Clerk of the Peace
The Clerk of the Peace drafted a record of proceedings for the Justices of the Peace at the Quarter Sessions, keeping the order books and minute books. It is possible that some of the petitions of maimed soldiers and war widows were drafted by Clerks of the Peace. Their other responsibilities included drawing up indictments against criminal suspects. They were the guardians of the collective memory of the county bench, and might be called upon to retrieve past records by the Justices. See Anthony Fletcher, Reform of the Provinces: The Government of Stuart England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), pp. 111–12.
In order to receive monetary relief, many petitioners were required to provide evidence to support the stories told in their petitions. Certificates were therefore obtained to corroborate their identities and back stories. These might be written by their commanding officers to prove they really had served in the war, or by military surgeons to authenticate their injuries and the costs incurred by their treatment, or by Justices of the Peace, clergymen or even the leading inhabitants of their parish to verify the claimant’s identity and needy condition.
Committee for Compounding with Delinquents
The Committee for Compounding was established by the Long Parliament to raise money for its war effort. It first met at Goldsmiths Hall in London in November 1643. Its object was to extract fines from royalists for the return of their confiscated estates and to fix terms for their reconciliation to the parliamentarian regime. This included a confession of their ‘delinquency’, a full account of their personal and landed estate, and the ‘negative oath’, a pledge not to take up arms against Parliament again. The committee continued into the later 1650s, after it took on the work of the Committee for Advance of Money and the Sequestration Committee. See Calendar of the Proceedings of the Committee for Compounding, 1643–1660, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green, 5 vols. (1889–92); Rachel Weil, ‘Thinking about allegiance in the English Civil War’, History Workshop Journal, 61:1 (2006), pp. 183-91; Hannah Worthen, ‘Supplicants and guardians: the petitions of Royalist war widows during the Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1642–1660’, Women’s History Review, 26:4 (2017), pp. 528–40.
Committee for Advance of Money
The Committee for Advance of Money was established by the Long Parliament in November 1642 to administer voluntary loans and then compulsory assessments for the parliamentarian war effort. From 1645 it was also responsible for uncovering the concealed property of royalists. By 1650 it was merged into the Committee for Compounding. It ceased to function by 1656. Calendar of the Proceedings of the Committee for Advance of Money, 1642–1656, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green, 3 vols. (1888).
Committee for Maimed Soldiers
This was a committee of MPs in the Long Parliament that met from 1647. Their treasury was at Christchurch and they were responsible for admitting maimed soldiers to London’s hospitals and discharging recovered and cured soldiers from them to return to their home counties to receive pensions there. See Journals of the House of Commons, vol. 5, p. 92, and vol. 6, pp. 27–8.
Chief or High Constable
The jurisdiction of Chief or High Constables spread over a group of parishes, hundred or wapentake. Their responsibilities were to preserve the peace and gather the taxation from the Parish Constables in their district. They were charged with collecting the county rate to support maimed soldiers and war widows from Parish Constables to deliver to the County Treasurer.
Appointed by their resident parish, they were charged with preserving the peace and had legal powers to arrest and hold people in custody before they could be brought before magistrates. The office was unpaid and unpopular office as Constables were often responsible for mediating the impact of the law upon their friends and neighbours. Parish Constables were sometimes termed Petty Constables and were often responsible to High Constables whose jurisdiction encompassed a group of parishes: a hundred or wapentake. Constables were charged with collecting taxation from their parish, including the county rate to support maimed soldiers and war widows, which they were to surrender to their High Constable or County Treasurer. During the Civil Wars their duties became especially onerous, as they were co-opted by both sides to act as tax gatherers. Constables were often directly answerable to particular military officers for the sums raised, sometimes on a fortnightly or even a weekly basis. On occasions they had to travel to the nearest military garrison, carrying their parish’s contributions with them, at no small risk to themselves. They might be forced to make up any shortfall personally, or face imprisonment if they were unable to deliver the full amount.
As the Quarter Sessions ceased to meet in many counties with the outbreak of civil war, Parliament established County Committees to co-ordinate its local war efforts and provide a means of county government. Until Quarter Sessions were restored, these County Committees, staffed by local personnel appointed by Parliament took over many of the functions of Quarter Sessions, including dealing with petitions for pensions from maimed soldiers and war widows. See Clive Holmes, ‘Centre and Locality in Civil-War England’, in J. S. A. Adamson, ed., The English Civil War: Conflict and Contexts, 1640-1649 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009), pp. 153–74.
Latin for the ‘keeper of the rolls’, this position was the senior Justice of the Peace for a county, who was responsible for the safe-keeping of the records of the Quarter Sessions.
A sub-division of a county in midland or southern England.
Justice of the Peace
The Justices of the Peace (JPs) were an office established by Edward III in 1361. They were local magistrates appointed by the crown before 1643 and after 1660, or were chosen by one of the interregnum regimes between these dates. JPs served for the honour of holding the office and in order to underline their local status. Together, they constituted the county bench. Although many had attended university and the Inns of Court for a grounding in the law, they were not legal professionals. They were usually drawn from the most high status families of gentry in a county, but occasionally included nobility or clergy. They became the workhorses of local government in Stuart England and Wales. Their responsibilities included convening and presiding over the courts of Quarter Sessions where criminal cases at common law were heard and county government was transacted.
The Parliament that sat at Westminster from November 1640 to April 1653. After the purge of 6 December 1648 and the execution of Charles I, because of its depleted ranks it was commonly referred to as the Rump Parliament.
The heads of state during the Protectorate were Oliver Cromwell (1653–8) and his son Richard Cromwell (1658–9). Occasionally petitions for military welfare were addressed directly to them, especially in the case of officers’ widows.
Minute books kept by the Clerk of the Peace during Quarter Sessions which recorded the orders made by the Justices of the Peace. These included judgements on who should be admitted to or excluded from the pension rolls, and how much pension or gratuity maimed soldiers, war widows or orphans should receive.
In order to receive monetary relief, claimants had to describe why they were deserving cases in a document called a petition that would be submitted to a particular authority such as the Justices of the Peace at a Quarter Sessions court, or the military commanders and administrators on a County Committee. Some petitions were even addressed to national figures such as Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, or the Privy Council. Petitions began by addressing the authority and concerned before outlining the nature of their suffering and losses, before imploring the authority petitioned to intervene. As most petitioners were illiterate, their petitions would have been written for them by acquaintances or neighbours such as clergymen, churchwardens, military officers or possibly even the Clerk of the Peace. The stories in the petitions had to be verifiable and rooted in fact, because the petitioners were often required to accompany their petitions in person to the court.
A body of advisors appointed by the sovereign, many of them noblemen, sitting in Whitehall. Numerous petitions from royalists claiming war relief were addressed to Charles II’s Privy Council in 1660 and afterwards.
The Quarter Sessions were a common law court of criminal and civil jurisdiction. Established by a statute in 1362, they were a county court that met four times a year, at Epiphany (sometimes called Hilary), Easter, Midsummer (sometimes called Trinity) and Michaelmas. By the sixteenth century their jurisdiction had become extensive, including most crimes short of treason. They were also the prime institution of local government, administering the implementation of national legislation, and supervising the work of parochial office-holders such as Constables, Coroners and Overseers of the Poor. Quarter Sessions courts were usually held in the county town and became quite grand meetings and occasions. They attracted the leading county families to network, socialize, arrange marriages, land purchases and distribute office and favour. In large counties, the Quarter Sessions might meet rotate its meetings among several of the larger towns to minimise the distance people needed to travel to attend. Cities and towns that had charters naming them as counties in their own right, for example York, Bristol, Hull and Norwich, had the right to administer their own Quarter Sessions.
The confiscation of an enemy’s property and the diversion of their personal or landed income to fund the war effort. Both Charles I and the Long Parliament sought to sequester the property and land of their enemies to fund their own war efforts.
Treasurer for Maimed Soldiers
Each county appointed a Treasurer for Maimed Soldiers, often from among its Justices of the Peace. They were required to receive and distribute the county rate to its wounded soldiers and war widows, either as regular pensions, often quarterly, or as one-off gratuities to those who promised not to return but often did. It was their job to submit an annual account of income and outgoings to the Justices.
Lists compiled by or for the county’s Treasurer for Maimed Soldiers which detailed those maimed soldiers and war widows admitted onto the county rolls as pensioners in receipt of regular pensions or gratuities from the county rate.
The sub-division of a county in parts of northern England that had been under the Danelaw such as Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, corresponding to the Hundred further south.