Choosing sides

by Nick

I found this while doing some research on the Militia Ordinance and the Commission of Array of 1642 (attempts by Parliament and Charles I respectively to require local grandees to muster forces in case of conflict). It’s part of a letter from Thomas Knyvett to his wife on 18 May 1642:

I would to God I could write thee any good news, but that is impossible so long as the spirit of contradiction ranges between king and parliament higher still than ever. And ’tis to be feared this threatening storm will not be allayed without some showers (P ray God not a deluge) of blood. The one party now grows as resolute as the other is obstinate… Oh sweet heart, I am now in a great straight what to do. Walking this other morning at Westminster, Sir John Potts, with Commissary Muttford, saluted me with a commission from the Lord of Warwick, to take upon me (by virtue of an ordinance of parliament) my company and command again. I was surprised what to do, whether to take or reguse. ‘Twas no place to dispute, so I took it and desired some time to advise upon it. I had not received this many hours, but I met with a declaration point blank against it by the king. This distraction made me to advise with some understanding men what condition I stand in, which is no other than a great many men of quality do. What further commands we shall receive to put this ordinance in execution, if they run in a way that trenches upon my obedience against the king, i shall do according to my conscience, and this is the resolution of all honest men that I can speak with. In the meantime I hold it good wisdom and security to keep my company as close to me as I can in these dangerous times, and to stay out of the way of my new masters till these first musterings be over.

B. Schofield (ed.), The Knyvett Letters (Norfolk Record Society, 1949), pp. 101-103.

Knyvett eventually sided with the king.