The Diary of Thomas Burton: 1 April 1659

Pages 318-327

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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


Good-Friday, April 1, 1659.

I came late.

A petition of Mr. Samuel Vassal was read, (fn. 1) and committed.

A Committee was appointed to review the grievances for Ireland. (fn. 2) All that come to have voices.

The House resumed the debate, upon the bill concerning the excise and new impost; and concerning the customs, and tonnage and poundage.

Colonel Bennet made a long speech to three or four several questions; as to settlement, and barring out the pretenders; adjournment; a committee, &c.; and concluded to reject the Bill.

Mr. Speaker, to the orders of the House.

Every man ought to keep to the question, and not to launch into so many debates and questions.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. It is no order of the House, that every man that speaks in this House is bound to speak to the purpose. Men have several gifts. Some are not so quick as others. The gentleman began, and concluded to reject the Bill.

Mr. Reynolds. I am of opinion that we should keep to the point. A worthy sitter in the Long Parliament used to launch out, and they used to cry, "Ad idem." Said he, "I know not what ad idem means; but I shall speak to the purpose."

Mr. Attorney-general. You well advised. You did not take him down; but did your duty.

Dr. Clarges spoke first to the business of committing the bill to a Grand Committee. He would debate, first, the time of the excise.

Sir William Wheeler. I move to continue the excise for ten years, and to debate this in a Grand Committee; and for you to leave the chair. And that the tonnage and poundage may go in another Bill by way of subsidy.

Colonel Kirkley. Colonel Bennett moved properly, and did not ramble into debates; only it was not well timed. He was in the right way, when he said the grievances ought first to be redressed.

This excise was laid invitâ Minervâ. (fn. 3) The mal-administration ought to be considered. I am able to make out that in Lancaster. 12,000l. per annum is made of it, and but 4,000l. comes to the public.

Let us be secured of our liberties and rights, and let him be branded that will not consent to a fit maintenance to be for the army and our defence.

It is said, those persons that we have voted to transact with us are good men; persons engaged in the same cause.

Sir Robert Goodwin. Parliament used always to grant monies, last. First, take into consideration the liberties of those that sent us hither.

There are not above two lines of the twelve, that are fit to be retained. I would have it be in two Bills, and this Bill laid aside. I would have it go as a grant, and not as a continuance. It is your money that must purchase your liberties.

Mr. Bulkeley. I did not intend any thing but what is well in it; and they that say so, I thank them. They say but right. Did I think this duty would not be levied when I am gone, I should not have brought in this bill.

If you go to transact, I fear you will leave this, the greatest burthen, upon such a footing as that it will never be gone. I am not fond of any thing that I bring in hither. If you please to debate this of the excise in a Grand Committee, and bring in another Bill for the customs, I shall consent.

Mr. Trevor. I wonder to see this jealousy of this Bill. It has been the fortune of our civil wars, to leave things, both revenue and laws, upon such a footing as nothing but necessity can justify. The end of this Bill is, to bring back our purse to where it ought to be, as our natural right.

As to precluding all complaints against excise, leave it to your Committee to bring in a Bill to remedy the incon veniences, or to take off some part upon some commodities, that at first were thought to advance the revenue, but which prove destructive to the very being and trade of these commodities. I would have the whole referred.

Mr. Godfrey. There is not a word in the Bill for the confirmation or continuance of the duty; nor of grant, as I understand the bill, neither by expression nor implication. If, "cease and determine," "be null and void," be words that grant, give, and confirm, I understand nothing of it. True, here is the word "continue," but no continuance implied; unless the Parliament by an act continue them. This being well understood, would save a great deal of debate.

All that is done is not actually to destroy it. You leave it as you find it, to stand for that time upon its own footing. There is no such dreadfulness in it as is moved.

I would have this referred to a Grand Committee, as to the excise, and another Bill for the customs.

Mr. Gewen. All agree there is an invincible necessity to continue this charge; and all agree it shall be done by a Bill. They only differ as to wording of it.

Some say it is a good law; others not. Ille affirmat, alter negat. I have not the spirit of opposition; but I am sworn to maintain the liberties and privileges of the people. Nullus quisquis conscius suœ fortunœ.

I would have it in a Grand Committee. There you may order the language of the Bill.

Colonel Parsons. Frustra sit per plura, &c. All those ends that are propounded, may be answered, by appointing a Committee to bring in a Bill to assert the necessity for money of this revenue. I cannot see how we can divide our oath. We are bound, as well to preserve the people's liberties as his Highness's just right.

Sir John Northcote. The gentleman that brought in the Bill deserves thanks from you and from the nation. All exceptions against the Bill are against the words; which a Committee may amend. I am for the commitment of the Bill.

First make a previous vote, that no money shall be levied but by assent of this Parliament. That will answer that objection, that this is no confirmation; or, else, let your Declaration be connected with the Bill.

The customs have always been dedicated to the sea service, the excise to the army. Give it as a free gift of yours to the Protector, or for two, three, four, or five years. I like not those words, "unless there be extraordinary occasion for them." By that rule, the Chief Magistrate may take it up, again, when he pleases.

Mr. Neville. I am so far from blaming the gentleman that brought in this Bill, that I would have brought it in, myself. I believe there are some defects in the levy, that unless you do something in this, they cannot act so cheerfully, that act in it.

The ends of Parliament have ever since King James's time been untimely ends. The people were wise, and would not serve those ends that they were called together for.

Our new monarchy had the same influence on Parliament. The Instrument of Government had made good humane provision for the maintenance of thirty thousand men, (fn. 4) with whose pay you could not meddle. (fn. 5) It was not thought so good to be on a military account, but upon a legal, which you know has its flaw.

If there had not been a necessity for calling you, you had not been here. You are here to serve turns, to strengthen the government, and to pay two millions of money.

You have a single person in a possessory right, put in by the Council; that call themselves a council, I know not by what law. You have made several votes. I hope, if ever the Bill comes on again, we shall speak to that point of the single person. Consider your own constitution before you settle your revenue. This is hysteron proteron. (fn. 6) It may be, you will think fit to retrench the Chief Magistrate's charge, that he may not go out with his chariots and horses, the powers of the heathen.

I would have no excise levied after this Parliament, unless confirmed by the Parliament.

Mr. Stephens, We learn out of the "Mirror of Justices" (fn. 7) the end of calling Parliaments. Noy (fn. 8) said in Parliament, "Before we grant money let us see whether we have it or no." It was a constant rule, to hear the grievances of the people, before ever any money was granted.

The gentleman that brought in the Bill, did it out of a good affection. I am neither for rejecting it, nor committing it at present. I shall not be against granting the excise. I joined with you in settling the single person, and would have him possess a competent support; but do it in its due place.

We have a great deal of need to provide for the people's rights, that have been of late so much abused. I would have successive Parliaments, and not a continual Parliament.

The King could never get the people to acknowledge that the customs were his. This of excise was never to be borne in a Parliament. I would not have this continued, on pretence of necessity, longer then needs must be. I would have two distinct Bills brought in by way of grant; and along with them a Bill to preserve the people's rights.

Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper. Will you settle this revenue, and not in the body of your government, to see what your money shall go to support? It is not yet said what hand you shall have in any thing. Once declare money, they may go on without you.

The money is paid already. I would have you put no discountenance upon it Make a previous vote, that after this present Parliament none shall presume to levy this duty. That will keep it a-foot this Parliament; and, in the mean time, you may settle it. Nobody can complain why they want money, if we be dissolved. If you have not time to grant it, and be willing to it, you are excused.

I shall offer this previous vote: and he read it and put it to the table. He said it was not his own, but Mr. Neville's.

Resolved and declared, that no law for excise shall be of force, nor excise levied, after the end or other determination of this Parliament.

Lord Falkland. First settle his Highness, before you settle his revenue.

Mr. Disbrowe. Can a vote take away a law ? It may strengthen it, but it cannot null it. Is it not better to make it for a time, and then to cease ?

It is said, the people's grievances should first be heard. Has hot this been taken as the greatest grievance that ever was complained of this Parliament. I am against having it constituted by this Parliament. When first laid on, it was looked on by those that laid it on, with weeping eyes and wounded hearts. You find this upon you already. Which will be most acceptable to the people, to do it with your own hands, or only to limit it for a time ? Time was when this would have been hugely comfortable. If a gift of yours, to whom will you give it? Is it not to your servant, to dispose of it for your use ?

It is said, "When the Court was out at heels, then Parliaments were called." This money goes not to maintain a King's court, but to maintain your forces against your enemies.

I will not speak to the parts of it till it come to the committee. It may be made a good Bill. I would have another Bill as to the regulation of the customs. It is not for your service to lay so much on it. In silks, if half the customs, it would bring in ten times more. Then they would riot steal customs.

Mr. Broughton. I must say to you as was said by the apostle Paul, (fn. 9) "Hear me a few words of your clemency." Every man has not the gift of expressing himself so in short as others. Potius perirat unus, quam multus. Let one stay rather than many suffer. I would have this Bill laid aside, never to be heard of again.

It is said, it was brought in with good intentions. We must judge of motions not of intentions. It may be, he consulted some that were too free of the people's purse.

Amongst the Romans, she that would not burn with her husband, was ever after reported a whore. Non nobis nati sumus. I had rather leave my head in this House, than go into the country without my heart.

Were I of his Highness's Council, I would never advise him to seek things so high. It looks like the interest of Charles Stuart. It is your honour to be impartial to the people as well as to his Highness. Care for all rights alike. It is offered ten years for the excise. That is three years above a man's life. We must deal with a young man as they do with young whelps; whip him, and not knock him on the head. He will run well enough in the course afterward. We cannot live for ever. Young men must come in our places. I had rather leave my estate to an honest godly stranger than to a stubborn wicked son, to offend God with my estate.

Mr. Speaker, observing a great noise, stood up to preserve the gravity of the House, and to desire that every man might keep to the point.

Sir Henry Vane. I ask, if it be in the power of your Chair to take any man down because he speaks not to your sense, or has not such abilities as reside there.

Mr. Attorney-general. The Chair deserved no check. He moved against the disorder, to the end he might be heard.

Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper. The Chair may take off impertinent speeches.

Mr. Trevor. I move that the gentleman go on. He was hunting, and I hoped he would find something in the conclusion.

Mr. Solicitor-general. I move to hear him out. He is of abilities, and will very much show them if he can draw his conclusion from what he has spoken.

Mr. Broughton went on and decried the gallantry of the Court; and told us of a butcher that carried a calf till it was a bull. He concluded to reject the Bill.

Query, if Milo was a butcher ?

Serjeant Hale. I except against his speech for reflecting upon Mr. Bulkeley, as if he had consulted with some that were free of the people's purse. It deserves your reprehension, and the animadversion of this House.

Mr. Bodurda. I would not have time spent on that reflection, though it wast one. He did not express that any within this House had been consulted. It may be, it was without doors.

The previous vote that is offered, is to perpetuate it; and, if I were a courtier, I should be a friend to that paper. Indeed, you say it shall continue for this Parliament. That is, to continue it for the Parliament's coming here again. This Parliament cannot dissolve itself. Then the Chief Magistrate may keep the excise on foot, for his life at least, and it will be a moot point whether his death dissolve the Parliament.

I had never consented to transact; but that I hoped they would consent to make this temporary: nor can I consent to lay any tax upon the people, till this be made temporary.

I would have this Bill committed.

It will be inquired who brought in the Bill, and when it appears that it was one of the Long Parliament, (fn. 10) it will be said, this Parliament has a mind to perpetuate themselves, as that Parliament did.

Sir George Booth. This is too sharp a censure upon us, that came here to serve our counties upon a clear footing, without any design of perpetuating a trouble to ourselves. That might have been spared. I was against the Bill coming in at this time; but would have two Bills brought in, to grant this for so many years.

Mr. Francis Bacon moved to commit the Bill.

It grew towards one, and it was moved to adjourn; and the debate was adjourned till to-morrow morning next, after the declaration for the public fast be reported; and that nothing else do then intervene.

The previous vote was thus: (fn. 11)

Resolved, and be it declared by this House, that from and after the end, or other determination of this present Parliament, no excise, customs, or other imposts be demanded, levied, received, or paid, by any of the people of this Commonwealth, by virtue of any act, ordinance, order, or declaration whatsoever now in being, or which hereafter shall be, other than what shall be agreed upon and consented to by this House.

Mr. Weaver received leave to go into the country.

The House rose at one.

The Committee of Trade sat.

Major Beake was in the chair.

Sir Sackville Crowe's petition was presented. (fn. 12)

The Committee for the King's children's servants (fn. 13) sat in the Court of Wards.

Mr. Hewley was in the chair. T. B. there.

The Welsh Committee (fn. 14) sat in the Exchequer Chamber.

Serjeant Seys was in the chair.

The Durham Committee sat in the Queen's Court. (fn. 15)

Mr. Shaftoe was in the chair.


  • 1. "Concerning several debts due and owing to him from the Commonwealth, stated upon several votes and resolutions of former parliaments. Resolved, that it be recommended to his Highness, the Lord Protector, to grant a privy-seal, for the payment of 500l. forthwith, to Mr. Samuel Vassal, in part of his debt." Journals.
  • 2. Also "a Committee, to consider of what is fit to be offered to this House, in relation to the affairs of Scotland." Ibid.
  • 3. Against inclination. Ci. Off. i. 3; Hor. A. P. 385.
  • 4. "Horse and dragoons 10,000, and 20,000 foot." Art. xxvii. Parl. Hist. (1763,) xx. 258.
  • 5. "Not taken away or diminished but by consent of the Lord Protector and the Parliament." Ibid.
  • 6. "To place that after which should come before." Ainsworth.
  • 7. "La Somme, appellé Mirroir de Justices, seu Speculum, Justiciarum." 8vo. 1642. There were English editions in 1646,1649,1659, and an improved edition in 1768. See Dr. Watt's Bibliotheca Brittanica, (1824,) i. 515. "Andrew Horn," says Dr. Priestley, "the author of the Mirroir de Justices, lived in the reign of Edward II. His design was, to give the judges of his time a view of what they should have been, and what they were. He frequently quotes the rolls of the Saxon times, and even their Very Year-Books, which are now vanished; which shows, that we have lost many of our best helps to the knowledge of the history of those ages. He pretends to have perused all the laws of this island, ever since the reign of King Arthur. The English edition differs very much from the French; and yet the translator pretends that he kept close to the words and meaning of his author." See "Lectures on History," (xxix). Works (1826), xxiv. 183.
  • 8. See vol. ii. p. 444, note *.
  • 9. Acts xxiv. 4.
  • 10. Member for Newton, Hampshire; and secluded, 1648.
  • 11. See supra, p. 324.
  • 12. Ibid. p. 254.
  • 13. See Ibid. 273.
  • 14. See vol. iii. pp. 83, 84.
  • 15. See supra, pp. 310, 311.