The second parliament of Charles II: Fifteenth session - begins 13/10/1675

Pages 234-242

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.

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The fifteenth Session of the Second Parliament.

October 13. Both Houses met, according to Prorogation, after a Recess or Interval of a little above four Months. And the King open'd the Session with the following Speech to both Houses;

The King's Speech to both Houses.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

'I Meet you now with more than usual Concern for the Event of this Session; and I know it is but what may reasonably be expected from that Care I owe to the Preservation of the Government. The Causes of the last Prorogation, as I, for my part, do not desire to remember, so I hope no Man else will, unless it be to learn from thence, how to avoid the like Occasions for the future: And I pray consider how fatal the Consequence may be, and how little Benefit is like to redound to the People by it. However, if any Thing of that Kind shall arise, I desire you wou'd defer those Debates, till you have brought such public Bills to perfection as may conduce to the Good and Safety of the Kingdom; and particularly I recommend to you, whatever may tend to the Security of the Protestant Religion, as it is now establish'd in the Church of England.

'I must likewise desire your Assistance in some Supplies, as well to take off the Anticipations which are upon my Revenue, as for Building of Ships; and tho' the War has been the great Cause of these Anticipations, yet I find, by a late Account I have taken of my Expences, that I have not been altogether so good a Husband, as I might have been, and as I resolve to be for the future: Although, at the same time, I have had the Satisfaction to find, That I have been far from such an Extravagancy in my own Expence, as some wou'd have the World believe. I am not ignorant, that there are many who wou'd prevent the Kindness of my Parliament to me at this Time; but I as well know that your Affections have never fail'd me: And you may remember, it is now above three Years since. I have ask'd you any thing for my own Use. The rest I refer to my Lord Keeper.'

The Lord Keeper Finch's Speech.

Who said, 'My Lords, and you the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the House of Commons, The Causes of this present Assembly, and the Reasons which have mov'd his Majesty to command your Attendance upon him at this Time, are of the highest Importance. The King resolves to enter into Terms of the strictest Correspondence and Endearment with his Parliament; To take your Counsel in his most weighty Affairs; To impart all his Cares to you; To acquaint you with all his Wants and Necessities; To offer you all that can be yet wanting to make you enjoy yourselves; To establish a right Understanding between Himself and his Three Estates, and between the Estates themselves; to redress all your just Complaints, and to put all his Subjects at Ease, as far as in him lies, and can consist with the Honour and Safety of the Government. And, having made all these Advances, he doubts not but you will behave yourselves like those that deserve to be call'd the King's Friends, and that you will put him at case too. There is no Cause why any Fears of Religion or Liberty shou'd divert you: For his Majesty hath so often recommended to you the Considerations of Religion, so very often desired you to assist him in his Care and Protection of it, That the Defender of the Faith is become the Advocate of it too, and hath left all those without Excuse who still remain under any kind of Doubts or Fears. Again, the Care of your Civil Rights and Liberties hath been so much his Majesty's, that the more you reflect upon these Concerns, the more you will find yourselves obliged to acknowledge his Majesty's Tenderness of you, and Indulgence to you. Search your own Annals, the Annals of those Times you account most Happy, you will scarce find one Year without an Example of something more severe, and more extraordinary, than a whole Reign hath yet produc'd. Peruse the Histories of foreign Nations, and you shall find, Statues and Altars too have been erected to the Memories of those Princes, whose best Virtues never arriv'd to half that Moderation, which we live to see and enjoy. No King did ever meet a Parliament with juster Cause of Confidence in their Affections: And therefore his Majesty will not suffer himself to doubt, but relies firmly upon it, that you never will forsake him, when he is under any kind of Difficulties. He doth assure himself that you will now think fit to provide for his Honour and your own Safety, by helping him to pay some part of his Debts, and to make his Navy as Great and as Considerable, as it ought to be. For the Greatness of the King, is the Greatness and Safety of his People. The Springs and Rivers which pay Tribute to the Ocean, do not lessen, but preserve themselves by that Contribution. It is impossible that those Affections that Piety and Allegiance first planted, which Persecution cou'd not abate; which the gracious Influences of his Majesty's happy Government have hitherto encreas'd, shou'd now appear to wither and decay: But then the best Indication of the Heart is by the Hand. And because it is of infinite Moment to the King's Affairs that there should be a chearful Concurrence to his Supplies, there let Hand and Heart both join in the Oblation, for that will make it a Sacrifice well pleasing indeed.

'My Lords and Gentlemen, The Happiness of this present Age, and the Fate and Fortune of the next too, is very much in your Hands, and at this Time; All that you would desire to settle and improve; All that you wou'd wish to secure and transmit to your Posterities, may now be accomplish'd. Wou'd you raise the due Estimation and Reverence of the Church of England to its just Height? Wou'd you provide for the Safety and Establishment of it? Do there want any Laws to secure the Peace and Quiet of the State? Wou'd you enrich and adorn this Kingdom, by providing for the Extent and Improvement of Trade, by introducing new and useful Manufactures, and by Encouraging those we have already? Wou'd you prevent all Frauds and Perjuries, all Delays and Abuses in the Administration of Justice? Wou'd you preserve a famous City from being depopulated by the Suburbs? Wou'd you restrain the Excess of those new Buildings which begin to swarm with Inhabitants unknown? All your Petitions of this kind will be grateful to the King; and you may with Ease effect all these and much more which your great Wisdoms will suggest to you. A little Time will serve to make many excellent Laws, and to give you the Honour to be the Repairers of all our Breaches; so as that Time be wholly employ'd upon the Public, and not taken up by such Considerations as are less meritorious. If therefore there be any, without Doors, that labour to disunite your Counsels, or to render them ineffectual; If they can hope that the Occasions for this may arise from some Differences within yourselves, or hope by those Differences to disguise their own Disaffections to your good Proceedings; 'tis in your power to defeat those Hopes, to pull off this Disguise, and to secure a happy 'Conclusion of this Meeting, by studying to preserve a good Correspondence, and by a careful avoiding all such Questions as are apt to engender Strife. And if ever there were a Time, when the Gravity of the Council, the Wisdom, and good Temper of a Parliament, were necessary to support that Government which only can support these Assemblies, certainly this is the Hour. You see with what Zeal the King hath recommended to you a good Agreement between yourselves, and that he doth it with all the Care and Compassion, all the Earnestness and Importunity, sit for so great a Prince to express, who wou'd be very sorry that any such Misfortune as your Disagreement, shou'd either deprive him of your Advice and Assistance, or his People of those good Laws which he is ready to grant you. There is no other Way our Enemies can think of, by which 'tis possible for this Session to miscarry; for Fears and Jealousies cannot enter here, Calumnies and Slanders will find no place amongst wise and good Men. They that use these Arts abroad, will quickly be discredited, when the World shall see the generous Effects of your Confidence. Men will despair of attempting any Disturbance in the State, when they see every Step that tends that Way, serves only to give you fresh Occasions to testify your Loyalty and your Zeal. You have all the Reason in the World to make Men see this; for you have the same Monarchy to assert, the same Church to defend, the same Interests of Nobility and Gentry to maintain, the same excellent King to contend for, and the same Enemies to contend against.

'And now, my Lords and Gentlemen, since the whole Session of Parliament is, in the Judgment and Construction of our Law, but as one Day, let us all endeavour that the Morning of it, the first Entrance upon it, may be with such fair and auspicious Circumstances as may give the whole Kingdom an Assurance of a bright and chearful Day. Let no ill Humours gather into Clouds to darken or obscure it; for this Day is a Critical Day, and more depends upon that Judgment of our Affairs which will be made by it, than can easily be imagin'd. It imports us therefore to take care that no Part of this Time be lost; let every precious Minute of this Day be spent in receiving such Acts of Grace and Goodness as are ready to flow from the King, and in making such Retributions for them as may become the grateful Hearts of the best of Subjects to the best of Kings. So shall this Day become a Day of Disappointment and Discomfort to our Enemies, but to us and all good Men a Glorious Day, a Day of Triumph and Deliverance, a Memorable and Joyful Day to this present, and to all future Generations.'

The Proceedings of the House.

'Business began in the House of Commons with reassuming such public Bills as they had set on foot in the last Session, and others that prov'd to the more immediate Liberty of the Subject; as the Bill for Habeas Corpus; that against sending Men Prisoners beyond Sea; another against raising Money without Consent of Parliament; a fourth against Papists sitting in either House; another for speedier Convicting of Papists; another for recalling the King's Subjects out of the French Service, &c. But a private Quarrel happening between the Lord Cavendish, Sir Thomas Meers, and Colonel Thomas Howard in St. James's Park, in which they thought the Honour of the House concern'd, they first sent the Lord Cavendish, one of their Members, and afterwards Colonel Howard, to the Tower: And then ordered a Bill to be brought in, to prevent Challenges, Duels and Quarrels, and the Mischiefs that may thereby ensue.

The Accounts of the Nation stated. ; Arguments thereon.

After a Week's Sitting, the Commons began to think of a Supply, and took into Consideration all the Charges and Expences of the late War. The Account of which stands thus in the Journals of the House of Commons. The Charges of the two Years War amounted to two Millions and forty thousand Pounds; and what was given by the Parliament, what arose from the Customs that ought to have been appropriated, and what was gain'd by the Prizes, and the Dutch Contributions at last, did all together amount to three Millions and forty thousand Pounds; so there remain'd a full Million misapply'd or wasted by ill Management. In consequence of which they add, 'That, at the Beginning of this War, by the illegal stopping of the Exchequer, the rest of the Revenue, as well as the Customs before mention'd, were discharg'd of all Incumbrances, and became a clear Revenue to the Crown, and was more than enough to satisfy all other reasonable Expences of the Crown and Government ever since, and so there is no Reason to give a Tax whilst we continue in a Peace. But if it be objected, That since the said Million of Money is gone, and this overgrown Revenue is all spent, and even now goes on to be further charg'd in these two Years of Peace, than it was left charg'd after the said two Years of War; and tho' it is own'd Things are much amiss, and the management very ill, wishing it might be amended, yet the Parliament must look forwards, the Government must be supported, the Councils must not be made desperate, and therefore the King must be supply'd: The Answer is, That this Kind of Reasoning and Timorousness hath brought on us all the Taxes and Mischiefs we have suffer'd these Nine Years past, and yet nothing is amended; and they still go on, till they are made desperate, which the Parliament ought to prevent. There is no Fear of Breaking the Bankers the Second Time, and paying Debts by that dishonourable Way; it is easy to demonstrate how the last contracted Debt may be in a few Years discharg'd by the Revenue, and his Majesty's necessary Expences sufficiently supply'd by honest and careful Management. No Parliament is oblig'd to pay the King's Debts by a Tax: By the like Reasoning we ought to pay such another about a Year and a half hence, and so encourage the Court to exact two Millions and a half yearly, as hitherto they have done, to the great Disquiet and Impoverishment of the Nation; and if (unlook'd for) they shou'd prove good Husbands or frugal, then to the imminent Hazard and Loss of Parliaments, and the antient Liberties of the Subject, as now in France. Since the War is ended, the whole Charge of the Government both by Sea and Land amounts not to above seven hundred thousand Pounds per Annum; and the clear Income of the Revenue at present comes at least to sixteen hundred thousand Pounds per Annum; Quære, What is become of near À Million per Annum? And yet the King hath these two Years last, prob Dolor! anticipated his Revenue near a Million more, as his Creatures, and worthy Trustees for their Country, have confess'd in Parliament, as a powerful Argument to enforce the Commons to pay such Debts, and by a farther Law entail perpetual Anticipations upon the Kingdom, to its utter Ruin and Desolation.'

A Supply voted. ; An Account of the Trade with France, deliver'd by Sir George Downing.

'Upon Consideration of all this, they finally Resolv'd, 'That they wou'd not grant any Supply to his Majesty for the taking off the Anticipations that were upon his Revenue.' But soon after they voted a Supply of three hundred thousand Pounds for the Building of twenty Ships of War, viz. One first Rate, of fourteen hundred Tun; Eight second Rates, of eleven hundred Tun; and Eleven third Rates, of seven hundred Tun. But again resolv'd to appropriate the ancient Tunnage and Poundage to the Use of the Navy; which prov'd very unacceptable to the Court. Another Thing under Consideration was the Trade with France; concerning which (fn. 1) Sir George Downing deliver'd in the following Paper, entitled, 'A Schedule of the Trade, as it is at present carry'd on between England and France, in Commodities of the Native Product and Manufacture of each Country, calculated as exactly as possible, in Obedience to the Command of the right honourable the Lords Commissioners for the Treaty of Commerce with England, humbly tender'd to your Lordships.' The Particulars of the Commodities exported from England to France, and the Commodities imported from France into England, are for Brevity sake omitted; and by the Accounts given to the Lords Commissioners, it is perceiv'd, That the Linnen and Silk Manufactures only imported from France amount to upwards of eight hundred thousand Pounds; and that the Manufacture of Wool and Silk exported into France, doth not amount to eighty five thousand Pounds; as also that all other Commodities of the Product and Manufacture of England, exported into France, do not amount to ninety thousand Pounds more: Whereas the Wine, Brandy, and other Commodities of the Product and Manufacture of France imported into England, amount to upwards of three hundred thousand Pounds, besides an incredible Value of Toys, rich Apparel, Point-Lace, &c. and so it is apparent that the Exports of our natural Commodities and Manufactures to France, are less in Value by at least a Million Sterling than the Native Commodities and Manufactures of France, which we receive from thence; And if your Lordships please to reflect thereupon, they will discover the Prejudices the English Nation sustains, and the geat Advantages the French have, and do easily make by holding the Treaty in suspense; this Notice upon the Matter excluding Trade thither, whilst in the mean time the French enjoy all and as great Advantages, as they can reasonably expect by any Treaty. Upon this Subject they order'd a Bill to be brought in, which was receiv'd with Approbation.

A new Test against Bribery.

About this Time the House having been surmiz'd to be under a corrupt Influence, the following Test was brought in for every Member to take by way of Purgation. This Test never being publish'd, will be worth the Remembring, and runs thus: 'I A. B. do protest before God, and this House of Parliament, that directly nor indirectly, neither I, nor any for my Use, to my knowledge, have, since the first Day of January 1672, had, or received any Sum or Sums of Money by ways of Imprest, Gift, Loan, or otherwise from the King's Majesty, or any other Person by his Majesty's Order, Direction or Knowledge, or by Authority deriv'd from his said Majesty, or any Pardon, Discharge, or Respite of any Money due to his said Majesty upon Account, or any Grant, Pension, Gratuity, or Reward, or any Promise of any such Office, Place or Command, of or from his Majesty, or out of any Money, Treasure, or Estate, of or belonging to his Majesty, or of, from, or by any foreign Ambassador, or Minister, or of, or from or by any other Person in the Name, or by the Appointment, or with the Knowledge of his Majesty, or any of them; otherwise than what I have now in Writing faithfully discover'd, and deliver'd to this House, which I have subscrib'd with my Name: Neither do I know of any such Gift, Grant, or Promise so given or made since the said Time to any other Member of this House, but what I have also inserted in the said Writing; nor have I given my Vote in Parliament for any Reward or Promise whatsoever. So help me God, &c.

The Complaint of Mr. Luzancy to the House.

But while the House had these important Matters under Deliberation, one Monsieur Luzancy, a converted Papist, informed the House of his being compell'd, on pain of his being assassinated, or forc'd beyond Sea, by one Mr. St. Germain a celebrated Jesuit, to a Recantation, to which he added the following Particulars, viz. 'The said Monsieur St. Germain, several times conferring with Me, has attested to me what follows: 1. That the King was a Roman-Catholic in his Heart. 2. That the Court were endeavouring to get a Liberty of Conscience in England for the Roman-Catholics; and, that granted, in two years most of the English wou'd acknowledge the Pope. 3. That he knew the King's Intentions concerning Religion, and that he was sure his Majesty wou'd approve of all he shou'd do in that Matter.

4. That he laugh'd at the Parliament, as being only a Wave that had but a little Time; and said, that nobody was better welcome at Court, and had greater Intrigues with any of the Nobility than He. 5. That it was good sometimes to force People to Heaven; and that there were an infinite Number of Priests and Jesuits in London, that did God very great Service. All these Things will be sworn by Mr. Luzancy to have been affirm'd by the Jesuit St. Germain, who is the busiest Man amongst them all against Protestants; and many Persons of good Credit and Repute are also ready to justify upon Oath, that several of the Roman-Catholics have spoken Things quite as bad, or worse: In a word, they are grown so bold and insolent, especially the French and Irish, that a Proselyte cannot walk the Streets, without being threatned at every Step, and call'd a thousand opprobrious Names.

The revival of the Dispute between the two Houses, occasioned by Dr. Shirley's Appeal to the Lords.

The Consequences of this, was a Design in both Houses to vouchsafe a Toleration to Protestant Dissenters. But while this, and several other Bills were depending, the unfortunate Contest was revived between the two Houses, concerning Dr. Shirley and Sir John Fagg; the former having continu'd his Process against the latter, and the Lords themselves adhered to their first Hearing of his Appeal. Upon which the Commons proceeded as follows:

Saturday, Nov. 13. 1675. An Order from the Lords to hear Sir John Fagg's Cause to-morrow Morning, was this Day read in the House of Commons, and debated, and the farther Debate thereof adjourned till Monday morning next.

Monday, Nov. 15. The House resolved, that the prosecuting Appeals in the Lords House, by Dr. Thomas Shirley against Sir John Fagg, a Member of this House, is a Breach of the Privileges of this House; and that the said Sir John Fagg do not make any Defence at the Lords Bar, in the said Appeal; and the farther Debate thereof was adjourned till to-morrow Morning.

Tuesday, the 16th, adjourned the farther Debate of Sir John Fagg's Business till to-morrow Morning; and on Wednesday, adjourned the farther Debate till Thursday; when Sir John Fagg's Business was resumed, and resolved that a Conference be desired of the Lords for avoiding Differences between the two Houses, and then adjourned till Friday Morning.

Sir William Coventry's Report relating thereto.

Friday the 19th. Sir William Coventry reports from the Committee, to whom it was referred, to prepare and draw up Reasons to be offered at the Conference to be desired with the Lords, for avoiding the Occasions of reviving the Differences between the two Houses; and a Paper of Reasons agreed by the said Committee, to be reported to the House, being read, and the same being agreed to, is as followeth, viz.

A Paper propos'd to be deliver'd to the Lords at a Conference.

His Majesty having recommended to us, at the Opening of this Session of Parliament, the avoiding this Difference, if possible; and if it could not be prevented, that then we should defer these Debates till we had brought such public Bills to perfection, as may conduce to the Good and Safety of the Kingdom; The Commons esteem it a great Misfortune, that, contrary to that most excellent Advice, the Proceedings in the Appeal, brought the last Session against Sir John Fagg, by Mr. Shirley, have been renewed, and a Day set for hearing the Cause; and therefore the Commons have judged it the best way, before they enter into the Argument of Defence of their Rights in this Matter, to propose to your Lordships, the putting off the Proceedings in that Matter for some short time; that so they may, according to his Majesty's Advice, give a Dispatch to some Bills now before them, of great Importance to the King and Kingdom; which being finished, the Commons will be ready to give your Lordships such Reasons against those Proceedings, and in Defence of their Rights, as we hope may satisfy your Lordships, that no such Proceedings ought to have been.

Resolved, That a Message be sent to the Lords, to desire a Conference, to preserve the good Correspondence between the two Houses.

Resolved, That whosoever shall prosecute any Appeal before the Lords, against any Commoner of England, from any Court of Equity, shall be deemed a Betrayer of the Rights and Privileges of the Commons of England; and shall be proceeded against accordingly: And the Resolution ordered to be affixed in the Lobby, Westminster-Hall-Gate, and all Inns of Court and Chancery; and then adjourn'd till next Morning.

Dr. Shirley ordered into Custody.

Nov. 20. Ordered, That Dr. Thomas Shirley be taken into Custody by the Serjeant at Arms attending this House, as also Sir Nicholas Stanton, for serving Mr. Onslow with an Order to attend the Lords; and then adjourned to Monday, Nov. 22. When his Majesty, a second Time, put a Stop to the Broil, by proroguing the Parliament to February come Twelve-month.


  • 1. Commissioner of the Customs, and Teller of the Exchequer.