and Tradeſmens-wives, in
and about the City of
To the Honourable, the Knights,
Citizens, and Burgeſſes, of the houſe of
Commons in Parliament, the 1641-02-044th of
With their ſeverall Reaſons why their ſex ought thus
to Petition, aſwell as the Men; and the manner
how both their Petition and Reaſons was
Likewiſe the Anſwer which the Honourable Aſſembly
ſent to them by Mr. Pym, as they ſtood at the
Printed by R. O. & G. D. for John Bull, 16411641
To the Honourable Knights, Citizens and Burgesses, of the Houſe of Commons aſſembled in Parliament.
The moſt humble Petition of the Gentlewomen, Tradesmens wives, and many others of the Female Sex, all Inhabitants of the Citie of London, and the Suburbs thereof.
With lowest ſubmiſſion ſhewing,
That we alſo with all thankfull humility acknowledging the unwearied paines, care and great charge, beſides hazard of health and life, which you the noble worthies of this honourable and renowned Aſſembly have undergone, for the ſafety both of Church and Commonwealth, for a long time already paſt; for which not only we your humble Petitioners, and all well affected in this Kingdome, but alſo all other good Chriſtians 2 A2r 2 Christians are bound now and at all times to acknowledge; yet not withſtanding that many worthy deeds have been done by you, great danger and feare do ſtill attend us, & will, as long as Popiſh Lords & and ſuperſtitious Biſhops are ſuffered to have their voice in the Houſe of Peers, and that accurſed and abhominable Idole of the Maſſe ſuffered in the Kingdome, and that Arch-enemy of our proſperity and Reformation lyeth in the Tower, yet not receiving his deſerved puniſhment.
All theſe under correction, gives us great cauſe to ſuſpect, that God is angry with us, and to be the chiefe cauſes why your pious indeavours for a further Reformation proceedeth not with that ſucceſſe as you deſire, and is moſt earneſtly prayed for of all that wiſh well to true Religion, and the floriſhing eſtate both of King and Kingdome; the inſolencies of the Papiſts and their abbettors, raiſeth a juſt feare and ſuſpition of ſowing ſedition, and breaking out into bloody perſecution in this Kingdome, as they have done in Ireland, the thoughts of which ſad and barbarous events, maketh our tender hearts to melt within us, forcing us humbly to Petition to this honourable Aſſembly, to make ſafe proviſion for your ſelves and us, before it be too late.
And whereas we, whoſe hearts have joyned cheerefully with all thoſe Petitions which have been exhibited unto you in the behalfe of the purity of Religion, and the liberty of our Husbands perſons and eſtates, recounting our ſelves to have an interſt in the common priviledges with them, doe with the ſame confidence aſſure our ſelves to finde the ſame gracious acceptance with you, for eaſing of thoſe greivances, which in regard of our fraile condition, do more neerely concerne A2 us 3 A2v 23 us, and do deeply terrifie our ſoules: our Domeſticall dangers with which this Kingdome is ſo much diſtracted, eſpecially growing on us from thoſe treacherous and wicked attempts already are ſuch, as we finde our ſelves to have as deepe a ſhare as any other.
We cannot but tremble at the very thoughts of the horrid and hideous facts which modeſty forbids us now to name, occaſioned by the bloody Warres in Germany, his Majesties late Northern Army, how often did it affright our hearts, whilſt their violence began to break out ſo furiouſly upon the perſons of thoſe, whoſe Husbands or Parents were not able to reſcue: wee wiſh wee had no cauſe to ſpeake of those inſolencies, and ſavage uſage and unheard of rapes, exerciſed upon our Sex in Ireland, and have we not juſt cauſe to feare they wil prove the forerunners of our ruine, except Almighty God by the wiſdome and care of this Parliament be pleaſed to ſuccor us, our Husbands and Children, which are as deere and tender unto us, as the lives and blood of our hearts, to ſee them murthered and mangled and cut in pieces before our eyes, to ſee our Children daſhed againſt the ſtones, and the Mothers milk mingled with the Infants blood, running down the ſtreets; to ſee our Houſes on flaming fire over our heads: oh how dreadfull would this be! we thought it miſery enough (though nothing to that we have juſt cauſe to feare) but few yeares ſince for ſome of our Sex, by unjuſt diviſions from their boſome comforts, to be rendred in a manner Widdowes, and the children Fatherleſſe, Husbands were Impriſoned from the Society of their wives, even againſt the Lawes of God and Nature; and little Infants ſuffered in their Fathers’ baniſhments: thouſands 4 A3r 34 thouſands of our deereſt friends have bin compelled to fly from Epiſcopall perſecutionns into deſert places amongſt wilde Beaſts, there finding more favour then in their native ſoyle, and in the midſt of all their ſorrowes, ſuch hath the pitty of the Prelats been, that our cries could never enter into their eares or hearts, nor yet through multitudes of obſtructions could never have acceſſe or come nigh to thoſe Royall mercies of our moſt gracious Soveraigne, which we confidently hope, would have relieved us: but after all theſe preſſures ended, we humbly ſignifie, that our preſent feares are, that unleſſe the blood-thirſty faction of the Papists and Prelates be hindered in their deſignes, our ſelves here in England aſwell as they in Ireland, ſhall be expoſed to that miſery which is more intollerable then that which is already paſt, as namely to the rage not of men alone, but of Divel’s incarnate, (as we may ſo ſay) beſides the thraldome of our ſoules and conſciences in matters concerning God, which of all things are moſt deare unto us.
Now the remembrance of all theſe fearfell accidents aforementioned, do ſtrongly move us from the example of the woman of Tekoa to fall ſubmiſſively at the feete of his Majeſtie, our dread Soveraigne, and cry Helpe O King, helpe o yee the noble Worthies now ſiting in Parliament: And we humbly beſeech you, that you will be a meanes to his Majeſtie and the Houſe of Peeres, that they will be pleaſed to take our heart breaking grievances into timely conſideration, and to adde strength & incouragement to your noble indeavours, and further that you would move his Majeſty with our humble requeſts, that he would be graciouſly A3 pleaſed 5 A3v 5 pleaſed according to the example of the good King Aſa, to purge both the Court and Kingdome of that great Idolatrous Service of the Maſſe, which is tollerated in the Queenes Court, this ſinne (as we conceive) is able to draw downe a greater curſe upon the whole Kingdome, then all your noble and pious indeavours can prevent, which was the cauſe that the good and pious King Aſa would not ſuffer Idolatry in his own Mother, whoſe example if it ſhall pleaſe his Majeſties gracious goodneſſe to follow, in puting downe Popery and Idolatry both in great and ſmall, in Court and in the Kingdome throughout, to ſubdue the Papiſts and their abetters, and by taking away the power of the Prelats, whoſe government by long and wofull experience we have found to be againſt the liberty of our conſcience and the freedome of the Goſpell, and the ſincere profeſſion and practice thereof, then ſhall our feares be removed, and we may expect that God will power downe his bleſſings in abundance both upnoon his Majeſty, and upon this Honourable Aſſembly, and upon the whole Land.
The Reaſons follow.
It may be thought ſtrange, and unbeſeeming our ſex to ſhew our ſelves by way of Petition to this Honourable Aſſembly: but the matter being rightly conſidered, of the right and interest we have in the common and publique cauſe of the Church, it will, as we conceive (under corection) be found a duty commanded and required.
Firſt, becauſe Chriſt hath purchaſed us at as deare a rate as he hath done Men, and therfore requireth the like obedience for the ſame mercy as of men.
Secondly, because in the free enjoying of Christ in his own Laws, and a flouriſhing eſtate of the Church and Common-wealth, conſiſteth the happineſſe of Women as well as Men.
Thirdly, becauſe Women are ſharers in the common Calamities that accompany both Church and Common-Wealth, when oppreſſion is exerciſed over the Church or Kingdome wherein they live; and an unlimited power have been given to Prelats to exerciſe authority over the Conſciences of Women, aſwell as Men; witneſſe Newgate, Smithfield, and other places of perſecution, wherein Women aſwell as Men have felt the ſmart of their fury.
Neither are we left without example in Scripture, for when the ſtate of the Church, in the time of King Ahaſuerus was by the bloody enemies thereof ſought to be utterly deſtroyed, we find that Eſter the Queen and her Mayds faſted and prayed, and that Eſter petitioned to the King in the behalfe of the Church: and though ſhe enterpriſed this duty with the hazard of her own life, 7 A4v 67 life, being contrary to the Law to appeare before the King before ſhe were ſent for, yet her love to the Church carryed her thorow all difficulties, to the performance of that duty.
On which grounds we were imboldned to preſent our humble Petition into this Honourable Aſſembly, not weighing the reproaches which may and are by many caſt upon us, who (not well weighing the premiſſes) ſcoffe and deride our good intent. We doe it not out of any ſelfe conceit, or pride of heart, as ſeeking to equall ourſelves with Men, either in Authority or wiſdome: But according to our places to diſcharge that duty we owe to God, and the cauſe of the Church, as farre as lyeth in us, following herein the example of the Men, which have gone in this duty before us.
A relation of the manner how it was delivered, with their Anſwer, ſent by Mr. Pym.
This Petition, with their Reaſons, was delivered the 1641-02-044th of Feb. 1641. by Mris Anne Stagg, a Gentlewoman and Brewers Wife, and many others with her of like rank and quality, which when they had delivered it, after ſome time ſpent in reading of it, the Honourable Aſſembly ſent them an Anſwer by Mr Pym, which was performed in this manner.
Mr Pymcame to the Commons doore, and called for the Women, and ſpake unto them in theſe words: Good Women, your Petition and the Reaſons have bin read in the Houſe; and is very thankfully accepted of, and is come in a ſeaſonable time: You ſhall (God Willing) receive from us all the ſatiſfaction which we can poſſibly give to your juſt and lawfull deſires. We intreat you to repaire to your Houſes, and turne your Petition which you have delivered here, into Prayeres art home for us; for we have bin, are, and ſhall be (to our utmoſt power) ready to believe you, your Husbands, and Children, and to perform the truſt committed unto us, towards God, our King and Countrey, as becometh faithfull Chriſtians and Loyall Subjects.