This Leveller Tract is part of a larger collection of Leveller Agreements of the People, Petitions, Remonstrances, and Declarations (1646-1659) which are some of the earliest attempts to draw up proto-constitutions to limit the power of government and defend the liberties of the people. They are available in an iFrame format or as individual pamphlets which can be viewed or downloaded separately.
T.213 [1649.09.21] (9.47) Anon., The Remonstrance of many Thousands of the Free-People of England (21 September, 1649).
Anon., The Remonstrance of many Thousands of the Free-People of England. Together with the Resolves of the Young-men and Apprentices of the City of London, in behalf of Themselves, and those called Levelers, For the Attainment of their just Requestes in their Petition of May 20. 1647. Also their petition of January 19. 1647. and of September 11. 1648. Together with the Agreement of the Free People of England May. 1. 1649. With Their Solemn Engagement for Redeeming, Setling, and Securing the Peoples Rational, and just Rights, and Liberties, against all Tyrants whatsoever, whether in Parliament, Army, or Councel of State.
London, Printed in the yeer, 1649.
21 September, 1649.
TT1, p. 770; Thomason E. 574. (15.)
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FOrasmuch as many Adresses have been made by us the Free People of England, to the Supream visible Authority of the Nation, and all have proved Barren and Fruitless, although by us Cordially and Really intended for the firm Setling and Establishment of the Peace, Liberties, and Freedoms of this Distracted and Distressed Nation: Yet notwithstanding all our good Meanings and Intentions (by the Usurped Tyranny of a Traytorous Party amongst them) have not only been mis-construed, but branded with Treasonous, Schismatical, Dangerous, and the like; and our dearest Friends the Promoters thereof, some of them killed, others robb’d, and the rest imprisoned in the Tower, by which means our Distractions are more and more encreased, and our Burdens become so insupportable, that dispairing of any other way of Redress, we are inforced and compelled to make use of that Means Nature teacheth us for our own preservation, and for the preservation of this oppressed Country and land of our Nativity; fully Resolving and Protesting against all those Tyrants and Usurpers now sitting at Westminster, or any their Acts, Ordinances, Decrees, Orders, or Votes; and Denying any the least Obedience to, or observance of the same, till all and every our former Petitions (with the Agreement of us Free People of England) be duely Considered, and fully Granted.
In the mean time we utterly deny the Payment of all Taxes, Assessements, Tythes, or being burdened with Free-Quarter; Resolving (God willing) to shake off that insupportable and Iron-yoak put about our necks by the Usurping Tyrants and Destroyers of the Laws, Liberties, and Freedoms of the People, whether Fairfax, Cromwel, Ireton, Hasterigge, Bradshaw, Harrison, or any of those now in Combination at Westminster, or of those calling themselves a Councel of State: For effectual doing of which;
WEE shall Resolve to run all hazzards in Protecting the Free-People [as much as in us lieth] from the force and violence of the Sword of their and our Enemies, and do our utmost to bring to speedy Justice all those that have already Murdered and Robbed our Friends, whether at Ware, Burford, London, Oxford, or else-where.
All that come unto us, shall [not only be freed from all Taxes, but] have his free Vote [after the Dissolution of this Corrupt Session] to Chuse and Elect a Representative in the Country, or Burrough wherein he liveth, for Setling the FREEDOMS and LIBERTIES of the People upon the permanent and sure foundation of a Popular Agreement.
That all Souldiers that shall Side with us in the just Attainment of those Ends before mentioned, shall have all and every part of their Debenters for past Service assured to them presently upon their Engagement.
Seeing divers Parliament-men, Committees, Sequestrators, Excize-men, and others, have enriched themselves these times of trouble; If any two honest men can testifie upon Oath what every such Parliament-man, Committee-man, Excize-man, or Sequestrator, &c. was worth in Personal Estate at the beginning of this Parliament, or how much he stood indebted at such time as this Parliament began, he shall enjoy only that Estate he then had, and no more: and if indebted, the Debts he hath paid since, [as well as the Estate he hath since got] shall be liable to make Satisfaction to all and every Free Commoner that hath been any wayes damnified either by KING or PARLIAMENT, since the beginning of these un-natural troubles.
That all and every Member of this pretended Parliament, [in case such Witnesses cannot be found] shall be put to his Oath, what Estate he at such time enjoyed.
That all the Lands, Goods, and Hereditaments of the late King, [in case a Free Parliament duely Elected, shall abolish the Kingly Office] shall satisfie the Publick Debts of the Kingdom; and if not enough, the rest to be made good, by way of equal Subsidies, till all the Publick Debts be fully defrayed, and all the Souldiery paid.
That every Free Commoner shall be put into a way, and inabled with Means for his Natural subsistance, and those that deny lawful Labour for their Livelyhood shall be forced therto, or punished as idle Vagrants, or lewd persons.
That after a Settlement according to the Popular Agreement, every man shall be Protected in his just Right of Life and Goods against all pretended and law-lesse Powers whatsoever.
That all Laws and Customs of this Realm shall be written in the plain English tongue, without any Abridgement or Abreviation whatsoever.
That all differences whatsoever, shall be tryed in every Respective County by 12 men of the Neighbor-hood, and that no Offender whatsoever shall be denied a Legal Tryal at the first Sessions after his Commitment; at ever such Tryal or Goal-delivery, to be Acquitted or Condemned, as his Crime shall be proved: And in case he be found Innocent, that those that Prosecured him wrongfully, shall make him satisfaction out of his, or her Estate; and if not able, to be imprisoned twice the time the innocent party was.
That no Monopoly whatsoever, or Restriction of Trade shall be tollerated or allowed, but a Free Trade restored all the Land over: and that all Monopolizers shall give Reparations to the Common-wealth, and the persons that have been damnified by them, or suffer imprisonment accordingly.
That no Officer whatsoever, Chosen or to be Chosen, Continue his Office above one yeer at most, and then a new one to be Chosen by the Generallity of the people; every one above the Age of twenty (except Servants, Beggars, or Criminaries) to have a free voice in the Election, and the major part to carry it by voices or signing of hands thereto.
In case this Common-wealth shall not, or cannot be at peace without one Head or King to Reign over them, that then Certificates shall be forthwith Printed, and sent into all Countries for approval thereof: that if we must have a King, the Crown of England may return to the right Owner: or if most appear against that Government; it may be Governed as Free Estates, and not otherwise: our Persons delivered and acquitted of imprisonment and the rage of cruel Goalers, and we become an absolute Free People, according to Solemn deep Engagements, Vows, and Promises formerly made unto us; and no more become a prey to mercinary bribing Lawyers, Cruel Goalers, that for lucre and gain, sell God, King, Truth, Law, Gospel, Justice, Mercy, Right, Lives, Estates, and Liberties; and expose us [Free People] to Beggary, Shame, Reproach, and Rapine of the Sword of our fellow Subjects, Tyrants, Traytors, and Usurpers: And that hereafter no Lawyer [being a Member of the House] shall be suffered to Plead as a Lawyer whilst he is a Member thereof.
That no man whatsoever be imprisoned for his Religion, but that every one may be obedient to the Moral and Civil Laws of the Land, every one living quietly and Brotherly one by another, notwithstanding difference in judgements or Religion, but by the Bands of Love all may be drawn to the right knowledge of the Truth, and no Compulsion or Persecution used otherwise to subvert or with-draw any man from his Religion or Faith.
Lastly, For the attainment of all these Ends before mentioned, we have drawn our Swords, and are Resolved not to put them up again, till we have obtained the things before specified; not doubting of the Aide and Assistance of all honest and well-meaning men.
And further we Declare, That what Damage any man shall have by joyning with us, either from the pretended Parliament, or their Apostatizing Army, we promise in the Name of Free Commoners to see made good out of the Estates of those that procure any such Damage.
This may serve as a Mirror for all Christian men to look into the Reallity of our Intentions and Resolutions which we have undertaken to free ourselves from Tyranny, Slavery, and Bondage; which we may the more easily facillitate, if we consider that we have the Hands, and the Strength of the Kingdom on our sides, that their power and force are likely to be diminished daily by Revolting from them; together with the power of the Prince being now successeful over them in Ireland, their perfidious joyning with Oneal that barbarous bloudy Rebel, [a profest Papist] their breach of all Oaths, Engagements, and Declarations with the King and Kingdom; their slinging by their Engagement with their Brethren the Scots: their erecting a Tyrannous Councel of State, far worse then the Star-Chamber, Councel-Board, or High-Commission; Burdening the several Counties with increase of Taxes, Sessments, Excise, Free-Quarter, and the like; the barbarous and inhuman imprisoning and shooting to death many Consciencious and godly people: all which we have taken into serious and deep Consideration, knowing that all our Lives are as deeply, and equally engaged, as those that so unjustly suffered; therefore we Protest [as in the presence of the All-seeing Eye] that we shall still go cheerfully forward [notwithstanding those many discouragements we have already received] and therein will Sacrifice all the Remainder of our Lives and Estates, as we have began, we will [by the blessing of God] recover our lately lost Liberties, earned at so dear a rate, as the precious Lives of so many of his dear Saints; revenge the bloud of our Brethren; and so long as we have breath, or strength, to do our utmost endeavors to bring all Tyrants or Traytors [notwithstanding any Priviledge to the Contrary] to exact Tryal, and shall for ever hereafter, as formerly, think it more honor to die like men, then live like slaves under any pretended Authority whatsoever.
And so help us God.
This is already Signed with 98064 hands, and more to be added daily; so soon as we can give notice hereof to our Afflicted Brethren in all the Counties of England and Wales.