The Diary of Thomas Burton: 10 June 1657

Pages 207-219

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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In this section

Wednesday, June 10, 1657.

Mr. Bacon moved, to make the report touching my Lady Worcester.

Mr. Rouse moved something touching the University.

Divers other motions were offered, but the order of the day was read, and it was declared that no other business should thrust in.

Mr. Downing moved, that the Bills for Three Years' Assessment upon Scotland and Ireland might be brought in to go hand in hand with that for England; and the same was ordered to be brought in accordingly.

Sir James Mac Dowel and Major Aston moved the Bill for Three Years' Assessment upon England. It was read the second time.

Sir Christopher Pack. Before the last Bill, you were speaking of proportioning the assessment, and it was deferred till the next Bill. I hope you will now consider of a proportion, and especially consider of the city of London, who have a long time laid under the burthen of an excessive charge.

Mr. West. Make it an universal case, all the nation over, for other parts have as much cause to complain as the city. I therefore move that a Grand Committee may be appointed.

Mr. Speaker. First consider of a disproportion, what England, what Scotland, and what Ireland, and then fall upon a proportion of the counties.

Major-General Disbrowe. Debate this in the House: a Grand Committee will be too tedious. First proportion the nations, and then the several counties.

Sir Richard Onslow. These proportions were set when the House was thin, and some counties were double the proportions of others, and our side of the water double the other.

Colonel Jones. Some counties in Wales pay half; the least, a fourth or fifth of the revenue, yearly. I therefore move that you go on with England first, and then proportion the nations.

Mr. Highland. Proportion England, Scotland, and Ireland, first, and then go on with the proportions upon the counties.

Alderman Foot seconded that motion.

Mr. Disbrowe. I move that it may be debated in a Grand Committee, to the end that every man may speak his full mind.

Captain Baynes. First agree upon the proportions of the nations, or the counties first, and then resolve whether in a Grand Committee or a Private Committee.

Mr. Bodurda moved, that it might be referred to a Grand Committee to debate upon the Bill and the proportions, and to another Committee to consider of the alterations.

Colonel Shapcott. I have seen one alteration in forty-nine, and another long before that, and it is fit there should be a proportion. First, to begin with the proportions upon the nations, I propound that it be thus proportioned: upon England, 35,000l., Ireland, 9000l., Scotland, 6000l.

Major-General Disbrowe. Consider what your neat revenue will be, and cast over what will be the charge of levying.

Captain Baynes. The contract with Ireland upon the adventurers going over, was to pay 10,000l. for a time, and afterwards 12,000l., which time is out. I desire you will go according to that proportion.

Colonel Cooper. You are now going upon an equal proportion, and I hope you will not go according to a contract made without doors, that signifies nothing to a Parliament. But if you go by that rule it will be as broad as long; for there 120,000l. upon England, besides the fee farm rents, at 3d. an acre, which goes away with a fourth of your profit.

Major-General Kelsey. I move not to lay too great a burthen upon your plantations. It will but disable them, for the future, from being so serviceable to you.

Dr. Clarges. First consider England, and then the other.

Mr. Speaker. What remains, England must bear. You have a large course now; England, Scotland, and Ireland, are the matters of your debate.

Mr. West. It is not for the House to make England the pack-horse, to bear what the others will not. I have read of filia devoravit matrem, I wish it may not be so in Ireland. I stand up to second the motion that 35,000l. may be laid upon England, and the rest proportioned, after.

Mr. Highland. I cannot believe, as Ireland is now planted, that the revenue is so low as it is said. I think it may be very proportionable to lay on Ireland 9000l.

Colonel Cooper. I shall acquaint you with matter of fact, very faithfully, and with integrity. I know that in Ulster, at the least, a third-part is paid; and other parts pay as high. We must bear what you lay upon us; but this is the way to have us pay nothing hereafter.

Major Aston. In Lowth they pay half; and if you lay such an excessive burden upon us, I am confident you will never have a member to come over again to serve you here.

Colonel Sydenham. I presume that gentleman intended to persuade, not to threaten you to an abatement. It has been our misfortune to have conquered nations lie still upon our charge; if Rome had done so with her colonies, she had not profited by her conquests. It is hard that we should bear always the burden. They pay nothing to highways, which we are charged with. I desire you would lay 10,000l. a-month upon Ireland; and I think it is a very easy charge.

Mr. Young seconded the motion, that there may be 10,000l. a-month upon Ireland.

Mr. Alderman Tigh. The assessments are excessive in Ireland; and you will undo the people for ever if you lay any fresh burden upon them. So I move to lay 36,000l. upon England; 7000l. upon Ireland; 7000l. upon Scotland.

Colonel Sankey. It would be really for your advantage to abate them for three or seven years. I think 5, or 6,000l. over-charge will be enough, and be a good refreshment to you. The highways are very chargeable to us there. The Tories cause taxes upon us. The wolves disperse and destroy our flocks.

Major Morgan again, upon motion to speak. The Romans always lost their conquests by laying too great burdens upon them; so that that argument is mistaken. Our churches, bridges, sessions-house, and all houses, are pulled down; not one standing. (fn. 1) We have three beasts to destroy, that lay burdens upon us:—

1st, is a public Tory, on whose head we lay 200l., and 40l. upon a private Tory's. (fn. 2) Your army cannot catch them; the Irish bring them in. Brothers and cousins cut one anothers' throats.

2d. beast, is a priest, on whose head we lay 10l.: if he be eminent, more.

3d. beast, the wolf, on whom we lay 5l. a-head, if a dog; 10l. if a bitch; and many other charges.

It is not your interest to flay, but to clip your sheep, if you hope for another fleece. I am ashamed to tell you what a proportion I think is fit at this time. If I should tell any thing (though it be never so true), I should gain no credit by it, if it seem improbable. If you spare it awhile, haply, in some time, it may be able to pay as much as England. I know some in Ireland that pay 15s. in the pound. I know others; but speak of a third-part.

Captain Baynes. Ireland has most reason to pay land-taxes; for that England and Scotland raise all your customs and excise in regard of their populousness, (fn. 3) that being raised by the consumption. Buying lands so cheap, they may in reason pay a greater proportion. Many have had their lands at an easy rate. I can bring good reasons why, if Ireland pay 12,000l., it is but proportionable to 30,000l. per annum for England. As to the contract, they were bound to pay only that, be the assessments upon England never so much. Though we were trebled, they must bear no more. The burden lies very well upon them that may bear it; for they had their lands very cheap. If you put 10,000l. a-month, you abate them in those three years, 100,000l.; and that is a good compensation for the 20,000l. that they give towards the Spanish war.

Major-General Disbrowe. 10,000l. is too high upon. Ireland. So I would lay 8,500l. upon Ireland; 5,500l. upon Scotland; and 36,000l. upon England.

Mr. Bodurda. It is a hard thing to pass a sentence upon the justice of your proportion in this case. It is not the greatness of some few persons' estates that can raise such a tax as this. It must be, that the ploughman, the honest countryman, and farmer pay most. I like not a debate upon this account, if it could be helped. I would not have us be penny-wise and pound-foolish; otherwise there is a great part of that nation unplanted. But I know no reason why Scotland, that is so fully planted, should be spared, and the burden at this time laid upon Ireland. My motion is, that 8000l. may be laid upon Ireland; and I doubt that 36,000l. will come to be the proportion of England.

Colonel White. I would not have our own people oppressed because they are in Ireland. It will not lie upon the Irish I do not conceive Ireland bound by the contract, as you have broken in upon it in laying the 20,000l. Let that go; and I think a sixth-part of what England and Scotland bears will be equal for Ireland; that is 8000l.: but if you please to put it at 9000l. I shall not be against it.

Mr. Bond. The first sum that was named was 10,000l.; so I move the greater sum may be put first, and then go to an abatement.

Colonel Matthews. Look upon the contract again. They, of their own accord, came to an agreement at 12,000l. when they were less quiet than now. They are settled in their possessions more than ever, and there is more reason to pay. I would have you look upon your own nation.

Lord Lambert. Lay such a proportion upon Ireland as may increase; for they grow better and better. Begin with 8,000l., next 9,000l., and next 10,000l. It is requisite that you give a signification of favour to Ireland with respect to England; yet it should be eased, as Ireland appears able.

Sir Richard Onslow. 12,000l. was moved, and 8,000l.; and 10,000l. is a medium, so I would have that question put.

The question being put upon 10,000l., Mr. Speaker declared for the Yeas.

Alderman Tigh for the Noes. The Yeas went out.

Yeas 71. Mr. Barrington and Mr. Harvey, Tellers.

Noes 51. Colonel Sankey and Colonel Cooper, Tellers.

So it passed in the affirmative, (fn. 4) and the debate was adjourned till two. The House rose at one.

Post Meridiem.

Mr. Pury moved, that the debate be resumed; that 6,000l. a-month may be laid upon Scotland.

Mr. West moved for 5,000l. a-month.

Major Aston. I move to set 20,000l. a-month; or at least, 12,000l.: for they are a richer nation, in respect of the majority of the inhabitants, than Ireland.

Mr. Vincent. I move that it may be 5,000l.; for they never bore above a twentieth part with England. This is an eighth part of what remains.

Captain Lilburn. I second that motion, that they may bear 5,000l. It is a very poor country, and, unless near the south sides, they make little of their grounds; being only mosses and sheep rakes.

Colonel Shapcott. I move, lest Ireland should be discontented, that you be not too favourable to Scotland. I would have it 6,000l., and that is a very indifferent proportion.

Captain Baynes. There is no such thing as a contract with Scotland; but we must go to the equity, and I think 6,000l. a very good proportion.

Dr. Clarges. I cannot express the poverty of Scotland. Ireland has too few inhabitants, (fn. 5) and they have too many. I move that 5,000l. a-month be laid.

Major Audley. I wish we had taken this into consideration in the morning, while it was fresh in our memory; that we might not forget that we are Englishmen. I think, in my conscience, if you take measure by what you have done to Ireland, you cannot lay less upon Scotland than 10,000l. But if you take measure by England, then 6,000l. is enough.

Mr. Downing. For saving your time, though 5,000l. be enough, yet if you please, put 6,000l.. I could say much for Scotland: being employed, all along, in that business. I know what Sir Henry Vane and the commissioners (fn. 6) computed, that Scotland was a twelfth to England, and a tenth as to the people. I know it to be very poor; therefore I desire you would put the greater sum first.

The question was put for 6,000l. and passed in the affirmative.

Resolved, that 34,000l. be laid upon England.

Mr. Downing. I move that you will consider now of the proportioning the assessments. You have not time to debate it at a Grand Committee; but determine in the House what you will do now.

Major-General Whalley and Colonel White. You have not time now to proportion it, neither in a Grand Committee nor otherwise. Continue this for six months, and in the meantime take care for a proportion.

Mr. West. I had rather sit twelvemonths to proportion this, than rise under the dishonour of delaying justice in this case, which makes the assessments go down hardly.

Mr. Godfrey. Take it into consideration, and try what you can do in this case. If you find that you want time, you may make it for six months. Haply some other rule may be propounded, as that of ship-money. (fn. 7) We may take the equality, though not the illegality of it.

Mr. Speaker. I have known this often moved in Parliament for a rule, and it was rejected with great indignation.

Sir Richard Onslow. Though ship-money was illegal, yet the pattern and rule may be just. We are put off from time to time for a proportion. Let us try what we can do.

Mr. Lister. You have not time now to consider, the proportions. The place for which I serve (fn. 8) stands as much in need of an abatement as any; but it were better to let it alone till next meeting.

Mr. Bond. I must justify what was said as to the rule of ship-money. It was cast out of this House, with great indignation (fn. 9) and would never be admitted. It was long debated whether to go by the 36 or 35 Eliz., and it was carried for the 35 Eliz., and indeed that has pinched some counties. There was 200l. more clapped on Dorset, the county for which I serve, when we had not a member here.

Mr. Disbrowe. I move that you would make some trial now; and if you find it difficult, adjourn it till next time.

Mr. Church. If it be put off now, I despair of ever doing it. God knows whether we shall ever have the like opportunity of doing justice. You know who says, put not off till to-morrow. (fn. 10)

Mr. Highland. I would not have you do any thing now. I should be loth to meddle with that ugly rule of shipmoney. Lay it for six months, and consider it next meeting; lest the House run upon the same rock that the Long Parliament did, in passing things in a thin House. There were many members excluded then, and more now. (fn. 11)

Mr. Fowell. The rule of the ship-money was a rule: and an ell of velvet, and an ell of canvas, may be measured by the same ell. It was the policy of the King and his council to lay it proportionably, to the end that the equality might take off the illegality. But I think you have not time now to consider this. I would have a clause in the Bill, that it may be taken into consideration at the next meeting.

Captain Baynes. I hope you will never take such an unjust rule as that of ship-money, or any old rule: for that many towns and places are wholly destroyed, and, without a survey, I know not how you can do it. I am sure I have two counties to speak for (fn. 12) that are overburdened.

First put the question, whether you will make any alteration; and dispute the time of continuation afterwards.

Colonel Sydenham. I look upon the way propounded as very impracticable. It is not a day's journey in this business, or a forenoon, that will do the work. Every member will expect the liberty to speak something for his county. It is better not to promise the nation, than to disappoint them. I would have no clause to mention a proportion.

The providence of God may take assessments quite away. If you go by the rule of ship-money, you will but tumble about the nation, and stir up the fire that is hardly yet quenched.

If you go to proportions, and tell the nation so, they will be afraid that assessments shall be perpetuated upon them. I would have you not to engage yourselves in a debate of this nature at this time. It will be impracticable, difficult, and impossible; and not for your service. Besides, the House is thin, and you have not time to debate it now.

Colonel Jones. We may, in the present Bill, go to the proportions. The proviso will be but like a continual claim. We have had promises of abatement. I would have us try what progress we can make in it, and if we find it difficult, leave it till next sessions; but I am not for making it for six months only.

Sir John Hobart. I am glad to see and hear this debate. So far as I have observed, I find the disproportion more grievous than the tax itself. Every one, it is true, complains of a disproportion; but when we come to divide the child, (fn. 13) we shall see who is burdened. It is true, every man is bound to say for his county; but he is more bound to justice. The general concernment of justice is more our interest than any county. This is a far greater time (fn. 14) than ever a tax was laid for. I would not have you put it off with a proviso. I doubt my eyes shall never see a land-tax laid down.

The gentleman (fn. 15) that said we should have much ado to make up the revenue of 130,000l. surely contradicted himself; for he said he hoped that assessments would be taken off, and that we had a fair promise of abatement. Por my part, unless you do something in this, I think you continue a burden very long.

Sir William Strickland. It was not the true mother that divided the child. It may be that some that are thought to be easy, will appear to be heavy enough; if you should find that some have paid more in one year than others shall pay in forty years. Some have been utterly undone.

Mr. Vincent. There may be an inequality, and yet no injustice; the miseries of those counties, upon which grounds those abatements were made, remaining. Some have lost more in six hours than would pay their assessments in six years. I hope you will not judge men unheard. This must be a work of time. I move that you would put it for six months, and proportion it next meeting.

Mr. Secretary. I admit that rule, that no man ought to be condemned unheard. As I would have that a rule for one, so I would have it for the other. Many of us are overburthened. Those that are eased would not willingly come to a proportion. I would have something done in it.

Sir William Strickland. All rules and proportions are the best done by men's abilities. The child unborn will not forget our miseries, if he live to David's seventy years. If you will not raise combustions and stirs in counties, then you must alter the proportions. We are but now three or four that serve for Yorkshire, (fn. 16) and should be twenty-eight or thirty.

Colonel Briscoe. I move not to alter the proportions now; for you have neither time nor a full House.

Captain Hatsel. I would as fain have a proportion as any, but doubt you have not time for it now.

Captain Lilburn. I move that your would not now put the question.

The question being put that the rates be continued as now they are, the House was divided: the Yeas went forth.

Yeas 48. Lord Lambert and Major-General Lilburn, Tellers.

Noes 64. Sir Richard Lucy and Mr. Puller, Tellers.

So it passed in the negative.

Colonel Shapcott moved, that the proportion might be according to the rule of ship-money, as most equal.

Captain Baynes. That was a very uncertain rule. Many cities were quite destroyed, others in part, and in the City of London, though increased in buildings, yet house rent was higher.

Mr. West seconded that motion of Colonel Shapcott; for he has talked with many persons that understood ship-money that say it was very equal.

Mr. Speaker and Sir William Strickland. For your honour, never mention ship-money. Had that gentleman been one, when it was condemned in Parliament, he would never have mentioned it. It is neither agreeable to the rule of physic nor divinity, to apply such a remedy. That gentleman is given to change. The judges have been pulled off the bench for it. (fn. 17)

Mr. Highland. Never take such a precedent as ship-money, but rather go to the proposition of the 24,000l. in 35 Eliz.

Colonel Jones and Sir Richard Onslow. Go that way to work, that being settled in Parliament; and adjourn the debate till to-morrow, and let the fifteenths in that be a rule.

Lord Strickland and Mr. Speaker. The orders of the House are, to debate matters of this nature.

Lord Lambert. I would have no tittle of ship-money remain. It will appear that it is not so just a rule as is moved. I wish you may find a better way than you have laid aside. I have known something of that, that four, five, or six counties, will be double, treble, or four times what they were before. If you reduce it to any rate, it will not be fit to do any thing in this; till all the members be heard that serve for the several counties. I hope you will hear every man, what he can say to the proportions. If it be any old rule, there have been great alterations. Some poor villages have become great towns; others that were great towns, have become depopulated. You will, it may be, if you go by a very old rule, find London a little town. Whenever we meet again, let us have the liberty to consider that rule, and give every man liberty to speak to it.

Judge Smith. I am sorry to see your affairs so disproportionable to your time. I doubt you are upon a business that will scarce be ended in our days. I am afraid we can do nothing in it, though I stand as much in need of ease as any. I am sorry to bear such a rule prescribed.

I hope that monstrum horrendum, ship-money, will never have a mention here, as a rule. It was as well unequal, as illegal. In the county where I lived, an Earl, viz. Earl Louth, paid but 40s. to ship-money, and my shoemaker 3l. I paid myself but 7s. It was very unreasonably laid, and I wonder to hear it in this place.


  • 1. This speaker was M. P. for Kildare and Wicklow; to which, probably, this scene of desolation refers.
  • 2. What was the distinction of public and private does not appear. What the word Tory now designed, is thus explained by Rapin:— "On appelloit, en ce temps-lÀ, Torys, certains brigands ou bandits d'lrlande, qui se tenoient sur les montagnes, ou dans les isles qui forment les vastes marais de ces païs-lÀ. On les nomme, À présent (1717) Rapperies." See "Dissertation sur les Whigs et les Torys," annexed to Histoire d'Angleterre, (1787) x. 211.
  • 3. Sir W. Petty, writing about this time, says—" By comparing the extent of the territory with the number of people, it appears that Ireland is much underpeopled; forasmuch as there art above ten acres of good land to every head in Ireland; whereas in England and France there are but four, and in Holland scarce one." See "The Political Anatomy of Ireland." (1691) p. 120.
  • 4. Resolved, that the rate for Ireland, in the monthly assessments for three years, shall be 10,000l. by the month." Journals.
  • 5. See supra, p. 211, note.
  • 6. In 1643. "The English Parliament resolved to send Commissioners into Scotland, to negotiate a Treaty of Assistance, who were the Earl of Rutland, the Lord Gray of Wark, Sir William Armyn, Sir H. Vane, junior, Mr. Hatcher, and Mr. Darley. But the Lord Gray, refusing to go, because of his inability of body, for his contempt was committed to the Tower. The other five, with two ministers, Mr. Marshall and Mr. Nye, appointed to attend them, set forward July 20. They arrived at Leith, August 7th, whence they were conveyed to Edinburgh, on the 9th, by the Earl of Lindsay and Sir Archibald Johnston: and delivered a declaration of the two Houses, expressing the substance of their errand to the Convention of the Estates, and another to the General Assembly."—Rushworth, (1708) v. 199, 200. This Commission gave occasion to the famous "Solemn League and Covenant."
  • 7. Invented by Attorney-General Noy. The first writ was issued in 1634. See Rushworth, (1706) ii. 213; Parl. Hist. viii. 292.
  • 8. Westmoreland.
  • 9. In 1640, when it was denounced in Pym's Speech on grievances.— See Rushworth, (1706) iii. 252.
  • 10. Probably, referring to Prov. iii. 28.
  • 11. See vol. i. p. 262. Note .
  • 12. He was M. P. for Leeds.
  • 13. An allusion to 1 Kings, iii. 25.
  • 14. Three years.
  • 15. Probably Colonel Sydenham: supra, p. 216.
  • 16. There appears to have been twenty-three chosen for the county and towns, but of these eight are described as "denied admittance." See Parl. Hist. xxi. 17.
  • 17. " Feb. 13, 1640," says Whilock, "the Usher of the Black Rod came to the King's Bench when the Judges were sitting, took Judge Berkley from off the Bench, and carried him away to prison." Memorials, (1732) p. 40.