From [John Wildman], The Case of the Army truly Stated 15th Oct. 1647
Authors: John Lilburne, Richard Overton, John Wildman, Thomas Rainborough, Henry Ireton, Oliver Cromwell, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Milton Edited by: Arthur Sutherland Pigott Woodhouse, Sir William Clarke
Whereas the grievances, dissatisfactions and desires of the Army, both as Commoners and soldiers, hath been many months since represented to the Parliament, and the Army hath waited with much patience to see their common grievances redressed and the rights and freedoms of the nation cleared and secured; yet upon a most serious and conscientious view of our Narratives, Representations, Engagement, Declarations, Remonstrances, and comparing with those the present state of the Army and kingdom, and the present manner of actings of many at the Headquarters, we not only apprehend nothing to have been done effectually, either for the Army or the poor oppressed people of the nation, but we also conceive that there is little probability of any good without some more speedy and vigorous actings.
In respect of the Army, there hath been hitherto no public vindication thereof about their first Petition, answerable to the ignominy ofb declaring them enemies to the state and disturbers of the peace; no public clearing nor repairing of the credit of the officers, sent for about that petition as delinquents; no provision for apprentices, widows, orphans, or maimed soldiers, answerable to our reasonable addresses propounded in their behalf; no such indemnity as provideth security for the quiet, ease or safety of the soldiers disbanded or to be disbanded; no security for our arrears, or provision for present pay to enable the Army to subsist without burdening the distressed country.
And in respect to the rights and freedoms of ourselves and the people, that we declared we would insist upon, we conceive there is no kind or degree of satisfaction given. There is no determinate period of time set when the Parliament shall certainly end. The House is in no measure purged, either from persons unduly elected or from delinquents that appeared to be such at the Army’s last insisting upon their rights, or since; the honour of the Parliamentary authority not cleared and vindicated from the most horrid injustice of that declaration against the Army for petitioning, nor of suppressing and burning petitions, abusing and imprisoning petitioners. But those strange precedents remain upon record to the infamy of Parliamentary authority and the danger of our own and the people’s freedoms. The people are not righted nor satisfied in point of accounts, for the vast sums of money disbursed by them. None of the public burdens or oppressions by arbitrary committees, injustice in the law, tithes, monopolies and restraint of free trade, burdensome oaths, inequality of assessments, excise (and otherwise), are removed or lightened. The rights of the people in their Parliaments, concerning the nature and extent of that power, are not cleared and declared. So that we apprehend our own and the people’s case, little (if in any measure) better since the Army last hazarded themselves for their own and the people’s rights and freedoms. Nay, to the grief of our hearts we must declare that we conceive the people and the Army’s case much impaired since the first rendezvous at Newmarket when that Solemn Engagement1 was entered into. * * *
In the Engagement, . . . the Army promised, every member thereof, each to other and to the Parliament and kingdom, that they would neither disband nor divide, nor suffer themselves to be disbanded or divided, until satisfaction should be given to the Army in relation to their grievances and desires, and security that neither the Army nor the free-born people of England should remain subject to such injuries, oppression and abuse, as the corrupt party in the Parliament then had attempted against them.
Secondly, the train of artillery is now to be disbanded before satisfaction or security is given to the whole Army in relation to themselves or other the free-born people, either in respect to their grievances or desires. And when the strength or sinews of the Army be broken, what effectual good can be secured for themselves or the people in case of opposition?
Thirdly, the Army is divided into quarters so far distant that one part is in no capability to give timely assistance to another if any design should be to disband any part by violence suddenly. . . . And as we conceive this dividing of the Army before satisfaction or security (as aforesaid) to be contrary to the Army’s intention in their engagement at the said rendezvous, so we conceive it hath from that time given all the advantage to the enemies to band and design against the Army, whereby not only pay hath been kept from the soldiers, and security for arrears prevented, but the kingdom was endangered to have been embroiled in blood, and the settlement of the peace and freedom of the nation hath been thus long delayed.
The whole intent of the Engagement, and the equitable sense of it, hath been perverted openly by affirming, and by sinister means making seeming determinations in the Council, that the Army was not to insist upon, or demand any security for, any of their own or other the free-born people’s freedoms or rights, though they might propound anything to the Parliament’s consideration. And according to that high breach of their engagement their actions have been regulated, and nothing that was declared formerly to be insisted upon hath been resolvedly adhered to, or claimed as the Army’s or the people’s due. And we conceive it hath been by this means that the soldier hath had no pay constantly provided, nor any security for arrears given them, and that hitherto they could not obtain so much as to be paid up equally with those that did desert the Army. . . .
Fourthly, in the prosecution of this breach there hath been many discouragements of the Agitators of the regiments in consulting about the most effectual means for procuring the speedy redress of the people’s grievances, and clearing and securing the native rights of the Army and all others the free Commons.
It hath been instilled into them that they ought not to intermeddle with those matters, thereby to induce them to betray the trust the regiments reposed in them. And for that purpose the endeavours of some hath been to persuade the soldier that their Agitators have meddled with more than concerned them. In the Declaration of June 14,1 . . . it was declared that the Army would adhere to their desires of full and equal satisfaction to the whole soldiery of the kingdom (in arrears, indemnity, and all other things mentioned in the papers that contained the grievances, dissatisfactions and desires), who did then, or should afterward, concur with this Army in these desires. * * *
Sixthly, in the same declaration . . . it is declared that the Army took up arms in judgment and conscience for the people’s just rights and liberties, and not as mercenary soldiers, hired to serve an arbitrary power of the state, and that in the same manner it continued in arms at that time. And . . . it was declared that they proceeded upon the principles of right and freedom, and upon the law of nature and nations. But the strength of the endeavours of many hath been and are now spent to persuade the soldiers and Agitators that they stand as soldiers only to serve the state, and may not as free Commons claim their right and freedom as due to them, as those ends for which they have hazarded their lives, and that the ground of their refusing to disband was only the want of arrears and indemnity. * * *
Eighthly, in the Declaration of June 14 . . . (as in all other remonstrances and declarations) it was desired that the rights and liberties of the people might be secured before the King’s business should be considered. But now the grievances of the people are propounded to be considered after the restoring him to the regal power, and that in such a way according to the Proposals,2viz., with a negative voice, that the people that have purchased by blood what was their right, of which the King endeavoured to deprive them, should yet solely depend on his will for their relief in their grievances and oppressions; and in like manner the security for the Army’s arrears is proposed to be considered after the business of the King be determined, so that there is a total declension since the method formerly desired in the settling the peace of the nation. * * *
Tenthly, when imminent ruin to the whole nation was apprehended by means of the multitudes of corrupted members of Parliament, diverting and obstructing all good proceedings, then the purging of the House in part, from one kind of delinquents, was again insisted upon, and a solemn protestation was passed in the Remonstrance from Kingston . . .,3 that the Army would not permit those to sit in the House, that usurped the name and power of Parliamentary authority when the Parliament was by violence suspended, and endeavoured to raise a war to destroy the Parliament and Army, but that they would take some effectual course to restrain them from sitting there, that the people might be concluded only by those members that are free from such apparent treacherous breaches of their trust.
But hitherto this engagement for purging the House from those delinquents, whose interest engages them to be designing mischief against the people and Army, is declined and broken, to the black reproach and foulest infamy of the Army; and now these strong cords are cut in sunder and so forgotten that there are no visible endeavours or intentions to preserve the honour of the Army in its faithfulness to its engagement and protestation.
Thus all promises of the Army to the people that petitioned his Excellency and the Army to stand for the national interest, freedoms, and rights, are hitherto wholly declined, and the law of nature and nations now refused by many to be the rule by which their proceedings should be regulated. They now strip themselves of the interest of Englishmen, which was so ill resented when it was attempted by the malice of the enemies. And thus the people’s expectations that were much greatened, and their hopes of relief in their miseries and oppressions, which were so much heightened, are like to be frustrate, and while you look for peace and freedom the flood-gates of slavery, oppression and misery are opened upon the nation. . . .
The mischiefs, evils and dangers which are and will be the necessary consequence of the Army’s declining or delaying the effectual fulfilling of its first engagement, promises and declarations, or of its neglect to insist positively upon its first principles of common right and freedom. * * *
Now we cannot but declare that these sad apprehensions of mischiefs, dangers and confusion gaping to devour the Army, hath filled our hearts with troubles, that we never did, nor do regard the worst of evils or mischiefs that can befall ourselves in comparison to the consequence of them to the poor nation, or to the security of common right and freedom. We could not but, in real (not formal, feigned) trouble of heart for the poor nation and oppressed people, break forth and cry, ‘O our bowels! our bowels! we are troubled at the very heart to hear the people’s doleful groans.’ And yet their expected deliverers will not hear or consider. They have run to and fro, and sighed or even wept forth, their sorrows and miseries in petitions, first to the King, then to the Parliament, and then to the Army; yet they have all been like broken reeds, even the Army itself, upon whom they leaned, have pierced their hands. Their eyes even fail with looking for peace and freedom, but behold nothing but distraction, oppression, and trouble; and could we hope that help is intended, yet the people perish by delays. We wish therefore that the bowels of compassion in the whole Army might yearn towards their distressed brethren, and that they might with one consent ask each to other: ‘Come let us join together speedily, to demand present redress for the people’s grievances and security for all their and our own rights and freedoms as soldiers and Commoners. Let us never divide each from other till those just demands be answered really and effectually, that so for the people’s ease as many forces as are not absolutely necessary may be speedily disbanded and our honour may be preserved unspotted, when they shall see that we minded not our own interest, but the good, freedom, and welfare of the whole nation.’ Now to all that shall thus appear we propound:
a That whatsoever was proposed to be insisted on either in the Declaration of June the fourteenth, or the Remonstrance [of] June 23, and in the Remon[strance] from Kingston, August 18, be adhered to resolvedly, so as not to recede from those desires until they be thoroughly and effectually answered. More particularly, . . . whereas it appears by positive laws and ancient just customs that the people have right to new successive elections for Parliaments at certain periods of time, and that it ought not to be denied them, being so essential to their freedom that without it they are no better than slaves (the nature of that legislative power being arbitrary), . . . that therefore it be insisted on so positively and resolvedly, as not to recede from it.
 That a determined period of time be forthwith set wherein this Parliament shall certainly be dissolved, provided also that the said period be within nine or ten months next ensuing, that so there may be sufficient time for settling of peace and freedom.1 * * *
5. Whereas Parliaments rightly constituted are the foundation of hopes of right and freedom to this people, and whereas the people have been prevented of Parliaments, though many positive laws have been made for a constant succession of Parliaments, that therefore it be positively and resolvedly insisted upon that a law paramount be made, enacting it to be unalterable by Parliaments, that the people shall of course meet without any warrants or writs once in every two years upon an appointed day in their respective countries, for the election of the representers in Parliament, and that all the free-born at the age of twenty-one years and upwards be the electors, excepting those that have or shall deprive themselves of that their freedom, either for some years or wholly, by delinquency, and that the Parliament so elected and called may have a certain period of time set, wherein they shall of course determine, and that before the same period they may not be adjournable and dissolvable by the King, or any other except themselves.
 Whereas all power is originally and essentially in the whole body of the people of this nation, and whereas their free choice or consent by their representers is the only original or foundation of all just government, and the reason and end of the choice of all just governors whatsoever is their apprehension of safety and good by them, that it be insisted upon positively, that the supreme power of the people’s representers, or Commons assembled in Parliament, be forthwith clearly declared: as their power to make laws, or repeal laws (which are not or ought not to be unalterable), as also their power to call to an account all officers in this nation whatsoever, for their neglect or treacheries in their trust for the people’s good, and to continue or displace and remove them from their offices, dignities or trust, according to their demerits by their faithfulness or treachery in the business or matters wherewith they are entrusted. And further that this power to constitute any kind of governors or officers that they shall judge to be for the people’s good be declared, and that, upon the aforesaid considerations, it be insisted upon, that all obstructions to the freedom and equality of the people’s choice of their representers, either by patents, charters, or usurpations by pretended customs, be removed by these present Commons in Parliament, and that such a freedom of choice be provided for, as the people may be equally represented. This power of Commons in Parliament is the thing against which the King hath contended, and the people have defended with their lives, and therefore ought now be demanded as the price of their blood.
 That all the oppressions of the poor by excise upon beer, cloth stuffs, and all manufactories and English commodities, be forthwith taken off, and that all excise be better regulated, and imposed upon foreign commodities, and a time set wherein it shall certainly end, if there be a necessity of its present continuance on such commodities. * * *
And it is further offered, that because the people are under much oppression and misery it be forthwith the whole work of the Parliament to hear, consider of, and study effectually redress for, all common grievances and oppressions, and for the securing all other the people’s rights and freedoms, besides all these aforementioned; and in particular . . . that all the orders, votes, ordinances, or declarations, that have passed either to discountenance petitions, suppress, prevent, or burn petitions, imprison or declare against petitioners, being dangerous precedents against the freedom of the people, may be forthwith expunged out of the Journal-books, and the injustice of them clearly declared to all the people, and that in such a declaration the soldiery be vindicated as to the right and equity of their first petition. * * *
And it is further offered: . . . whereas millions of money have been kept in dead stocks in the City of London, the halls and companies, and the freemen of the City could never obtain any account thereof according to their right, that therefore a just and strict account may be forthwith given to all the freemen of any those dead stocks; and . . . whereas there hath been nothing paid out of those, nor for the lands pertaining to the City, whiles the estates of others have been much wasted by continual payments, that therefore proportionable sums to what other estates have paid may be taken out of those dead stocks and lands, which would amount to such vast sums as would pay much of the soldiers’ arrears without burdening the oppressed people.
And it is further offered, that forest lands, and deans’ and chapters’ lands be immediately set apart for the arrears of the Army, and that the revenue of these, and the residue of bishops’ lands unsold, till the time of sale may be forthwith appointed to be paid into our treasury, to be reserved for the soldiers’ constant pay. And it is to be wished that only such part of the aforesaid lands be sold as necessity requires to satisfy the soldiery for arrears, and that the residue be reserved and improved for a constant revenue for the state, that the people may not be burdened, and that out of the revenues public debts may be paid. . . .
And it’s further offered for the people’s ease, that the arrears of all former assessments be duly collected from those who have sufficient estates, and have not been impoverished by the war.
And whereas it’s conceived that the fees of receivers of customs and excise, if they were justly computed, would amount to near as much as the Army’s pay, it is therefore offered that speedy consideration be had of the multitude of those officers and their excessive fees and profits. . . .
And for the ease and satisfaction of the people it’s further to be insisted on, that the charge of all the forces, to be kept up in the kingdom by sea or land, be particularly computed and published, and that all taxes that shall be necessary, may be wholly proportioned according to that charge; and that there be an equal rate propounded throughout the kingdom in all assessments, that so one town may not bear double the proportion of another of the same value.1 * * *
These things propounded are no more than what we conceived should have been thoroughly done long since, being as to the principlea of them but theb substance and equitable sense of the former Declarations, Remonstrances, and Representations. And therefore, though our restless desires of the people’s good and of the welfare of the Army have constrained us thus publicly to state our case and the remedy, according to the best improvement of the small talent of understanding that God hath given freely to us; yet let not the matter be prejudged because of the unworthy authors, neither let it be thought presumption. It may be remembered that the father’s danger made a dumb child to speak, and the Army’s, yea all the people’s, dangers and miseries have wrested open our mouths, who had otherwise been silent in this kind to the grave.
And let it not be thought that we intend the division of the Army. We profess we are deeply sensible and desire all our fellow soldiers to consider it: in case the union of the Army should be broken (which the enemy wait for) ruin and destruction will break in upon us like a roaring sea. But we are much confident that the adhering to those desires and to that speedy way of attaining our just ends for which we first engaged, cannot be interpreted to be a desire of division, but the strongest vigorous endeavours after union. And though many whom we did betrust have been guilty of most supinec negligence, yet we expect that the same instruction of judgment and conscience that (we have all professed) did command us forth at first for the people’s freedom, will be again so effectual that all will unanimously concur with us; so that a demand of the people’s and Army’s rights shall be made by the whole Army as by one man; that then all the enemies to, or obstructors of, the happy settlement of common right, peace and freedom, may hear of our union and resolution, and their hands may be weak, and their hearts may fail them; and so this Army that God hath clothed with honour in subduing the common enemy, may yet be more honourable in the people’s eyes when they shall be called the repairers of their breaches, and the restorers of their peace, right, and freedom.1 * * *
 Above, pp. 401-3.
 Above, pp. 403-9.
 The Heads of the Proposals (above, pp. 422-6).
A Remonstrance of the Army, 18th August 1647.
 Third demand is for a purge of the existing Parliament; fourth, for Parliament’s formal approval of the Army’s Declarations.
 The proposals were also separately issued, in condensed form, as Propositions from the Agitators of Five Regiments, 18th Oct. 1647. The rest are similar to those found in the Leveller documents printed above—Overton’s Appeal, the Petitions of March 1647, and 11th September 1648, Lilburne’s Foundations of Freedom (pp. 318-67). But their presence adds to the significance of The Case of the Army, and demands brief summary: (1) ‘That all monopolies be forthwith removed, and no persons whatsoever may be permitted to restrain others from free trade.’ (2) The reform of legal procedure, including the abolition of imprisonment for debt, provision for speedy trial in criminal cases, the abolition of oaths and interrogatories of prisoners in criminal cases, the appointment of ‘a committee of conscientious persons . . . to consider the intolerable oppressions by unjust proceedings in the law, that withal the laws might be reduced to a smaller number, to be comprised in one volume in the English tongue . . .; that courts might be in the respective counties or hundreds, that proceedings might become short and speedy, and that the numberless grievances in the law and lawyers might be redressed as soon as possible.’ (3) The abolition of all statutes enforcing uniformity in religion and attendance at church, ‘whereby many religious and conscientious people are daily vexed and oppressed,’ and all statutes against conventicles, ‘under pretence of which religious people are vexed for private meetings about the worship of God’; the abolition of tithes, and of enforced oaths, such as the oath of supremacy, which are ‘burdens and snares to conscientious people.’ (4) The abolition of ‘all privileges and protections above the law.’ (5) The restoration to the service of the poor of all enclosed commons, and all ancient rights and donations (almshouses, &c.), ‘in whose hands soever they be detained.’ The Agents add (in the hope of ‘healing differences as far as possible’ in the nation at large, since ‘mercy and justice are the foundations of a lasting peace’) that the sequestration of estates should be speedily discharged, and compositions be so moderate as none may exceed two years’ revenue.’
The Case of the Army is signed by Robert Everard and ten other Agents (here described as ‘Agitators’), and is followed by a letter of self-justification to Fairfax, signed by seven of the same and four different Agents (and not by Everard). The Agents declare themselves to have acted from
‘obligations upon our consciences (written naturally by the finger of God in our hearts). * * * For God hath given no man a talent to be wrapped up in a napkin and not improved, but the meanest vassal (in the eye of the world) is equally obliged, and accomptable to God, with the greatest prince or commander under the sun in and for the use of that talent betrusted unto him. * * * For, Sir, should you—yea should the whole Parliament or kingdom—exempt us from this service, or . . . command our silence or forbearance, yet could not they nor you discharge us of our duties to God or to our own natures. * * * And if by any one your Excellency shall be suborned that we are transgressors of all order and form, and in that sense to look upon us, we desire to mind your Excellency that the law of nature and nations, attested in our public declarations and papers, may be an answer to such for the justification of our present expedient. For all forms are but as shadows, and subject to the end. And the safety of the people is above all forms, customs, &c.; and the equity of popular safety is the thing which justifieth all forms, or the change of forms, for the accomplishment thereof; and no forms are lawful longer than they preserve or accomplish the same.’
[429. (a)]The Case of the Armie Truly Stated, together with the mischiefes and dangers that are imminent, and some sutable remedies, Humbly proposed by the Agents of five regiments of horse to their respective regiments and the whole Army. As it was presented . . . October 15. 1647 unto his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax. * * * [Quotes Deut. 20. 8; Judges 7. 7.] London, printed in the yeare 1647 [Oct. 19]. Marginal references omitted;
[433. (a)] Numbering has been corrected.