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Some memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times online

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success that its progress should be discreetly urged, and
effectually disguised. It was determined, then, that several
boroughs, by which returns had anciently been made to Par-
liament, should petition for the restitution of that right, which
had fallen into disuse. The practice of restoring old rights of
election, and of creating new ones, had been exercised by the
Crown on particular occasions, ever since the reign of Henry
VIII. That Monarch had, in several instances, restored the
privilege, or rather reimposed the charge, of representation.
For, in old times, when members received their wages for
service,~Wer often find boroughs petitioning against the obliga-
tion of sending representatives to Parliament. t Indeed, the
writs being, in all cases, so worded as to require the sheriffs to

* W. de Malmsbury De Gest. Reg. Anglise.
f- Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria.


cause members to be returned for all the cities and boroughs
within their bailiwick, it was in a great degree left to the dis-
cretion of the sheriff to confer that right, or impose that
burthen, upon whichever of such cities and boroughs he might
choose. It appearing to Henry VIII. that several elections
had terminated unfavourably to the views of the Court, he
resolved to strengthen his hands in Parliament ; and, in a
spirit of moderation unusual with a sovereign by whom the
most direct and summary course to the fulfilment of his
pleasure was generally esteemed the best, he, for the time, con-
tented himself with ordering that writs should be addressed to
twenty boroughs, nineteen of which had never before returned
members, and in the twentieth of which the practice had fallen into
disuse. But now when the extension of the representation became
likely, from a change in the spirit of the times, to be favourable
to liberty, the country party conceived the project of retaliating
this expedient upon the Crown, and of endeavouring, for the
sake of increasing their influence in the House of Commons,
to increase the number of popular elections. During the reign
of Elizabeth, the journals furnish several instances of the Com-
mons having begun, of their own authority, to decide upon
disputed elections. The number of controverted returns had
now vastly increased ; and, at the instance of the country
party, it came to pass that the decision was referred to a grand
committee of privileges. This was the famous committee
generally known since by the name of Serjeant Glanville's
Committee,, that eminent person having been its "chaiHftan,
Anioii^ iis members were some of the ablest and most learned

of that age of able and learned men, such as Selden, St. John,
. Pym, Coke, &c. The cases first presented were those of
returns made by boroughs which did not bear any connexion
with persons of the country party, and the names of which
gave little alarm to the jealousies of the Court. Nor were
such persons seen as movers in any of the petitions. The
committee first decided on some unsuspected cases of contested
returns for the counties of Norfolk and Cambridge, and the
boroughs of Southwark, Stafford, Arundel, AVinchelsea, Chip-
penham, Dover, and Newcastle-under-Line.* In the last four
cases the question had turned upon the rights of voting. It
was then felt that some system or outline of the legal right of

* Glanville's Reports.


voting ought to be laid down ; and in this spirit was drawn up
the report of that renowned committee. But, in the course of
its labours, another and a separate class of cases arose, and
was to be decided upon by the committee namely, cases in
which the custom of returning members had fallen into disuse.
In this latter class were those of Mario w, Amersham, and
Wendover, whose petitions were argued and managed by
Hakewill, of Lincoln's Inn, a shrewd and industrious lawyer,
who had served in the last Parliament, but, till then, with no
very eminent reputation for ability. These places set forth,
in their prayer to the House, that ' they were ancient par-
liamentary boroughs by prescription, and ought thereby
f and of right to send burgesses to Parliament/ and Sir
Edwin Sandys, say the Journals, ' speaketh for Pomfret/ *
In all these cases, of both the classes, it is to be observed that
the tendency \\us to enlarge the basis of the representation.
In the first class, in which the rights of the rated inhabit-
ants had been usurped by the select corporators, and in the
second, in which the custom of making returns had entirely
lapsed, the restored franchise was equally to be vested in the
hands of the ( Populacy/ The cases of the three Buckingham-
shire boroughs, there is little reason to doubt, were in reality
drawn up and put forward by Hampden, although ostensibly
managed by Hakewill. This is all the more probable from
its appearing, from Hampden's correspondence, that Hakewill
had before been frequently employed by him to conduct suits
and arbitrations for him, respecting his property in that county.
In consequence of these petitions, Noy and Selden were
ordered to make search in the records, and the committee
reported that all four had the right, and ought to be admitted
accordingly; furthermore declaring it to be 'the ancient
' privilege and power of the Commons in Parliament to examine
' the validity of elections and returns concerning this House
' and Assembly / in opposition to the former decision of James,
that they should be judged in Chancery. Whether Hakewill
was aware or not of the full extent of the object for which he
was working, does not appear. It seems, at all events, pro-
bable, that the greater number of the opposite party were not ;
and that those who were, did not at the beginning think
it prudent to give the alarm. King James, however, had

* Commons Journals.


shrewdness enough to detect the tendency of this measure;
and, accordingly, notice thereof being given to him, he stated his
unwillingness to have the number of the burgesseslncreused,
'declaring/ says Glanville, 'he was troubled with too great a
'number already, and commanded his then solicitor, Sir
' Robert Heath, being of the House of Commons, to oppose it
' what he might ; and most of the courtiers then of the House,
'understanding the King's inclinations, did their utmost
' endeavours to cross it/ * The report nevertheless was, in the
end, confirmed by the House. ' Whereupon/ says Glanville, a
' warrant under the Speaker's hand was made to the clerk of the
' Crown in the Chancery, for the making of such a writ, which
'was issued out accordingly. And therefore were elected and
' returned to serve in the same Parliament, for Amersham, Mr.
'Hakewill and Mr. John Crew; for Wendover, Mr. John
' Hampden (who beareth the charge) and Sir Alexander Denton;
' for Marlow, Mr. H. Burlace and Mr. Cotton/ f The last of
these was nephew of the famous Sir Robert Cotton, one of the
members of the Committee ; and all of them, besides a very
great majority of those persons who came into Parliament for
the other places to which the new writs were directed, were
of the same principles and opinions.

This was the first decisive and notable advantage gained
by this party against the power of the Crown. But a long
and difficult course lay before them : beset with dangers,
obstructed by difficulties of all sorts, and requiring the utmost
discretion both as to the manner and order in which the
different parts of the great scheme should be made to go

In February, 1625-6, upon a repetition of the King's
demand for supplies, the House went up with an address,
respectfully and cautiously worded, promising supplies, but
pointing to redress of grievances. To this the King's answer
was intemperate and threatening. The House, however, kept
its engagement ; but, after a ready grant of two subsidies,
was proceeding to votes of inquiry and censure, when, the
plague having broke out in London, the session was removed
to Oxford. Again the illegal loans and imposts levied by the
Privy Council, and by the inferior courts, became matter of
remonstrance ; and the House, refusing, notwithstanding the

Glanville's Reports. t Ibid.


most urgent instances, to grant any further supply until after
the grievances should be redressed, and passing to the charges
against Buckingham, was hastily dissolved by commission, on
the 12th of August, before any measure of public relief had
b<rn accomplished for the country, or the Act of Subsidies
carried through for the Crown.*

Besides the two modes, already mentioned, of raising money
without the counsel or consent of Parliament, there was that of
Monopolies, which were suddenly and vastly extended. They
had been instituted by our early kings to protect the subject
from combinations in trade ; a scheme weak and ineffectual
for that purpose, as giving to one person a control over prices
which would have been more safely left to be regulated by the
conflicting interests of many. Elizabeth had, in some instances,
made it a provision for favourites, and this abuse had been
greatly increased by James. It was Charles who first made it
a project for public revenue also.

Relieved by this dissolution from all parliamentary con-
trol, the King now first openly assumed the power of
dispensing with the laws. Letters were issued, by order of
council, under the privy seal, requiring loans from private
persons, generally those who were connected by blood or
interest with the leaders of the popular party, who, on refusal
or delay, were struck out of the commissions of Lieutenancy
and of the peace. f

In furtherance of the confederacy which had been ratified
with France, Denmark, and the United Provinces, against the
House of Austria, a ship of the line, and seven other armed
ships borrowed from merchants, were lent by the English
Government to the French, under pretence of investing Genoa,
then the bank of Spain. The country watched this process

* Rapin. -Parliamentary History. Rushworth. May. Ludlow's Let-
ters. Willis' Not. Parl.

t One of these requisitions formed part of the manuscript collection at
Stowe. It is addressed to Sir William Andrews of Lathbury m Buckingham-
shire, then a tenant of John Hampden's, and afterwards one of the Deputy
Lieutenants for that country under the Parliament, and requires a loan of
twenty pounds, ' for divers publique services, which, without manifold incon-
' veuieuces to us and our kingdomes, cannot be deferred.' It appears that for
these contributions, exacted with the utmost severity and injustice,
collectors were appointed, whose acquittance should be a sufficient
warrant for repayment in eighteen months. But it appears also (unless
Sir William Andrews's case were an exception), that these loans were never
repaid ; for his acquittance remains appended to the requisition.


with suspicion. And soon were its suspicions justified, when
its ships were seen joining in the siege of the Protestant town
of Rochelle.* In the mean while, the main fleet of England
was defeated in an ill-conducted enterprise against Cadiz, and
the allied squadron, employed in blockading Dunkirk, was
dispersed by a storm. AYhilst the impression of these disasters
was fresh, the King called another parliament, but not till
after he had endeavoured to render some of his prominent
opponents, Sir Edward Coke, Sir T. Wentworth, and others
ineligible, by suddenly appointing them sheriffs in their
several counties.

" In this Parliament, which met at "Westminster on the 6th
of February, Hampden was again returned for \\endover;
anH, oh the 28th of March, we find him named on various
committees. No time was lost in renewing the consideration
of grievances, and again a resolution of supply was passed, on
the condition of speedy and effectual redress. t In vain did
the King use every means of personal remonstrance and inti-
midation to deter the members from proceeding to arraign the
Duke of Buckingham. It was not without reason that they
pointed to the Duke as to the high delinquent whose credit at
court stood between the King and his Parliament. Nor had
the Duke on his part less cause to feel that his objects, not
only of ambition, but of safety also, demanded an entire
surrender by the House of Commons of all its inquisitorial
power. This he endeavoured to effect by the utmost contu-
macy to the House and to its privileges, in the person of
Serjeant (jlanville, who had been appointed to draw up the
,'irlirics of charge against him, and whom lie openly insulted
in his place. : To bring this struggle to an issue, the

* Admiral Pennington, who commanded this squadron, with true
English feeling remonstrated. His was a hard position. He commanded
the ship and led the fleet of his sovereign. But he had been sent forth,
amid the acclamations of his country, to give effect to a generous treaty
with the oppressed and the besieged. He had no sooner arrived at his
destination, than he found himself under secret orders to put himself at the
disposal of a foreign command, in a murderous warfare against English
honour and the Protestant religion. A copy of his high-minded protest,
and the original orders from Buckingham and from Charles himself, still
remain among Lord St. Germain's papers. They were probably sent to
Sir John Eliot by Penuington as his vindication before the Parliament of
his offended country. (See Appendix A.)

t Commons Journals. Rushworth. May. Ludlow's Letters.

J EllLs's Original Letters.


Commons, on the 8th of May, impeached the Duke, at the
bar of the Lords/ of high crimes and misdemeanours; and,
having first prayed that he be removed from the royal pre-
sence, pending impeachment, proceeded to support their
prayer by a spirited remonstrance : when the King, alarmed
at their increasing boldness, hastily dissolved them by com-
mission, June 15th, in little more than four months from
their first meeting, and again before any one of their acts was

In the early part of the proceedings against the Duke, Sir
Dudley Digges, and Sir John Eliot (of whose incorruptible
patriotism and steady friendship for Hampden we shall here-
after have occasion to make mention), having delivered some
sharp speeches in favour of the impeachment, were called out
of the House by a message to attend his Majesty, and were
then forthwith taken into custody and conveyed by water to
the Tower under a charge of treason.* It is doubtful whether
the immediate cause of this monstrous outrage is to be referred
to their having supported the impeachment (as stated by
Rushworth), or to some phrases of very small importance
charged against them in the original informations which are
preserved in the manuscript library at Lambeth Palace. But,
notice of the proceeding having been given to the House,
there was an instant and tumultuous cry to adjourn. In vain
did Pvm endeavour to restore temper and moderation. The
Housebroke up in confusion and did not sit next day. Some
days after, the subject was renewed in both houses, in the
shape of a motion for an address of remonstrance ; and the
Commons protesting that the words charged against their
members had not been used, Charles made a speech to the
Lords, in which he declared that, touching the matters against
the Duke of Buckingham, ' he could himself be a witness to
clear him in every one of them : " thus endeavouring to force
the Lords into a dilemma ; either to acquit Buckingham, or to
convict against the King's proffered evidence. A new proof
was now given of the headstrong obstinacy of the King, and
of his determination at all hazards to support his favourite.
The Chancellorship of the University of Cambridge having
fallen vacant, the King, by message, through Bishop Laud and
Bishop Neile, desired the convocation to elect the Duke.

* Parl. Hist. Willis' Not. Parl. Commons Journals. Rushwortb.


Every entreaty to postpone the election, at least until after the
event of the impeachment should be known, was resisted.
1 My Lord Bishop/ says Mr. Mead, in a letter describing that
election, ' labours. Mr. Madon (my Lord Duke's secretary)
' labours for lu's Lord. Mr. Cosins for the most true patron
' of the clergy and of scholars. Masters belabour their fellows.
' Dr. Maw sends for his, one b) one, to persuade them, some
1 twice over. . . . Divers in town got hackneys, and fled, to
' avoid importunity. Many, some whole colleges, were
' gotten, by their fearful masters, the bishop, and others, to
' suspend, who otherwise were resolved against the Duke, and
' kept awaye with much indignation/ * In the end he was
elected by a majority of three votes, over Lord Andover
(afterwards Berkshire), who had been hastily set up to contest
it with him. The exasperation produced in Parliament by
this proceeding was rendered still more violent by a formal
letter of approbation addressed, under the royal signet, to the
university, ' for that, upon our pleasure intimated unto you
' by the Bishop of Durham, for the choice of your chancellor,
' you have, with such a duty as We expected, highly satisfied
' Us in your election/f &c. To complete this desperate
measure of irritation, when the House of Commons, after a
stormy debate, sent to crave audience of his Majesty, ' about
' serious business concerning all the Commons of the land/
the King returned for answer that they should hear from him
on the next day; and, on the next day they were indeed
summoned, not for audience, but for dissolution.

During the last week of this parliament, besides the seizure
of Digges and Eliot, other arrests had taken place, and com-
mitments per ipsum Regem. Among the persons Mho were
committed to close custody was Sir Thomas Wentworth a
' man ever remarkable for his large share in the toils, the fame,
and the sufferings, of the troubled times through which he
lived ; but far more renowned for his zeal, ability, and
courage, when enlisted in the battle against liberty, than while
those qualities were employed in her defence ; and, lastly and
most, for the way in which he met his fate at the hands of the
party among which his name now stood prominent and high.
Sir Thomas Darnall, Sir John Corbett, Sir Walter Earl, Sir
John Heveringham, and Sir Edward Hampden, having been

* Ellis's Original Letters. t Id. Appendix III.


brought by writ of Habeas Corpus into the Court of King's
Bench, took exceptions by counsel to the return, as not
declaring the cause of commitment, and prayed to be discharged.
But the Court ' maintaining/ says AVhitelocke, ' in opposition to
' Magna Charta and six statutes, the validity of the return/
they were remanded to prison.

The selection of certain eminent persons at the close of each
Parliament, to expiate to the Court their opposition to its
measures, had been a course adopted, though with doubtful
success, three times before. Now, for the first time, John
Hampden was considered to be of sufficient public importance
to be ranked among its victims. "When the King, in pursuance
of his threat to resort to new modes of raising supplies,
required a general loan equal to the last assessment for a
subsidy (in the raising of which it was announced that
.persuasion, if ineffectual, was to be only the forerunner of
force), Hampden resolutely refused his part; and on being
asked why he would not contribute to the King's necessities,
made this bold and remarkable reply.* ' That he could be
1 content to lend, as well as others, but feared to draw upon
' himself that curse in Magna Charta which should be read
' twice a year against those who infringe it/ The privy
council, not being satisfied with his own recognisance to
appear at the board, although answerable with a landed
property nearly the largest possessed by any commoner in
England, committed him to a close and rigorous imprisonment
in the Gate-house. Being again brought before the council,
and persisting in his first refusal, he was sent in custody,
although a mitigated one, into Hampshire.

The war, winch about this time was suddenly declared
against France, is one of those great public events for which
history, in recording them, fails to assign any sufficient cause
or motive. By it this country, which for nearly twenty years
had been engaged in an active struggle with the great
Catholic power of Europe, a war justified only by the objects of
the Protestant league, at the very crisis of failure and distress
broke up that league ; and not for the purpose of peace, which
she so much needed, but, remaining at war with the one great
state, simply to embroil herself ruinously, and as it would
seern without provocation, with the other. It is difficult to

* Rushworth. Whitelocke.


feel satisfied -with the ordinary solution of this question,
namely that this war arose from the resentment with which
Buckingham is said to have menaced the French Queen in
consequence of her repelling his presumptuous proposals of
love. And yet it is not very easy for one who would refer the
acts of men to their ordinary motives to assign any other. It
had been the unvarying policy of Henry IV. to balance Prance
and the Protestant North of Germany against the gigantic
force of Austria joined with Spain, as it was afterwards the
endeavour of Retz in the thirty years' war to restore that
connexion by treaty with Sweden. The reformation, out of
which all the great events of the preceding half century in
Germany, Spain, Prance, and Holland, may be said to have
arisen, had bound up Sweden and Denmark with the Protestant
league of Europe. So strangely had the previous dissensions
of the world, beginning in spiritual hate, yet tended to cement,
the political relations of states which differed in their religious

This rupture was not caused nor hastened by the French
King's persecution of his Protestant subjects : for in that
object, as we have seen, he was assisted by a fleet furnished by
Protestant England. Nor does it appear that France had
failed in her part of the engagement with the combined powers
against Spain. Richelieu was too crafty to furnish this
pretext for war. The motives of this double contest, so
manifestly destructive of what, through so many years and so
many disasters, had been held to be English policy, is a
problem with which no historian has fairly grappled, and
which Mr. Hume has entirely passed over ; apparently because
he found himself incapable of solving it in any way that
would not necessarily involve Charles in the heavy charge
which this act leaves upon the memory of Buckingham's

As the court proceeded, at home, with less reserve to violate
the law, it evinced more ingenuity in varying its modes. The
duties of tonnage and poundage (the revenue of the customs),
\\cn- raised l>y order of council. The son-ports and maritime
counties were required to furnish ships duly manned and
equipped, and benevolences were unsparingly exacted. Com-
missions were issued to the lieutenants of counties, on
pretence of an expected attempt at invasion, to muster and
array the people, and to put the country at discretion under


Martial Law-.* Soldiers were billeted on the houses of such
persons as had expressed opinions against the Court, and the
greatest disorders were countenanced among the troops. Those
proprietors in the maritime districts who, to escape these
excesses, had retired into the interior, were required to return
and reside on their estates. Nor was any class low enough to
avoid the sweeping hardships of this tyranny. Those of the
poorer sort, who exclaimed against the impositions, or had
rendered themselves obnoxious on private grounds to any of
the local authorities, were impressed for the navy, or sent to
join the army abroad. The people were taunted under these
oppressions by the preachings of the Court Divines. Bishop
"Williams, learned, and benevolent, but one of the worst of
politicians, had been driven by the jealousy and ingratitude
of Laud to abandon -in disgust the courtly game which he
had long played with great assiduity but without success.
He now begun to find himself classed among the marked
victims of persecution, but without reverence or even credit.
The venerable George Abbott, Archbishop of Canterbury, who,
alone among the" prelates since the death of Bishop Andrews,
endeavoured, though bred at Court and attached to the

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 11 of 45)