Source: Digger Tracts, 1649-50, published by John the Red Nose, Seattle?, 1996
(Copy provided by Mikke Sennekke and Richard Schneider)
A declaration of the grounds and reasons why we the poor inhabitants of the town of Wellinborrow, in the County of Northampton, have begun and give consent to dig up, manure and sow corn upon the common, and waste ground, called Bareshanke belonging to the inhabitants of Wellinborrow, by those that have subscribed, and hundreds more that give consent.
WE find in the Word of God, that God made the Earth for the use and comfort of all Mankind, and set him in to till and dress it, and said, That in the sweat of his brows he should eat his bread; and also we find, that God never gave it to any sort of people, that they should have it all to themselves, and shut out all the rest, but he saith, The Earth hath he given to the children of men, which is every man.
2. We find, that no creature that ever God made was ever deprived of the benefit of the Earth, but Mankind; and that it is nothing but covetousness, pride, and hardness of heart, that hath caused man so far to degenerate.
3. We find in the Scriptures, that the Prophets and Apostles have left it upon Record, That in the last days the oppressor and proud man shall cease, and God will restore the waste places of the Earth to the use and comfort of Man, and that none shall hurt nor destroy in all his holy Mountain.
4. We have great encouragement from these two righteous Acts, which the Parliament of England have set forth, the one against Kingly Power, the other to make England a free common-wealth.
5. We are necessitated from our present necessity to do this, and we hope that our actions will justify us in the gate when all men shall know the truth of our necessity: We are in Wellinborrow in one parish 1169 persons that receive alms, as the officers have made it appear at the quarter sessions last: we have made our case known to the justices, the justices have given order that the town should raise a stock to set us on work, and that the hundred should be enjoined to assist them; but as yet we see nothing is done, nor any man that goeth about it; we have spent all we have, our trading is decayed, our wives and children cry for bread, our lives are a burden to us, divers of us having 188.8.131.52.9. in Family, and we cannot get bread for one of them by our labour; rich men's hearts are hardened, they will not give us if we beg at their doors; if we steal, the Law will end our lives, divers of the poor are starved to death already, and it were better for us that are living to die by the sword then by famine: and now we consider that the earth is our mother, and that God hath given it to the children of men, and that the common and waste grounds belong to the poor, and that we have a right to the common ground both from the law of the land, reason and scriptures; and therefore we have begun to bestow our righteous labour upon it, and we shall trust the Spirit for a blessing upon our labour, resolving not to dig up any man's property, until they freely give us it; and truly we find great comfort already, through the goodness of our God, that some of those rich men amongst us, that have had the greatest profit upon the Common, have freely given us their share in it, as one Mr John Freeman, as Nottingham and John Clendon, and divers others; and the country farmers have proffered divers of them to give us seed to sow it, and so we find that God is persuading Japeth to dwell in the tents of Shem: and truly those that we fund most against us are such as have been constant enemies to the Parliament's cause from first to last.
Now at last our desire is, That some that approve of this work of righteousness, would but spread this our declaration before the great Council of the Land, that so they may be pleased to give us more encouragement to go on, that so they may be found amongst the small number of those that considers the poor and needy, that so the Lord may deliver them in the time of their troubles, and then they will not be found amongst those that Solomon speaks of, which withhold the corn (or the land) from the poor, which the people shall curse, but blessing shall be upon the heads of those rulers that sell corn, and that will let the poor labour upon the earth to get them corn, and our lines shall bless them, so shall good men stand by them, and evil men shall be afraid of them, and they shall be counted the repairers of our breaches, and the restorers of our paths to dwell in. And thus we have declared the truth of our necessity; and whosoever will come in to us to labour with us, shall have part with us, and we with them, and we shall all of us endeavour to walk righteously and peaceably in the Land of our Nativity.
Richard Smith. John Avery. Thomas Fardin. Richard Pendred. James Pitman. Roger Tuis. Joseph Hichcock. John Pye. Edward Turner.
LONDON, Printed for Giles Calvert. 1650.