Town Mouse

Do­mes­tic suf­frage

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

PUTNEY church felt over­whelmed on Satur­day morn­ing. The pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion for a lo­cal de­vel­op­ment shared the build­ing with a par­ish re­treat and both were pro­vided with the vig­or­ous back­ground mu­si­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment of a Zumba dance class. It’s a build­ing fa­mil­iar with con­tention, how­ever; in 1647 rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the New Model Army made rad­i­cal pro­pos­als for the fu­ture con­sti­tu­tion of Eng­land here. Amaz­ingly, we can still read parts of the de­bate ver­ba­tim, thanks to a team of stenog­ra­phers led by Wil­liam Clarke.

One ex­change par­tic­u­larly res­onated with the cur­rent state of our fam­ily life. A cer­tain Col Rains­bor­ough de­manded suf­frage for all men on the grounds that ‘the poor­est he that is in Eng­land hath a life to live, as the great­est he’. Henry Ire­ton dis­agreed and urged re­stricted suf­frage: ‘No per­son hath a right to an in­ter­est or share in the dis­pos­ing of the af­fairs of the king­dom, and in de­ter­min­ing or choos­ing those that shall de­ter­mine what laws we shall be ruled by here… that hath not a per­ma­nent fixed in­ter­est in this king­dom.’ The chil­dren presently take the Colonel’s part in al­most ev­ery dis­cus­sion about our ac­tiv­i­ties. I’m in­creas­ingly per­suaded of the sense of Ire­ton, but with the full knowl­edge that—in time—i’ll lose the ar­gu­ment. JG

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