Clubmen 1645
Letter from Sir T. Fairfax, giving an Account of the Club-men in Wilts and Dorset, a numerous armed Body, who declare they take up Arms only for their own Defence, and not join either the King's or Parliament's Armies.

"For the Right Honourable the Committee of both Kingdoms, at Darby House.

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"My former Letter acquainted your Lordships with my Resolutions to march Westwards, for the Relief of Taunton; in Pursuance whereof, I am advanced as far as Blandford. I could not hitherto give your Lordships an Account of the Conditions of these Counties of Wilts and Dorsett, in Arms under the Name of Club-men. They pretended only the Defence of themselves from Plunderers, but not to side either with the King's Forces or the Parliament's, but to give Free Quarter to both: The Heads of them are all (so far as I can learn) such as have either been in actual Service in the King's Army (nay, some having Commands at the present with the King), or those that are known Favourers of that Party. I hear they have drawn up certain Articles, whereunto they have subscribed, for the managing and maintaining this new Party. They have drawn up Petitions, one to the King, the other to the Parliament, the Copies whereof I have herewithall sent unto your Lordships. The Heads of them have had some Treaties with the Governors of the Garrisons, both of the King and Parliament, that lie nearest to them, and have agreed to pay Contribution to both; I hear, Fifty Pounds to Tolston House, and the like to Langford House. They have appointed Treasurers of their own, for receiving and paying for the same; and the Garrisons, in Consideration hereof, are not to raise any Contribution to themselves. I have sent your Lordship One of their Warrants for raising Money, and paying it in to Mr. Hollis of Salisbury, who is One of their Heads. For that Purpose, they give Passes to One of their Party, whom they call Associates, to pass freely in the Counties without Molestation. They list themselves under several Officers daily, and meet in great Bodies at their Rendezvous, and boast they can have Twenty Thousand Men at Four and Twenty Hours Warning for assembling them together. Their Heads send out to the several Towns; and, by ringing of Bells, and sending Post from one Rendezvous to another, into the several Towns and Hundreds, they draw into great Bodies. For Distinction of themselves from other Men, they wear White Ribbon, to shew, as they say, their Desires of Peace. They meet with Drums, flying Colours, and for Arms they have Muskets. Some, I hear, have been sent them from Sherborne; Fowling-pieces, Pikes, Halberts, great Clubs, and such like. They take upon them to interpose betwixt the Garrisons of either Side; and when any of their Forces meet in Places where they have a sufficient Power, as Salisbury and the like, they will not suffer them to fight, but make them drink together, and so make them Part to their several Garrisons. They come into our Horse Quarters, and steal Horses where they find them at Grass, and carry them into the Woods. They will obey no Warrants further than they are compelled, for sending in Provisions for the Army, or Draughts for the Carriages. In these Two Counties, they are abundantly more affected to the Enemy than to the Parliament; and publicly declare, what Party soever falls on them, they will join with the other; and those of the Inhabitants of these Counties who are really affected to the Parliament do not join with them, but are daily threatened by them, and suspect the Issue of it will be very mischievous. I have the Enemy before me, towards whom I am advancing with all Expedition; and in my Rear these Men, who, being very numerous, and acted by Men so dangerous as for the most Part their Leaders are, I know not what they may attempt. I desire your Lordships Advice in this Business, being uncertain what to do, until I hear from your Lordships. I am careful to prevent any just Cause of Clamour from the Country through any Disorders in the Army; and hope there will be Care taken for the sending Money to us, that they may be able to give Contentment to the People, by discharging their Quarters: But I do not at all doubt, that, if some speedy Course were taken for their quieting, or suppressing them, it would be no hard Work: I know not what it may prove to in Time; I find them generally very confident of their Cause and Party; and, if hereafter they should presume to give Laws to the Armies, as they do to the Garrisons, it might be of evil Consequence. For the present, I shall offer to your Lordships the commanding of Colonel Fines and Colonel Norton's Regiment of Horse into these Parts, who, with the Assistance of Colonel Ludlowe, the Sheriff of Wilts, (fn. 3) and the Garrisons in these Parts, may be able at least to keep them from drawing into any great Bodies, to the Disturbance of the Country. I desire your Lordships speedy Answer; and remain

"Your Lordships most
humble Servant,

Blandford, July, 3d 1645, 7 in the Morning.

"Tho. Fairefax."

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