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T.179 [1649.01.20] John Rushworth, A Petition concerning the Draught of an Agreement of the People (20 January 1649).
John Rushworth, A Petition from His Excellency Thomas Lord Fairfax And the General Councel of Officers of the Army, To the Honourable, the Commons of England in Parliament assembled, Concerning the Draught of An Agreement of the People For a secure and present Peace, by them framed and prepared. Together with the said Agreement presented on Saturuday, Jan. 20. And a Declaration
of his Excellency and the said General Councel, concerning the same. Tendered
to the Consideration of the people. By the Appointment of the Generall Councel
of Officers of the Army. Signed John Rushworth, Sec.
London, Printed for John Partridge, R. Harford, G. Calvert, and G. Whittington. 1649.
[Also known as "The Officers' Agreement".]
The Tract contains the following parts:
20 January 1649.
TT1, p. 716; Thomason E. 539. (2.)
The humble Petition of his Excellency Thomas Lord Fairfax, and the General Councel of Officers of the Army under his Command, concerning the Draught of An Agreement of the People, by them framed and prepared.
IN our late Remonstrance of the 18 of November last, we propounded (next after the matters of publike Justice) some Foundations for a general settlement of Peace in the Nation, which we therein desired might be formed and Established in the nature of a generall Contract or Agreement of the People; and since then, the matters so propounded be wholly rejected, or no consideration of them admitted in Parliament (though visibly of highest Moment to the Publique) and all ordinary Remedies being denyed, we were necessitated to an extraordinary way of Remedy; whereby to avoyd the mischiefs then at hand, and set you in a condition (without such obstructions or diversions by corrupt Members) to proceed to matters of publique Justice and general Settlement. Now as nothing did in our own hearts more justifie our late undertakings towards many Members in this Parliament, then the necessity thereof in order to a sound Settlement in the Kingdom, and the integrity of our intentions to make use of it only to that end: so we hold our selves obliged to give the People all assurance possible, That our opposing the corrupt closure endeavoured with the King, was not in designe to hinder Peace or Settlement, (thereby to render our employments, as Souldiers, necessary to be continued,) and that neither that extraordinary course we have taken, nor any other proceedings of ours, have been intended for the setting up of any particular Party or Interest, by or with which to uphold ourselves in Power and Dominion over the Nation, but that it was and is the desire of our hearts, in all we have done, (with the hindering of that imminent evil, and destructive conjunction with the King) to make way for the settlement of a Peace and Government of the Kingdom upon Grounds of common Freedom and Safety: And therefore because our former Overtures for that purpose (being only in general terms, and not reduced to a certainty of particulars fit for practise) might possibly be understood but as plausible pretences, not intended really to be put into effect, We have thought it our duty to draw out these generals into an intire frame of particulars, ascertained with such circumstances as may make it effectively practicable. And for that end, while your time hath been taken up in other matters of high and present Importance, we have spent much of ours in preparing and perfecting such a draught of Agreement, and in all things so circumstantiated, as to render it ripe for your speedier consideration, and the Kingdoms acceptance and practise (if approved,) and so we do herewith humbly present it to you. Now to prevent misunderstanding of our intentions therein, We have but this to say, That we are far from such a Spirit, as positively to impose our private apprehensions upon the judgments of any in the Kingdom, that have not forfeited their Freedom, and much lesse upon your selves: Neither are we apt in any wise to insist upon circumstantial things, or ought that is not evidently fundamental to that publique Interest for which You and We have declared and engaged; But in this Tender of it we humbly desire,
HAving by our late labors and hazards made it appear to the world at how high a rate we value our Just Freedom, And God having so far owned our cause as to deliver the Enemies thereof into our hands, We do now hold our selves bound in mutuall duty to each other to take the best care we can for the future, to avoyd both the danger of returning into a slavish condition, and the chargeable remedy of another War: For as it cannot be imagined, That so many of our Country men would have opposed us in this Quarrell, if they had understood their own good, so may we hopefully promise to our selves, That when our Common Right and Liberties shall be cleared, their endeavors will be disappointed, that seek to make themselves our Masters, since therefore our former oppressions, and not yet ended troubles, have been occasioned, either by want of frequent National Meetings in Councel, or by the undue or unequal Constitution thereof, or by rendering those meetings uneffectual. We are fully agreed and resolved (God willing) to provide, That hereafter our Representatives be neither left to an uncertainty for time, nor be unequally constituted, nor made useless to the ends for which they are intended.
1. That to prevent the many inconveniencies, apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in supream Authority, this Present Parliament end and dissolve upon, or before the last day of April, in the year of our Lord. 1649.
2. That the People of England (being at this day very unequally distributed, by Counties, Cities and Burroughs, for the Election of their Representatives) be indifferently proportioned: And to this end, That the Representative of the whole Nation shall consist of four hundred persons, or not above; and in each County, and the places thereto subjoyned, there shall be chosen, to make up the said Representative at all times, the several numbers here mentioned; VIZ.
|In the County of Kent, with the Burrough, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are hereunder particularly named)||ten. }||10|
|The City of Canterbury, with the Suburbs adjoyning, and Liberties thereof,||two. }||2|
|The City of Rochester, with the Parishes of Chatham and Strowd,||one. ]||1|
|The Cinque Ports in Kent and Sussex, viz. Dover, Rumney, Hyde, Sandwich, Hastings, with the townes of Rye and Winchelsey,||three. }||3|
|The County of Sussex, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes (therein except Chichester and the Cinque Ports)||eight. }||8|
|The City of Chichester, with the Suburbs and Liberties thereof,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Southampton, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder named,||eight. }||8|
|The City of Winchester, with the Suburbs and Liberties thereof,||one. ]||1|
|The County of the town of Southampton,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Dorset, with the Burroughs, Townes and Parishes therein (except Dorchester)||seven. }||7|
|The Town of Dorchester,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Devon, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder particularly named,||twelve.}||12|
|The City of Excester,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Plymouth,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Barnstaple,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Cornwall, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein,||eight. }||8|
|The County of Somerset with the Burroughs, Townes and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder named,||eight. }||8|
|The City of Bristoll,||three. ]||3|
|The Towne of Taunton-Deane,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Wilts, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein (except Salisbury),||seven. }||7|
|The City of Salisbury,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Berks, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein, except Reading,||five. }||5|
|The Town of Reading,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Surrey, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except Southwarke,||five. }||5|
|The Burrough of Southwarke,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Middlesex, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein, except such as are hereunder named,||four. }||4|
|The City of London,||eight. ]||8|
|The City of VVestminster, and the Dutchy,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Hartford, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein,||six. }||6|
|The County of Buckingham with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein,||six. }||6|
|The County of Oxon, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are here under-named)||four. }||4|
|The City of Oxon,||two. ]||2|
|The University of Oxon,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Glocester, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein (except Glocester)||seven. }||7|
|The City of Glocester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Hereford, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therin (except Hereford)||four. }||4|
|The Citie of Hereford,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Worcester, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except Worcester)||foure. }||4|
|The City of Worcester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Warwicke, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein (except Coventrey)||five. }||5|
|The City of Coventrey,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Northampton, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein (except Northampton)||five. }||5|
|The Town of Northampton,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Bedford, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
|The County of Cambridge, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are here under particularly named)||foure. }||4|
|The University of Cambridge,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Cambridge,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Essex, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except Colchester)||eleven.}||11|
|The Town of Colchester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Suffolk, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are hereunder named)||ten. }||10|
|The Town of Ipswich,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of S. Edmonds Bury,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Norfolk, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except such as are hereunder named)||nine. }||9|
|The City of Norwich,||three. ]||3|
|The Town of Lynne,||one. ]||1|
|The Town of Yarmouth,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Lincoln, with the Burroughs, Towns, and Parishes therein (except the City of Lincoln, and the town of Boston)||eleven.}||11|
|The City of Lincoln,||one. ]||1|
|The Town of Boston,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Rutland, with the Burroughs, Townes, and Parishes therein,||one. }||1|
|The County of Huntington, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Leicester, with the Burroughs, Townes and Parishes therein (except Leicester)||five. }||5|
|The Town of Leicester,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Nottingham, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein (except Nottingham)||foure. }||4|
|The Town of Nottingham,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Derby, with the Burroughs, Townes, and Parishes therein (except Derby)||five. }||5|
|The Town of Derby,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Stafford, with the City of Lichfield, the Burroughs, towne and Parishes therein,||six. }||6|
|The County of Salop, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein (except Shrewsbury)||six. }||6|
|The Town of Shrewsbury,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Chester, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein (except Chester)||five. }||5|
|The City of Chester,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Lancaster, with the Burroughs, townes, and Parishes therein (except Manchester)||six. }||6|
|The town of Manchester, and the Parish,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Yorke, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes, therein, except such as are here under named,||fifteen. }||15|
|The City and County of the City of Yorke,||three. ]||3|
|The Town and County of Kingston upon Hull,||one. ]||1|
|The town and Parish of Leeds,||one. ]||1|
|The County Palatine of Duresme, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein, except Duresme and Gateside,||three. }||3|
|The City of Duresme,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Northumberland, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein, except such as are here under named,||three. }||3|
|The Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne, with Gateside,||two. ]||2|
|The Town of Berwicke,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Cumberland, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Westmerland, with the Burroughs, towns and Parishes therein,||two. }||2|
|The Isle of Anglesey (with the Parishes therein)||two. ]||2|
|The County of Brecknock, with the Burroughs, towns, and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Cardigan, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Caermarthen, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Carnarvon, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Denbigh, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein||two. ]||2|
|The County of Flint, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||one. ]||1|
|The County of Monmouth, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
|The County of Glamorgan, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
|The County of Merioneth, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||two. }||2|
|The County of Mountgomery, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||three. }||3|
|The County of Radnor, with the Burroughs and Parishes therein,||two. ]||2|
|The County of Pembroke, with the Burroughs, Towns and Parishes therein,||foure. }||4|
Provided, That the first or second Representative may (if they see cause) assigne the remainder of the foure hundred Representors, (not hereby assigned) or so many of them as they shall see cause for, unto such Counties as shall appear in this present distribution to have lesse then their due proportion. Provided also, That where any Citie or Burrough to which one Representor or more is assign’d shall be found in a due proportion, not competent alone to elect a Representor, or the number of Representors assign’d thereto, it is left to future Representatives to assigne such a number of Parishes or Villages neare adjoyning to such City, or Burrough, to be joyned therewith in the Elections, as may make the same proportionable.
3. That the people do of course choose themselves a Representative once in two yeares, and shall meet for that purpose upon the first Thursday in every second May by eleven of Clock in the morning, and the Representatives so chosen to meet upon the second Thursday in June following at the usuall place in Westminster, or such other place as by the foregoing Representative, or the Councell of State in the intervall, shall be from time to time appointed and published to the People, at the least twenty daies before the time of Election. And to continue their Session there or elsewhere untill the second Thursday in December following, unlesse they shall adjourne, or dissolve themselves sooner, but not to continue longer. The Election of the first Representative to be on the first Thursday in May, 1649. And that, and all future Elections to be according to the rules prescribed for the same purpose in this Agreement, viz.
This course is to hold for the first Representative, which is to provide for the ascertaining of these Circumstances in order to future Representatives.
4. That one hundred and fifty Members at least be alwaies present in each sitting of the Representative, at the passing of any Law, or doing of any Act, whereby the people are to be bound; saving, That the number of sixty may make an House for Debates, or Resolutions that are preparatory thereunto.
5. That each Representative shall within twenty dayes after their first meeting appoint a Councell of State for the managing of Publique Affaires, untill the tenth day after the meeting of the next Representative, unlesse that next Representative thinke fit to put an end to that trust sooner. And the same Councell to Act, and proceed therein, according to such Instructions and limitations as the Representative shall give, and not otherwise.
6. That in each intervall betwixt Bienniall Representatives, the Councell of State (in case of imminent danger, or extreame necessity) may summon a Representative to be forthwith chosen, and to meet; so as the Session thereof continue not above foure-score dayes, and so as it dissolve, at least, fifty dayes before the appointed time for the next Bienniall Representative, and upon the fiftyeth day so preceeding it shall dissolve of course, if not otherwise dissolved sooner.
7. That no Member of any Representative be made either Receiver, Treasurer, or other Officer, during that imployment, saving to be a Member of the Councell of State.
8. That the Representatives have, and shall be understood, to have, the Supreame trust in order to the preservation and Government of the whole, and that their power extend, without the consent or concurrence of any other Person or Persons, to the erecting and abolishing of Courts of Justice, and publique Offices, and to the enacting, altering, repealing, and declaring of Lawes, and the highest and finall Judgement, concerning all Naturall or Civill things, but not concerning things Spirituall or Evangelicall; Provided, that even in things Naturall and Civill these six particulars next following are, and shall be understood to be excepted, and reserved from our Representatives, viz.
9. Concerning Religion, we agree as followeth:
10. It is agreed, That whosoever shall by Force of Armes, resist the Orders of the next or any future Representative (except in case where such Representative shall evidently render up, or give, or take away the Foundations of common Right, Liberty and Safety contain’d in this Agreement) shall forthwith after his or their such Resistance lose the benefit and protection of the Laws, and shall be punishable with Death, as an Enemy and Traitour to the Nation.
The form of subscription for the Officers of the Army.
Of the things exprest in this Agreement, The certain ending of this Parliament (as in the first Article) The equall or proportionable distribution of the number of the Representators to be elected (as in the second.) The certainty of the peoples meeting to elect for Representatives Bienniall, and their freedome in Elections with the certainty of meeting, sitting and ending of Representatives so elected (which are provided for in the third Article) as also the Qualifications of Persons to elect or be elected (as in the first and second particulars under the third Article) Also the certainty of a number for passing a Law or preparatory debates (provided for in the fourth Article) The matter of the fifth Article, concerning the Councel of State, and the sixth concerning the calling, sitting and ending of Representatives extraordinary; Also the power of Representatives, to be, as in the eighth Article, and limitted, as in the six reserves next foling the same; Likewise the second and third particulars under the ninth Article concerning Religion, and the whole matter of the tenth Article; (All these) we doe account and declare to be Fundamentall to our common Right, Liberty, and Safety; And therefore doe both agree thereunto, and resolve to maintain the same, as God shall enable us. The rest of the matters in this Agreement, wee account to be usefull and good for the Publike, and the particular circumstances of Numbers, Times and Places expressed in the severall Articles, we account not Fundamentall, but we finde them necessary to be here determined for the making the Agreement certain and practicable, and do hold those most convenient that are here set down, and therefore do positively agree thereunto.
Concerning the Agreement by them framed in order to peace, and from them tendred to the People of England.
HAVING ever since the end of the first War longingly waited for some such settlement of the Peace and Government of this Nation, whereby the Common Rights, Liberties and safety thereof, might in future be more hopefully provided for, and therein something gained, which might be accounted to the present age and posterity (through the mercy of God) as a fruit of their labours, hazards and sufferings, that have engaged in the common cause, as some price of the bloud spilt, and ballance to the publique expence and damage sustained in the War, and as some due improvement of that successe, and blessing God hath pleased to give therein: And having not found any such Establishment assayed or endeavoured by those whose proper worke it was, but the many addresses and desires of ourselves, and others, in that behalfe, rejected, discountenanced and opposed, and onely a corrupt closure endeavoured with the King, on tearmes, serving onely to his interest, and theirs that promoted the same; And being thereupon (for the avoidance of the evil thereof, and to make way for some better settlement) necessitated to take extraordinary wayes of remedy (when the ordinary were denied;) Now to exhibit our utmost endeavors for such a settlement, whereupon we, and other Forces, (with which the Kingdome hath so long beene burthened above measure, and whose continuance shall not be necessary for the immediate safety and quiet thereof) may with comfort to our selves, and honesty towards the publique, disband, and returne to our homes and callings; and to the end mens jealousies and fears may be removed concerning any intentions in us to hold up our selves in power, to oppresse or domineer over the people by the sword; And that all men may fully understand those grounds of Peace and Government wherupon (they may rest assured) We shall for our parts acquiesce; We have spent much time to prepare, and have at last (through the blessing of God) finished a Draught of such a settlement, in the nature of an Agreement of the People for Peace amongst themselves; Which we have lately presented to the Honourable the Commons now assembled in Parliament, and doe herewith tender to the people of this Nation.
We shal not otherwise commend it, then to say, It contains the best and most hopefull Foundations for the Peace, & future wel Government of this Nation, that we can devise or think on, within the line of humane power, and such, wherin all the people interested in this Land (that have not particular interests of advantage & power over others, divided from that which is common and publique) are indifferently and equally provided for, save where any have justly forfeited their share in that common interest by opposing it, and so rendred themselves incapable thereof (at least) for some time: And we call the Consciences of all that reade or hear it, to witnesse, whether wee have therein provided or propounded any thing of advantage to our selves in any capacity above others, or ought, but what is as good for one as for another: And therefore as we doubt not but that (the Parliament being now freed from the obstructing and perverting Councels of such Members, by many of whom a corrupt compliance with the Kings Interest hath beene driven on, and all settlement otherwise hath hitherto beene hindred) Those remaining worthy Patriots to whom we have presented the Agreement, will for the maine allow thereof, and give their seale of Approbation thereby; So we desire and hope, That all good People of England whose heart God shall make sensible of their, and our common concernment therein, and of the usefulnesse and sutablenesse thereof to the publique ends it holds forth, will cordially embrace it, and by subscription declare their concurrence, and accord thereto, when it shall be tendred to them, as is directed therein; wherein, if it please God wee shall finde a good Reception of it with the people of the Nation, or the Well-affected therein, We shall rejoyce at the hoped good to the Common-wealth, which (through Gods mercy) may redound therefrom, and that God hath vouchsafed thereby to make us instrumentall for any good settlement to this poor distracted Country, as he hath formerly made us for the avoiding of evill. But if God shall (in his Righteous Judgement towards this Land) suffer the people to be so blinded as not to see their own common good and freedome, endeavoured to be provided for therein, or any to be so deluded (to their own and the publique prejudice) as to make opposition thereto, whereby the effect of it be hindred, we have, yet, by the preparation and tender of it discharged our Consciences to God, and duty to our native Country in our utmost endeavours for a settlement, (to the best of our understandings) unto a just publique interest; And hope we shall be acquitted before God and good men, from the blame of any further troubles, distractions, or miseries to the Kingdom, which may arise through the neglect or rejection thereof, or opposition thereto.
Now whereas there are many good things in particular matters which our own Reasons & observations or the Petitions of others have suggested, and which we hold requisite to be provided for in their proper time and way (as the setting of moderate Fines upon such of the Kings party, as shal not be excepted for life, with a certain day for their coming in and submitting, and an Act of pardon to such as shall come in and submit accordingly, or have already compounded, The setling of a Revenue for all necessary publique uses, in such a way as the people may be most eased, The assigning and ascertayning of securities for Souldiers Arrears; and for publique Debts and Damages. The taking away of Tithes, and putting that maintenance which shall be thought competent for able Teachers to instruct the people, into some other way, lesse subject to scruple or contention, the clearing and perfecting of Accompts for all publique Monies, the relieving of prisoners for Debt; the removing or reforming of other evills or inconveniencies in the present Lawes, and Administrations thereof, the redresse of abuses, and supplying of Defects therein, the putting of all the Lawes and proceedings thereof into the English tongue, the reducing of the course of Law to more brevity and lesse charge, the setling of Courts of Justice and Record in each County or lesse Divisions of the Kingdome, and the erecting of Courts of Merchants for controversies in trading, and the like.) These and many other things of like sort being of a particular nature, and requiring very particular and mature consideration, with larger experience in the particular matters then we have, and much Caution, that by taking away of present Evills greater inconveniences may not ensue for want of other provisions in the room thereof, where it is necessary; and we (for our parts) being far from any Desire or thought to assume or exercise a Law-giving, or Judiciall power over the Kingdome, or to meddle in any thing save the fundamentall setling of that power in the most equall and hopefull way for Common Right, Freedom, and Safety (as in this Agreement) and having not meanes nor time for, nor the necessitie of some present generall settlement admitting the delay of, such a consideration, as seems requisite in relation to such numerous particulars, we have purposely declined the inserting of such things into this Agreement. But (as we have formerly expressed our desires that way, so) when the matters of publique Justice, and generall settlement are over, we shall not be wanting (if needfull) humbly to recommend such particulars to the Parliament, by whom they may more properly, safely, and satisfactorily be provided for, and we doubt not but they will be so, such of them, at least, as are of more neare and present concernment, by this Parliament, and the rest by future Representatives in due time.
And thus we recommend for present the businesse of this Agreement without further addition to the best consideration of all indifferent and equall minded men, and commit the issue thereof (as of all our wayes and concernments) to the good pleasure of the Lord, whose will is better to us then our own, or any inventions of ours, who hath decreed and promised better things then we can wish or imagine, and who is most faithfull to accomplish them in the best way and season.
[1 ] Memorandum, That the Commissioners for the respective Counties, Cities, and Boroughs, are to returne a Computation of the number of Subscribers in the severall Parishes unto the Trustees herein named before the end of April next, at such place, and in such forme as the said Trustees, or any five or more of them shall direct.