Thursday, December 25, 1656.
A Bill for the setting the holding of the Sheriff's Court
for the County of Wilts, to be kept at the Devizes was this
day read the second time.
Resolved, that this Bill be referred to a Committee, &c.
Major-General Disbrowe reported amendments to the Bill
for the Forest of Deane, and mitigation of the laws, &c. (fn. 1)
Mr. Robinson. I am against the re-foresting of it. It is
to turn the people of England into wild beasts. It is too
long time to keep the commoners out, 12 years, till the woods
be grown up. We promised Englishmen freedom, equal
freedom. If this was actually de-forested, let not us re-forest
it. Did we not make the people believe that we fought for
their liberty. Let us not deceive them of their expectation.
Is it not by their hands and successes that our interest remains; that we sit here ? Let us not forget it, lest we be laid
aside ourselves, upon the same account that former powers
were laid aside. I desire this Bill may not be ingrossed.
Major-General Disbrowe. This gentleman assigns no inconvenience particularly to the people by this Bill. It is not
to turn men into wild beasts, or to make wild beasts men;
but to make wild men tame men; to restrain extravagancies
in destroying the timber. It takes away the rigour of the
forest law. I believe it will not be denied but a justice-seat
in a forest, is law: else it had not been continued in those
peeping times, when it would have been strictly looked to, to
set up any jurisdiction contrary to law. It gives the people
more liberty than they have had these hundred years. They
expect no benefit by these eighteen thousand acres, but think
themselves wholly excluded; but this, after a time, restores
the commoner's right.
Colonel Mathews. I am against this Bill. It ought to be
well considered. Provide what you will for timber, not only
there, but in general; but I would have us careful of ushering in former oppressions and extravagancies. Those were
very strict, and tended to depopulation. I am against receiving any thing like the former forest laws. I desire it
may not be ingrossed.
Resolved, that this Bill be ingrossed; but two Noes.
Resolved, that Mr. Bedford have leave to go into the
country. He has a sick child.
Major-General Disbrowe stood up, but the orders of the day
were called for.
Colonel Mathews. The House is thin; much, I believe,
occasioned by observation of this day. I have a short Bill to
prevent the superstition for the future. I desire it to be
Mr. Robinson. I could get no rest all night for the preparation of this foolish day's solemnity. This renders us, in the
eyes of the people, to be profane. We are, I doubt, returning to Popery.
Sir William Strickland. It is a very fit time to offer the
Bill, this day, to bear your testimony against it, since people
observe it with more solemnity than they do the Lord's-day.
I desire it may be read.
Major-General Kelsey and Major Morgan. If this had been
ten days since, it might have been in good time; but let not
this business jostle out great and eminent business, you
having a twelve-months' time to provide this law. It is too
late now to make a law against it.
Major-General Packer, Major Audley, and Sir Gilbert
Pickering. If ever bill was well timed this bill is. You see
how the people keep up these superstitious observations to
your face; stricter, in many places, than they do the Lord'sday. One may pass from the Tower to Westminster and
not a shop open, nor a creature stirring. It is a fit time now.
They desired it might be read.
Mr. Godfrey. If this Bill had not been moved to be read, I
should not have pressed it; but seeing you have admitted it
to a debate, and at this time, I hope we shall all witness
against it: otherwise it will be said abroad that these superstitious days have favourites in this House.
An Act for abolishing and taking away festivals, commonly
called holydays. Read the first time.
Sir William Strickland proposed that it might be read the
second time to-morrow.
Colonel Hewitson seconded that motion.
Sir Christopher Pack. I am as much for this Bill as any
man, but I would not have us, under the notion of taking
away festivals, take away the Lord's-day, for in the Bill the
festival of Easter and Pentecost are abolished. Yet this Bill
may be made good by the commitment. I desire it may be
Major-General Disbrowe. I have a short Bill to offer you,
for continuance of a tax upon some people, for the maintenance of the militia. It will be for the security of your
peace. It can fall upon no persons so fitly as those that occasion the charge. Let us lay the saddle upon the right horse.
Your friends and enemies have hitherto borne an equal share.
There ought to be a discrimination; for if your enemies
should have prevailed, they would have freed themselves.
Mr. Bond. It is not wisdom for you to give leave to any
person to bring in a Bill to lay any charge upon the people,
till you have gone through with what you have under consideration concerning it. The gentleman offers it very properly to ask your leave, but I hope you will not give it.
Mr. Robinson. This motion is very properly offered. The
Cavaliers are the cause of this war, (fn. 2) considering how near they
are a kin to the Spaniard. You protect them. They do not
protect you. They keep together, waiting an opportunity to
supplant you. In the late insurrections few of that party but
had a younger brother, or some relation engaged in the plot,
at that time, in every family, especially in the North parts.
This may be demonstrated to you at. the Committee. I confess, when the declaration came out, I could not believe the
rising was within three miles of me. Till I saw the arms (fn. 3) I
could not credit it. There were ridings in the night from East
to North, to South, &c. Sir Richard Maleverer, before Lord
Wilmot came, rode from family to family. They met under
pretence of huntings and the like. I believe hardly a family
in the North— (fn. 4) I know what it was in the South. But
they had correspondency in the plot. I took some examination as a justice of peace, before other authority came out.
Lord Wilmot lay three nights at Sir William Ingrain's,
and solicited people very strongly, and threatened some.
Lord Wilmot, when he went to Hessam-moor, expected 4,000
in arms there, with a design upon York; but he said some had
deceived them. Wilmot being the wisest man amongst them,
would not have come in upon slender grounds. He fully
stinted to have been in York that night, rifling such a man's
bags. The design was universally known amongst them. I
am satisfied. (fn. 5)
It is equal, that they that occasion the trouble should bear
the burthen of it. They are your only enemies.
But you will say the Act of Oblivion (fn. 6) is against it.
I wish it had been reciprocally kept on their part. How
many of that party have declared for you ? Haply not above
two or three in a country. They wait all occasions to overthrow you, and close with any design to destroy. Will you
make no distinction between your friends and your enemies ?
What witness have they borne for you. How have they declared against their own interest ? Do they not keep Charles
Stewart's interest warm still amongst them; agents and letters
amongst them ? What public declaration have they made
against that party ?
The Act of Oblivion was for all the party. It did not
pardon any individual person. The compact was made with
the body, the party; not one by one.
I appeal to some gentlemen here, and without too, if
that Act was not drawn by the consultation and counsel of
the Cavalier party. I was against it at the first. We needed
rather an Act of Commemoration. The honest party look
upon it as a great favour, that there is a distinction made, a
character set upon him, that you may know a Cavalier from a
Roundhead. I may haply be unsatisfied as well as other men,
but I believe it as much my Lord Protector's interest as any
If you bear your witness to that distinction, it will encourage your friends, though it be but a small tax. They grow
fat and live at home;—we decrease; they increase. I should
be sorry to see your strength discouraged by your own friends,
and build up an army of Cavaliers, of untempered mortar, that
will not consist with your interest. Most certain if the power
were in their hands, they would spare their friends, and lay it
upon us. Though I was least believing or sensible of the plot,
yet it was within three miles of me; and I am sure my throat had
been cut in the first place. It is but just they should feel it.
Major-General Jephson. This gentleman has given you a
large narration of the late insurrection, more particularly, I
confess, than I have heard before; and, certainly, those honourable persons that laid the tax, know more of the particulars. He has told you much of the utile, but not a word of
the honestum, which the philosopher said were to be concomitants. I shall speak nothing against the Bill as to the merit
of it. You may bring one in; but I would first have you
consider how it will stand with your honour to admit an act
against an act. First, let a day be appointed to consider of
repealing all or part of the former Act of Parliament, and
then give way, to read this Bill. But I doubt it will hardly
be for your honour to break the faith of a Parliament. If it
appear that any of them have been really in the plot, let them
not pay part, but all.
Colonel Sydenham. It is not so much against morality and
honesty as this gentleman speaks of. It is well enough
known what plots were laid; how implacable and inveterate
that party are against you; how they separate themselves
to this day. They have not relinquished their party; not
one of them declared against Charles Stewart. The tax was
laid upon good consideration, and I hope this Parliament will
never think it unreasonable, to continue it.
The Master of the Rolls. Till there be a further debate
upon the grounds of this tax, before the Bill be brought in,
for order's sake I would have you debate the particulars, how
and upon whom this tax must be laid. If any, since the Act of
Oblivion, have acted or plotted any thing against the public
peace, let them suffer severely; but it is not for the honour
of a Parliament to break the faith of Parliaments. Never
was an Act of Oblivion violated by a Parliament in any age
of the world.
Sir Gilbert Pickering. I believe few within these walls
but have seen declarations of this business at large, as full as
tongue or pen can express it. If it be not honest, I pray
God it may not be done; but I doubt it will appear both
before God and man, that it is but too honest and just, too
apparent cause to lay this tax. They keep their interest up
in a body. Your friends are sure to hear of their malice,
when they can have power to exercise it. It is implacable,
and irreconcileable to our interest, till time out-date it.
Lord Whitlock. You are not ripe for a question, to lay a
tax upon the people, upon a bare motion, without further debate. I do believe, with those gentlemen that have spoken,
that there is an inveterate hate of that party against us. Some
other way, haply, may be found out to restrain them. There
was never any act of oblivion, or any part of it broken by a
Parliament. It is of dangerous consequence. The way has
been, first to debate the grounds and reasons of a tax before
it be laid, and that in a Grand Committee; but not so seasonable to bring in a Bill now. I shall humbly move that a
day shall be appointed.
Colonel Holland. I always observed that the rule of all
Commonwealths was salus populi suprema lex. Anciently it
was the rule held forth in our Commonwealth. In the Long
Parliament, this Act of Oblivion was highly debated. For my
part, I was utterly against it, as foreseeing the Cavaliers were
a party not to be obliged by it. I know the Act was drawn
and driven on by the counsel and advice of that party. This
plot was universally contrived by them.
Mr. Speaker. In all taxes that I ever knew, the quantum
and quo modo were first propounded. It was so in the tax
of 4000l. upon the northern contribution. It is not worthy
of the House to give directions to bring in a Bill for laying a
tax, till you first understand what, and upon whom, it must
be laid; which ought to be debated first in a Grand Committee.
Lord Lambert. By orders of the House, as I understand
them, no bill can be brought in with a quantum, but always
with a blank. It is talked of a debate in a Grand Committee.
Must every Bill pass a Grand Committee before it is read in
the House. Here is a contradiction in the orders. In a business of this nature, that concerns the safety of the Commonwealth, we should go the nearest way. But if it be thought
fit to debate it first in a Grand Committee, I shall not be
against it; that every thing may be weighed to the full, and,
if it be not both bonum and utile, I shall not be for it.
Mr. Godfrey. It is not a proper season, the House being
so thin. I would have it suspended till the House be called,
for it is fit before a tax be laid upon all, or any part of the
people, that it should be first freely debated in a Grand Committee. I shall say nothing to the merit of the thing, but
to the orders of your proceedings. A matter of this nature
ought certainly to undergo a serious consideration, and to agree
of the quantum and quo modo, before the Bill be brought in.
Mr. Speaker. I hear many call for a question. I understand no particulars. I must put a general question, whether
liberty shall be given to bring in a Bill for laying a tax for
maintenance of the forces.
Lord-Chief-Justice. The gentlemen moved, very properly,
for leave to bring in a Bill. But I never knew any Bill received to lay any tax, till it was first debated in the particulars; as how many subsidies or fifteenths. The matters were
always debated, very leisurely, and in a full House. The
motion is very general, to charge some persons, not knowing
who, nor how. This ought to have a full debate. You
ought to ascertain the thing. If it be for decimation, or the
like, to ascertain upon what persons it must lie. Let a day
be appointed, that all may know of it; as this day sennight.
I shall not be against the Bill. But it is fit for our honour
that serve here for the nation, to do things regularly and
Major-General Whalley. I wonder to hear that honourable person speak to put it off for a sennight. I shall not
pretend much to understand the orders of the House. This
is not to lay a tax upon all the people, but only upon such
a party as have been active, and are yet active against you;
such as are now decimated. (fn. 7) It is not upon all that party;
not upon them that have laid down their arms, and lived
peaceably; or have given signal testimony of their affection to
you. I know no reason why you should defer this business,
to make so long a debate.
Colonel Hewitson. You are not laying a tax upon the
people, but upon your enemies, whose estates are at the devotion of your enemies. They are active people, whom they
well employ to your destruction. I grant the Act of Oblivion is a sacred thing, and your public faith ought to be
kept; but I hope you only pardon offences, not what is to
come. If they have digged pits or laid snares since, against
the honest party, that you will not be asleep, but look about
you. You are disobliged from the Act of Oblivion. I desire
that a Bill may be brought in, to lay an assessment upon the
Major-General Packer. Your Question should be, to lay
a tax upon all that have been sequestered; or aided, assisted,
or abetted, the late King's party.
Colonel Holland proposed, that the tax might be laid upon
all that have been sequestered for acting, abetting, or adhering to the late war against the Parliament.
Colonel Jones. The plainer your question is, the better;
for the intent is to confirm what is past, and what is to come,
as to continuing the charge of decimation. I am for a day to
be appointed to debate this business fully, and that the honourable persons of the Council may give you satisfaction,
upon what terms, grounds, and reasons, the tax was laid upon
that party, that the justice and honesty of the business may
Mr. Reynell proposed, that for all men's satisfaction, a
day might be appointed to debate the justice, right, and
reason of the business. It is fit we should as well have a regard to the honestum and justum as to the utile and tutum.
If the Cavaliers be never so wicked, let us be just to them,
and keep our faith. I never heard that a Parliament did
ever violate or repeal an Act of Oblivion.
Major-General Disbrowe. I offer a question more general, not to include all persons sequestered, or have been aiding, &c. Some have given testimony of their affection to
you, both before and since the decimation. It is known
upon whom it is aimed to lay the tax, so that you may put
your question more generally. It is far from me to offer to
lay a tax upon any of them that either have, or shall come
into a cheerful compliance with us, and disclaiming their
party. It is their reformation, not their ruin, is desired. If
they become our friends, let them benefit by their change.
Mr. Moody. Express whom you mean, by that party
you will lay the tax upon. It is good we know it.
Lord-Chief-Justice. Appoint Tuesday next to debate this
business, for it ought to be seriously weighed how far this
Act shall extend, and the quantum and quo modo, which is the
regular way in all such matters.
Colonel Purefoy. Appoint to-morrow morning to debate
this business, lest you lose your time.
Mr. Trevor. It will be better to debate, whether it will
be fit to bring in the Bill first, rather than after the Bill is
brought in, to reject it. It may be to-morrow morning, if
Mr. Secretary. I have known precedents both ways, as to
what is urged, for or against the debating; whether leave
should be given to bring in a Bill to tax the nation or no.
Your danger of delaying it is not so far off, haply, as some
think. I desire the question may be put, to lay the tax
upon all such as have been sequestered for delinquency, or
have aided, assisted, &c. with such exceptions, &c.
Mr. Butler. What will be said without doors, that you
have had a debate upon this business, whether a Bill shall be
brought in or no, and you have done nothing in it. I desire
you would put the Question, whether a tax Bill shall be
brought in to lay a tax upon the Cavaliers, with some proviso and limitations, as the Parliament shall agree on.
Mr. Bampfield. This question will wholly determine your
debate upon the force of the Act of Oblivion. If I were
satisfied in my conscience, that this tax could be laid without
a violation of the Act, without breach of your faith, I should
not say a word on it. I have as little to plead for the Cavaliers as any man. I believe some are as bad as can be.
Admit they be as bad as can be, we ought to be honest to
them. I hope we shall not take up that principle, fides cum
hereticis, &c.; our faith is at stake. It was told you Acts of
Oblivion were never broken in Parliament.
Admit some have been actually in the insurrection against
us: but to draw the whole party under punishment for the
offence of some, is a justice that I cannot understand. I
remember what a very sober person said of this business.
While the general tax continued they had no justice against
us, but now God will plead for them, in regard we have
violated those rules, and exceeded that square of justice, which
ought to bound all men.
In Samuel xxi. 1, we read that there was a great famine
for three years. The reason being inquired, it was because
Saul " slew the Gibeonites." This may run parallel with the
case of the Cavaliers. There was deceit used to gain that
league. More so is the Cavaliers' case.
The benefit of the Act of Oblivion was reciprocal. It
tended to the quieting of men's spirits upon the change of
the government. We had advantage by it as well as they.
In the Gibeonites' case no removing of the judgment, till
justice was done upon Saul's sons. They increased, and Saul
in great prudence slew them, in zeal to the house of Israel, in
regard of their enmity, and increase of them; but we find
God of another mind. If we keep to our promise, our
greatest safety is to keep faith. It is God's rule; David's
precept. Most honest to keep the public faith to those that
have not actually broke that faith. I have heard that it was
Machiavel's policy to place honesty only in safety, (fn. 8) but God's
rules are otherwise. Let us pursue those and we may expect
a blessing. Otherwise, God will punish us as he did Saul's
sons. It is best to deal plainly with God in those things. I
hope this Parliament will never think fit to exceed those rules.
We are upon a sure foundation if that be done.
Lord Strickland. I speak not that you should break your
public faith, but there must be a reciprocation. I do not
find in Scripture that we ought to pardon offences to come.
When Ravaillac slew Henry IV., all the Jesuits were banished, whereas but one was guilty. (fn. 9) The like was done
against them by the Venetians, when the war broke out by
their plot. (fn. 10)
If there were not some justice to build your Act upon, I
should not speak for it. I am for the preservation of your
The Papists have as much, nay more, to say against the
tax laid upon them. (fn. 11)
You have a civil quarrel with the Cavaliers, and the question is, whether you will maintain it out of your own purses,
or your enemies'. I am sure they are the sole occasion, both
of your foreign and intestine broils, and it is but reasonable
they should bear the burthen. They are very irreconcileable.
Mr. Bedford. The bringing in a Bill does not give the
question away, upon the public faith of the nation. It rather
opens a way for the debate of it. I am not of their principle,
who say quicquid tutum, est honestum. I hope it will appear
to be honestum to lay this tax upon these people without
breach of your faith. I was very well satisfied to act in the
laying of this extraordinary tax. I know your friends were
much satisfied that you put that distinction. If a Bill be
brought in, it will make way for every man to speak his conscience; which may be done in a Grand Committee upon the
Bill committed, as well as if it were debated beforehand. I
cannot understand the necessity of debating it in a Grand
Committee first. I have observed the orders of this House
to be otherwise. I desire the question may be put to give
leave to bring in a Bill.
Sir John Hobart. If I had been satisfied that this tax
might be laid without a breach of your faith, I should not
have risen up to trouble you. I would have the question
plainly put, whether the Act of Oblivion be taken away. If
you punish men, it must either have a retrospect beyond the
Act of Oblivion for some offence committed before. If any
offence be committed since, and proved, I am so great an
enemy to your enemies, that I would not only have a part,
but all taken away. Let us have a prospect as well to the
honour of a Parliament and the liberty of Englishmen, as to
the safety of the nation. I have an equal respect to all, but
let us do things that are just and honest. Must we confirm
all that passed, or continue that tax upon them without
examining the merits. I would have a day appointed, that we
may plainly and clearly debate the business.
Lord Lambert. I am as guilty of the Act of Oblivion as
any man. I have laboured to oblige that party; to win them,
as much as may be; but find it impossible till time wear
out the memory. They are as careful to breed up their
children in the memory of the quarrel as can be. They are,
haply, now merry over their Christmas pies, drinking the
King of Scots' health, or your confusion. The Gibeonites'
case is not at all parallel with this. I never read that they
made any insurrection against Israel, or disturbed the peace, or
you had found them otherwise dealt with. If the Act of Oblivion was not reciprocal, and they be not tied to keep their
part as well as we, it is an ill bargain for us. They were
actually in arms in all parts of the nation. Salus populi suprema lex. I hope you will have a special care to be serious
in this thing. I could say much in it, if it were proper to
speak to it now. They are a party not to be slighted. They
may do you more mischief than you, haply, are aware of. I
desire leave may be given to bring in a Bill.
Mr. Fowell. I am as much against the Cavaliers as any
man within these walls. I believe there was a necessity for
laying the decimation, and haply, I shall give my vote to
continue it. Quod necessitas cogit, &c., but I Would have us
be as unanimous in the thing as can be; but if you put the
question to bring in the Bill, you will divide. I desire you
would rather appoint a day to debate it. It is a begging of
the question, and implicitly dispensing with the Act of Oblivion, with the faith of Parliaments, which ought to be preserved.
Colonel Clarke. It encroacheth not at all upon the Act of
Oblivion. I desire the Bill may be appointed to be read.
Lord Lisle. It doth not conclude the Act of Oblivion.
If I thought so, I should be against it; but it is the intention
to ease our friends, and lay it upon our enemies. Appoint a
short day for reading the Bill, that the honesty and justice
of the business might be fully debated.
Mr. Godfrey stood up, but Lord Lambert said he had
spoke, but desired he might be heard again. Mr. Highland
called him down again.
Mr. Godfrey. I should not trouble you if I were not
clearly satisfied that by this salvo to the Act of Oblivion,
you wholly run the faith of the nation upon a rock. I know
it is the care of every man here to tender the faith of the
nation. It may be broken, as well by a vote as by a law.
You vote expressly that a Bill should be brought in on that
plan, but you say with such restrictions as the Parliament
shall agree. If you agree upon any restriction, your order,
your vote, stands de facto. The Bill must be received.
I desire a vote may not pass so general, not knowing what
may be the fruits of it. I would have you appoint a day to
debate it at large, whether it be just or honest to lay such
a tax, considering your faith, which you ought to have a
special respect for. It is told you, how the faith of a Parliament was never broken, in any age of the world. (fn. 12)
Mr. Puller. I would not have you put the question so
hastily. There is no necessity, at present, for it. This tax
is already upon them, upon whom you would lay it. I desire it may not be read till the House be full, that all men
may speak their conscience.
Lord Fiennes. I think jus non est violandum, upon any
terms; but I understand not how this question will intrench
upon your public faith. There are other reasons why this
tax should be laid more upon them than upon others. They
are exempted from public employments, and are at no other
charge. You have eased or charged some men more than
others. It is frequent, and I am clear that this Bill may be
brought in without debating it in a Grand Committee before
Mr. Hussey. It is very late to put this question now. I
desire you would put it off till Thursday, that the House
may be full.
Mr. Bodurda. I shall heartily concur with the laying this
tax, if it be just, or appear to be so. If you intend not to encroach upon the public faith, I wish it were so expressed. It
is a matter of great consequence, and ought to have a serious
debate, haply not so seasonable now. I desire something to
be added to your question, viz. after you speak of the limitations and restrictions, with respect had to the public faith of
the nation. But I could rather wish this debate might be
Major-General Kelsey. I am not against keeping faith
with the Cavaliers, so they keep faith with you. We are very
tender of them. We are not so to our friends. They could
never have indemnity, but are daily sued in all courts, for
things done for your service. I desire the Bill may be
brought in, and that you would then take a time to debate at
large the profit and honesty and justice of the business; in
the which I doubt not but a right understanding will be
Sir Christopher Pack. Express in the question that the
assessment should be laid upon them you intend, by the
words, and not upon others.
Mr. Robinson proposed that it might be in the disjunctive,
and not in the copulative; viz. " sequestered, or in actual
The question being put whether the question to be put or
no, the House was divided by Lord Claypoole.
Sir William Roberts and Mr. Hampden, Tellers, went
out, 63 Noes.
Lord Commissioners Fiennes and Lisle, Tellers, sate, 86
The main question was then put; the House again divided.
Lord Eure and Mr. Brewster, Tellers, for Yeas, 88 went
Sir John Hobart and Mr. Grove, (fn. 13) Tellers, for Noes, 63
Resolved, that leave be given by the House to bring in a
Bill of Assessments for the maintenance of the militia forces;
the same to be laid upon such persons as have been in arms
against the Parliament, or sequestered for their delinquency
in the late wars, with due restrictions, exceptions, and provisos to be contained therein, for some persons and in some
Resolved, that this Bill be brought in to-morrow morning. (fn. 14)
We sate till two o'clock, and had much ado to come to the
question. It was, I believe, much against the Speaker's
At the Committee of Trade was the business between the
merchant adventurers and the free merchants to be heard;
but in regard both parties were not prepared for a hearing, it
was put off till Thursday next.