1650, George Wood, Commissary of Clothing for the Soldiers in Ireland, claims to be a victim of Sir John Clotworthy’s fraud

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1650s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/petitions/state-papers/1650s#h2-0003.

George Wood, commissary for the clothing of the soldiers in Ireland. SP 46/95 f. 284 (1650)

To the right honourable the Councell of State

The humble peticion of George Wood commissary for the clothing of the souldiers in Ireland.


That your petitioner in May last, did exhibite his peticion and charge against Sir John Clotworthy Master John Davis and William Sommers for their imbezelling of severall clothes, victualls and armes which your petitioner was authorized to receive and transport for the service of Ireland.

That your petitioner hath fully proved the said charge against them, before the Irish Committee (unto whom the examinacion thereof by your honoures order was referred) and a report thereof made unto your honoures by Collonel Jones, whoe likewise did then acquaint yow with another informacion against the said Sir John, exhibited by Master Anthony Larder of London merchant

That your honoures did then order that the paper of Master Larder and of your petitioner should bee referred to the House, and reported by the Lord Commissioner Lisle, which accordingly was done:

That the House upon the Lord Commissioner Lisle his report, did order that the informacion of Master Larder bee referred to a committee to examine.

But soe it is, (may it please your honoures,) that in your honoures annexed report, and the order of the house, there is not any mention made of your petitioner his abovesaid peticion, or for his releife, having suffered very much by imprisonment, and otherwise, and meerely for want of such moneys (long since due) as your petitioner at the request of the Irish Committee became ingaged in for the accompt of Ireland (besides) his arreares above these 7 yeares, not yet audited

Therefore your petitioner (as formerly) most humbly prayeth, that such satisfaccion may bee made unto the state by the said Sir John Clotworthy, Master John Davis and William Sommers for their indirect practises proved against them, as your honoures shall thinke fitt.

That your petitioner (having faithfully performed his trust) may by your honoures order bee restored to his imployment, or otherwise bee reduced, and have his arreares audited and allowed untill such reducement, and receive such part thereof as that your petitioner may fully pay his creditoures concerning Ireland, and bee enabled further to serve your honoures and the state, and in these hard times to maintaine his family, or releevd, as your honoures shall thinke fitt.

And your petitioner shall ever pray etc.

George Wood

[paratext:] Referred 12 Junii 1650

Report by Sue Willoughby

The petitioner, John Wood, was imprisoned for debts caused by the non-payment of money owed to him for clothing, victuals and arms for an army in Ireland, ordered by Sir John Clotworthy et al.  He seeks his release to enable him to pay his creditors.[1]

The Purchase of Provisions

During the Irish Confederate Wars (1641-1653), Sir John Clotworthy, MP, was commissioned to supply the Irish troops with “clothes, victuals and arms”.  He ordered these from George Wood, Commissary, appointed for clothing the soldiers in Ireland.

In 1643 George Woods is mentioned in the Journal of the House of Lords for receiving and delivering to Ireland for Carrickfergus:

  • 100 pair of pistols @ 50 shillings a pair.
  • 20 butts of sack (a ‘butt’ is a measurement of between 450 and 1060 litres and ‘sack’ is fortified wine) at the rate of £14 per butt.
  • 3,750 Monmouth caps @ 23 shillings per dozen (£359).
  • 4,000 fine Oxenbrigg shirts @ 2 shillings and 9d per shirt (totaling £550), sent to Ireland.
  • Cloaths [sic] for Ireland including: 15,000 doublets @ 6 shillings each; 18,000 soldiers’ coats; 15,000 pairs of breeches; 23,000 pairs of stockings

The above totaling £16,854, it appears that a deposit of £2,000 was paid with the remaining amount due and payable within three months of the original orders.[2]

George Wood/s

From the above, and from evidence of the Committee for the Advances of Money in June 1645, we can ascertain that George Wood was used to handling large orders and substantial sums of money.[3] It would also appear that he purchased the above items from a variety of suppliers who then required payment. Wood would be reliant on his customers to pay their bills on time so that he could pay his creditors.

From the above petition, we know that George Wood was not paid, first for providing these goods, and second for sending them over to Ireland.  We also know from the above petition that due to lack of funds George Wood became impoverished and was imprisoned.

Also mentioned in the Journal of the House of Lords, we note that the payment for the above orders should come from a fund from Parliament which had been paid to the Regiments of Sir John Clotworthy, Sir William Stuart, Sir Robert Stewart, and Colonel Mervin.[4]

George Woods’ charge against Sir John Clotworthy, Master John Davis and William Sommers was proved by Colonel Jones whose case was strengthened by the information supplied by Master Anthony Larder, accountant.

Sir John Clotworthy

John Clotworthy, 1st Viscount Massereene, by unknown artist, after 1648. Source: NPG 2110.

Research into the character of Sir John Clotworthy (1605-65) identifies him to be a person with an unlikeable character:  Veronica Wedgewood called him “a heartless, dour and repellent man who throughout his life showed a consistent inhumanity towards his fellow men”[5] and Hugh Trevor-Roper, also criticises him for his “unpleasant behaviour”.[6]

In 1647, Clotworthy was accused of embezzlement, in consequence of which charges he fled to the Continent where he remained until June 1648 when he returned to Parliament and was arrested and remained in prison for nearly three years.[7] Anthony Larder, accountant, confirmed that Sir John Clotworthy had been paid several thousand pounds for the outfitting the Irish Army and that there was no reason why he had not paid the supplier, George Wood, damning Clotworthy by showing fraud, connivance, and deceit.[8]


[1] The petition transcribed above, alongside a paper of Anthony Larder, dated 7 January 1650, are listed here: ‘Volume 5: January 1650’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, 1649-50, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1875), pp. 464-500. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/interregnum/1649-50/pp464-500.

[2] ‘House of Lords Journal Volume 5: 14 January 1643’, in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 5, 1642-1643 (London, 1767-1830), pp. 553-557. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/lords-jrnl/vol5/pp553-557.

[3]  ‘Volume A 82: June 1645’, in Calendar, Committee For the Advance of Money: Part 1, 1642-45, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1888), pp. 45-46. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cttee-advance-money/pt1/pp45-46.

[4] ‘House of Lords Journal Volume 5: 11 February 1643’, in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 5, 1642-1643 (London, 1767-1830), pp. 597-603. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/lords-jrnl/vol5/pp597-603.

[5] C.V Wedgwood. Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford 1593-1641: a revaluation (Phoenix Press reissue, 2000), p.312

[6] Hugh Trevor-Roper, Archbishop Laud (Phoenix Press reissue, 2000), p. 428; Ian Ryder, An English Army for Ireland (Partizan Press, 1987).

[7] ‘Sir John Clotworthy’, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Clotworthy,_1st_Viscount_Massereene

[8] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 6: 9 February 1650’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 6, 1648-1651 (London, 1802), pp. 359-360. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol6/pp359-360.