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T.120 [1647.11.23] [Signed by Several], To the supream Authority of England, the Commons in Parliament assembled [The Petition of November] (23 November 1647).
[Signed by Several], To the supream Authority of England, the Commons in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of many free-born people. Together with a Copy of the Order of the Commitment of five of the Petitioners, viz. Mr. Thomas Prince, and Mr. Samuel Chidley in the Gate-House. Capt. Taylor, Mr. William Larner, and Mr. Ives in Newgate. As also some Observations upon the said Order.
This Tract contains the following parts:
23 November 1647.
Not listed in TT.
That as the ground of the late war between the King and you, was a contention whether he or you should exercise the supreame power over us, so its vain to expect a settlement, of peace amongst us, untill that point be clearely and justly determined, that there can be no liberty in any Nation where the Law giving power is not solely in the people or their Representatives.
That upon your Invitation, the people have hazarded their lives, consumed their estates, lost their trades, and weltered in blood to preserve that your just authority, and therein their own freedoms.
That notwithstanding, for attributing the supream authority of this Nation to this Honourable House, which alone represents the people, we have been accounted the off-scouring of the land, we have had our Petitions burned, our persons imprisoned, and many other wayes abused.
That when the ears of the chosen deliverers were stopped, the Law of Nature enjoyned us to addresse our selves to the Army, from whom we had reason to expect relief, according to their many promises and engagements.
That those promises seeming to be wholly forgotten by the ruling part of the Army; it pleased God to raise up the spirits of some Agents therein, to consider of an agreement of the people upon grounds of common right; & to offer it to the Generall Gouncell of the army for their concurrence; the matter wereof (seriously debate being had thereupon) was so far from being disallowed, that a necessity of ending this Parliament at the day prefixed therein, was concluded; the providing for a constant succession of Parliaments thought necessary, that the people should be more equally represented was confessed; and a certain rule to be set between the people and their representative was judged fit, and the supream authority of this nation acknowledged by that Councell to be where the Agreement placeth it: And particularly Lievtenant General Cromwell, and Commissary General Jreton declared, that in case they did not Act for the settlement of those freedoms, yet they would never oppose.
That those Agents in further discharge of their duty to their Country; did not long since present unto this Honourable House the said Agreement, with a petition relating thereunto.
That the same Agreement, with another Petition, was lately offered to the Generall, by a worthy Commander, and divers Officers of the Army, at the first generall Rendezvouz neare Ware: and all that was done in a further prosecution, was a peaceable proposing of the same Petition, to the Souldiery, for their concurrence: and we wonder that we should now be reputed mutinous, to offer a Petition to the Souldiery when it was esteemed formerly good service to draw them to an ingagement.
That notwithstanding all this clear open and legal dealing, in those our friends, for the performance of their solemne engagements, both they and we, who adhered to them, are reproached and slandered with imputations of plottings and designing not only the Kings death, in a base murderous way; and of imbrueing the nation in blood, but of strange endeavours to levell all mens estates, and subvert all Government and although the scandals are but the same which the open enemies formerly cast upon your selves, yet our just endeavours for freedom, are so ill resented by this meanes, that some of us are imprisoned, and others threatned to be proceeded against as persons disaffected to this Honourable House, whereas the true object of our enemies mallice is, that authoritie of yours, which we labour to preserve. Yet such is our sad condition, as our actions and intentions are in like manner misapprehended by you, though we doubt not but the Agreement duly weighed, will demonstrate all such reproaches to be only the invention of wicked men to exasperate you against us.
And therefore we beseech you in your bowells of compassion to an oppressed people, to review and debate impartially the particulars of that Agreement of the people, wherein many thousands have already concurred: And to suffer us by your countenance, to use our Native Liberty, in moving the people for an happie union amongst themselves, in selling those foundations of Common freedom; that thereby this honourable house, may with more assurance of the peoples alliance, proceed forthwith (without attending for the assent and concurrence of any other) to deliver them from all kind of tyranny and oppression.
And that you would be pleased to account of the sufferings of our dear fellow Commoners Co. Ayers, Ca. Bray, and others at the severall Rendezvouz of the Army, only for their just and peaceable persuance of freedome.
And especially that you will make inquisition for the blood of that Soldier, viz. Richard Arnall of Col. Lilburns Regiment, which was shot to death neere Ware.
And we further desire, that without prejudice against our persons, it might be laid to heart, that the large effusion of blood, and the many spoyles made in the late War, cannot be justified upon any other ground, then the settlement of those freedoms contained in the Agreement, and in your just indeavours to clear and secure those you may expect the blessing of peace and prosperity,
And your petitioners shall pray.
Die Martis. November, 1647.
Resolved, that Thomas Prince, Cheesemonger, and Samuel Chidley be forthwith committed prisoners to the prison of the Gate-house, there to remain prisoners during the pleasure of this House, for seditious and contemptuous avowing and prosecuting of a former Petition and paper annexed, stiled an agreement of the people, formerly adiudged by this house, to be destructive to the being of Parliaments, and fundamentall government of this kingdom.
Hen. El. Cl. Par. Dom. Com.
By vertue of an Order of the House of Commons, these are to require you to receive from the Sergeant at armes his deputie or deputies, the bodies of Thomas Prince, Cheese monger, and Samuel Chidley into the prison of the Gate house Westminster, and them safely to detain as your prisoners, untill the pleasure of the house be signified to you to the contrary, and for so doing this shall be your Warrant.
William Lenthall, Speaker.
Dated 23. Novemb. 1647.
To the Keeper of the prison of
the Gate house of Westminster.
O men of England that love your freedom I beseech you observe the injustice, arbitrarynesse, and tyranny of this your Parliament, who have invited you, and caused your deare friends to expend their blood upon pretences to deliver you from injustice and arbitrary powers. See their Rmon. of May 26. 1642.
1. Observe their palpable injustice in stiling an humble, rationall and iust petition (presented in a peaceble manner) a seditous and contemptuous, avowing a former petition, these men declared formerly, that they ought to receive petitions, though against things established by law, and now when a petition striks at their corrupt interest, its seditious because its against a vote of theirs, and what damnable endeavours here are to deceive you Commons, they represent these mens petition as a contempt of them when they rendred them the highest honour in their petition.
2. Observe their injustice in committing these your brethren without laying any crime to their charge, by the law, sedition nor faction is no crime, for no man knows what is sedition or faction, but they put unknown reproachfull tearms upon their just petition to deceive you, and let me informe you, that these treacherous dissemblers that put these infamous tearms upon the petition, durst not suffer this petition to be printed with their votes concerning it, for when they ordered the votes should be printed, an honest member moved that the petition it selfe might be printed with them, that the people might see the reason of such votes, and these Hypocrites opposed it with rage and fury, will ye be alwayes thus abused O yee Commons.
3. Observe the falshood and lyes in their vote. First, these petitioners did not avow any former petition or paper annexed, as this vote say they did. 2ly. The House did never adiudge the Agreement to be distructive to the being of Parliments, &c. but only the petition of the Agents of the Army, they never durst debate the Agreement, lest they should be forced by the strength of reason to consent to it, they shut their eyes and will not see, for many of the greatest opposers have confessed its iust, but they love not the light because their deeds are evill. But seeing it was never debated in one particular, could a iudgement be passed upon it, and have you not a wise, faithfull Parliament, that would not debate the particulars of such great concernment to settle a peace.
4. Observe how these men exercise an absolute tyranny over you, ruling by their crooked wills, and damnable lusts, they commit your fellow Commoners to prisons amongst Theeves and Murtherers, only for begging for their fredoms, and this during their pleasure, that is, till their base malicious humors be satisfied. According to law and justice, imprisonment is only for safe custody of persons, untill the appointed day of tryall in the ordinary Courts of justice, and it was the Councell table and High Commission that ruled by their lusts, which imprisoned men during their pleasure, and yet these Apostates dare in the face of the sun proclaime their wickednesse and arbitrarinesse, by committing men during their lust. Certainly their consciences tell them that these faithfull, honest petitioner did not offend, for if they had known any offence, they would have been ready to have proceeded against them, or reserved them for tryall which they intend not. O yee Commons of England! can you still beare it? to see your freedomes undermined, and your brethren abused, and presidents made daily for inslaving you to the wills and lusts of tyrants, when will you shew your selves English men? O now! now is the opportunity. O! that you might see even in this your dayes the things that belong to your peace and freedom, before they be hid from your eyes.