Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Streater, John

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STREATER or STREETER, JOHN (fl. 1650–1670), soldier and pamphleteer, was from 1650 to 1653 quartermaster-general of the foot in the army of the Commonwealth in Ireland, and was also employed as engineer in sieges and fortifications. In April 1653 he came over to England on leave just before Cromwell dissolved the Long parliament, and, disapproving of that act, circulated among the officers a pamphlet of his own consisting of ‘Ten Queries’ respecting the consequences of the change. For this he was arrested, tried by court-martial, and cashiered. Six weeks later he was again arrested for publishing a book called ‘The Grand Politic Informer,’ showing the danger of trusting the military forces of the nation to the control of a single person. The council of state committed him to the Gatehouse (11 Sept. 1653), and the Little parliament also made an order for his confinement (21 Nov. 1653). Streater obtained a writ of habeas corpus, and his case was heard on 23 Nov. 1653; he pleaded his cause extremely well, but was remanded to prison again. At last, on 11 Feb. 1654, Chief-justice Rolle and Judge Aske ordered his discharge (Clavis ad Aperiendum Carceris Ostia, or the High Point of the Writ of Habeas Corpus discussed, by T. V., 1653, 4to; Secret Reasons of State discovered … in John Streater's case, &c. 1659; Commons' Journals, vii. 353). After Streater's discharge the Protector made various attempts to arrest him, but Major-general Desborough stood his friend, and on engaging not to write any more against the government (18 Oct. 1654) he was allowed to keep his freedom (Rawlinson MSS. A xix. 309; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1654).

Streater now seems to have gone into business as a printer (ib. 1655–6 p. 289, 1656–7 p. 159, 1659–60 p. 596; Commons' Journals, vii. 878). In 1659, as a soldier who had suffered for the republic, he was once more employed. On 30 July the council of state voted him the command of the artillery train (ib. vii. 714; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659–60, p. 52). In October, when Lambert interrupted the sittings of the Long parliament, Streater was again one of the officers who took the side of the parliament, and signed an expostulatory letter to Fleetwood (Thurloe, vii. 771). After the restoration of the parliament he was given the command of the regiment of foot late Colonel Hewson's (13 Jan. 1660), was recommissioned by Monck, and was stationed by him at Coventry (Commons' Journals, vii. 810). To the situation of his regiment and to Monck's confidence in his fidelity Streater owed the very prominent part which he played in the suppression of Lambert's attempted rising (Baker, Chronicle, ed. 1670, pp. 702, 720). But in July 1660 the command of the regiment was given to Lord Bellasis, though Streater was continued as major until its disbanding in the autumn (Clarke MSS.)

Streater was arrested on suspicion about November 1661, but immediately discharged. About the same time he petitioned for 528l. due to him ‘for printing several things tending to the king's service at the Restoration’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1661–2, pp. 137, 151). In March 1663 he was again arrested, but released on signing an engagement to print nothing seditious and to inform against any one who did (ib. 1663–4, pp. 82, 86, cf. 1665–6, p. 409). Nevertheless he was again in trouble in 1670 for writing a seditious libel called ‘The Character of a true and a false Shepherd’ (ib. 1670, p. 332). Streater during the Dutch war made experiments in artillery, inventing a new kind of ‘fire-shot’ or granado (ib. 1667–8, p. 135; Rawlinson MS. A cxcv. 114).

Streater wrote, besides the ‘Ten Queries’ published in 1653:

  1. ‘The Grand Politic Informer,’ 1653.
  2. ‘A Glimpse of that Jewel precious, just, preserving Liberty,’ 1654, 4to.
  3. ‘Observations upon Aristotle's Politics,’ 1654.
  4. ‘Secret Reasons of State discovered,’ 1659, and probably,
  5. ‘The Continuation of the Session of Parliament justified, and the action of this army touching that affair defended,’ by J. S., 1659.

[Authorities mentioned in the article.]

C. H. F.