Some writing related to the Desires and Resolutions of the Clubmen 1645
On why an organised neutral peace-keeping association began to spread around 1645 in the form of the Clubmen:
As early as January 1643 a Captain John Hotham wrote to the Earl of Newcastle of his worries at the outbreak of Civil War, and the power that lay in the people if a vacuum was created by the present order being lost.
"if the honourable endeavours of such men as yourself do not make for a happy peace, the necessitous people of the whole kingdom will presently rise in mighty numbers, and whosoever they pretend for at first, within a while they will set up for themselves to the utter ruin of all the nobility and gentry of this Kingdom."
Month after weary month the armies fought and foraged, pillaged and plundered, reducing a fruitful countryside to ruin and desolation.
Organised neutralism in the form of Clubmen began to spread a peace-keeping association.
From 'Let the Stones Talk: Glimpses of English History Through the People of the Moor' By Christopher Steed. 2011
A letter written in the summer of 1645 describes the plunder of the county of Wiltshire and the burning down of Bromham Hall ( birth place of Sir Lewis Dyve )
Blakemore Forest in the parish of Melksham 9th of June 1645.
"Loving Cousin:—My best respects remembered. Having gotten a fit opportunity in these miserable distracted times, by my son, to write to you, I have thought fit to give you a touch of the miserable sad condition of our poor county of Wilts; being almost all over distressed with continual vexation of plundering by soldiers of the King's forces. I can hardly enough express our sad condition. We live in Blakemore-forest and about the Devizes, in which town the castle is made a garrison, commanded by Colonel Lloyd for the King. His soldiers rove about our county, where our misery is such that we are forced to pay them moneys to eat up our provision of victuals, oats, hay, and such like. For we must allow every common soldier sixpence by the day, besides diet; twelvepence per sergeant; eighteenpence the lieutenants and captains. And to add further misery to our country, the said Colonel Lloyd with a party of horse and foot came from the Devizes some ten days since to Bromham two little miles from thence, when they utterly destroyed by fire one of the famousest buildings in these western parts, Sir Edward Baynton's house, a member of the Parliament; it being a stately fabrio of stone, with great store of very rich furniture. Nothing now is left standing but walls and chimneys. I suppose fifty or threescore thousand pounds cannot repair the loss : it is a great grief to our neighbours. When these troubles of quartering, billeting, and plundering will cease, I know not So with the prayers of myself and mine for you all, desiring the like from you, I take my leave: And rest, your loving kinsman till death, "E. K."
Taken from an account in "A history, military and municipal of the ancient borough of the Devizes"
A verse of these grievances and actions then took .
"From out each hamlet, field, and dale, The lusty peasants troop apace, Arm'd with the deadly scythe and flail, Or brandishing a rustic mace. Still as they pass, their ranks increase, And shouts of vengeance rend the air; ' We'll crush the traitor to our peace, Or hunt him to his very lair.' "
John Nokes in a cottage in Dorset
"why either of them should seize his stock or waste his fields in order to settle their differences."
AN OFFICER THE LONG PARLIAMENT HIS DESCENDANTS
Image courtesy of Stewart MacArthur
Petition in 1642 to the Mayor of Worcester
"Cavaliers and Soldiers in divers parts of the Kingdom where they come from, have plundered the towns, bloodily killing the kings peaceable subjects, rifling their houses and violently taking away of their goods and in some places deflowered women."
During the 17th Century English Revolution both sides, those for Parliament and those for the King, caused havoc among the local towns and villages. By May of 1645 the Clubmen, as the angry multitudes were called, drawn both from county and town, demanded immediate protection from the depredations of the military with the goal of an end to all hostilities. At Badbury Rings, in May 1645, 4,000 men and women gathered to hear Thomas Young, an attorney of law, read out the Clubmen of Dorset’s "Desires and Resolutions"
Desires And Resolutions by the Clubmen, Wilts and Dorset 1645
We the miserable inhabitants of the said county, being too too deeply touched with the apprehension and sense of our past and present sufferings (occasioned only by these Civil and unnatural wars within this Kingdom.) and finding by sad experience, that by means thereof the true worship of almighty God and our religion are almost forgotten, and that our ancient laws and liberties, are altogether swallowed up in the arbitrary power of the sword; and foreseeing that famine and utter desolation will immediately fall upon us, our wives and children, (unless God of his in infinite mercy shall look upon our true humiliation be graciously pleased, speedily to put a period to these sad distractions, are unanimously resolved to join in Petitioning His Majesty and the two Houses of Parliament for a happy peace and accommodation of the present differences, without future effusion of Christian blood; without which accommodation we cannot expect the enjoyment either of our Religion, Liberties, or proprieties: mean while, that we whose names are under written, Resolve, and do here Declare.
1. To defend and maintain with our lives and fortunes the true reformed Protestant Religion.
2. To join with and assist one another in the mutual defence of our Laws, liberties, and properties, against all plunderers, & all other unlawful violence whatsoever.
3. We do faithfully promise each to other, that the damage or loss which in the execution here of shall happen to any one, be accounted as the loss of the generality, and that reparation be made to such party or parties by the whole County; and in case of loss of life, provision be made for his wife and children, by the County.
4. To declare all such unworthy of the general assistance, as shall refuse, or delay to join with us in the prosecution of these our just intentions
The Clubmen of North-West Worcestershire, Woodbury Hill Declaration.
"We, have long groaned under many illegal taxation's and unjust pressures and that contrary to orders presented to his Majesty by advice of the Lords and Commons assembled at Oxford. And nevertheless, finding no redress of our grievances, but that we, our wives and children, have been exposed to utter ruin by the outrages and violence of the soldier; threatening to fire our houses; endeavoring to ravish our wives and daughters, and menacing our persons, we are now enforced to associate ourselves in a mutual league for each other's defence."
The Petition of the Sussex Clubmen September 1645
A humble remonstrance of all the inhabitants in Chichester and Arundel Rapes, of the general grievances which were the cause of the late assembly, presented by the not engaged as well as the engaged party in the same..
Imprimis the want of Church government whereby our Churches are decayed, God's ordinances neglected, orthodox ministers cast out without cause, and never heard; mechanics and unknown persons thrust in, who were never called as Aaron, but by committeeman, whereby God ant the Parliament are dishonored and the people grieved.
Whereas for three years late past we have through much labour and God's blessing gained the fruit of the earth and had hoped to enjoy the same; but by free quarter and plunder of soldiers our purses have been exhausted, corn eaten up, cattle plundered, persons frighted from out habitations and by reason of the violence of the soldiers, our lives not safe; and have no power nor authority to resist the same, nor relieved or secured upon and complaints whereby we are disabled to pay our rents, just debts, or to maintain our wives and families from utter ruin and decay.
The insufferable, insolent, arbitrary power that hath been used amongst us, contrary to all our ancient known laws, or ordinances of Parliament, upon our persons and estates, by imprisoning our persons, imposing of sums of money, light horses and dragoons, and exacting of loans by some particular persons stepped into authority who have delegated their power to men of sordid condition whose wills have been laws and commands over our persons and estates, by which they have overthrown all our English liberties.
Mercurius Britannicus of the week beginning Monday 6th January 1645, Parliamentary Newspaper.
Out of Shropshire we hear that there are above a thousand in arms about Clun and Bishop's Castle standing out against both sides, neither for the King nor for the Parliament, but standing upon their own guard for the preservation of their lives and fortunes.
Shropshire History And Archaeology Clubmen in South West Shropshire 1644-45 CD Gilbert Vol LXVIII