55. The King's Letter sent with the Commissions of Array to Leicestershire.

[June 12, 1642. Rushworth, iv. 657. See Hist. of Engl. x. 202.]

Charles R.

Right trusty and right well-beloved cousins, and right trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. Whereas it hath been declared by the votes of both Houses of Parliament the 15th day of March last, that the kingdom hath of late, and still is in so evident and imminent danger, both from enemies abroad and a Popish discontented party at home, that there is an urgent and inevitable necessity of putting our subjects into a posture of defence for the safeguard both of our person and people; and that sithence divers inhabitants of divers counties have addressed their petitions to that purpose: and whereas a small number of both Houses (after it had been rejected by the Lords in a full House, and without our royal assent, or the opinion of the Judges concerning the legality of it) have attempted by way of Ordinance, to put in execution the militia of the kingdom, and to dispossess many of our ancient nobility of the command and trust reposed in them by us, and have nominated divers others who have no interest, nor live near to some of the counties to which they are nominated for the Lieutenancy, whereby they cannot be properly serviceable to the counties wherewith they are entrusted, nor our people receive that content and security which wo desire they should. To submit to the execution of which power by the way of Ordinance, without it were reduced into a law by Act of Parliament established by our royal assent, were to reduce and expose our subjects to a mere arbitrary government, which by God's grace we shall never permit.

We, therefore, considering that by the laws of the realm it belongeth to us to order and govern the militia of the kingdom, have thereupon by our Proclamation of the 27th of May last, prohibited all manner of persons whatsoever upon their allegiance to muster, levy or summon upon any warrant, order or ordinance from one or both Houses of Parliament, whereunto we have not, or shall not give our express consent to any of the trained bands, or other officers without express warrant under our hands, or warrant from our Sheriff of the county, grounded upon a particular writ to that purpose under our Great Seal; and considering that in ancient time the militia of the kingdom was ever disposed of by the Commissions of Array, and that by a particular statute upon record in the Tower, made in the fifth year of Henry the Fourth,[1] by full consent of the Prelates, Earls, Barons and Commons, and at their suit, and by the advice and opinion of the Judges then had, such Commissions were mitigated in respect of some clauses perilous to the Commissioners, and approved of for the time to come. And by the subsequent records it appeareth that all our royal predecessors have continually exercised that power by such Commissions, till of late time they have been discontinued by the grants of particular Commissions of Lieutenancy, little differing in substance from the said Commissions of Array, against which the Houses it seems have taken some exception; and though we are no way satisfied of the illegality of them, our counsel being never heard in the defence thereof, yet being willing to avoid all exceptions at present, we have thought fit to refer it to that ancient legal way of disposing the power of the militia by Commissions of Array for defence of us, our kingdom and our county; authorizing you, or any three or more of you, to array and train our people, and to apportion and assess such persons as have estates and are not able to bear arms, to find arms for other men in a reasonable and moderate proportion; and to conduct them so arrayed, as well to the coasts as to other places, for the opposition and destruction of our enemies in case of danger, as to your discretions, or any three or more of you, shall seem meet, whereof you Henry Earl of Huntingdon, and in your absence William Earl of Devonshire, or Henry Hastings, Esq., to be one; and being both confident in a great measure both of the loyal affections of our people, and very tender to bring any unnecessary burden or charge on them by augmenting the number of the trained bands, we do for the present only require that you do forthwith cause to be mustered and trained all the ancient trained bands and freehold bands of the county, carefully seeing that they be supplied with able and sufficient persons, and completely armed; unless you find that there be just cause, and that it shall be with the good liking of the inhabitants for their own better security, to make any increase of their number; and over such bands to appoint and set such colonels, captains and officers as you shall think most fit for the discharge of that service, being such persons as have considerable interest in the county, and not strangers; and in case of any opposition, you are to raise the power of the county to suppress it, and to commit all such persons as are found rebellious herein into the custody of our Sheriff, whose care and assistance we especially require: and that he shall from time to time issue forth such warrants for the assembling of our people at such times and places as by you shall be agreed on, according to the trust reposed in him by our said Commission: and we have authorized you our Commissioners, or any three of you after such array made, from time to time to train and take musters of our said bands, and to provide beacons and other necessaries, for the better exercising of our people, and discovery of sudden invasions and commotions. Of all which your proceedings herein we expect a plenary and speedy account, according to the trust reposed in you, and authority given you by our Commission ou that behalf.

Given at our Court at York the 12th day of June, in the 18th year of our reign, 1642.

[1] Rolls of Parliament, iii. 526.

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