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1680 Religious Freedom & Property Rights Plea for a Justice in “the preservation of our Religion and Properties against Popery, and Arbitrary Power”

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WILLIAM AYSCOUGH (1614-1695). Colonial American Pilgrim Era British Politician and Member of Parliament; denied entrance in “Pride's Purge” of December 1648, during which MPs who were considered hostile to the “New Model Army” were prevented from entering the House of Commons; Ayscough returned to the British Parliament (1681-1685).



February 3, 1680-Dated, Autograph Letter Signed, “Wm Ayscough”, 8” x 12”, 1 page, York, England, Fine. In this Religious Freedom and Property Rights related Letter, William Ayscough accepts the nomination of the burgesses of the Borough of Thirsk in Yorkshire to represent them in the House of Commons. Fully written in Ayscough’s own hand on laid period paper in n rich brown ink, having some light even tone a trivial internal fold splits. Ayscough represented the borough from 1681 to 1685. He had represented the borough in the 1640s but was ousted by the New Model Army in December 1648 before the Rump Parliament voted to try King Charles I for high treason and execute him. This historic Letter reads (spelling errors as written), in full:

“For my worthy friends ye Govt & Burgesses of ye Burrough of Thirsk, York Feb: 3.(16)80. --

Gent: ----

Having recd an intimation signified in a tr fro Mr Bell of the last past to this purpose vizt: that you having met, have pitched your thoughts upon my self (although very unworthy) to serve for your Borough in this ensuing part with that worthy Gent my neighbour Sr Wm Franckland and that he is desired by (you) the Burgesses to crave my acceptance of this service upon no other conditions then those just and necessarie ones of piety and justice, the safety of his majestie's person, the preservation of our religion and properties against popery, and arbitrary power, and the bringing unto justice offenders, with the declaration of his belief, that I shall be freely, cheerfully and unanimously chosen, if I consent: which termes are so Honourable, and the method of yor proceedings in my particul so obliging, the invitation so free, civil, and noble, that I have abundant cause to sense it with high acknowledgment:

it being then a duty incumbent on me to own it as a call from God by you, I dare not refuse it, and hereby declare my acceptance thereof upon the conditions premised, resolving by the Grace of God to endeavour to serve him, my King and Country with all integrity and uprightness, begging hereby your prayers unto ye Almighty that he would qualify me in all respects for this great undertaking: In the interim give me leave to subscribe myself in the quality of Gent Your obliged friend & Servt Wm Ayscough / For Mr Robt Bell York Feb.3.80 --- I recd yrs of ye last past; give yrself ye trouble to communicat ye inclsed (after ye ?usall of it by yrself) unto ye rest of ye Burgesses on ye behalf or yr lov. frd (friend) (Signed with Initials) Wm A:

A rare content please by a sitting Minister of Parliament in 1680 declaring his personal plea for a system of English justice for “the preservation of our religion and properties against poper(t)y, and arbitrary power...”.
Sir William Ayscough (1614-1695) was an English clergyman, educator, and scholar known for his contributions to education and literature during the 17th century. He was born in Osgoodby Grange, Yorkshire, England. In 1641, he married Judith Burgoyne (ca. 1618-1688), and they had at least four children. Ayscough represented Thirsk in the House of Commons from 1645 to 1648.

Ayscough was among those denied entrance in Pride's Purge of December 1648, during which MPs considered hostile to the New Model Army were prevented from entering the House of Commons. On December 1, 1660, Ayscough was awarded a Knight Bachelor.

In 1661, the Duke of Buckingham gave the postmaster of Boroughbridge permission to open Ayscough's mail. In 1681, Ayscough returned to Parliament, again representing Thirsk until 1685.

Sir William Frankland, 1st Baronet (ca. 1640-1697) was the oldest son of Sir Henry Frankland of Thirkelby, Yorkshire, and was created a baronet of Thirkleby in December 1660. He was elected a Member of Parliament for Thirsk in 1671, remaining its MP until 1685.

Ayscough entered the clergy and became a prominent figure in the Church of England. He held various positions in the church hierarchy, eventually rising to the rank of Archdeacon of Stafford in 1660, a position he held until his death.

In addition to his ecclesiastical duties, Ayscough was deeply involved in education. He was appointed as the headmaster of Westminster School in 1648, where he made significant reforms to the curriculum and administration of the school. Under his leadership, Westminster School flourished and gained a reputation for academic excellence.

Ayscough was also a prolific writer and translator. He translated several classical works into English, including the works of the Roman poet Horace and the Greek philosopher Plutarch. His translations were widely praised for their accuracy and readability, and they helped introduce classical literature to a wider audience in England.

Despite his accomplishments, Ayscough's tenure at Westminster School was not without controversy. He clashed with some members of the school's governing body over matters of discipline and curriculum, and he faced criticism for his strict disciplinary measures.

William Ayscough died in 1695, leaving behind a legacy of scholarship, education, and literary achievement. His contributions to education and literature during the 17th century helped shape the intellectual landscape of his time and left a lasting impact on English society.
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