331 Captain Pouch

Enclosure has a long history in England from the 15th – 19th century. In 1607 ordinary people resisting the destruction of their livelihoods found a leader – Captain Pouch

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Transcript

We were talking I believe a couple of episodes ago about Robert Cecil and about libels, an aspect of the growing public space and culture. And I think we also talked about the fact that James I coveted Burghley’s grand mansion at Theobalds, and persuaded his son to swap Theobalds for the much smaller Hatfield house – I can’t be entirely sure that ‘persuaded’ is the correct word, but it’ll have to do for the moment. Anyway, there’s a libel that ties these things together, and also introduces us to the main subject of todays episode. And here’s a bit of it – rumoured to have been written by Walter Raleigh:

Here lies thrown for the worms to eat

Little bossy Robin that was so great

Not Robin Goodfellow nor Robin Hood

But Robin th’encloser of Hatfield Wood

When little Robin Cecil, Earl of Salisbury arrived at his new property of Hatfield, he obviously wanted to create elegant park land and a hunting preserve; all there was when he arrived was a Great Park with extensive woodland. In common with much of royal land, the great woods of the park had a lot of common rights over them, and were indulgently, and loosely managed. The reason that royal land was so managed often was not because the English monarchs were necessarily nicer than everyone else, although obviously many of my best friends are ex-monarchs, but because they were of course non-resident. The social history of England is littered with examples of how important this difference could make life for ordinary people in positive and negative ways; but here the point is that resident landlords tended to squeeze their tenants much harder, they knew what was going on, they knew where the potential for extra squeeze came from, and they were often dependant for their income from the one manor. Although Salisbury had multiple landownings, yet he was still determined to exploit Hatfield to its best advantage, no more Mr nice distant landlord. The Great Park was enclosed to create the New Park, and the rights of common the local people had enjoyed were taken away; no longer could they collect wood there for fires. Salisbury was already a ruthless encloser – at Brigstock in 1603 he’d caused a riot.  On the date of his funeral, locals planned to dig up the fences of the New park in protest against the loss of an important component of their livelihood – they were rumbled, and mainly prevented, but none the less some got through, and dug up the Park’s fence to expose the park to public view.

The creation of Parkland was just one of the reasons for enclosure; and the creation of Deer Parks for hunting could be a mighty status symbol as well as meeting the aristocratic passion for hunting; but it could have a painful effect on local people with the removal of common right. However, the kind of enclosure that really got people worked up was the enclosure and removal of open fields, which included often the conversion of tillage into pasture.

It’s an interesting topic which we have covered before, but it’s very important for ordinary folk, so it’s time to look at the latest iteration. Because it throws up lots of interesting attitudes in society, of tensions, and rather cuts across firmly held historical truths. So, one of those truths we are going to consider is the one about the triumph of Tudor governance over the common populace and the apparent ending of the tradition of rural protest. The story goes that the Tudors faced unusually fierce popular protest during their long century on the throne – from the Cornish in 1497, to the pilgrimage of Grace, and to the Commotion Time of 1549 and Rising of the North in 1569. But that the guns of popular protest had been spiked by the end of Elizabeth’s reign. The economic success of the middling sort, Yeomen and husbandmen, took them away from the leadership of local protest. And meanwhile Elizabethan society had a mania for order, for social harmony, for mutual ties that made riot and disorder unthinkable. And so, to set against commotion time, the best that the last years of Elizabeth’s reign could muster, a time of terrible dearth, was the aborted Oxfordshire Rebellion, a rebellion so feeble it hardly got a mench in the History of England podcast. And let me tell you, you have to be pretty feeble not to get a mench in the History of England Podcast. This story bout late Tudor social harmony rather ignores, then, the events in the Midlands of England in 1607, which also throws up some interesting social attitudes. I speak, ladies and gentlemen, of the Midland Rising, a series of disturbances caused by dearth and enclosure.

The attitude of the English monarchs and indeed government towards enclosure and protest was oddly ambivalent. I mean you will have in your mind the great executions of the Tudor state – Henry VII’s  repression of the Cornish rebellion, the 200 executed from the pilgrimage of Grace under Henry VIII, Edward VI’s and the Mousehold rebels, Mary’s bloody killing of 150 of Thomas Wyatt’s rebels, Elizabeth’s 600 rebels killed after the Northern Rising, rather showing that windows into souls were one thing, but for rebels windows into guts, lungs and bowels were absolutely de rigeur. Every Tudor monarch had their record of vicious reprisals against enemies of the state, and treated the poor who rebelled against their authority with pretty consummate certainty.

And yet, when it came to enclosure and popular protest, they also had some sympathy, as did parliament – parliament, mind which was stuffed with landowners, many of whom would prove ardent enclosers. But there are a series of acts which demonstrated the great and the good saw enclosure as the work of the devil, a great threat to society. Starting off with Wolsey in 1517, who was most certainly not shy of making a bob or too, acts flowed in the 16th century to try to prevent the conversion of tillage into pasture. Enclosure changed the structure of society enriching some, impoverishing others. It led to depopulation, throwing people off the land, increased vagabondage against which society had been legislating since the 15th century. The latest was the Tillage act of 1563, trying to prevent landlords from converting ploughs to sheep. And yet nothing seemed to work – the march of enclosure was relentless. It wasn’t always led by large scale landowners, it might be the local peasantry who wanted it, if they were renting land like yeomen; but it was led by landholders of some type most certainly. So just to demonstrate the impotence of government in the face of large scale economic and social change, in 1593 Elizabeth’s parliament repealed the Tillage act of 1563. It really is a theme – you can legislate all you like, but economics almost always trumps politics.

Within 4 years of 1693, they’d changed their mind again – Francis Bacon found the whole thing horrifying. He criticised those lords who had converted land to pasture, he lamented the decay in tillage. His new Bill ordered that land that had been converted to pasture during Elizabeth’s reign should revert to tillage and it also banned any further conversion of land to pasture. Walter Ralegh fought against it and we get an early free trade argument that would one day become such a feature of English economic policy; parliament should he wrote

set corn free “and leave every man free, which is the desire of a true Englishman”

But Salisbury, of all people, who would soon be busy enclosing common woods for deer parks, was more principled when it came to tillage

Whoever doth not maintain the plough, destroys the kingdom

It has to be said although Francis Bacon’s act passed, the whole process was not terribly dignified, with lots of arguing and claims for exemptions. And anyway, the 1593 repeal, though, had rather given a green light to enclosing landlords, and in 4 years the genie had put a bit of weight on and couldn’t be squeezed back into his bottle. Meanwhile, as you know the 1590s were times of terrible harvests & dearth. Poor folk were suffering – inflation eroded real wages, prices rose, a growing population meant there was less work. Times were hard.

Those hard times extended in places into the 1600s too. In 1604 the MP for Northamptonshire, Sir Edward Montagu, stood up and told the Commons that the

‘cry of the county’ was vehemently against ‘depopulation and daily excessive conversion of tillage into pasture’.

Much of the English midlands, though open, champion land, lay on heavy, hard to work clay soil. I know this because if I had 10p for every time my father explained that the amusing shape and size of the carrots from his veg patch was due to the heavy constitution of his soil, I would have well over £42.50. So when the tillage acts had been repealed in 1593, the local midlands Gentry, with eyes of green, had gone whiffling through the tulgey open fields, and left pasture as they came – for sheep, for fattening cattle, for higher rents. Bacon’s 1597 act, Montague’s complaint in 1604, neither appears to have had any impact. Those enclosers kept right at it.

By 1607 the people of large swathes of the Midlands had seen enough, and could take no more. On April 30th, the Earl of Shrewsbury was writing about trying to prevent disturbances in Derbyshire. The following day came the first recorded trouble, coinciding then with May Eve – probably no coincidence, since as a festival it brought people together, and together they could share their anger. Across Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire there were reports of large crowds, of thousands of people – 3,000 at Hilmorton, 5,000 at Cotesbach in Leicestershire.

 

 

 

Maybe what converted anger and resentment into action was the appearance of a person to lead them, a person with charisma and determination. John Reynolds was the man’s name, but he was better known to the people of the midlands as Captain Pouch. He acquired the name because he had the cunning to put on the mantle of authority, in both divine and regal form. He carried a large leather pouch. Within the pouch, the captain claimed lay an object

‘sufficient matter to defend them against all comers’

Not just that, but he claimed

‘that in this present work, he was directed by the Lord of Heaven’

So – mystical powers, divine authority – still Reynolds realised that was not enough. So he claimed also to have been given authority from the king to throw down enclosures. As far as they were concerned, enclosing landlords were dangerous innovators – enemies not only of the people but of the state. And people might well have believed him when he said the king was on their side; afterall parliament had passed all those laws and despite all the evidence of a century of Tudor executions, many had a touching faith that the king was on their side, father of the people – it’s just that the truth was hidden from him by evil counsellors, once he knew, he’d come to save them, and put their oppressors to the sword. It was a view that was not quite correct, though marginally less far from the truth than you might think.

Anyway, the riots spread, and it seems that the protestors might have horrified the gentry, but they had the solid support of the people – including those that might have taken a different view – in the town. So when they heard, the people of the local towns came out to help; after the Midland Rising, there was an investigation, so we have a gift – the words of the powerless, so little recorded normally. One of them recorded that

They were generally relieved by the near inhabitants who sent them not only many cartes laden with victuals but also a good store of spades and shovels for their present enterprise

The Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire was outraged at this sign of class solidarity. So, he also acted according to his idiom, and erected a gibbet in Leicester to discourage the townspeople from offering any more support. So, nothing daunted, the townspeople tore it down. Huntingdon threw a shoe, and imprisoned the mayor and fined the corporation, all of which sounds satisfyingly the right way round somehow.

So look you’ve got these very large gatherings of ordinary people; what are they actually doing, and what precisely were they complaining about and why?  Well, as the movement developed from it’s May eve start, in early June 1607 Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, reported that about a thousand men and women had begun ‘busily digging’ in enclosures at Newton, a village three miles north of Kettering in Northamptonshire. Shrewsbury contemptuously described them a ‘tumultuous rabble’. But very interestingly he noted that they called themselves ‘levellers’. Now that, apparently might be the first use of a term that would become super popular for a political movement in the civil war. What context it’s being used here would be interesting to know; it’s not at all clear that it is the social and political context for which it will become known in the civil war..

Because Shrewsbury is also describing them as diggers – another term that would acquire a lot of baggage in the time of the civil war. But here it appears to be mainly practical – these groups across the midlands were actually levelling the hedges, chopping them down; digging newly created pastures, trying to recover the tilled land that was lost.

The violence they offered, however, appeared to be largely restricted to property, hedges and fences, not to people. Captain Pouch specifically instructed his followers

‘not to swear, nor to offer violence to any person, but to ply their business and make fair works

It is a feature of the Tudor rebellions – the orderliness of the rebels is in rather stark contrast to the violence that will sometimes be inflicted on them by their so-called betters. However, the diggers were quite convinced that their lives and livelihood were in danger, and that their betters in this case were not acting for the common good; they accused them as

‘encroaching tyrants which would grind our flesh on the whetstone of poverty’

And that they acted not

‘for the benefit of the Commonalty’ but only for the ‘private gain’ of those who had ‘depopulated and overthrown whole towns and made thereof sheep pastures, nothing profitable for our commonwealth’.

The diggers were clear about the consequences of enclosures and they were sophisticated; they complained of the extinction of common rights, that their landlords would then raise rents, and rent rack them; that the tradition of hospitality would disappear, villages would be depopulated and the poverty increase – that with sheep, came an increase in the price of corn. Striking was their conviction that the king would help their ‘true-heartedly commonality’, because they explicitly condemned enclosure in the idiom of tyranny, as a crime committed by a propertied class who had little respect for the king’s law, still less for their conventional social obligations. The idea of social order we discussed in early modern England was supposed to mean reciprocal responsibilities by all orders of societ.

There were other commentators on the Midland Rising; one of them was a clergyman, Robert Wilkinson and his attitude is really interesting. As you might expect as a member of the establishment, the very idea of insurrection and the overturning of the social order was abhorrent to him; and he’s not hanging around, writing that ‘the vile’ dared to ‘presume against the honourable”, and appalled that the ruler of three kingdoms was obliged to ‘capitulate with a tinker’ – namely [1]Captain Pouch.

But after that expression of disgust at disorder, his criticism fell very much on those who had put aside their responsibilities, and exploited their position, and instead acted from Greed and oppression. That they should have recognised that at a time of dearth without their help, the violence of the poor came from necessity, and overrode the requirement to submit to social order

‘the belly sayth that bread must be had, and the soule subscribeth that bread must be had too, and though reason may persuade and authoritie command, and preachers may exhort with obedience and patience to sustain the want of bread’

Essentially, enclosure and dearth had provoked this rebellion, and the landowners were to blame for failing in their responsibilities. At the end of the day though, it is the lover of order that won out; and the consequences of rebellion, however provoked, must be the judicial carnage which so often followed

‘better one or a few to be punisht than a whole kingdom hazarded’

It might be expected that Francis Bacon, as a leading lawyer and member of the king’s court would be straightforwardly and wholesomely against the very idea of rebellion; but actually, as we have heard Bacon was heartily against enclosure, his attitude also was sympathetic to the midlanders. He even sounds slightly socialist with his warning

that the Treasure and Moneyes, in a State, be not gathered into few Hands. And Money is like Muck, not good except it be spread’

There is one more commentator, or there may be one more, according to Steve Hindle; and that commentater was none other than Billy the Bard, Shakespeare himself. In Coriolanus, I am told, and I have no personal knowledge of this, so I take it on trust from Professor Hindle. A character called the First Citizen apparently has a bit of a hack at the Patrician class, accusing them of holding the plebs as of little consequence, and forcing them to hunger and rebellion – precisely because the boards of the wealthy groan with excess. This echoes the Warwickshire diggers, Watrwickshire being of course William Shakespeare’s ‘hood, who had complained that the enclosing landlords were relishing ‘the sweetness of our wantes’. Rather than fasting in order to ‘taste the dearth’ out of compassion for their poorer neighbours, the wealthy were enjoying a lifestyle only made possible by exploitation. Essentially, this misery was a false famine – caused only by the excesses of the rich. So concludes the First Citizen

let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become [thin as] rakes’

This, my friends, is social revolution indeed, and according to Professor Steve directly attributable to the reports, publications and broadsheets around the 1607 and 1608 midland rising and dearth.

 

 

 

 

 

Well, back to the events then. There seems little doubt that what happened in the Midlands in 1607 was a combination of population growth, high prices of corn leading to dearth and the danger of famine, and depopulation caused by enclosure. Captain Pouch was one of the first to go; although the English state had no police force, and relied on the unreliable, notably the local trained bands, eventually the act was placed together. At the start of June, there was a clash at Withybrook in Warwickshire, and Captain Pouch was taken. Inside his pouch, rather than a sacred object of great mystical power, a chunk of green cheese, delicious and practical no doubt, but the force therein was probably not strong. Though while we might denigrate mouldy cheese and indeed, there’s no doubt that the fine gentlemen of Stuart England no doubt did have an unfriendly chuckle at the revelation, if I were to ask my hound, Dylan the Dog, I have no doubt that he would agree with the good Captain, that mouldy cheese is indeed worthy of veneration, and that he doth verily so venerate. John Reynolds then, stripped of both his captaincy and his pouch was sent ‘as the chieftest leader’, before the Privy Council and was sent for exemplary punishment; not quite sure how exemplary, but I guess it might have involved Mr Reynolds being stripped of another pouch, could be wrong.

The action then moved on to Northamptonshire, and the little village of Newton, which is near the glittering cosmopolis that is Kettering. Northampton shire was particularly badly affected by enclosure; 27,000 acres had been enclosed, 350 farms removed, over 1500 people evicted. Now, this was Tresham country, and the Treshams, including the well known Roman Catholic branch under Francis Tresham, had of course been involved two years earlier in the Gunpowder Plot and Francis had died in the Tower of London. Well, when they weren’t complaining bitterly about religious oppression and planning to blow people up, the Treshams were busy oppressing their own people. Sir Thomas Tresham was described indeed as the “most odious in this country”. Now Tresham of Newton was enclosing common land, the Brand, which had been part of Rockingham Forest. Over a thousand people were at Newton, digging and levelling when up turned Edward Montagu from Broughton Castle. Now this was quite ironic, if irony is your thing. Montague was the very MP we talked about standing up in parliament in 1604 to object to enclosure, to no avail. Montague was part of a Puritan family that had been in dispute for years with the Treshams. Now, Montagu was the man required to clear up the Tresham mess.

Here’s how it went. James had by this time issued a proclamation ordering the levellers and diggers to disperse. Montagu read out the proclamation to the diggers; who refused to move. And in fact many later would say that they had resolved to give their lives, come what may, so desperate was their situation. So they stayed. Montague had joined up with Anthony Mildmay, who lived nearby at a very grand palace of Apethorpe, which is empty now but visitable by appointment and a wonderful place to go – I went there with the aged M some time ago. So there we have two gentlemen, facing 1000 determined looking peasants calling themselves levellers. Now Montague and Mildmay did not have a finely armed, high trained force behind them; the trained bands were still in process of saying ‘yer what?’, so instead they had gathered together such servants and tenant as they could find, in time honoured fashion. With of course, what the levellers did not have – some horses. Still, Montague and Mildmay begged and pleaded the levellers to leave – but they would not. And so, they mounted their special weapon, their horses, and charged. And yet, with desperation, they were beaten off. And so, they charged again. This time it was too much. 40-50 were slaughtered; many more, we do not know how many, were injured. Then there’s a local parish register which tells us all we know of the outcome

Many were taken prisoners who afterwards were hanged and quartered and their quarters set up at Northampton, Oundle, Thrapston and other places’

The Midland rising was over. Now one person absent from the story so far has been King James, so let us tell his story very briefly – it’s a reasonably standard one. James had three priorities through this business; the first was to get the problem to go away, to get the levellers to disperse. When that didn’t work, second up was repression, which he justified with a natty little medical analogy

We are bound (as the head of the politike body of our Realme) to follow the course which the best Phisitians use in dangerous diseases, which is, by a sharp remedy applied to a small and infected part, to save the whole from dissolution and destruction

And thus Montague, Mildmay, servants, horses – charge.

The third priority though, to give him his due, was to redress the grievance. And so, moved by what he described slightly pompously as

Christian compassion’ for those subjects who ‘being likewise touched with this grief, avoyded the like offences’; and by ‘Princely care and providence to preserve our people from decay or diminution’

James set up a commission, which investigated and gave us the voice of the levellers and diggers. And which to be fair did prosecute several gentlemen of enclosure in Star Chamber, including one Thomas Tresham. Who, however, was never in danger of losing his pouch over the affair.

James also then offered a pardon for any rebels still at large, but there’s a sting in the tail; as far as James was concerned, despite the enclosures, despite the prosecutions, he was clear that rebellion was unjustified. Because he said there was no evidence of

‘necessitie of famine or dearth of corne’, nor indeed any other ‘extraordinary accident’, that might ‘stirre or provoke’ the labouring poor to rise.

This of course was not the contention of the rebels, and we might suspect their information was better founded. Burials on the parish registers soared in 1606-7. By June 1608, the increase in sheep had indeed led to an increase in the price of corn, just as they predicted, up by 30%. The government was forced to issue dearth orders to regulate the price of corn.

So look, the Midland Rising is not an event of the scale of the Tudor rebellions, but it’s interesting. It is a sharp point in the continuing story of enclosure, economic change, the social change it engendered and the enormous pressures on the social fabric; and just the plain old, honest to goodness suffering. I mean I’m livid about the number of fences one of our local landowners has seen fit to put up and would love to level them; and livid about the lack of a right to roam in England; but it’s seriously a 1st world problem, I am not in danger of famine. I can feel the pain, fury and helplessness of the diggers and levellers as the basis of their livelihood was torn apart.

Not sure if it’s a helpful parallel, but I am put in mind of the peerless Scottish historian, Sir Tom Devine who has written among many other things about the Scottish enclosures. We hear often, frequently and with entirely justifiable fury about the Highland enclosures, it is a national lament exceeding even Culloden; so painful that the English are of course held to blame – even though we were nowhere near the place, wasn’t me Guv. But Tom Devine’s point is that Lowland Scots had been through the very same pain, just over a longer period. The same applies in England – enclosure happened over centuries, though culminating in the late 18th century, but it caused enormous pain, destitution, poverty and death nonethless. Just to leaven the bread of outrage though, I should repeat as I’ve covered before, that although in the Midland Rising the cause was the work largely of large landowners; this was no means always the case. In many enclosure projects, villagers did have agency and involvement and even initiative to make them happen.

The other reflection I think is the network of deference and social obligation under which early modern society functioned; the responses of the participants are really interesting. The diggers and levellers are not only facing famine and dearth – they are betrayed, they expect a certain behaviour from those up the hierarchy and they don’t get it. They take action in levelling the fences in a horrid parody of what the king should be enforcing, his kingdom’s law. This is not class war, because as yet class isn’t seen in that way – this is social betrayal, the breaking of a sacred contract.

The response of those in authority is fascinating. The super rich, and men like Tresham by any scale were super rich, who yet destroy their society’s concept of the commonwealth in pursuit of yet more cash, while complaining of their own oppression. Though a kinder way I guess might be to see them to a degree as victims of large scale economic forces – forced by prices, population and change to defend the position in society they are expected to maintain. You can choose which you prefer. The clergyman and the lawyer, Wilkinson and Bacon, horrified by the plight of the people; and yet in the end, stability, social order trump all.

Still, you can see I guess from these crises that there was inherent in English society the kind of social pressures which once historians believed were deeply submerged under an accepted social contact, and belief in the commonweal, the health of society as the health of a body, order, structure, an absence of conflict. Social pressures which would emerge in a dramatic flowering during the civil wars.

OK, well I am very sure you’ll all be a bit cross with how much time I have spent on the Midland Rising; more I think than I spent on the Pilgrimage of Grace. Sorry about that, but it’s always important when the midlands, which of course after the Golden Crescent of Mesopotamia is the second cradle of civilisation, emerges from the gloom of history into the light. I’ll try not to warble on too much about enclosure again – well for a while anyway.

However, I did think maybe we’d have a quick weekly word – since we’ve mentioned Diggers and Levellers. Because they are very famous names which derive from the civil wars; they have remained strong in our consciousness, and probably gained in power I suspect, as our values have become much closer to some of those which they supported – views which at the time seemed unbelievably radical. And which yet, from the story you have just heard from the Midlands Rising, had fertile soil from which to grow.

So, Shrewsbury’s use of the term leveller was probably its first use as we have heard. Although it probably related to the levelling of fences, yet it obviously had radical connotation – this was violent protest, a demand for equality and equity, and, albeit in the levellers of Northamptonshire’s view, the implementation of the King’s law. Like so many names that become an accepted and proud, positive part of a group’s identity, like Tory and Whig most famously, the term started as an insult. The next printed use of the term came from the pen of a pamphleteer, Marchmont Needham, the author of the newspaper Mercurius Pragmaticus, a man who wrote for both sides in the civil war – so much so that he’d become described as Cromwell’s Press Agent. Anyway, in 1644, Marchmont declared sarcastically that ‘Our Levellers now exclaim against the Parliament’. By 1647, the term was in wide use; a newsletter declared

They have given themselves a new name viz. Levellers, for they intend to sett all things straight, and rayse a parity and community in the kingdom.

The name continued, and continues to mean something still; after the Glorious Revolution another commentator used it again as a criticism

I see you are an everlasting Leveller, you won’t allow any encouragement to extraordinary Industry and Merit.

Much later, the term appears again in a revolutionary context. In 18th century Ireland, a secret agrarian organisation fought the forces of property on the side of tenant farmers; there’s a very strong parallel with our Midland Rising, actually, in objecting to rack renting, and tearing down fences to support traditional subsistence farming, but there’s an Irish context of course – they also objected to tithe farming, the imposition of an annual fee for an alien church.  In 1763 newsheets reported

the mischiefs committed by those people called Levellers, in the county of Tipperary; by levelling park walls, breaking down fences, &c.

More commonly, though, they were called Whiteboys, because of the white smocks they wore over their clothing during their nightly raids. By the end of the 18th century they had been repressed.

Shrewsbury also referred to the diggers at Newton, digging to level the land again for tillage. And that theme of levelling the land would re-appear in more radical form later in the civil war, when Gerald Winstanley furiously declared that the people had been robbed of their inheritance in the land, appealing back to a golden age before the hated Normans came. The report was read in London that

One Everard and two more..all living att Cobham, came to St. George’s Hill in Surrey, and began to digge on that side the Hill next to Campe Close, and sowed the ground with parsenipps, and carretts, and beans.

It is true to say, I think, that there is no greater symbol of English liberty than the noble parsnip. Although I imagine parsnips is merely a metaphor for all root vegetables.

They then wrote to the commander of the parliamentary armies:

To his Excellency the Lord Fairfax..the Brotherly Request of those that are called Diggers, sheweth, That whereas we have begun to digg upon the Commons for a livelihood, first, for the righteous law of Creation that gives the earth freely to one as well as another.

The reputation and influence of the Diggers also lives on; it became more recently a name for hippie communities, in 1969, the Guardian reported on the words of the member of the London Diggers, who

describes his group as ‘communal hippies, nonviolent basically and nonauthoritarian

And I am told they appeared in San Francisco in the 60’s to boot.

So there we go; the Midland Rising points us to the future ladies and gentlemen. But we have James to deal with first, and it is his story we shall continue with next time, when we return to politics, and Salisbury’s attempt to solve the essential insolvency of the English state, with a Great Contract.

[1] Hindle, S ‘Imagining Insurrection in Seventeenth-Century England: Representations of the

Midland Rising of 1607’

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