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“ Part of the cavells of 600 acres in Wroot.
“ Cavell E. Mr. Valkenburgh,
D. Mr. Burdel,
“ Part of the cavells of 200 acres in the Meolings. Cavell F. Lady Cambell
200 C. Mr, Gibbons,
200 B. Mr. Vernatti,
12 B. Mr. Custon, &c.
32 B. Lady Ramsden,
50 D. Sir Gabriel Vernatti, 101 A. Sir Gabriel Vernatti,
287 A. Sir Christ. Tryram,
64 A. 630
“ Part of the cavells of 80 acres in Dirkness.
“ Cavell E. Sir J. Ant. Valkenburgh, 54
“ Part of the cavells of 200 acres in Haines. “ Cavell A. Mr. Van Paine,
2 E. Lady Stappleton,
33 E. Mr. Valkenburgh,
17 D. Mr. J. Eatch,
20 D. Mr. Lyens,
In the December following the Participants exhibited a petition to Parliament, against the perpetrators of these abominable outrages; and the Commoners also presented a counter one, which is entitled, “the great complaint
and declaration of above 1200 Freeholders and Commoners, setting forth the plot and design of Mr. John Gibbons, and his fellow projectors, to gain possession of the said Freeholders' ancient inheritance in their commonable grounds contrary to law, humbly presenteth and desireth to be perused.” In this petition the Commoners endeavour to justify their proceedings in pulling up Snow Sewer, by saying that “ it was done to defend the Isle from the coming of Sir Ralph Hanby, then of the King's partie ;” and insinuates that the Participants were the greatest rioters, “ murdering, wounding, and shooting to death the Freeholders when they first came; and accuses Mr. Gibbons* and his Participants, in those parts, of having their hands in such horrid things, they are well they have escaped the ropet." The petition then concludes in the canting phraseology of the day,—“the Lord direct your honours to hold forth the law to them, for there is nothing in this case which is not determinable by law : so shall the hearts of many thousands, men, women, and children, in the Isle of Axholme, have occasion to bless God for this deliverance, when they see that through your mercy the law of the land is become their protection in these their estates, against usurpers and wrong-doers. Prov. xxiii, verses 10 and 11, “Remove not the old land mark; enter not into the fields of the fatherless : for their redeemer is mighty, he shall plead their cause with thee.” It appears also, from this petition, that the Commoners had raised two companies of foot g for the Parliament, and the Participants one troop of horse for the king.
It was ordered, however, by the Lords in Parliament assembled, “ that the shireve of the County of Lincoln, and the Justices of the Peace” should strictly enforce the statutes made in the 13th of Henry IV, “for the sup
pressing * Gibbons had purchased the share of Cor. Vermuyden.
† From an original document in the possession of R. P. Johnson, Esq. $ I have before me an old MS. containing part of an assessment for paying these two companies of foot; and it is endorsed, "the number of soldiers is 495." There is also a muster-roll of one of the companies,--Captain, Wm. Manning,-Lieut. Wm. Tule,-Ensign, Thos. Pergint,--Sergeant, Wm. Harris. On this muster-roll is endorsed,"returned by Capt. Wm. Manning, the 18th of August, £33 168. 8d. for the payment of the 100 soldiers and officers, which payment began the 17th and
pressing of riots and routs;" and call to their assistance the train bands, if need be, of the same county. And the Parliamentary forces next adjoining to be aiding and assisting the Participants, in guarding and keeping these sluices and sewers, and in repairing what had been so demolished, and in levelling the taxes legally imposed, tending to the preservation of so good and beneficial a work to the commonwealth. The Sheriff was also enjoined to appoint a deputy within the limits of the Level; and this order of Parliament was to be published in the several churches and market towns of the county.
These measures being pụt in force, seven of the inhabitants of Epworth had recourse again to their favourite system of litigation, and endeavoured to overturn what had before been settled, with their consent, by the award of the Attorney-General ; but meeting with little success, they returned to their old practice of rioting: for the Sheriff having come with about one hundred persons to preserve the peace, and to repair the damage done to the four thousand acres first laid waste, one Daniel Noddell, solicitor for the litigious inhabitants of Epworth, gathered together about four hundred men defeated the Sheriff, and demolished the reparation which he had begun to effect.
The Participants being thus forcibly kept out of possession, endeavoured to obtain redress from the Court of Exchequer; but while the case was hearing, Nodell, having obtained the assistance of Lieut. -Colonel John Lila burne*, a person of a most turbulent disposition, and also of Major John Wildman*, headed the inhabitants in another riot, and laid waste theremaining three thousand four hundred acres on Epworth, which till then had remained undisturbed. The sufferers not knowing what to do, complained several times to Michael Monkton, a Justice of the Peace for the said parts, who not only refused to grant any warrants, or to pursue any legal course for their preservation, but on the contrary gave encouragement to the rioters; and succeeded so far in protecting them by his influence, that, when indicted and found guilty at the sessions, they were fined only twelve-pence a man.
Wildman, * John Lilburne, a stern republican, was one of the most restless and contentious spirits of the time. John was an apprentice in London to a poor book-binder, where he first exhibited his impatience of controul, by a complaint before the Chamberlain against his master for ill-usage.
He then began to study the divinity of the time; and the Book of Martyrs inspired him with an enthusiastic fervour for acting and suffering in what he deemed a righteous cause. He was soon called upon to suffer; and no one could go through his trials with a more unsubdued spirit. Lilburne passed a life of contention against power, in every hand in which it was placed, and of dispute with all his superiors in command; which no doubt procured for him great popularity with the lower orders, and the title of free-born John. He was a violent controversialist on civil and religious topics; a brave soldier, but never found an authority under which he could act. Cromwell made use of him to inflame the army against the Parliament; but no sooner was the sovereign power lodged in Crom
In 1650, a decree was issued from the Exchequer in favour of the Parti. cipants, which the inhabitants, through the influence of Lilburne, Wildman, and Noddell, refused to obey, and said they could make as good a parliament themselves,—some calling it “a parliament of clouts ;" and declared, that if any forces were sent they would resist them.
They then proceeded to deface the Church at Sandtoft; buried carrion under the communion table, carried away the leads and seats; " and within ten days' time, did totally demolish the town itself, with the houses thereabouts, to the number of four-score and two habitations, besides barns, stables, and out-houses, and also a wind-mill, and destroyed all the corn and rape then growing, the damage of which amounted to four score thousand pounds, as appeared by the testimony of sundry witnesses."
These rebels, with their confederates, Jasper Margrave and George Stovin, having got possession of the Participants' lands both in Epworth and Crowle,
well's hands, than Lilburne loaded him with every species of abuse and invective. Cromwell had him tried for high treason ; but the jury returned a verdict of acquittal, which infinitely enraged and perplexed Cromwell, who is said to have regretted it more than the loss of a battle. Noddell and others drew him into disputes respecting the rights of commons, &c. and he appears to have acted with spirit in their cause. He wrote “the Case of the Tenants of the Manor of Epworth.” This singular man at last turned Quaker.
* Wildman was bred a scholar in the University of Cambridge; and being young and of a pregnant wit, in the beginning of the rebellion meant to make his fortune by the war. He was patronized by Cromwell, who made use of him in his disputes with the Parliament. He afterwards quitted the army, and betook himself to civil affairs, in the solicitation of suits depending in the Parliament or before committees. He was afterwards imprisoned for exciting the army to take up arms against Cromwell; and many expected he would have been executed. Lord Clarendon thinks he was let off on condition of becoming a spy in Cromwell's service.
demised several parts:to different persons; and Lilburne, having repaired the house which had been built for the-Minister at Sandtoft, sent his servants to reside there, and used the Church for a stable and barn.
In 1658, an order was made by the Council of State, that the forces quartered in that neighbourhood should aid and assist the officers of justice in putting a stop to these abominable proceedings; and that a special commission of
oyer and terminer should be issued to try the rioters, and to inquire of the damages suffered by the Participants and their tenants : but notwithstanding this the said inhabitants still continued in
open rebellion. Another character now appears upon the scene, who, if Vermuyden deserves "high praise and honourable mention in all histories” for making his drains, ought to be compared to Hercules, for his prowess and incredible labours in subduing the rioters, and defending the property of the Participants This person was Mr. Nathaniel Reading, a Counsellor. first sent into the country by the Earl of Antrim, who had married the Dowager Duchess of Buckingham, to collect the fee farm rents in arrear, granted by King Charles to the late Duke. He was employed by the Commoners as their counsel when the allotments were divided; but he seems quickly to have deserted that side, and to have agreed with Sir Anthony Tryram and the other Participants, for a salary of £200 per annum, and indemnification of all charges, to undertake the work of subduing his old patrons, and enforcing upon them obedience to the laws. This was to use the political phraseology of the present day, “ratting” with a vengeance; and is sufficient to account for that deadly hatred which afterwards existed in the hearts of the Commoners towards him.
Mr. Reading being appointed collector of the rates and scotts imposed by the Court of Sewers on the improved lands, and payment thereof being refused by the Commoners of Epworth, he distrained their cattle, which they rescued with great violence from the pinfold at Hatfield, wounding the constable in the head and both his legs. The Court of Sewers, in vindication of their authority, sent a remonstrance * to Cromwell, to this effect, " that
the * Records of the Court of Sewers, Vol. 2.