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T.140 [1648.04.04] John Lilburne, The Prisoners Plea for a Habeas Corpus (4 April, 1648)
John Lilburne, The Prisoners Plea for a Habeas Corpus, Or an Epistle writ by L.C. Joh. Lilburne prerogative prisoner in the Tower of London the 4. of Aprill, to the Honourable Mr. W. Lenthall Speaker of the House of Commons. In which is fully proved, that the Judges are bound by Law and their Oaths to grant a Habeas Corpus to any prisoner whatsoever that craves it, by whomsoever committed, and to deny it (whosoever commands the contrary) is to forsweare themselves, for which they may be in Law indicted for perjury, and upon conviction, are for ever to be discharged of their office, service and councell. In which is also declared the usurpation of Mr. Oliver Crumwell, who hath forcibly usurped unto himselfe the Office of L.G. in the Army, for almost 12. moneths together, and thereby hath robbed the Kingdome of its treasure, under pretence of pay, which he hath no right unto, and by the power of the said Office hath tyrannized over the lives, Liberties, and estates of the freemen of England in a higher manner then ever Stratford or Canterbury did, all which John Lilburne will venture his life according to the Law of the Land to make good, unto which he hath annexed his Epistle which he writ to the Prentices of London the 10th of May 1639 when he was like to be murdered in the Fleet by the Bishops, as now he is like to be murdered in the Tower, by Crumwell and his tirannicall fellow Grandees.
This tract contains the following parts:
4 April, 1648.
TT1, pp. 606–7; Thomason E. 434. (19.).
Or an Epistle writ by L.C. Joh. Lilburne prerogative prisoner in the Tower of London the 4. of Aprill, to the Honourable Mr. w. Lenthall Speaker of the House of Commons. In which is fully proved, that the Iudges are bound by Law and their Oaths to grant a Habeas Corpus to any prisoner whatsoever that craves it, by whomsoever committed, and to deny it (whosoever commands the contrary) is to forsweare themselves, for which they may be in Law indicted for perjury, and upon conviction, are for ever to be discharged of their office, service and councell. In which is also declared the usurpation of Mr. Oliver Crumwell, who hath forcibly usurped unto himselfe the Office of L.G. in the Army, for almost 12 moneths together, and thereby hath robbed the Kingdome of its treasure, under pretence of pay, which he hath no right unto, and by the power of the said Office hath tyrannized over the lives, Liberties, and estates of the freemen of England in a higher manner then ever Straford or Canterbury did, all which John Lilburne will venture his life according to the Law of the Land to make good, unto which he hath annexed his Epistle which he writ to the Prentices of London the 10th of May 1639 when he was like to be murdered in the Fleet by the Bishops, as now he is like to be murdered in the Tower, by Crumwell and his tirannicall fellow Grandees.
IT is the saying of the Spirit of God, That a righteous man regardeth the life of his Beest: but the tender mercies of the wicked as cruelty, Prov. q12. 10. And if a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast much more of a man, that did or doth him service; but he that to such a one rewardeth evill for good, declares to the purpose, that his tender mercies is cruelty indeed; but whether your dealings in particular, and the dealings of your House in generall have been so up or down, yea or no, I will not now determine, but at present leave it to the consciences of you and them [if you have any left] to Iudge.
But Sir, give me leave to put you in minde that I have contrary to all Law and Iustice been [Editor: illegible word] almost two yeers a prisoner in the Tower of London; committed originally by those [viz. the House of Lords] that at your Bar the 19. Ian. last I averred and in some good measure proved[a] by Law had no more power to control me then so many Turks or Tarters hath; But that day I was by Vote of your House a new committed to prison, who if you please believe the learned opinion of your brother Lawyers, Mr. William Prin, declared in his late plea for the Lords jurisdiction over Commoners, your House in Law hath not so much power to restrain me, as the Lords hath, and they none at all.
But howsoever, whether they have or have not, I ought by law when I am committed, by whomsoever to be brought to a speedy triall, as is excellently well proved and illustrated by Sir Edward Cooke in this exposition the 29 Chap of Magna Charta[b] The Law of England is extreame tender and favourable of a mans freedome and libertie. And therefore it hath appointed officers and ministers, to deliver to the Gaole three times a yeere or oftner[c] if need be, because in the eye of the Law, the prison is a bad, or a hard mantioin or dwelling And besides that all men committed for any trespasse whatsoever for which he is not to lose life or member shall be[d] bailed, from Goale by the common law of England saith Sir Edward Cooke being the pledge or surety of him that could finde noe other, and therefore by the ancient common law of England, Treason or Felony (in case the party that had committed it, could find good baile) was baileable; And in case the prisonner be long there should be, detained in prison, and denied to be bailed according the law, the law hath provided a Habeas Corpus[e] for his remedie to bring his body and cause up before the Iudges, with a Habeas Corpus is not to be denied to any that craves it, whether he be baileable or[f] noe.[g]
And to deny it to any man what ever that craves it, let his cause which he is comitted for be it what it will, is to deny him the benefit of the Law of the Land, for upon the returne of the Habeas Corpus, it doth not Iudicially appeare for what cause he is in prison, but if on the returne it will appeare: and if upon the returne it doth appeare, that he is imprisoned contrary to the knowne and declared Lawes of the Land; the Iudges are bound by their Oathes without any more adoe to deliver him whosoever commands to the contrary; And if it appeare, that he is legally committed for a crime in Law, that is bailable, they are to baile him, and if his crime be not bailable, they are to turne him back from whence he came, and all this clearly appeares “by Sir Edward Cooke, upon the 29 chap, of Magna Charta fol. 55. published by your selves, Law; And by the Iudges answere to the 25 Articles or objections that Richard Bancroft Archbishop of Canterbury, exhibited in the name of the whole Clergy (then high enough) in Michaelmas Tearme, in the the third yeer of King Iames, to the Lords of the privy counsell against the Iudges of the Realme, for incroaching (as they supposed upon their Ecclesiasticall jurisdiction, where in their own Article, they complaine against the Iudges in Westminster have that they command and cause the Sheriffe to bring before them into their Courts, parties so committed by the Ecclesiastical Iudges, to prison, that by the Laws of the Land, they ought not to deliver untill the Ecclesiasticall Courts were satisfied, and yet by their owne discretion set them at liberty; without notice thereof given to the Ecclesiasticall Iudges, &c. Vnto which al the Iudges of England, and all the Barrons of the Exchequer, upon mature deliberation & consideration, in Easter Tearme following with one unanimous consent, “that if the party imprisonned be in Law not bailable, yet we ought [say they] upon complaint to send the Kings Writ [of a Habeas Corpus] for the body and the cause, And if in the returne no cause, nor no sufficient cause appeare, then we doe [as we ought] set him at liberty; otherwise upon removing the body, the matter appeare to be of Ecclesiasticall cognizance, then we remit him againe, and this we ought to doe in both cases, say they. And in the 22 Article the Clergy complains, “that some of the temporall Iudges are grown to such an innovating humor upon their jurisdiction given them by Law, that they have delivered certaine lewd persons fined and imprisoned by them, for greivous crimes, to the treading the Kings supreame Ecclesiasticall authority under their feet: unto which the Iudges answer, We doe not neither will we in any wise impunge the Ecclesiasticall authority, In any that pertaines unto it, but if any by the Ecclesiasticall authority commit any man to prison, upon complaint unto us that he is imprisoned without just cause, and if they will not certifie unto us the particular cause, but generally, without expresing any particular cause, whereby it may appeare unto us to be a matter of Ecclesiasticall cognizance, and his imprisonment just, when we doe and ought to deliver him, and this is their fault, and not ours; and although some of us have dealt with them to make some such particular Certificate to us, whereby we may be able to Iudge upon it as by Law they ought to doe, yet they will by no meanes doe it and therefore their error is the cause of this, and no fault in us, for if we see not a just cause of the parties imprisonment by them, then we ought, and are bound by Oath to deliver him; And they shall conclude, that the Iudges doing what they ought, and by their Oaths are bound to doe, they are not, nor ought no to be questioned therefore.
And that a Habeas Corpus, is not by law to be denied to any prisonner, whatsoever his crime be, by whomsoever committed, I further make appeare thus.
First, a man in execution for debt, is by the Law of the Land not bailable, and yet a Habeas Corpus cannot nor ought to be denied[h] to him.
Secondly, a man excommunicated is not baileable by Law, and in Law a Habeas Corpus cannot nor ought not to be denied to him[i] such, and soe for all offences whatsoever; And among our remedies against unjust imprisonment, the Law of the Land offers this remedy amongst many others, as the Writ de homine replegiando and the Writ de odia et atia and the Writ ponendo sigilium and the Writ of false imprisonment, and an action of his[k] case, upon a false returne made upon such a Habeas Corpus.
Thirdly, It is against the Iudges Oath to deny it, in which Oath, he sweares to do equall Law and execution of right to all people, rich or poore, without having regard to any person; and that may deny to no man common right, by the Kings letters, nor none other mans, nor for no other case and in case any letters come to you, contrary to the Law, that ye doe nothing by such letters, nor notifie the King thereof, and proceed to execute the law, not understanding the[l] letters.
But a Habeas Corpus is part of the Law of the Land, which the Iudges ought to grant to all men that demand them, by whomever committed, although their crimes be unbaileable. Therefore the Iudges denying of it to any man whatsoever that craves it against their Oath, by doing of which they forsweare themselves and so are liable to be indicted for perjured persons, upon conviction of which they for ever to forfeit their places and are for ever to be uncapable to be Counsellers, &c. as appeares by an act of Parliament of the 11 H. Rot Parl. no. 28/38 m. not printed in the statute booke, but is printed in the 3 [Editor: illegible word] instituts fol. 224. 22.
Fourthly; To deny a Habeas Corpus is against Magna[m] Charta, and the Petition of Right made in the third of the King, and the act that abolished[n] the Starre-Chamber made in the [Editor: illegible word] of the King, yea against your own declarations, as appeares, part dec. pag. 6, 8.
Fifth, To deny it, is to rob the people of their declared and [Editor: illegible word] birthright, viz. the Law of the[o] Land, and so to deny all the ends wherefore we fought in the late Warrs against the King, which was principally to preserve our Laws and Liberties.
Sixtly, To deny it, is to contemne the declared authority of Parliament, who in all their [Editor: illegible word] Protestations, Vows, Covenants and Declarations have sworne, Vowed, promised and declared they will maintaine unto the people their Laws and Liberties, and againe and againe imprecated the wrath and vengeance of Heaven to fall upon them when they doe it[p] not solemnly declaring they have no aimes at themselves, but wholly at the publique; But Habeas Corpus, is an essentiall part of their Laws and liberties.
And therefore to deny it, is to contemne the Parliaments authority. And for intending them to suffer it, is to render them a company of forsworne men, and so never fit hereafter to be trusted.
But if it shall be objected that if you should maintaine the lawes you could not now, or in your by past straights, preserve your selves and the Kingdome against the King.
To which I answer, there is a great disproportion in reason (and so adjudged by your selves[q] betwixt that Law which concernes a single person, the King (who had so much caused the Laws to be broken as in your first Remonstrance you declared before this Parliament as he did) and his prorogative, and betwixt that law that concernes millions of people (that never had a hand in being guilty in any such thing,) viz. all that are or hereafter shall be in the Kingdome.
And besides, though the people in assisting you against the King, suffered you in the time of open and denounced warre, to doe, and did themselves, many things that were not consonant to the strickt letter of the Law of England, walking then in that great extremity by that rule of right reason, that universall safety is above all Law, and that necessity hath no law, which caused them at present to winke, at the stopping the usuall and ordinary course of justice, and to beare with many other enormities in you besides, especially in the arbitary proceedings of your illegall committees yet they never assisted you against the King, with any such intention to helpe you subdue him or his exorbitant and Tirannicall will, that you should then become their arbitrary Lords and masters (and they your perfect vassalls and slaves) and tread under your feet their rationall and fundamentall Lawes and liberties; and destroy their properties; but rather, that they might by you, be set in a better condition then you found them, and their Lawes and liberties in a purer streame and Channell, by regulating the insufferable exorbitancies of the Court of Justice, and abridging both the delayes and charges of Law Suites, &c. according to your promise in your Masculine first Remonstrance 1 Part booke decla page 15. and that at the ending of the warrs (which you in your late declaration against the Scots Commissioners, of the fourth of March, 1647. declare is now at an end page, 5. 16.) they might by you, according to your many Solemne declarations and ingagements, be put in the full possession and injoyment of the deare-bought-fruit of all their labours, expences, travells and hazards that they have raised in assisting you in the late warre against the King, principally so their Laws and liberties: and all this you fully [Editor: illegible word] your excellent declaration of the 17 of April. 1647. 2 part dec. page. 879. where you declare, “It is your intentions and earnest desires to obtaine the end of the primitive institution of all government, viz. the safety and weale of the people and though by the necessity of the warres, (you confesse) you have been compelled to doe many irregular things, yet upon the reducement of your affaires; We doe declare (say you) that we will not, nor any by colour of any authority derived from us, shall interrupt the ordinary Courts of Justice) in the severall Courts and judicators of this Kingdome, nor intermediation in cases of private interest otherwhere determinable, unlesse it be in case of maladministration of justice, wherein we shall see and provide that right be done, and punishment inflicted as there shall be occasion, according to the Lawes of the Kingdome, and the Trust reposed in us.
But the warrs are ended, and your affaires (if you by your covetuousnesse and selfishness: (unjustly deviding the publique treasure against Law, reason and justice amongst your selves] spoiled them not againe] reduced to a very good condition, the ordinary courts of justice being all open, where solely, only, and alone the Law ought to be executed, if not in the least degree pertaining to your House; the executing of the Law making or legislative power, being their proper and sole worke.
And therefore if you would ever be reputed for honest men, [who it is commonly said are alwayes as good as their words) then it is high time for you to make good your declarations, and to take the exercising of all your arbitrary and illegall power in executing Laws, and let the pordinaryand proper Courts of Iustice only doe it, lest the people never give credit to you any more for men of faith, truth or honesty; but by your tirannising over them and robbing them of the benefit of their Laws, they be necessitously provoked and compelled to rise up against you, and reward you for all your cruelty, with the severity exercised upon them, as you have rewarded for all their love, bounty and kindness, towards you; and when you cry out to them for law and justice they Preach unto you your owne doctine, which by soliciter St. Iohn, you preached to the Earle of Straford, in his argument of Law against him pag, 70. vizt.
That he in vaine calls for the helpe of the law, that walks contrary unto Law, and unto the Law of like for like he that would not have others to have law, why should he have any himselfe? Why should not that be done to him, that he himselfe would have done to another? its true (saith he) we give law to Harrs and Deare, because they be beasts of Chase, but it was never accounted either cruelty or foule play to knocke Foxes or Wolves on the head, as they can be found, because they be beasts of prey; The Warrenner sets traps for Poulcats, and other vermine for preservation of the Warren.
And that cruell tirant Adoni-Bezek, found the righteous God, a just executer of the Law of like for like upon him, who after his thumbs and his great toes were cut of; said, three score and ten Kings having their Thumbs, and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table and leave done, so God saith the Pagan] hath required me, Iudges 1. 6, 7. And saith the Apostle James chap. 2. 13. he shall have judgement without mercy that hath shewed no mercy.
But Sir if you should object against me, as some ignorant men doe, that your House is above the lawes of the Land, and therefore are not tied by them, nor bound to act according to them.
I answer positively no: you are not in the least above the laws, but while they are Laws and unrepealed, they are as binding unto you, as the meanest men in England, and you have no priviledge of exemption from the lash of them, either for treason, Felony or breach of the[r] peace) And excellent well worth observation is that of Sir Ed. Cooke in his 4. pt. instit. ch. high Court of Parli. fol. 37. where speaking of the attainder in Parliament of Thomas Cromwell Earle of Essex in the 32. H. 8. who by the Parliament was condemned of high Treason, & yet was never called to answer in any of the Houses of Parliament: of the manner of whose proceedings against him, he saith, let oblivion take it away, as it may be, if not, however let silence cover it; for saith he, the more high and absolute the jurisdiction of the Court is, the more just and honourable it ought to be in the Proceeding, & to give example of justice to inferiour Courts, which kinde of proceedings of the Parliament with the aforesaid Earle, he condemnes as altogether illegall, and cites the 29. chap. of Magna Charta, &c. to prove it against the Law of England; and to prove it to be against the Law of God, he quotes [Editor: illegible word] 3. 9. & 18. 21. & Devt. 17. 10. & 19. 15. 17. & Iosh. 7. 19. 20. 12. 23. Iudg. 20. 21. 3. 4. & Iob. [Editor: illegible word]. And that it is against the Law of reason ingraven in the hearts of Heathens, he cits Act 25. [Editor: illegible word] where the very Pagan Magistrates, answer to the Jews, when they pressed for judgement against Paull, “That it is not the manner [or Law] of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused, have the accuser face to face, and have license to answer for himselfe concerning the crime laid against him; who when they were to send him prisoner to atone, by the very light of Nature declared, “That it seemed unreasonable, to send a Prisonner and not with all to signifie the crime laid against him, Act. 25. 27. And in fol. 35. ibi. he saith that by Order of Law a man cannot be attained of high treason, unlesse the offence in law be high Treason, he ought not to be attained by generall words of High Treason by authority of Parliament at some time hath been used) but high teason ought specially to be be pressed that the Court of Parliament is the highest and most honourable Court of justice, and ought (as hath been said) give example to inferior Courts. And in pap 14. ibim, declaring the danger that ensueth to the Kingdome when any of the maxims, or fundamentall Law of the Kingdome is altered, which was granted by Empson and Dudlys rigid, executing that unjust act of Parliament of the 11 H. 7. 3. he hath these words. A good Caveat to Parliaments to leave all causes to be measured by the Golden and streight [Editor: illegible word] word of the Law and not to the inceraine and crooked Cord of discretion or will or pleasure.
But Secondly, I put a cleare distinction betwixt your Legislative power, and jurisdictive power and I grant you have a legall proportion of Legislative power inherent in you according to the present constitution of the Kingdome; to repeale those Laws that are amisse, and to make better in their places, always provided you walke by the rules of common equity and reason, which I positively conceive and Iudge, a Law to all Legislators in the world.
And therefore for you to goe about to punish me, or any other man whatsoever, for any pretended crime whatsoever by an unknowne Law, made after any fact is committed, I am absolutly of opinion is the greatest injustice in the world. And that I illustrate thus.
My action done or acted, is either a crime or no crime, a crime it cannot be, unlesse it be a transgression of a knowne and declared Law in being before the act done, (so saith the Apostle where there is no Law there can be no transgression, Rom 4. 15.) and if so, to punish me for that act, which is no crime, or at least was no crime declared when I committed it, or to punish me any other wayes; or by any other manner, then by that law against which I have transgressed is expressed, and prescribed, is the highest of injustice, and the most righteous and justest man in the world, under such principall or tenets, can never be safe, being always in liberty, estate, and life; liable to be leveled or destroyed, by the will, mallice and pleasure of the present swaying grand faction, in which condition a man differs nothing from a brute beast, but a shape. And therefore Mr. Speaker all your Legislative power put forth to make a Law to punish men after their pretended crimes committed: I judge to be the desperatest injustice and wickednesse that ever was committed, or acted in the world, by men that had professed and fought for Law and justice all which are so fully proved, in the 1, 2, 3, 4. pages of Englands birthright, and the 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. pages of the second edition of my epistle to Iudge Reves, and in the 11, 12, 13, 14. pages of Mr. Wildmans Truths Triumph, And in the proem of my late booke, called the peoples prerogative, and the 12. 13, 14, 15. 16. &c. Sir Iohn Maynards case truly stated, And the Plea of A. B. a Citizen of London published by Lionel Harbin Gentleman pag. 11, 15, 76, 17, 18. That I at present judge it is irrationall to adde any more reasons to justifie them, then to light a candell to the Sun when it shins in its brightnesse.
And therefore Mr. Speaker I earnestly intreat you, and by the duty of your place require you, to communicate these lins to your House, in the conclusion of which I humbly from them desire.
First, to yeild me my two thousand pounds, already adjudged me from my Starr-Chamber (bloody and cruell) judges, or else.
Secondly, if they judge it not proper by law, for the jurisdiction of their House, that they would throw it out of doores, and totally leave it to the common Law. Always provided that I may without interruption, have my legall remedy against the Earle of Salisbury, and old Sir Henry Vane my potent and bloody adversaries, who by their inhumane and unparleled decrees in Starr-Chamber in the yeers 1637. and 1638. passed against[s] me, would have murdered, starved and destroyed me, And.
Thirdly, that your House immediatly give me but one half of my arreares, that they justly owe me (for the whole) to inable me to live, and follow my businesse, And.
Fourthly, that they adjudge my appeale against the Lords, that so I may one way or another get my liberty, or else freely and wholy leave me to the common Law, without over awing or terrifying the Iudges from granting me a Habeas Corpus, which I conceive you cannot in the least legally forbid them to be, especially considering by the forementioned act that abolisheth the Starre-Chamber, you have enacted a pennalty, upon all these Judges that shall deny a Habeas Corpus to any that demand it, although committed by the King himselfe; yet the Iudges are there in joyned without delay or any pretence whatsoever to grant it.
And therefore Mr. Speaker, I earnestly intreat you throughly to acquaint your House with my present necessitated desires, and to take some effectuall course, that by their meanes I may not starve in Prison, as in the condition I am in now of necessity in time[t] I must, if you keep me in prison (and lay no blame at all to my charge) and allow me not the value of one farthing token to live upon, to keep me, my wife and little children alive, and yet keep almost three thousand pound of my just and legall right from me, which is now all (after my 11 yeers sad sufferings) I have left me in the world to pay my debts and to live upon.
But Sir if you and your House will not take some speedy and effectuall course for my legall releise, seeing that a Habeas Corpus is my right by Law, and seeing the last Tearme I could get never a Lawyer to move for one for me, although I indeavoured it, as much as if my life had lain upon it, and yet could not prevaile with any to venture to doe it for feare the indignation of your House or the Grandees of the Army would destroy[v] them as without legall ground it hath done others, the power and tyranny of whom doth totally over awe them, of which every thing your selves remarkably combine in the 8 page of your forementioned first Remonstrance; And seeing them in Prison, I cannot come to the Kings Bench Barr to move for my selfe, if your House will, doe any thing that is sutable to Law and justice, which is all the mercy and pitty I crave at your hands, then I must of necessity be compelled as you in your great straights did, to cry out to all those, that had any sence of dignity, honour or honesty, to come in to aide a distressed State 1 part bo. decl. p. 98 earnestly and mournfully, to cry out allowd to all the honest Noune substantive men in and about the City of London, to pitty and commemmorate my distressed and oppressed estate and condition; and rather then to suffer me to be murdered and starved in Prison by the Tyranny of Cromwell and his Grandees that have now visably turned their backs of God, (of the Liberties their native Country, of common honesty, humanity and justice) to use the utmost indeavours to bring me to the Bar of justice, there to receive a tryall according to the knowne Law of England for my life, and that justice without partiallity, mercy, pitty or compassion may be executed upon me, either to my condemnation or justification, which is all the favour, pity or compassion crave from all the adversaries I have in the world.
And for that end Mr. Speaker, I shall with all earnestnesse and industry, indeavour to get as many of them as I can the first day of the next Tearme to get up by 6 or 7 a clocke in the morning, in person to Westminster hall, and deliver me a Petition to the Iudges there sitting, in the very following words.
The Humble Petition of Levt. Col. Iohn Lilburne Prisoner in the Tower of London.
THat your Petitioner is an Englishman, and thereby intailed, and intituled to the benefits of all the Laws of England which by your Oaths[x] you are sworne indifferently and equally without feare or partiallity to administer gratis to all pertsons rich and poore, without having regard to any person, notwithstanding any command whatsoever to the contrary.
Now for as much as a Habeas Corpus is part of the Law of England, and ought not by Law to be denied to any man[y] whatsoever that demands it, which though your Petitioners earnestly indeavoured the last Tearme to obtaine, yet cannot prevaile with his Counsell to move for it, although he hath almost this two yeers been detained in prison in the Tower of London, without all shaddow of Law or justice and by the Lievtenant thereof, hath been divorced from the society of his wife, debarred from the free accesse of his friends, deprived of the use of Pen, Inke and Paper: all which usages are against the expresse, Lawes and Statutes of the Land; your Petitioners birthright and inheritance.
Therefore your Petitioner humbly prayeth, according to his right, and your Oaths, the benefit of a Habeas Corpus (and that he may have it gratis according to the Law of the land and your Oathes) to bring his body and cause before you in open Court, there to receive your award and judgement, according to the declared Law of England.
And your Petitioner shall pray, &c.
And now Mr. Speaker I desire to acquaint your House, with my intentions to bring my self up to the Kings bench barre, the first day of the next Tearme, who I hope will not so far subvert the law, as to goe about to hinder me, but there meet me according to law and justice, with whatsoever they have to lay unto my charge, and not still keepe me in Prison, by will and force of Armes, without laying any crime at all unto my charge, and there think to murder or starve me, unlesse I will stoope to their tyrannicall lusts and wills; which if they doe Mr. Speaker, it is not the most palpable iniustice that I have undergone by you in particular and them in generall, as I sinceerly evinced and fully proved to your faces in my speech the 19. of Ian. last at your open barre, which you may now reade in my Whip to the House of Lords page 19. 20. 21. 24. 25. 26. But if they shall doe this, then I shall absolutly conclude the levellers, viz. Cromwell and his grandee* faction hath in good earnest already de facto levelled all our lawes and liberties, to their own corrupt lusts and wills, and have made England already, to become like Turkey, London like Constantinople, the Army (that was raised to preserve our lawes liberties and freedomes) like the great Turks guard of Janisaries, that will put all his commands in execution, whether it be right or wrong, And White Hall and the Muse, like the Seralia (in Constantinoppe being the place of Rendezvouz or lodging of the tyrants, mercenary law and liberty destroyers.
For truly Mr. Speaker I must say and averre it that Mr. Oliver Cromwel hath destroyed all our lawes and liberties and properties, and set up an absolute tyrannicall arbitrary Government by sword (and principally over all those that have fought in the sincerity of their hearts for the Parliament and their Country) far worse then ever Strafford or Canterbury attempted to doe, for which they lost their heads, who yet in comparison to him were but fooles and chickins, scarce daring to think what he hath executed and acted. But Mr. Speaker if you would know the reason, why I doe not call him Leivt. Gen. Cromwell, it is because I would correct a vulgar cheat amongst the people, which of right take him now to be Lievt. Gen. to the Army, when as indeed and in truth he is no such thing rightfully; for if the modellising of the present Generalls Army by the self denying (alias cheating) Ordinance, no member of either House was to have any Office in the Army, yet at the speciall desire of divers honest petitioners in London (who now are by Cromwell christened Levellers) & the General & his Councell of War, the Parliament by speciall Ordinance made Mr. Cromwell Leivt. Gen. of the Horse of that Army for six moneths (reserving still for ought I ever could hear, the sole making of Generall Officers (of the Army) in their own hands, and never gave it in the least to the Generall and after the expiration of the six moneths, continued him by an other speciall Ordinance for six moneths longer, but I could never heare that after the expiration of that six moneths they redeemed it againe; And if they did (which I confidently believe the contrary,) yet I am sure about a yeare agoe, he, (and as I remember all the rest of the Colonells in the Army, that were barely made members of the House) were by speciall Ordinance taken from their commands in the Army, so that I am confident I may safely and positively cal him a palpable usurper, of his present place and Office of Leivt. Gen. of the Army; and if so, then he is no better them a Robber, and a Theif, in forcing money from the Parliament and People (as he hath done, for his pay; and ought in equity and justice at least to make restitution of every penny he hath taken since he was cashiered, and hereafter to retire out of the Army (that Soldier being no better then a foole thatß will obey him) and take no more.
Nay he is not only a Theife, a Robber and usurper but he is an absolute murderer too. which I will maitain upon my life to prove him to be at the Kings bench bar, and there or at the Assises in Hertford sheire he may and ought by the declarad law of England to be indicted, and ought in justice, law and conscience to loose his life for that wilful, malicious premeditated and forethought of murther that he committed upon the Soldier of my brother Col. Robert Lilburnes Regiment, for Mr. Cromwell being indeed and in truth no Officer but a palpable usurper, had not the least shaddow or colour to meddle to adiudge the Soldier to death or cause him to be shot for any pretended marshal crime whatsoever, but.
Secondly, if Mr. Oliver Cromwell should prove himself an Officer of the Army then, (which I am confident he never can iustly or legally doe,) yet that would doe him no good to save his life† for that murder, for it being done in a time of peace and not of warre [although an Army be up in in the Kingdome] and all the ordinary Courts of justice free and open, where law and iustice is dispenced and administred according to its usuall manner, where only and alone all Soldiers as well as all other Englishmen, that are no Soldiers ought by the law of this land to be punished and no where else, the law having made particular provision therefore, yea almost for every crime that in time of peace, is imaginable a Soldier can commit, all which is fully proved in the 11. pag of the forementioned Plea of A. B. Citizen of London, and in my forementioned book called the Peoples prerogative. pag 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, but especially pag 53, 54. and in the 55, 56. pages thereof, you may read my letter which I sent to Windsor to the Generall, the 23. Decemb. 1647. by way of challenge, to all the Officers in his Armie, to dispute that point with them before the Generall, viz. that it now being time of peace he nor his Counsell of War cannot by Marshall Law put any man whatsoever (Souldier or othere) to death, but it is absolute murther. And is so declared by your own authoritie in your premitive puritie and virginitie, in the 3. part of the Lord Cooks institutes, chapter of murder, fol. 52. Where he positively declares, it hath in law been often so resolved, and there gives strong and undeniable reasons for it, and I am sure the Earle of Strafford paid for it to the purpose. And therefore Mr. Speaker I doe absolutely conclude Mr. Oliver Cromwell to be a murderer, with which I now charge him, and require you as you will hereafter answer it, to acquaint your house that J doe hereby require him at their hands as a murderer of a Souldier of Co. Ro. Lilburnes Reg. neer Waire, this last Winter, 15. No. 1647. called Rich. Arnell, And that they forthwith commit him as a murderer, to prison, without Baile or maoinprise according to the law of the land, and I Iohn Lilburne am ready to enter into securitie according to Law, to prosecute him, and to make good the charge upon my life against him, by way of indictment according to the known law of the land, either at the Kings bench bar in Westminster Hall, or else at Hartford Assises.
Sir you may please to remember, that at your open barr the 19. of Ian. last, I delivered a formall impeachment against him, and his sonne in Law the pretended Comissary Gen. Ireton, being the very same things but in a farre transcendent nature, that they positively accused Mr. Hall is &c. of reason for; And I offered before you all (as you very well know) upon my life to make it good, and am still ready and willing to doe it, but the justice you did the kingdome was to commit me to prison for my faithfulnesse and therefore truly Sir, J must in good earnest tell you, that my urgent oppressing necessitie, and your, & Sir Henry Vaine, and Cromwels, unparraleld cruelties toward me are so great and transcendent, that unlesse I speedily injoy, and really possesse some effectuall justice from you, J must be compeld to throw all care and feare aside, and pluck up the same resolution in reference unto you, that I did towards the Bishops after they had caused to give me upon the 18. of Aprill 1638. with knotted cords 500. stripes in lesse then 2. houres time, and set me upon the pillorie imediatly after, and there put a gag in my mouth for an houre and a halfe to the almost renting my iawes in sunder, and imediatly after this, in the common Gaole of the Fleete laid me in Irons upon both my armes and legs, night and day, all which was done unto me by the bloody and wicked decree of mercilesse and barbarous Sir Henry Vaine Senior, and the Earle of Salsbury, Lord Chiefe Iustice Bramston, & c. at which time J sent Canterbury and the rest of his bloody brethren word, that for all that, they had caused to be done unto me, or could farther doe unto me, I was not in the least afraid of them, for J neither feared an Axe at Tower Hill, nor a Stake in Swithfield, nor a Halter at Tyburne nor whipping at a Carts arsse, nor a Pillorie in the Palace yard, nor gagging, nor cutting of eares and nose, nor burning in the fore head and cheecks, nor yet banishment with Iohn to Pthmos. For I verily believe if you should send me thither I shall there find Christ, which by his spirit will unfold the revelation unto me, and then I would write it and send it abroad into the world, which would vex you as ill as Sampson did the Philistines, and prove as fatall to your decaying, tottering, spirituall, Babiloniabn Anti-Christian Kingdome, as his Foxes with fire brands at their tayles, were to the Philistines Corne. And therefore as you love your almost ruinated Kingdome, looke to it, and know that the faster you kick, the harder J will spur you, and the more you fling the closer I will stick and cleave fast unto you, for you are plants (which I groundedly know) the Lord never planted, and therefore undoubtedly he will pluck you up Mat. 15. 13. And therefore by the might power and strength of my God. Psal. 118. 14 Esay 12. 2. who is the worker of all my workes in me, and for me, Esay 26 12. I am resolved come life or death, seeing you by force have called me to it, to shew my self valiant for the truth of God, Jer. 9. 3. which message Mr. Speaker you may read in the 34. pag of my book called, Come out of here my people, printed at Amsterdam, 1639.
And truly Mr. Speaker, if you compell and force me to such a course, J shall deale ingeniously with you, and acquaint you before hand, with my epistle J writ to the Apprentices of London upon the 10 of May, 1639. the copy of which I shall hereunto annex, the effects of which was like to have saved Derrick the Hangman a labour, in reference to the Bishop of Canterbury, the like of which in reference to you and Cromwell, &c. I shall not feare to write againe, and set my credit upon the tenter hooks, if it be possible to get money to print enough to send all over England, let the issue be what it will, I can but dye, and say I, better any way, then to be murdered and famished by you in a hole and a corner in silence. But I am confident I shall fix such a charge upon Cromwell, &c. as shall clearly make them apparent to be the arrantest Iuglers, Dissemblers, Hypocrites, Apostates, and Lyars, that ever breathed in the world, that professed honesty,(a) and sincerity, yea to be tyrannicall monsters in comparison of Strafford, and Canterbury, who were esteemed bad enough in their generation.
For though the Earle of Strafford caused to be condemned the Lord Mount Norris, a Member of the Irish Army, by Marshall Law, over which Army the Earle was Generall by lawfull Commission, which act of his notwithstanding, was objected against by your house as an act of treason in subverting the law, which act was strongly pressed upon him as a most hainous crime, by Mr. Glyn, Recorder of London, and a member of your house being assigned so to doe by you, to which he made a more notable defence for himself by a thousand degrees, then J am confident Cromwell is able to make to justifie his Martiall Law actions, whose defence you may partly read in a printed relation thereof, printed 1647 pag 11, 12, 13.
Yet though he were esteemed very bad in his generation, he never had so much impudence, to meddle with, or endeavour to condemne to death a meer Commoner, as Mr. Cromwell hath done in the case of William Thompson a meer Commoner, as he hath fully proved himself to be, in his true and impartiall printed relation, dated from White Hall the 12. March, 1647. whom upon the 26. Feb. 1647. he took from the House of Commons doore, and most illegally by word of mouth, and force of Armes committed prisoner to his Mercinary Janissaries at Whitehall, where to the utter levelling & subverting of Magna Charta, and the Petition of Right, &c. he hath passed upon him a sentence by Marshall Law, to be shot to death, and your House (who should be the preservators and conservators of the lawes and liberties of England) take no notice of the poore mans dying condition, to redeem him as you ought in duty and conscience to doe, out of the clutches of that grand Vsurper and Tyrant Cromwell, and to punish him, &c. severely therefore, but by your silence you rather seem to justifie that murdering and tyrannicall action, yea and so carrie yourselves in it, as though you were resolved without check or comptroule, to give him leave to murder and destroy all the honest men in England at his will and pleasure, that he beares a malice to the full discovery of the evill consequence of which single president of Thompson, will be worth the Kingdome, knowledge, which in due time to your eternall shame amongst men, it may be they may enjoy, which is may be may in time bring Cromwell for all his arbitrarie proceedings against and subvertion of the fundamentall law of the land, to the punishment of Empson and Dudley Privie Consellours to Henry 7. who yet had an Act of Parliament to authorise their proceedings of whom and their arraignments and ends, you may read in the 2 part institutes fo. 51. and 3. part. fo. 208. and 4. part fo. 41, 196, 197, 198. and in Iohn Speeds Cronicles, fol. 978, 983.
But Sir, before J totally conclude, I cannot but acquaint you, what a lying, desperate, and malicious design, Cromwell some moneths agoe had to destroy me, and take away my life, who by his mercenary Emisaries, Paul Hobson, and Lievt. Col. H. L. groundlesly raised a report all over the Army, that I had told the foresaid Leivt. Col. that some of the late Agents had a design or intention to murder and kill the King, which was and is the most notoriousest and falsest lye in the world, for I doe protest before men and Angels, I never said any such thing in all my life to any man breathing, nor never was so told from any of the Agents or any of their friends and I will iustifie what I now say with my life, against any man breathing that shall have so much basenesse and impudency to affirme the contrary against me, viz. that ever he heard me say such words, yet upon this complotted and contrived lye of Cromwell, and his pencionary creatures (for no other can I iudge it) he writ his Letter to Col. Whaty, the Kings Gaoler at Hampton Court, that he had certain intilligence of the Agents intent to murder and kill the King, which letter Whatey shewed to the King, upon which false suggestion and lye of Cromwell and his confederates own framing, the King fled (no doubt with Cromwells privitie, knowledge, and good liking) into Cromwells mouse trap in the Isle of Whight, and after his departure it was bruited by Cromwells instruments, all up and down the Armie, City, and Country, that J was the original reporter of it, from whence to the hazard of my life they drew this inference, viz. That Iohn Lilburne in the Tower, who pretendedly stood so much for law and iustice, was one of the Conspirators to kill or murder the King, without all shadow of law, and further said, that he that without all collour of law would not stick to have a hand in murdering the King, would not stick without all collour of law, if he had power in his hands, to destroy all those that stood in his way, thereby measuring me by their own practises, and by their own principles, laid down by their darling Solicitor St. Iohn, in his plea, of Law against the Earle of Strafford) and therefore it is necessarie (said they) to keep him fast in the Tower, & this, or the substance of it with much confidence was reported by men of qualitie to divers desperate Cavaliers on(b) purpose (as I cannot but conceive) to set them upon me to stab me or cut my throat, some of whom told me of it againe, protesting they could not believe that report of me, but I wondered and stood amazed from whence it should arise, having for my self protested againe and againe upon many discourses with my friends, &c that J could never see any law in being in England to inable the two Houses of Parliament it selfe, to draw up a charge or impeachment against the King, to inable them formally and judicially to try him for his life, either for willfull murder or misgovernment, &c. and to take away his life by a law made ex post facto, I then declared, and for my part still doe thinke is not just, And an impeachment by the Parliament, which they iudged legall was the highest that ever I knew any man to attempt(c) or desire) which I could never learn perfectly till I lately spoke to him of the Agents that were in prison at Windsor, and see and read their petition to their Generall, earnestly to presse and desire him to search into the bottome of that false and groundlesse Report which its believed usurping, tyrannising, Cromwell, would never suffer him to doe, he being his Lord and Master, a copy of which petition you may read at large in the 52. pag. of my forementioned book, called the Peoples prerogative, but I must take a fit time of purpose to discover fully this desperate plot of Cromwell, and his associates against my life, and the reputation, and lives of the gallant and honest Agents, and their Noun Substantive Associates, who by him and his fellow Tyrants, are nicknamed and baptized Levellers, which title (as I have in my last printed book fully proved) is only proper for himself, and his fellow grandees, who have already actually Levelled all our liberties, lawes, properties, and lives, to their tyrannicall, lawlesse wills and pleasures, so that really the quandom free men of England, cannot say they can injoy any of them, longer then the Grandees will and please, yet to that hight of tyranny are they grown in the very Army, that even in the Generalls Regiment of Horse, some of their weather cock Mercinary Officers, have already commanded the Souldiers, not to goe or ride a mile out of their quarters without leave at their perils, not to talke nor discourse of newes, or of state affaires, with any Countrymen or Souldier, so that if they doe a little longer proceed as they have already begun, verily, verily, Englishmen shall not differ from bruit beast but in shape, and shall be worse then ever our Ancestors were in that tyrannicall age of William the Conquerer, whose tyranny, is lively set forth in the beginning of that notable book called Regal Tyranny, a true parallell of which, if I have no more imployment then I find in a prison, may shortly be the worke of my pen, but at present I shall take my leave of you, desiring now at last for you if it be possible you may turne honest and doe me some justice, before feare, vengeance, and iudgement sweep you from off the land of the living, to the place of recompence of all Tyrants and oppressors, and so I rest.
from my most illegall, and murdering imprisonment it the Tower of London this 4. April, 1648. going in the eight yeare of my fruitlesse expecting justice from the House of Commons, who now make it their principall study and worke, to cheat and deceive the poore people of the Kingdome of their money, in raising it for other pretences, and then share and devide it by thousands and ten thousands amongst themselves, and suffer the poore Widowes and Orphants, that have lost their husbands and fathers in the wars, (and have long waited at their doores for their deare bought wages, without pittie, reliefe or compassion) to dye and starve for hunger and cold, whose blood cryes loud in the eares of the Lord of hosts for wrath and vengeance upon them.
Yours to serve you (if you would
but faithfully serve your native Country) till death, Iohn Lilburne,
that neither feares a Tyrant
nor loves an Oppressor.
To all the brave, couragious, and valiant Apprentizes of the honourable City of London, but especially those that appertain to the worshipfull Company of Clothworkers, (of which company, if J live I hope to be a Free man.)
THe kind and heartie salutation, together with the grievous deplorable complaint of me Iohn Lilburne, a most miserable, distressed, and cruell, oppressed, exceeding close prisoner in the Common Gaole of the Fleet, against all law, equitie, iustice and conscience, in which condition I am like to be murthered and devoured, in my innocency, and for my courage and boldnesse for my Prince and Country, against the Capitall and open enemies thereof, the traiterous Prelates and their most wicked confederates, and for my love to the welfare, and prosperitie of all my faithfull fellow-Subiects and Apprentizes.
WOrthy fellow Prentizes it is a Maxim in mortality, that the glory of the great and Soveraigne Creator, and the Common good of the Kingdom or City, ought to be preferred before a mans own particular liberty or welfare.
The knowledge and consciousnesse of which, hath made me for the glory of my God, the good of my Country, and the future good of you my fellow Prentizes, to abdicate all, and hazard and jeopard my estate, hopes, and fortunes in his world (which in outward liklihood would have been no small portion) yea my sweet life and liberty. For being banished from my Masters service (who liveth neare Londonstone) in June or July next will be two yeares; for no offence nor trespas in the world but only because the Prelats knew that I was a familiar acquaintance and Visiter of that Noble and renowned D. Bastwick, who stood out valiantly, bravely and couragiously against them, for the honour of his God, the good of his Prince and Country, and the prosperity of you my fellow Prentizes.
My exilement was into Holland, where I spent my time, not like a drone, but for the welfare of England, and all true hearted English men, I both with my purse and person laboured both night and day, for the accomplishment of which, I both early and late without wearinesse, travelled without the assistance of any mans purse but my owne, and my industry, by boat, and shiping by water, and on my feet by land, of which the enemies here to the King and State being informed by their Scouts in Holland they out of mallice, and envie at me for my good service to this land, at my coming over againe cast me in the Gate house prison in Decemb. last was 12. Moneths, but as the Lord ordered it by his overruling providence, it was for a thing I was cleare of (as I truly declared unto the Nobles, and Peere; of the land when I was before them)[a] yet they kept me wrongfully in Prison ever since; against all law iustice equity, and conscience, exercising such bloudy tyranny, murdering cruelty, devouring oppression (in laying me in Irons, keeping me 15. months together closs Prisoner keeping my victuals & friends from me, & beating threatning & most shamfully abusing those that came to see me & relieve me, threatning & exercising cruelty upon the poor Prisoners, that but seem to favour & pitty me) that the like example of cruelty I dare maintain it, is not to be found among the Heathent, and pagans, Turkes and Infidels, (as I have truly in my late grievous lamentaced and just complaint to the right honourable the Lord Major of the City of London intituled A Cry for Justice and the right worshipfull Aldermen his brethren, and all the rest of the grave and worthy Citizens published and which I have more largely in 3. severall bookes in print, being forced by unheard cruelty thereunto) declared and published unto the view of England, Scotland, Ireland and Holland, which if you be pleased to inquire after, you may meet with in the City.
But now to come to the thing, I desire of you my fellow Apprentizes, it is but thus much, that [Editor: illegible word] I am in the hands and custodie of corrupt cruell, oppressing, murthering, poysoning, starving, spendthrift Hangmen jaylors (as I have truly declared in my last weeks complaint before named true Coppy of which I have sent you) and seeing all hopes of lively hood is taken away from me and that I now live and subsist by the miraculous power and providence of the great omnipotent God of Heaven and earth. And I having had a grievous and dangerous sicknesse well nigh these 11. moneths by reason of my cruell whiping, to the number of at least 500. strips;[b] and long lying in Irons upon both hands, and leggs night and day, with other barbarous tyranny and cruelty: and seeing that now my friends are not suffered to come at me, to look to me in my weaknesse nor bring me victualls, and I daring not to eate any for feare of being poysoned (as I truly told the Warden not many dayes agoe) but what my owne friends deliver into my own hand, in regard severall Prisoners have here been poysoned and other murthered, for one of which Murry my upper keeper was arraigned at Newgate, and my under keeper hath been a Hangman, being fittest for that imployment, being of such a doged churlish and cruell disposition that he seemes to be a man without humanity.
It is consideration of all the premises, (most worthy fellow Apprentizes) with multitudes of more deplorable grievances, which time will not suffer me to set down, I being now out of all forward hopes, if you get not speedy redresse for me, but that shortly my life and blood in cruell close imprisonment will be shed and taken away.
Threfore my earnest and importunate request & desire unto you, (my loving fellow Apprentizes) is but this, that you would be pleased to take my aforesaid, iust and miserable complaints which I have sent you, and by hundred or thousands goe in a faire and peaceable way in my behalfe to the honourable Lord Maior of this City, and desire him that it may be read to him in your hearing, and importune him without rest, that J may be forthwith removed out of this murthering Prison, to any other prison in the City for the safty of my life, where if I may have but some liberty of a faithfull subiect which my supported innocency doth challenge for me, and which the Lawes of my Soveraign Lord King CHARLES doth afford unto me, I will put in sufficient honesty without exception for my safe imprisonment, to answer at all times, whatsoever shall be offered against me, by the mightiest and potentest of my enemies.
But take notice of this, that for my own part (God is my witnes) I doe not send unto you to cause a tumult, or uproare, that so, for feare of the Law, and the rigor of justice for my offence, J may escape by flight, and so save my life, no, J scorne now to flee for I was never borne to be a son [Editor: illegible word] for to flie, and my unspotted and untainted innocencie is such that I dare with inward peace and boldnesse abide the touchstone, and the extremitie of the Law, and a publike tryall before the honest potentate in England, for I desire no mercie nor favour at any of my adversaries hands, but only the benefit of my Soveraigns Lawes, and in the maintaining of my innocency. I doe here proclaime it, that if I had absolute libertie to goe whether I please, J would scorne to flie, for I am resolved by the might and strength of my God, for the honour of my King and Country, and the good of future generations, to fight it out so long as I have a legge to stand on,s and to wage professed warre so long as I have drop of blood in my boddie, with the domestick and homebred enemies of the King and State, for I have a Souldiers heart within my innocent breast. And with my capitall adversaries, the chiefe of which is the devill, that devouring Lyon, and the Prelate of Canterbury, that guilty Traytor, (as upon the losse of my life I will maintaine) and with the Lord keeper Coventry, that uniust and unrighteous Iudge (that passed a wicked and unlawfull censure upon me) and My Gaolers, those murthering, poysoning starving, and grand oppressors: against all of which by the strength of God, (if I live) I will prosecute the Law for all my wrongs sustained by them.
Oh! therefore my fellow Apprentizes, I cry out unto you, to provoke you to zeale for God, and his glory, and to courage and boldnes to stand for liberties and priviledges, which are granted to us by the Parliament lawes of this Land, against the wicked Prelates supported with the power assistance of the unjust Lord keeper.
My hope is I shall not need to presse you with multiplicity of arguments (oh my fellow Prentizes) to fulfill my forced desire in regard it was so just and equall, and in regard I am like to be murthered for innocency, and eye for eye, tooth for tooth, skin for skin, and all that a man has will he give for his life, for the safty of which I am pressingly forced to send in this manner unto you.
The fulfiling of what I desire you, cannot in the least, lay ye open to the punishment or sentence of Justice, in regard my iust complaint doth arise from lawlesse oppression, and wrong, for deliverance from which I have already used exceeding much faire, peaceable and lawfull meanes from time to time, without intermission, with multitudes of humble petitions both to the King and the Nobles joyntly, and severally, yea and with mornfull petitions supplicated the Illustrious Queen of Bohemia to solicite the King her Brother about me, which I caused to be sent to my friends; and acquaintance at the Hage, to be delivered to her; but by reason of the greatnesse of the Prelate of Canterbury, and the Lord Keeper, and the Warden of the Fleet (from all of which I have suffered the height of misery and wrong, I can have no redresse or answer to any of them that they daily load me with more and more cruelty, for my complaining of purpose to take away my life for my unspoted innocency,
Wherefore unto all you stout and valiant Prentizes, I cry out murther, murther, murther and murther, wherefore as you pitty the most miserable and deplorable condition of me who am your stout and coragious (though sore) afflcted fellow Prentize, give the Lord Major no rest, till I by the assistance of the noble Lord protector, fullfill my just and equall desire, that so my innocent blood may be preserved, that I may live in future time, to doe my King and Country and this honourable and noble City, of which I am a most oppressed member, faithfull and true service; which if I were delivered from my cruell condition, and were well of my weaknesse and sicknesse which I have had for many moneths together, were able to doe, if need did require, another with sword or Pen. For if I have a good cause to ground my quarrell upon ‘I durst venture to combat with any man whatsoever, that steps upon the ground though perished in the battell, for my Mother did not beare me to be a Coward, or a Son of base and slavish feare.
Now if you should inquire what I am, I truly answer in the expression of the world, ‘I am the second Son of a Gentle man in the North parts of England, 200. miles from hence, descended of an ancient and worshipfull Family (according to the estimation of the world) and about twenty and two yeares of age: whose predecessors have been men of valour, and did with their Swords good service to that noble Prince Henry the 8. at the conquest of Bulloign in France, and my Father in his youthfull dayes in his service at the Court, wore a gold Chain as the badge and livery of an Illustrious and Noble Earl of this land.
‘And for my Mother she was a Courtier borne, bred, and brought up, where she ended her days whose Father was a Houshold Officer to that famous Queen Elizabeth, and afterwards to Royal King James. But alas, alas my kindred, though some of them be rich and great in the world have all long since left me, in regard of the greatnesse of my adversaries whose power they are afraid of, and I have not one of them to stand by me: wherefore if my fellow Apprentizes doe not now at a pinch lend me some spedie help, now my life lyes at the stake, and is like every hope to be taken away by bloody Gaolers in the Fleet, I am like in a few dayes to perish in my distressed condition, for verily there is but a step betwixt me and death.
So remembring my kindest love unto you all, desiring speedily to heare from you, and what good successe you have, I commit you to God and rest.
Your faithfull, stout and couragious fellow Apprentize (though now in the depth of miserie and distresse) Iohn Lilburne.
From the murdering prison called the Fleet, the cruellest Gaole I think this day under the sunne, the 10. day of this 5. moneth of May, in the yeare of remembrances 1639.
[a ] As you may read in my late printed speech, called a Whip for the present house of Lords, pag. 14, 15, 16, 17. and which is absolutly and fully proved by Mr. Lionel Harbin in his plea the 17. present for the imprisoned Aldermen of London, &c. pag, 11, 15, 16, 17,
[b ] in the 2 part instit. fol. 42, 43, also fol. 186, 189, 515 and 1 part instit. lib. 3, chap, 7. Sect. 438. fol. 260. the oppressed mans oppressions declared pa. 1. 3. 4. & a Whip for the Lords pag, 2, 25.
[c ] 4 E. 3. chap, 2, printed in the peoples prerogative pag. 6.
[d ] See 3. Ed. 1. 15. printed in the peoples P. pag. 6.
[e ] See 2 part instit. fol. 186. 189.
[f ] See 2 H. 5. ch. 2. & 11, ch. 10. Pettion of Right in the C. R. bag case 11. part works reports & 2. p. insti. fol. 615. 616.
[g ] which you may read at large in the 2. part instit. fol. 191, 602. to fol. 618.
[h ] 2 H. 5, ch. 2. and 11. H. 6. chap. 10.
[i ] 2. part insti. fol. 614. 615. 616.
[k ] See 2. part insti. fol. 42. 43. 53. 55. 187.
[l ] See his Oath at large printed in Pultons coll. of statutes fol. 154. and my late booke called the peoples prerogative pag. 10.
[m ] bide 2. part insti. fol. 53. 55.
[n ] both which you may read in the people perrogative page 1, 2, 3, 23, 24, 25.
[o ] 1 part bo. dec. page 7. 38, 39, 77, 201, 278, 459, 650, 660, 845.
[p ] See and compare together 1 part bo. decl. p. 17. 18, 214, 264-266, 267. 340. 462, 464. 466. 473, 588, 666, 673, 690. 750.
[q ] 1 part boo. decl. 205, 266, 276, 687, 690, 700.
[r ] 4 part insti. chap. high Cou. Parli. fol. 25. 1 part boo. decl. p. 48. 278.
[s ] Which bloody sentences you may at large read 1, 2, 3, 4. p. of my relation before the Lords Feb. 13. 1645.
[t ] See my lamentable complaint made at your Barr in my speech on the 29 Jan. 1647. called a Whippe for the Lords pag. 20. 21. 22.
[v ] For I know and am able to prove it that whem Cromwell and his confederates accused the eleven Members of Treason, they had all their matter in a manner against them to seek, and I will prove to this effect to Crumwells face, that when by the Counsell, &c. it was demanded of him, both at St. Albons, and Colbracke what he had against Sir Iohn Maynard, he positively answered he at present did not well know, but he was a busie prating man, and therefore must be in, that soe he might be taken out of the way.
[x ] Which is printed in Pultons col. of Statutes fol. 144. and the people prorogative p. 10.
[y ] See 2 H. 5. cha. 2 Petition of Right 3. C R. the act that abolisheth ship money 17. C. R. 2 part insti. fol. 53. 55. 65. 615 616. See 26. ch of Magna Charta and Sir Ed. Cooke exposition upon it, fol. 42 & 3 Ed. 1. ch. 26. and the exposition upon it in 2 part insti. fol. 210. and the Statute of the 11 H. 4 Nu. 28. not printed in the Stat. book but is printed in the 3 pt. insti. fol. 146. 224. 225.
[* ] For in my Whip for the Lords I have fully proved that fact that the absolutest Levellers in England, are those honest men they nick-name Levellers to be the principall supporters of liberty and property in the whole Kingdome page 2. 3.
[† ] For I am sure the Earle of Strafford was generall of an Army in Ireland by legall Commission, and did but doe that which, many generalls there before him had done, and by Martiall law caused the Lord Mount-Norris to be condemned to dye, and by this Parliament he was therefore strongly impeached of treason, and amongst other things lost his head therefore, and yet the Lord-Mount Norris is alive to this day, but the Soldier condemned by Cromwell an Vsurper is shot to death in the time of full peace, Ergo, he undeniably deserves to dye.
[(a) ] Which is already prittie well done in those two looks called Putney Proiects, and Westminster proiect.
[(b) ] And yet at the same time Cromwels agents and instruments amongst honest men in London, reported me to be an absolute Cavilier, and stuck not with confidence to declare J was commonly drunk with Judge Ienkins, &c. in the Tower, hoping thereby to destroy my reputation amongst honestmen for ever.
[(c) ] But yet in reason and equity J cannot apprehend a reason, why a King (who is but a meere creature as well as any other man, and at most is but a Magistrate of trust) for murder, he could not be as liable to punishment amongst men, as any other man, (though I confesse I never could see any thing by the Law of England to declare the King of England so) for this I am sure of, God the Supream King, never created any man whatsoever lawlesse, which he must be, that is free and above the punishment of all law, and I am sure nature and reason teacheth me to hold or tye my Fathers hands, (at least) if with them he should doe so unnaturall a thing as to goe about to destroy me, and therefore seeing in my apprehension there is a defect in this particular in the Law of England, I shall for the future wish, desire, and endeavour by all the full and iust wayes and meanes, that all whatsoever may be bounded by law, and subject to the punishment of the Law, professing before all the world, that J know nothing that makes a man a Magistrate over me but law, and while he walkes by the rules of that Law which make him a Magistrate, I shall own him as a Magistrate, but when he tramples it under his feet, and walkes by the law of his own will, I for my part in such a condition cannot own him for a Magistrate.
[[a] ] see my examinations and defence at the Star-Chamber barre &c. called the Christian mans tryall reprinted by William Larnar at the black boy in Bishops gate street.
[[b] ] Which with much ire was punctually shewed before the Lords upon oath the [Editor: illegible word] Feb. 1645. as in the printed relation thereof, you may reade page. 3. 4.