1683, Sir John Guillim, Guard to the King, seeks his pay arrears

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1680s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, John Guillim, late captain in the king’s guards etc. SP 29/422 f. 51 (1683).

To the Kings most excelent majestie

The humble petition of John Guillim late captain in your majesties guards etc.


That wheras your majestie of your princely care and bounty, did order and allow to your petitioner, in reguard of his constant faithfull services and sufferings for his loyalty, thirty five pounds a quarter, towards his maintenance of which he has now due to him in arreare one whole yeare and a haulfe, which amounts unto above two hundred pounds, (your petitioner havinge laine sick five months in noe way able to help himselfe) and it being the sole support of him and his family, without which they must inevitablely perrish, and who are now in a most miserable condition

Wherfore your petitioner most humbly and earnestly prayes your sacred majestie of your most pious and abundant goodnesse to comiserate his extreame nessessyty, and voutsaffe to order that your petitioner may receave your majesties bounty as formerly and he shall as in duty bound

Alwayes pray etc.

Report by Sarah Harris, assisted by David Moffatt

Sir John Guillim was Guard to the King and is owed arrears of pay for 18 months, amounting to £200. He is sick and in need of money.

Sir John Guillim, 1648

Captain John Guillim is mentioned by Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador to Spain, as a participant in the murder of the envoy of the English Parliament to the Court of Spain.  The perpetrators were John Guillim from Monmouth, aged 20 years, captain of foot, William Spark, Edward Halsall, William Harnett, William Arnel, Valentine and Henry Progers.[1] They had been advised that the envoy, Anthony Ascham, had come to make a treaty of union and co-operation between the Crown of Spain and the Commonwealth of England. They understood that Ascham was one of those active in advocating Charles I’s death, was a persecutor of those who confessed the Catholic faith and also denied the King’s son accession to the throne, and therefore sought revenge against Ascham. Five of the men were in Madrid to claim bounty for five years’ service in the army of Catalonia. The sixth was the house steward of the ambassadors, who had not received his arrears.

These noblemen visited Ascham when he was at dinner with John Baptista do Riva, a Genoese and Franciscan friar who had turned Calvinist. The friar is supposed to have initiated contact with the Spanish court and to have acted as mediator. He was acting as interpreter to Ascham. Ascham rose to greet the men, but upon seeing the threat, drew a pistol, but Guillim stabbed him. Riva rose to go to the other chamber but two of the others, thinking that he went to fetch a weapon, wounded him four times and he died shortly afterwards.

The murderers flew towards the house of the Ambassador of Venice but all but one (a Calvinist) were refused admission because they were Catholics.

They took refuge (‘sanctuary’) in the church of the hospital of St Andrew.  The justices, being alerted, broke down the door and required the men to surrender.

The men were imprisoned.  The trial was set for Saturday with definitive judgement the following Monday.  The common opinion was in favour of an acquittal as the murdered envoy was held in low esteem.[2] 


Captain John Guillim sought an increase in his pension of £67 a year from the king. He stated he had been in the King’s service since he was 16 years old, had no other financial means and had lost his goods at sea.  He stated that the king had often assisted him in the past.[3]


John Guillim’s financial problems appear to have been ongoing because in 1668 he petitioned the King for an equal share in the plate lottery for indigent officers, denied them by the Commissioners. Lotteries were often held in this period, the prize often being in the form of silver plate.[4] As he says in this petition that he had experienced favours from his majesty, presumably the 1667 petition was granted.[5]


Isabella, the wife of Captain John Guillim, petitioned the Master in Chancery that £300 of her portion was lent to Sir Paul Pindar, Sir Job Harby and other farmers of Customs to Charles I on a bond of £500.  She obtained judgement against Sir Paul Pindar in 1650 for £500 plus costs and against Sir Job Harby in 1649 for the same amount. A further £200 was still outstanding.[6]

Tax farming was a system by which tax collection was farmed out to private individuals who bid competitively for their positions, paying a fixed fee or rent to the king and were, in turn, able to claim whatever they collected.[7]

In November 1669, another petition was submitted to the King on the same subject of £200, in which the executors stated that they had no assets to pay. Sir John Guillim and his wife Isabella requested that, as the King was allowing treasure out of his own store for debt still unpaid, he sent a letter to the executors of Sir John Jacob, Sir Michael Crisp and Sir John Harrison to pay the £200 owing with damages.[8]


The financial problems appear to have continued over the years as Guillim submitted another petition to the King for an order to the Commissioners of the Treasury to pay what was then due of the £140 a year allowed but he only received £50, followed by another £50 three months after, and then another £50. The previous Christmas, arrears of £170 were still outstanding. He had no means of settling the debts accrued during his illness, which lasted a year and a half. He pointed out he was in danger of being imprisoned and therefore requested the king to authorise payment of the said £170.[9]

This request was presumably not granted as it was followed by the petition of 1683 in which he appears to be increasingly desperate.[10]


[1] State Papers, 1650: April-June’, in A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, Volume 1, 1638-1653, ed. Thomas Birch (London, 1742), pp. 139-154. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/thurloe-papers/vol1/pp139-154.

[2] ‘Venice: June 1650’, in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 28, 1647-1652, ed. Allen B Hinds (London, 1927), pp. 146-150. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/venice/vol28/pp146-150.

[3] Charles II: Undated Petitions 1667′, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1667-8, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1893), pp. 125-136. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas2/1667-8/pp125-136.

[4] ‘Lotteries”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery.

[5] ‘Charles II: November 1668’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1668-9, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1894), pp. 45-86. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas2/1668-9/pp45-86.

[6] ‘Charles II: November 1668’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1668-9, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1894), pp. 45-86. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas2/1668-9/pp45-86.

[7] ‘Tax Farming’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farm_(revenue_leasing)

[8] ‘Charles II: November 1669’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1668-9, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1894), pp. 563-599. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas2/1668-9/pp563-599.

[9] ‘Charles II: December 1682’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1682, ed. F H Blackburne Daniell (London, 1932), pp. 557-626. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas2/1682/pp557-626.

[10] Charles II: January 1683′, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1683 January-June, ed. F H Blackburne Daniell (London, 1933), pp. 1-38. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/chas2/1683-jan-jun/pp1-38.

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reign of Charles II, 1660-1685’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.