The Leveller Tracts Collection: Chronology of Events for 1647


The year 1647 was a very important one for the Levellers as it brought their demands for political reforms to a head. In March William Walwyn wrote the “Petition of March” (The Large Petition) (T.92) which presented the main demands of the Levellers within the Army. This was followed in October by a more radical list of demands called “An Agreement of the People” (First Agreement) (T.115) which provoked a lengthy series of discussion within the Army known as “The Putney Debates” (T.111) throughout October and November. The Levellers’ demands were rejected by the Parliament, Oliver Cromwell, and King Charles and some of the Leveller petitoners were arrested as a result.

This chronology will eventually be part of volume 4 of the OLL online collection of Leveller Tracts, a working draft of which can be found here.



Jan. Westminster Assembly of Divines begins preparing the new Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the reformed Church of England

30 Jan. The Scots surrender the King to Parliament.

6 Jan. Lilburne, “Regall Tyrannie discovered” (T.85)

Feb. A Parliamentary Committee is appointed to suppress pamphlets

16 Feb. Parliamentary commissioners accompany the King to Holmby (Holdenby) House, Northamptonshire.

18 Feb. Presbyterian MPs propose plan to disband Army

13 Feb. Lilburne/Overton, “A Reall Persecution” (T.91)

March. Parliament begins plans to reduce the size of the New Model Army and to send men to Ireland

4 March. House of Lords votes against raising taxes to pay the Army

6 March. House of Lords forbids Fairfax from quartering troops in Eastern Association

15 March Walwyn submits “Petition of March” (The Large Petition) to Parliament

19 March. Supporters of the Large Petition Nicholas Tew and Major Tulidah arrested and imprisoned

22 March. Army officers refuse to serve in Ireland until their grievances are addressed.

29 March. Parliament’s “Declaration of Dislike” condemning the Petitioners’ demands

15 March Walwyn, “Petition of March” (The Large Petition) (T.92)

15 April. Westminster Assembly of Divines begins debating drafts of new Catechism.

16 April. Parliament grants City of London power to appoint a new Militia Committee which is dominated by Presbyterians.

25-27 April. Growing opposition among soldiers to being sent to fight in Ireland.

28-30 Apr. Agitators (Sexby, Allen, Shepherd).present Army grievances to Fairfax and then Parliament which promises to pay arrears.

28 April.  Sexby, Allen, Shepherd, “For our Faithfull and ever Honored Commanders” (T.96)

4 May. Parliament appoints Presbyterian MPs to Militia Committee giving them control over London’s militias.

16 May. Over 200 officers sign “A Declaration or Representation of the Army” setting out their grievances. Presbyterian MPs continue plans to disband Army and ignore its grievances.

23 May. Presbyterian MPS begin negotiations to send Kind to Scotland and to bring a Scottish Army into England

25-28 May. Parliament proposes immediate disbanding of Army and payment of arrears only after disbandment.

31 May. Lilburne, “Rash oaths unwarrantable” (T.97)

June. Army organises a series of “Rendezvous” near London

4 Jun. Cornet Joyce arrests the King for the New Model Army and takes him to Hampton Court.

5 June. Second Army Rendezvous at Kentford Heath (Haymarket). “A Solemn Engagement” calls for Council of the Army made up of officers and 2 private soldiers representing each regiment.

8 June. Parliament votes to abolish Holy Days (Christmas, Easter)

10 June. Geeral Rendezvous of Army at Triploe Heath (Cambridge). Rejects Parliament’s terms.

12 June. Army marches towards London.

14 June. “A Declaration or Representation of the Army” presented to Parliament which refuses to discuss it.

5 June. “A Solemne Engagement of the Army” (T.98)

14 June. (Rushwoirth, Ireton) “A Declaration or Representation of the Army” (T.100)

14 June. Walwyn, “Gold tried in the Fire” (T.101)

July-August. The New Model Army threatens London and Parliament. Fairfax made Commander-in-Chief of the Army

16-28 July. First General Council of the Army. Agitators call for Army to march on London unless their grievances are addressed

26 July. Presbyterians in Commons regain control of Militia Committee; pass resolution inviting King to return to London.

27 July. 58 Independent MPs and Peers flee Parliament and seek refuge with Army. “Heads of Proposals” formally presented to King who rejects them.

29 July. Army under Fairfax marches on London

30 July.The Presbyterian Eleven Members attempt to mobilise London against the Army.

17 July. Overton, “An Appeal from the degenerate Representative Body” (T.103)

28 July. Ireton, “The Heads of Proposals” (T.294)

31 July. King Charles, “The King’s Answer” (T.295)

6 Aug. The Army occupies London.

14 Aug. Army Agitators call for purging Parliament of Presbyterian MPs.

20 Aug. Cromwell and officers who are MPs attend Parliament. Passage of “Null and Void Ordinance” nullifying acts of Parliament while Independents were absent.

26 Aug. Army HQ set up at Putney.

11 Aug. Anon., “Vox militaris” (T.105)

21 Aug. Anon., “A Remonstrance of the Shee-Citizens of London” (T.108)

6 Sept. Cromwell visits Lilburne in Tower but is denounced as hypocrite.

9 Sept. King announces his preference for “Heads of Proposals” as basis of settlement

16 Sept. Overton released from prison

13 Sept. Lilburne, “Two Letters Writ” (T.109)

28 Sept. Lilburne, “The Juglers discovered” (T.110)

13-14 Oct. Parliaments votes for Presbyterianism and against Catholic toleration

18 Oct. Wildman’s “The Case of the Armie truly stated” is presented to Gen. Fairfax

20 Oct. Cromwell gives speech in Parliament attacking Levellers and supporting Monarchy

23 Oct. Robert Lilburne’s regiment marches to Ware

28 Oct. – 9 Nov. General Council of the Army meets at Putney (the Putney Debates) under presidency of Cromwell. Debates between the Levellers and the army Grandees.

15 Oct. Wildman, “The Case of the Armie truly stated” (T.112)

28 Oct. “An Agreement of the People” (First Agreement) (T.115)

28 Oct. to 11 Nov. “The Putney Debates” (T.111)

4 Nov. Army Council at Putney votes in favour of manhood suffrage

9 Nov. House of Commons denounces “Agreement of the People”. Lilburne released on bail from prison.

11 Nov. The King escapes from Hampton Court to the Isle of Wight.

15 Nov. Fairfax and Cromwell suppress a threatened mutiny at the army rendezvous at Corkbush Field in Hertfordshire (Ware).

25 Nov. Arrest of 5 Leveller petitioners.

4 Nov. Anon., “Observations upon Quartering” (T.116)

11 Nov. Sexby, “A Copy of a Letter to all the Souldiers” (T.118)

23 Nov. “The Petition of November” (T.120)

24 Dec. Parliaments presents “Four Bills” to King Charles where he would agree to give Parliament control of the military. He rejects these on 28 Dec.

24 Dec. Both Houses vote to raise money to pay Army.

25 Dec. Riots in London, Ipswich and Canterbury against Parliament’s suppression of Christmas celebrations.

26 Dec. The King signs the Engagement with the Scots for military assistance.

31 Dec. Both Houses vote to keep king in custody at Carisbrooke Castle (Isle of Wight)

14 Dec. Lilburne, “Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights” (T.123)

30 Dec. Wildman and Walwyn, “Putney Projects” (T.124)