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  • Writer's pictureHaydn Wheeler

"The cavaliers have kept great Christmases after the usual time with sets of fiddlers".

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Pic Wolveton Hall Dorset. Trenchard's residence. Bingham married Frances Trenchard, daughter of John Trenchard

"The cavaliers have kept great Christmases after the usual time with sets of fiddlers, a fine way to draw in the people in time of need".

A copy of a letter to John Thurloe, secretary to the council of state in Protectorate England and spymaster for Oliver Cromwell. Delivered by Parliamentarian John Bingham, MP for Dorset in 1654, 1656 and 1658.

The observations passed on include a dissatisfied view of cavaliers in a celebration of Christmas lasting far past the festivities, and a view seeing Cromwell as spending too much time in debate at parliament, while in Dorset and no doubt other counties there are fears of plots being planned against the Protectorate. The use of recruitment in times of need is curious in the letter, as in, need of what.

The impact of harvest failures of the late 1640's caused by summer rains then drought and frost had brought an added concern that hunger would play a factor in alliances been made. A report from 1649 as exampled below shows a fear of repercussions caused by the price of grain and shorting of supply being brought to market.

The dearth of the late 1640's had brought a questioning upon local and county magistrates to deal with grain prices. A hand forced into market regulation of prices was in part brought about by petitioning . Local petitioning and organisation has its routes in those used by the Clubmen of 1645.

A rising of those effected by lack of substance in a time of need and as such a recruiting tool was here in Dorset although now in 1654 and not of the late 1640's still evident only in part. The price of grain gradually fell from the early 1650's on with better harvests, the bad harvest seen of 1649 did not repeat till 1658.

The ruling of the country by sword is highlighted as with the Clubmen before in their description of "the arbitrary power of the sword". This I would argue is where a recruitment is seen as possible.

The late 1640's local petitioning with effect on those in a position to regulate and a national crossover with a need for intervention by state has at its core the same route cause. The worry of is of note in part at a difference. Where as the Clubmen before, an association of those in the county with petition upon those , local, county magistrates was seen of a sufficient power to effect change. The authorities as they were in reporting these demands saw within a fear of a rising and a recruiting of those making these demands.

What in truth is the reason of the effect of a change in governance can be confided within the limits by those with those demands.

An association across county for intervention can be just that. Fears of the Clubmen in 1645, seen as a third force and as such a fear of bypassing the then warring parties, Parliament and King in bringing a resolution was brought about by a localised need although of the generality within those counties effected.

The way these needs are seen and as such met can be for different reason and as such can be understood or feared as revolutionary or a cause for.

A market with regulation of grain prices brought about by the people as a consumer was the case as opposed to a market setting the price in 1647-1650.

Report, price of corn proceedings-in-parliament-jan-31-1649

Letter dated 10 o’clock at night, 23rd January, 1654

Sir, I was at Whitehall this afternoon to kiss his Highness hand, was told he was on a ride out, and that you were not to be found; therefore puts me on this to you at present. The following is a letter just now come to me; the copy I have taken the boldness to send you, and thus:

Sir the cavaliers whisper the plot so loudly and talk of at court is nothing but a trick of great Oliver's to fright the parliament into a compliance with the court. Truly whilst this is spread abroad, and very many believe it, they meet, dance, feast, drink, and act a knavish part in these parts. I thank you for chiding me out of security, and surely you're gain by it. Sir, at Col. Laurence at the Grange in Isle Purbeck was col. Raymond, with others of Somersetshire of note, where they had a cabal every night. 'Tis newly whispered, if the pretender were in, and the crown settled on head, how sweetly he would govern, give a just and due conscientious liberty, and take of taxes, and raise the price of land and commodity's, and suffer no begger in the land; whereas the present government must be kept up by the sword, and that sword is and must be a vast charge to the people. These things have been asleep these divers years in these parts, but I remember the old politicking , Regnabit sanguine multo regis ad imperium veniens ab exilio. ( Reign as king of the empire, much blood was coming from his exile) Another source whispered, that the pretender's friends have made an overture to marry the lord protector's daughter. These fine babels take among us. The cavaliers have kept great Christmases after the usual time with sets of fiddlers; a fine way to draw in the people in time of need. Major Uvedale, you know the man and his estate, he kept an open house for all comers; as he did so before. Major Butler kept no house, but has meetings in secret at Mr Thimbledee’s house, a papist by Minchington near Cashmore 4 miles and a half from Blandford, and at Cashmore Inn, and now gone to Hatch by Buckland, as good as the other places. A young squire hides at Horton, 8 miles from Blandford, a one by the name of Bragg, a parson, put in by Giles Green. He it was, that betrayed Portland castle to the cavaliers at the first of our wars; at this fellow's house is tabled King Gardner, you know him, and one Thornehull; I wish I knew whither it be that man spoken of in the news book, taken up as one of the plot. At the aforesaid Thimbledee’s house who met on Tuesday night last a John Fitz-James, Mathus of Wodsford, Sir John Web's son of Canford, three other unknown young blades, well horsed, habited, and each a man waiting on them; Young Willowbey, the Lady Capel's butler, a notable rogue for parts and courage, and old Willoughby of Chetered, with blades which came from about Beamister, and had several meetings and drinking at that Cashmore Inn, whose faces the neighbours never saw before. Every Tuesday we must have a cock fighting match at Winborne, and the head of that game is your cousin Litchett, which will be made a steal of by wiser then himself, if not prevented. Divers unknown blades frequent that cockfighting game. It's near Poole, which would be made an Isle you know in a short time. Our association is breaking into Somersetsheire. I hope it will not go beyond church matters. We have had lately bellum episcopale. (war of Bishops) I hope we shall ne're see that of clerical. Our good scout T. L. is not yet returned from Blackmore, but there's roguery to certainty, and so there is about Beamister. One tells me just now, col. Lawrence's house is a wicked place; if that be true, that's now whispered me, we are here betrayed: I just as to yet affirm it; and that is that, At Lulworth was a barque brought in arms and powder, and so as to the other end of the isle of Purbeck near Corfe town, and all landed by night. I'll ride about it myself. By next you shall know more, if so. For God's sake, Sir let's not be undone in an instant. If they are as busy in other counties as in

these parts, we are like to have a sweet time speedily, had they armies. We hope the protector looks farther than after the debates in parliament.

Excuse this trouble, sent you by, sir,

Your's faithfully. Thus much of the copy of the leter, mr. secretary, Youre faithful freind to serve you, Jo. Bingham

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