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  • Writer's pictureHaydn Wheeler

Swallowed up in the arbitrary power of the sword.

Sketch by Artist Activist Stewart MacArthur.

The reading on May 15th 2016 of the Desires and Resolutions declaration by the Dorset and Wiltshire Clubmen of 1645 took us on a leap into the 21st century . The event was part of the Wimborne Literary Festival. Artists, activist Stewart MacArthur and artist Minna Harvey created on the day a record in sketch of the reading last heard at Badbury Rings and agreed on in May 25th 1645 in a place lost in history by the name of Gorehedge Corner.

With near 4000 in attendance in the 17th century, a certain Mr Young a lawyer (of the old star chamber) later recorded at the taking of the Clubmen leaders in Shaftesbury August 4th 1645, read out the Desires and Resolutions calling for an end to a civil war most unnatural and horrid.

Sketch by Stewart MacArthur

With the forces of both sides, Parliamentarian and Royalists causing atrocities across the country, a rising of Clubmen arose in several counties. Large bodies of people wanting to bring order back from chaos living in a "World Turned Upside Down," tried to bring the two warring sides to cease their hostilities.

Below as written is the full Desires and Resolutiond declaration of the Dorset and Wiltshire Clubmen of 1645 and solutions. The spelling is left as of the time.

WE the miserable Jnhabitants of the said Countie, being too too deeply touched with the appre­hension and sense of our past and present sufferings (oc­casioned onely by these Civill and vnaturall warrs with­in this Kingdome.) and finding by sad experience, that by meanes thereof the true worship of almighty God and our religion are almost forgotten, and that our an­cient Lawes and liberties, are alltogether swallowed up in the arbitrarie power of the sword; and foreseeing that famine and utter Desolation will imediatly fall up­on us, our wives and children, (unlesse God of his in fi­nit mercy shall looke upon our true humilation be graci­ously pleasd, spedily to put a period to these sad distra­ctions, are unanimously resolved to joyne in Petitioning His Majestie and the two Houses of Parliament for a hap­pie peace and accommodatin of the present differences, without future effusion of Christian bloud; without which accommodation we cannot expect the enjoyment either of our Religion, Liberties, or proprieties: meane while, that we whose names are under written, Resolve, and doe here Declare.

1. To defend and maintain with our lives and fortunes the true reformed Protestant Religion.

2. To joyne with and assist one another in the mutuall defence of our Lawes, liberties, and properties, against all plunderers, & all other unlawful violence whatsoever.

3. Wee doe faithfully promise each to other, that the damage or losse which in the execution hereof shall hap­pen to any one, be accounted as the losse of the generali­ty, and that reparation be made to such party or parties by the whole County; and in case of losse of life, provi­sion be made for his wife and children, by the County.

4. To declare all such unworthy of the generall assist­ance, as shall refuse, or delay to joyne with us in the pro­secution of these our just intentions.

Artist in residence for Wimborne Literary Festival, Minna Harvey with sketch of reading at Badbury Rings of Desires and Resolutions 2016

VVHereas by the Articles of our Association, wee challenge unto our selues no other freedome for the present from the burthen of the Warres, then to preserue our selues from plder, and all other unlawfull violence. It is therefore advised ]by the generality, that untill such time as we receiue answer to our petitions from his Maiesty and the two Houses of par­liament.

1. Euery Towne, Tything-parish, great Hamlet, make pre­sent choice of thrée or more or the ablest men for Wisedome, Va­lour, and estate, Inhabitants in the same, unto whom at all times they may repayre for assistance and direction.

2. That the Constable, Tything-man, or other officer of the Tawne, Tything-parish, or liberty, in pursuance of the Statute in that case prouided, set a constant watch of two at the least euery night, and they well Armed, and if need so require, by day also; and the number of the watchmen to bee encreased, according to the discreation of the said chosen able men, and the said officers.

3. That the watchmen be charged not to stoppe, [...], or exa­mine any Souldier on his march, nor any other passenger that pas­seth peaceably; but if they be friendly spoken unto by the passen­ger, to returne a friendly answer, to encourage him in his peace­able behauiour.

4. That the watchmen keepe walking in their precincts, in as much secresie as conueniently they may, in auoyd a hidden surpri­sall; and as soone as they or either of them descry any Vlolence to any person, house, or goods, if they are not of sufficient strength themselues to suppresse or stop the said Violence; then one of them presently repayring unto one or more of the said chosen able men, by his or their aduice, to raise the parish, tything towne, or Ham­let into armes, to assist the distressed, and the other watchman withall speed to repayre to the next neighbouring watch, or wat­ches, if need so requires; and there in like manner raising the men into armos, to bring presently with him to relieue the distressed halfe of the men there armed, the other halfe to remaine ready armed in their owne precincts to protect the same, and to apprehend the plunderers in their Retreat.

5. That all such as pretend themselues to be Souldiers, and are taken plundering, or doing any other unlawfull Violence, be pre­sently disarmed, and after examination, hauing confest unto which Army they doe belong, to be safely Guarded, together, with suffi­cient witnesse to proue the offence; from Tything Tything, until they be brought to the next Garrison belonging unto the said Army, and there to bee deliuered unto the commander in chiefe, with tender of the witnesses to proue the crime; but in case they say they belong to an Army that doth quarter neere the place where the offence was committed, then in like manner to convey them to the commander in chiefe of the said Army.

6. That they auoyd false Alarums, no men rise into Arms but such as are so nominated by the watchmen, unlesse they see appa­rent Violence; or in case the watch be defectiue or surprised, they be called by a very probable out cry.

7. That all men furnish themselues with as much, and good Armes, Weapons, and Ammunition as they can procure; and the Rich out of a good conscience to relieue the poore herein, as also in their labours of watching and other assistance in some proportionable measure.

8. That the contribution money, and all prouision and necessa­rie maintenance for the Armies, if it be demanded by a lawfull warrant directed to the Officer of the place; bee not denied, but euery man as hee is able in some reasonable proportion forthwith to contribute; and for those that are truely unable, certificate of their inability to be made by the sayd officer, with the advise of the said chosen able men of the place, unto their commander in chiefe, from whom the warrant issued, with petition for respite and mittigation of the proportion by the sayd warrant required, untill they shall be better enabled.

9. If quarter be demanded according to order martiall, the sol­dier to be friendly entertained, behaving himselfe fairly in his quarters; but if they plunder or offer any other violence, then to be restrained and delivered up unto his commander in chiefe to be by him corrected.

If any inconvenience shall bee found to ensue on the observation of these directions, it is desired to bee made knowne at the next generall meeting that it may be amended.

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