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T.324 [1649.05.05] Elizabeth Lilburne (or Chidley?), The Humble Petition of Divers Well-Affected Women (5 May, 1649)
[Elizabeth Lilburne/Chidley], To the Supreme Authority of England. The Commons Assembled in Parliament. The humble Petition of Diverse Wel-Affected Weomen, of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamlets and places adjacent. Affecters and Approvers of the Petition of Sept. 11 1648.
5 May, 1649
TT1, p. 741 ; 669 f. 14. (27.)
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THat since we are assured of our Creation in the image of God, and of an interest in Christ, equall unto men, as also of a proportionable share in the freedoms of this Common wealth, we cannot but wonder and grieve that we should appear so despicable in your eyes, as to be thought unworthy to Petition, or represent our Grievances to this Honourable House.
Have we not an equal interest with the men of this Nation, in those liberties and securities contained in the Petition of Right, and other the good Lawes of the Land? are any of our lives, limbs, liberties, or goods to be taken from us more then from Men, but by due processe of Law, and conviction of twelve sworn men of the Neighbourhood?
And can you imagine us to be sottish or stupid, as not to perceive, or not to be sencible when daily those strong defences of our Peace and wellfare are broken down, and trod under-foot by force and arbitrary power.
Would you have us keep at home in our houses, when men of such faithfulnes and integrity as the FOUR PRISONERS our freinds in the Tower, are setcht out of their beds, and forced out of their houses by Souldiers, to the affrighting and undoing of themselves, their wives, children, and families? Are not our husbands, or selves, our children and families by the same rule, as lyable to the like unjust cruelties as they?
Shall such men as Capt. Bray be made close prisoners, and such as Mr. Sawyer snatcht up and carryed away, beaten and buffetted at the pleasure of some Officers of the Army; and such as Mr. Blanck kept close Prisoner, and after most barbarous usage be forced to run the Gantlop, and be most slave-like and cruelly whipt; and must we keep at home in our houses, as if we, our lives and liberties and all, were not concerned.
Nay shall such valiant religious men as Mr. Robert Lockeyer be lyable to Law Martiall, and be judged by his Adversaries, and most unhumanly shot to death? Shall the blood of War be shed in time of Peace? Doth not the word of God expresly condemn it? Doth not the Petition of Righ declare, That no-person ought to be judged by Law Martiall (except in time of War) and that all Commissions given to execute Martiall Law in time of Peace, are contrary to the Lawes and Statutes of the Land? Doth not Sir Edw. Cooke in his chapter of Murder, in the third part of his Institutes, hold it for good Law (and since acknowledged by this Parliament) That for a Generall, or other Officers of an Army in time of Peace, to put any man (although a Souldier) to death by colour of Martial Law, it is absolute murther in that Generall? And hath it not by this House in the case of the late Earl of Strafford been adjudged high Treason? And are we Christians, and shall we sit still and keep at home, while such men as have born continuall testimony against the unjustice of all times, and unrighteousnes of men be pickt out and be delivered up to the slaughter, and yet must we shew no sence of their sufferings, no tendernes or affections, no bowels or companion, nor bear any testimony against so abominable cruelty and injustice?
Have such men at these continually hazarded their lives, spent their estates and time, lost their liberties, been as a Guard by day, and as a Watch by night; and when for this they are in trouble and greatest danger, persecuted and hated even to the death; and should we be so basely ungratefull, as to neglect them in the day of their affiction? No, far be it from us: Let it be accounted folly, presumption, madnes, or whatsoever in us, whilst we have life and breath, we will never leave them, nor forsake them, nor ever cease to importune you (having yet so much hopes of you, as of the unjust Judge mentioned Luke 18. to obtain Justice, if not for Justice sake, yet for Importunity,) or to use any other means for the enlargment and reparation of those of them that are left alive; and for justice against such as have been the cause of Mr. Lockiers death: Nor will we ever rest until we have prevailed, that We, our husbands Friends, and Servants, may not be liable to be abused, violated, and butchered at mens Wills and pleasures. But if nothing will satisfy but the bloud of those just men, those constant undanted Asserters of the Peoples freedoms will satisfy your thirst, drink also, and be glutted with our bloud, and let us all fall together: Take the blood of one more, and take all: slay one, slay all.
And therefore again, we entreate you to review our last Petition in behalf of our friends above mentioned, and not to slight the things therein contained, because they are presented unto you by the weake hand of Weomen, it being an usuall thing with God, by weak meanes to work mighty effects: For we are no whit satisfied with the answer you gave unto our Husbands and Friends, but do equally remaine lyable to those snares laid in your Declaration, which maketh the Abetters, of the Book laid to our Freinds charge, no lesse then Traytors, when as hardly any discourse can be touching the affairs of the present times, but falls within the compasse of that Book: So that all liberty of Discourse is thereby utterly taken away, then which there can be no greater slavery.
Nor shall we be satisfied; how ever you deal with our Friends, except you free them from under their present extrajudicall imprisonment and force upon them, and give them full Reparations for their forceable Attachment, &c. And leave them from first to last, to be proceeded against by due Processe of Law, and give them respect from you, answerable to their good and faithfull Service to the Common-wealth.
Our houses being made worse then Prisons to us, and our Lives worse then death; the sight of our Husbands and Children, matter of grief, sorrow, and affliction to us, until you grant our desires, and therefore, if ever you intend any good to this miserable Nation, harden not your hearts against Petitioners, nor deny us in things so evidently just and reasonable, as you would not be dis-honourable to all Posterity.