top of page
  • Haydn Wheeler

"Many voices of the people"

The Putney Debates, which were first held in 1647 returned in 2017 to their original home of St Mary's Church, Putney. Hosted by The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society (FLJS), the debate centred around the topic of "Constitutional Crisis in the United Kingdom"

Four sessions were held over a period of two days, with a variety of speakers on each panel. In session two the topic of debate on day one was titled Changing and Strengthening the Role of the People. Part of the presentation by Mark Knights, Professor of History at the University of Warwick, follows at the bottom of this page.

Of particular interest is the point made "where the voice of the people is really many voices within." Where this relates to the Clubmen throughout 1645 lies in the context of staying within boundaries of their counties, where their grievances were targeted at the garrisoned troops and their commanders.

As was observed at the time The English Revolution was more of an argument between King and Parliament than between the people. Although, one could say, a question of where the authority did lay had to be settled.

The agreement between King and Parliament so eagerly wanted by the Clubmen was not to be. Petitions and declarations put together at public gatherings around the counties, calling for an ending to the war, although ultimately failing, did nevertheless empower those people outside the King and Parliamentary armies. A direction minus the sword and bloodshed but by through the pen.

The demands and legal documents penned by the Clubmen in 1645 were voices aired and then written by local people, which relates to Mark's comment "grievances gathered by those around that parish pump upwards."

Mark Knights, Professor of History at the University of Warwick.

"Petitioning could give a voice to grievances from the parish pump upwards. Petitioning gave a voice to regions and groups as much as to the nation. Petitioning was created at the local level representing the views of towns and counties. This gave a region a voice within the national one and importantly it enabled the contested plurality of the voice of the people to become apparent. (One of the problems of the Brexit vote) is the idea of "winner takes all" as if there is only one single voice of the people. Petitioning refused to accept that there was one single voice or will of the people, rather it revealed many voices of the people, a plurality of legitimate viewpoints jostled with each other in the public sphere".

Click on below

42 views0 comments
bottom of page