The Diary of Thomas Burton: 20 June 1657

Pages 258-269

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

Saturday, June 20, 1657.

Mr. Speaker. Browne, a prisoner, is at your door. I desire to know if you will call him in.

The question was put to call him in.

Mr. Speaker declared for the Yeas; nobody excepted. The man was gone to the door and the bar laid down; yet the mace was called back again, and the House went on with other business without any question: an express breach of the orders. (fn. 1)

The debate upon the Bill for preventing multiplicity of Buildings was resumed.

The proviso for Sir John Barkstead (fn. 2) was read the first and second time, and passed without any debate.

Several other provisos were offered; some passed and some were rejected. Other provisos were offered, but a vote was passed last night to exclude all provisos, other than were admitted then.

The debate held till one, and the provisos and the Bill being put, the question passed, &c. (fn. 3)

Mr. Speaker acquainted the House that he had received a letter from his Highness, and it was read.

"To the Speaker of our Parliament:"

It proposed that the adjournment might be deferred until Wednesday next, in regard he perceived, notwithstanding our unwearied pains, that some business cannot stay till our next meeting.

Colonel Jones and Mr. Secretary. You should in this time, apply yourselves to public business; to wit, that of assessments, and in relation to the Petition and Advice. All the members should be enjoined, in the mean time, to attend, under a penalty.

Some moved for 20l.; others 40l., 50l., or 100l. Some moved that no penalty might be set: if any went obstinately away, they should have 500l. penalty.

Lord Whitlock. Penalties have been very frequent, as in the Long Parliament; sometimes 40l., sometimes 20l; and it is no dishonour to you. I doubt, unless you put a penalty, you will hardly have so full a House as the necessity of the business requires. I am sorry to see the neglect of some members in being so long from their trust.

Mr. Fowell. I move that no penalty be set, but rather that the House be called over on Wednesday morning, and those that are absent pay such a penalty: if you please, 500l.

Sir Thomas Wroth. I have attended constantly, ever since the Parliament sat, but have appointed urgent occasions to go out of town; so desire leave to go on Wednesday.

The Lord Deputy and Colonel Jones seconded the motion, that Sir Thomas Wroth might have leave; but would have the question first put, that all the members should attend till Thursday.

Mr. Highland. It is hard that a penalty should be laid upon us that have attended, and those that have been absent go free.

There was a great calling for the question, and a noise, which made Mr. Highland sit down. He said, if ever there was a Dover Court it is here.

Resolved, that the members do attend till Friday morning, under the penalty of 50l.

Mr. Bampfield, Major-General Whalley, and Mr. Vincent moved, that the Bill for the Sabbath might be read as soon as the business of monies and settlement is over.

Sir William Strickland. I move that, to the end that for the Sabbath and other good Bills may all pass, as well as that of monies and settlement, you would sit forenoon and afternoon.

Mr. Speaker. Add to the question, that, after that for monies and settlement, all ingrossed Bills may be read; and it was resolved accordingly.

The question being put, that the House do sit this afternoon,

Mr. Speaker declared for the Noes. Major-General Whalley for the Yeas.

The Noes went forth (because it was an order of the House to sit afternoons all this week), otherwise not.

Noes 36. Mr. Pedley and Colonel Fox, Tellers.

Yeas 62. Mr. Vincent and Mr. Aldworth, Tellers.

Sir William Strickland. I move that, in regard this afternoon is not appointed for your business of monies and settlement, the Bill for the Lord's Day may be read.

Colonel Harvey seconded, and others pressed it.

Providentially, it was resolved; (fn. 4) and the House adjourned till four o'clock.

Post Meridiem.

Sir William Strickland moved, that Sir William Dicks's Report might be made.

Colonel Gorges stood up, and reported accordingly. Every article thereof was agreed. (fn. 5)

Mr. Bacon stood up, and pressed to make Lady Worcester's Report.

Major-General Kelsey, the Master of the Rolls, Sir William Strickland, and Major Burton cried him down to the orders of the House, and moved, that the ingrossed Bill for the Lord's Day might be read; and the same was read accordingly.

It was moved, to alter the time of prosecution from six months to one month; which was done accordingly at the table. (fn. 6)

Sir William Strickland moved, to repeal all other laws but this, in order to this business, and would have such a clause.

Mr. Grove. Such a clause was brought in in the Report, and, upon a solemn debate, was laid aside.

Colonel Holland. We have but too many penal laws, and one hundred clauses of that kind may well be repealed. These laws are always turned upon the most godly. This is very strict, as to that of unnecessary walking (fn. 7) and coming into men's houses. The last Bill for the Lord's Day, I remember, was passed on a Saturday, and carried on with great zeal. (fn. 8). Then I told them they had tied men from coming to church by water or coach. Next day, I, coming to Somerset House to sermon, had my boat and waterman laid hold on for the penalty.

I heard you, the other day, deliver a doctrine, that a man might speak to any part of an ingrossed Bill to be amended. I have known it once, and a Bill cut in pieces at the table to be amended. The Bill cannot be amended; so I would have it laid aside.

Mr. Downing stood up, and answered him to the full (as was easy), and laid some contradictions upon him; and said, if he had prescribed amendments, you might have received them.

Lord Chief-Justice Glynn. I move against the clause for entering into men's houses. (fn. 9) It may be a snare to all the nation; and knaves, in the night-time, may enter and rob men's houses under this pretence. When an Act of Parliament gives a liberty of entry, then a man may break open doors.

Mr. Grove. The constable's voice is well known, and no man can be robbed under that pretence.

Mr. Godfrey moved a proviso, to limit the officers' entry only to taverns, inns, ale-houses, tobacco-shops, victuallinghouses, or tippling-houses; wherewith the Lord Chief-Justice was satisfied. (fn. 10)

Mr. Vincent and Colonel Chadwick were not satisfied with the proviso. It was too short; for, now a-days, the greatest disorders were in private houses, by sending thither for drink: drinking in ale-houses being both more penal and suspicious.

Sir Christopher Pack. I move that cooks' houses be comprehended, they being (in this city) accounted another thing from victualling-houses, which have licenses.

One gentleman speaking low, Mr. Speaker was called to report.

The Master of the Rolls. Mr. Speaker is not bound, in such cases, to report. Every man is bound to speak so high as others may hear; and every man is also bound to attend to what is said.

Mr. Speaker said he was glad to hear that information; for gentlemen would talk so loudly to one another that they could not hear another speak, and then called to him to report.

Lord Whitlock. I am against all liberty of this kind, to enter men's houses. The law has been always tender of men's houses. I would not have the people of England enslaved. I know not what, the consequence may be. I would have these words added, " or demand entry."

The question being put upon those words, the House was divided.

Mr. Speaker declared for the Yeas. Mr. Nathaniel Bacon for the Noes. The Yeas went out (because it was all new).

Yeas 53. Colonel Holland and Mr. Margetts, Tellers.

Noes 30. Mr. Nathaniel Bacon and Mr. Puller, Tellers.

So it passed in the affirmative.

Mr. Bond. I would leave out the whole clause. Sir Edward Hales was robbed of 8000l. in White-friars, on the Lord's Day, upon pretence of a warrant from the Council to search.

Mr. Grove. If you admit this proviso, you give liberty to private houses to be as profane as they please. I hope you intend zealously for God in this thing. You give liberty of entry for every petty felony which concerns man. Why should you not be as zealous for God and his day ?

Yet the proviso was resolved to be part of the Bill.

Mr. West. I except against the words in the Bill, " idle sitting, openly, at gates or doors, or elsewhere;" and " walking in church-yards, &c." Let a man be in what posture he will, your penalty finds him.

Lord Whitlock was against these words, and said— (fn. 11)

Mr. Godfrey. I move to leave out the words " profane and idle sitting;" for this joins issue between the officer and the party, and puts a plea in the party's mouth which is not triable. He will say, he is talking or meditating about good things. I would have the word "elsewhere" left out, for I know not how far this may reach.

Mr. Fowell. I move to leave out the whole clause.

Major-General Whalley. God requires not these things of us. We must take heed to adding to the commandment of God. If you put this clause, you deprive men of the very livelihood they have by the air; as at Nottingham, many people that have houses in the rock, and have no air, live most part of their time without doors.

Mr. Bodurda. This clause is too short of what is intended by those that would have it. Some persons have not conveniency to sit at doors; so I would have you add more to it, viz. " leaning or standing at doors."

Mr. Vincent. Though the law seems a little strict in this clause, yet this clause is not to be derided. I cannot think such sitting at doors, as is usual, can be a sanctification of the Lord's day. I would have the question divided. First put it upon, working, and then upon sitting at doors.

The Master of the Rolls. This has been debated in Parliament before now, and it has not been found convenient to have such a clause. In some parts of this city, unless people have liberty to sit at doors, you deprive them of most of the air they have all the week, and destroy their children.

Lord Chief-Justice. (Quatenus ipsum.) It is most certain that there is no unlawfulness or guilt in single sitting at doors. It must be the same as within doors. It is but intended for example's sake. May not a godly man that lives in a rock, as that worthy commoner tells you, yet be well employed. You put a negative pregnant upon a man, to say that sitting at the door is more profane than standing; so there is no such derision in that. It may cause discord, and prying amongst neighbours, into the actions of one another. And this is still left in the judgment of constables and headboroughs, who are generally bad, all the nation over. If there be any defect in this Act, another Parliament may mend it. You have reformed some things which other Parliaments fall short in.

Colonel Briscoe. As much as is required by man, is not to every punctilio, as God's law is. Man's law must not be too severe, but rational; that men may be convinced of the reason of it. I would not have laws too rigid.

Major Burton. You had as good leave out the whole Bill as leave out this clause.

Mr. West. You would not leave out the word " elsewhere;" for there may be profaneness, by sitting under some eminent tree in a village, or an arbour, or Gray's-Inn walks.

The whole clause being put to the question, the House was divided. The Yeas went forth.

Noes 37. Colonel Briscoe and Mr. Williams, Tellers.

Yeas 35. Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Allsopp, Tellers.

So it passed to leave it out.

Major-General Disbrowe. There are other exceptions to the Bill, and scarce a consistency in sense. I would have it laid aside, at present, lest, whilst providing against profaning the Lord's day, we put ourselves in a capacity to profane it ourselves.

Sir William Strickland. If you leave this unsupported, this may be. I doubt it will not be done this sessions. Respecting that you have but four days time, and so much business. I would have this done cum grano salis, that it may bide the test of those that are profaners of the day, or that dispute about the day.

Major-General Disbrowe. To satisfy you that I have scruples, I shall tell you the first, as to the time. It is not yet determined whether the sabbath-day begins at twelve o'clock on Saturday night. (fn. 12)

Sir William Strickland. It is not now to be disputed. It is very apparent that one day of the week is due to God; "and the evening and the morning was the first day."

Colonel Holland. I am not satisfied in the time. Divers godly precious people are unsatisfied about the institution of the day. (fn. 13) And as to time, it is likewise scrupled by many godly men, who think that only twelve hours is the sabbathday. It is rejoicing of the heart in observing a day to the Lord. It is better than one thousand days, to be pinned up in a place. I was once when I would have gone to six or seven sermons on a day. I am not so now. I do not make so much conscience of it now, but do think that I may serve God as well at home with godly servants and other people. I am for the observation of a day as much as any man; and though there were no precept for it, every man by nature is tied to it. I would have it adjourned.

Major-General Whalley. I am sorry that I must differ from that worthy gentleman in all things that he has spoken. All those things have been fully debated at the Committee. I shall not answer again.

Colonel Winthorpe. I move to adjourn the debate. We were well warned by the abortiveness of another Bill as good; I shall not make comparisons, for want, haply, of a little time or patience to hear all members speak. I have heard no answer to the objections offered.

Mr. Godfrey. All that gentleman did say struck at the very body of the Bill. Those things have been all fully debated and answered at the Committee.

He repeated the several answers, and desired that the sense might be mended in those places where it is excepted against, and that it might be put to the question.

Colonel Winthorpe stood up again, and spoke against the Bill, or to adjourn the debate, but was taken down by the noise of calling for the question.

Colonel Purefoy cried " Give him the Bill," meaning Mr. Speaker. The clerk said, if such words had been spoken in some Parliaments, he would have been called to the bar.

The debate held so late that a candle was called in; (fn. 14) and, after a while, the Bill was agreed to pass, and ordered to be ingrossed.

The House rose at almost ten, and adjourned till Monday morning eight o'clock.


  • 1. The whole of this is omitted in the Journals.
  • 2. " Who did, in the year of our Lord God, 1647, purchase of the trustees for sale of Bishop's lands, the reversion of one messuage, with the appurtenances, situate in Shoe Lane, called Bangor House." This proviso was to enable him, on paying "one year's value, at an improved value and full rent," to the Lord Protector, " to erect and new build such messuages, tenements, and houses thereupon, as he shall think fit; the said place being, at present, both dangerous and noisome to the passengers and inhabitants near adjoining." Journals.
  • 3. " Resolved, that this Bill be tendered to his Highness the Lord Protector, for his consent." Journals.
  • 4. " That the ingrossed Bill for the Sabbath be read this afternoon, the first business." Journals.
  • 5. " Resolved, that the Report in this business be made the second Tuesday in the next meeting of the Parliament.'' Journals.
  • 6. " Some exceptions being taken, that the time limited for convicting an offender is within six months, " And the question being put, that these words,' six months,' do stand in that place, " It passed in the negative. " Resolved, that these words,' one month,' be inserted in this place.'' Journals.
  • 7. In " a code of laws, made in the dominion of Newhaven, at its first settlement," in 1637, by emigrants from England, are the following prohibitions, under severe penalties:— " No one shall run on the sabbath day, or walk in his garden, or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting. "No one shall travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave, on the sabbath day. " No woman shall kiss her child, on the sabbath or fasting day." These more than judaizing Christians seem to have forgotten the divine declaration, " I will have mercy, and not sacrifice;'' for in the same code it is enacted, that " no food or lodging shall be afforded to a Quaker, Adamite, or other heretic;" and that, " if any person turns Quaker he shall be banished, and not sufferred to return, upon pain of death." See an account of the Blue Laws of Connecticut, Monthly Review (1782), lxvi. 256; Monthly Repository (1807), ii. 481.
  • 8. In April, 1650, an Act passed " for inflicting certain penalties for breach of the Lord's Day, and other solemn days." It was enacted, "That goods cried, or put to sale on the Lord's Day, or days of public humiliation or thanksgiving, should be seized. Travellers, waggoners, &c. not observing those days, to forfeit 10s. Any writ, warrant, &c. executed on those days, to be of no effect; and the person offending to forfeit 5l. No person to use, or travel with, boat, horse, coach, or sedan, except to church, upon pain of 10s. The like penalty for being in a tavern, ale-house, &c. dancing or profanely singing, on any of those days. Where distress could not be found sufficient to satisfy the respective penalties, the offender to sit in the stocks six hours." Parl. Hist. xix. 257, 258.
  • 9. By " any constable or officer." Journals.
  • 10. This proviso was passed. See Journals.
  • 11. A blank in the MS.
  • 12. It appears, from the writings of this period, that Sunday then commenced, in the observance of many Christian professors, as among a few in later times, on Saturday evening. Mr. Nathaniel Bacon, named as a Teller, supra, p. 264, writing in 1647, thus describes the customs of our Saxon ancestors:— " They made the Lord's day to begin upon Saturday, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and to continue till Monday morning. No pastime, not their beloved sport of hunting, was allowed during all that time: nor no works were to be done but such as concerned the worship of God: and those laws they bound with penalty of fine, if the delinquent were a free man; if he were a bond servant, he was to be whipped." It is remarkable that those who appear to have introduced into Britain this ultra-judaical Lord's day, should have been, in religious knowledge and deportment, so different from its restorers in the sixteenth century. This author says, "the Saxons took no note of the vice of profane swearing and cursing; which crime must lie upon the clergymen's account, for their neglect of teaching the point, or upon the general ignorance of those times." See " An Historical Account of the Uniformity of the Government of England," (1647), pp. 97, 98.
  • 13. This speaker probably refers to a question frequently discussed in that age, and which Paley (Mor. Phil. B. v. ch. 7.) has familiarized to modern enquirers, respecting the morality of the sabbath, or whether the first day of the week was separated by divine command, as more sacred than the rest, or only distinguished as an expedient for the purposes of public Christian worship and instruction. Of the latter opinion, justified by their practice, were Calvin and the Calvinists, as well as the Lutherans on the Continent. To these the Calvinists of England and Scotland, in the seventeenth century, were directly opposed; so that their "doctrine of the Sabbath," was named by some Calvinistic " Divines, of the United Provinces, figmentum Anglicanum." It appears by the royal Injunctions of 1547 and 1559, compared with an Act passed in 1552, that the Calvinists of the sixteenth century, in England, had agreed with their brethren on the Continent. In 1547, the king, Edward VI., thus directed the clergy:— " All parsons, vicars, and curates, shall teach and declare unto their parishioners, that they may, with a safe and quiet conscience, in the time of harvest, labour upon the holy and festival days," (which included "all Sundays in the year), and save what God hath sent. And if, for any scrupulosity or grudge of conscience, men should superstitiously abstain from working upon those days, that they should grievously offend and displease God." These directions were adppted by Queen Elizabeth, in 1559, adding to the words quiet conscience, " after their common prayer." The Act of 1552 declared it "lawful to every husbandman, labourer, fisherman, and to all and every other person and persons, of what estate, degree, or condition, he or they be, upon the holy days aforesaid, in harvest, or at any other time in the year when necessity shall require, to labour, ride, fish, or work any kind of work, at their free wills and pleasure." As to the occupation of Sunday on another point, Mr. Strype informs us, that the Puritans denounced their rigorous persecutor, Bishop Aylmer, who became Bishop of London, in 1576, as " a defender of the breach of the Sabbath," and that he used to play at bowls on those days. The Bishop thus either justified or excused himself; that he never withdrew himself from service or sermon on the Lord's dÀys; that Christ, the best expositor of the Sabbath, said, that " the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath;'' that man may have his meat dressed for his health upon the Sabbath, and why might he not have some convenient exercise of his body, for the health thereof, on that day ? " Indeed," adds Mr. Strype, "it was the general custom, both at Geneva, and in all other places where Protestants inhabited, after the service of the Lord's day was over, to refresh themselves with bowling, walking abroad, or other innocent recreations, and the Bishop followed that which, in his travels abroad, he had seen ordinarily practised among them." Life of Aylmer, (1701), p. 215. See Calvini Institutio, L. ii. c. viii. S. 32–34; Heylin's "History of the Sabbath," (1636), B. ii. ch. vi.-viii.; "Life of Elliot," (1694), p.29; Des Maizeaux's "Life of Chillingworth," (1725), pp. 83, 84, note.
  • 14. See Vol. I. p. 36, note.