From the Gentlemen, Clergy, Clothiers, Manufacturers, and others, inhabitants of Westbury, Warminster, and Trowbridge, in the County of Wilts


Thursday, November 16, 1775.

A Petition of the Gentlemen, Clergy, Clothiers, Manufacturers, and others, inhabitants of the several Towns of Westbury, Warminster, and Trowbridge, and the neighbourhood thereof, in the County of Wilts, whose names are thereunder written, was presented to the House, and read, setting forth, That the Petitioners are greatly alarmed and surprised at finding certain persons, styling themselves the Gentlemen, Clergy, Clothiers, and other tradesmen, of the Towns and neighbourhood of Bradford, Trowbridge, and Wilksham, in the County of Wilts, approach the throne of our most gracious Sovereign, and, under the pretence of testifying their loyalty and affection to his Majesty, boldly assert, in regard to the American prohibition of all commerce with his Majesty' s European Dominions, "That they, the Petitioners, find no melancholy effects arising therefrom, or any unusual failure of demand for their manufactures, or of employment for their poor;" and at this important and alarming crisis, when so much depends on the deliberations and resolutions of Parliament, not less than the lives, liberties, and properties of thousands of their fellow-subjects, the Petitioners, apprehending that the like misrepresentations may be conveyed to the House, should hold themselves unjust to their own dearest interests and that of their posterity, if they did not publickly express their entire disapprobation of that malignant and uncandid spirit which can carry falsehood to the Throne; for the Petitioners assure the House that the trade of that part of the kingdom has most sensibly declined ever since the commencement of the present unfortunate and unnatural contest with America; and the employment of the poor has proportionably decreased in like manner, insomuch that it appears, by authentick and undeniable evidence that the Poor Rates of the said towns have, during the last ten years, grown to an enormous degree, and are now become an almost insupportable burden to the inhabitants thereof; and that the Petitioners do not presume to arraign the wisdom or justice of Parliament, in the measures which have hitherto been adopted and pursued towards America, but, as intercessors on behalf of their afflicted brethren in the Colonies, and in extenuation of the criminality with which they have been charged, they beg leave to offer, that their resistance to the right of taxation in the British Parliament, (from the claim to which the present unhappy differences have originated,) has not, as they conceive, proceeded from an impatience of subordination to that high constitutional supremacy necessarily vested in the mother country, but in support of an usage which a uniform and uninterrupted enjoyment of more than one hundred and fifty years has given them reason to believe themselves entitled unto, and which Great Britain herself had frequently called upon them to exercise in their own Provincial Assemblies; and the Petitioners, therefore, considering that the vital principal of trade is peace and confidence, not war and distraction, and compassionating the tumultuous and irregular exertion of that rude yet manly spirit, whose features plainly mark its origin of British ancestry, and which, though misguided in them, was, through our common ancestors, productive of those blessings which make the peculiar boast of our happy Constitution, and to which we owe the distinguished happiness that the present august family are at this day on the throne of these kingdoms; and deprecating also, the horrors of a civil war, the event of which, being in the hands of the Almighty, may terminate in the dismemberment of our empire, or in a barren and ruinous conquest; and therefore praying the House to take the premises into their consideration; and, for the


sake of peace, for the sake of trade and commerce, and for the general safety, concord, and prosperity of the whole empire; for the sake of our holy religion, and the glory of Almighty God, who dwells in peace, to adopt such lenient measures as may restore to this great kingdom and her Colonies that affectionate intercourse with each other which alone can prevent the manifold evils with which they are now threatened, and establish the national greatness on the broad foundation of equal rule, and the general happiness of a free, loyal, and united people.

Ordered, That the said Petition do lie upon the table.