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WHEN the Restoration finally put an end to hostilities one of many
problems which had to be faced was provision for the needs of
wounded soldiers-a legacy of the conflict which started eighteen
years before. During the Commonwealth and Protectorate an attempt
was made by the Government to grapple with this serious issue. Though
the result was inadequate it represented an improvement on the days
when the reward of a soldier or sailor wounded in battle was a permit
enabling him to beg without being apprehended as a masterless man.
The Long Parliament comments Sir Charles Firth1 was the first
English government to recognise its duty to care for those who suffered
in its service. In 1659 Lord Fairfax presented a petition to Parliament
from 2,500 maimed soldiers and 4,000 widows and orphans praying
for regular payment of pensions.2
This philanthropic endeavour came to an abrupt end at the
Restoration. The situation was peculiar and complex. Across the
Channel in Flanders six regiments of Oliver's red-coats garrisoned Dunkirk
and Mardyck, while Charles II had five royal regiments there in Spanish
service. These had to be reconciled and amalgamated. There were
Parliamentary forces in Ireland; in England there were still under arms
the horse and foot raised by Lambert to suppress the Booth Rebellion
in 1659; also those veterans who followed Monck down from Scotland;
all of them with pay in arrears and in not too sweet a temper on that
account. These warriors were an immediate problem requiring a solution
before a thought could be spared for decrepit unfortunates wounded
on battlefields of long ago. Years were to pass before the Cavalier
Parliament faced up to its obligations and when it did so it was evasive.
In fairness it might be mentioned that the government had more
momentous issues to contend with in 1665 the Second Dutch War
at sea and the Plague, to be followed the next year by the Fire of London.
Little wonder that the war casualties had a tedious wait. As many of
their hurts were received back in the time of Naseby, many wounded
men languished unrelieved for a quarter of a century. Hope must have
burned low. The term often used 'a poore maymed souldier' is poignantly
descriptive. An Act of Elizabeth's reign made each county responsible
for the care of its wounded. This Act was revived. The provision of
pensions became the duty of the Justices of the Peace meeting in Quarter
and General Sessions. The maimed soldiers fund was administered
by a Treasurer, annually appointed, though a special sub-committee
was appointed should need arise. Many Quarter Sessions records of
this period have disappeared. In two of Wales's counties only have
the actual petitions of maimed men survived to tell their piteous tale.
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