The Putney Debates Exhibition



PUTNEY in 1647


Putney had experienced several upheavals as a result of the war.  Soldiers had passed through or been billetted, several times bringing plague with them.  The most important landholder, Sir Thomas Dawes, whose father Sir Abraham had done extremely well out of the King as a farmer of the customs, suffered heavy fines and long imprisonments, and was to lose most of his lands. 

Clare Melinsky, Rampart Lion Publications

Putney’s Minister, Richard Avery, had been ejected as a supporter of the catholicising tendency favoured by the King known as Arminianism, and, after several short-lived appointments, the Minister from 1646 to 1649 was Edward Houghton, a Presbyterian.  

What Putney’s inhabitants thought of the Army in their midst is not recorded, but they no doubt bitterly resented having soldiers billetted upon them without being paid for it.  Only in a few cases are the inhabitants’ allegiances known.  

For example,  Thomas Chamberlain, whose house was to play an important role during the Debates, was a Presbyterian, at least by 1659.  Some of the richer inhabitants probably avoided the Army by staying in their London houses.  

There were plenty of attractive billets for officers both in Putney and Fulham, though many of those listed in a contemporary newspaper cannot be identified.  Fairfax stayed at William Wymondsold’s, which may have been the house built by Sir Abraham Dawes on what is now the site of Putney Station,  the largest house in Putney.  Cromwell lodged at Mr Bonhunt’s.  No Bonhunt appears in any contemporary records, and this was probably Thomas Bownest, but where he lived is unknown.

Henry Ireton, who played such a prominent part in the Debates, stayed at Henry Campion’s near the corner of the High Street and Putney Bridge Road.  Thomas Rainborow was able to stay at his brother’s house in Fulham.  The agitators lodged at Hammersmith, and presumably passed to and fro on the river, but they met at least once at Hugh Hubbert’s house, close to Putney church.  While the Army’s headquarters were at Putney officers and soldiers must have been a familiar sight on the streets, and a great deal of political debate must have taken place in houses great and small.  


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