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

The Life of John Hutchinson: 1661–62

This parliament being risen, another was called by the king’s writ, wherein the act of oblivion was again confirmed, not without some canvassing and opposition; and here again another act about that money of the Lord Lexington’s was prepared and twice read in the house, through divers abominable untruths which they had forged and possessed the members withal. The colonel himself solicited his own defence, and had all the injustice and foul play imaginable at the committee appointed to examine it, and it was so desperate that all his friends persuaded him to compound it; but he would not, though his enemies offered it, but he said he would either be cleared by a just, or ruined by an unjust sentence, and, pursuing it with his usual alacrity and vigour in all things, he at last removed that prepossession that some of the gentlemen had against him; and clearing himself to some that were most violent, it pleased God to turn the hearts of the house at last to do him justice, and to throw out the bill for evermore, which was a great mercy to him and his family, for it was to have thrown him out of possession of all the estates he had, and to have put them into his enemies’ hands till they had satisfied themselves. But the defending himself was very chargeable to him, and not only so, but this rumour of trouble upon his estate, and the brags of his enemies, and the cloud he lay under, hindered him both from letting and selling, and improving his estate, so that it very much augumented his debt.

Before this time, in December, 1660, Captain Cooper sent one Broughton, a lieutenant, and Andrews, a cornet, with a company of soldiers, who plundered his house at Owthorpe, while he was absent, of all the weapons they found in it, to his very wearing-swords, and his own armour for himself, although at that time there was no prohibition of any person whatsoever to have or wear arms. The colonel was not then at home, and the arms were laid up in a closet within his chamber, which they searched, and all the house over, to see if they could have found plate or anything else; but when they could not, they carried these away, which one of his servants whom he had dismissed with a good reward, betrayed to them. His eldest son went to the Marquis of Newcastle, lord-lieutenant of the country, and complained of the violence of the soldiers, and my lord gave him an order to have the swords and other things back, and some pistols which were the Lord Biron’s, but Mr. Cooper contemned my lord’s order, and would not obey it. The arms were worth near £100.

Also an order came down from the secretary, commanding certain pictures and other things the colonel had bought out of the late king’s collection, which had cost him in ready money between £1000 and £1500, and were of more value; and these, notwithstanding the act of oblivion, were all taken from him.

After these troubles were over from without, the colonel lived with all imaginable retiredness at home, and, because his active spirit could not be idle nor very sordidly employed, took up his time in opening springs, and planting trees, and dressing his plantations; and these were his recreations, wherein he relieved many poor labourers when they wanted work, which was a very comfortable charity to them and their families: with these he would entertain himself, giving them much encouragement in their honest labours, so that they delighted to be employed by him. His business was serious revolving the law of God, wherein he laboured to instruct his children and servants, and enjoyed himself with much patience and comfort, not envying the glories and honours of the court, nor the prosperity of the wicked; but only grieved that the straitness of his own revenues would not supply his large heart to the poor people in affliction. Some little troubles he had in his own house. His son, unknown to him, married a very worthy person, with the manner of which he was so discontented that he once resolved to have banished them for ever, but his good nature was soon overcome, and he received them into his bosom, and for the short time he enjoyed her, had no less love for her than for any of his own children. And indeed she was worthy of it, applying herself with such humble dutifulness and kindness to repair her fault, and to please him in all things he delighted in, that he was ravished with the joy of her, who loved the place not as his own wife did, only because she was placed in it, but with a natural affection, which encouraged him in all the pains he took to adorn it, when he had one to leave it to that would esteem it. She was besides naturalized into his house and interests, as if she had had no other regard in the world; she was pious and cheerful, liberal and thrifty, complaisant and kind to all the family, and the freest from humour of any woman; loving home, without melancholy or sullenness, observant of her father and mother, not with regret, but with delight, and the most submissive, affectionate wife that ever was. But she, and all the joy of her sweet, saintlike conversation, ended in a lamented grave, about a year after her marriage, when she died in childbirth, and left the sweetest babe behind her that ever was beheld, whose face promised all its mother’s graces, but death within eight weeks after her birth, ravished this sweet blossom, whose fall opened the fresh wounds of sorrow for her mother, thus doubly lost. While the mother lived, which was ten days after her delivery, the colonel and his wife employed all imaginable pains and cares for her recovery, whereof they had often hopes, but in the end all in vain; she died, and left the whole house in very sensible affliction, which continued upon the colonel and his wife till new strokes awakened them out of the silent sorrow of this funeral. Her husband having no joy in the world after she was gone, some months shut himself up with his grief in his chamber, out of which he was hardly persuaded to go, and when he did, every place about home so much renewed his remembrance of her that he could not think of but with deep affliction, that being invited by his friends abroad to divert his melancholy, he grew a little out of love with home, which was a great damping to the pleasures his father took in the place: but he, how eager soever he were in the love of any worldly thing, had that moderation of spirit that he submitted his will always to God, and endeavoured to give Him thanks in all things.

This winter, about October and the following months, the papists began to be very high, and a sort of strangers were come into Nottingham, who were observed to distinguish themselves by scarlet ribbons in their hats; and one night, in a drunken humour, a papist fired a hay barn in a wood-yard in Nottingham, which, if not discovered and prevented by many providences, might have endangered much of the town: but it did £200 worth of mischief; but the matter was shuffled up and compounded, although the same night several other towns were attempted to be fired. A great papist, at Eastwold, was known to assemble two hundred men in arms in the night, and some of the Lord Carrington’s tenants, that went to Arundel House to speak with their landlord, observed very strange suspicious signs of some great business on foot among the papists, who, both in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, were so exalted, that the very country people everywhere apprehended some insurrection. Among the rest, there was a light-headed, debauched young knight, that lived in the next town to Owthorpe, who vapoured beyond all bounds, and had twelve pairs of holsters for pistols at one time of the colonel’s saddler, and rid at that time with half a dozen men armed, up and down the country, and sent them, and went himself, to several men who had been soldiers in the army, to offer them brave terms to enlist under him, telling them, they, meaning the papists, should have a day for it. Besides he, with the parson of the parish, and some other men, at an alehouse, began a health to the confusion of all the protestants in England; and one of the colonel’s maids going to Colson, to have a sore eye cured by a woman in the town, heard there that he had vapoured that the papists should shortly have their day, and that he would not leave one alive in the colonel’s house. He sent to the preacher of Cotgrove, to forbid him to preach on gunpowder-treason day, threatening to kill him if he did, insomuch that the town were forced to keep a guard all that day upon the steeple.

The men whom the papists had endeavoured to enlist, acquainted the colonel with it, whereof some being in Leicestershire, the colonel sent his son to Sir George Villiers, one of the deputy-lieutenants of that county, to acquaint him with it; but he slighted the matter, although at that time it would have been proved that Golding brought a whole coach laden with pistols, as many as they could stuff under the seats and in the boots, to the house of one Smith, a papist, dwelling at Quineborough, in Leicestershire. The colonel also sent to the deputy-lieutenants of our county to acquaint them the public danger, and how himself was threatened; and, by reason that his house had been disarmed, desired that he might have leave to procure some necessary arms to defend it; but they sent him word that the insurrection of the papists was but a fanatic jealousy, and if he were afraid, they would send him a guard, but durst not allow him to arm his house. He, disdaining their security that would not trust him with his own, would have taken a house at Nottingham for his wife to lie in, who being then big with child, was near her account; but although she were fearful, yet when she found him resolved to stay in his own house, she would not go; whereupon he made strong shutts to all his low windows with iron bars; and that very night that they were set up, the house was attempted to be broken in the night, and the glass of one of the great casements broken, and the little iron bars of it crashed in sunder. Mrs. Hutchinson being late up, heard the noise, and thought somebody had been forcing the doors, but, as we since heard, it was Golding who made the attempt. The common people, everywhere falling into suspicion of the papists, began to be highly offended at their insolence, and to utter strange words; whether it were this, or what else we know not, but their design proceeded no further; yet there is nothing more certain than that at that time they had a design of rising generally all over England in arms. But the colonel lived so retired that he never understood how it was taken up, and how it fell off, yet, although they would not take the alarm from him, even the gentlemen of the county afterwards believed they were hatching some mischief, and feared it.