Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/492

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

A HISTORY OF SURREY fines and sequestrations. The petition refers to one of a similar purport from Blechingley. A strong feeling was excited against the continuance of the state of things which made an army a necessity. In May, 1648, there were wars and rumours of wars all over the country. South Wales had risen against the army under old Parliamen- tary officers. Kent was all but in arms. There were riots everywhere. A Scotch army was coming some day to aid the new Royalist party. London and the remains of the House of Lords were evidently anxious for a speedy arrangement with the king. The House of Commons was itself not very steady, and any reverse to the army might cause a Presby- terian majority to appear in it ready for a compromise by which the sects would be thrown over. In this state of things on May 8, 1648, there was a meeting of the inhabitants of Surrey at Dorking to prepare a petition to the Parliament. Having drawn up, printed and circulated a petition, they met on Putney Heath on May 16, several hundreds strong, gentlemen, yeomen, and of course a disorderly tail of idle fol- lowers, preparatory to marching in procession to Westminster. The petition ran briefly as follows : ' That the King may be re- stored to his due Honour and just Rights, according to the oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, and that he may be forthwith established in his Throne according to the Splendour of his Ancestors. ' That he may presently come to Westminster with Honour and Safety, to treat personally for composing of Differences. ' That the free-born Subjects of England may be governed by the known Laws and Statutes. 1 That the War beginning may be prevented. ' That the Ordinance for preventing Free Quarter may be duly executed, and speed made in disbanding all Armies, having their Arrears due paid to them.' l The petition was presented to both Houses. The Lords answered that they were considering the settlement of the kingdom and doubted not but to satisfy all. The House of Lords was unduly sanguine of suc- cess in an impossible task. The Commons were in no hurry to acknow- ledge the petition at all. The method of the presentation was not calculated to make matters easier, and a catastrophe ensued when the Surrey men were waiting for the answer of the Commons. The peti- tioners, several hundreds strong, had come by permission of the corpora- tion across London Bridge in procession through the City. Their hats were dressed with green and white ribands ; they had trumpets, pipes and fiddles playing, and shouted ' God and King Charles,' ' Hey for King Charles.' Such an assembly was not likely to lack accessions of idle and mischievous persons as it passed through the City and down the Strand. As they reached Charing Cross a shower began to fall, and many of the company sought shelter in the alehouses. They had prob- ably not done the day's journey from Putney without refreshment already, and Whitelocke describes them delicately as ' being gotten 1 Whitelocke's Memorials give the summary. 414