Reviewed by Paul S. Seaver (Department of History, Stanford University)
Published on H-Albion (June, 2000)
Thomas Juxon, a Londoner born and bred, began his journal in the winter of 1644 in his thirtieth year, just months after he had participated in the first battle of Newbury as a captain of the London green regiment under the colonelcy of John Warner -- a battle in which his older brother received a mortal wound. By 1647, when the journal ceases, Thomas was recently married, a lieutenant colonel in the army, and a liveryman in the Merchant Taylors. He was the second son of John Juxon, a godly Merchant Taylor and prosperous sugar baker of St. Stephen Walbrook, a trade in which Thomas was to follow his father. The Juxons were a large London family, not all of whom were Puritans -- Bishop William Juxon was a cousin -- and Thomas was to enter trading as a partner of an uncle. At a very young age Thomas attended Merchant Taylors School from 1619 to 1621, but that seemed the end of his formal education. The Juxons invested in Irish lands in 1642, Thomas eventually acquiring an estate of more than 3000 acres, which he added to his inherited property in the parish of Mortlake, Surrey. He was living in Dublin in 1660 and seems to have spent much of his last years in Ireland, although his will in 1672 has him as late of East Sheen, Surrey.
Although a royalist described Juxon as "a most violent ass," and a Presbyterian referred to him as "that swearing phantastic fool" (p. 10), the journal is not a passionate diatribe but a record of political events in London, and of political and military events in England and on the Continent where the Thirty Years War was slowly coming to an end. The account is accompanied by shrewd observations and explanations as he attempted to make sense of the complex politics of the City and the equally tangled negotiations between the king, Parliament, the Scots, and the army.
Juxon was not an unbiased observer. Brought up under the ministry of the conservative Puritan, Stephen Dennison, a preacher his father remembered generously in his will, Thomas was an Erastian and opposed to the City's high Presbyterians. However, although he generally favored the Independents, he was married by his brother-in-law, the Presbyterian Richard Byfield in March 1647, and left his Byfield nephews and nieces both property and plate in his will. Further, "party" loyalties did not determine his judgments of individuals. He noted on the last page of his journal the death of Sir Philip Stapilton, whom he describes as brave, valiant and wise and goes on to note that "the General Essex's and his deaths were the ruin of their party" (p. 160).
In Juxon's journal, party is seen to structure Parliamentary and City politics, and, for example, the Self-Denying Ordinance is pictured as laying the foundation for military success, because it stopped at least for the moment the struggle between Presbyterians and Independents, as "it stills all differences between lord general [Essex] and Waller, and between Lord Manchester and Cromwell" (p. 69). Juxon suggests that the king welcomed the battle of Naseby as a chance to "try the Independents, who were most raw and inexperienced," and concludes that many "were not very well pleased with this victory. But herein did God vindicate his honor..." (p. 80). The Parliamentary victories of the summer and autumn of 1645 were providential. "God seems to follow with strange and constant success, insomuch as some say of this year, and of Fairfax and Cromwell, that it fares with them as with the king of Sweden. The Presbyterians do apply it that way and grieve it's done by those hands. The Independents glory and believe by them to oblige to liberty" (pp. 88-9). Yet this sense of God working in history --"For certainly He has not made this sad and bloody work without some extraordinary design" (p. 89) -- does not last. By the spring of 1646 he sees "men pursuing their several interests and ...seeking to devour each other," when they should be minding "the common good and their own preservation, knowing the king would be using all means to be revenged..." (p. 116). As for the king, Juxon entertains few illusions. As he writes in the summer of 1646, "the king is still driven from one to another desperate course and always the loser; and in this unhappy: that though no prince ever used more dissimulation yet never thrived and his designs were always discovered" (p. 133).
Valuable as the journal is for the glimpse it gives of the opinions and attitudes of an informed lay observer of the events of those years, it is equally important, as the editors demonstrate over and over again, for the insights Juxon offers into events and actions for which we have no other evidence, particularly of episodes in the fractured and angry politics of the clergy and Common Council of the City of London. Not the least merit of the editing, which amply demonstrates their mastery of the sources for the period, is the editors careful documentation both of other evidence for Juxon's account and of those incidents for which Juxon alone supplies testimony. The text is prefaced by a thirty-eight page introduction both to what is known about Juxon's family and career, and to what the journal tells us about the period. The appendices contain Juxon's own will, proved in 1672, as well as his father's who died in 1635, both of which repay reading. Juxon's journal, housed at Dr. Williams Library, although not neglected, deserves to be more widely known and used, and historians now have it in an accessible and admirably edited form.
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Paul S. Seaver. Review of Lindley, Keith; Scott, David, eds., The Journal of Thomas Juxon, 1644-1647.
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