71. The Heads of the Proposals offered by the Army.
[August 1, 1647. Rushworth, vii. 731. See Great Civil War, iii.
The Heads of the Proposals agreed upon by his Excellency Sir Thomas
Fairfax and the Council of the Army, to be tendered to the Commissioners of
Parliament residing with the Army, and with them to be treated on by the
Commissioners of the Army: containing the particulars of their desires in
pursuance of their former declarations and papers, in order to the clearing and
securing of the rights and liberties of the kingdom, and the settling a just
and lasting peace. To which are added some further particular desires (for the
removing and redressing of divers pressing grievances), being also comprised in
or necessary pursuance of their former representations and papers appointed to
be treated upon.
I. That (things hereafter proposed, being provided for by this
Parliament) a certain period may (by Act of Parliament) be set for the ending
of this Parliament (such period to be put within a year at most), and in the
same Act provision to be made for the succession and constitution of
Parliaments in future, as followeth:
1. That Parliaments may biennially be called and meet at a certain day,
with such provision for the certainty thereof, as in the late Act was made for
triennial Parliaments; and what further or other provision shall be found
needful by the Parliament to reduce it to more certainty; and upon the passing
of this, the said Act for triennial Parliaments to be repealed.
2. Each biennial Parliament to sit 120 days certain (unless adjourned or
dissolved sooner by their own consent), afterwards to be adjournable or
dissolvable by the King, and no Parliament to sit past 240 days from their
first meeting, or some other limited number of days now to be agreed on; upon
the expiration whereof each Parliament to dissolve of course, if not otherwise
3. The King, upon advice of the Council of State, in the intervals
between biennial Parliaments, to call a Parliament extraordinary, provided it
meet above 70 days before the next biennial day, and be dissolved at least 60
days before the same; so as the course of biennial elections may never be
4. That this Parliament and each succeeding biennial Parliament, at or
before adjournment or dissolution thereof, may appoint Committees to continue
during the interval for such purposes as are in any of these Proposals referred
to such Committees.
5. That the elections of the Commons for succeeding Parliaments may be
distributed to all counties, or other parts or divisions of the kingdom,
according to some rule of equality or proportion, so as all counties may have a
number of Parliament members allowed to their choice, proportionable to the
respective rates they bear in the common charges and burdens of the kingdom,
according to some other rule of equality or proportion, to render the House of
Commons (as near as may be) an equal representative of the whole; and in order
thereunto, that a present consideration be had to take off the elections of
burgesses for poor decayed or inconsiderable towns, and to give some present
addition to the number of Parliament members for great counties that have now
less than their due proportion, to bring all (at present), as near as may be,
to such a rule of proportion as aforesaid.
6. That effectual provision be made for future freedom of elections, and
certainty of due returns.
7. That the House of Commons alone have the power from time to time to
set down further orders and rules for the ends expressed in the two last
preceding articles, so as to reduce the elections of members for that House to
more and more perfection of equality in the distribution, freedom in the
election, order in the proceeding thereto, and certainty in the returns, with
orders and rules (in that case) to be in laws.
8. That there be a liberty for entering dissents in the House of
Commons, with provision that no member be censurable for ought said or voted in
the House further than to exclusion from that trust; and that only by the
judgment of the House itself.
9. That the judicial power, or power of final judgment in the Lords and
Commons (and their power of exposition and application of law, without further
appeal), may be cleared; and that no officer of justice, minister of state, or
other person adjudged by them, may be capable of protection or pardon from the
King without their advice or consent.
10. That the right and liberty of the Commons of England may be cleared
and vindicated as to a due exemption from any judgment, trial or other
proceeding against them by the House of Peers, without the concurring judgment
of the House of Commons: as also from any other judgment, sentence or
proceeding against them, other than by their equals, or according to the law of
11. The same Act to provide that grand jurymen may be chosen by and for
several parts or divisions of each county respectively, in some equal way (and
not to remain as now, at the discretion of an Under-Sheriff to be put on or
off), and that such grand jurymen for their respective counties, may at each
Assize present the name of persons to be made Justices of the Peace from time
to time, as the county hath need for any to be added to the Commission, and at
the Summer Assize to present the names of three persons, out of whom the King
may prick one to be Sheriff for the next year.
II. For the future security of Parliament and the militia in general, in
order thereunto, that it be provided by Act of Parliament:
1. That the power of the militia by sea and land, during the space of
ten years next ensuing, shall be ordered and disposed by the Lords and Commons
assembled, and to be assembled in the Parliament or Parliaments of England, by
such persons as they shall nominate and appoint for that purpose from time to
time during the said space.
2. That the said power shall not be ordered, disposed or exercised by
the King's Majesty that now is, or by any person or persons by any authority
derived from him, during the said space, or at any time hereafter by His said
Majesty, without the advice and consent of the said Lords and Commons, or of
such Committees or Council in the intervals of Parliament as they shall
3. That during the same space of ten years the said Lords and Commons
may by Bill or Ordinance raise and dispose of what moneys and for what forces
they shall from time to time find necessary; as also for payment of the public
debts and damages, and for all other the public uses of the kingdom.
4. And to the end the temporary security intended by the three
particulars last precedent may be the better assured, it may therefore be
That no subjects that have been in hostility against the Parliament in
the late war, shall be capable of bearing any office of power or public trust
in the Commonwealth during the space of five years, without the consent of
Parliament or of the Council of State; or to sit as members or assistants of
either House of Parliament, until the second biennial Parliament be passed.
III. For the present form of disposing the militia in order to the peace
and safety of this kingdom and the service of Ireland:
1. That there be Commissioners for the Admiralty, with the Vice-Admiral
and Rear-Admiral, now to be agreed on, with power for the forming, regulating,
appointing of officers and providing for the Navy, and for ordering the same
to, and in the ordinary service of the Kingdom; and that there be a sufficient
provision and establishment for pay and maintenance thereof.
2. That there be a General for command of the laud forces that are to be
in pay both in England, Ireland and Wales, both for field and garrison.
3. That there be Commissioners in the several counties for the standing
militia of the respective counties (consisting of trained bands and auxiliaries
not in pay), with power for the proportioning, forming, regulating, training
and disciplining of them.
4. That there be a Council of State, with power to superintend and
direct the several and particular powers of the militia last mentioned, for the
peace and safety of this kingdom, and of Ireland.
5. That the same Council may have power as the King's Privy Council, for
and in all foreign negotiations; provided that the making of war or peace with
any other kingdom or state shall not be without the advice and consent of
6. That the said power of the Council of State be put into the hands of
trusty and able persons now to be agreed on, and the same persons to continue
in that power (si bene se gesserint) for the certain term not exceeding
7. That there be a sufficient establishment now provided for the salary
forces both in England and Ireland, the establishment to continue until two
months after the meeting of the first biennial Parliament.
IV. That an Act be passed for disposing the great offices for ten years
by the Lords and Commons in Parliament; or by such Committees as they shall
appoint for that purpose in the intervals (with submission to the approbation
of the next Parliament), and after ten years they to nominate three, and the
King out of that number to appoint one for the succession upon any vacancy.
V. That an Act be passed for restraining of any Peers made since the
21st day of May, 1642, or to be hereafter made, from having any power to sit or
vote in Parliament without consent of both Houses.
VI. That an Act be passed for recalling and making void all declarations
and other proceedings against the Parliament, or against any that have acted by
or under their authority in the late war, or in relation to it; and that the
Ordinances for indemnity may be confirmed.
VII. That an Act be passed for making void all grants, &c. under the
Great Seal, that was conveyed away from the Parliament, since the time that it
was so conveyed away (except as in the Parliament's propositions), and for
making those valid that have been or shall be passed under the Great Seal, made
by the authority of both Houses of Parliament.
VIII. That an Act be passed for confirmation of the Treaties between the
two kingdoms of England and Scotland, and for appointing conservators of the
peace between them.
IX. That the Ordinance for taking away the Court of Wards and Liveries
be confirmed by Act of Parliament; provided His Majesty's revenue be not
damnified therein, nor those that last held offices in the same left without
reparation some other way.
X. An Act to declare void the cessation of Ireland, &c., and to
leave the prosecution of that war to the Lords and Commons in the Parliament of
XI. An Act to be passed to take away all coercive power, authority, and
jurisdiction of Bishops and all other Ecclesiastical Officers whatsoever,
extending to any civil penalties upon any: and to repeal all laws whereby the
civil magistracy hath been, or is bound, upon any ecclesiastical censure to
proceed (ex officio) unto any civil penalties against any persons so
XII. That there be a repeal of all Acts or clauses in any Act enjoining
the use of the Book of Common Prayer, and imposing any penalties for neglect
thereof; as also of all Acts or clauses of any Act, imposing any penalty for
not coming to church, or for meetings elsewhere for prayer or other religious
duties, exercises or ordinances, and some other provision to be made for
discovering of Papists and Popish recusants, and for disabling of them, and of
all Jesuits or priests from disturbing the State.
XIII. That the taking of the Covenant be not enforced upon any, nor any
penalties imposed on the refusers, whereby men might be restrained to take it
against their judgments or consciences; but all Orders and Ordinances tending
to that purpose to be repealed.
XIV. That (the things here before proposed being provided, for settling
and securing the rights, liberties, peace and safety of the kingdom) His
Majesty's person, his Queen, and royal issue, may be restored to a condition of
safety, honour and freedom in this nation, without diminution to their personal
rights, or further limitation to the exercise of the regal power than according
to the particulars foregoing XV. For the matter of composition:
1. That a less number out of the persons excepted in the two first
qualifications (not exceeding five for the English) being nominated
particularly by the Parliament, who (together with the persons in the Irish
Rebellion, included in the third qualification) may be reserved to the further
judgment of the Parliament as they shall find cause, all other excepted persons
may be remitted from the exception, and admitted to composition.
2. That the rates of all future compositions may be lessened and
limited, not to exceed the several proportions hereafter expressed
respectively. That is to say,
(1) For all persons formerly excepted, not above a third part.
(2) For the late members of Parliament under the first branch of the
fourth qualification in the Propositions, a fourth part.
(3) For other members of Parliament in the second and third branches of
the same qualification, a sixth part.
(4) For the persons nominated in the said fourth qualification, and
those included in the tenth qualification, an eighth part.
(5) For all others included in the sixth qualification, a tenth part:
and that real debts either upon record, or proved by witnesses, be considered
and abated in the valuation of their estates in all the cases aforesaid.
3. That those who shall hereafter come to compound, may not have the
Covenant put upon them as a condition without which they may not compound, but
in case they shall not willingly take it, they may pass their compositions
4. That the persons and estates of all English not worth £200
in land or goods, be at liberty and discharged: and that the King's menial
servants that never took up arms, but only attended his person according to
their offices, may be freed from composition, or to pay (at most) but the
proportion of one year's revenue, or a twentieth part.
5. That in order to the making and perfecting of compositions at the
rates aforesaid, the rents, revenues, and other duties and profits of all
sequestered estates whatsoever (except the estates of such persons who shall be
continued under exception as before), be from henceforth suspended and detained
in the hands of the respective tenants, occupants and others from whom they are
due, for the space of six months following.
6. That the faith of the army, or other forces of the Parliament given
in articles upon surrenders to any of the King's party, may be fully made good;
and where any breach thereof shall appear to have been made, full reparation
and satisfaction may be given to the parties injured, and the persons offending
(being found out) may be compelled thereto.
XVI. That there may be a general Act of Oblivion to extend unto all
(except the persons to be continued in exception as before), to absolve from
all trespasses, misdemeanours, &c. done in prosecution of the war; and from
all trouble or prejudice for or concerning the same (after their compositions
past), and to restore them to all privileges, &c. belonging to other
subjects, provided as in the fourth particular under the second general head
aforegoing concerning security.
And whereas there have been of late strong endeavours and practices of a
factious and desperate party to embroil this kingdom in a new war, and for that
purpose to induce the King, the Queen, and the Prince to declare for the said
party, and also to excite and stir up all those of the King's late party to
appear and engage for the same, which attempts and designs, many of the King's
party (out of their desires to avoid further misery to the kingdom) have
contributed their endeavours to prevent (as for divers of them we have had
particular assurance): we do therefore desire, that such of the King's party
who shall appear to have expressed, and shall hereafter express, that way their
good affections to the peace and welfare of the kingdom, and to hinder the
embroiling of the same in a new war, may be freed and exempted from
compositions, or to pay but one year's revenue, or a twentieth part.
These particulars aforegoing are the heads of such Proposals as we have
agreed on to tender in order to the settling of the peace of this kingdom,
leaving the terms of peace for the kingdom of Scotland to stand as in the late
Propositions of both kingdoms, until that kingdom shall agree to any
Next to the Proposals aforesaid for the present settling of a peace, we
shall desire that no time may be lost by the Parliament for despatch of other
things tending to the welfare, ease and just satisfaction of the kingdom, and
in special manner:
I. That the just and necessary liberty of the people to represent their
grievances and desires by way of petition, may be cleared and vindicated,
according to the fifth head in the late representation or Declaration of the
army sent from St. Albans [l].
II. That (in pursuance of the same head in the said Declaration) the
common grievances of this people may be speedily considered of, and effectually
redressed, and in particular,
1. That the excise may be taken off from such commodities, whereon the
poor people of the land do ordinarily live, and a certain time to be limited
for taking off the whole.
2. That the oppressions and encroachments of forest laws may be
prevented for the future.
3. All monopolies (old or new) and restraints to the freedom of trade to
be taken off.
4. That a course may be taken, and Commissioners appointed to remedy and
rectify the inequality of rates lying upon several counties, and several parts
of each county in respect of others, and to settle the proportion of land rates
to more equality throughout the kingdom; in order to which we shall offer some
further particulars, which we hope may be useful.
5. The present unequal troublesome and contentious way of ministers'
maintenance by tithes to be considered of, and some remedy applied.
6. That the rules and course of law, and the officers of it, may be so
reduced and reformed, as that all suits and questions of right may be more
clear and certain in the issues, and not so tedious nor chargeable in the
proceedings as now; in order to which we shall offer some further particulars
7. That prisoners for debt or other creditors (who have estates to
discharge them) may not by embracing imprisonment, or any other ways, have
advantage to defraud their creditors, but that the estates of all men may be
some way made liable to their debts (as well as tradesmen are by commissions of
bankrupt), whether they be imprisoned for it or not; and that such prisoners
for debt, who have not wherewith to pay, or at least do yield up what they have
to their creditors, may be freed from imprisonment or some way provided for, so
as neither they nor their families may perish by imprisonment.
8. Some provision to be made, that none may be compelled by penalty or
otherwise to answer unto questions tending to the accusing of themselves or
their nearest relations in criminal causes; and no man's life to be taken away
under two witnesses.
9. That consideration may be had of all Statutes, and the laws or
customs of Corporations, imposing any oaths either to repeal, or else to
qualify and provide against the same, so far as they may extend or be construed
to the molestation or ensnaring of religious and peaceable people, merely for
nonconformity in religion.
III. That according to the sixth head in the Declaration of the army,
the large power given to Committees or Deputy-Lieutenants during the late times
of war and distraction, may be speedily taken into consideration to be recalled
and made void, and that such powers of that nature as shall appear necessary to
be continued, may be put into a regulated way, and left to as little
arbitrariness as the statute and necessity of the things (wherein they are
conversant) will bear.
IV. That (according to the seventh head in the said Declaration) an
effectual course may be taken that the kingdom may be righted, and satisfied in
point of accompts for the vast sums that have been levied.
V. That provision may be made for payment of arrears to the army, and
the rest of the soldiers of the kingdom who have concurred with the army in the
late desires and proceedings thereof; and in the next place for payment of
public debts and damages of the kingdom; and that to be performed, first
to such persons whose debt or damages (upon the public account) are great, and
their estates small, so as they are thereby reduced to a difficulty of
subsistence: in order to all which, and to the fourth particular last
proceeding, we shall speedily offer some further particulars (in the nature of
rules), which we hope will be of good use towards public satisfaction.
August 1, 1647.
Signed by the appointment of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax and the
Council of War.
 Rushworth, vii. 569.
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