In 1626, Charles I unwittingly united the Puritan gentry and nobles in opposition to a Forced Loan he imposed under the doctrine of the Divine Right of the King.
Although the town of Boston enjoyed relative autonomy isolated in the Lincolnshire fens, this isolation came to an end when the freemen of Boston galvanized in opposition to the king’s attempt to extort money from them.
Those who resisted the Forced Loan were imprisoned rather than submit to the Crown’s tyranny. The Earl of Lincoln and Lord Saye were both arrested for refusing to pay.
The Earl of Lincoln distributed an inflammatory pamphlet in opposition to the loan that read:
To all English freeholders from a well-wisher of theirs calling on honest men and wise men to openly resist the loan because of the threat it offered to the liberties of the subjects and the future of parliaments.1
The pamphlet argued that the Forced Loan was intended to:
Make ourselves the instrument of our own slavery by robbing the freemen of England of their liberties. All those who cared for the good of the commonwealth should oppose.2
For expressing these views, the Earl was arraigned by the privy Council and fined £3,000.3 The Star Chamber then sentenced him to the Tower of London for over a year. 4
Tower of London
In December 1626, Lady Bridget petitioned the Crown to grant her permission to visit her husband. Sir John Coke endorsed the petition, which read:
Bridget, wife of Theophilus Clinton, 4th Earl of Lincoln, prays for access to her husband in the Tower.5
For speaking out against the Divine Right of the King in the House of Lords, Lady Bridget’s father, Lord Saye, had been confined to the Fleet Prison.
I know of no law besides Parliament that should persuade men to give away their goods.6
Later, the king forced Saye to billet troops at his estate at Banbury, and over one-third of the town burned after an army cooking fire raged out of control.7
Boston area gentry that opposed to the loan were arraigned by the Star Chamber and incarcerated in one of two London prisons:8
• The Fleet Prison held Sir William Armyn, Sir Thomas Darnell, William Anderson, Esq., Boston’s Mayor, and Edward Tilson, a Boston Alderman.9
Fleet Prison – London
• The Gate House Prison held Sir John Wray, Sir Thomas Grantham, and Sir Edward Ascough.10
Thomas Dudley and Isaac Johnson acted as intermediaries for the Earl and organized local gentry and Boston aldermen to unify in opposition to the loan.
Members of the Boston Borough Council that were indicted for opposing the Forced Loan included: William Coddington, Atherton Hough, Thomas Leverett, Edmond Jackson, Benjamin Diconson, Thomas Lowe, Thomas Tooly, John Coppyn, William Condy, and Richard Westland.11
In March 1629, William Coddington, Atherton Hough, and Thomas Leverett joined the Massachusetts Bay Company and sailed to New England with John Cotton in 1633.12
The Privy Council also sought to arrest the Earl of Lincoln’s employees that promoted opposition to the Forced Loan.
In March 1627, a warrant was issued for Thomas Dudley, John Hollande, and Robert Blowe, clerk of the kitchen.13 Hollande had been hired to assist Simon Bradstreet during his tenure as a steward after Dudley moved to Boston. A letter from Sir Edward Heron, Lincolnshire’s Sergeant-at-law, to Sir Henry May of the Privy Council documents efforts to apprehend Hollande and Dudley.
I have hearde that Mr. HOLLANDE who attended the earle of Lincolne, hath been in quest by the state; yf it be soe, I doe heare for certeine, that he was seene dyvers tymes, about a month or six weekes past upon the terras-walkes at Sempringham; but since that tyme it is privatly whispered that he is now removed to the house of one Mr. THOMAS DUDLYE, in Boston, whoe did allsoe of late tyme wayte upon the sayde earle; and it is very p’bable, because, Mr. HOLLANDS wyfe is observed to make often viages frome Sempringham unto Boston, and there to abide sometyme 2 or 3 dayes, sometyme a week together.
Yet maye you please further to understande, that this Mr. DUDLYE beynge reported to have £300 p. an., some say £400, refused upon our earnest request to beare 30s. towards the loane with a neyghbourh that was deeply charged as we have informed in our certificatts unto the lords of the councell, whereof I beseech your honor to direct the delyverye.14
1 Winship, M. P. Godly Republicanism: Puritans, Pilgrims, and a City on a Hill. (Harvard University Press, 2012). P191
3 The Privy Council is formally known as His/Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council. It is comprised of senior members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons and formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative.
4 Coke, John. The Manuscripts of the Coke Family, of Melbourne, Co. Derby, Belonging to the Earl of Cowper, K.G., Preserved at Melbourne Hall. Vol. III, London: Printed for Her Majesty“s Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Printers to the Queen”s Most Excellent Majesty, 1889.
5 Coke, John. The Manuscripts of the Coke Family, of Melbourne, Co. Derby, Belonging to the Earl of Cowper, K.G., Preserved at Melbourne Hall. Vol. III, London: Printed for Her Majesty“s Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Printers to the Queen”s Most Excellent Majesty, 1889.
6 Brenner, R. Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653. (Verso first published by University of Princeton Press, 2003). P261/62
7 Christina Colvin, Janet Cooper, N H Cooper, P D A Harvey, Marjory Hollings, Judith Hook, Mary Jessup, Mary D Lobel, J F A Mason, B S Trinder and Hilary Turner. “Banbury: Introduction,” in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 10, Banbury Hundred, ed. Alan Crossley (London: Victoria County History, 1972), 5-18. British History Online, accessed October 26, 2017, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol10/pp5-18.
8 Hotten, John Camden. The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years, Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and Others Who Went From Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. Edited by John Camden Hotten, London: Chatto and Windus, 1874.
9 “The Fleet Prison – British History Online”. British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
The Fleet Prison was built in 1197 near what is now Farringdon Street on the eastern bank of the River Fleet and was special prison for Star Chamber offenders, including many dogged Puritans. After the abolition of Archbishop Laud’s detestable Star Chamber court, in 1641, the Fleet Prison was reserved for debtors and for contempt of the Courts of Chancery, Common Pleas, and Exchequer. The prison burnt down in London’s Great Fire and was finally demolished in 1846.
10 Forsythe, James Neild (2000). State of the Prisons in England, Scotland, and Wales, Not for the Debtor Only, But for Felons Also, and Other Less Criminal Offenders. London: Routledge.
Built in 1370 as the gatehouse of Westminster Abby, the Gatehouse Prison was first used as a prison by the Abbot of Westminster Abbey. While imprisoned in the Gatehouse for petitioning to have the Clergy Act of 1640 annulled, Richard Lovelace wrote “To Althea, from Prison”—with its famous line—“Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.” The prison was demolished in 1776.
11 Hotten, John Camden. The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years, Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and Others Who Went From Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. Edited by John Camden Hotten, London: Chatto and Windus, 1874.
12 Records of the Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England From 1628 to 1641. Edited by S F Haven. Vol. I, Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1850. p14
13 Hardy, S. T. D. Syllabus (in English) of the documents relating to England and other kingdoms contained in the Collection known as “Rymers’ Fœedera.” vol. II (Longman & Co. and Trübner & Co. , Paternoster Row, 1873).
14 Hotten, John Camden. The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years, Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and Others Who Went From Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. Edited by John Camden Hotten, London: Chatto and Windus, 1874. xv