[From Manx Soc vol 3 - part 1 Letter of James 7th Earl]


1.–The state of the rebellion in 1643–The King's character. 2. –The Earl of Stratford's trial–Imprisonment of the King's children. 3.–The rebels' mocking of the King, and of God himself, touched. 4.–A civil war always the worst, especially in Ireland. 5.–The Earl's; own sufferings. G.–Beloved by his neighbour s, of whose he raised 3,000 men for the King's service, who lend all their arms to the King, which they lose, as also the money allowed for these. 7.–The rebels in Lancashire, encouraged by the Parliament, fortify Manchester, and harass the disarmed loyalists; yet the Earl keeps the greatest part of the country honest, till sent by the Lancashire gentry to request aid of the Queen at York. 8.–In his absence the enemy subdue the whole county, Latham House and Sir John Girlington excepted and, Newcastle being defeated at Wakefield, no aid to be had The remains of his Lancashire force follow the Earl to York–Where he is informed of a design on the Isle of Man by some Scots; 9,–and advised to go thither; hit choose rather to assist in guarding the Queen to the lying at Oxfords. 10.–Till fresh letters coming that the islanders were ready to revolt, were all taking the covenant, had rescued some prisoners committed by the Governor, had invited strangers to come in, and that a guard-ship of the Earl's was taken by a Parliament squadron, he, with the Queen's leave, repairs thither. 11.–thereupon some, not knowing how things stood, think him a deserter, or at best but a neuter; both which he disclaims. 12.–What he here writes as to these matters is only to satisfy his son, 13,–whom he commends.

IT hath been the will of God that in the year 1643 (wherein a general plague of madness possessed the minds of most men in Christendom, of which the dominions of the King in Great Britain have most reason to be sensible) his subjects there, by so long a peace being unacquainted with the miserable effects of war, grew weary of their good condition, and stirred their hearts unto a rebellion against the most virtuous, pious, and clement prince that ever England had.

2. So, beginning in Parliament to show a thirsty desire of human blood, they first accused the Earl of Stratford; and, his Majesty giving Ray unto a fair trial against him, the people made bad use thereof. For, like wolves that, after their first tasting of man's blood, grow bold, and rather mad of more, so do they. But, worse than beasts, they make no difference of drinks. For they be now become ravenous of royal blood, and have showed the same in warring against their prince; taking some of his children prisoners, and seeking his life several times.

3. Yet worse, they mock him daily. For they say, It is for good unto him. But they mock God also. For they call Him unto witness daily of His own dishonour; pretending they fight His quarrel, for the Gospel, &c.

4. This hath caused a civil war, which, of all sorts, is most unhappy; but worst in :England and islands, than other countries. The reasons are plain. And what commotions were in Scotland! –what calamities in Ireland!–what continual groans in England (when we are dead), after ages will know best ! Meanwhile we English feel the worst that ever nation did. Nor can any story tell so foolish, so wicked, so lasting a war in England

5. All this I speak, because my share is great in this calamity. But I have suffered for God's sake, for the King, for my country, and my honour; so as I repent me not. And I expect the Lord will shortly say to the destroying angel, It is enough. fiinished.

6. I was happy, in the beginning of this war, to have the general applause of my neighbours, as one they would like to follow, as they did my ancestors before me. But, whether was more in their minds to continue a custom, or that they loved my name, or my person, I will not say; this I know, there were 3,000 good men of my raising went forth of Lancashire and other places of my lieutenancy; and my sorrow, to see the King in so bad a condition, did make me, and all well affected to a good cause, to spare no cost or hazard whatever to assist him in his so just a quarel. So as we lent the King all our arms; and he graciously gave his warrant that we might receive as many from Newcastle, for the defence of our countries. But some body was in fault, so that his Majesty's warrant was not obeyed, nor we secured by arms or ammunition. Also his Majesty did allow a sufficient sum of money, which some of his servants kept for other uses. I will not take occasion hereby to fall upon particulars. But this will be justified, that the King had good intents for us; that I have discharged a good conscience in all; and my honour is safe, in spite of the worst detractors.

7. God would punish us with a general judgment, and the best of us, in every one's particular, have deserved no less. Hereby those ill affected in Lancashire grew proud, and the baser sort thought it a fine thing to set against the great ones. But they have done so unto our King; wherefore I will less marvel. The Parliament encouraged and assisted them with money and ammunition, with which they fortified the town of Manchester. From which the ungodly rebels have sallied divers times on them who were naked, without arms, and could not resist them. While we expected help, they insulted. So as we were forced to many desperate services, wherein God did marvellously bless-us; and, unless He would please to work more miracles than He ever did since Christ, I hardly can imagine how the country could tee kept. Yet He showed to those rogues that all their strength could not so soon bring to pass their great ambition; but I, making head with those who durst take my part on so uneven terms, kept the greatest part of Lancashire in spite of them. And, knowing that the Queen was at York with great forces, a part of which might easily reduce our country and enable us to raise great forces for his Majesty, it was therefore desired by all the gentry that I would go to the Queen, representing their necessities, and the great good unto herself and those parts by helping us; which I did, leaving yet some considerable forces in Lancashire under the government of the Lord Mollineux and other of our side (with whom nevertheless is a large story of the great troubles I had with them, as well as with the enemy, before I could possibly return).

8. In my absence the enemy possessed themselves of the whole country, saving my house and Sir John Girlington's. The misfortune happening at that very time to my Lord Newcastle, at Wakefield, prevented the Queen's good purposes, who promised me part of those forces; so as the [Lancashire] troops yet remaining [took their] journey towards York, conceiving to have found me there; but, ill fortune, which seldom comes alone, made now the proverb true. That same time a report was got of some Scots, intending to assist the pretended Parliament of England, that they would land in the north, and, by the way, do their endeavour to get the Isle of Man; which doubtless had been a great inconvenience to his Majesty's affairs, for many reasons.

9. Hereupon I was advised to go immediately for the Isle of Man, to secure it for his Majesty's service, as well as in wisdom to preserve my own inheritance. But I gave no heed to that report, but continued my desire to wait upon the Queen in her journey to Oxford, where his Majesty then was.

10. Meanwhile I received letters from the Isle of Man, intimating the great danger [of a revolt] there; for that the people had begun the fashion of England in murmuring, and by some damned spirit had been taught the same lessons as I have known in London, to come in tumultuous manner, desiring new laws; a change of the old; that they would have no bishops; pay no tithes to the clergy. They despised authority, and rescued some committed by the Governor for such insolent behaviour, and the like. It was also feared that they had discovered themselves thus far, thereby to invite some strangers into the island. It was bruited also that a ship of war I then had for the defence of this isle was taken by Parliament ships; which proved true. All these considered, it behoved me to prevent the mischief betimes, both for his Majesty's service and mine own good. Her Majesty, and those with her, rightly weighed the danger; as witness my Lord Goring, Lord Digby, Lord Jermyn, Sir Edw. Deering, and many more; all who were of opinion that my coming hither was necessary; and accordingly I did.

11. Thus far have I digressed from my intended discourse, to take off that objection if I were asked, when every gallant spirit had engaged himself for King and country, why I left the land, so wicked as to desert the cause, so simple as to become a neuter ? and many such like questions; for all which I have here given some reason, which may easily content myself, who remember well all the forenamed circumstances.

12. How others may be pleased herewith, I know not; [but] rather think these short relations may more puzzle their minds, if any chance to see this but you, my son, who are bound to believe well of your father.

13. But I am bound to be thankful to the Almighty that so well you understand yourself and me. But, I thank God, I fear none who understands me) or understands me not.


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001