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

The Life of John Hutchinson: 1647

During this time Sir Thomas Fairfax himself lay at Nottingham, and the governor was sick in the castle. The general’s lady was come along with him, having followed his camp to the siege of Oxford, and lain at his quarters all the while he abode there. She was exceeding kind to her husband’s chaplains, independent ministers, till the army returned to be nearer London, and then the presbyterian ministers quite changed the lady into such a bitter aversion against them, that they could not endure to come into the general’s presence while she was there; and the general had an unquiet, unpleasant life with her, who drove away from him many of those friends, in whose conversation he had found such sweetness. At Nottingham they had gotten a very able minister into the great church, but a bitter presbyterian; him and his brethren my Lady Fairfax caressed with so much kindness, that they grew impudent to preach up their faction openly in the pulpit, and to revile the others, and at length would not suffer any of the army chaplains to preach in the town. They then coming to the governor and complaining of their unkind usage, he invited them to come and preach in his house, which when it was known they did, a great concourse of people came thither to them; and the presbyterians, when they heard of it, were mad with rage, not only against them, but against the governor, who accidentally gave them another occasion about the same time, a little before the general came. When formerly the presbyterian ministers had forced him, for quietness’ sake, to go and break up a private meeting in the cannonier’s chamber, there were found some notes concerning pædobaptism, which were brought into the governor’s lodgings; and his wife having then more leisure to read than he, having perused them and compared them with the Scriptures, found not what to say against the truths they asserted, concerning the misapplication of that ordinance to infants; but being then young and modest, she thought it a kind of virtue to submit to the judgment and practice of most churches, rather than to defend a singular opinion of her own, she not being then enlightened in that great mistake of the national churches. But in this year she, happening to be with child, communicated her doubts to her husband, and desired him to endeavour her satisfaction; which while he did, he himself became as unsatisfied, or rather satisfied against it. First, therefore, he diligently searched the Scriptures alone, and could find in them no ground at all for that practice; then he bought and read all the eminent treatises on both sides, which at that time came thick from the presses, and still was cleared in of the error of the pædobaptists. After this, his wife being brought to bed, that he might, if possible, give the religious party no offence, he invited all the ministers to dinner, and propounded his doubt, and the ground thereof to them. None of them could defend their practice with any satisfactory reason, but the tradition of the church, from the primitive times, and their main buckler of federal holiness, which Tombs and Denne had excellently overthrown. He and his wife then, professing themselves unsatisfied in the practice, desired their opinions, what they ought to do. Most answered, to conform to the general practice of other Christians, how dark soever it were to themselves; but Mr. Foxcraft, one of the assembly, said, that except they were convinced of the warrant of that practice from the word, they sinned in doing it: whereupon that infant was not baptized. And now the governor and his wife, notwithstanding that they forsook not their assemblies, nor retracted their benevolences and civilities from them, yet were they reviled by them, called fanatics and anabaptists, and often glanced at in their public sermons. And not only the ministers, but all their zealous sectaries, conceived implacable malice against them upon this account; which was carried on with a spirit of envy and persecution to the last, though he, on his side, might well have said to them, as his Master said to the old Pharisees: ‘Many good works have I done among you; for which of these do you hate me?’ Yet the generality, even of that people, had a secret conviction upon them, that he had been faithful to them, and deserved their love; and in spite of their own bitter zeal, could not but have a reverent esteem for him, whom they often railed at, for not thinking and speaking according to their opinions.

This year Sir Allen Apsley, governor of Barnstaple for the king, after the surrender of that garrison, came and retired to the governor’s house, till his composition with the parliament was completed, the governor’s wife being his sister, and the governor’s brother having married the other sister; and this was another occasion of opening the mouths of the malignants, who were ready to seize on any one to his prejudice. Sir Allen Apsley had not his articles punctually performed, by which he suffered great expense and intolerable vexation; and the governor, no less concerned in the injustice done to him than if he had suffered it himself, endeavoured to protect him only in that which was just, and for this was called a cavalier, and said to have changed his party, and a thousand more injuries; in which none were so forward as those who had all the while been disaffected to the whole parliament party; but after they were conquered, burying their spite against the cause in their own bosoms, suffered that secret fire to rise up in a black smoke against the most faithful assertors of it.

When the commissioners went down to fetch up the king from the Scots, one of the lords coming to visit the governor, and finding him at that time very sick, persuaded him to make use of one of the king’s physicians that was with them, that was called Dr. Wilson, and was a very able physician; but mistook the method of his cure, and made issues in both his arms, which rather wasted his strength than his disease, and when he was cured were stopped up. That spring, growing a little better for the present, he went to London, and having ineffectually tried several physicians, Sir Allen Apsley persuaded him to make use of Dr. Frazier, with whom he began a course of physic, in the midst of which the doctor came and acquainted him that he was likely to be imprisoned upon suspicion of carrying on designs against the parliament underhand, for now the Scots were threatening invasion and open war. He professed his innocency with many protestations, and desired Mr. Hutchinson to oblige him so far as to engage for him that he managed no design but his calling; which the colonel believing, undertook for him to the committee of Derbyhouse. When the false Scot having thus abused him, left a letter of lame excuse to him, and stole away out of England to the princes, then beyond the seas, leaving a blot upon Mr. Hutchinson for having undertaken for him; but he, acknowledging his error in having been so abused, was thereby warned from credulity of any of that false nation any more. That summer he attended to the service of the house, being freed for a while from his distemper during the summer, till the fall of the leaf that it returned again. In the meantime jealousies were sown between the parliament, the city of London, and the army. The presbyterian faction were earnest to have the army disbanded; the army resented the injury, and, being taught to value their own merit, petitioned the general that they might be satisfied, not only in things relating to themselves particularly as an army, but the general concernments and liberties of the good people of the nation which they had fought for. The presbyterians were highly offended at this, and declared it with such violence as gave the army cause to increase their jealousies. The soldiers, led on to it by one Cornet Joyce, took the king from Holmeby out of the parliament commissioners’ hands, and carried him about with them. The parliament voted that the king should come to Richmond, attended by the same persons that attended him at Holmeby; but the army, instead of obeying, impeached eleven members of the house of commons of high treason, and petitioned that those impeached members might be secluded the house, till they had brought in their answer to the charge; which being violently debated, they made a voluntary secession for six months. The general also entreated that the king might not be brought nearer to London than they would suffer the army to quarter. So he was carried with them to Royston, Hatfield, Reading, and at last to Owborne, till about July, 1647, when London grew into a tumult, and made a very rude violation upon the parliament house, which caused them to adjourn; when, understanding the fury of the citizens, the greatest part of the members, with the Speaker, withdrew and went to the army, among whom was Colonel Hutchinson. The presbyterian members who stayed behind chose new Speakers, and made many new votes, and vigorously began to levy forces to resist the army, which were conducted by Massie and Poyntz. The parliament that was with the army made an order against the proceedings of the members at London, and advanced with the general; which, when the city heard of, their stomachs would not serve them to stand it out, but they sent commissioners, and, by the consent of the members with the general, obtained a pacification, upon condition that the city should disband all their new forces, deliver up their Tower and their forts to the general, and desert the members now sitting. They daring to deny nothing, the general came triumphantly to Westminster, and brought back both the Speakers and the members, and put them again in their seats. The general had solemn thanks from both houses, and then, with all his chief officers, marched through the city, from the western parts of it to the Tower, where many commands were changed, the presbyterian party depressed, and their generals, Poyntz and Massie, with all the remaining officers of that faction, forced to retire; who most of them then changed their party, and never more appeared on the parliament side. Yet there was still a presbyterian faction left in the house, of such as were moderate, and who were not by the bitterness of their zeal carried out to break their covenant with God and men, and renew a league with the popish interest, to destroy that godly interest which they had at first so gloriously asserted. After this tumult at London was quieted, about August of that year the king was brought to one of his stately palaces at Hampton Court, near London, and the army removed to quarters about the city, their headquarters being at Putney. The king, by reason of his daily converse with the officers, began to be trinkling with them, not only then but before, and had drawn in some of them to engage to corrupt others to fall in with him; but to speak the truth of all, Cromwell was at that time so incorruptibly faithful to his trust and to the people’s interest, that he could not be drawn to practise even his own usual and natural dissimulations on this occasion. His son-in-law Ireton, that was as faithful as he, was not so fully of the opinion (till he had tried it and found to the contrary) but that the king might have been managed to comply with the public good of his people, after he could no longer uphold his own violent will; but, upon some discourses with him, the king uttering these words to him, ‘I shall play my game as well as I can’, Ireton replied, ‘If your majesty have a game to play, you must give us also the liberty to play ours’. Colonel Hutchinson privately discoursing with his cousin about the communications he had had with the king, Ireton’s expressions were these: ‘He gave us words, and we paid him in his own coin, when we found he had no real intention to the people’s good, but to prevail by our factions, to regain by art what he had lost in fight.’

The king lived at Hampton Court rather in the condition of a guarded and attended prince, than as a conquered and purchased captive; all his old servants had free recourse to him; all sorts of people were admitted to come to kiss his hands and do him obeisance as a sovereign. Ashburnham and Berkley, by the parliament voted delinquents, came to him from beyond the seas, and others by permission of the army, who had hoped they might be useful to incline him to wholesome counsels; but he, on the other side, interpreting this freedom wherein he was permitted to live, not to the gentleness and reconcilableness of his parliament, who, after all his injuries, yet desired his restitution, so far as it might be without the ruin of the good people of the land, but rather believing it to proceed from their apprehension of their own declining and his re-advancing in the hearts of the people, made use of this advantage to corrupt many of their officers to revolt from them and betray them; which some time after they did, and paid the forfeiture with their lives. When the king was at Hampton Court, the lords who were formerly of his privy council at Oxford also repaired to him, to be as a council attending him, but this was so much disgusted at London that they retreated again; but the Scotch lords and commissioners having free access to him, he drew that nation into the design of the second war; which brake out furiously the next summer, and was one of the highest provocations which, after the second victory, brought him to the scaffold. But I shall respite that, to return to his affairs whom I principally trace.

After the parliament was by the general restored to their seats, Colonel Hutchinson came down to the garrison at Nottingham, which, the war being ended, was reduced only to the castle, the works at the town and the bridges slighted, the companies of the governor’s regiment, all but two, disbanded, and he thinking, now in a time when there was no opposition, the command not worthy of himself or his brother, gave it over to his kinsman, Captain Poulton. With the assistance of his fellow parliament men he procured an order from the parliament for five thousand pounds, that had been levied for the Scotch army, but which they, departing with too much haste, had not received, to be distributed among the officers and soldiers of his regiment that were at this time disbanded, in part of their arrears; and, that it might go the farther amongst them, himself had none of it. The garrison at Nottingham being reduced, Colonel Hutchinson removed his family back to his own house at Owthorpe, but found that, having stood uninhabited, and been robbed of everything which the neighbouring garrison of Shelford and Wiverton could carry from it, it was so ruinated that it could not be repaired, to make a convenient habitation, without as much charge as would almost build another. By reason of the debt his public employment had run him into, not being able to do this at present while all his arrears were unpaid, he made a bad shift with it for that year. At this time his distemper of rheum was very sore upon him, and he was so afflicted with pains in his head, which fell down also with violent torture upon all his joints, that he was not able to go for many weeks out of his chamber; and here we had a notable example of the victorious power of his soul over his body. One day, as he was in the saddest torture of his disease, certain horse came, somewhat insolently and injuriously, exacting quarters or monies in the town; whom he sent for, and telling them he would not suffer such wrong to be done to his tenants, they seeing him in so weak a condition, would not be persuaded to forbear violent and unjust actions, but told him his government was expired, and they no more under his command; with which, and some other saucy language, being provoked to be heartily angry, he felt not that he was sick, but started out of his chair and beat them out of the house and town, and returned again laughing at the wretched fellows and at himself, wondering what was become of his pain, and thinking how strangely his feebleness was cured in a moment. But while he and those about him were in this amazement, half an hour it was not before, as his spirits cooled, that heat and vigour they had lent his members retired again to their noble palace, his heart; those efforts, wherein they had violently employed his limbs, made them more weak than before, and his pain returned with such redoubled violence that we thought he would have died in this fit.

While he was thus distempered at home, Major-general Ireton sent him a letter, with a new commission in it, for the resuming his government of Nottingham Castle, which the principal officers of the army, foreseeing an approaching storm, desired to have in the same hand, wherein it had before been so prosperously and faithfully preserved: but the colonel sent them word, that as he should not have put his kinsman into the place, but that he was assured of his fidelity, so he would never join with those who were so forgetful of the merits of men that had behaved themselves well, as to discourage them without a cause. Hereupon they suffered Captain Poulton to remain in his command; but while the house was highly busy in faction, they took no care of any of the garrisons, especially of such as were likely to continue firm to the cause; the presbyterian faction having a design to weaken or corrupt them all, that they might be prepared for the great revolt from the parliament, which was now working in all countries. In Nottinghamshire, a brother of Lord Biron’s, Colonel Gilbert Biron, meeting Captain Poulton, began to insinuate into him, and tempt him to betray Nottingham Castle; which proposition, when he heard, he thought not fit utterly to reject, lest the castle being then in a weak condition, and the soldiers discontented, some of his under officers might be more ready to embrace it and betray both the place and him. He therefore took a little time to consider of it, and came to Colonel Hutchinson and acquainted him with it. He advised to hold his cousin Biron on in the treaty, till he himself could go to London and provide for the better securing of the place, which his distemper of health a little abating, he did: and when the place was well provided, Captain Poulton, who was too gentle-hearted to cut off Mr. Biron under a pretence of assenting to him, sent to him to shift for himself, which Mr. Biron accordingly did; and now the insurrection began everywhere to break out.