5. The King's Letter and Instructions for the collection of a Free Gift.

[July 7, 1626. S. P. Dom. xxxi. 30, 31. See Hist. of Engl. vi. 125.]

Trusty and well beloved we greet you well. It is not unknown unto you that in February last our high Court of Parliament was by us summoned and assembled to treat of the great and weighty affairs concerning the Church of England and the true religion therein established, and the defence and safety of the Kingdom; and that they there continued together until the 15th of June last, within which time many things of good moment ... were propounded and began to be handled; and amongst other things, our Commons here assembled ... not for our own private use, but for the common safety of us and our people, did, with one unanimous consent, agree[1] to give unto us a supply of four entire subsidies and three fifteens, and did, by order of that House, set down the days and times for payment of the same; which their loving and free offer unto as we did graciously accept and rely upon, and dispose of our affairs accordingly, and afterwards with much patience, even beyond the pressing necessity of our public affairs, continually did expect the real performance thereof; and we are assured the same had been performed accordingly, had not the disordered passion of some members of that House, contrary to the good inclination of the graver and wiser sort of them, so far misled themselves and others, that they neither did nor would intend that which concerned the public defence of the Kingdom, for which they were specially called; wherefore, when no gracious admonitions could stay them (though much against our heart) we have dissolved that Parliament.

And the Parliament being now ended and yet the necessity of a supply of money lying still upon us ... and pressing us, without which the common safety of us and our people cannot be defended and maintained, but is in eminent and apparent danger to be assailed and swallowed up by a vigilant and powerful enemy, we have been enforced to cast all the ways and means which honourably and justly we might take for supply of these important affairs; and many several courses have been propounded and offered unto us: and although no ordinary rules can prescribe a law to necessity, and the common defence and safety and even the very subsistence of the whole might justly warrant us, if out of our royal prerogative and power we should take any way more extraordinary, or less indifferent to any part thereof, yet we desiring nothing more (next to the love and favour of Almighty God, by whose gracious assistance we desire to govern ourselves and all our actions) than the love of our people, which we esteem as our greatest riches, we have made choice of that way which may be most equal and acceptable to them. And therefore we do desire all our loving subjects, in a case of this unavoidable necessity, to be a law unto themselves and lovingly, freely, and voluntarily to perform that which by law, if it had passed formally by an act, as was intended, they had been compellable unto; and so in a timely way to provide not only for our but for their own defence, and for the common safety of all our friends and allies, and of our lives and honour; the performance of which our request will not only give us an ample testimony of the dutiful and good affections of our people in general, but will give us just encouragement the more speedily to meet in Parliament.

We therefore desire you forthwith to meet together and to take such order as may best advance our service, and in our name to desire and exhort our people according to such instructions as herewith we send unto you, that they would not fail freely to give unto us a full supply answerable to the necessity of our present occasions. And these our Letters, &c.

Instructions to the Justices of Peace in the several Counties.

1. That speedily upon receipt of these Letters you assemble together at some place convenient, and take them and the matter thereby commended unto you, into your due considerations.

2. That when ye are thus assembled, ye call to mind the resolution in the Parliament lately dissolved, to have given us four subsidies, and three fifteens, and that the several days of payment were ordered for the same; and therefore the sum of money to have been raised thereby was in the judgment of the Parliament but competent and the times of payment convenient for the present and pressing occasions, and we are confident that the same considerations will prevail with our people.

3. That you let them know how much it will avail to our affairs and to the affairs of our friends and allies, to assail our enemies on their own coasts; and that we have begun a preparation to that end but want monies to perfect the same. And that whilst we are in these consultations, we are advertised from all parts, of powerful preparations made to assail us at home, or in Ireland, or both.

4. That you put them in mind that nothing invites an enemy more to invasion than an opinion that that part intended to be invaded is either secure, or distracted, and so unprovided for a resistance.

5. That therefore you, the Deputy Lieutenants, give present direction to have all the troops and bands of the county completed, mustered, trained, and so well furnished that they may be prepared to march unto the rendezvous at an hour's warning upon pain of death.

6. That ye conclude upon a constant way of propounding and pursuing this our supply in your several divisions, to the inhabitants of all the whole county.

7. That when you have first settled this work among yourselves, ye agree how to divide yourselves throughout the whole county into so many parts and divisions as ye in your judgments shall think fittest....

8. [Collectors to be nominated by the justices.]

9. That ye assure them in our name and in our royal word, which we will not break with our people, that we will wholly employ all the monies which shall thus be given unto us, to the common defence of the kingdom and not to or for any other end whatsoever.

10. That together with the monies ye collect, ye send a perfect roll of the names of all those who do thus contribute, and of them who shall refuse, if any such be, that we may be thereby informed who are well affected to our service, and who are otherwise, and what monies are given unto us ...

11. And lastly that all this be instantly performed, for that all delays will defeat and overthrow our greatest counsels and affairs.

[1] The agreement was merely by resolution. No till having been founded on it, it had no legal force.

Contents | Home | Constitution Society