The Petition of 11 Sept. 1648: Anon, The Petition of 11 September 1648.


Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.


Editor’s Introduction

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Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.150 [1648.09.11] Anon, The Petition of 11 September 1648 (11 September, 1648).

Full title

[Anon. but sometimes attributed to Walwyn, Overton, or Lilburne], [The Petition of 11 September 1648], To the Right Honourable, the Commons of England In Parliament Assembled. The humble Petition of divers wel affected Persons inhabiting the City of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamblets, and places adjacent.

Estimated date of publication

11 September, 1648.

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT1, p. 672; Thomason E. 464. (5.).

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Text of Pamphlet


in Parliament assembled.

The humble Petition of Thousands wel-affected persons inhabiting the City of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamlets, and places adjaciet.


THat although we are as earnestly desirous of a safe and well-grounded Peace, and that a finall end were put to all the troubles and miseries of the Common-wealth, as any sort of men whatsoever: Yet considering upon what grounds we ingaged on your Part in the late and present Wars, and how far (by our so doing) we apprehend our selves concerned, Give us leave (before you conclude us by the Treaty in hand) to acquaint you first with the ground and reason which induced us to aid you against the King and his Adherents. Secondly, What our Apprehensions are of this Treaty. Thirdly, what we expected from you, and do still most earnestly desire.

Be pleased therefore to understand, that we had not ingaged on your part, but that we judged this honorable House to be the supreme Authority of England, as chosen by, and representing the People; and intrusted with absolute power for redresse of Grievances, and provision for Safety: and that the King was but at the most the chief publike Officer of this Kingdom, and accomptable to this House (the Representative of the People, from whom all just Authority is, or ought to be derived) for discharge of his Office: And if we had not bin confident hereof, we had not bin desperately mad to have taken up Armes, or to have bin aiding and assisting in maintaining a War against Him; the Laws of the Land making it expresly a crime no lesse than Treason for any to raise War against the King.

But when we considered the manifold oppressions brought upon the Nation, by the King, his Lords and Bishops; and that this Honourable House declared their deep sense thereof; and that (for continuance of that power which had so opprest us) it was evident the King intended to raise Forces, and to make War; and that if he did set up his Standard, it tended to the dissolution of the Government: upon this, knowing the safety of the People to be above Law, and that to judge thereof appertained to the supreme Authority, and not to the supreme Magistrate, and being satisfied in our Consciences, that the publike safety and freedom was in imminent danger, we concluded we had not onely a just cause to maintain; but the supreme Authority of the Nation, to justifie, defend and indempnifie us in time to come, in what we should perform by direction thereof; though the highest.

And as this our understanding was begotten in us by principles of right reason, so were we confirmed therein by your own proceedings, as by your condemning those Judges who in the case of Ship-money had declared the King to be Judge of Safety; and by your denying him to have a Negative voice in the making of Lawes; where you wholly exclude the King from having any share in the supreme Authority: Then by your casting the Bishops out of the House of Lords, who by tradition also, had bin accounted an essentiall part of the supreme Authority; and by your declaring to the Lords, That if they would not joyn with you in setling the Militia, (which they long refused) you would settle it without them, which you could not justly have done, had they had any reall share in the supreme Authority.

These things we took for reall Demonstrations, that you undoubtedly knew your selves to be the supreme Authority; ever weighing down in us all other your indulgent Expressions concerning the King or Lords; it being indeed impossible for us to believe, that it can consist either with the safety or freedom of the Nation, to be governed either by three or two Supremes, especially where experience hath proved them so apt to differ in their Judgments concerning freedom or safety, that the one hath bin known to punish what the other hath judged worthy of reward; when not only the freedom of the people is directly opposite to the Prerogatives of the King and Lords, but the open enemies of the one have bin declared friends by the other, as the Scots were by the House of Lords.

And when as most of the oppressions of the Common-wealth have in all times bin brought upon the people by the King and Lords, who nevertheless would be so equal in the supreme Authority, as that there could be no redress of Grievances, no provision for safety, but at their pleasure. For our parts, we profess our selves to be so far from judging this to be consistent with freedom or safety, that we know no greater cause wherefore we assisted you in the late Wars, but in hope to be delivered by you from so intolerable, so destructive a bondage, so soon as you should (through Gods blessing upon the Armies raised by you) be inabled.

But to our exceeding griefe, we have observed that no sooner God vouchsafeth you victory, and blesseth you with success, and thereby inableth you to put us and the whole Nation into an absolute condition of Freedom and Safety: but according as ye have been accustomed, passing by the ruine of the Nation, and all the blood that hath been spilt by the King and his Party, ye betake your selves to a Treaty with him, thereby putting him that is but one single person, and a publike Officer of the Common-wealth, in competition with the whole Body of the People, whom ye represent; not considering that it is impossible for you to erect any Authority equall to your selves; and declared to all the world that you will not alter the ancient Government, from that of King, Lords, and Commons: not once mentioning (in case of difference) which of them is supreme, but leaving that point (which was the chiefest cause of all our publike differences, disturbances, wars, and miseries,) as uncertain as ever.

In so much as we who upon these grounds have laid out our selves every way to the uttermost of our abilities: and all others throughout the Land, Souldiers and others who have done the like in defence of your supreme Authority, and in opposition to the King, cannot but deem our selves in the most dangerous condition of all others, lest without all plea of indempnity for what we have done; as already many have found by losse of their lives and liberties, either for things done or said against the King; the law of the land frequently taking place, and precedency against and before your Authoritie, which we esteemed supreme, and against which no law ought to be pleaded. Nor can we possibly conceive how any that have any waies assisted you can be exempt from the guilt of murderers and robbers, by the present laws in force, if you persist to disclaim the supreme authoritie, though their own consciences do acquit them, as having opposed none but manifest Tyrants, Oppressors, and their adherents.

And whereas a Personall Treaty, or any Treaty with the King, hath been long time held forth as the onely means of a safe and wel-grounded Peace; it is well known to have been cryed up principally by such as have been alwaies dis-affected unto you; and though you have not contradicted it, yet it is believed that you much feare the issue thereof; as you have cause sufficient, except you see greater alteration in the King and his party then is generally observed, there having never yet been any Treaty with him, but was accompanied with some underhand-dealing; and whilst the present force upon him (though seeming liberty) will in time to come be certainly pleaded, against all that shall or can be agreed upon: Nay, what can you confide in if you consider how he hath been provoked; and what former Kings upon lesse provocations have done, after Oaths, Laws, Charters, Bonds, Excommunications, and all tyes of Reconciliations, to the destruction of all those that had provoked and opposed them: yea, when yourselves so soon as he had signed those Bills, in the beginning of this Parliament saw cause to tell him, That even in or about the time of passing those Bills, some designe or other was on foot, which if it had taken effect, would not only have rendred those Bills fruitlesse, but have reduced you to a worse condition of confusion, than that wherein the Parliament found you. And if you consider, what new Wars, Risings, Rovolting invasions, and plottings have been since this last cry for a Personall Treaty, you will not blame us if we wonder at your hasty proceedings thereunto: especially considering the wonderfull Victories which God hath blessed the Armies withall.

We professe we cannot chuse but stand amazed to consider the inevitable danger we shall be in, though all things in the Propositions were agreed unto; the resolutions of the King and his party have been so perpetually violently and implacably prosecuted and manifested against us; and that with such scorn and indignation, that it must be more than such ordinary Bonds that must hold them. And it is no lesse a wonder to us that you can place your own security therein, or that you can ever imagin to see a free Parliament any more in England.

The truth is (and we see we must either now speake it, or for ever be silent,) We have long expected things of an other nature from you, and such as we are confident would have given satisfaction to all serious people of all Parties.


  • 1.  That you would have made the supreme authoritie of the people, in this Honourable House, from all pretences of Negative Voices, either in the King or Lords.
  • 2.  That you would have made laws for election of representatives yearly and of course without writ or summons.
  • 3.  That you would have set expresse times for their meeting Continuance and Dissolution: as not to exceed 40. or 50. daies at the most, and to have fixed an expresse time for the ending of this present Parliament.
  • 4.  That you would have exempted matters of Religion and Gods worship, from the compulsive or restrictive power of any Authority upon earth, and reserved to the supreme authoritie an un-compulsive power only of appointing a way for the publick, whereby abundance of misery, persecution, and heart-burning would forever be avoided.
  • 5.  That you would have disclaimed in your selves and all future Representatives, a power of Pressing and forcing any sort of men to serve in warrs, there being nothing more opposite to freedom, nor more unreasonable in an authoritie impowered for raising monies in all occasions, for which, and a just cause, assistants need not be doubted: the other way serving rather to maintain injustice and corrupt parties.
  • 6.  That you would have made both Kings, Queens, Princes, Dukes, Earls, Lords, and all Persons, alike liable to every Law of the Land, made or to be made; that so all persons even the Highest might fear and stand in aw, and neither violate the publick peace, nor private right of person or estate, (as hath been frequent) without being lyable to accompt as other men.
  • 7.  That you would have freed all Commoners from the Jurisdiction of the Lords in all cases: and to have taken care that all tryalls should be only by twelve sworn men, and no conviction but upon two or more sufficient known witnesses.
  • 8.  That you would have freed all men from being examined against themselves, and from being questioned or punished for doing of that against which no Law hath bin provided.
  • 9.  That you would have abbreviated the proceedings in Law, mitigated and made certain the charge thereof in all particulars.
  • 10.  That you would have freed all Trade and Merchandising from all Monopolizing and Engrossing, by Companies or otherwise.
  • 11.  That you would have abolished Excise, and all kind of taxes, except subsidies, the old and onely just way of England.
  • 12.  That you would have laid open all late Inclosures of Fens, and other Commons, or have enclosed them onely or chiefly to the benefit of the poor.
  • 13.  That you would have considered the many thousands that are ruined by perpetuall imprisonment for debt and provided for their anlargement.
  • 14.  That you would have ordered some effectuall course to keep people from begging and beggery, in so fruitfull a Nation as through Gods blessing this is.
  • 15.  That you would have proportioned punishments more equal to offences; that so mens Lives and Estates might not be forfeited upon trivial and slight occasions.
  • 16.  That you would have removed the tedious burthen of Tythes, satisfying all Impropriators, and providing a more equal way of maintenance for the publike Ministers.
  • 17.  That you would have raised a stock of Money out of those many confiscated Estates you have had, for payment of those who contributed voluntarily above their abilities, before you had provided for those that disbursed out of their superfluities.
  • 18.  that you would have bound your selves and all future Parliaments from abolishing propriety, levelling mens Estates, or making all things common.
  • 19.  That you world have declared what the duty or businesse of the Kingly office is, and what not; and ascertained the Revenue, past increase or diminution, that so there might never be more quarrels about the same.
  • 20.  That you would have rectified the election of publike Officers of the Citie of London, and of every particular Company therein, restoring the Comunalty thereof to their just Rights, most unjustly with held from them, to the producing and maintaining of corrupt interest, opposite to common Freedom, and exceedingly prejudicial to the Trade and Manufactures of this Nation.
  • 21.  That you would have made full and ample reparations to all persons that had bin oppressed by sentences in High Commission, Star-Chamber, and Counsel Board, or by any kind of Monopolizers or Projectors; and that out of the Estates of those that were Authors, Actors, or Promoters of so intollerable mischiefs: and that without much attendance of seeking.
  • 22.  That you would have abolished all Committees, and have convayed all businesses into the true method of the usuall Tryalls of the Common-wealth.
  • 23.  That you would not have followed the example of former tyrannons and superstitious Parliaments, in making Orders, Ordinances, or Laws, or in appointing punishments concerning opinions or things super-natural, stiling some blasphemies, others herefies, when as you know your selves easily mistaken, and that divine Truths need no humane helps to support them: such proceedings having bin generally invented to devide the people amongst themselves, and to affright men from that liberty of discourse by which Corruption and tyranny would be soon discovered.
  • 24.  That you would have declared what the businesse of the Lords is, and ascertain their condition, not derogating from the Liberties of other men, that so there might be an end of striving about the same.
  • 25.  That you would have done Justice upon the Capital Authors and Promoters of the former or late wars, many of them being under your power: Considering that mercy to the wicked, is cruelty to the innocent: and that all your lenity doth but make them the more insolent and presumptuous.
  • 26. That you would have provided constant pay for the Army, now under the command of the Lord General Fairfax, and given rules to all Judges, and all other publike Officers throughout the Land, for their indempnity and for the saving harmlesse all that have any waies assisted you, or that have said or done any thing against the King, Queen, or any of his party since the beginning of this Parliament, without which anie of his party are in a better condition then those that have served you; nothing being more frequent with them, then their reviling of you and your friends. The things and worthy Acts which have bin done and archieved by this Army and their Adherents (however ingratefully suffered to be scandalized as Sectaries, and men of corrupt judgements) in defence of the just authority of this honorable House, and of the common liberties of the Nation, and in opposition to all kind of tyranny and oppression, being so far from meriting an odions Act of Oblivion, that they rather deserve a most honorable Act of perpetual remembrance, to be as a pattern of publike vertue, fidelity, & resolution to all posterity.
  • 27. That you would have laid to heart all the abundance of innocent blood that hath bin spilt, and the infinite spoil and havock that hath bin made of peaceable harmless people, by express commissions from the King; and seriously to have considered whether the justice of God be likely to be satisfied, or his yet continuing wrath appeased, by an Act of Oblivion. These and the like we have long time hoped you would have minded, and have made such an establishment for the generall peace and contentfull satisfaction of all sorts of people, as should have bin to the happines of all future generations, and which we most earnestly desire you would set your selves speedily to effect; whereby the almost dying honour of this most honorable House, would be again revived, and the hearts of your Petitioners and all other well-affected people, be afresh renewed unto you, the Freedom of the Nation (now in perpetuall hazard) would be firmly established, for which you would once more be so strengthned with the love of the people, that you should not need to cast your eyes any other waies (under God) for your security: but if all this availeth nothing, God be our Guide, for man sheweth us not a way for our preservation.

The House received this Petition, and returned answer thereunto, which was to this effect, viz. That the House gave them thanks for their great pains & care to the publike good of the Kingdom, & would speedily take their humble desires into consideration.