Home  »  Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson  »  The Life of John Hutchinson: 1650

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

The Life of John Hutchinson: 1650

In the meantime, the Scots having declared open war against the parliament of England, it was concluded to send an army into Scotland, to prevent their intended advance hither. But when they were just marching out, my Lord Fairfax, persuaded by his wife and her chaplains, threw up his commission at such a time, when it could not have been done more spitefully and ruinously to the whole parliament interest. Colonel Hutchinson and other parliament men, hearing of his intentions the night before, and knowing that he would thus level the way to Cromwell’s ambitious designs, went to him and laboured to dissuade him; which they would have effected, but that the presbyterian ministers wrought with him to do it. He expressed that he believed God laid him aside, as not being worthy of more, nor of that glory which was already given him.

To speak the truth of Cromwell, whereas many said he undermined Fairfax, it was false; for in Colonel Hutchinson’s presence, he most effectually importuned him to keep his commission, lest it should discourage the army and the people in that juncture of time, but could by no means prevail, although he laboured it almost all the night with most earnest endeavours. But this great man was then as immovable by his friends as pertinacious in obeying his wife; whereby he then died to all his former glory, and became the monument of his own name, which every day wore out. When his commission was given up, Cromwell was made general, and new commissions taken out by all the officers from him. He finding that Colonel Hutchinson’s commission for the island was not taken out, and that he did not address himself to him, made haste to prevent the islanders, and gave a commission for the government to one of his own creatures. At this time the Lady Dormer being dead, had left to her grandchild, a papist, the Lady Anne Somerset, daughter to the Marquess of Worcester, a manor in Leicestershire, which the lady, being more desirous of a portion in money, had a great mind to sell, and came and offered it to Colonel Hutchinson, with whom she had some alliance; but he told her he was not in a purchasing condition, whereupon she earnestly begged him, that if he would not buy it himself, he would procure of the parliament that she might have leave to sell it. This he moved and was repulsed, whereupon both the lady, and one that was her priest, who negotiated for her, and other friends, most earnestly solicited Colonel Hutchinson to buy it; who urging that he had not money for such a purchase, they offered him time of payment, till he could sell his own land, and assured him it should be such a penny-worth, that he should not repent the selling his own land to buy it. He urged to them the trouble and difficulty it would be to obtain it, and that it might so fall that he must lay a weight upon it, more than the thing would be worth to him, he never having yet made any request to the house, and having reason to expect recompenses for the loss of his estate, as well as others. But my lady still importuned him, promising a penny-worth in it, that should countervail the difficulty and the trouble; whereupon, at the last, he contracted with her, upon both her and her brother’s desire, the Lord Herbert, who was her next heir, and was then at full age, and he gave a release of all claim to it, under his hand and seal; and my lady, being between nineteen and twenty years old, then passed a fine, and covenanted at her coming to full age to pass another, and absolutely bargained and sold the land to Colonel Hutchinson, who secured the price of it to the Marquess of Dorchester, whom the lady and her friends had a great hope and desire to compass for a husband, and had thoughts, that when the portion was secured in his hands, it would be easily effected. This they afterwards entrusted to Colonel Hutchinson, and desired his assistance to propound the business to my lord, as from himself, out of mutual well-wishes to both parties; but my lord would not hearken to it, though the colonel, willing to do her a kindness, endeavoured to persuade him, as much as was fitting. In the meantime the colonel could not, by all the friends and interest he had in the house, procure a composition and leave for my lady to sell her land, because they said it would be a precedent to other papists, and some moved, that what service he had done, and what he had lost, might be some other way considered, rather than this any way suffered. But he vigorously pursuing it, and laying all the weight of all his merits and sufferings upon it, all that he could obtain at last was, to be himself admitted, in his own name, for taking off the sequestration, after he had bought it, which he did; and they took two thousand pounds of him for his composition. By the interest of Sir Henry Vane and several others of his friends, powerful in the house, this too was with much difficulty wrought out, though violently opposed by several others. Of these Major-general Harrison was one, who, when he saw that he could not prevail, but that, in favour particularly to Colonel Hutchinson, it was carried out by his friends; after the rising of the house, meeting the colonel, he embraced him, and desired him not to think he did it in any personal opposition to him, but in his judgment who thought it fit the spoil should be taken out of the enemy’s hands, and no composition admitted from idolaters. Whatever might be for a particular advantage to him, he envied not, but rejoiced in, only he so dearly loved him, that he desired he would not set his heart upon the augmenting of outward estate, but upon the things of the approaching kingdom of God, concerning which he made a most pious and seeming friendly harangue, of at least an hour long, with all the demonstrations of zeal to God and love to the colonel that can be imagined. But the colonel, having reason to fear that he knew not his own spirit herein, made him only a short reply, that he thanked him for his counsel, and should endeavour to follow it, as became the duty of a Christian, and should be glad to be as effectually instructed by his example as by his admonition. For at that time the major-general, who was but a mean man’s son, and of a mean education, and no estate before the war, had gathered an estate of two thousand a year, besides engrossing great offices, and encroaching upon his under-officers; and maintained his coach and family, at a height as if they had been born to a principality.

About the same time a great ambassador was to have public audience in the house; he came from the King of Spain, and was the first who had addressed to them owning them as a republic. The day before his audience, Colonel Hutchinson was set in the house, near some young men handsomely clad, among whom was Mr. Charles Rich, since Earl of Warwick; and the colonel himself had on that day a habit which was pretty rich but grave, and no other than he usually wore. Harrison addressing particularly to him, admonished them all, that now the nations sent to them, they should labour to shine before them in wisdom, piety, righteousness, and justice, and not in gold and silver and worldly bravery, which did not become saints; and that the next day when the ambassadors came, they should not set themselves out in gorgeous habits, which were unsuitable to holy professions. The colonel, although he was not convinced of any misbecoming bravery in the suit he wore that day, which was but of sad-coloured cloth trimmed with gold, and silver points and buttons; yet because he would not appear offensive in the eyes of religious persons, the next day he went in a plain black suit, and so did all the other gentlemen; but Harrison came that day in a scarlet coat and cloak, both laden with gold and silver lace, and the coat so covered with clinquant, that scarcely could one discern the ground, and in this glittering habit set himself just under the speaker’s chair; which made the other gentlemen think that his godly speeches, the day before, were but made that he alone might appear in the eyes of strangers. But this was part of his weakness; the Lord at last lifted him above these poor earthly elevations, which then and some time after prevailed too much with him.