To the Right Honourable the Lords and Commons in Parliament Assembled
To the Right Honourable the Lords and Commons
in PARLIAMENT assembled.
The humble Petition of many thousands of wel-affected inhabitants of the Counties of Middlesex, Essex,
Kent, Surrey, Hertford, Berks, Buckingham, Oxford, Bedford, Sussex, Northampton,
Dorset, Somerset, Lancaster, Lincoln, Chester, Durham, Cumberland, Warwick and
Worcester, against the intolerable Oppression and Undoing Grievance of FREE QUARTER.
July 10, 1647
HUmbly with bended knees and bleeding hearts complaining to your honours,
That whereas Your Petitioners out of their good affections to this Parliament have, during the late expensive Wars, exhausted their treasure, spent and lost their Estates, hazarded their Lives, Limbs, and shed their dearest blood in defence of Your honours, and our own just Rights and Liberties, the happy fruits whereof we assuredly expected to reap, ever since the totall dissipation of his Majesties Malignant Forces and Garrisons; yet so it is we find (to our greatest grief and astonishment) our insupportable burdens and pressures every day multiplyed and increased, and our native Rights and Liberties more violated and undermined of late then ever, and that not onely by malicious enemies, but by those you have raised to preserve, and have long promised to make us Free-men; so as absolute necessity, and the sense of our own inevitable ruin (if not of the whole kingdome too) enforce us to be no longer stupidly silent, but to present our joynt Complaints unto your Eyes in Print, which can finde no passage into your Eares or Houses in writing, by reason of other Intervenient affairs of greater moment.
Be pleased therefore affectionately to receive this sad dolorous Information of our present desperate condition, that besides the constant Tax of Excise and other Contributions, Your impovered Petitioners are overladen with a late monethly Tax of sixty thousand Pounds, (which the Army presse to be augmented to one hundred thousand) to support a degenerated mutinous, seditious, and Rebellious Souldiery, long since Voted by you to disband, who for divers moneths last past have refused to obey your Commands, infringed your Priviledges, impeached, suspended or expelled your faithful Members; unvoted your Votes, repealed your Ordinances, removed you ancient Guards, and put new of their own upon you; thrown down your defensive works, accused and shut up some of your faithfullest friends as Traytors, divided the City and Country from you, possessed themselves of all your Forts, if not of the Navy too, ravished and kept the Kings Person out of your custody, yea lately plotted his destruction; declared you for some time no Parliament, prescribed periods to your sitting, voted down the House of Peers, and all old forms of Parliament to set up a new-molded one of their own, and presented you frequently with such seditious and treasonable Papers and Remonstrances, as your selves have (Nov. 9. 1647.) voted to be, destructive to the very being of Parliaments, and to the Fundamental Government of the Kingdom; which yet they stil press a fresh upon you, erected a new Parliament a grand Counsel of State of their own at the Head quarters, which receives and answers all publick Petitions, resolves all matters of State and Government upon the question, which they send to your Honors as their underlings to confirm, print, publish Remonstrances, Declarations and Edicts to you and us by their own special Orders, hold intelligence with most dangerous Malignants in Arms, who reside in the Armies quarters, are now more the Kings Army then Yours, whose designs they have driven on of late, and with whom their Grandees are now accorded, and rendred you once the most powerful glorious and best-beloved Parliament ever England had, now the most aydless, friendless, faithless, most ilbeloved, despicable and dishonorable Assembly that ever sate within English ground: when under pretext of purging and reforming your Honours, and vindicating our lost Freedomes, have by their late FREE QUARTERING upon us, rendred us no better then meer conquered slaves (as some of them call us to our faces) and like so many Egyptian Locusts seed so long upon us of free cost, till they, their horses, wives and trulls, have totally consumed all the Money in our Purses, the Corn in our Barns, the grass in our fields, the Hay, Oats, Pease and Beans in our Stables, the stock in our grounds. the provisions in our houses, and exposed us and ours this cold Winter season and time of scarcity to the merciless jaws of penury and famine, now ready to devour us without pity or relief, notwithstanding our many doleful complaints to your Honors and the General for Redress.
This our deplorable condition constraineth us to inform Your Honors, that the Lords & Commons assembled in Parliament in the 3-year of his Majesties reign in their memorable Petition of Right, when only some two or three thousand Soldiers and Mariners were thinly dispersed into divers Counties of the Realm and there billeted in mens houses against their wills but for one moneth or two, and payd most of their quarters, did yet so tenderly resent this inchroachment on our Freedoms, that they grievously complained thereof to his Majesty in that Petition, AS A GREAT GREIVANCE AND VEXATION TO HIS PEOPLE AGAINST THE LAWS AND CUSTOMES OF THE REALM, and humbly prayed as their Right and Liberty, according to the Laws and Statutes of this Kingdome, That he would be pleased to remove the said Souldiers and Marriners; and that his people might not be so burthened in time to come; Which his Majesty graciously condescended unto as their just Right: And therefore since we have for some moneths and years last past, been ten thousand times more oppressed with the Quartering of Souldiers in our Houses against our Wills, then the whole Kingdome was then, to our utter destruction, and breaking of our very backs and hearts; and are clean eaten up to our very skins and bones, as many of your own Members can witness, and the Army it self confesseth in some of their late published Papers: We do now humbly demand and challenge this at your hands, not as a favour, but our Undoubted Right and Hereditary Freedome, which you have faithfully engaged in sundry Remonstrances, and solemnly sworn in your Nationall Vow and Covenant to maintain with your lives, and for defence whereof we have spent our blood and Estates in the late Wars, and to prevent our imminent destruction, and the easing of our selves by general insurrections and open violence, which we must be necessitated to, against our liking, if any longer denyed or delayed right, relief and ease herein, you wil now at the last forthwith publikely declare against and prohibit all free quartering on us for the future against our wils under pain of Felony and death, discharge our quarters already taken out of the Souldiers Arrears (who have raised and received double if not treble their pay of us in free quarter alone) disband all supernumerary forces and recruits entertained since January last, reduce the Army to as smal a number as possible, and that of such Officers and Soldiers only who have taken the Covenant, and are neither Seditious nor Schismatical; to be quartered only in common Victualing houses, Innes and Alehouses, without allowing their horses provender (whiles they lie idle) in this time of famine, when we our families and the poor are ready to famish for want of bread: and that no Member of either House, their Sons, or dependants sit in Counsel or may continue in office, belonging to the Army or any Ship, any Garrison, to protract our troubles and payments for their private ends and luchre.
And we shal ever pray for and live and dye with your Honors in all your just proceedings. And prove a better and cheaper Guard to You and the Kingdom (if put into a present posture of defence as they desire) then any indigent and inconfiding Mercenaries.