Preface

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History of Parliament Trust

Publication

Author

Rushworth, John

Year published

1721

Pages

3-10

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'Preface', Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 2: 1629-38 (1721), pp. III-X. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=74893 Date accessed: 23 September 2014.


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Contents

The Preface.

My former Collections having bin found useful, and the intent of the Second Part being only to lengthen the same Clue, that may guide the Reader through the dark Labyrinth of more Years, there's the less need of an Introduction to this Book.

I seem to come to my Reader where I left him, and to give him my Hand to lead him into the further knowledge of what hath bin done in his own Country; I take it to be the great Business of every Man's Life to learn what the World is, and what hath bin done, and what is doing in it, and upon the Whole to judge what he ought to do; and it is but fit that of all Parts of the Worldy every Man should know his own Country best.

For that reason I have chosen to be a Collecter of Matters of Fact, rather than to write in the usual form of Historians, to pretend to have seen into the dark Closets of States-Men and Church-Mens Minds, and to have viewed and measured the first Models by which they wrought. In such an Attempt I might have bin a false Guide to my Country-Men against my will, and had assumed to my self to be wiser than they.

But whilst I entertain the Reader only with a true and simple Narrative of what was done, and by whom, and when, every Man is left to his native freedom to judge of Men and Things, to find out the Causes by the Effects, to compare Transactions past, with such as now occur, to make his own Comment upon every Fact, and from such Text to read to himself his own improvement, Lectures of Prudence, Policy, and Morality.

The Reader should not have staid so many Years in the Dark, where I left him, at the Dissolution of the Parliament 4 Car. 1. if I could have bin sooner permitted to have sent him through the Press.

These further Lights evrey considering English-Man knows in general, that after that time there was a great change in the way of the English Government, no Parliament being held for twelve Years and upwards; one only met without making a Session by passing an Act, and was Dissolved within three weeks.

I suppose most Men cannot but wish to know in particular the Arts and Methods used in Government in such a long suspension of the Exercise of the Supream Legislative Power; so that neither the King could have any Assistance from the People, to support the Honour, Strength, and Interest of the Nation; nor the People any Relief of their pressing Grievances, or any Provisions made by Law for the Security and Advancement of their common Welfare.

I hope every studious Reader may reasonably satisfy himself by the following Papers, of the true State of the Government and Kingdom, during the discontinuance of Parliament, whilst I keep my self close to my Province, of relating only in my Annals the several Proclamations, Commissions, Instructions, Orders, or Acts of Council-Table, Patents and Grants which then passed; together with the prosecution of the same, by Judgments, Decrees, Orders, and other Proceedings of the Courts of Star-Chamber, High-Commission; of the President and Council of the North, and several other Courts.

It will be the Reader's part to call all into Judgment, to Try, Condemn, or Acquit them, according to their several Merits; it belongs to him, by forming Inductions from the particular Facts to enable himself to understand the Designs then managed, and the Methods propounded to effect them.

The Reader may with ease, by Reflections made upon these Annals, inform himself by whose Counsels the King steered in his Government during the long Intermission of Parliaments; What Means and Methods were designed, practised, or attempted to levy Mony for support of the King in his way of Government without Parliaments; What unusual Powers of Judicatory were assumed and exercised in the menage of the Government during that time; What Principles and Maxims in Law were endeavoured to be established; What Doctrine and Discipline were obtruded upon the Church of England; And what were the Effects and Consequences, not only in England, but also in Scotland and Ireland, of the manner of governing whilst Parliaments were discontinued.

Perhaps these Collections may be read by most occasionally; sometimes the Reader may desire to be satisfied what was done upon some Emergency or notable Accident; and sometimes to see a particular Argument in Law, or a Decision of some memorable Case, or the Transactions of some one Year, (few having leisure so deliberately to read all these Annals, as to observe nicely whose hands were most constantly upon the Helm of the Kingdom, from 1629 to 1640, or by what Rules they steered, either in the Matters of State, or the Distribution of Justice, or the Affairs of the Church); and for that reason it may be an ease to the Reader to know before-hand the Persons that were upon the Stage, or in the Retiring Room, in every Scene of the whole Interval of Parliament, and the several Parts they acted.

The principal Conduct of all Affairs about the Government, was committed by the King to three of his Council, Dr. William Laud Arch-Bishop of Canterbury; James Marquess of Hamilton, after Duke Hamilton; and Sir Thomas Wentworth, after Baron, then Vicount, and lastly Earl of Strafford; many other noble Personages were of the King's Council, but the Power and Authority rested in these, whose Advices and Resolutions in all the Matters of State and highest Moment [by their constant correspondence when they were far distant each from other] were brought to the Council Table for Countenance and Execution.

These three great Ministers of State had each his more peculiar Province, yet they had all an influence on the whole Government. The Earl of Strafford resided much in Ireland, and was buste to execute there the Advices which he had given his Master at the Council-Table, and such mutual Advices as were constantly given and received between the Arch-Bishop and him. The Marquess of Hamilton had the Conduct of the Scotish Affairs, yet with the concurrence of the Arch-Bishop, who presided in all the most secret Councils concerning all the three Kingdoms; and the Addresses in Matters Temporal as well as Spiritual, were made through him to the King by the most Noble Personages. This Triumvirate was solely depended upon for Advice in the greatest Exigencies of the Crown. It appears by the Arch-Bishop's own Diary, that after ten Years discontinuance of Parliaments, the Advice was from these three great Men to the King to call a Parliament; the Arch-Bishop entred it upon the 5th of December 1639, thus:

The King this day declared his Resolution for a Parliament, in case of the Scotish Rebellion; and the first Movers of it were, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, the Marquess of Hamilton, and my Self; and the Resolution voted at the Board to Assist the King in extraordinary Ways, if the Parliament should prove peevish and refuse, &c. And before the Council did then rise, it was declared the Parliament was to meet the 13th of April, 1640.

The Reader will need no fuller satisfaction of the influence which this Arch-Bishop had upon the King, than his own Diary; and for that reason I have inserted it in the beginning of several Years in these Annals: Not knowing how to relate more impartially, or to evince more clearly the truth of the Matter of Fact, which that Diary contains, especially in some particulars, which would have bin of very doubtful credit, had they dropt from any Pen but the Arch-Bishop's own.

I shall instance only in one Fact entred in this Diary; the Offer made to him by a Messenger from the Pope of a Cardinal's Cap, and his Answer, That somewhat dwelt within him which would not suffer that, until Rome were otherwise than it is. Few would either have believed that the Papists Designs of subverting the Protestant Religion were advanced in those days to that height of Hope, as to attempt the Metropolitan of England to accept of such a Preferment from Rome, or that so great a Counsellor and Minister of State to the King should suffer such a bold Attempt against his Crown and Dignity, and such an Underminer of the Protestant Religion to pass away unquestioned, to prosecute his Treasonable Designs, of Introducing a Foreign Power and Religion.

I censure not that Great Prelate for what he did, or omitted; but I give the Reader the reason of my inserting his Diary, being willing to put it out of doubt who were the King's most confiding Cabinet Counsellors in the Years whereof these Annals give an Account.

After the Dissolution of that Parliament, wherein the Petition of Right was granted, a Proclamation came forth, forbidding the People to raise or nourish Reports or false Rumours of Parliament; and it seems (by what followed) the Kingdom for twelve Years together was governed without a Parliament.

One of the first fruits of those Advices to the King, was to provide well for the Support of his Crown, that there might be sufficient Supplies of Monies to answer all its Wants during the Intermission of Parliaments, and there wanted not those that had variety of Inventions to draw Mony from the People, whilst none could be charged upon them in the Ancient Legal Course.

The first Advice that was given, was not only to continue Tunnage and Poundage without any consent of Parliament, but also to inhance the Book of Rates upon several Merchants Goods, and the Collections of such Rates to be enforced out of the Course of ordinary Courts of Justice.

The next Design for Mony was, by Proclamation to revive an obsolete Law about Knighthood, under colour whereof Summons were sent throughout the Kingdom to every Man possessed for three Years of 40l. per Annum, who did not appear before the King at his Coronation to be made a Knight, to submit to such Fines as they could compound for; and James Maleverer of Arncliss, in the County of York, Esq; put himself upon the Judgment of the Court of Exchequer, what Fine they should think fit to impose upon him: but the Court doubting the Law would not bear them out, refused that Regular Course of imposing a Fine, and put the Party submitting, to go and compound with Commissioners in the County, contrary to the intent of the Law.

Another Advice to advance the King's Revenue, was, To grant Patents under the Great Seal; by which Monopolies were created, in a manner, of all forts of Commodities; as Soap, Salt, Wine, Leather, Sea-Cole, Cards, Pins, even to the sole gathering of Rags; which Projects were countenanced with the name of Incorporations. And the Titles of all Proclamations countenancing the new Corporations, as well as Proclamations of Matters of State, are put in the end of every Year, in order of Time, in the Body of the Collections, and some in the Appendix.

Another Advice was given, to raise a Revenue for the King, by granting of Commissions under the Great Seal for Offenders to Compound; and the better to effect the same, some Examples were made by Sentence in the High Court of Star-Chamber against several Persons, to pay great Fines, as for Depopulations, Nusances in Building between High and Low-Water Mark, for pretended Encroachments upon the Forests, with other things of that nature, and accordingly Commissions were issued out, and Offenders in that kind did compound, which brought in a considerable Revenue.

But of all the Inventions for raising of Monies during the Intermission of Parliaments, the Ship-Writs (as they were called) for imposing Ships and Furniture upon every part of the Kingdom, upon the Inland as well as upon the Port-Towns, and taxing Mony for the same at the King's Pleasure, by his Writ expressed; and that as often, and in as great porportion as his Majesty shall judge needful, was the greatest dissatisfaction to many of the Nobility and Gentry; they alledging that way of Supply included in it self a claim of the King's unto the whole Estates of the Kingdom, when he would say he wanted Monies upon that occasion, the Judges having then declared the King to be the sole Judge of Danger.

The Disputes and Contests that arose from this way of levying Monies, will be found in the following Annals; and the Author hath related that great and memorable Case of Ship-Mony more fully than others, because there is so much excellent Learning shewed in the Arguments made therein before all the Judges of England in the Exchequer Chamber, which were never yet published in print: therefore he hath selected out the Arguments made by two of the Counsel, viz. Oliver St. John of Lincolns-Inn Esq; his Argument for Mr. Hambden, and Sir John Banks Kt. the King's Attorny General his Argument for the King; both which, and all the Arguments of the rest of the Counsels as also of the twelve Judges, the Arthor took with his own Pen verbatim (as near as he could) except sometimes through defect in hearing, by some accidental interruption, a Word, or the exact time of a Record, or other Passage might happen to be omitted.

In these Arguments the young Students of the Law will find Matters of great Antiquity before the Conquest, mentioned as pertinent to this Case, out of Ancient Authorities and Historians in the time of the Saxons and Danes, made use of as introductive to this Case of Ship-Mony. And such mention is also made of Matters of State, as comes near Arcana Regni, of a higher nature than the Arguments in any other known Case, the highest Prerogative of the King in Cases of the greatest Exigency being there brought into debate.

And that the Reader may more clearly judge of the Consequence of the Case, the Author hath annexed an Account of what Mony was levied out of every County by virtue of this Tax, the same amounting to about 200000l. per Annum for five Years, as may appear by the inserted Account of Sir William Russel then Treasurer of the Navy.

The Reader will also find in these Collections, a large Account of the Proceedings in the Court of Star-Chamber for ten Years; some Cases are briefly reported, others more considerable are set down at large; with some Speeches made by the Lords when they gave Sentence in open Court, as in the Case of William Prinn Esq; when he lost his Ears the second time; and in the Case of the Bishop of Lincoln, when he was twice sentenced in that Court, and imprisoned in the Tower; and in divers other Remarkable Cases.

Likewise the Reader will find a particular and large Account of the Transactions of Affairs in Scotland, when in the Year 1637 the first Spark of Discontent there brake out; and when Marquess Hamilton, the King's High Commissioner, the next Year (1638) was sent down to compose the Differences and Commotions in that Kingdom, but without effect. And the next Year after (1639) when the King marched with an Army against the Scots, and encamped near Berwick, where the Author then was when a Pacification was concluded; as likewise at the Fight at New-borne; the Great Council at York, and Treaty at Rippon, Anno 1640. At all which Places the Author was present, and it's hoped the Reader will find much satisfaction in a punctual Account of the Transaction of Affairs in those Places.

And as for a clear Account of the Proceedings in Scotland during the said Years, the Author is the better enabled to give the same, by the help of that exact History of the Lives of the two Duke Hamiltons, written by that Learned Divine Dr. Gilbert Burnet; whose Example, in setting down Vouchers for what he doth write, is a worthy and good Example for any Historian to follow.

And another help to the Author was, the Records of Scotland, whilst they remained here, which after the taking of Sterling-Castle were brought from thence to be kept in the Tower of London.

The Author also endeavoured to get what other Informations he could, by Proclamations, Declarations, and Protestations, pro and con, concerning those Commotions in Scotland; all which Matters, and also other things, throughout the whole Collections, the Author sets down for most part at large, because he would not confine the Reader to his Abstract, nor limit him to minutes of material Evidences of Truth, except it be in some less considerable Matters, and hopes the Reader will pardon him for so doing.

Another thing somewhat considerable, which the Author doth mention, (with which some Readers, martially inclin'd, will not be displeased) is an account of Actions of War, and Military Proceedings in Germany, wherein the Subjects of Great Britain were concerned, upon the sending over of six thousand Men, under the Conduct of Marquess Hamilton, in the Year 1631, to assist the King of Sweden, in order to the Recovery of the Palatinate, &c. And also of the Proceedings of the Ambassadors sent upon Treaties with the Emperor, and afterwards with the King of Sweden, about the Restitution of the Prince Elector Palatine to his Patrimony. Giving likewise a brief Account of some Battels, and other notable Encounters and Engagements wherein the English and Scotish Subjects of the King of Great Britain were concerned; with a List of the Commanders Names who went with those 6000 Men in that Expedition.

The Author hath adventured to go further in these Collections in point of Time, than he intended when he came first to the Press, purposing then only to proceed during twelve Years and odd months Interval of Parliament, (except the Parliament that met the 13th of April 1640, which continued sitting three weeks, of which the Author gives a large Account) and to end the third of November 1640, when another Parliament met; but finding the Passages at the Great Council at York, and Treaty at Rippon, did come so near the time of the meeting of that Parliament, as that the King and that Great Council arrived at London but two or three days before the Parliament met: And for as much as the King in his Speech immediately after, on Novemb. 3. did take notice of the Proceedings of the said Great Council and Treaty, the Author hath thought fit to give an Account of some Remarkable Passages during the first six months of that Parliament, and of the Speeches of some eminent Members thereof, who spake their apprehension of the then State of three Kingdoms: And the Reader I hope will be the better informed, because the Speeches are (for the most part) of those Members who were with the King at Oxford, and adhered to His Cause during the time of the late Unhappy War.

Lastly The Author in regard he was enforced to a more than ordinary haste, in sending forth this his Second Part of Collections, desires to be excused, if any thing be misplaced out of Order of Time, or any other defect in marshaling of his Materials. And for the Errors of the Press, he intreats a favourable Censure, because the Printers also laboured under the same disadvantage with himself upon the account of Expedition.

The Author had many other considerable Matters to impart during the said first six months, but a great part thereof is usefully and pertinently inserted in the Trial of Thomas Earl of Strafford, and will be shortly published by the Author of these Collections; which being done, if he be encouraged to proceed with his Third Part, he intends the same shall commence where his Second Part endeth rendring an Account, from that time, of Passages Civil and Military until the month of April, 1653, when that Parliament, which in process of time contracted the Name of the Long Parliament, was broken up.