The Humble Petition of Several Colonels (18 October, 1654): Thomas Saunders, The Humble Petition of Several Colonels.


Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.


Editor’s Introduction

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Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.242 [1654.10.18] Thomas Saunders, The Humble Petition of Several Colonels (18 October, 1654).

Full title

Thomas Saunders, John Okey, Matthew Alured, To His Highness the Lord Protector, etc. and our General. The Humble Petition of Several Colonels of the Army.

Estimated date of publication

18 October, 1654.

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT2, p. 85; 669.f.19 (21.)



Text of Pamphlet

To his Highness the LORD PROTECTOR, &c. and our GENERAL.

The humble Petition of several Colonels of the Army,


See the Decl. of June 14. 1647.THat as Members of the Army we have solemnly declared (not without Appeals to God for our sincerity therein) that we did engage in judgment and conscience for the just Rights and Liberties of our Country, and not as a Mercenary Army: Yet our high estimation, and tender regard of, and great confidence in your Highness, who hath engaged with us in the same Quarrel, hath made us attend in silence your Councels and Determinations to the utmost extremity.

But finding you to have been of late upon transactions of highest moment, whereupon the life or death of a good cause, and the Publike Interest of the Commonwealth doth depend; and that the price of our blood is brought to the utmost Crisis of danger, we hold our selves obliged in conscience and duty, to God, our Country, and your self, to testifie to your Highness the integrity of our hearts, in adhering to that old cause mentioned in our Publike Declarations and Engagements to the Parliament and People; and humbly to minde your Highness of the Tyranny against which we engaged, and of the Fundamental Rights and Freedomes we intended to redeem out of the Tyrants hands, with the price of our blood: And in this, we shall confine our selves to that, whereunto the whole Army by their General Councel agreed, not only before, but also after that high exemplary Justice done upon the late King for his Tyranny and Oppression.

See the Remanstrance from S. Albons, Novem. 16. 1648. p. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.And in order to bring him to Justice, we then declared his Tyranny to consist in his opposition of the Supreme Trust of Parliaments, concerning the Peoples safety in their absolute command of the Militia, when they judged it necessary, and of their purses to raise moneys, and of their Power to call all Officers of Justice, and Ministers of State to accompt, he pretending that none of these Powers might be exercised without him; and that the Peoples chosen Trustees in Parliament, could not provide for the peoples safety and welfare, but at, and according to his pleasure; and that whatsoever he did either with the Militia which he challenged, or whatsoever mischiefs against the people, neither Parliaments, or any Power on earth could call to an accompt, attach, or meddle with his Sacred Person.

P. 14, 19.And we then also declared, that the Publike Interest of Right and Freedome originally contended for by us, were constant successive Parliaments, to be freely and equally chosen by the People, as their Representors for all matters of Supreme Trust and concernment, both for safety and welfare; and that those Parliaments should have the Supreme Power and Trust in all civil things whatsoever, in making Laws, Constitutions, and Offices, and removing of any publike grievances, and in giving final judgment concerning War or Peace, and the whole safety and welfare of the People.

See p. 2.And that nothing should be imposed upon, or taken from the People, but by their Parliaments: and if any attempts be made otherwise, that the People should not he bound thereby but free.

And that no person whatsoever should be exempt from attempt unto, or punishment by the Peoples Parliaments.

That principle of the Kings unaccomptableness being the grand root of Tyranny, and declared by us, to be begotten by the blasphemom arrogancy of Tyrants, upon their servile Parasites.

Now our Consciences bearing us witness, that we have dipt our hands in blood in this cause, and that the blood of many thousands hath been therein shed by our means, we tremble and fear before the Lord, in the sence of that accompt we must render for all that precious blood, if we should by silence give away the freedome purchased for our Country at so dear a rate, or be instruments to subject the people unto the same, or the like kinde of thraldome, from which God hath delivered then by so many signal providences, (little less then Miracles.)

We having therefore seriously and sadly considered the present great transactions, and the Government, in the settlement whereof our assistance is required, and are pressed in our Consciences to declare to your Highness in all humbleness and soberness of minde, that we sadly resent the dangerous consequences of establishing that Supreme Trust of the Militia at least for the space of two years and an half of every three years in a single Person, and a Councel of his own, whom he may controul by a Negative voice at his pleasure.

And also that during the Session of Parliaments the single Persons interest therein shall be paramount to the interest of Parliaments, and this Power to be over such a Militia, as the late King durst not claim; that is to say, A standing Army, which may in a short tract of time, by the policy of any Single Person that shall succeed, be made wholly Mercenary, and be made use of to destroy at his pleasure the being of Parliaments, and render all the blood and treasure expended in this cause, not only fruitless, but us and our Posterities under an absolute Tyranny and Vassallage, both in our consciences, persons, and estates, the danger being beyond comparison higher (if any such single person be corrupt) then it could have been to have allowed the late Kings Claim to that Ancient Militia, which was, to command the Country to Array, the Arms being in the Countryes own custody, and themselves, or men of their own chusing to bear them, who had no particular interest to oblige them to obey any of the Kings illegal commands against themselves and their Country; whereas a standing Army under a single person, which in time cannot rationally be supposed to be otherwise then Mercenary, will have an interest of subsistance and preferment, in opposition to the Commonwealths Interest, to oblige them to his commands.

And many late examples have evidenced to the whole world, That such a commander of the Militia, will at his pleasure be Master of all Parliaments, Freedomes, and resolutions, and of all our Birth-Rights now purchased by our blood, especially considering, that according to that which is imposed upon the present Parliament, no Parliaments shall ever dare to propose any thing against a single persons Command of the Militia, if he should refuse, during their Session, to dispose the same as they shall advise:

So that whatsoever provisions are seemingly made, either for just liberty of conscience, or for securing the property of our persons, or estates, they are all made void secretly in this, and subjected only to the mercy and will of any succeeding single person, whose heart may be corrupted with ambition, covetousness, lust, pride, or desire of Domination.

And upon the same accompt we are sensible, that the next greatest Part of the Publike Interest engaged for, which is the Legislative Power in Parliaments to make or repeal Lawes, constitute Offices, and to make War or Peace, even this shall depend upon the will and pleasure of the single person: for he still not only have a challenge of a share in the Legislative Power, but an absolute Negative Voice to all Bills containing any thing in them contrary to the matters contained in the Government; under which pretence, a corrupted single Person may, under a colour of Right, prevent any Bill passing into a Law, by averring,See the Government, Article 24. that somthing therein is contraryto the Government: But if any Bill whatsoever pass into a Law, without the single Persons consent, it must be by the Parliaments Declaration against him, that he is obstinate, and will not consent to the Bill, though he cannot satisfie them why he should not; and how probable it is, that the Parliament shall dare to declare in such manner against him that hath the Command of thirty thousand men obliged to him for their pay and preferment, we conceive every considerate man may judg: And besides, how dangerous a clog this will be upon the Power of Parliaments, when no Law can be made without the single Persons consent, without hazard of a War, by so declaring against him, as must render him odious to the people, which is not to be supposed will be born by him.

And how little less this is in effect then an absolute Negative Voice, (the opposing whereof in the late King, cost so much blood) is not hard to judg.

And if the single Person should attempt the highest Tyranny upon the People, such is the Power vested in him, and in such a manner, that the Parliament cannot execute Justice upon him according to his Demerits, unless it shall be supposed, that contrary to nature, he shall assent to have Justice done upon himself; for the Parliament cannot by the Government make a Law to take away the Command of the Militia from the single Person without his own consent, and how then can they proceed to higher Acts of Justice against him, if cause be? But indeed the Power vested in him, renders him able to protect himself from Justice, as the late King might have done,See the Remonstrance of Novemb. 1648. From S. Albons. (speaking as men) if he had been guarded by a standing Army, payed, and preferred by him, and the honest People, without any formed Forces or Arms, as now. And this, we conceive, to be of perpetual prejudice to the Publike Interest, for which we engaged. For the power of punishment, and the subjection of every person unto Justice, is that essential part of Publike Interest, which is the Fence and Guard of all the rest in the depraved estate of mankinde.

See the Government, Article 27.And in regard of our former asserting that Ancient Freedome of our Country that no moneys should be levied upon them, but by Parliaments: We sadly apprehend the evil consequences that may ensue upon the Power of the said Protector, and his Councel, to levy upon the people so much moneys, as will maintain a Fleet and an Army of 30000. men, and 200000 l. per annum over and above, that the way of levying the same must not be altered, but by the consent of the succeeding Protectors.

Now having in our deepest thoughts conscientiously weighed the Premises, calling to minde our former Declarations to the People, with our Protestations and Appeals to God in our streights, That we did in the integrity of our hearts, seek only the security of the Publike Interest of Right and Freedome, and not the advancement of our selves, or any particular party or interest; and considering, that we have born up the Name of God in our Undertakings, and have done all in his Name; and finding in our apprehensions the Publike Interest of Right and Freedome so far from security, that the first Foundations thereof are unsetled, and the Gates are open, that may lead us into endless troubles and hazards, the Government not being clearly setled, either upon the bottom of the Peoples Consent, Trust, or Contract, nor a Right of Conquest, the honest People of England not being conquered, nor upon an immediate divine designation; and our ears being filled daily with taunts, reproaches, and scandals, upon the profession of honesty, under colour that we have pretended the Freedomes of our Country, and made large professions against seeking our private interests, while we intented only to set up our selves.

These things thus meeting together, do fill our hearts with trouble and sadness, and make us cautious of taking upon our selves rashly any new Engagements, although none shall more faithfully serve your Highness in all just designs then your Petitioners: And we are hereby enforced to make this humble Address, and to pray your Highness most serious thoughts of that high price of blood and treasure which the Commonwealth hath paid for it’s Right and Freedom, which was naturally and morally due unto it before, and of the accompt that must be given to the dreadful God for all the blood we have shed; and that we can be deemed no better then Murderers, if the integrity of our hearts in the prosecution of the just ends of the War, do not render us justifiable therein: and to the intent, that the whole Publike Interest contended for, may be certainly secured to the People, and our Consciences discharged in that great duty: That a full and truly free Parliament may without any imposition upon their Judgments and Consciences, freely consider of those Fundamental Rights and Freedomes of the Commonwealth, that were the first Subject of this great Contest, which God hath decided on our side, according as the same have been proposed to the late Parliament by the General Councel of the Army, in the Agreement of the People, which remains there upon Record: That by the assistance and direction of God they may settle the Government of the Commonwealth, and the wayes of Administration of Justice, and secure our dearly-bought freedome of our Consciences, persons, and estates, against all future attempts of tyranny; and such a settlement will stand upon a Basis undoubtedly just by the Laws of God and man; and therefore more likely to continue to us and our Posterities: And in your Highness prosecution of these great ends of the expence of all the blood and treasure in these three Nations, your Petitioners shall freely hazard their lives and estates in your just defence.

And shall ever pray, &c.

Thomas Saunders.

John Okfy.         

Matthew Allured.

This Petition was subscribed and owned by these three, and had been by many more Colonels of the Army, if the Lord Protector had not upon search of Col. Allureds Chamber taken it away, and imprisoned him for two daies, whereby any further Subscriptions were prevented.