- John Lilburne
John Lilburne (1614–
29 August 1657), also known as Freeborn John, was an agitator in Englandbefore, during and after the English Civil Wars of 1642–1650. In his early life he was a Puritan, though towards the end of his life he became a Quaker. His works have been cited in opinions by the United States Supreme Court.
John Lilburne was born in
Sunderland[http://www.seaham.i12.com/myers/m-lilburne.html] , a child of middle level but still prosperous members of the royal court. The exact date of his birth is not known and there is some dispute as to whether he was born in the year 1613 or 1614. His family had originated in Sunderland, in North-East England where his uncle Richard Lilburne became one of the first members of Parliament to represent the County of Durham. By his own account Lilburne received the first ten years' of his education in Newcastle, almost certainly at the Royal Free Grammar School [http://www.seaham.i12.com/myers/m-lilburne.html] .
In the 1630s he was apprenticed to John Hewson who introduced him to the Puritan physician
John Bastwick, an active pamphleteer against Episcopacywho was persecuted by Archbishop William Laud.
In 1638 at age 22, John Lilburne imported into England religious publications from Holland which were not licensed by The Stationers' Company (known after 1937 as the
Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers). At that time all printing presses were licensed as well as the publications that were produced on those presses.
John Lilburne was arrested upon information by an informer acting for The Stationers' Company and brought before the Court of
Star Chamber. Instead of being charged with an offense he was asked how he pleaded. John Lilburne demanded to be presented in English with the charges brought against him (much of the written legal work of the time was in Latin). The Court refused Lilburne's request. The court then threw him in prison and again brought him back to court and demanded a plea. Again, Lilburne demanded to know the charges brought against him.
The authorities then resorted to flogging him with a three-thonged whip on his bare back, as he was dragged by his hands tied to the rear of an ox cart from
Fleet Prisonto the pilloryat Westminster. He was then forced to stoop in the pillory where he still managed to campaign against his censors, while distributing more unlicensed literature to the crowds. He was then gagged. Finally he was thrown in prison. He was taken back to the court and again imprisoned.
This began the first in a long series of trials that lasted throughout his life for what John Lilburne called his "freeborn rights". As a result of these trials a growing number of supporters began to call him "Freeborn John" and they even struck a medal in his honor to that effect. It is this trial that has been cited by constitutional jurists and scholars in the
United States of Americaas being one of the historical foundations of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is also cited within the 1966 majority opinion of " Miranda v. Arizona" by the U.S. Supreme Court.
English Civil War
In the First English Civil War he enlisted as a captain in the Parliamentary army commanded by the Earl of Essex and fought at the
Battle of Edgehill. He commanded Parliament's garrison at Brentfordagainst Prince Rupert during the Battle of Brentford that took place on 12 November1642 as the Royalist advance on London and although he managed to save the artillery, he was taken as a prisoner to Oxford. As the first prominent Roundheadcaptured in the war, the Royalists intended to try Lilburne for high treason. But when Parliament threatened to execute Royalist prisoners in reprisal, Lilburne was exchanged for a Royalist officer.
He then joined the
Eastern Associationunder the command of Earl of Manchester and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He became friends with Oliver Cromwell, who was second in command, supporting him in his disputes with Manchester. He fought with distinction at the Battle of Marston Moorin 1644. Shortly afterwards he asked permission to attack the Royalist stronghold at Tickhill Castle, because he had heard it was willing to surrender. Manchester refused, dismissing him as a madman. Taking that as a yes, he went and took the Castle without a shot being fired.
In April 1645, Lilburne resigned from the Army, because he refused to sign the Presbyterian
Solemn League and Covenant, on the grounds that the covenant deprived those who might swear it of freedom of religion, namely members of the parliamentary army. Lilburne argued that he had been fighting for this Liberty among others. This was practically a treaty between Englandand Scotlandfor the preservation of the reformed religion in Scotland, the reformation of religion in England and Ireland "according to the word of God and the example of the best reformed churches," and the extirpation of poperyand prelacy. The Scots, he maintained, were free to believe as they saw fit but not to bind anyone to the same faith if they did not share it.
John Lilburne then began in earnest his campaign of agitation for
freebornrights, the rights that all Englishmen are born with, which are different from privileges bestowed by a monarch or a government. His enemies branded him as a Leveller but Lilburne responded that he was a "Leveller so-called." To him it was a pejorative label which he did not like. He called his supporters "Agitators." It was feared that "Levellers" wanted to level property rights, but Lilburne wanted to level human basic rights which he called "freeborn rights."
At the same time that John Lilburne began his campaign, another group led by
Gerrard Winstanleybecame known as True Levellers. They were the people who demanded equality in property as well as political rights.
Lilburne was imprisoned from July to October 1645 for denouncing Members of Parliament who lived in comfort while the common soldiers fought and died for the Parliamentary cause. It was while he was incarcerated that he wrote his tract, "England's Birthright Justified". In July 1646, he was imprisoned in the
Tower of Londonfor denouncing his former commander the Earl of Manchester as a traitorand Royalist sympathiser. It was the campaign to free him from prison which spawned the political party called the Levellers. Lilburne called them "Levellers so-called" because he viewed himself as an agitator for freeborn rights.
The Levellers had a strong following in the
New Model Armywith whom his work was influential. When the Army held the Putney Debates1 between 28 Octoberand 11 November 1647, the debate centred upon a pamphlet influenced by the writings of John Lilburne called "An Agreement of the People for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right"2.
Lilburne was instrumental in the writing of two more editions of this famous document. The second was "An Agreement of the People of England, and the places therewith incorporated, for a secure and present peace, upon grounds of common right, freedom and safety"2, was presented to Parliament on
11 September 1648after amassing signatories including about a third of all Londoners.
Following the defeat of the Royalists and the abolition of the monarchy and
House of Lords, England became a republicin 1649 with the regicideof Charles I. It was while he was in the Tower of London that John Lilburne, William Walwyn, Thomas Princeand Richard Overtonwrote the third edition of "An Agreement of the Free People of England. Tendered as a Peace-Offering to this distressed Nation"4. They hoped that this document would be signed like a referendum so that it would become a written constitution for the English Republic. The late United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who often cited the works of John Lilburne in his opinions, wrote in an article for " Encyclopædia Britannica" that he believed John Lilburne's constitutional work of 1649 was the basis for the basic rights contained in the U.S. Constitution.
After his acquittal by Parliament on the charge of
treasonin 1649, Lilburne turned to other legal matters involving his extended family. This action resulted in him being arrested yet again. Following the abolition of the monarchy, Cromwell had moved the republic through various stages until it became more of a dictatorship than a free society. John Lilburne was held in prison because Cromwell viewed Lilburne as a political threat.
During his trial, tickets were thrown about with the words...
"And what, shall then honest John Lilburne die!"
"Three score thousand will know the reason why,"
During this period of solitude John Lilburne became a
Quakerand he turned to a form of personal and quiet religion. Due to years of abuse and imprisonment, his health began to fail and he was released by the prison warden so that he could visit his wife. Upon hearing of his release Oliver Cromwell gave orders for his immediate return to prison, but in the meantime John Lilburne had died on 29 August 1657.
*Free Born John - Biography of John Lilburne, by Gregg, Pauline. Greenwood Press, London. 1960.
*"John Lilburne: Campaigner for Democracy" by Nicholas Reed. Lilburne Press 2004 See www.lilburnepress.co.uk
# [http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~muss/webstuff/putney.htm The Putney Debates]
# [http://www.constitution.org/eng/conpur074.htm The Agreement of the People] as presented to the Council of the Army October 1647
# [http://www.constitution.org/eng/conpur081.htm Agreement of the People of England] , as presented to Parliament in January 1649
# [http://www.constitution.org/eng/agreepeo.htm An Agreement of the Free People of England] , extended version from the imprisonment of the Leveller leaders, May 1649
# [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/STUlilburne.htm A longer biography of John Lilburne]
* [http://www.revhammer.com/freebornjohn.htm Rev Hammer's concept album about the life of Freeborn John]
*Foxley Rachel. [http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=863EB24E32D3609B8B1DB2D2EB04D18B.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=265013#fn1 Joun Lilburne and the citizenship of 'free-born Englishmen'] , [http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=HIS The Historical Journal] (2004), 47: 849-874 Cambridge University Press
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
John Lilburne — (* ca. 1614; † 28. August 1657), auch bekannt als Freeborn John, war einer der bekanntesten Wortführer der radikaldemokratischen „Levellers“ in England des siebzehnten Jahrhunderts. Er ist der Bruder von Robert Lilburne. Lilburne wurde als Sohn… … Deutsch Wikipedia
LILBURNE (J.) — LILBURNE JOHN (1614 1657) Chef le plus célèbre du mouvement des niveleurs au temps de la révolution anglaise, John Lilburne sut allier l’action militante la plus déterminée à la réflexion idéologique la plus poussée (il est l’auteur d’une… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Lilburne — ist der Name von John Lilburne (* ca. 1614; † 1657, auch bekannt als Freeborn John), Anführer der radikaldemokratischen Levellers im England des siebzehnten Jahrhunderts. Robert Lilburne (1613−1665), Anführer der Levellers , Politiker und Soldat… … Deutsch Wikipedia
John Bastwick — was born in Essex in 1593. When he finished his education at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he took a medical degree at Padua. Bastwick was a Puritan and he was imprisoned several times for his controversial writings. Bastwick became friendly with… … Wikipedia
John Rushworth — (c. 1612 May 12, 1690) was born at Acklington Park in the parish of Warkworth, Northumberland, England. He compiled a series of works called Historical Collections (which are also referred to as the Rushworth Papers ), concerning the period of… … Wikipedia
John Rushworth — John Rushworth. John Rushworth (né vers 1612 à Acklington Park dans la paroisse de Warkworth, Northumberland 12 mai 1690) compila plusieurs témoignages sur la Révolution anglaise et presque tout le XVIIe siècle anglais sous le titre de… … Wikipédia en Français
John Cooke (prosecutor) — John Cooke (1608 thinsp; ndash; thinsp;16 October 1660 ) (sometimes spelt John Cook) was the first Solicitor General of the English Commonwealth and led the prosecution of Charles I. Following the English Restoration, Cooke was convicted of… … Wikipedia
Lilburne, John — born 1614?, Greenwich, near London, Eng. died Aug. 29, 1657, Eltham, Kent English revolutionary. A Separatist, he joined the Puritan opposition to Charles I and helped smuggle Puritan pamphlets into England, for which he was imprisoned (1638–40) … Universalium
Lilburne, John — (?1614–57) Rebel. Lilburne was born of an interesting family. His father was one of the last people in England to demand settlement by single combat in a civil suit and his brother, Robert, was one of the signatories of the death warrant of … Who’s Who in Christianity
John Hewson (regicide) — Colonel John Hewson (Hughson) (died in 1662) was a soldier in the New Model Army and signed the death warrant of King Charles I, making him a regicide.When John Lilburne was his apprentice in the 1630s, he introduced Lilburne to the Puritan… … Wikipedia