|Lucy Hutchinson (16201681). Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. 1906.|
A Discovery of the Treacherous Attempts of the Cavaliers to Have Procured the Betraying of Nottingham Castle
Expressed in a letter sent to Mr Millington, and four more at the same time.
SIR,I have thrice been tempted upon the offers of great rewards and honours, to betray this castle. The first was by Sir Richard Biron, another by Mr Sutton, both which I acquainted the committee withal, and returned scornful refusals unto; but now being this third time solicited unto it, I thought it my duty to acquaint those that have here entrusted me, both for their satisfaction and my own discharge, if anything should happen to my prejudice hereafter: for I expect that now they see their attempts in this kind fruitless, they will as basely endeavour to blemish with false aspersions that honesty which with bribes they cannot corrupt; be pleased therefore to understand the whole proceeding of this last offer, and the occasion, which was this. Colonel Dacre, one which was formerly in the north a familiar friend and acquaintance of my brothers, sent to me to desire that he might have the liberty to see him, to which with the knowledge of the committee I gave consent; and then being in his company, he desired some words in private with my brother, pretending a desire to be satisfied in some doubts of his concerning this war; but some accidents then falling out, he was prevented of that private conference, and therefore desired that my brother some two days after would come to his quarters; but he, to prevent all suspicions, would not go, but writ him a denial: after which Colonel Dacre writ very earnestly to him to come again, and invited Captain Poulton to come with him; but my brother would not, only with the leave of the committee he sent Captain Poulton to excuse it, of whose going we intended to make such use, as, if we could, to discover how the enemy lay, and what their intentions were. So soon as he came thither he was most kindly entertained, and Colonel Dacre taking him aside, told him, that now the governor of Nottingham and his brother had an occasion offered to gain themselves great honour, to do the king very good service, and to receive a great recompense for so doing; which he demanding how that was, the colonel told him, that if I would deliver up the castle, the command of it should be confirmed to me and my heirs, I should receive ten thousand pound, and be well assured of it before ever I delivered the castle, and that I should be made the best Lord in Nottinghamshire, that my brother should have three thousand pound to deliver the bridges, and that Captain Poulton should have two thousand pound to get this effected; to which Captain Poulton answered, that he thought it was an impossible thing, for the governor had formerly been tempted with such like offers and had refused them, that we all scorned so base an act, and for his own part, he would starve and rot before he would betray his trust. The colonel was further importunate with him, to move it to me, and that you may, said he be better assured I do not this without commission, he then pulled out of his pocket a paper written with these words, or to this effectThese are to authorize Col. Dacre to treat with Col. Hutchinson and Lieutenant-colonel Hutchinson, for the surrendering up of the castle and bridges of Nottingham for the service of his majesty, and to make them large promises which shall be performed, and this paper signed with W. Newcastle at the bottom: and he further desired that he might but come to the castle to speak with me. When Captain Poulton told him there was no hope of obtaining that, he entreated him that he would but deliver the message to me, which he told him he would do; and the colonel told him, that if I would not deliver the castle, yet if he himself would but leave us, and come away, he should immediately have a regiment of horse delivered into his command; and earnestly pressed that I would send him an answer: which presently after both my brother and I did, the copies whereof I have here sent you. There were also two officers of Captain Whites troop, whom we sent along with Captain Poulton, whom Colonel Dacre also took aside, and made large offers, 1 both to Captain White, and them, if they would procure him to turn to their side. But Captain White hath so often scorned and refused such unworthy offers, that this did but increase his contempt of them, whose faith and honesty hath been apparently great in this cause.
| I confess, had it not been for drawing a scandal or jealousy on myself, I would have gone so far as to have gotten the propositions under Col. Dacre his hand, if not under the Marquess his hand; but this I durst not do, lest my own honest intentions should in the meantime have been mistaken: I therefore thought it sufficient to make it known to the committee, and so to acquaint you with it, and withal to assure you, that were I certain we should utterly be deserted and left (as, for any relief I yet hear of, we are like to be, our soldiers being thirty weeks behind with pay, and the whole country now possessed by the enemy), yet I would maintain my faithfulness to the parliament so long as I have one drop of blood left in me: and when I am forced to the last extremity, I am confident God will give me strength to maintain this Christian resolution, that I have by covenant both with God and man bound myself unto; which is that I will rather choose to die ten thousand deaths with a clear conscience to God, and an honest heart to my county, than sell my soul for the purchase of my life, and all the wealth and honours this world can bestow upon me. Your sons are both well here in the castle, and I hear your wife is so in the county; only I hear your goods and corn are wholly plundered. What service I am able to do for you here, if you please, you may command.Your friend and servant,|
JOHN HUTCHINSON. NOTTINGHAM CASTLE,
December 15th, 1643.
| Postscript.Sir, just as my letters were going to Colonel Dacre, there came one from him to Captain Poulton; the copy of which, with Captain Poultons answer, I have here also sent youthe original I preserve by me as a testimony of their unworthy proffers.|| 3|
To Colonel Dacre.
SIR,You have now convinced me of an error. I once thought it possible that some rash misled young men might still among the Cavaliers have retained a sense of gallantry and honour, though no religion, and have been enriched with those moral virtues which made the heathen famous; such a one I believed you to be; but since you did attempt to buy me to so a great a villany, as you did in your late propositions by Captain Poulton, I must needs be persuaded you would never offer me what you yourself would not have done. Tis, I confess, strange to me you could imagine, that a Christian, a gentleman, or a Commonwealths-man could ever prove such a villain as for a little gaudy dirt to sell his soul, his honour, and his country. Perish that most contemned gain with all that can accept or offer it! Dacre, twas base in you to think so of me; I am sure you cannot so misinterpret any act of mine, as to receive from it the least ground of encouragement to such an opinion; and had you known my brother, you would have thought it easier for you yourself alone to have conquered all the men now fighting in the kingdom, than to corrupt that guard of virtues which protects his constant soul from treacherous thoughts. Did you think men of sense will part with real honour for a title? you are not capable of a religious consideration, or I could tell you, that our souls (redeemed with an unvaluable price) are by you most unequally valued at a poor inconsiderable sum of money: look upon earth and give me an example where ever any traitor preserved his foul name from an horrid blot of infamy on him and on his house for ever? How can you think, he that will by you be corrupted to betray anothers trust, will not by another be again corrupted to betray yours? Keep your despised coin to tempt some frail waiting womanit may work with her to procure such honest things as you affect; but desist these base attempts on men of noble spirits, with whom they will but render you as contemptible as your offers. Consider the unworthy message you sent, and blush at the remembrance of your guilt in it, and if you have so much worth left in you repent the injury you did to him that was your friend. Farewell that name for evermore between us,
GEORGE HUTCHINSON. TRENT BRIDGES,
December 16, 1643.
To Colonel Dacre.
SIR,Your propositions sent to me on Wednesday last by Captain Poulton (for which you showed him my Lord Newcastles commission), were so unworthy of a gentleman, so wicked, and base, that once I thought in contempt and scorn to have forgotten them; yet lest my silence may receive too favourable an interpretation from you, know and tell your general that set you on this brave employment, that I abhor the thought of treason to my country, though I might thereby grow as great for wickedness as he. Tell him Ill wear no title but what my faith and virtue purchaseth, and Ill leave my children an honest, though a small inheritance, to whom my spotless name, not tainted with the foul blot of treason, shall be an ornament, when the remembrance of all treacherous apostates shall rot with infamy; and I doubt not but my gracious prince, once cured of his mistake, will reward my constant faithfulness to his regal power and parliament, with a larger recompense than he propounds for my corruption: if he do not, virtue is its own reward. Tell your most excellent general, his threats and promises are both alike contemptible to me; I fear not those and I hate these. I fight not to repair a broken fortune, but to maintain a just quarrel; in which may that man perish and fall low as the depth of hell, that can be hired to prove unfaithful. Tell him, if you dare, that it had been an employment more beseeming you, or any gentleman, had he sent you with ten thousand armed men, to assault our well-defended walls, than with so many pieces of contemned gold, to lay your siege against an honest heart. I could honour an enemy for performing brave and gallant things, but such attempts as these will render your persons as odious to all honest men, as your rebellion: and I am sorry you should undertake such a service, as to deserve the just neglect and scorn of
JOHN HUTCHINSON. NOTTINGHAM CASTLE,
December 18, 1643.
| Postscript.Pray, sir, send me word what you should have had for the procuring this, that I may know at what rate the enemy valueth this castle.|| 6|
To his truly noble friend, Captain Poulton.
NOBLE SIR,I was in hopes to have waited on you this day, but indeed I received an express last night from my Lord General, wherein I am commanded to wait on his Excellency near Chesterfield this day. Sir, I hope you remember the business I spoke to you of when you were at my quarter; I will engage myself upon my life, that what I promised shall be really performed; if you please but to consider and truly value the business, I make no question but I may obtain my desires; which I assure you is not for any particular ends, but in the first place to serve my gracious king and then my friends, which I will assure you I shall ever esteem your lieutenant-colonel and yourself to be; desiring very much to hear from you by this bearer, wishing us all to agree, for upon my word it troubles me to think, that all honest men should not be of one side, which the Lord grant that we may all be, I remaining always, sirYour most humble servant,
RICHARD DACRE. WATNELL, Friday morning,
the 15th of December.
| My humble service to my truly noble friend your lieutenant-colonel, and tell him I wish him as my own soul.|| 8|
To Colonel Dacre.
SIR,Had the Cavaliers since found out a way to perform their promises better than they did at Bristol, Gainsborough, etc., you might have had some hopes of a young man whose best fortune is his sword; but so unworthy have their dealings ever been, so little faith and honour do you give testimony of, in tempting me to act such things as gallant men would not accept, if offered, that I must tell you these unworthy ways you take to advance your cause, are but so many confirmations to me in this I do maintain against you. He that fights for honour, not for plunder, to which the Dutch prince hath well trained all your armies, would scorn to receive his enemys fort on any conditions, but such as were purchased by his prevailing valour, not undermining treachery: to which, Sir, I am as inflexible, as you to worth and goodness. The governor I believe and his brother have returned you their answers, and you may in this receive the negative resolution of
THOMAS POULTON. NOTTINGHAM CASTLE,
December 16, 1643.
| The correspondence published in the contemporary pamphlet, and in the third part of Vicars Parliamentary Chronicle, is concluded in the two following letters which are to be found amongst the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library, vol. lxii, p. 467.|| 10|
The messenger by whom I sent your letters staying somewhat longer than I thought he would, gave me opportunity to send you a copy of Colonel Langdale his answer to the letters we sent to Colonel Dacre, in whose absence Sir Marmaduke Langdale received, and opened, and answered the letters, which answer may confirm you in the truth of what before was written to you, by your most affectionate friend and servant,
JOHN HUTCHINSON. NOTTINGHAM CASTLE,
December 19, 1643.
For John Hutchinson Esquire, George Hutchinson, and Thomas Poulton, these.
GENTLEMEN,In the absence of Colonel Dacre, I have received your letters and am sorry you so much mistake Colonel Dacre his affection for you, in endeavouring to draw you from that rebellious course of life you seem to glory in. If you please to read all the histories of this nation, from the conquest to this time, and you shall find all rebels pretences of taking up arms against the sacred person of the king varnished over with the title of love to the laws of the land, liberty of the subject and loyalty to his majesty; yea in those times when they deposed their natural prince and set up others; wherein although the event sometimes succeeded for a while, yet the authors had cause commonly to repent before their deaths; and certainly there never was yet law of this land, nor religion publicly professed here, did ever allow subjects to take up arms against their natural sovereign. For his excellency the Marquess of Newcastle, you are much mistaken in his desire to corrupt any man. I rather believe it was his affection to you, having known two of your fathers, and his desire to preserve your estates that are now in a lost condition by your own follies. For my own part, as I am not known to you, so I should never have tendered you that good offer, but will go on in that way that I doubt not shall gain the king his right forth of the usurpers hand wherever I find it, wherein you shall find a gentleman called
MARMADUKE LANGDALE. WEST HALLAM,
December 18, 1643.
| This correspondence, including the letter from Langdale, was read in the House of Commons on December 25, 1643.|| 13|
| Ordered, that Mr Millington do write a letter of thanks from this House to Colonel Hutchinson, for his fidelity to religion and the parliament; and to encourage him to persevere in his resolutions therein; and that this House will not be unmindful of so deserving a person: and that he be desired, that those records which are in Nottingham be safely kept.|| 14|
| Ordered, that the Committee for the Safety do consider how the garrison in the castle of Nottingham may be supplied with all necessaries, and the care of this is especially recommended to Mr Millington.(Commons Journals.)|| 15|
|Note 1. The offers to Captain White were 10,000 li. and 100 to his officers to procure it.(Marginal note in Vicars.) [back]|