- Clenennau letters and papers 248 [RESTRICTED ACCESS]
- 1608/9, March 24.
The Privy Council (named), from the Court at Whitehall, to their friends [Thomas Bodvel], high sheriff, and the rest of the commissioners for levying aid in Caernarfonshire. Since sending the King's commission and instructions for levying aid to make Prince Henry, the King's eldest son, kt, have understood more fully what is desired or doubted by the King's subjects therefor. Thought good therefore to assist the recipients' endeavours with their advice. Though the service is important, being a matter of demonstration of duty to the King and Prince, in this and all other things they are careful that furtherance thereof does not cause a subject more hardship than the King intends. They consider therefore more and more the consequences to subjects of looking into evidence, distinctions of tenure, inquisitions of the true quantities and values of lands by jury and the like, which is required by the ordinary course of law, for it does not rest with them to warrant what light any busy person may take by perusal of evidence, upon what just ground men's lands may be charged with tenures in chief or knight's service or how the estimation of the true quantities and values of soccage lands though meant for the present service may in future be turned to the subject's prejudice. Cannot see how these effects may be prevented if there are separate proceedings for knight's service lands and soccage lands and the rates taxed on soccage lands are applied to the quantity and value of the several lands, though it be in the nature of an offer or composition. Inform the recipients that the King will not be displeased if they proceed by way of composition rather than inquisition unless the parties are too partial to themselves in a matter that arises so seldom and from so great a cause for comfort. The composition for every person should be in one gross sum for all his lands in the county without distinction of tenures, quantities or values. Believe this will be safest for subjects for the future and therefore more acceptable for the present if they are made to understand it; the King's benefit will be better advanced by this course of composition by their care and good example than by the other formal and legal course. Considering the rates returned on the several commissions in the realm compared with the differences requisite, will be the fire in every man's work. They will perform the service so much in their hands so that they deserve a good report to the King and the King's special thanks, the fruits of which they will find to their comfort. Have considered the best course to take in their own particulars who would rather go before than come behind and other in anything appertaining to this service and would be loth to cause the recipients to spend more time than was necessary in the execution thereof through the negligence of persons whom they are forced to employ in their absence since they have already said how fit they think it is for all men to be received to composition, in which they are sure no man will conceive that the contributions ought to be guided by the ordinary rule of taxing men at inferior rates as in subsidies considering the different nature thereof. Therefore inform the recipients that the King has allowed them leave to make their particular composition in London with commissioners appointed by him so that they will be relieved of the trouble of sending their evidence or committing trusts to several persons in every county to agree for their composition but will have it delivered in London in one entire sum for a composition in gross without distinction of the portions of land or tenure. Request the recipients to give notice that if any of the lords spiritual or temporal wish to compound in London rather than the counties, their compositions shall be so accepted on the recipients' certificate of their names, as long as they send authorised persons by 20 June. But if the recipients believe they are more willing to deal with them in the county by composition or ordinary course of law, let them proceed therewith by virtue of the commissions.