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

The Life of John Hutchinson: 1659

Now the parliament were sat, and no sooner assembled but invaded by several enemies. The presbyterians had long since espoused the royal interest, and forsaken God and the people’s cause, when they could not obtain the reins of government in their own hands, and exercise dominion over all their brethren. It was treason, by the law of those men in power, to talk of restoring the king; therefore the presbyterians must face the design, and accordingly all the members ejected in 1648, now came to claim their seats in the house, whom Colonel Pride, that then guarded the parliament, turned back, and thereupon there was some heat in the lobby between them and the other members. Particularly Sir George Booth uttered some threats, and immediately they went into their several counties, and had laid a design all over England, wherein all the royalists were engaged, and many of the old parliament officers; and this was so dexterously, secretly, and unanimously carried on, that before the parliament had the least intimation of it, the flame was everywhere kindled, and small parties attempting insurrections in all places; but their main strength was with Sir George Booth in Cheshire, who there appeared the chief head of the rebellion. The city, at that time, was very wavering and false to the parliament, yet the usual presence of God, that was with them in former times, never appeared so eminent as now, miraculously bringing to light all the plots against them, and scattering their enemies before the wind, making them fly when there was none to pursue them; although even in the parliament-house there wanted not many close traitors and abettors of this conspiracy. It was presently voted to send an army down into Cheshire; but then it fell into debate who should lead. Fleetwood, upon the deposing his brother Richard (wherein he was most unworthily assistant), was made general, but not thought a person of courage enough for this enterprize; whereupon many of Lambert’s friends propounded him to the house, and undertook for his integrity and hearty repentance for having been formerly assistant to the protector. Colonel Hutchinson was utterly against receiving him again into employment; but it was the general vote of the house, and accordingly he was brought in to receive his commission from the Speaker; who intended to accept an humble submission he then falsely made, with high professions of fidelity, and to return him an encouragement in declaring the confidence the house had in him,—through mistake made such a speech to him, as after proved a true prophecy of his perfidiousness. Many of the house took notice of it then only to laugh, but afterward thought some hidden impulse, the man was not sensible of, led his tongue into those mistakes. However, Lambert went forth, and through the cowardice of the enemy obtained a very cheap victory, and returned. In Nottinghamshire Colonel White rose, only to show his apostacy, and run away. The Lord Biron also lost himself and his companions in the forest, being chased by a piece of the county troop. And Mr. Robert Pierrepont, the son of the late colonel, went out to make up the rout, and run away, and cast away some good arms into the bushes to make his flight more easy.

During the late protectors’ times Colonel Hutchinson, who thought them greater usurpers on the people’s liberties than the former kings, believed himself wholly disengaged from all ties, but those which God and nature, or rather God by nature obliges every man of honour and honesty in to his country, which is to defend or relieve it from invading tyrants, as far as he may by a lawful call and means, and to suffer patiently that yoke which God submits him to, till the Lord shall take it off; and upon these principles, he seeing that authority, to which he was in duty bound, so seemingly taken quite away, thought he was free to fall in or oppose all things as prudence should guide him, upon general rules of conscience. These would not permit him in any way to assist any tyrant or invader of the people’s rights, nor to rise up against them without a manifest call from God; therefore he stayed at home, and busied himself in his own domestic employments, having a very liberal heart, and a house open to all worthy persons of all parties. Among these the Lord Biron, who thought that no gentleman ought to be unprovided of arms, in such an uncertain time, had provided himself a trunk of pistols, which were brought down from London; but some suspicion of it being entered in the protector’s offices, he durst not fetch the trunk from the carrier’s himself, but entreated the colonel to send for them to his house, and secure them there. This the colonel did; but afterward, when my Lord Biron had entered into a conspiracy with the enemies of the parliament, he knew that Colonel Hutchinson was not to be attempted against them, and was in great care how to get his arms out of the colonel’s house. The colonel, being of a very compassionate and charitable nature, had entertained into his service some poor people who on the enemy’s side had been ruined, and were reduced from good estates to seek that refuge; and who counterfeited, so long as their party was down, such sobriety, love and gratitude, and sense of their sins and miscarriages on the other side, that he hoped they had been converts, but could not believe they would have proved such detestable, unthankful traitors, as afterwards they did. Among these, Lord Biron corrupted a gentleman who waited then on the colonel, as the man after alleged; my lord said he offered himself. However it were the plot was laid that fifty men, near the colonel’s house, should be raised, for him, and he with them should first come to the colonel’s house, and take away my lord’s arms, with all the rest of the colonel’s that they could find. To raise him these men, certain neighbours, who used to come to the house, were very busy, and especially two parsons, he of Plumtre and he of Bingham; this had an active, proud, pragmatical curate who used to come to this traitor in the colonel’s house and help to manage the treason, and the chaplain, the waiting woman, and two servants more, were drawn into the confederacy. The colonel was then at the parliament-house, and only his wife and children at home, when, the night before the insurrection, Ivie (that was the gentleman’s name) came to a singing-boy who kept the colonel’s clothes, and commanded him to deliver him the colonel’s own arms and buff coat.

The boy was fearful, and did not readily obey him, whereupon he threatened immediately to pistol him, if he made the least resistance, or discovery of the business; so the boy fetched him the arms, and he put them on, and took one of the best horses and went out at midnight, telling the boy he was a fool to fear, for the next night, before that time, there would come fifty men to fetch away all the arms in the house.

As soon as the boy saw him quite gone, his mistress being then in bed he went to the chaplain and acquainted him; but the chaplain cursed him for breaking his sleep: then he went to the waiting gentlewoman, but she said she thought it would be unfit to disturb her mistress; so the boy rested till next day, when Ivie, having failed of his men, was come back again. Then the boy, finding an opportunity after dinner, told his mistress, that though he had been bred a cavalier he abhorred to betray or be unfaithful to those he served; and that he had reason to suspect there was some vile conspiracy in hand, wherein Ivie was engaged against them, and told his grounds. When Mrs. Hutchinson had heard that, she bade him keep it private, and called immediately a servant that had been a cornet of the parliament’s party, and bade him go to the county troop’s captain, and desire him to send her a guard for her husband’s house, for she had intelligence that the cavaliers intended some attempt against it. Mrs. Hutchinson, ashamed to complain of her own family, thought of this way of security, till she could discharge herself of the traitor, not knowing at that time how many more were about her. Then calling her gentlewoman, whom she thought she might trust, upon her solemn protestations of fidelity, she took her to assist her in hiding her plate and jewels, and what she had of value, and scrupled not to let her see the secret places in her house, while the false and base dissembler went smiling up and down at her mistress’s simplicity. Meantime, the man that was sent for soldiers came back, bringing news that the cavaliers had risen and were beaten, and the county troop was in pursuit of them. Then also the coachman, who finding himself not well, had borrowed a horse to go to Nottingham to be let blood, came home, bringing with him a cravat and other spoils of the enemy, which he had gotten. For when he came to the town, hearing the cavaliers were up, he got a case of pistols, and thought more of shedding than losing blood, and meeting the cavaliers in the rout, it is said, he killed one of them; although this rogue had engaged to Ivie to have gone on the other side with him. Mrs. Hutchinson not being willing, for all this, to take such notice of Ivie’s treason as to cast him into prison, took him immediately to London with her, and said nothing till he came there. Then she told him how base and treacherous he had been; but to save her own shame for having entertained so false a person, and for her mother’s sake whom he had formerly served, she was willing to dismiss him privately, without acquainting the colonel, who could not know but he must punish him. So she gave him something and turned him away, and told her husband she came only to acquaint him with the insurrection, and her own fears of staying in the country without him. He, being very indulgent, went immediately back with her, having informed the parliament, and received their order for going down to look after the securing of the country. His wife as soon as she came down, having learned that the chaplain had been Ivie’s confederate, told him privately of it, and desired him to find a pretence to take his leave of the colonel, that she might not be necessitated to complain, and procure him the punishment his treason deserved. He went away thus, but so far from being wrought upon, that he hated her to the death for her kindness.

The colonel having set things in order in the country, had an intent to have carried his family that winter with him to London; when just that week he was going, news was brought that Lambert had once more turned out the parliament, and the colonel rejoiced in his good fortune that he was not present.

Lambert was exceedingly puffed up with his cheap victory, and cajoled his soldiers; and, before he returned to London, set on foot among them their old insolent way of prescribing to the parliament by way of petition.

The parliament, after the submission of the army, had voted that there should no more be a general over them, but to keep that power in their own hands, that all the officers should take their commissions immediately from the Speaker. The conspiracy of the army, to get a leader in their rebellion, was laid, that they should petition for generals and such like things as might facilitate their intents. Among others that were taken in arms against the parliament, Lord Castleton was one of the chief heads of the insurrection. Him Lambert brought along with him in his coach, not now as a prisoner, but unguarded, as one that was to be honoured. The parliament hearing of this, sent and fetched him out of his company and committed him to prison, and then the army’s saucy petition was delivered, and upon the insolent carriage of nine colonels, they were by vote disbanded. Lambert being one of them, came in a hostile manner and plucked the members out of the house; Fleetwood, whom they trusted to guard them, having confederated with Lambert and betrayed them. After that, setting up their army court at Wallingford-house, they began their arbitrary reign, to the joy of all the vanquished enemies of the parliament, and to the amazement and terror of all men that had any honest interest: and now were they all devising governments, and some honourable members, I know not through what fatality of the times, fell in with them. When Colonel Hutchinson came into the country some time before Lambert’s revolt, Mr. Robert Pierrepont, the son of the late Colonel Francis Pierrepont, sent friends to entreat the colonel to receive him into his protection. Upon the entreaty of his uncle he took him into his own house, and entertained him civilly there, whilst he writ to the Speaker, urging his youth, his surrender of himself, and all he could in favour of him, desiring to know how they would please to dispose of him. Before the letters were answered Lambert had broken the parliament, and the colonel told him he was free again to do what he pleased; but the young gentleman begged of the colonel that he might continue under his sanctuary till these things came to some issue. This the colonel very freely admitted, and entertained him till the second return of the parliament, not without much trouble to his house, of him and his servants, so contrary to the sobriety and holiness the colonel delighted in, yet for his father’s and his uncle’s sakes he endured it about six months.

Some of Lambert’s officers, while he marched near Nottinghamshire, having formerly served under the colonel’s command, came to his house at Owthorpe and told him of the petition that was set on foot in Lambert’s brigade, and consulted whether they should sign it or no. The colonel advised them by no means to do it, yet notwithstanding, they did, which made the colonel exceeding angry with them, thinking they rather came to see how he stood affected, than really to ask his counsel. When Lambert had broken the house, the colonel made a short journey to London to inform himself how things were, and found some of the members exceedingly sensible of the sad estate the kingdom was reduced unto by the rash ambition of these men, and resolving that there was no way but for every man that abhorred it to improve their interest in their countries, and to suppress these usurpers and rebels. Hereupon the colonel took measures to have some arms bought and sent him, and had prepared a thousand honest men, whenever he should call for their assistance; intending to improve his posse comitatus when occasion should be offered. To provoke him more particularly to this, several accidents fell out. Among the rest, six of Lambert’s troopers came to gather money, laid upon the country by an assessment of parliament, whom the colonel telling that in regard it was levied by that authority, he had paid it, but otherwise would not; two of them only who were in the room with the colonel, the rest being on horseback in the court, gave him such insolent terms, with such unsufferable reproaches of the parliament, that the colonel drew a sword which was in the room to have chastised them. While a minister that was by held the colonel’s arm, his wife, not willing to have them killed in her presence, opened the door and let them out, who presently ran and fetched in their companions in the yard with cocked pistols. Upon the bustle, while the colonel having disengaged himself from those that held him, was run after them with the sword drawn, his brother came out of another room, upon whom, the soldiers pressing against a door that went into the great hall, the door flew open, and about fifty or sixty men appeared in the hall, who were there upon another business. For Owthorpe, Kinolton, and Hickling, had a contest about a cripple that was sent from one to the other, but at last, out of some respect they had for the colonel, the chief men of the several towns were come to him, to make some accommodation, till the law should be again in force. When the colonel heard the soldiers were come, he left them shut up in his great hall, who by accident thus appearing, put the soldiers into a dreadful fright. When the colonel saw how pale they looked, he encouraged them to take heart, and calmly admonished them for their insolence, and they being changed and very humble through their fear, he called for wine for them, and sent them away. To the most insolent of them he said, ‘These carriages would bring back the Stewarts’. The man, laying his hand upon his sword, said, ‘Never while he wore that’. Among other things they said to the colonel, when he demanded by what authority they came, they showed their swords, and said, ‘That was their authority’. After they were dismissed, the colonel, not willing to appear because he was sheriff of the county, and had many of their papers sent him to publish, concealed himself in his house, and caused his wife to write a letter to Fleetwood, to complain of the affronts that had been offered him, and to tell him that he was thereupon retired, till he could dwell safely at home. To this Fleetwood returned a civil answer, and withal sent a protection, to forbid all soldiers from coming to his house, and a command to Swallow, who was the colonel of these men, to examine and punish them. Mrs. Hutchinson had sent before to Swallow, who then quartered at Leicester, the next day after it was done, to inform him, who sent a letter utterly disowning their actions, and promising to punish them. This Mrs. Hutchinson sent to show the soldiers who then lay abusing the country at Colson; but when they saw their officer’s letter they laughed at him, and tore it in pieces. Some days after he, in a civil manner, sent a captain with them and other soldiers to Owthorpe, to inquire into their misdemeanours before their faces; which being confirmed to him, and he beginning to rebuke them, they set him at light, even before Mrs. Hutchinson’s face, and made the poor man retire sneaped to his colonel; while these six rogues, in one week’s space, besides the assessments assigned them to gather up, within the compass of five miles, took away violently from the country, for their own expense, above five-and-twenty pounds. Notwithstanding all this pretended civility, Fleetwood and his counsellors were afraid of the colonel, and the protection was but sent to draw him thither, that they might by that means get him into their custody. But he, having intimation of it, withdrew, while men and arms were preparing, that he might appear publicly in the defence of the country, when he was strong enough to drive out the soldiers that were left in these parts. Three hundred of them were one night drawn out of Nottingham to come to Owthorpe for him, but some of the party gave him notice, who was then at home, and immediately went out of the house. Neither wanted they their spies, who gave them notice that he was gone again, so that they turned off upon the wolds and went to Hickling; and the next day Major Grove, their commander, sent to Mrs. Hutchinson to desire permission for himself only to come down, which she gave, and so with only five or six of his party he came. With him Mrs. Hutchinson so easily dealt, that, after she had represented the state of things to him, he began to apologize that he had only taken this command upon him to preserve the country, and should be ready to submit to any lawful authority; and he and his men were not come for any other intent but to prevent disturbance of the peace and gatherings together of men, who, they were informed, intended to rise in these parts. Mrs. Hutchinson smiling, told him it was necessary for him to keep a good guard, for all the whole country would shortly be weary of their yoke, and, no question, find some authority to shelter them. At last he came to that as to desire her to let the colonel know he intended him no mischief, but he and all his men should be at her command to defend her from the insolencies of any others. She heard him without faith, for she knew the good will they pretended to her husband proceeded only from their fear. It is true that at that time the colonel had met with Colonel Hacker, and several other gentlemen of Northampton and Warwickshire, and at the same time Major Beque was to have reduced Coventry, and another colonel Warwick Castle. Two regiments of horse should have marched to a place within seven miles of Colonel Hutchinson’s house, where his men should have rendezvoused, and the town of Nottingham at the same time have seized all the soldiers there, and they of Leicester the like. These people had, through the spies that were about the colonel, gotten some little inkling of his rendezvous, but not right, neither could they have prevented it, had there been need. But just before it should have been put into execution the parliament were restored to their seats, Lambert was deserted by his men and fled, and Monk was marching on southwards, pretending to restore and confirm the parliament; insomuch that Colonel Hutchinson, instead of raising his country, was called up to his seat in parliament. Here there were so many favourers of Lambert, Fleetwood, and their partakers, that the colonel, who used to be very silent, could not now forbear high opposition to them; in whose favour things were carried with such a stream, that the colonel then began to lose all hopes of settling this poor land on any righteous foundation.

It was the 26th of December, 1659, that the parliament met again. The manner of it, and the contest and treaty in the north between Monk and Lambert, are too well known to be repeated; the dissimulations and false protestations that Monk made are too public; yet did the colonel and others suspect him, but knew not how to hinder him; for this insolent usurpation of Lambert’s had so turned the hearts of all men, that the whole nation began to set their eyes upon the king beyond the sea, and think a bad settlement under him better than none at all, but still to be under the arbitrary power of such proud rebels as Lambert. The whole house was divided into miserable factions, among whom some would then violently have set up an oath of renunciation of the king and his family. The colonel, thinking it a ridiculous thing to swear out a man, when they had no power to defend themselves against him, vehemently opposed that oath, and carried it against Sir Arthur Haslerig and others, who as violently pressed it; urging very truly that those oaths that had been formerly imposed had but multiplied the sins of the nation by perjuries; instancing how Sir Arthur and others, in Oliver’s time, coming into the house, swore on their entrance they would attempt nothing in the change of that government, which, as soon as ever they were entered, they laboured to throw down. Many other arguments he used, whereupon many honest men, who thought till then he had followed a faction in all things, and not his own judgment, begun to meet often with him, and to consult what to do in these difficulties, out of which their prudence and honesty had found a way to extricate themselves, but that the period of our prosperity was come; hastened on partly by the mad rash violence of some that, without strength, opposed the tide of the discontented tumultuous people, partly by the detestable treachery of those who had sold themselves to do mischief, but chiefly by the general stream of the people, who were as eager for their own destruction as the Israelites of old for their quails.