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"Let that be a warning to join, keep out of unlawful assemblies"

Place Yard 1647, courtesy of the Guildhall Library 

 

The Clubmen movement with its call for a stop to the Civil War and a return to talks with King and Parliament has at its core a rooting in the provinces, and  that is where its strength of power was held in 1645. The demands made and the non-acceptance of a state defined by warring parties and a winner takes all shaping of a country was a challenge and problem for both warring parties. An organised assembly (association) such as the Clubmen in the early stages of the the Civil War is worth reflection. 

 

Links to the Clubmen can be seen in the challenging of the accepted ways of governance by the women's petitioning of 1643. 

The Civil War of King and Parliament argument had by default empowered those who were witnessing the warring parties desolation of England. A gathering of women petitioners in 1643 is an example of this empowering, in the very fact it was a women's gathering making demands of men in positions of power. 

 

The bloody English Revolution which started in 1642 was now into it's second year. The 8th of August 1643 saw several hundred women gathered outside the Houses of Parliament. A call for the just prerogatives, and privileges of King and Parliament, the true liberties and properties of the subject be restored ans a speedy recourse of the truly reformed protestant religion, and ye renovation of trade  was being demanded. This was seen as being rejected by Parliament. Proposals by the the Lords for a reopening of peace talks with the King had fallen by the wayside with both Royalists and Parliamentarians . 

 

Sir Simmond D'Ews the diarist and a member of the Peace Party of 1642 in Parliament described these women now assembled as. 

"two or three hundred oyster wives they cried "peace peace" and interrupted divers of the members, both as they went in and came out the House"  

After given reassurance or as reported in the The Kingdom's Weekly Intelligencer "with white silk Ribbons in their hats, and cryed for Peace, Committed no great disorder, but when their saw their own time, went home again".

This was not to be the end of the matter though, for the very next day the 9th August the numbers of women gathered in Palace Yard had increased. According to The Parliament Scout newspaper numbers were between 5000-6000 and were with a signed petition for Parliament entitled "The Humble Petition of the Many Civilly-Disposed Women" Clarendon wrote "wives and substantial citizens" or as Rushworth records "a multitude of the meaner sort of women, with white ribbons in their hats"

 

Remaining in Palace Yard " Peace Peace," rang aloud and for two hours after getting past the Trained Bands (local militia), the entrance to Parliament was blocked and the immediate entrance occupied. What was a call for peace and an end to Civil War with talks between King and Parliament to resume was about to take a turn for the worse. Reports of what followed have to be seen as who in manner the report would favour observer-wise. One account speaks of the scuppering of peace talks by Parliament and a calling for  "give us those traitors give us that dog Pym" (Royalist) What we do know is the gathering turned violent. Throwing brickbats (bricks) at the Trained Bands and with men joining in with throwing of stones, the women were then fired upon by the soldiers who were in attendance. The Kingdom's Weekly Intelligencer reports an unlucky fellow being killed by the soldiers, "a Ballad-singer with one arme."   This was followed by Sir William Waller's regiment of horse unleashed upon them. With swords held flat ways, the women were cut on face and hands with one woman losing her nose and later dying of her injuries. Running for cover this Troop of Horse dispersed this gathering.

The killing of a young lady with nothing to do with the petitioners by a Trooper, but passing through the Church Yard where previously the women had gathered was reported "let that be a warning not to join, keep out of unlawful assemblies"

 

The nature of a women's gathering and demands made unto those who they challenged would have been seen as a direct threat and a thing most out of the norm to those men in power of the 17th Century.

                                                  Melbourne Herald January 31st 1879

 

We see the unlawful assemblies being applied later to the Clubmen. After a period of negotiation through July, August 1645 a change to a one of disciplinary was now being enforced late August 1645.  A third force in the Clubmen was seen by Parliamentarians, Royalists alike. With an act of law by parliament now upon The Clubmen parliaments use of state intervention was a thing of most use as a tool. For it suited a when to apply and when not through the latter parts of the 1st Civil War.

 

Fairfax was now in the south west in the summer of 1645 with a disciplined army. The exploits and plunder by Royalists Goring's Crew (as it was known) in the south wast would now have consequence.

Fairfax recruitment of parties of Clubmen must be seen as specific to Goring's actions and reputation in the south west. A common cause in his defeat  was a mutual agreement. It was Parliament that decreed the Clubmen an illegal body to assemble on August 23rd 1645 at the very time of Fairfax and his joining of by parties of Clubmen. The ignoring of gatherings by Clubmen was a thing of convenience by parliament when it suited them as previously mentioned.    

 The unlawful assemblies tag is a handy tool with an open ended interpretation.