Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, 1654. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1880.
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The period embraced by the present volume is the last ten months of the year 1654, during which time, in spite of occasional outbreaks of discontent, the power of the Protector became gradually consolidated, and the Government displayed vigour both in its foreign and domestic policy.
The long war with Holland was ended by a treaty of peace, which was proclaimed solemnly by the heralds in London, and a day of public thanksgiving was appointed to celebrate it (pp. 51, 112, 119, 162, 167, 189). The right of the flag was still maintained by the English, and it was submitted to by the Dutch, sometimes cordially; sometimes reluctantly, and only after a vigorous remonstrance that the refusal to strike the flag when within shot of an English man-of-war would be a violation of the articles of peace; at other times on compulsion only (pp. 176, 296, 304).
Several important domestic reforms were attempted. An Act was passed limiting and regulating the jurisdiction of Chancery (pp. 320–1). Also Acts and Ordinances for regulation of Customs and Excise (pp. 117–19, 151, 168); for relief of creditors and poor prisoners (p. 134), and for protection of the highways from the strain of too heavy loads, by limiting the number of draught horses and oxen to each cart, except such as were used for State purposes (pp. 59, 150, 178, 303). Also an Ordinance for indemnity of those who, during the civil wars, committed breaches of the common law, in the interests of the State, e.g., by seizing horses, arms, and provisions for the Parliament forces, distraining upon those who refused to pay their war assessments, &c., &c. A special committee for this purpose had been appointed in 1649, and had been in active operation, but its powers had now expired, and therefore all the rules of the Indemnity court were ordered to hold good in courts of law (p. 47).
An Ordinance also passed relating to ministers of religion. On report that many of these were disaffected to the present Government, 38 commissioners were appointed as a Committee for the Approbation of Public Preachers, and without their certificate no person was in future to be presented to any living or lectureship; all so appointed since 1st April 1653 were to be approved by this committee before 24th June 1654, on penalty of forfeiture; so also were the very large number of ministers to whom augmentations of livings from delinquents' estates or otherwise had been granted by Parliament (pp. 40–1), but the time prescribed as the limit for obtaining this approval was on request prolonged (p. 219).
The question of the management of the post office was again brought before Council, and many complaints were made of the fraudulent manner in which John Manley, the farmer of the post office, had obtained his contract, and of his violence and arbitrariness in its discharge, and the claims of the former undertakers were strongly urged. But after due discussion, Manley was confirmed in his office, on payment as before of 10,000l. a year (pp. 20–27).
An important Ordinance was drawn up for bringing into the receipt of the Exchequer all the moneys from multitudinous sources that had been paid into separate treasuries during the few past years, e.g., excise, customs, prize money, the moneys arising from the sale or letting of estates of delinquents and recusants, of bishops, deans, and chapters, and also from the Crown lands; the monthly assessments for maintenance of the army, &c., &c. These moneys were now all to be paid into the Treasury at Westminster, and a large number of expensive officials, employed at the several treasuries, were discharged (pp. 215, 356).
The multiplicity of treasuries had been found not only a fruitful source of expense but a shelter for roguery. A gigantic system of fraud had been set up by Col. Rob. Thorpe, a very extensive purchaser of fee-farm rents (p. 151), aided by Abr. Granger, who contrived to get hold of original warrants on several of the public treasuries, and by counterfeiting them, to draw large sums, and he had numerous accomplices.
By the apprehension and examination of the principal criminals, the whole scheme of villany was gradually unfolded. Warrants had been counterfeited on the treasuries of the navy, prize office, Worcester house, and the custom house, and so skilfully that the clerks were deceived, and paid them without suspicion of the fraud (pp. 340–1, 378–9, 381).
Granger was brought at length to confess that four fifths of the public faith bills were counterfeited, and that two thirds of the claims were false (p. 398); that 10,000l. had been forged of Irish accounts, and he named agents who had framed for him false debentures and public faith bills to the value of from 80,000l. to 20,000l. each, total value 235,000l. (pp. 11, 415–9). The details of the contrivances both in making and passing the warrants are given at full in the letters and examinations.
The elections for the new Parliament appointed to meet on 3rd September 1654 were subjects of lively interest, and in many cases of keen discussion. Government acted with energy and caution to secure suitable returns; forms of indenture were issued between the sheriffs and the electors, both of counties and boroughs, to choose for the former "fit and discreet knights, girt with swords," and for the latter "burgesses of good knowledge and discretion;" but with proviso that they do not alter the form of government as now settled in a single person and Parliament. Also with the proclamation of the writs for election, the Instrument of government by which Cromwell held his power was to be publicly read (pp. 201–2). By this all who had acted against Parliament since 1641 were disqualified alike from sitting in Parliament and from voting at the elections.
These precautions notwithstanding, complaints poured in to the Protector, to Council, and to the Committee for Elections, of the return of disaffected persons. They occurred chiefly, as might be expected, in the western counties, and in Wales and the adjacent counties, which were the nests of the Royalist party.
From Tiverton the burgesses complained that their election of Major John Blackmore was nullified by the intrusion of disqualified voters, who elected Rob. Shapcote, a field officer under the late King, a great friend of their sequestrated minister, and moreover a promoter and frequenter of gaming, alehouses, and cockfights, and an associate of Cavaliers in drinking, card-playing, &c. (pp. 279–280).
At Bristol the election was a scene of great tumult and commotion. Geo. Hellier, the mayor, and the sheriffs declared that they had taken the opinion of counsel on the right of voting, and this opinion, contrary to the instrument of government, was that all freeholders might vote, whether of the late King's party or not, "whereon the cavalier party carried things as if there were no Commonwealth or Protector, but as if Charles Stuart were again enthroned." The members thus elected were Rob. Adworth and Ald. Miles Jackson; the latter had contributed to the late King, and signed the engagement to him and the protestation against serving under the Earl of Essex.
Col. Adrian Scrope, governor of Bristol, appealed to the Protector, stating that he never saw the city in a worse posture, the godly party exceedingly insulted by their enemies, and they thinking to carry all before them (pp. 331–3).
From Merionethshire Rich. Vaughan, the defeated candidate, complained that the election had been ordered at Bala, an inconvenient corner of the county; that 40 armed malignants had been brought in to overawe the voters; that he had been ordered out of court and abused and affronted by the justices of peace, then sitting at sessions; that notwithstanding all this, the majority was in his favour, but the sheriff counted the votes in an obscure place, and then declared as returned John Vaughan of Kenenbodig, a commissioner of array against Parliament, who had previously offered not to oppose the complainant's election if he would promise not to prosecute Edw. Vaughan for 9,000l. due to the State (p. 299.)
A charge was made against Bennett Hoskins, elected for Hereford, of having acted under a commission from the late King in raising men, horses, and arms; of having brought in men and arms to defend the city for the King, and of having left it with his eldest son when the Scots besieged it, and joined the King's party (pp. 311–2). Like objections were made against Rich. Read, the county member, that he was a commissioner for the King, and active in encouraging the people against Parliament. The well affected of the county sent a remonstrance representing their joy on hearing of the resolution to hold triennial Parliaments, the members of which were to be of known reputation and fearing God; and their disappointment that, for want of careful scrutiny, many malignants, prelaticals, or neuters in Christ's cause, were likely to be returned. They beg that no worldly policy will allow the election of any without a signal testimony of grace, and declaration of fidelity to the Commonwealth. This petition was signed by six justices of peace, eight ministers, and 178 others (pp. 319–20).
Exceptions were made to Sir John Pine, the member for Montgomeryshire, that he was an M.P. in 1642, but deserted, and sat in the Oxford Parliament; that he came not in till Montgomery Castle was taken, and when he would else have been sequestered, as his whole estate lay there; that he then, by plausible pretences, obtained the governorship of the castle, and that he endeavoured to betray it to the enemy (p. 346).
The burgesses of Peterborough complained that though they elected Major Alex. Blake, a person of known integrity, who always stuck close by the interest of Parliament, the disaffected nominated Hum. Orme, a Cavalier, and a swearer, drunkard, and quarreller; that the bailiff refused to read the instrument of government, and would not take the votes of any who lived within the Minster close, and by this means, secured the majority for Orme (p. 313).
The well affected of Surrey petitioned against the return of Col. Rob. Wood of Kingston, a godless swearer, who refused to send forces to Worcester, sided with the Cavaliers, and in the Earl of Holland's rising, engaged never to act against them; but on the other hand, a counter certificate was sent in that he did send a horse and arms, with a month's pay, to Worcester, and seven godly ministers certified that, whilst he was commissioner for Surrey, he did not oppose but countenance the ministers (p. 314).
The London citizens acknowledged God's mercies through the acting of some choice instruments in army and Parliament, but alleged that some were chosen city members whose actions have shown disaffection, and if such sit in Parliament, they fear to be bereft of present mercies, and disappointed of future hopes (p. 328).
There are also petitions against undue elections on other grounds than disaffection. The freeholders of Warwickshire objected to the choice of Sir Rich. Temple, Bart., because he was under age, but chosen on the sheriff's assurance to the electors that the Protector had granted him a dispensation, and they begged leave to choose another member (p. 306).
The inhabitants of the Isle of Ely complained that though they wished to elect Secretary Thurloe and Lieut.-Colonel Fras. Underwood, George Glapthorne, their chief bailiff, employed his under bailiffs to obtain for himself the votes of those who feared arrest, or the being returned on juries; that he changed the place of election suddenly from Ely to Wisbeach, surrounding the voting places with noisy drunkards, who excluded 124 persons from voting at all, and thus procured his own return, though he was in debt and a swearer and tippler. Glapthorne sent a counter petition, alleging his services to Parliament, and accusing his opponents of libel and undue practices (pp. 327–8).
Two Bedfordshire gentlemen sent an information that Mr. Dell, minister of Yeilden, met them, the day before the election, and asked for whom they would vote. They replied Sir Wm. Butler, when he bade them take care what they did, for the Protector did not wish Butler to be chosen, and had sent down an order about it; that if they chose such men, their tithes, taxes, &c. would be continued; but if they would choose Col. Okey, Mr. Taylor, &c. they were good men, and against the paying of tithes and taxes (p. 334).
At Great Yarmouth a dispute arose about the right of free election. It had been the ancient custom of the borough for the members to be elected by the aldermen and common council men only, and they accordingly chose two members, whereupon the free burgesses claimed their right of voting "and proceeded in a popular way to elect two other burgesses;" an act which the corporation stigmatise as "of dangerous consequence to the future peace of the place" (p. 284).
On August 21st, the elections being considered as completed, letters were prepared to the sheriffs of the several counties, containing lists of the persons in their respective sheriffdoms chosen to serve in Parliament, as approved by Council, and against whom no exception is depending, that they may give the persons chosen due notice to attend (pp. 318–323).
On August 28th, President Lawrence wrote to Lord Chief Justice St. John, and to Whitelock and Lisle, Commissioners of the Great Seal, requesting their attendance at Council, as weighty matters had to be considered before the meeting of Parliament (p. 337).
On September 19th, a day of fasting and humiliation was ordered to be held on October 11th, to supplicate God to remove darkness, profaneness, and formality, and to enable the rulers of these nations to proceed with zeal, wisdom, and union, to act for the interest of Christ and good of his people (p. 368).
Thus opened Cromwell's first Parliament.
Of the Protector personally few notices appear in the present volume, except from the pen of Sir Edw. Nicholas, Secretary of State of Charles II. He writes on August 22nd that Cromwell, by his fleet in the Downs, keeps all neighbouring princes in awe, but it must be an excessive expense to maintain it so long; yet he will abate no forces by sea or land till he sees how this Parliament, many of whom are notorious Presbyterians, will go on; adding that he seems to run absolutely their way, with which the Independents and Anabaptists, being the greatest part of his army, are much unsatisfied; but that he will probably purge the new elections (under pretence of such as are not upright men) till he has brought them all to be of his impious principles, as it is unlikely that ever he should rely on the Presbyterians (pp. 324–5).
Cromwell was not frequent in his attendance at the transaction of business at Council, which was the ruling power except during the sittings of Parliament. Out of 164 sittings held in the 10 months comprised in the present volume, he was present only at 28; but not the less he held the reins of government with a firm hand. He frequently modified the orders of Council, and none were allowed to pass without his assent.
Much pains was taken and much expense incurred in surrounding the Protector with the customary appliances of sovereignty. He had his life-guard, at the high rate of wages of 5s., equal to at least 1l. of our present money, daily (p. 218); it consisted of 45 gentlemen, besides officers, exclusive of 10 who were sent in attendance on Gen. Monk in Scotland (p. 378), and of a footguard appointed for the Mews (p. 286).
Council was ordered to bring in a model for the settlement of his family of attendants, and arrangements were made about money for its expenses (pp. 44, 217). The payments for it for which there are warrants during the 10 months amount to 65,000l., (fn. 1) exclusive of 5,000l. for repairs of his residences, and 6,592l. 17s. 7½d. for furniture (pp. 444–459). This consisted chiefly of the tapestry, hangings, and other goods belonging to the late King, which had been scattered or sold, and were now to be repurchased (pp. 69, 70, 146, 208, 338, 403). We find among them tapestries of the story of Vulcan, Mars, and Venus, which were bought at a cost of 350l. for his lodgings at Whitehall; also of the story of Hero and Leander, which cost 180l., and that of Hercules. Also the rich canopies, chairs of state, crimson velvet bed furniture, &c. which had been sent from Stirling Castle (p. 291). The total value of the Crown goods thus appropriated was estimated at 35,497l. 16s. 6d. (p. 360).
His plate was new and provided specially, and this and his household goods were directed to have the precedence in payment over other claims (pp. 92, 286).
The royal parks and residences were also to be repurchased and cleared for his use, viz., Hampton Court (pp. 32, 203, 223, 347); St. James's Fields (p. 39); Windsor Park and Bushy Close (pp. 99, 129, 144, 227, 276); Whitehall, — a portion of which was set apart for the Protector, and was ordered to be furnished "according to instructions from her Highness the Lady Cromwell" (pp. 70, 395);—and also the Mews there, the removal from which of many of the servants of the late King was a cause of much distress, and brought in a host of petitions (pp. 137–9).
Some of these properties having been sold with the rest of the Crown lands, they had to be repurchased, with a bonus to the proprietors for consenting to part with their bargains.
Of Cromwell's children, the only notices that occur are that the Admiralty Commissioners were dismissed from their place of sitting in Whitehall, as the rooms were required for Lord Richard (p. 401); and that Lord Henry Cromwell was sent to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant of the State's forces, and made one of the Council there (pp. 321, 328, 382, 464, 471).
Of the movements of the exiled King and his party, the notices are scanty. There is a list of sums promised by the German nobility, 19 Counts of the Wettarabian College, towards the King's subsistence, amounting to 1,764 rix dollars monthly, for 3 or 4 months (p. 111).
A letter from Sec. Nicholas on Aug. 22 records the efforts made by those about Charles to persuade him to comply with the Presbyterians, because of the numbers of that party chosen to sit in this mock Parliament (p. 325). Another, dated 8th December, records his "care and piety" to prevent the perversion of his young brother, the Duke of Gloucester, to the Romish faith, through the strong influence brought to bear on him by the Queen mother. Nicholas adds that it were much to the King's honour that his industry in this matter should be known, but that it would bring too much discredit on the Queen, for that, on the duke's insisting to obey his father and brother, and refusing to turn Papist, the Queen forbade him her Court, and denied him her parting blessing or leave to kiss her hand (p. 407).
The King's party in England had contrived a plot to be executed this spring, which had been communicated to Charles, and encouraged by Prince Rupert, the leading features of which were to be the murder of the Protector on his way to Hampton Court, the seizure of the guards at St. James's, and of Whitehall and the Council; then the Lord Mayor was to be compelled to proclaim Charles Stuart king. The plot was discovered, and a curious account of the trial of the principal conspirators, Gerard, Vowell, and Fox, was written by John Lisle, one of the Lord Commissioners of the Great Seal, who was appointed president of the High Court of Justice commissioned for the purpose.
The legal points raised on this trial are worthy of notice. To begin with, Judge Atkins refused to sit on the commission because he had already taken an oath not to act contrary to the laws of England, by which laws no man ought to be tried for his life, except by a jury. Vowell, one of the prisoners, took the same exception, but was answered that the commissioners were all his peers, and were twice the number of a jury, which jury was not requisite according to the Ordinance by which he was to be tried. He then argued that the law making it death to kill the Protector was only just passed, and that not by Parliament. He was answered that the Protector and Council had power to make laws, which should be binding till order be taken in Parliament. To this he rejoined that if he were questioned for his life on a temporary Ordinance, and should die by it, how could his life be restored should Parliament reverse the Ordinance? The argument was then used,—coming strangely from the lips of the advocates of a government based on the execution of Charles I.,—that by a statute of 25 Edw. III., as well as by later laws, it had been made treason to compass the death of the supreme magistrate of this nation, whether called king, queen, or by what name soever.
The prisoners were all condemned to death, but with hope of reprieve for Fox, who had confessed his guilt and expressed regret, whilst Vowell had spoken to the people, inciting them to sedition (pp. 233–240). Several of the persons implicated in this plot had not been secured, and therefore in May a proclamation was issued, that as the enemies of peace, notwithstanding the signal experiences of God in frustrating their designs, are still attempting to involve the nation in bloodshed, and sending emissaries from beyond seas, the constables of London and Westminster are to require from all householders lists of their lodgers since 19th May, and none are to be allowed to depart, or to change lodgings within 10 days, without license (pp. 184–5).
On 8th June a search was made in London, including Southwark, Lambeth, and Westminster, and all persons who were suspected and would not give a satisfactory account of themselves were apprehended. These were so numerous that they were sent to three places of confinement, and four committees, consisting in the whole of 31 persons, were appointed to examine them, and especially to see if any of these could be identified with a Col. Phillips, who had escaped from the Tower, Col. Chas. Finch, Major Thos. Henshaw, or Col. Deane, all men connected with the late plot, or seven others named.
The instructions to the commissioners ordered them to classify the prisoners into Irishmen, Foreigners, Papists, persons engaged against Parliament since 1648, persons without visible mode of subsistence, and persons suspicious on any particular ground. The reports were to be made as quickly as possible (pp. 204–5.)
A French gentleman, bearer of a letter to the French ambassador's lady, a German, upon whom was found a list of the forces of the Commonwealth, and another, a Roman Catholic, upon whom was found nothing but a profane poem, were stayed. Also John, son of the old Lord Digby, and brother of the Earl of Bristol, who was taken going without pass to France, in a shallop with three horses (p. 195). An order was issued that Digby and the German should be sent up in custody to London, and there committed to the serjeant-at-arms, and they were to be examined by Commissary Gen. Whalley and Col. Goffe (p. 203).
Stringent measures were adopted against in-comers as well as out-goers. The Dover and other packet boats were ordered to be closely watched, and all suspected persons arrested. Among these was Thomas, son of Lord Arundel of Wardour, who had come from Flanders with his two servants, but they were allowed to pass to London on the father's security for their doing nothing prejudicial (p. 187). On 31st May, 28 English, Scotch, and Dutch passengers who arrived from Dunkirk, three of them with an important packet for the Prince of Condé's agent in London, were stayed at Dover, though they had no letters of moment, and in spite of their importunity, could not be allowed to pass without leave from head-quarters (pp. 191–2).
Other ports, as Liverpool, Weymouth, Rye, Gravesend, &c., also sent up tidings of persons whom they had stayed, and requested directions (pp. 190, 195–6), and Council wrote to the port officers an order to strictly examine all passengers, outwards or inwards, as to the object of their journeys, search their papers, examine into their fidelity to the State, and on cause of suspicion, keep them in custody till further orders (pp. 199–200).
On 4th July, fresh letters were issued to the officers of 34 ports to use their uttermost diligence in searching all vessels, coming in or going out, for suspicious persons, and to use a more than ordinary vigilance in creeks and small outlets, where dangerous persons would probably apply (p. 243).
Great care was also taken to prevent any general gatherings of the people, on what pretext soever. Meetings of the Quakers in Derbyshire were prohibited, lest, under this pretext, prejudicial designs should be prosecuted (pp. 210–1). On 6th July, on tidings from Berwick, the bishopric of Durham, and other places in the north, of the assembling of people and horses, especially of the disaffected—who, "notwithstanding the late discovery made of their plans by God's grace, are not yet discouraged from their plottings"—proclamations were issued strictly prohibiting all meetings of Papists and disaffected persons, and troops were sent down to assist in preventing them. A letter from Council to Capt. Chas. Howard on the subject is entered in the Council order book, and a later hand has added in the margin the following note: "Old Noll's rules to put down interludes (?) of the 99; then to govern the 100th.—J. C." (pp. 245–6).
Similar orders were issued relative to meetings of Papists, Jesuits, and ill-affected persons at Wolverhampton. Sir John Worley and Capt. John Stone were ordered to inquire into the matter, prevent such meetings, apprehend dangerous persons, and proceed with priests and Jesuits according to law (p. 307).
Apprehensions were not likely to be quieted by examinations taken of several mariners of the Elizabeth man-ofwar, who reported hearing one Rich. Thursby say that 5,000 of the King of Scots' old soldiers had entered the army, and as many more the navy, to cut the throats of the Protector's men; that he hoped soon to see the Protector's throat cut, and 10,000 more of the grandees, and that he and 500 more had entered the State's ships on purpose to blow up and destroy them (p. 247).
A private letter of 26th September records that the writer is troubled because of the general discontent abroad, and because many who are in trust, and commanders of ships in the expedition about to go under Gen. Blake on foreign service, are Cavaliers; and one of the officers alleged that although Blake endeavoured to draw them to close with the present Government, yet three parts of the fleet, should opportunity offer, would turn their broadsides against the Protector and the present government, as freely as ever they did against the King (pp. 371–2).
In some parts of England, where the delinquents (as Royalists were generally called) had succeeded in retaining or regaining their estates, as notably in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Cumberland, the tenants presented heavy complaints of the oppressions of their delinquent landlords, the "bloody Papists and Cavaliers," whose malice is seven times hotter than before; who have turned out some of them, and threaten to turn out the rest for their service to Parliament; who exact fines and heriots, compel labour, and forbid the felling of wood or digging for stone. They appeal to the Protector to be "the Moses to this English Israel," and take this Egyptian yoke off their necks. The reply was the appointment of separate committees for each of the three counties, which should try to accommodate between landlords and tenants (pp. 294–5).
It was the avowed principle of Commonwealth rule to recognise as public debts those which had been incurred in the service of the late King, before the commencement of the civil war, but the principle was not carried out into practice. The Revenue Committee passed lists of bills for 6,000l. due to the King's servants, but after 800l. had been paid, they complained that they had received nothing for three-quarters of a year, and were wanting food and raiment. Thereupon 800l. more was ordered, and they were told that there would be no further payments, so that their longer attendance would be useless (pp. 15–6).
An order had been passed that the late King's goods should be sold for the benefit of his numerous creditors and servants, but this was defeated by Cromwell's appropriation of the goods yet undisposed of. They therefore begged an Ordinance granting them such moneys as they could get in by discovery of the King's personal concealed estate, that they might have something to keep them from starving (p. 104).
Inquiry was then ordered as to what part of the goods had been employed, and how the late trustees for their sale might best be brought to account, complaints having been made and proved that the trustees had violated their trust, and disposed of the goods unjustly, whilst the servants were starving and in prison (pp. 230, 255).
On the part of the trustees it was urged that, in the list of goods sent in by the servants, many are named which were never committed to their charge; that there is a design against them, and that the servants' claims should be carefully looked into, as many claim more than their due, many were paid up to 1642, and many are delinquents, and should not be paid at all (pp. 278–9).
The result of the investigation was the production of several accounts, the final one showing that, after the reservation of goods to the Protector and of goods otherwise pledged and disposed of, the balance due was 9,717l. 18s. 6d. This sum was ordered to be paid to the servants, it is true, but it was assigned upon the tardily gathered and already overcharged fines imposed by the Act of Grace on the people of Scotland (pp. 360–1, 403). Cases of petitions of individual servants occur on pp. 127, 298, 326, &c.
The government of Scotland presented serious difficulties; the country was nominally in subjection, but a lingering warfare was still carried on by Col. Middleton in the west, and Monk was sent as commander-in-chief to Scotland to oppose him. Monk's instructions, dated April 6th, were to learn the state of the country, particularly the Highlands, and the best way of reducing them; to grant pardons to all who shall be willing to come in, provided their estates are under 400l. a year; and to entertain, if needful, a regiment of 600 Highlanders. Since many in Scotland, who did not themselves take arms, encouraged the Highland rebels by sending them horses, arms, and money, all such offenders were to be punished by an imposition of the same service for the Parliament army as they had given to their opponents. All Englishmen taken in arms with the enemy were to be put to death, and all Scots sent to foreign plantations (pp. 83–5.)
The chief notices of the contest occur in letters from commanders of ships appointed to guard the coasts, and to convey supplies to the troops at Inverlochy, Ayr, and elsewhere on the western coast (pp. 261, 297, 317, 366), and also to surprise the Royalist men-of-war, called Charles Stuart's Booters, cruising about Pentland and the coasts, who took merchant vessels, and sold what they got in Caithness, a place wholly devoted to him (p. 255).
In April, troops were sent by the Protector to Northumberland, to protect it from a party of the enemy's horse which lately came over the borders, and infested the northern counties (p. 100). On 16th April, Capt. Sherwin, sent to Inverness with supplies for Col. Morgan, reports that the colonel lies 20 miles off on the river Tayn, with a large party of horse and foot, the enemy being on the other side in Sutherland and Caithness, advancing their levies, which increase but slowly, though they force the generality of the people. He adds, "They have got on a neck of land, and if they have but a stomach to fight with us, as they have with one another, the roguish gang will be dissipated. There is like to be good order and discipline among them, when their chiefs fight single hand, one with the other, for superiority!" (p. 102). The result of these dissensions in the ill-disciplined army of the Royalists soon became apparent.
A private letter of 3rd August alludes to "the considerable success our forces have had against the Scotch under Middleton" (p. 286), in consequence of which that general attempted to transport his forces to the Isle of Skye; in this he was opposed, not only by a Parliament ship, but by Sir Jas. Macdonald, governor of the isle, who defeated him and compelled him to retreat to Lochaber, where his position was rendered worse by the capture of the man-of-war that had brought him over from Holland, and had been skulking about the isles of Scotland ever since (p. 367).
As a consequence of his ill fortune, the Highlanders began to come in daily, and place themselves under the protection of Col. Bryan or Brayne, the Parliamentary commander at Inverlochy in Lochaber (p. 382). On 11th December, Col. Brayne, writing from thence, records that the enemy are not considerable, are far northward, and that all diligence is used to impede their levies. Also that this place, which was their safe place of retreat and recruit, is now very peaceable and in a posture of defence, and with the force of the garrison, will be able to oppose any they can bring (p. 408).
The seeming hopelessness of the Royalist cause led one after another of the Scotch nobles who had embraced it to accept the articles which Monk was authorised, on behalf of the Protector, to offer them. Their personal safety was guaranteed, on their giving security in large sums for their peaceable deportment. Also their estates, real and personal, were allowed them, but with the proviso that such portions as had been given away by way of donative from the late Parliament, the Commissioners in Scotland, or the Protector, should not be restored.
They were forbidden to remain in any place not approved by the Protector, on pain of forfeiting their security; nor were they allowed to hold meetings of their vassals for courts baron, except by leave from the commander-in-chief; also they were strictly prohibited, on pain of forfeiture of articles, from inflicting any punishment on those of their tenantry who had remained neuter, or had assisted the Parliamentary party during the wars.
All arms were to be surrendered to the commanders of the nearest garrison, the officers retaining their horses and swords on security, the soldiers selling their horses. It was then customary to transport prisoners of war to the Barbadoes, but those belonging to the capitulators were to be released and restored. These articles were taken between August 24th and September 23rd, 1654, by John Earl of Athol, William Earl of Glencairn, James Lord Forester, Robert Viscount Kenmure, and James Marquis of Montrose.
In the civil administration of the country, there was a tendency to leniency in the carrying out of regulations which were sufficiently rigorous. The commissioners for administering justice were instructed to moderate their decrees against debtors, and to allow time for payment, but with interest, and to compel the creditors to take land at a competent rate in payment (p. 77).
Sir Alex. Gibson of Ducie, co. Fife, pleaded for and obtained indemnity against creditors to whom, as treasurer of the Scots' army in 1640 and 1641, he gave bonds for payments for the army, which had been declared by Act of Parliament to be public debts, but in default of repayment, he was sued by the creditors, and in danger of imprisonment and loss of estate (pp. 125–6, 183).
Ordinances were also passed for better support of the universities and public preachers in Scotland; for setting up lectures, and for allowing certain debts and payments to Glasgow University (p. 288).
An Ordinance of grace and pardon for the people of Scotland was drawn up, and after much discussion, and the adding of several provisoes, it was passed, and became law (p. 90). Its bearing was threefold. It specified several persons as excluded from its benefits, and this exclusion involved the entire forfeiture of their estates (p. 163). It inflicted fines on many nobles and others, so heavy that to them its graciousness was more than doubtful; but it pardoned fully all who were not included in its exceptions, and thereby presented an inducement to the humbler classes to acquiesce in Parliamentary rule. The fined nobles and gentry remonstrated strongly against the amounts required from them, as impossible to be raised from their ruined estates; they were met by an order to pay in one third of the amount, when the Commissioners for Sequestration in Scotland should be authorised to hear their plea for mitigation of the remainder (pp. 210, 246). Those who happened to be in London were to be heard before Council (p. 249). Lambert drew up a report, upon which an Ordinance for mitigation was passed, but the details of its working do not appear till the following year (pp. 263, 285).
Among the petitioners were the tutors of Mary Scott, aged six years, heir to the late Earl of Buccleugh, who beg relief from the fine of 15,000l. set upon the estate by the Act of pardon for Scotland, as its condition is such that it will else be in danger of confiscation by payment of such a fine. They plead further that her father only lived to be 25 years old, was active to further the Gospel and the good of the people, and was averse to the invasion of 1648 (p. 223).
William, Earl Marshal of Scotland, was taken prisoner and sent to the Tower in September 1651, for being in arms against the State; he pleads that he never was in arms, but was seized while riding peaceably from his own house to Elliott, but that he finds himself excluded in the late Act of pardon for Scotland, to the utter ruin of himself and his posterity. Moreover, his entire estate is made over to trustees, so that he cannot support his expenses in the Tower, and begs maintenance for himself and family. This was granted to the amount of 3l. and then of 5l. a week (pp. 163, 273, 302, 312).
An Ordinance was also passed for settling estates in Scotland, but in the practical working, it was found greatly to interfere with the donatives out of forfeited estates which had been largely granted by the Parliament of Scotland. A compromise was made by allowing to the owners of donatives compensation for their lost estates, at 10 years' purchase, payable from the fines to be levied by the Act of pardon (pp. 90, 186). This privilege was extended to donatives made by the English Commissioners in Scotland as well as by the Parliament of Scotland (pp. 195, 220).
The union between the two Parliaments, which had been a subject of serious discussion the preceding year, was now completed, and an Ordinance issued accordingly. All the Scottish nation were thereby discharged from any allegiance to Charles Stuart, and he and all the issue of he late King were disabled from holding the crown of Scotland. All kingly office and the right of the three Estates in Scotland were taken away, and all ferfeitures, rents, &c. formerly belonging to the Crown, were to fall to the Protector. All goods were to pass custom free between the two countries, and all taxes to be borne proportionably by both (pp. 90–1).
Scotland was however allowed only 30 members of Parliament, 20 to stand for the counties and 10 for the boroughs, many places being united to form a constituency (pp. 197–9). The same forms were to be observed in the writs for Scotland as had been enjoined for those in England (p. 228).
The pacification of the Church was found a matter more difficult to accomplish. A long report on a proposal thereon by the Scotch ministers is given, pp. 386–7.
Several papers occur of local interest, e.g.:—
Proposals for the better preservation of Windsor Forest (pp. 9–12, 169).
Disputes on a project for making the river Way or Wye at Guildford, Surrey, navigable (pp. 49, 51–2, 75).
A petition of those inhabitants of the suburbs of Coventry whose houses had been pulled down for defence of the city during the war, for compensation by a rate on the able inhabitants, whose safety was secured by their losses. Referred to Parliament (p. 79).
A petition from the residents in Christ Church Close, Norwich, for continuance of its exemption from the city jurisdiction. Granted (p. 97).
A petition from the inhabitants of Berwick-on-Tweed, for enforcement of the regulations relative to the fishing in the river (pp. 103–4). Also an Ordinance for vesting lands in the mayor and corporation, for perpetual repair of the bridge. Referred (p. 292).
Disputes as to the right of mastership and management of Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury, co. Hereford, between the temporary master, John Tombes, and the trustees for deans and chapters' lands (pp. 170–3, 194, 244–5).
A petition of the inhabitants of the West Riding of Yorkshire, complaining that those of the two other ridings throw upon them an unfair proportion of the assessments laid on the county (p. 179).
A petition of the inhabitants of Glasgow, for immunity from assessment, on account of their sad condition through a late fire, or for leave to distribute the sums levied among the sufferers. Granted (p. 249).
A petition of the town of Manchester, on behalf of their ministry, to whom 2,000l. a year formerly appertained, for an order to compel the inhabitants to pay them 400l. a year in lieu of tithes. Granted (pp. 263, 312).
A petition of the mayor, &c. of Pontefract for payment of 120l. 9s. 9d., balance in hand from the sale of the materials of their castle,—which, being ruined by several sieges, was demolished during the wars,—in order therewith to rebuild their house of sessions, which, being within shot of the castle, was ruined. Granted (pp. 344–5).
A petition of the mayor, &c. of Hull for payment of 60l., part of the impositions on coals, for the winter quarter, which, by Act of Parliament, they are to receive for their poor (p. 420).
A petition of the organist of Christ Church, Oxford, for payment of the modest sum of 10l. a year, settled on him by the dean and prebends, for playing the organ (p. 425).
A petition of the inhabitants of Durham for leave to hold an assize and gaol delivery, which they have not had since August 1652. It was laid aside, but renewed three months later, on the ground that there are many felons in the gaol, that the prisoners are a great burden and disturbance, and can hardly be safely kept, and that there are many suits which have been long depending. This time it was granted (pp. 63, 204).
There are several entries relating to old St. Paul's, London. In April a committee was formed to consider an estimate from the Lord Mayor of the charge of supporting the ruinous parts of it, and of disposing of it for the best safety of the city (p. 88).
In May a report occurs from a committee appointed to consider the lawfulness of building on land sold as belonging to the State, at the west end of St. Paul's. It tended to the non-permission of erections, on the plea that the ground had always been waste, and used as a burying place in times of contagion when other places were oppressed with corpses, and that churchyards are excepted from the right of sale of deans and chapters' lands. Also that it is the usual place of reception for ambassadors who pass from the city to Westminster. Also that any building would straiten the passage towards Ludgate Hill, where now people are often hurt. Then follow numerous depositions of the neighbouring inhabitants, to prove that the ground has been 55 years void (pp. 141–3).
About this time, part of the south side of the church having fallen down, the Lord Mayor and aldermen beg leave to use the lead that covered it to make pipes for conveying water to the city, which is much needed. This was granted (p. 325).
There are also several papers relating to the Tower of London; a full account of the fees paid to the warden and other officers; particulars of repairs, expenses of the prisoners, &c. Also an important list of all who were imprisoned there in June 1654, with the dates of their commitment, beginning with Dr. Wren, late bishop of Ely, who had lingered 10 years in prison, and ending with Somerset Fox, taken for the late conspiracy against the Protector. The total number is 45; it includes nine Scotch peers and one English peer, taken at or after the battle of Worcester (pp. 273–4, 390–1). Most of these were liberated in September, on security not to act against the State, but they were banished, and were not to return without leave (p. 353).
Several characters of mark appear in the present volume. There is a petition of Thos. Sydenham,—here called Capt. Sydenham, because of his having served as such in the Parliamentary army, in which he was wounded,—praying for arrears due to his brother Major John Sydenham, slain in Scotland, to whom he had lent money to buy horses for going to Scotland, which was never repaid. He mentions also his brother, Major Francis, who was slain in the West, and whose executors only received 80l. of his arrears (p. 14). The three brothers here named were brothers of Col. William Sydenham, a prominent member of Cromwell's Council, and one of the Commissioners of the Treasury. They were of the Wynford Eagle or Dorsetshire branch of the family, the elder branches of which had chiefly embraced the royalist cause. The reply to the petition was an order for 600l. in full of all demands; and its payment was to be made by the collectors of an imposition on coals in Newcastle, from a balance in their hands (pp. 33, 115, 123). This Capt. Sydenham afterwards became so eminent as a physician, that he has been named the father of English medicine. A tablet to his memory, erected by the College of Physicians, is in St. James's Church, Piccadilly, and from him the Sydenham Society, for the publication of medical works, takes its name.
A letter occurs relating the wonderful cures performed by Mat. Coker, who professed to possess a miraculous gift of healing; it relates his restoration, of the lame, the sick, and the lunatic. A pamphlet recording his cures, published in 1654, is in the British Museum (p. 188).
Sir Wm. Davenant, poet and dramatist, also petitioned the Protector. He was prisoner in the Tower for his loyalty to the King, and appointed in 1650 to be tried for treason before the High Court of Justice, but no proceedings were taken. He was released on exchange in November 1651, after two years' imprisonment, on bail not to stir from the town; but he was soon made prisoner again for debt, and he begs a second release and a general pardon, that he may live as a faithful subject (pp. 106–7.)
The daughters of Dr. John Cosin, late dean of Peterborough, and after the restoration, bishop of Durham, petition for an allowance from their father's sequestered estate, and also for restoration of his library, detained at Peterhouse, Cambridge. Both requests were granted, and the books, the nucleus of the collection which exists in Bishop Cosin's library at Durham, were restored to them (p. 302).
Several other ladies petitioned. Margaret, daughter of the Earl of Thomond, and second wife of Edward, the Earl of Worcester noted for his scientific inventions, but prisoner in the Tower. She begs some maintenance, if she cannot have her fifths as other wives. Being a second wife, she is not mother to Lord Herbert, and has only received 20l. from him. During nine years she has only received 400l. from the estate, and her husband, having but 3l. a week from the State and 3l. from Lord Herbert, has not abundance to pay lodgings and keepers' fees, and provide food for himself and six servants. Considering her birth, she says, she takes no pleasure in trudging up and down on foot, or in a sculler, yet could not do otherwise, nor go attired as a gentlewoman, had she not sold some of her former clothes (p. 123).
Lady Anne Blount, daughter of Montjoy Earl of Newport, complains that, though only 16 years of age, and living with her father, one Wm. Blount, a Papist, who has been in arms, publishes that she is contracted to him and that he will marry her whether she will or no! There being now no bishops' courts, she appealed to the Commissioners of the Great Seal, but they could only issue a commission on the case. She begs its issue to discreet and able men, as these false scandals prejudice her and trouble her parent (p. 105).
The perils attendant upon State messengers during the late troubles are vividly detailed in petitions of Rowland Fawkard, messenger of the late Council of State, and of Anne his widow (pp. 348–349). Request is made on behalf of Chris. Burrell, of Wratting, "a most precious, ancient servant of God," and the first person in Suffolk who appeared against the superstitious innovations of Bishop Wren and Dr. Cosin, for help, being much in debt through losing all his goods and books by fire, and through being long kept out of his benefice. This was granted to the amount of 50l. (p. 253).
The literary entries are scanty and chiefly confined to prosecutions for publications inimical to the present Government (pp. 3, 59, 62, 170, 378). Specimens of verses in favour of the King, more remarkable for their loyalty than their poetry, are to be found (pp. 282–3, 430–1). Also a Latin tractate in favour of Cromwell's government, and another on the best means of composing strife among the Evangelicals (p. 431).
Leave was given for printing an edition of a concordance of the Bible, prepared by Rob. Wickens, minister of Toddenbam, co. Warwick, more useful than any extant, on account of its smallness of volume and price (p. 147). John Tracey failed to obtain permission to bring in 9,000 folio Bibles and other books in quires, which had lain on hands 12 years at Dunkirk, by reason of the late wars (pp. 314–15).
The papers relating to the Navy are somewhat numerous. Those which have a political or historical bearing will be found in the body of the Calendar. The less important papers are tabulated at the end of the volume after the warrants. A table of the attendances of the Council, compiled from the Council books, will be found at the close of these remarks.
Jan. 29th, 1881. M. A. E. G.