An Appeale to All Englishmen
An Appeale to all Englishmen, to judge between Bondage and Freedome,
sent from those that began to digge upon George Hill in Surrey; but now are carrying on, that publick work
upon the little Heath in the Parish of COBHAM, neare unto GEORGE Hill, wherein it appeares, that the work of digg-
ing upon the Commons, is not onely warranted by Scripture, but by the Law of the Common-wealth of England likewise.
BEhold, behold, all Englishmen, The Land of England now is your free Inheritance: all Kingly and Lordly entanglements are declared against, by our Army and Parliament. The Norman power is beaten in the field, and his head is cut off. And that oppressing Conquest that hath raigned over you by King and House of Lords, for about 600. yeares past, is now cast out, by the Armies Swords, the Parliaments Acts and Lawes, and the Common-wealths Engagement.
Therefore let not Sottish covetousnesse in the Gentrey, deny the poore or younger Brethren, their just Freedom to build and plant Corne upon the common wast Land: nor let slavish fear, possesse the hearts of the poor, to stand in awe of the Norman Yoake any longer, seeing it is broke. Come, those that are free within, turn your Swords into Ploughshares, and Speares into pruning-hookes, and take Plow and Spade, and break up the Common Land, build you Houses, sow Corne, and take possession of your own Land, which you have recovered out of the hands of the Nonman oppressour.
The common Land hath lain unmanured all the dayes of his Kingly and Lordly power over you, by reason whereof, both you and your Fathers, (many of you) have been burthened with poverty, And that Land which would have been fruitfull with Corne, hath brought forth nothing but heath, mosse, furseys, and the curse, according to the words of the Scriptures: A fruitful Land is made barren, because of the unrighteousnesse of the People that ruled therein, and would not suffer it to be planted, because they would keep the Poor under bondage, to maintain their own Lordly Power, and conquering covetousnesse.
But what hinders you now? will you be slaves and beggers still, when you may be Freemen? will you live in straits, and die in poverty, when you may live comfortably? will you allwayes make a profession of the words of Christ and Scripture: the sum whereof is this. Do as you would be done unto, and live in love? And now it is come to the point of fulfilling that righteous Law: wil you not rise up & act, I do not mean act by the sword, for that must be left? But come, take Plow & Spade, build & plant, & make the wast Land fruitfull, that there may be no begger nor idle person among us; for if the wast Land of England were manured by her Children, it would become in a few yeares the richest, the strongest, and flourishing Land in the World, and all Englishmen would live in peace and comfort; And this freedom is hindered by such as yet are full of the Norman base blood, who would be Free men themselves, but would have all others bond-men and Servants, nay slaves to them.
The Law of the Scriptures gives you a full freedom to the Earth, and makes Mankind free in all his Members: for God, or the creating spirit, is no respector of persons.
The Ministers who preache up the Law of the Scriptures, plead for their Freedom in the Earth, and say, The Labourer is worthy of his hire. But these Ministers, are faulty in two things. First, They will set themselves to work, in that they will run before they be sent, and then force the People by the power of the Sword-Law, to give them wages, or Labourers hire. And they will not take 12 d. a day as other Labourers have, but they will compell 100 l. or more to be paid them yearly. Secondly, They lay claime to Heaven after they are dead, and yet they require their Heaven in this World too, and grumble mightily against the People that will not give them a large temporal maintenance. And yet they tell the poor People, that they must be content with their Poverty, and they shall have their Heaven hereafter. But why may not we have our Heaven here, (that is, a comfortable livelihood in the Earth) And Heaven hereafter too, as well as you, God is no respector of Persons?
Therefore say we, while we have bodies that must be fed and cloathed, let us have Earth to plant, to raise food and rayment by our labours, according to the Law of our Creation, and let us live like men of your own Image and forme.
But if you say, that this is onely old Adams condition to look after the Earth; but the new Adam Christ, lookes after Heaven above, and mindes not the Earth. As one publick Minister told us, why truly then we say, you make old Adam who brings in the curse to be more rational and tender over our bodies; then the second Adam Christ who brings in the blessing to all Nations.
But if it be old Adams condition to desire a Livelihood as we are men, and to live free from straits: Then I would have all those Ministers to cast aside their 100 l. or 200 l. a yeare, and go and beg their food and rayment of others, and expect their Heaven hereafter, as they bid the poor men do.
But you covetous blind deceivers, know this, that as old Adam brings Man-kind into bondage and straits, so the second Adam brings Man-kind into Freedom, plenty and peace, here in this Earth while bodies are living upon earth: therefore he is said to be the joy of all Nations here on Earth, and the restorer of the whole Creation, that groanes under bondage here on Earth.
Well Englishmen, The Law of the Scriptures, gives you a free and full Warrant to plant the Earth, and to live comfortably and in love, doing as you would be done by: And condemns that covetous Kingly and Lordly power of darkness in men, that makes some men seeke their freedom in the Earth, and to deny others that freedom. And the Scriptures do establish this Law, to cast out Kingly and Lordly self-willed and oppressing power, and to make every Nation in the World a free Commonwealth. So that you have the Scriptures to protect you, in making the Earth a common Treasury, for the comfortable Livelihood of your bodies, while you live upon Earth.
Secondly, You have both what the Army and Parliament have done to protect you, as it will appeare by this graduall consideration.
First, King Charles was the successour of the Norman Conquest, and raigned as a Conquerour over England, for his Power held the Land from us, and would rather see us die in poverty, or hang us up, then suffer us to plant the Commons for our livelihood. And Lords of Mannours hold claiming to their Copy-holds, and to the Commons, under or from the King: so that Kings and Lordly power, is the power of the Conquest over the people.
Secondly, Our Common-wealths Army have fought against the Norman Conquest, and have cast him out, and keepes the field. By vertue of which victory, both the Title of the King, and the Title of Lords of Mannors to the Land as Conquerors is lost. And the Land now is as free to others as to them; yea, according to Davids Law, to them that staid at home with the stuffe, as to them that went out to warre: And by this victory, England is made a free Common-wealth. And the common Land belongs to the younger Brother, as the Enclosures to the elder Brother, without restraint.
Then Thirdly, The Parliament, since this victory, have made an Act or Law, to make England a free Commonwealth. And by this Act they have set the People free, from King and House of Lords that ruled as Conquerors over them, and have abolished their self will and murdering Lawes, with them that made them.
Likewise they have made another Act or Law, to cast out Kingly Power, wherein they free the People from yielding obedience to the King, or to any that holds claiming under the King: Now all Lords of Mannours, Tything Priests and imptopriators, hold claiming or Title under the King, but by this Act of Parliament we are freed from their Power.
Then lastly, The Parliament have made an Engagement, to maiutain this present Common-wealths Government, comprised within those. Acts or Lawes against King and House of Lords. And calles upon all Officers, Tenants, and all sort of People to subscribe to it, declaring that those that refuse to subscribe, shall have no priviledge in the Commonwealth of England, nor protection from the Law.
Now behold all Englishmen, that by vertue of these 2. Lawes, and the Engagement, the Tenants of Copyholds, are freed from obedience to their Lords of Mannors, and all poor People may build upon, and plant the Commons, and the Lords of Mannours break the Lawes of the Land & the Engagement, & still uphold the Kingly and Lordly Norman Power, if they hinder them, or seek to beat them of from planting the Commons.
Neither can the Lords of Mannors compell their Tenants of Copy-holds, to come to their Court-Barons, nor to be of their Juries, nor take an Oath to be true to them, nor to pay fines, Heriots, quitrent, nor any homage, as formerly, while the King and Lords were in their power. And if the Tenants stand up to maintain their Freedom, against their Lords oppressing power, the Tenants forfeit nothing, but are protected by the Laws and Engagement of the Land.
And if so be, that any poor men build them houses, and sow Corne upon the Commons, the Lords of Mannors cannot compell their Tenants to beat them of: And if the Tenants refuse to beat them off, they forfeit nothing, but are protected by the Lawes and Engagement of the Land. But if so be, that any fearfull or covetous Tenant, do obey their Court Barons, and will be of their Jury, and will still pay Fines, Heriots, quit-Rents, or any homage as formerly, or take new Oaths, to be true to their Lords, or at the Command of their Lords, do beat the poor men off from planting the Commons; then they have broke the Engagement, and the Law of the Land, and both Lords and Tenants are conspiring to uphold or bring in the Kingly and Lordly Power again, and declare themselves enemies to the Army, and to the Parliament, and are traytors to the Commonwealth of England. And if so be they are to have no protection of the Lawes, that refused to tak the Engagement, surely they have lost their protection by breaking their Engagement, and stand lyable to answer for this their offence, to their great charge and trouble, if any will prosecute against them. Therefore you English men, whether Tenants or labouring men, do not enter into a new bond of slavery, now you are come to the point that you may be free, if you will stand up for freedom; for the Army hath purchased your freedom. The Parliament hath declared for your freedom, and all the Lawes of the Commonwealth are your protection, so that nothing is wanting on your part, but courage and faithfulness, to put those Lawes in execution, and to take possession of your own Land, which the Norman Power took from you, and hath kept from you about 600. yeares, which you have now recovered out of his hand. And if any say that the old Lawes and Customes of the Land, are against the Tenant and the poor, and intitle the Land onely to the Lords of Mannours still, I answer, all the old Lawes are of no force, for they are abolished, when the King and House of Lords were cast out. And if any say, I but the Parl: made an Act to establish the old Lawes, I answer, this was to prevent a sudden rising upon the cutting off the Kings head; but afterwards they made these 2. Lawes, to cast out Kingly Power, and to make England a Commonwealth. And they have confirmed these 2. by the Engagement, which the People now generally do own and subscribe: therefore by these Acts of freedom, they have abolished that Act that held up bondage. Well, by these you may see your freedom, and we hope the Gentry hereafter, wil cheat the poor no longer of their Land, and we hope, the Ministers hereafter will not tell the poor they have no right to the Land, for now the Land of England, is and ought to be a common Treasury to all Englishmen, as the severall portions of the Land of Canaan, were the common Livelihood to such and such a Tribe; both to elder and younger Brother, without respect of persons. If you deny this, you deny the Scriptures. And now we shall give you some few encouragements out of many, to move you to stand up for your freedom in the Land, by acting with Plow and Spade upon the Commons.
1. By this meanes within a short time, there will be no begger nor idle person in England, which will be the glory of England, and the glory of that Gospel, which England seemes to professe in words. 2. The wast and common Land being improve, will bring in plenty of all Commodities, and prevent famine, and pull down the prizes of Corne, to 12 d. a Bushel, or lesse. 3. It will prove England to be the first of Nations, or the tenth part of the City Babylon, which falls off from the covetous beastly Government first; and that sets the Crown of freedom upon Christs head, to rule over the Nations of the world, and to declare him to be the joy and blessing of all Nations. This should move all Governours to strive, who shall be the first that shall cast down their Crownes, Scepters, and Government at Christs feete, and they that will not give Christ his own glory, shall be shamed. 4. This Commonwealths freedom, will unite the hearts of Englishmen together in love so that if a forraign enemy endeavour to come in, we shall all with joynt consent rise up to defend our Inheritance, and shall be true one to another. Whereas now, the poor see, if they fight, and should conquer the Enemy, yet either they or their Children are like to be slaves still, for the Gentrey will have all. And this is the cause why many run away and faile our Armies in the time of need. And so through the Gentries hardness of heart against the poor: The Land may be left to a forraigne enemy for want of the poores love sticking to them; for say they, we can as well live under a forraign enemy working for day wages, as under our own brethren, with whom we ought to have equal freedom by the Law of righteousness. 5. This freedom in planting the common Land, will prevent robbing, stealling, and murdering, and Prisons will not so mightily be filled with Prisoners; and thereby we shall prevent that hart-breaking spectacle of seeing so many hanged every Sessions as there are. And surely this imprisoning and hanging of men is the Norman power still, and cannot stand with the freedom of the Commonwealth, nor warranted by the Engagement; for by the Lawes and Engagement of the Commonwealth, none ought to be hanged, nor put to death for other punishments may be found out And those that do hang or put to death their fellow Englishmen, under colour of Lawes, do break the Lawes and the Engagement by so doing, and casts themselves from under the protection of the Commonwealth, and are traytors to Englands freedom, and upholders of the Kingly murdering power. 6. This freedom in the common earth, is the poorers right by the Law of Creation and equity of the Scriptures, for the earth was not made for a few, but for whole Mankind, for God is no respector of Persons.Now these few Considerations, we offer to all England, and we appeale to the judgement of all rational and righteous men; whether this we speak, be not that substantiall Truth brought forth into action, which Ministers have preached up, and all religious men have made profession of; for certainly, God who is the King of righteousness, is not a God of words only, but of deedes; for it is the badge of hypocrisie, for a man to say, and not to do. Therefore we leave this with you all, having peace in our hearts, by declaring faith fully to you, this light that is in us, and which we do not onely speake and write, but which we do easily act & practise. Likewise we write it, as a Letter of congratulation, and encouragement to our dear fellow Englishmen, that have begun to digge upon the Commons, thereby taking possession of their freedom in Willinborow in Northamptonshire: And at Cox-Hall in Kent. waiting to see the chains of flavish fear to break and fall off from the hearts of others in other Countries, till at last the whole Land is filled with the knowledge & righteousness of the restoring power, which is Christ himself, Abrahams seed, who will spread himself til he become the joy of all Nations. Jerard Winstanley.Richard Maidley.Thomas James.John Dickins.John Palmer.John South, Elder.Nathaniel Helcomb.Thomas Edcer.Henry Barton.John South.Jacob Heard.Thomas Barnat.Anthony Wren.John Hayman.William Hitchcock.Henry Hancocke.John Batty.Thomas Starre.Thomas Adams.John Coulton.Thomas South.Robert Saycar.Daniel Freland.Robert Draper.Robert Coster.And divers others that were not present when this went to the Presse.
March. 26. 1650.