upon the petition, as in Sir John Brooke's case the other day. (fn. 16)

Mr. Bodurda. I propose, that the gentleman may be called in, to own his petition, though against his wife. I hear he is a very weak man, and under some restraint.

Colonel Welden. I spoke with the gentleman last Friday, and I affirm that he did own the petition.

Mr. Bampfield. The business may be heard upon the Bill as properly as upon the petition; and though he be a weak man, as is pretended, his wife ought not to abuse him.

Colonel Whetham. As weak as he is reported to be, he has been a captain in your service.

Mr. Bond proposed, that the Bill might be read. The case upon the petitions in the old Parliament is very notable.

Major-General Disbrowe. We shall grow angry at one. (fn. 17) I desire the Bill may not be read, but refer it to a Committee.

Mr. Recorder. It is not parliamentary, under colour of a petition, to bring in a Bill. It is giving too hasty credit to a business of this nature. By this rule a Bill may be brought in to every petition. Again, it is very unequal to condemn, before parties are heard on both sides.

Mr. Berkeley proposed, that it might be referred to a select Committee.

Resolved, that this petition be referred to a Committee to examine both parties and to bring in a Bill if they think fit. To meet to-morrow in the Duchy Chamber.

Mr. Speaker. If you please but to sit two hours, I shall be ready to sit with you. (He offered this twice). If you will observe order, two hours will dispatch it; or otherwise adjourn.

Mr. Robinson proposed to rise, and not read any more at this time of the day.

Major-General Howard proposed to read the tenants' petition, otherwise appoint it to be read the first thing on Monday next.

A great confusion for half an hour; five or six constantly up at a time to offer petitions.

Resolved, that the petitions now upon the table be read on Monday next in order.

In the midst of this vote, divers petitions were cast upon the table in a very confused way, and excepted unto per Mr. Robinson, Mr. Ashe, junior, and Mr. Bampfield, as anti-parliamentary.

Colonel Markham stood up very often to offer a petition, but he could not get in, and was very angry with Mr. Robinson for interrupting him. Colonel Markham said, that he took more liberty to speak than any man, and had spoke two or three times to this business. Mr. Robinson stood up to justify himself, and reflected upon Colonel Markham as if new members were not well acquainted with these proceedings. High dispute seemed likely to arise, but Mr. Speaker determined the controversy by leaving the chair, without a question.

Mr. Skippon told me, as I came home, that they were at very high words both in their seats and at the door. Query, How they will be friends, for Mr. Robinson has a very good memory of, &c.

A quaker woman, as we came out, told the Speaker and every one that passed by, that justice was turned into wormwood, and equity into gall; adding, the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Colonel Whetham offered a petition in the behalf of Colonel Wither.

Mr. Speaker said he had also a copy of very good verses from the same hand, to offer. (fn. 18)

The grand Committee of religion could not sit for want of number. There was a Committee for a petition in the Speaker's chamber. Dr. Clarges had the chair.

Few other Committees sat, except the Scotch Committee.

Cousin Robert Blackiston dined here, and I drew over his petition, in Mr. Bowes's behalf, to be counsel. Spent the afternoon.


  • 1. Whose father had been taken prisoner soon after the battle of Worcester, in 1651, and beheaded under the sentence of a court-martial. The mother of this petitioner was the heroic Countess of Derby; who defended Latham House and the Isle of Man, against the forces of the Parliament. Mr. Granger says, that "she was the last person in the British dominions that yielded to the Republic."—Biog. Hist. iii. 22.
  • 2. "Late parcel of the honour of Grafton, in the County of Northampton."—Journals.
  • 3. "An allowance of timber out of the Lord's Wood, to uphold or repair a house."—Dict. Anglo-Brit.
  • 4. "The inhabitants of the towns of Epworth, Belton and Butterwick, with divers others, being the major part of the freeholders and commoners, within the manor of Epworth," &c.—Journals.
  • 5. See supra, p. 156.
  • 6. He had been imprisoned, in February, 1654, for writing, as preparatory to an insurrection, a paper, entitled, "The Declaration of the Free and Well-affected People of England, now in arms against the tyrant Oliver Cromwell, Esq."—See Whitlock.
  • 7. "Hatfield Chase, in the counties of York, Lincoln, and Nottingham." Journals.
  • 8. "To our right trusty and right well-beloved Sir Thomas Widdrington, Knight, Speaker of the Parliament, to be communicated to the Parliament, on behalf of the Cheshire brigade." Journals.
  • 9. Thus the MS.; and in the following paragraph.
  • 10. His father had become one of the representatives for the county of Berks, on the dissolution of the House of Lords in 1649.
  • 11. See supra, p. 165, note. He had been condemned to forfeit his "lands and estate;" and an Act passed "October 13, 1653, for confirmation of their sale."
  • 12. This versatile politician, created Earl of Shaftesbury, by Charles II., had now become an anti-royalist, and, according to Lord Clarendon, "gave himself up, body and soul, to the Parliament."
  • 13. He had been condemned, by the High Court of Justice, soon after the King's execution, to suffer death as a traitor, but reprieved and set at liberty in May, 1649. See Whitlock; Parl. Hist. xix. 126.
  • 14. Probably the grandson of Sir Thomas Scot, of Scot's Hall in the county of Kent, who died in 1594, and on whom a poetical epitaph, and certain historical notes, were written by his kinsman, the justly celebrated author of "The Discoverie of Witchcraft," published in 1584. See Reynolde Scot in Athen. Oxon; Peck's Cromwell Collection, No. 5, p. 28.
  • 15. "This portion, or allowance, which a married woman may sue for, upon separation from her husband."—Dict. Anglo-Brit.
  • 16. See supra, p. 184.
  • 17. Probably having exceeded the dinner hour. See supra, p. 36, note.
  • 18. Probably his Boni ominis votum described by Wood, among the numerous productions of George Wither, as "printed 1656. This poem," he adds "was occasioned by the summoning of extraordinary grand juries out of the eminent Baronets, Knights, and Esquires, gentlemen to serve in their counties, at a summer assizes, 1656." Athen. Oxon. (1692), ii. 277. His most popular satire for which, in 1613, he "was committed prisoner to the Marshalsea," was entitled "Abuses stript and whipt." Ibid. 274.—See Hudibras, part i. canto i. 646. There were published, in 1785, with a view to bring this writer into notice, "Extracts from Juvenilia, or Poems by George Wither." Bishop Percy also has preserved, with distinguished commendation, his "Shepherd's Resolution," and "The Stedfast Shepherd," prefixing the following biographical notices. George Wither was born June 11, 1588, and, in his younger years, distinguished himself by some pastoral pieces, that were not inelegant; but growing afterwards involved in the political and religious disputes in the times of James I. and Charles I., he employed his poetical vein in severe pasquils on the court and clergy, and was occasionally a sufferer for the freedom of his pen. In the civil war that ensued, he exerted himself in the service of the Parliament, and became a considerable sharer in the spoils. He was even one of those provincial tyrants, whom Oliver distributed over the kingdom, under the name of Major-Generals; and had the fleecing of the county of Surrey; but surviving the Restoration, he outlived both his power and his affluence; and giving vent to his chagrin in libels on the court, was long a prisoner in Newgate and the Tower. He died at length on the 2d of May, 1667." See "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," (1794) iii. 190, 264.