[William Walwyn], The Bloody Project (21 August, 1648).

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Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.149 [1648.08.21] [William Walwyn], The Bloody Project (21 August, 1648).

Full title

[William Walwyn], The Bloody Project, Or a discovery of the New Designe, in the present War. Being a perfect Narrative of the present proceedings of the severall Grandee Factions, for the prevention of a Just Peace, and promoting of a causelesse Warre, to the destruction of the King, Parliament & People. Whereunto is annexed Several Expedients for a happy Accommodation tending to the satisfaction of all Parties, without the further effusion of blood. By W.P. Gent.
Printed in this Yeare of dissembling, 1648.

Estimated date of publication

21 August, 1648

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT1, pp. 665–6; Thomason E. 460. (4.).

Editor’s Introduction

(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)

Text of Pamphlet

The Bloody Project. OR New design in the present War discovered.

IN all undertakings, which may occasion war or bloodshed, men have great need to be sure that their cause be right, both in respect of themselves and others: for if they kill men themselves, or cause others to kill, without a just cause, and upon the extreamest necessity, they not only disturbe the peace of men, and familyes, and bring misery and poverty upon a Nation, but are indeed absolute murtherers.

Nor will it in any measure satisfy the Conscience, or Gods justice, to go on in uncertainties, for in doubtfull cases men ought to stand still, and consider, untill certainty do appear, especially when killing and sleying of men (the most horrid worke to Nature and Scripture) is in question.

Far be it from any man hastily to engage in any undertaking, which may occasion a War, before the cause he is to fight for, be rightly, and plainly stated, well considered, and throughly understood to be just, and of absolute necessity to be maintained; nothing being more abominable in the sight of God or good men, then such persons who range out to shed blood for money, or to support this or the other Interest, but neither consider the cause for which they engage, nor ought else, but pay, interest, honour, &c. such are they who so eagerly endeavour to support the interest of a King, by the destruction of the Peoples Interest, the Interest of the Scots against the Interest of the English, the Interest of the Independents, by the ruine of the Presbyterians: and because it best consists with their present honour, profit or humours, make it their busines to pick quarrels, and encrease divisions, and jealousies, that so they may fish in the waters which they themselves have troubled.

But let such know, who ever they be, that though they may and do for a while brave it out, and flourish, yet a time is comming, and draweth on apace, when for all the murthers they have caused, and mischiefs they have committed, they shall come to judgement, and then their Consciences will be as a thousand witnesses against them.

But especially let men pretending conscience take heed how they either engage themselves, or perswade others to engage to fight and kill men, for a cause not rightly stated, or not throughly understood to be just, and of necessity to be maintained; for it is one of the most unreasonable, unchristian, and unnaturall things that can enter into the mind of man, though it be to be feared that more then a few that have of late both in the Citie and Country, (and at present) are active to engage in killing and sleying of men) cannot acquit themselves of this abomination.

I beseech you, (you that are so forward and active to engage in the defence of the Kings, Presbyterian, or Independent interest, and yet know no just cause for either) consider, was it sufficient that the King at first invited you in generall termes to joyn with him, for the defence of the true Protestant Religion, his own just Prerogatives, the Privileages of Parliament, and the Liberty of the Subject; but never declared in particular what that Protestant Religion was he would have defended, or what Prerogative would please him, what priviledges he would allow the Parliament, or what Freedoms the People?

Or was it sufficient thinke you now, that the Parliament invited you at first upon generall termes, to fight for the maintenance of the true Protestant Religion, the Libertyes of the People, and Priviledges of Parliament; when neither themselves knew, for ought is yet seen, nor you, nor any body else, what they meant by the true Protestant Religion, or what the Liberties of the People were, or what those Priviledges of Parliament were, for which yet neverthelesse thousands of men have been slain, and thousands of Familyes destroyed?

It is very like that some of you that joyned with the King upon his invitation, thought, that though the King had formerly countenanced Popery, and Superstition, had stretcht his Prerogative to the oppression and destruction of his People, by Pattents, Projects, &c. yet for the future he would have been more zealous for the truth, and more tender of his People, and not have persisted (notwithstanding his new Protestations) to maintain his old Principles.

And so likewise many of you that joyned with the Parliament, who had formerly seen, felt, or considered the persecution of godly conscientious people by the Bishops and their Cleargy, with the reproaches cast upon them, and their grievous and destructive imprisonment, did beleeve the Parliament under the notion of Religion, intended to free the Nation from all compulsion in matters of Religion, and from molestation, or persecution for opinions, or non-conformity; and that all Lawes or Statutes tending thereunto should have been repealed: But since you find (by killing and destroying their opposers) you have enbled them to performe all things that might concern your freedome, or be conducible to the peace of the Kingdome. But do you now find that they do mean that, or the contrary? And will your consciences give you leave any longer to fight or engage in the cause of Religion, when already you see what fruits you and your friends reap thereby.

And no doubt many of you understood by the Liberties of the People, that they intended to free the Commons in Parliament the peoples Representative, from a Negative voyce, in King, or Lords, and would have declared themselves the highest Authority, and so would have proceeded to have removed the grievances of the Common-wealth: And when you had seen Pattents, Projects, and Shipmoney taken away, the High Commission, and Starchamber abolished, did you ever imagine to have seen men and women examined upon Interrogatories, and questions against themselves, and imprisoned for refusing to answer? Or to have seen Commoners frequently sentenced and imprisoned by the Lords? Did you ever dream that the oppressions of Committees would have exceeded those of the Councel-table; or that in the place of Pattents and Projects, you should have seen an Excise established, ten fold surpassing all those, and Shipmoney together? You thought rather that Tythes would have been esteem’d an oppression, and that Trade would have been made perfectly free, and that Customs if continued, would have been abated, and not raysed, for the support of domineering factions, and enrichment of foure or five great men, as they have been of late times, to the sorrow and astonishment of all honest men, and the great prejudice of the Trade of the Nation.

Doubtlesse you hoped that both Lawes and Lawyers, and the proceeding in all Courts should have been abreviated, and corrected, and that you should never more have seen a Begger in England.

You have seen the Common-wealth enslaved for want of Parliaments, and also by their sudden dissolution, and you rejoyced that this Parliament was not to be dissolved by the King; but did you conceive it would have sat seavn yeares to so little purpose, or that it should over have come to passe, to be esteemed a crime to move for the ending thereof? Was the perpetuating of this Parliament, and the oppressions they have brought upon you and yours, a part of that Liberty of the People you fought for? Or was it for such a Priviledge of Parliament, that they only might have liberty to oppresse at their pleasure, without any hope of remedy? If all these put together make not up the cause for which you fought, what was the Cause? What have ye obtained to the People, but these Libertyes, for they must not be called oppressions? These are the fruits of all those vast disburstments, and those thousands of lives that have been spent and destroyed in the late War.

And though the Army seemed to be sensible of these grosse juglings, and declared, and engaged against them, and professed that they tooke not paines as a mercenary Army, hired to fight for the Arbitrary ends of a State, but in judgement and conscience, for the preservation of their own, and the Peoples just Rights and Libertyes: Yet when they had prevailed against those their particular opposers, and accomplished the ends by them aymed at, all these things were forgotten, and those persons that appeared for the Peoples Freedoms, by them esteemed and proceeded against as Mutineers, or Incendiaries.

In like manner, the present Ruling Party of Presbyterians make a great shew of their apprehensions of the great slavery and servitude brought upon the People, by the exercise of an Arbitrary power in the Parliament, and by the jurisdiction of the Sword in the hands of the Army: They tell us that by this meanes the Trade of the Nation is destroyed, and that without the removall of these things, the peace of the Nation cannot be secured: And it is exceeding true: But I beseech you consider, whether they do not revive the same Play, and drive the same Designe, which was acted by the Parliament at first, and by the Army the last Summer.

First, they cry out against the exercise of an arbitrary power in the Parliament, and yet labour to invest it in the King, nay challenge the exercise of it by themselves: for what greater arbitrary power can there be in the world, then that a Priest or two, and a few Lay Elders, under the name of a Presbytery, should have power to bind or loose, bring in, or cast out, save or destroy at their pleasure, and enforce all persons within the limits of their jurisdiction, to beleeve as they beleeve, and submit to whatever they command, or else to be by them delivered over to Sathan.

Nay if you looke into those of that party of the Magistracy of this City, that are the great promoters of the present worke: do there any men in the world exercises more arbitrary power?. Do not many of them left only the Rule of will and pleasure, and have they not openly professed themselves to be obliged to observe no other Rule then Discretion.

And though they decry against the power of the Sword in the hands of the Independents, yet do they not with all their might, labour to get it into the hands of the Presbyterians? and being there, will they not do that themselves, which they complain of in others? will they not say that there are gain-sayers whose mouthes must be stopt, and with the Sword rather then faile, and though Royalists or Independents may not use the Sword to enforce their Principles, yet Presbyterians may, as if all knowledge of the truth were centred in a Presbytery, consisting of halfe Scotch, halfe English, part Puritan, part Cavalier, luke-warm christianity neither hot nor cold zealous for the truth which they know not, only by heare-say, and only because they love not Jndependency, that being to pure, nor Episcopacy, that being too prophane, they will be between both, (but not in a golden Meane, for that were well) but more zealous then either in outward performances, but for the power of godlines.—— I cease to judge, but we say we may know the tree by the fruit, and certain I am that Thistles never bore Figgs.

But if you shall examine what grounds of freedome they propose in all their Papers; what equall Rules of justice they offer to be insisted on as a sure foundation for a lasting peace? Surely if you looke but seriously into the bottom of their design, you will find that the peace they aime at is only their own; not the Nations, and that their own case, honour and dominion, is the only thing they pursue, and so they could enjoy ease and plenty and stretch themselves upon Beds of Down, they would never care what the poor Country should suffer.

To be short, all the quarrell we have at this day in the Kingdome, is no other then a quarrel of Interests, and Partyes, a pulling down of one Tyrant, to set up another, and in stead of Liberty, heaping vpon our selves a greater slavery then that we fought against; certainly this is the Liberty that is so much strove for, and for which there are such fresh endeavours to engage men; but if you have not killed and destroyed men enough for this, go on and destroy, kill and slay, till your consciences are swoln so full with the blood of the People, that they burst agen, and upon your death-beds may you see your selves the most horrid Murtherers that ever lived, since the time that Cain kild his brother without a just Cause; for where, or what is your cause? Beleeve it yee have a heavy reeckoning to make, and must undergo a sad repentance, or it will go ill with you at the great day, when all the sophistry of your great Reformers will serve you to little purpose, every man for himselfe being to give an account for the things which he hath done in the body, whether they be good or evill: Then it will serve you to little purpose to say, the King, Parliament, Army, Independents, Presbyterians, such an Officer, Magistrate, or Minister deluded me; no more then it did Adam, to say the woman whom thou gavest, &c. It being thus decreed in heaven, the soule which sinneth shall surely dye.

And though what is past cannot be recalled, yet it must be repented of, and speciall care taken for the future, that you sin no more in this kind, and either stand still or go right for the Future, to which end let these following directions be your guide.

1. You are to know, that a People living under a Government, as this Nation hath done, and doth, cannot lawfully put themselves into Arms, or engage in War, to kill and sley men, but upon a lawfull call and invitation from the Supream Authority, or Law-making power.

Now if the Supream Authority of this Nation were never yet so plainly declared, as that you understand certainly where it is, and who are invested therewith, you have then had no Warrant for what you have done, nor have any Plea in Law for your Indempnity, as some of all Parties have lately found to their costs,

And that this point of Supream Authority was ever certainly stated, is absolutely denyed; for according to the common supposition, it is 3. Estates, which till within these few yeares were ever taken to be: 1. Lords Spirituall. 2. Lords Temporall. 3. The Commons in Parliament assembled.

Now if these three were essentiall and equall, as all former Times seem to allow; How could the Lords Temporall and the Commons, cast out the Lords Spirituall? For by the same rule, the Lords Spirituall, and Lords Temporall, might have cast out the Commons, but the casting out the Bishops hath both answered the question, and ended the controversie.

Since when the supream Authority is pretended to rest in the King, Lords and Commons; and if so, when did the King assent to your Proceedings in this War, which all the art in the world will not perswade him to be for him, but against him, and to ruine him and his? Or when did the Parliament assent to the proceedings of you that joyned with the King in the late war pretendedly raised for the defence of Religion, the priviledges of Parliament, and Liberty of the Subject; and if the supream power reside in all three, King, Lords and Commons, how can the King justly do any thing without the consent of the Lords and Commons, or the Lords and Commons without the King? May not the King and Lords as justly proceed to make Laws, War or Peace, without the Commons as they without the King? If they are not equal, which of them are supream, and declared and proved by convincing reason so to be? If any, that you are to observe? If none, what have you done? what can you lawfully do?

That there should be either three or two distinct Estates equally supream is an absurd nullity in government, for admit two of them agree, and not the third, then there can be no proceedings or determination, and if there be but two, as is now pretended, in Lords and Commons, whose Ordinances have served (how justly judge you) to make War and confiscate mens estates: admit they agree not, then also nothing can be done, which in Government is ridiculous to imagine, besides it is now a known case that their Ordinances are not pleadable against the Laws, and give no Indempnity, which were they the known supream Authority, could not but be effectual. That the King single and alone is the supream Authority himself never pretended to it, claiming only a negative voyce in the Law-making Power, by which rule nothing can be done without him, then which nothing is more unreasonable: The Lords also never pretended to more these an equal share with the Commons, which in effect is a negative voyce and as unreasonable as in the King: And when the Commons have been by Petitioners stiled the supream authority, they have punished the Petitioners, and disclaimed the supream Authority: and as two years since, so very lately they have voted that the Kingdom shall be governed by King, Lords and Commons; which is a riddle that no man understands; for who knoweth what appertains to the King, what to the Lords, or what to the House of Commons? It is all out as uncertain as at first; and if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battel? If by all your endeavors you cannot prevail to have the supream Authority declared and proved, how can you lawfully fight, or upon what grounds with a good conscience can you engage your selves or perswade others to engage in killing and staying of men?

And if you should have the supream Authority rationally proved and declared to be in the Commons distinct from any other, as being the sole Representative of the people; you must note that you are a free people, and are not to be pressed or enforced to serve in Wars like horses and bruit beasts, but are to use the understanding God hath given you, in judging of the Cause, for defence whereof they desire you to fight, for it is not sufficient to fight by lawful authority, but you must be sure to fight for what is just: Lawful authority being sometimes mistaken, and many times so perverted and corrupted, as to command the killing and imprisoning men for doing that which is just and commendable, and for opposing what is unjust and destructive. Therefore as you are no forbear till you see the supream Authority distinctly and rationally stated; so also you are not to engage till the Cause be expresly declared, lest after your next engagement you are as Far to seek of a just cause as now you are; and after you have prevailed, in stead of finding your selves and your associates freemen, you find your selves more enslaved then you were formerly. For by experience you now find you may be made slaves as effectually by a Parliament, as by any other kind of Government; why then persist you to divide and fall into Factions? to kill and stay men for you know not what, to advance the honor and interest of you know not whom; the King, Parliament, greatmen in the City and Army can do nothing without you, to disturb the Peace of the Nation, upon you therefore both Soldiers and People, who fight, pay and disburse your estates, is to be charged all the evil that hath been done; if you on all hands had not been and were not so hasty to engage for the advancement or Interests to the prejudice of the Nation, it is very likely we had not only escaped those late bloody turmoils that have happened among us, but also might prevent greater threatned dangers, which like an inundation begin to break in upon us: And if you now stop not, your Consciences will be loaded with all that is to come, which threatneth far worse then what is past; Therefore, if ye are either men or Christians, hold your hands till you know what you fight for, and be sure that you have the truth of Freedom in it, or never medle, but desist, and let who will both fight and pay.

Certainly there is none so vile, considering what hath been said, that will again incur the guilt of murtherers, and fight before the Cause be plainly stated and published, and if that were done as it ought to be, possibly it may be attained without fighting, and might have been all this while, the difference not being so great as was imagined; Besides, where is the man that would fight against the supream Authority and a just Cause? and certainly there is none of you (whether Royalists, Presbyterians or Independents) so wicked as to desire to kill men without exceeding just grounds and upon the greatest necessity, it being the saddest work in the world.

For the preventing whereof, let us, I beseech you, examine what good things there are wanting, that are essential to the Peace, Freedom, and happiness of the Nation, that may not be obtained without fighting.

1. Is there wanting the certain knowledg where the supream Authority is, and of right ought to be: It is confest no one thing is more wanting, nor can the Nation ever be quiet, or happy without it.

But can it be any where justly and safely but in the House of Commons, who are chosen and trusted by the People? Certainly did men consider that in opposing thereof, they renounce and destroy their own freedoms, they would not do it for any thing in the world.

If the consideration of the manifold evils brought upon us by this House of Commons, deter them, the next thing that is wanting is, That a set time be appointed for the ending of this Parliament, and a certainty for future Parliaments, both for their due elections, meeting, and dissolving: And who will be so unreasonable as to oppose any of these? certainly the number cannot be considerable.

Is it also necessary that That Parliaments be abridged the power of impressing men, to serve as bruit beasts in the Wars, who will be against their being bounded therein? a good Cause never wanted men, nor an authority that had money to pay them.

Hath it proved destructive in Parliaments to meddle in Religion, and to compel and restrain in matters of Gods Worship? Are they evidently such things as cannot be submited to Judgment? Doth every man find it so that hath a living Conscience? Who then will be against their binding herein, though they be entrusted to establish an uncompulsive publike way of worship for the Nation?

Is it unreasonable that any person should be exempt from those proceedings of Law, unto which the generality of the People are to be subject? Who is there then that will not willingly have all from the highest to the lowest bound alike?

That Parliaments should have no power to punish any person for doing that which is not against a known declared Law, or to take away general property, or to force men to answer to questions against themselves, or to order tryals, or proceed by any other ways then by twelve sworn men, who would not rejoyce to have such boundaries?

Then, that the proceedings in Law might be rectified, and all Laws and the duty of Magistrates written and published in English: That the Excise might have a speedy end, and no Taxes but by way of subsidies: That Trade might be free, and a less burthensom way for the maintenance of Ministers be established, then that of Tythes; and that work and necessaries be provided for all kind of poor people. Certainly for the obtaining of these things a man may justly adventure his life; all these being for a common good, and tend not to the setting up of any one party or faction of men.

These then are the Causes to be insisted on, or nothing: And if the supream Authority adhere to this Cause, they need neither fear Scotch, French, nor English Enemies; but if they decline this Cause, they are to be declined, the just freedom and happiness of a Nation, being above all Constitutions, whether of Kings, Parliaments, or any other.

For shame therefore (Royalists, Presbyterians, Independents,) before you murther another man hold forth your Cause plainly and expresly; and if any Adversaries appear either within or without the Land, reason it out with them if it be possible, deal as becometh Christians, argue, persuade, and use all possible means to prevent another War, and greater blood-shed; your great ones, [whether the King, Lords, Parliament men, rich Citizens, &c. feel not the miserable effects thereof, and so cannot be sensible; but you and your poor friends that depend on Farmes, Trades, and small pay, have many an aking heart when these live in all pleasure and deliciousness: The accursed thing is accepted by them, wealth and honor, and both comes by the bleeding miserable distractions of the Common-wealth, and they fear an end of trouble would put an end to their glory and greatness.

Oh therefore all you Soldiers and People, that have your Consciences alive about you, put to your strength of Judgment, and all the might you have to prevent a further effusion of blood; let not the covetous, the proud, the blood-thirsty man bear sway amongst you; fear not their high looks, give no ear to their charms, their promises or tears; they have no strength without you, forsake them and ye will be strong for good, adhere to them, and they will be strong to evil; for which you must answer, and give an account at the last day.

The King, Parliament, great men in the City and Army, have made you but the stairs by which they have mounted to Honor, Wealth and Power. The only Quarrel that hath been, and at present is but this, namely, whose slaves the people shall be. All the power that any hath, was but a trustconveyed from you to them, to be employed by them for your good; they have mis-imployed their power, and instead of preserving you, have destroyed you: all Power and Authority is perverted from the King to the Constable, and it is no other but the policy of Statesmen to keep you divided by creating jealousies and fears among you, to the end that their Tyranny and Injustice may pass undiscovered and unpunished; but the peoples safety is the supream Law; and if a people must not be left without a means to preserve it self against the King, by the same rule they may preserve themselves against the Parliament and Army too, if they pervert the end for which they received their power, to wit the Nations safety; therefore speedily unite your selves together, and as one man stand up for the defence of your Freedom, and for the establishment of such equal rules of Government for the future, as shall lay a firm foundation of peace and happiness to all the people without partiallity: Let Justice be your breast-plate, and you shall need to fear no enemies, for you shall strike a terrour to your now insulting oppressors, and force all the Nations Peace to fly before you. Prosecute and prosper. Vale.


CAn there be a more bloody Project then to engage men to kill one another, and yet no just cause declared? Therefore I advise all men that would be esteemed Religious or Rational, really to consider what may be done for the future that is conducible to the Peace of the Nation; If the Peace of the Nation cannot be secured without the Restauration of the King, let it be done speedily and honorably, and provide against his mis government for the future; let his power be declared and limited by Law.

If the Peace of the Nation cannot be secured by the continuance of this Parliament, let a Period be set for the dissolution thereof, but first make certain provision for the successive calling, electing and sitting of Parliaments for the future; let their Priviledges be declared and power limitted, as to what they are empowred and what not; for doubtless in Parliaments rightly constituted consists the Freedom of a Nation: And in all things do as you would be done unto, seek peace with all men.

But above all things, abandon your former actings for a King against a Parliament, or an Army against both; for the Presbyterians against the Independents, &c. for in so doing you do but put a Sword into your enemies hands to destroy you, for hitherto, which of them soever were in power, they plaid the Tyrants and oppressed, and so it will ever be, when Parties are supported: Therefore if you engage at all, do it by Lawfull Authority, let your Cause be declared, and just also, and let it be for the good of the whole Nation, without which you will not only hazard being Slaves, but also contract upon your selves, and Posterities the guilt of Murtherers. vale.