The Diary of Thomas Burton: 16 April 1659

Pages 439-448

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

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Saturday, April 16, 1659.

Mr. Cooper prayed.

Mr. Speaker took the chair at nine.

Colonel Grosvenor. I took notice of a great number of people called Quakers, in the Hall yesterday and to-day. (fn. 1) I wish you would take some course with the Petition that has laid a long time before you; and that they be dispersed.

Mr. Annesley. They are a fanatic crew. I would have their Petition referred to a Committee, to put it off your hands.

Mr. Fowell. I move to whip them home as vagrants.

Mr. Danby. I move that a law be provided to suppress that railing against the ministers.

He instanced what Mr. Bulkeley and Dr. Reynolds (fn. 2) had overheard some of them say: "the priests and lawyers are bloody men, give them blood to drink."

Sir Walter Earle. I except against the title "friends," and "the Parliament so called," in the Petition. (fn. 3)

The petition was read. It was directed for "The Speaker of the Commons assembled in Parliament; these are for him to be read to the House of Commons." (fn. 4)

Sir William D'Oyly. I am against proceeding against them as vagrants; but would refer the business to a Committee.

Mr. Swinfen. Order them, every of them, to go to their calling, and apply themselves to the law, which is their protection.

Captain Baynes. I move to clear them, and make them innocent persons. Many of them were imprisoned for not taking the oath of abjuration.

Major-general Kelsey. No reasoning by scripture will convince them; (fn. 5) for they make that but a nose of wax. (fn. 6) They call miscalling the ministers speaking the truth. The justices of the peace do well to imprison them. (fn. 7) I cannot be a pleader for them. Disturbers of the peace, they deserve it. They will not conform to the law.

As to those that lie imprisoned for not taking the Oath of Abjuration, I would release them. I would have some time for their continuance in prison; but not an unlimited extent.

Call two or three of them to come in, and advise them to return to their homes, and you will command by your members, that if any be illegally imprisoned, which does not yet appear, they may be released.

Mr. Fowell. The justices of peace cannot imprison for not taking the Oath of Abjuration.

Colonel West. I cannot justify them in their affronts to the ministers. Refer it to a Committee to hear their grievances, which is the right of the commoners of England, and that gentleman (fn. 8) was mistaken who moved to whip the commoners of England.

Mr. Lechmere. You are not, as a Christian Magistracy, bound to bend your laws to every Pretender's conscience. I am against referring it to a Committee. Who dare attend it, unless the gentleman who spoke last? I dare not. They refuse to answer upon oath, which is juramentum purgationis. All that were imprisoned at the time of the Protector's death for contempt of court, were, of course, then delivered by law if they looked after it.

Their language is as little justifiable as the— (fn. 9) of Rome. For their railings against the ministers, see their books. The question will be, whether you will dispense with that cast of the hat. I have known when you could not bear some petitioners coming hither. You have sent out members to receive their address. To rid your hands of this business, do as Mr. Swinfen moved.

Colonel Kenrick. Refer it to a Committee. You receive and examine petitions without respect of persons.

Mr. Steward. They complain not of any thing done contrary to law, but according to law. Though they seem but a small number, yet lesser beginnings have grown to great heights. In their books I find a denunciation of judgment. They will easily believe they are the persons appointed by God to execute this judgment. They are not of that simplicity as is moved, but wolves under sheep's clothing.

Mr. Stephens. Some I look on as persons seduced. Those I pity. Others, as seducers; those I pity not. The Jesuits have too great a stroke amongst them. (fn. 10) Let them repair to the Committee of Grievances. It will fall out that most are imprisoned for transgressing a fundamental law. I hope you will not dispense with their contempt.

The question was read, as to their repairing to their habitations, &c.; but—

Colonel West moved, that the first question was for a Committee; and prayed that might be first put.

Mr. Scot. Refer it to the several knights of the shire to send to the Justices at the next sessions, to inquire into this business, and to redress their grievances according to law.

Mr. Attorney-general. Till the ordinary course fail, they ought not to apply to you.

Mr. Annesley. Now I have read the Petition I am against either committing the Petition or calling them in. The Petition is unreasonable, and declares their desire that is neither consonant to the laws of God or man. Declare also the petitioning tumultuous. Unless you declare against the thing itself, you will be troubled next week with as many.

Mr. Reynolds. I move that it be referred to a Committee, to clear your members of the scandal laid upon several of them.

They say they are imprisoned for meeting together in the fear of God, for not swearing, for visiting their friends, and speaking the truth; all which are in themselves good, and it is a strong reflection.

If you pass this, the people will think all is true that they say, and that you will not question it, because so many members are concerned. I am one.

Some moved for a Committee to go out to them; others to send the Serjeant; others to call them in. Others moved for declaring that this House doth take notice of their tumultuous assembling themselves together, and their contempt of magistracy.

Mr. Reynolds. Change the word "tumultuous" for "numerous."

Mr. Attorney-general. Every assemblage of persons of an unlawful number, is tumultuous.

Mr. Jenkinson was against the word "tumultuous."

Mr. Thomas was for the word "ministers" to be added.

Mr. Gewen. This minds me of what Solomon says, (fn. 11) "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit." I would have the word "tumultuous," for they are so in petitioning against the magistracy.

Lieutenant-general Ludlow in favour. (fn. 12)

Mr. Boscawen. You will give them too great a reputation abroad, to say they are numerous. They will be thought 20,000.

Sir Walter Earle and Mr. Shaw were against the word "petitioners;" for their address appeared not to be a petition.

Resolved, that the answer to be given to the persons that presented this paper is, that this House hath read their paper, and the paper thereby referred to; and doth declare their dislike of the scandals thereby cast upon magistracy and ministry; and doth therefore order, that they and other persons concerned, do forthwith resort to their respective habitations, and there apply themselves to their callings, and submit themselves to the laws of the nation, and the magistracy they live under.

Mr. Goodrick moved, that Colonel West deliver this answer. Others moved that the Serjeant might do it.

Colonel West said he was most unfit, in regard he moved for a Committee; and therefore moved that the Serjeant might carry it.

The question was put, if the Serjeant-at-Arms do return the aforesaid answer, to the persons that presented the aforesaid papers to the House.

Mr. Speaker declared for the Noes.

Mr. Higgons and another young gentleman, declared for the Yeas.

It was held not fit to divide for such a trifle. The Yeas should have gone out. Therefore it was ruled that they might be called in.

Colonel Bennet. I move against calling them in.

Colonel Eyre. For your bearing public testimony against them, I would have them called in; and their hats taken off before they come in. (fn. 13)

Sir John Coplestone. I move that Moore, and two or three of the most considerable, be called in.

Moore was a justice of peace. One of them, worth 10,000l., is in nomination to be an Alderman of Colchester. His name James Furnas.

Others moved to take the first at hand, lest you call a tumult about the doors.

The Serjeant went out with the mace, with two or three of their names that were most considerable.

It was ordered that he should take off their hats, and tell them they must only hear Mr. Speaker.

They were called in, two of them, with their hats off.

Mr. Speaker declared the judgment.

They strove to speak, but were not permitted; only one of them as they went out said, "The name of the righteous shall live; but the name of the wicked shall rot."

Mr. Poole moved, that this vote be printed. (fn. 14)

Mr. Annesley. I hope the time is not lost.

Now it is over, I would have you apply yourselves in a Grand Committee, upon the report from the Committee of Inspections. Money answers all things.

Mr. Reynolds. I second it; but first give a little light to your Committee by a debate in this House, as was usual; that you may not tumultuate your debate. If this be done, which is in the bottom of the bag, and must be done, we shall, I hope, be able to buoy up our reputation, so as to be a nation again.

Mr. Scawen made a report (fn. 15) touching the balance; rather particularly, for the three nations. (fn. 16)

He further reported a claim of Lord Marquis Argyle for 12,000l., charged by order of the Protector and Council, upon the excise in Scotland, part paid. (fn. 17)

The House rose at almost one.

The Committee of Privileges sat upon the business of Pembroke.

Mr. Hewley was in the Chair.

They sat late, and were so equally divided upon the question, that there was ten and ten; and it came to the Chair to cast it.


  • 1. "April 15. This day and the following, a great number of a sort of people called Quakers, come up to London from several parts, assembled themselves in Westminster Hall, with intent to represent somewhat to the House touching the men of their way." Mercurius Politicus, No. 563, p. 374.
  • 2. See vol. iii. p. 66.
  • 3. "Friends, "Who are called a Parliament of these nations, we, in love to our brethren that doth lye in prisons and houses of correction, and dungeons, and many hath, in fetters and irons, and have been cruelly beat by the cruel gaolers, and many have been persecuted to death, and have dyed in prison, and many lyeth sick and weak in prison, and in straw; so we, in love to our brethren, do offer up our bodies and ourselves to you, for to put us as lambs into the same dungeons and houses of correction, and their straw, and nasty holes and prisons, and do stand ready a sacrifice, for to go into their places, in love to bur brethren, that they may go forth, and that they may not dye in prison, as many of the brethren are dead already; for we cannot but lay down our lives for our brethren, and to take their sufferings upon us, that you would inflict upon them; and if our brethren suffer we cannot but feel it; and Christ saith, it is he that suffereth, and was not visited. This is our love towards God and Christ and our brethren, that we owe to them and our enemies, who are lovers of all your souls, and your eternal good. "And if you will receive our bodies, which we freely tender to you for our friends that are now in prison, for speaking the truth in several places, for not paying tythes, for meeting together in the fear of God, for not swearing, for wearing their hats, for being accounted as vagrants, for visiting friends, and for things of the like nature, according to a paper intituled, A Declaration to the Parliament, delivered the sixth day of the second month, called April, 1659, to the then Speaker of the said House. We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, (being a sufficient number to answer for the present sufferers) waiting in Westminster Hall for an answer from you to us, to answer our tenders, and to manifest our love to our friends, and to stop the wrath and judgment from coming upon our enemies." The signatures are 164, all quite unfanatical, (see supra, p. 388, note.) The petitioners thus conclude:— "If we had been of Esau's stock, we should have fainted before now. And if we had been of Cain's stock, we should have built up his citie, and should have fought with his weapons; which was not, nor is, the way of the just, the elect, of which we are, before the world began." See "The King's Tracts," No. 784.
  • 4. "Upon the reading thereof, the same, amongst other things, referred to another paper, intituled,' A Declaration to the Parliament, &c.' delivered the sixth day of the second month, called April, 1659, to the then Speaker of the said House." Journals. "A Declaration of the names, places, and present sufferings of above 140 persons of the people of God, (who are now in prison,) called Quakers, with a brief account of about 1960 more, already returned, being but a part of many more that have suffered within these six years last past, whose names and particular sufferings are not here set down. "Together with the number of twenty-one persons, who were imprisoned and persecuted until death. All which was delivered to Thomas Bampfield, then Speaker of the Parliament, on the sixth day of the second month, 1659, and which it is desired may be read and considered of by this Parliament, that right might be done. "With an offer to the Parliament of our bodies, person, for person, to be imprisoned, for the redemption of our brethren, who are now in bonds for the testimony of Jesus. "London, Printed for Thomas Simmons, at the Bull and Mouth, near Aldersgate, 1659." See vol. iii. p. 507, ad fin.
  • 5. Probably as to the lawfulness of oaths. See vol. ii. pp. 277, 278, notes.
  • 6. See supra, pp. 337, 338.
  • 7. See vol. ii. p. 112. Their uncomplying principles and alarming progress, were thus described at this time, in a petition to the Protector and the Parliament, preserved as "a specimen of the fiery zeal wherewith some were enflamed against the Quakers." It was presented from "the Justices of Peace, Ministers, and others, well principled inhabitants of Leeds, Wakefield, and Bradford, &c." They represent, "That these populous places, and parts adjacent, now are, and for a long time have been, miserably perplexed and much dissettled by that unruly sect of people, called Quakers, whose principles are to overturn, overturn, overturn, magistracy, ministry, ordinances, all that which good men would keep up by their prayers and endeavours. "The approved ministers of the nation they deny to be ministers of Christ. The Ordinances now used in our public assemblies, are things in their account, which rose out of the bottomless pit: sermons, the invention of fallen man, and mere traditions. It is these men's common practice to meet by hundreds, in or near to our places of public worship, on purpose to disturb the preacher and people assembled, causing and speaking all manner of evil against those things that all sober minds deem good, to the great terror of some, and no small trouble to other ministers, seeing they so frequently give out, that in a short time they shall be the greater number." See "An Abstract of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers," (1733,) i. 342, 489.
  • 8. Mr. Fowell; Supra, p. 440.
  • 9. Blank in the MS.
  • 10. See vol. i. p. 110, note.
  • 11. Prov. xxvi. 5.
  • 12. Here appears a blank in the MS.
  • 13. "The Serjeant, by command of the House, was directed to call in Thomas Moore, John Crook, and Edward Byllyng, three of the persons that signed the paper mentioned to he delivered the sixth of this instant, April, to receive the said answer at the bar of the House; and to take off their hats before they come within the door of the House. "Thomas Moore being absent, the said John Crook and Edward Byllng were brought in to the bar, with their hats off. And Mr. Speaker, by the command of the House, declared to them standing at the bar, the aforesaid answer accordingly." Journals. "Edward Byllyng," is probably the person thus noticed by Mr. Pepys. "1659–60, Feb 7. To the Hall, where in the palace, I saw Monk's soldiers abuse Billing and all the Quakers that were at a meeting-place there; and indeed, the soldiers did use them very roughly and were to blame." Diary, (1825,) i. 13.
  • 14. " Resolved, that the clerk do take care, that the answer given by the House this day to the papers presented to the House, by the persons commonly called Quakers, be forthwith printed." Journals.
  • 15. See supra, p. 387.
  • 16.                                                                                                 £.                    s.            d. "The annual income of England is                                1,517,274            17            1 "The annual issues and expences                                   1,547,788              4           4½ "The balance is                                                                     305,13           17            3½ "The annual income of Scotland is                                   143,652           11          11 "The annual issues and expences                                       307,271          12             8½ "The balance is                                                                   163,619             0             9½ "The annual income of Ireland is                                      207,790             0             0 "The annual issues and expences                                       346,480          18             3 "The balance is                                                                   138,690          18             3 "The balance" of "the annual issues and Expences" deducted from "the annual Income of England Scotland and Ireland" is                       80,623            6             4 "The whole debt of the public, at present, and before the year's end, is and will be                         2,222,090            0            0 "Besides what may be due to the forces in Flanders." Journals.
  • 17. Memorandum. Since this account was reported to the House, it does appear to this Committee, that by an order of September 11, 1656, by the Lord Protector and his Council, the Marquis of Argyle is to receive the moiety of the excise of wines and strong water in Scotland, not exceeding 3000l. a year, until he shall receive 19,116l. 13s. 4d., in full of 145,400 pounds Scotch, with interest. "And, by the Auditor's certificate of Scotland, it appears, that the Marquis hath received, by a particular order of the Lord Protector and Council, 1000l. part thereof, and that there remains 11,116l. 13s. 4d., upon which the Council of Scotland hath given no further order for the Marquis's satisfaction. "Resolved, that the consideration of this account, with the papers and vouchers to maintain the same, be referred to a Grand Committee of the whole House; and they to report their opinion thereupon, to the House. "That it be likewise referred to the same Committee, to consider how the charge of the Commonwealth may be retrenched, and how the public revenue may be managed to the best advantage. "That it be referred to the same Committee, to consider of the just debts and charges of the armies and navies of this Commonwealth, and how the same may be satisfied. "That this House be resolved into a Grand Committee, on Monday morning next, for this business. And that Mr. Speaker do then leave the chair, accordingly; and that no other business do then intervene." Journals.