Civil War Pamphlets - The Brotherly Request of those that Are Called Diggers - A Letter to Colonel Fairfax

The Brotherly Request of those that Are Called Diggers - A Letter to Colonel Fairfax

 

Source: Digger Tracts, 1649-50, published by John the Red Nose, Seattle?, 1996
(Copy provided by Mikke Sennekke and Richard Schneider)

To his Excellency the Lord Fairfax and the Council of War the brotherly request of those that are called Diggers showeth

That whereas we have begun to dig upon the Commons for a livelihood, and have declared to your Excellency and the whole world our reasons, which are four. First, from the righteous law of Creation that gives the earth freely to one as well as to another without respect of persons. Secondly, by virtue of yours and our victory over the King, whereby the enslaved people of England have recovered themselves from under the Norman Conquest; though we doe not as yet enjoy the benefit of our victories, nor cannot so long as the use of the common land is held from the younger brethren by the Lords of Manors, that as yet sit in the Norman chair, and uphold that tyranny as if the kingly power were in force still; and a third reason that moved us to dig was the persuasion of our hearts that the Parliament and Army would make good their bargain with us; for you promised that if we would adventure person and purse to recover England from under that Norman oppression you would make us a free people, and you have obtained the victory by your own and our assistance, and there is nothing wanting from you to us but maiming good your bargain to us, for by the law of reason and contract we have bought our freedom of the Parliament and Army, who have the power of the sword in your hands, by our blood, taxes, and free quarter. And we are persuaded of your faithfulness to us for two reasons. First, your promises, which as you are Gospel professors we expect you will make good, and so give us our freedom, which we have dearly paid for, and you have received our moneys the fruits of our labours. Secondly, your Covenant to God, unto whom first we kept fasting days, and prayed him to help and deliver this oppressed Nation, and then after any victory over our oppressor Charles you appointed days of thanks-giving unto God. Now in the third place, God expects from you and the Parliament to perform your Covenant in deed and work as well as in words, and let the oppressed go free unto whom you promised freedom; and though you have fought for it, yet we have paid for it, and so have purchased that same freedom with you, that is that we may live in the earth without poverty; for (fourthly) we dig upon the Common to make the earth a common treasury, because our necessity for food and raiment require it.

Now Sirs, divers repulses we have had from some of the Lords of Manors and their servants, with whom we are patient and loving, not doubting but at last they will grant liberty quietly to live by them; and though your tenderness have moved us to bee requesting your protection against them, yet we have forborne, and rather waited upon God with patience till he quell their unruly spirits, and of prosecuting Sauls to make them righteous Pauls; and in regard likewise the soldiers did not molest us, for that you told us when some of us were before you, that you had given command to your soldiers not to meddle with us, but resolved to leave us to the Gentlemen of the Country and to the law of the Land to deal with us; which we were satisfied with, and for this half year past your soldiers have not meddled with us.

But now Sirs, this last week upon the 28th of November, there came a party of soldiers commanded by a cornet, and some of them of your own Regiment, and by their threatening words forced 3 labouring men to help them to pull down our 2 houses, and carried away the wood in a cart to a Gentleman's house who hath been a Cavalier all our time of wars, and cast 2 or 3 old people out who lived in those houses to lie in an open field this cold weather, (an action more becoming the Turks to deal with Christians then for one Christian to deal with another); but if you inquire into the business you will find that the Gentlemen that set the soldiers on are enemies to you, for some of the chief had hands in the Kentish rising against the Parliament, and we know, an[d] you will find it true if you trust them so far, that [they] love you but from the teeth outward.

Therefore our request to you is this, that you would call your soldiers to accompt for attempting to abuse us without your commission, that the Country may know that you had no hand in such an unrighteous and cruel act. Likewise we desire that you would continue your former kindness and promise to give commission to your soldiers not to meddle with us without your order, and we shall be very thankful to you and remain

Yours and England['s] true born sons and friends.
JOHN HEYMAN
AN: WRENN
HEN: BARTON
JON COULTON
ROBERT COSLER
JOHN PALMER
JACOB HEARD
in the behalf of others called the Diggers.

 

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