The English Revolution


or A Discovery of the main ground, original Cause of all the Slavery in the world, but cheifly in England: presented by way of a Declaration of many of the welaffected in that County, to all their poore oppessed Country men of England, &c.

First Published: 1648, anonymous Digger pamphlet;
Source: From George Sabine, ed., The Works of Gerrard Winstanley (New York: Russell and Russell, 1965);
Mark-up: by Rob Lucas.

JEHOVAH ELLOHIM Created Man after his own likenesse and image, which image is his Sonne Jesus, Heb. I. verse 2. who is the image of the Invisible God: now Man being made after Gods image or likenesse, and created by the word of God, which word was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us; which word was life, and that life the light of men, I Joh. 2. this light I take to be that pure spirit in man which we call Reason, which discusseth things right and reflecteth, which we call conscience; from all which there issued out that golden rule or law, which we call equitie: the sum me of which is, saith Jesus, whatsoever yee would that men should doe to you, doe to them, this is the Law and the Prophets; and James cals it the royall Law, and to live from this principle is calld a good conscience: and the creature Man was priviledged with being Lord over other inferior creatures, but not over his own kinde; for all men being a like priviledged by birth, so all men were to enjoy the creatures a like without proprietie one more than the other, all men by the grant of God are a like free, and every man individuall, that is to say, no man was to Lord or command over his own kinde: neither to enclose the creatures to his own use, to the impoverishing of his neigh- bours, see the Charter, I. Gen. from 26. vers. to the end of the Chapt. and see the renewing of the Charter to Noah and his Sons, Gen. 9. from the I. vers. to the 18.

But man following his own sensualitie became a devourer of the creatures, and an incloser, not content that another should enjoy the same priviledge as himself, but incloseth all from his Brother; so that all the Land, Trees, Beasts; Fish, Fowle, &c. are inclosed into a few mercinary hands; and all the rest deprived and made their slaves, so that if they cut a Tree for fire they are to be punished, or hunt a fowle it is imprisonment, because it is gentlemens game, as they say; neither must they keep Cattle, or set up a House, all ground being inclosed, without hyring leave for the one, or buying room for the other, of the chiefe incloser, called the Lord of the Mannor, or some other wretch as cruell as he, and all must be summoned to a Court Leet, there to acknowledge Fealty and Service, and that with Oathes if required (at least wise if Jurymen) to their Tyrant called Lord of the Mannor; and if a Tenant admitted, if Coppy-holder, he must take an Oath to become a true Tenant, rather Slave, as afore said; now all this Slavery of the one and Tyranny of the other was at first by murther and cruelty one against the other; and that they might strengthen themselves in their villany against Gods ordinances and their Brothers freedomes and rights: They had alwayes a Commander in chiefe, which was the most blindest and desperatest wretch, and he was their chiefe and head, as Nimerod, and he became their King; so that I dare make plainly appear by Scripture and Reason, that Kings were not of Gods institution at first, but it arose from the Heathens, viz. those that lived after their own beastly lusts: and when Israel would have a King, their onely ground was to be like other Nations; and God told Samuel saying, they have not cast off or rejected thee but me, that I should not reigne over them. Read the whol 8. Chapter of the I of Samuel &c. where observe the Slavery that the people are in that have a King, and amongst the whole Catologe observe the Tenth of Stocks, &c. and see the 12. Chap- ter from the 16. verse forward, what judgements God sent in their Harvest for asking a King, and afterwards observe what misery befell, for they were in continuall Wars abroad, and at last divided into divisions and had two Kings: Then what wofull civill Wars and murthering one another for the Kingdome: I refer you to the whole book of Kings to judge; doe but read that of their first King Abimelecks cruelty which was Gidions bastard; Judges 8. and 21. read the 9. of Judges, &c. there he kils his brother with a company of light fellows; and as Kings are the root of Tyrany, so likewise they were the first that brought in wars, see Gen. 14. for their greatnesse must be upheld by murther and cruelty, as aforesaid, in so much that in Revel. 13. mention is made of an ugly beast with seven heads and ten horns, which horns did persecute the Saints: now in Revel. 17. horns are there declared to be Kings, so that Kings are of the Beast, which is a power that makes all subject to it, but onely the Saints, &c. Revel. 13. and 7. And saith the Scripture, the Beast hath its power from the Dragon, Revel. 13. and 4. and the Dragon in Revel. 20. and 2 is the Devill and Satan, so that it is plain, that Kings are of the Beast, and the Beast is of the Devill; and it is as plain, they that worship the King worship the Beast, and they that worship the Beast worship the Devill, Revel. 13: and 4. vers. Now let us a little behold our English Powers, all that which is called Magistracie is from the Kings Pattent, and his is from the Devill; for the Kings Predecessors, The outlandish bastard William came to be King by Conquest and murther, now murtherers are, saith Jesus, the Divels children, for saith he, the Devill was a murtherer from the beginning and he abode not in the Truth: now Kings are utterly against the truth, and persecutors of the Saints; for saith Jesus, they shall bring you before Kings, so that Kings are enemies unto the Kingdome of Christ.

Secondly, Behold now from licence or grant comes all our inclosures and tradings, as priviledge to buy and sell, and to enjoy, occupy and possesse lands; it is from taking the Beasts mark: now observe the rich possessers, incroachers, inclosers, see your holdings, your Pattents, and Charters, and Licence is from the King, and all tenures and holdings of lands is from your King, yea al Writings, Indentures, Bands, Leases, &c. is in the name and authority of him; nay your money is not lawfull, if it be not the Kings coyn, and his picture and superscription on it.

So that observe, the King is made by you your God on earth, as God is the God of heaven, saith your Lawyers: therefore all Lawes, Writs, Summons, Warrants, Patents, &c, must be in his name; nay, the Parliament will settle nothing without him, yea all Honours must be from him. Now then mark if this be not all from the Dragon: and the Priests to verifie this, saith in their thing called Prayer, he is supreme head of their Church, Ecclesiastical as Civil, next under thee and thy Christ, so that he is their third person of their Trinity, and so their God, Defender of their faith. Now here is the blasphemy in Rev. 13. vers. 5. And in the Scotish Covenant, one Article of their Religion is concerning his sacred Majesty, &c. and Kings are the only chief upholders of Babylon: see how they weep at her down fall, Rev. 18. when buying and selling ceaseth, &c.

Now friends, what have we to do with any of these unfruitfull works of darknesse? Let us take Peters advice, I Pet. 4. 3. The time past of our life may suffice that we have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lascivious lusts, excesse of wine, revellings, banquetting, and abominable idolatry. And let us not receive the Beasts mark, least that the doom in Rev. 14. 9, 10. befall none of us: but let us oppose the Beastly powers, and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.

Now here is the chief ground why wicked men stand so for a King; it is to uphold all their confused cruelties and incests as aforesaid : and herein upholding him, they uphold that power that set him up, (by our Saviours rule) and by justifying him, they justifie that power that set him a work in all his tyranny; and they and the Parliament in treating with him, treat with him that authorised him; and in receiving him, receiveth him that set him on work, that is to say the Devil. Then see how we are cheated.

Now the enlightened Saints are commanded to abandon the unfruitfull works of darknesse. But all this power aforesaid is, I. of darknesse; therefore to be resisted.

2. Christ hath called the Saints to light; therefore they are to walk as children of light.

3. The Saints are to have no fellowship with Belial: but the power aforesaid is of Belial, therefore have no fellowship with it.

4. The said power is to be resisted: and see the promise, for saith James, Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. And this we have experience of, that whensoever the Kings power was manfully resisted, he fled from the resisters.

And therefore those called the Levellers, their principles to free all alike out of slavery, are most just and honest in reference to the matter of freedome: for it is the end of the redemption by Jesus, to restore all things.

And to do this, the removall of the Kingly power will be a main forwardnesse: and indeed the Kingly power is the being of Tyranny; for if no King, no Lord, no Patent, &c. 2. If the execution of Lawes were not in his name, as all Assurances, Writs, Commissions, Patents, Warrants, &c. then he should down if he would, for any use or need they had of him.

[I.] Therefore rich men cry for a King, because the poor should not claim his right that is his by Gods gift.

2. The horsleech Lawyer cryes for a King, because else the supream power will come into the peoples Representatives lawfully elected, and so all Trials would be done in the country, in every Town &c. by the same Neighbourhood, and so the Law would no more be bought nor sold, and then farewel caterpiller-Lawyer.

3. The things, Lord, Barons, &c. cry for a King, else their tyranical House of Peers falls down, and all their rotten honour, and all Patents and Corporations, their power being derived from him, if he go down, all their tyranny fals too. The like of Lord of Manors, Gentlemen, &c. besides the Priests of all men must cry for a King; for by his power and oppressing Courts, all his Judges, Justices, &c. and himself too is their sworn creature, and they are the Priests pack-horses that carry the whore of Babylons ware about, and they want but bels about their neck they may be the better heard, &c. Now if the King go down, what will become of the Priests ware think you? and Tythes goes down.

The like of all base Conventions of men of what kinde so ever. But now the honest man that would have liberty, cryes down all interests whatsoever, and to this end he desires common right and equity, which consists of these particulars following.

I. A just portion for each man to live, that so none need to begge or steale for want, but everyone may live comfortably.

2. A just Rule for each man to go by, which Rule is to be found in Scripture.

3. All men alike under the said Rule, which Rule is, To do to another as another should do to him: So that eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, &c. and if anyone stole, to restore double, &c.

4. The government to be by Judges, called Elders, men fearing God and hating covetousnesse; Those to be chosen by the people, and to end all controversies in every Town and Hamlet, without any other or further trouble or charge.

And in the Scriptures, the Israelites Common-wealth is an excellent pattern, if led up to that in Gen. I. and Gen. 9. mentioned in the beginning.

Now in Israel, if a man were poor, then a publike maintenance and stock was to be provided to raise him again: So would all Bishops lands, Forrest lands, and Crown-lands do in our Land, which the Apostate Parliament men give one to another, and to maintain the needlesse thing call’d a King. And every seven years the whole Land was for the poor, the fatherlesse, widows and strangers, and at every crop a portion allowed them.

Mark this, poor people, what the Levellers would do for you. Oh why are you so mad as to cry up a King? It is he and his Court and Patentee men, as Majors, Aldermen, and such creatures, that like Cormorants devoure what you should enjoy, and set up Whipping-posts and Correcting-houses to enslave you. Tis rich men that oppresse you, saith James.

Now in this right Common-wealth, he that had least had no want: therefore the Scripture call them a Family, and houshold of Israel. And in the 2. of the Acts, amongst those that received the Gospel, they were gathered into a family and had all things common; yet so, that each one was to labour and eat his own bread. And this is equity, as aforesaid: for it is not lawfull nor fit for some to work, and the other to play; for it is Gods command, that all work, let all eat: and if all work alike, is it not fit for all to eat alike, have alike, and enjoy alike priviledges and freedoms? And he that did not like this, is not fit to live in a Common-wealth. See Gen. 9. And therefore weep and howl, ye Rich men, by what vain name or title soever: God will visit you for all your oppressions; You live on other mens labours, and give them their bran to eat, extorting extreme rents and taxes on your fellow-creatures. But now what will you do? for the People will no longer be enslaved by you, for the knowledge of the Lord shall enlighten them, &c.

And now (according to my knowledge,) I shall discover your pedegree from your King to your Gentleman, and it is thus: William the Bastard sonne of Robert Duke of Normandy, with a mighty Army of his fellow- Tyrants and Theeves and Robbers, enters Sussex, kils the inhabitants the Britains and their King, that were in an Army to withstand his cruelty and defend their rights, robs and destroyes all places and persons at his pleasure, setleth Garisons of Normans to enslave the Britains, takes all Land and causeth them to hold it by Copyhold, to pay fines and harets at his pleasure, &c. It is too tedious to relate all Polls, Tolls, Taxes &c. that he made our Forefathers pay. Let the Reader view the Chronicle.

But amongst all unnaturall, unreasonable, tyrannicall and cruel Laws he made, as that of Curfer 1, of Felony, That the child must suffer for the Father, &c. And all his tyrannical Lawes he caused to be in an Outlandish tongue. So that here I take this power to be that little horn in Dan., 7. 24. because I never heard or read of the like cruelty that any Tyrant did the like, for to cause his cruel Laws to be in an unknown tongue. Now the poor people knew not when they offended or no.

2. For the execution of those Lawes, the people to come to what place he will appoint, at 4 Terms and times in a year.

And 3. to buy their Lawes at the Lawyers unconscionable rate, for he set up and devised the Lawyers. Now as I shall make it appear that this is the horn, so the Caterpillers Lawyers will prove the eyes: which Lawyers are as profitable as magots in meat, and Caterpillers in Cabages, and Wolves amongst Lambs, &c.

And amongst those, see their Preferment (as its called) to suck the People; as Attorny, Counsellor, Barrester, Sergeant, and accordingly Fees to rob, and they take Oaths; and out of this rubbish stuffe are all our Creatures called Judges, and they likewise all to be sworne. And then places of preferment (so called) to tyrannize} and to be the head Tyrants, Sycophants, Wolves, Lyons, Leopards, &c. as Dutchy General, Attorney-Generall, Lord-lubber Keeper, Lord Privy-Seal, Lord Treasurer, Lord Barons of the Exchequer, and I know not what great Catchpoles besides these; all to be sworne to their dread Soveraign Tyrant Beast, &c. And so being right whelps brought up to rend, devoure, rob, spoile, tyrannise &c. over the poor people; then their dread Tyrant, as he hath received power and dignity from the Dragon or Devil as aforesaid, doth shatter, breath out, and all-to-bedaggel them with it, with hairy skind Robes, resembling the subtle nasty Fox with his dirty tayl. And because the Lord Keeper, Privy Seal, and Treasurers long tails should not daggle in the dirt, they must have another Sycophant slave apeece to carry up for them with their hats off doing homage to their breech. Oh height of all basenesse! What, will they creep in one anothers arses for honour? Why, oh, his Majesties breath of Honour it may be blows out There, and therefore he holds up his gown that it might blow him that holds it up, and makes him be called Sir. Likewise those men thus honoured must have a gue-gaw silver Mace carried before them, With a Crosse a top on it, to shew they have their Title from the Defender of the Popish Faith; the Lord Keeper having a fools-bable like a Purse carried before him: now all these Lawyers, Lyers and twelve Judges: Besides with their cowtred 2 Caps; and Serjeants with their womanish Coifs and Peticots on their Shoulders, with their Barresters, Atturnies, &c. Howbeit, they rob and devoure the people, striving who shall most play the knave and couzen; so that he may clime up into high places of profit: for all those upholding their Kings Prerogative, their Tiranny is unquestionable, that is the reason that they maintain the King can doe no wrong; that he is a God on earth, as God is God in Heaven, and that he is the life of the Law; all Writs, Warrants, Commissions, &c. His name gives the beeing to them: that he is the fountain of our honour and magestracy: yea and that he is supreme head Ecclesiasticall and Civil; also that he is to be accountable to none but God, and all this the better to hide their tyrany; for they being all from him, and all their Commissions; if you question them, then you must question him from whom their power was derived: but they say, he is not to be accountable, &c. so that by this means they uphold all their Tyrany; and there is no way, but to take down the Kingly Power and then their [power] wil down too, & not before: Now these Lawyers are the Eys of the Beast, for the twelve Judges sit in the tyranicall House of Peers, another sort of the Kingly creatures to advice them in all tyrany, and how to keep the Norman yoake about the peoples necks.

The next thing to shew is from whence came all our Nobility and Gentry, even from that outlandish Norman Bastard, who first being his Servants and under Tyrants; secondly, their rise was by cruell murther and theft by the Conquest; thirdly, their rise was the Countries ruine, and the putting them down will be the restitution of our rights againe; these are called Dukes, Earls, Barons, Marquesse, Lords, &c. And from this Bastard is all our royall blood, therefore to be utterly disesteemed: O then behold, O England thy vanity in Idolizing the King and his Children !

Thy Priests have guld, bewitched, cheated, and betrayed thee into these tyrants hands with their sorceries onely for their own filthy lucre and bellies sake, because they have the greatest part of the spoile for their preaching up the King to be the Supream head, Defender of the Faith, Gods anointed; and that if thou doest resist his power thou resisteth the ordinances of God: now all this is but as bridles in thy jaws, and blindes over thy eyes, that thou must be ruled by the Church, and they are thy enemies, and thou must beleeve them; and keep thy self a good Subject to thy Prince, the condition is good: and by all these and a thousand tricks more they doe but mould thee to slavery this five hundred years and more, and by this means the King and his Creatures ride thee in thy Estates and Persons and Labours.

And the Priests [rule] over thy Conscience and soule, and keeps thee in all ignorance and malice; and for so doing thy Priests are thy Princes and beare rule, and for their so bewitching thee they come by their Impropriations and fat Benefits: and it is for those fat Benefits that makes them turn changelings, either to King or Parliament, which will best furnish their kiching [i. e., kitchen]. Therefore shake off those locus and be no more deluded by them, but hearken to the voice of God in the Scriptures and his Saints, and pay no more Tiths to those Priests, nay cast off those abominable deceivers.

All Charters, Pattents, and Corporations was devised onely to up- hold the Kings Tyranny, Greatnesse, and Interest; and because the people did rise in many parts for their Priviledges and Right; and he being in straights and knowing not how to uphold his tyranny, devised a way to set the people one against another, by making some Free, some Forreigners, &c. and so deviseth these Patents and Charters in all populous Cities and Towns throughout the Realm to uphold his Interest.

Now as for these bewitching Charters, see how they run in J. I.

Out of our Princely grace, bountie, meer motioned princely favour, Doe give and grant to this our Citie or Town, & c. To be a body Corporate, to consist of a Major, Baliffs and Burgesses, &c.

Why? Mark, the better to serve us and our successors (this is the end of their grant) then all Towns and Customs whatsoever is due to us and our successors? We bequeath to the same body Corporate (and every businesse must be sworn, to be the Kings creatures) then out of that pack, they have power to choose twelve Aldermen for a Common-counsell, and they all be sworn again: Then out of this stuffe, all the Burgesses to choose a thing called a Major, and she all to be sworn to the Kings: then she shall be a Just-asse of Peace and Coram 3, and have a silver Hartichoak or toy call'd a Mase, carried before her; and she and her twelve Aldermen following after in their Cunnie skin Gowns, as so many fools in a Mid-summer Aile: and those petty-tyrants shall domineer over the Inhabitants by vertue of their Patent, and enclose all, letting and setting of the Poores lands to, and moneys, stocks of moneys to their own use: and claime a Priviledge from their Charters and Patents that they scorn to be accountable to others, but to their Prerogative Masters; so that you see all tyrany shelters it self under the Kings wings: is it not time then to throw down the King, and bring his Person to his answer: these Patents and Charters is the maine wheele and prop that upholds the Kings tyrany; for by this means the Prerogative people, strives to uphold the King and Lords interests, to get favours of them, to hold up their own knavery and deceit; and doth choose such Burgesses for the Parliament, as will be for the King, as Caterpiller Lawyers, Coliers [i. e., cheats] or lords of the Mannor, Impropriators, or such like; and it is from those Patent Towns that the House of Commons if fil’d with so many kingified Prerogative self interest, proud and cheating Varlets as now it is: and untill those Corporations be thrown down, we can expect never any hope of freedome by a Parliament: see how Londons Common-Counsell stir up their Hackneys with Petitions and Mutineys, for a Treaty with our Conquered enemy, &c. 4

Therefore let Burgesses hence forth be no more so chosen, but from all the wel-affected in generall.

The next thing is to shew you, as I conceive, how we came by a Parliament, 2. what is a Parliament, 3. what good may be expected by a Parliament as it now stands?

Our fore-fathers the Brittains, being altogether in slavery, did rise in many parts, and would not endure the slavery afore said; then the tyrant and his brood, not able to overcome, grants a Parliament as followeth; the People to parly, treat, or declare their minde: to this end, to choose men to treat, as followeth, I. The Freeholders in every County to choose two, which should be cal'd Knights for the County; and his Patentee Towns, each to choose two more, which should be cal'd Burgesses, and those should sit for the Country, and be cald a House of Commons; and have a firmitive voice, to affirm what they would have done, and the major part to carry it.

2. Provided, that he would have a House of Peers to sit for him from his Prerogative without Election, by his Patent, and those to have an Negative voice to thwart the Commons if they please, and if they assented to the Commons, then it should be an Ordinance; if they did not, then all the Commons did should be null; and if the Commons and Lords, or the most part, did assent, then the King to have a Negative voice; and no Laws to be made or repealed without his consent; and if he consented to it, then it should be an Act, and no otherwise.

3. Before any sitting to Vote, they are to take these Oaths as followeth,

I. That he is their lawfull King: 2. They will not alter the Government as it now stands: 3. And they will not deprive his Successor: and in King Henry the eight time, when they came to be Priest ridden, that he is Head of the Church, Ecclesiasticall and Civil, Suprem head &c. Defender of the Faith, and such blasphemies: and these oathes, as it is manifest, they have ever since taken.

Now observe our Worthy Parliament; first the King is to hard for the People to cheat them: for first, the greater number of the Commons are chosen by his Patentee Burgesses Major & Aldermen: and the County, but two in a Countie and those the Freeholders, which had their freedome of the Normans, and all the people else shut by from choosing, and if 2. The King hath a House of Patentee Lords to ballance them with their Negative voice.

3. The King hath a Negative voice, and that is the third State to Ballance them himselfe.

4. In the House of Commons itself, the King hath the bigest part, even neer two to one for most, all the Burgesses be for him, and the major part carrying it by voice. Now what is this but a meer cheat, and observe all the Cronicles from Bastard William to Charles and upwards, and since, and it will appear that Kings got more by treaties, then ever their Sword could have done, and kept it longer, because now their tyranny was settled by a Law, and the People sworn to those Laws; they thinking they have gained freedome when indeed they have given away their freedome by their Parliaments, as aforesaid: and now we see, had not God moved this Army to prevent this Treaty, this Parliament had utterly cheated and betrayed us into our implacable enemies hands again; and had settled the whole Norman power again over us, notwithstanding all this light to the contrary, Treasure spent, Bloodshed, &c. Besides the many Oathes the Commons took to free us; so that Charles had like to be set up into his tyranicall Power again; but now blessed be God, the Net is broke, and we are escaped. And for all our tyrany the Priests are our Inchanters, and those that preached it up for their own bellyes sakes.

Now King, Lords, Commons three States, as it hath been cal’d, the little Home (as I conceive) in Daniel the seventh; for it altereth from all other tyranicall Powers in the world whatever: secondly, the King is head of their Church, as aforesaid: thirdly, they alter one tyranicall way, and set up another: and can make up' a thing cal'd Religion by one Parliament, and throw it down the next Parliament and set up another; so here is changing times &c. and trampling under feet. And the base Priests, the Ecclesiasticall State, preacheth all those Powers and Constitutions to be Jure divino. O wretches, wretches, the black gard of Satan, what will become of them.