Front Page Titles (by Subject) [ Narrative of the Proceedings of Skippon and the Commissioners at Saffron Walden, May 6, 7, 1647 b ]. - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 1
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[ Narrative of the Proceedings of Skippon and the Commissioners at Saffron Walden, May 6, 7, 1647 b ]. - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 1 
The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, ed. C.H. Firth (Camden Society, 1901). 4 vols.
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[Narrative of the Proceedings of Skippon and the Commissioners at Saffron Walden, May 6, 7, 1647b ].
Yesterdayc many of the Officers of the Army came to this Towne, but by reason that few of the officers of Horse came, the meeting was deferr’d till this day. The examination was yesterday taken of Lievtennant Wheeler a Lievtennant in Colonell Hammond’s Regiment, to this effect: that being the other day at Royston the Postmaster there shewed him the Coppy of a Paper which was given him the day before by one Mr. Seely, who tooke post for the North there and gave himselfe out to be the Duke of Buckingham’s Chaplaine; the paper was the same verbatim with that which goes abroad concerning the Army and his Majestie, which (it seemes) the Earle of Pembrooke declared to be true. The Postmaster further said that the Chaplaine told him that hee needed not to feare the truth of it, for that Sir William Armin had a Copie of it at Huntington, and yesterday Sir William sent a Copie of it to the Lievtennant Generall. The Officers, being acquainted with this designe and the Earle of Pembrook’s relation are very sencible of the dishonour of the Army therein, and will desire repairation, as will appeare by the inclosed, which yesterday was resolved upon to have been offered to the Major Generall and the rest; but by reason it was apprehended the Officers could not give their sence without the Souldiers, it was not mentioned at all, therefore I was charged not to communicate it to any, and soe I have sent it in short hand for your owne use.
This day the Officers mett in the Church, not above 30 Officers of Horse and about 150 of Foote. The Feild Marshall Generall first made a Narration of the occasion of their comming downe to quiet the distempers of the army, that they should make it appeare that they were faithfull hearted for the publique good, that it would be conscience, justice, reason, and faithfullnesse in them that were Commanders to contribute their utmost endeavours for the alleying of all distempers. After the ending of this Speach the votes of the House were read, and Copies of them given to the severall Officers of each Regiment there present to be communicated to their Regiments. Upon this, the Commissioners (for soe I may call them) withdrawing, the Major Generall returned and expressed himselfe concerninge the service of Ireland, how just and necessary the worke was, and how that service was altogether unthought of or unsought for by him; I shall at present give you what he said in this particular at large, and leave the full accompt of the rest till the next: his words were,
I shall now desire you to heare mee a few words in relation to the bussinesse of Ireland; I believe it is not unknowne or unapprehended by your selves how just, and honourable, how necessary that worke is. Altogether unthought of, unsought for, it hath pleased God to call mee to be imployed there if he please, a service truly that my exceeding unfittnesse for made mee exceeding unwilling to (to speake in relation to myselfe, for concerning the service you have heard what I have exprest). If I should have been excused, as I did most humbly and earnestly desire (I speake still in relation to my selfe), I would rather have been content to have laid downe all my other Imployments at the Parliament’s foote, by their command, then to have undertaken this, for which I am soe unfitt. It is not a title, or preferment, or any selfe advantage that moves mee in this at all, but singly this, which I desire you to lay to heart, that it should not be said such a man was the delayer, was the obstructour, or the prejudicer of such a service singly. This consideration made mee in conscience to God to undertake that worke, with this expression, though it shall please God I perish in the undertaking of it, God’s will be done. It was said on all hands, as I have many times heard, that if I would engage, a considerable parte of the Army, Officers, and Souldiers would engage; if I did not engage they would not engage. Truly, as farr as still relates to myself, I have a great deale of reason to looke upon this as a testimony of love and respect from the Army. Now since that obstruction is taken away be pleased to take notice of it, and if my engagement may be any furtherance to the bussinesse I pray lett it appeare; and accordingly you may please to make knowne to your severall Regiments that, for those reasons I have partly mentioned, I was exceedingly desireious to decline it, upon that single consideration I was moved to entertaine it, that if my going may be any furtherance (God in mercy goe with us), I should improve it to the furtherance of that service. I thought good to communicate [this] to you; though it was not in our commission, yet it was not without advice and consent of those Gentlemen.
To this Colonell Hammond replied,a that at the meeting of the late Commissioners at Walden there was something offered by him in relation to himselfe and many officers of the Army, that they had that knowledge of the Major Generall’s great honour, gallantry, and honestie, that they should as freely goe with him as any, except the Generall and Lieutennant Generall; not that his going would be an occasion of drawing the Army; and that if the Commissisoners or others had given him information otherwise, they have not done that which is right.
To this the Major Generall thus exprest himselfe: You will be pleased iudiciously, Christianly, seasonably, cordially, dilligently, and faithfully to take into consideration all those things I have propounded to you, and againe I beseech you, as men of integritie and honesty, improve your utmost interest for the service of the Parliament and of Ireland. Then Colonell Butlerb desired to be satisfied concerning the considerable part of Arreares, whether the Parliament would doe any thing more then they had already voted vizt. 6 weekes pay, in regard the Souldiers would be desireous to knowe of them. The Commissioners replyed that they could not assure any further satisfaction, and that it did not lye in their powers to interperett the votes of the Parliament. Then some Officers desired to knowe the meaning of the House concerning distempers. To this the Commissioners answeared, that the cheife occasion of their coming downe was upon the letter of the 8 Regiments of Horse; yet the House had been informed of some other proceedings which they conceiv’d illegal and out of discontents, and they were to receive the distempers of the severall Regiments, and for such as could give an accompt that their Regiments were free from distempers, they doubted not but it would be acceptable to the Parliament and to them. After this there was some debate whether the Officers then present should deliver in any thing of what they apprehended was occassions of discontents, and resolved that till they had consulted with their Souldiers it would be but halfe worke, and therefore nothing of their greivances should be then offered; hereupon the Officers were appointed to their severall charges to take the accompts, and to meete the Commissioners at Walden to-morrow sennight; and in the meane time, if they should be provided to give a full accompt the Commissioners declared that they should stay here, unlesse they had a command to the contrary, and receive the same from such as should be prepared before that time. The Officers are generally very unanimous, and I believe what will be proposed will be much according to the sence of the inclosed.
At the meeting Captaine Clarke of Sir Hardresse Wallers Regiment presented the inclosed Petition to Major Generall Skippon, desireing it might be publicly read, for the satisfaction of the Officers present and cleareinge of himselfe and the rest; but in regard it concerned themselves only it was not thought fitt to be communicated.
Walden 7 May, 1647.
[For the whole proceedings at this meeting, it is in shorthand, in the bundle upon Mr. Wragges Lettre, May 6th 1647.]a
[b ]Rushworth, vi., 480.
[c ]Friday, May 7. The Commissioners give an account of their first meeting in a letter to Lenthal, dated May 8. Cary, Memorials, i. 207.
[a ]See Rushworth, vi., 458. Colonel Robert Hammond.
[b ]Colonel John Butler.
[a ]This note was probably written in 1662, when the letter was copied into the book from which it is now printed. Thomas Wragge was one of the two clerks to Rushworth, the Secretary of the Army. I take this letter to have been written to Rushworth by either William Clarke or Wragge, but probably by the former. Rushworth, as his letters in the Fairfax Correspondence seem to show, was in London most of the month, with Sir Thomas Fairfax.