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

The Life of John Hutchinson: 1640–41

The bishops at that time devised as an anti-covenant, in their convocation house, that execrable oath known by the name of the et cætera, wherein all ministers were required to swear to uphold the government of the church of England by archbishops, deans, archdeacons, etc. After this the Scots enter England, the king makes a second expedition into the north against them, and sends part of his army to keep the passes upon the river Tyne; but the soldiers being raw and heartless in this war, and the commanders themselves inexperienced, they were vanquished, and the Scots forced their way, after they had been refused to pass quietly by with their petitions in their hands, and thus possessed themselves of Newcastle and Durham. At that time the Scots had put forth a declaration, wherein they had affirmed their intentions not to lay down arms till the reformed religion was settled in both nations upon sure grounds, and the causers of these present troubles brought to public justice, and that in a parliament. This was so plausible to the English, that the king, finding both the hearts and hands of his people fail him in this occasion, was induced to grant the petition of twelve noble lords, who at that time interposed; and, calling together all his lords at York, agreed upon a parliament at London, to convene on the third of November following. In the meantime, a treaty was condescended to, of sixteen lords of each side, Scotch and English, who agreed upon a cessation between both armies for the present, in order to a peace, to be concluded at London with the parliament, who met, as appointed, in November.

They began with throwing down monopolies, and then impeached the Earl of Strafford of high treason, who, after a solemn trial and hot disputes on both sides, was at length attainted of treason, and the king, against his own mind, to serve his ends, gave him up to death. The archbishop of Canterbury was also made prisoner upon an accusation of high treason, for which he after suffered; Wren, bishop of Norwich, was likewise committed to the Tower; several other prelatical preachers were questioned for popish and treasonable doctrines; the Star Chamber, an unjust and arbitrary court, was taken away, and the High Commission Court; an act was procured for a triennial parliament, and another for the continuation of this, that it should not be broken up without their own consent. There were great necessities for money by reason of the two armies that were then maintained in England, and the people would give the king no money without some ease of grievances, which forced him, against his inclination, to grant those bills, with which, after he had granted, he found he had bound up his own hands, and therefore privately encouraged plots that were in those times contrived against the parliament. One of them was to have rescued the Earl of Strafford out of prison, and put him at the head of eight thousand Irish, which the king would not consent to disband, when the parliament had some time before moved him to it: then the English army in the north was to have been brought up and engaged against the parliament itself upon a pretence of maintaining the king’s prerogative, episcopacy, and some other such things. This plot was managed by Percy, Jermyn, Goring, Wilmot, Ashburnham, Pollard, Suckling, O’Neale, and others, of whom some confessed and impeached their fellows, others fled, others were put in prison. While this parliament was sitting, the king would needs, contrary to their desires, take a journey to Scotland, and passed by the two disbanding armies in his journey, where some report that he secretly attempted to urge the Scotch army against the parliament, which then succeeded not. The houses had rejourned for some time, and left a standing committee of fifty to prepare business. About that time a plot was discovered to them from Scotland, against the lives of some of the greatest peers of that kingdom, the committee, fearing the like attempts from the same spring, placed strong guards in divers parts of the city of London. The king’s design in going to Scotland was variously conjectured; but this was a certain effect of it, that it retarded all the affairs of the government of England, which the king had put into such disorder that it was not an easy task to reform what was amiss, and redress the real grievances of the people; but yet the parliament showed such a wonderful respect to the king, that they never mentioned him, as he was, the sole author of all those miscarriages, but imputed them to evil counsellors, and gave him all the submissive language that could have been used to a good prince, fixing all the guilt upon his evil counsellors and ministers of state, which flattery I fear they have to answer for: I am sure they have thereby exposed themselves to much scandal. While the king was in Scotland, that cursed rebellion in Ireland broke out, wherein above 200,000 were massacred in two months’ space, being surprised, and many of them most inhumanly butchered and tormented; and besides the slain, abundance of poor families stripped and sent naked away out of all their possessions; and, had not the providence of God miraculously prevented the surprise of Dublin Castle the night it should have been seized, there had not been any remnant of the protestant name left in that country. As soon as this sad news came to the parliament, they vigorously set themselves to the work of relieving them; but then the king returned to Scotland, and being sumptuously welcomed home by the city, took courage thereby against the parliament, and obstructed all its proceedings for the effectual relief of Ireland. Long was he before he could be drawn to proclaim these murderers rebels, and when he did, by special command, there were but forty proclamations printed, and care was taken that they should not be much dispersed; which courses afflicted all the good protestants in England, and confirmed that the rebellion in Ireland received countenance from the king and queen of England. The parliament, beset with so many difficulties, were forced for their own vindication to present the king with a petition and a remonstrance of the state of the kingdom, wherein they spared him as much as truth would bear, and complained only of his ill counsellors and ministers; but this, instead of admonishing, exasperated him, and was answered with another declaration of his; and upon several occasions the parliament being enforced to justify their proceedings publicly, and the king setting forth replies, these open debates were but the prologue to the ensuing tragedy. The city, declaring their good affections to the parliament by a petition, gave the king distrust, and he was observed to entertain an extraordinary guard of cavaliers, who killed and wounded some of the poor unarmed men that passed by his house at Whitehall; and the parliament, conceiving themselves not safe, desired a guard might be allowed them under the command of the Earl of Essex; but he refused it, with an assurance that he would command such a guard to wait upon them as he would be responsible to Almighty God for, and that the safety of all and every one of them was as dear to him as that of his own person and children. Yet the very next day after this false message, he came to the House of Commons, attended with his extraordinary guard, of about four hundred gentlemen and soldiers, armed with swords and pistols, and there demanded five of their members, whom not finding there (for a great lady at court had before informed one of them of his coming, and the house ordered them to retire), he returned, leaving the house under a high sense of this breach of their privilege. At this time the people began in great numbers to bring petitions to the king and parliament, to beg a more cheerful concurrence between them for the relief of Ireland, and to encourage the parliament in their honourable endeavours for the relief of both kingdoms. The king was offended at this, and retired first to Hampton Court, then went with the queen to Canterbury, whom he sent from thence into Holland with her daughter, lately married to the Prince of Orange, under pretence of conducting her to her own court, but really to manage his business abroad, and procure arms to be employed against the parliament, by the sale of the crown jewels, which she carried over with her. After her departure, the king, taking the prince and the Duke of York with him, went to Theobalds, whither the parliament sent a petition to him to return to his parliament and abide near London, and that he would not carry the prince away with him, and that he would grant the militia of the kingdom to be put into such hands as the parliament should recommend, and might confide in; all which he denied, and went immediately to Newmarket, and from thence to York; all this while, by many false pretences, really obstructing the relief of bleeding Ireland, and seducing many of the poor people of England into blood and ruin.

In conducting the state of England, in those days, wherein he, whose actions I am tracing, began to enter into his part in this great tragedy, I have been too long for that I intended, and too short to give a clear understanding of the righteousness of the parliament’s cause; which I shall desire you to inform yourselves better of by their own printed papers, and Mr. May’s history, which I find to be impartially true, so far as he hath carried it on, saving some little mistakes in his own judgment, and misinformations which some vain people gave of the state, and more indulgence to the king’s guilt than can justly be allowed.

To take up my discourse of Mr. Hutchinson where I left it: he was now come to his own house at Owthorpe, about the time when the Irish massacre was acted, and finding rumours begin to be very stirring, he applied himself to understand the things then in dispute, and read all the public papers that came forth between the king and parliament, besides many other private treatises, both concerning the present and foregoing times. Hereby he became abundantly informed in his understanding, and convinced in conscience of the righteousness of the parliament’s cause in point of civil right; and though he was satisfied of the endeavours to reduce popery and subvert the true protestant religion, which indeed was apparent to every one that impartially considered it, yet he did not think that so clear a ground for the war as the defence of the just English liberties; and although he was clearly swayed by his own judgment and reason to the parliament, he, thinking he had no warrantable call at that time to do anything more, contented himself with praying for peace. At that time Mr. Henry Ireton was in the country, and being a kinsman of Mr. Hutchinson’s, and one that had received so much advantage to himself and his family in the country by Sir Thomas Hutchinson’s countenance and protection, that he seemed a kind of dependent upon him, and being besides a very grave, serious, religious person, there was a great league of kindness and good-will between them. Mr. Ireton being very active in promoting the parliament, and the godly interest in the country, found great opposition from some projectors, and others of corrupt interest that were in the commission of the peace; whereupon, making complaint at the parliament, he procured some of them to be put out of the commission, and others, better affected, to be put in their rooms, of which Mr. Hutchinson was one; but he then forbore to take his oath, as not willing to launch out rashly into public employments, while such a storm hung threatening overhead. Yet his good affections to godliness and the interest of his country, being a glory that could not be concealed, many of his honest neighbours made applications to him, and endeavoured to gain his conduct, which he at first in modesty and prudence would not too hastily rush into. The parliament had made orders to deface the images in all churches. Within two miles of his house there was a church, where Christ upon the cross, the Virgin, and John, had been fairly set up in a window over the altar, and sundry other superstitious paintings, of the priest’s own ordering, were drawn upon the walls. When the order for razing out these relics of superstition came, the priest only took down the heads of the images, and laid them carefully up in his closet, and would have had the church officers to have certified that the thing was done according to order; whereupon they came to Mr. Hutchinson, and desired him that he would take the pains to come and view their church, which he did, and upon discourse with the parson, persuaded him to blot out all the superstitious paintings, and break the images in the glass; which he consented to, but being ill-affected, was one of those who began to brand Mr. Hutchinson with the name of Puritan.