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Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681). Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. 1906.

Appendix XXXIV: Petition of Colonel Hutchinson to the House of Commons, June 1660

The Journal of the House of Commons records, under date June 5, 1660:

‘Mr Speaker communicates a letter, dated the 5th of June, 1660, directed to himself, and signed by Col. John Hutchinson, who was one of those who sat in judgment upon the late king’s Majesty when sentence of death was pronounced against him, which was read.

‘Resolved—That Colonel John Hutchinson be at liberty on his own parole to be given to Mr Speaker’.

The letter is as follows:

‘SIR,—Finding myself by his Majesty’s late proclamation proceeded against as a fugitive, after I had so early claimed the benefit of that pardon the king’s Majesty was graciously pleased to extend to all offenders, I fear what I spoke in so hasty a surprise as that I was in when I had last the honour to declare myself in the House, was not a sufficient expression of that deep and sorrowful sense which so heavily presses my soul, for the unfortunate guilt that lies upon it; and, therefore, I beg leave, though my penitent sorrow be above utterance, to say something that may further declare it, and obtain your belief that I would not fly from that mercy which I have once made my sanctuary. They who yet remember the seeming sanctity and subtle arts of those men, who seduced not only me, but thousands more, in those unhappy days, cannot, if they have any Christian compassion, but join with me in bewailing my wretched misfortune, to have fallen into their pernicious snares, when neither my own malice, avarice, or ambition, but an ill-guided judgment led me. As soon as ever my eyes were opened to suspect my deceivers, no person with a more perfect abhorrency detested both the heinous fact and the authors of it, and I was as willing to hazard my life and estate to redeem my crime as I had been unfortunate, through a deplorable mistake, to forfeit them by it. For this cause, even before Cromwell broke up the remaining part of the House, when his ambition began to unveil itself, jealous of those sins I did not sooner discern, I stopped and left off acting with them. As his usurpations made it more manifest, my repentance grew greater, and begot in me a more earnest desire to repair, as much as was possible, the misery I had undesigningly run myself and others into, and to return to that loyal subjection to the right prince, from which I had been so horridly misled. Thereupon I set Cromwell’s honours and all his friendship at that defiance that I never could be drawn to accept anything from him, to make or join in any address to him, or so much as to give him one civil visit; for which I was watched with jealous eyes, and designed to be secured as a person disaffected to him, and desirous to serve the king; which, how really I was, both then and since, there are yet divers honorable persons as the Lord Biron, Sir Robert Biron, Sir Allen Apsley, Mr Stanhope, Mr Broderick and others can testify, and the Earl of Rochester could say more if he were now living; neither was I driven to this through fear, but the conviction of my conscience that I ought so to act, though I then ran great hazards in it, being a time when not only those three kingdoms but all the neighbouring nations courted that usurper, as a glorious and established monarch; nor was it animosity against him for having displaced me with the rest, but, when he ceased, the same desires continued in me, when being summoned to return among the members of the House, I had not sitten there, but that I was advised I might thereby have a better opportunity to serve his Majesty than by refraining; and accordingly, I freely and openly acted, as far as the persons and times would then bear. Before Sir G. Booth was in arms, I refused taking myself, and withstood the imposing upon others, of that engagement to be constant to a Commonwealth; and, whatever I acted as looking that way, was but as much as was then possible to redeem the power out of the soldiers’ hands, at least into some face of civil authority; but, that it never was my intentions to rest there, I appeal to my after actings, when I hindered the oath of renunciation, endeavoured the release of Sir G. Booth and all his party from confiscation, and the restoring of the secluded members, and the freeing of his Excellency, the now Lord-General, from the yoke of fellow-commissioners; in all which I appeal to Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, Sir George Booth, and other worthy persons in this House, who know how I have demeaned myself. Sir,—by all this I hope my repentance will appear to have been long since, and not of late expressed; that it was real, rather declared by deeds than words; that it was constant through several changes of affairs; that it was, through God’s great mercy, a thorough conviction of my former misled judgment and conscience, and not a regard of my particular safety that drove me to it; all which, if you please to communicate to the House, and they please to honour me with their patience to hear it, I shall not despair, but, if mercy be to be mixed with justice, I may become an object of it; and therefore, as I did before, I desire again to testify my resolution of abiding the commands of the honourable House, humbly begging, as an earnest of greater favour, that I may be at liberty upon my parole, till they determine of me, who, though I acknowledge myself involved in so horrid a crime as merits no indulgence, yet having a miserable family that must, though innocent, share all my ruin, I cannot but beg the honourable House would not exclude me from the refuge of the King’s most gracious pardon, and pluck me from the horns of that sacred altar to become his sacrifice; and, if I thus escape being made a burnt-offering, I shall make all my life, all my children, and all my enjoyments, a perpetual dedication to his Majesty’s service, bewailing much more my incapacity of rendering it, so as I might else have done, than any other wretchedness my most deplorable crime hath brought upon me, in whom life will but lengthen an insupportable affliction that to the grave will accompany your most obedient and most humble servant’.

Endorsed by Colonel Hutchinson—‘A copy of my letter to the House of Commons’.

Printed by Mrs Green in the Athenæum, March 3, 1860, from the original in the Record Office.