The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The eighteenth Session of the Second Parliament.
The King's Speech to both Houses.
I Have thought the Time very long since we parted last, and would not have deferred your Meeting by so many Prorogations, if I could well have met you sooner. The Part which I have had this Summer in the Preservation of our Neighbours, and the well-securing what was left of Flanders, is sufficiently known, and acknowledged by all that are abroad. And, tho' for this Cause I have been obliged to keep up my Troops, without which our Neighbours had absolutely despaired; yet both the Honour and Interest of the Nation have been so far improved by it, that I am confident no Man here would repine at it, or think the Money raised for their disbanding to have been ill-employed in their Continuance; and I do assure you, I am so much more out of Purse for that Service, that I expect you should supply it. How far it may be necessary, considering the present State of Christendom, to reduce the Land and Sea-Forces, or to what Degree, is worthy of all our serious Considerations.
'I now intend to acquaint you (as I shall always do with any Thing that concerns me) that I have been informed of a Design against my Person by the Jesuits, of which I shall forbear my Opinion, lest I may seem to say too much or too little: But, I will leave the Matter to the Law, and in the mean time will take as much Care as I can, to prevent all manner of Practices by that Sort of Men, and of others too, who have been tampering in a high degree by Foreigners, and contriving how to introduce Popery amongst us. I shall conclude with recommending to you my other Concerns. I have been under great Disappointments by the Defect of the Poll-Bill. My Revenue is under great Anticipations, and at best was never equal to the constant and necessary Expence of the Government, whereof I intend to have the whole State laid before you, and require you to look into it, and consider of it with that Duty and Affection which I am sure I shall ever find from you. The rest I leave to the Lord-Chancellor."
The Lord Chancellor Finch's Speech.
Who, after a short Preamble, proceeded thus. 'The Close and Period of the last Session is very memorable; for it may seem, perhaps, to some to have ended with very different, if not contrary Councils and Supplies, tending both to War and Peace: But, yet, they who look more nearly into the Matter, shall find that this Uncertainty proceeded not from any Unsteadiness at Home, but from the Mutabilty of Affairs abroad; every Week, almost, producing several and contrary Appearances. The same Uncertainties of Councils and Events abroad continued for the most part of Summer; one while the Parties, exhausted by the War, seemed to be willing to accept any Peace their Enemies would give; and there wanted not those among them, who made use of the Impatience of their People to necessitate them to it. Another while, the Performance of the Conditions offered became so doubtful, and was at last explained in a manner so vastly different from the first Proposals, that Despair begot new Resolutions of continuing the War In the midst of these miserable Perplexities and Confusions, his Majesty was daily solicited with the highest Importunities, and the most earnest Supplications that were possible, not to disband the Troops he had raised; and not only so, but that he would still continue to send over more and more of his Troops, and to augment the Forces which he had already abroad. They did as good as tell him plainly, That it was from the Reputation of his Alliance, that any Overtures of Peace had been made at all; and that it was from the Continuance of his Arms, that any farther Performance could be expected. They prayed his Majesty to consider, That if he thought it expedient to obtain some kind of respite or breathing-time for the Spanish Netherlands, or to secure any kind of Frontier or Barrier between them and their too powerful Neighbours; all this and more, very much more, perhaps no less than the Safety of Christendom, would entirely depend upon his Majesty's preserving himself in that considerable Posture both by Sea and Land, wherein he then was There was no resisting such repeated Intercessions; and tho' his Majesty saw well enough, that his complying with these Desires would engage him in an expence far beyond what he was then provided for, yet he could not possibly decline the Charge, nor refuse to undergo the Difficulties. And now whatever the Cost of all this may amount to, yet neither his People will have any cause to repent it, when they shall consider that it hath already produced such great and good Effects to his Majesty's Allies, and so much Honour to the whole Nation, that whatever is saved of Flanders, is now acknowledged by all the World, to be wholly due to his Majesty's Interposition. And tho' the Peace, which since hath followed, be very far from such a Peace as his Majesty could have wished, yet it is such a Peace as his Neighbours were resolved to have. No Obligations they lay under to insist upon a better Peace, no Conjunction with his Majesty, no nor the Offers to declare War on their behalfs, if they desired it, could prevail with them, or keep them from being wrought upon by the Arts of those, who first raised unreasonable Jealousies amongst them, and then caused them to precipitate themselves into a Peace. Thus you see at once, not only the Necessity which his Majesty had to continue his Troops in Pay, but likewise the Benefits and Advantages which have come of it.'
Then insisting upon the Necessity of a Supply, in the same manner that the King had in his Speech, he proceeded in these Words. 'Thus you have in short an account of what had been doing abroad, and the Charge of it, 'tis now high time to look a little nearer home: And surely in that state of things to which they are now reduced, 'tis visible and plain enough what must be our business for the time to come. First, we must look to ourselves, and provide for our own Safety: For that which the Confederates acknowledge with Thanks, we may be sure hath a quite different Resentment in other Places. And in order to this, care must be taken so to strengthen ourselves both at home and abroad, that they who see us in a firm and well-settled Estate, may have no hopes to surprize, nor any temptation to make any attempt upon us. And herein it will be necessary to take notice of what his Majesty hath recommended to you, and to weigh very well the Importance of reducing the Sea and Land Forces, and the Consequences which may attend such a Reducement: For this be assured, that nothing in the world would more gratify our Enemies, than to see us afraid of maintaining ourselves in a posture of defence, which is the only posture they are afraid to find us in. And that the Fears of Popery may not too much disquiet you, be pleased to consider that you have one Security more, since that which was always the Interest of his Majesty's Honour and Conscience, is now become the Interest of his Person too, to protect the Protestant Religion, and to prevent the swarming of seminary Priests. For his Majesty hath told you, That he hath lately received Information of Designs against his own Life by the Jesuits. And tho' he doth in no sort prejudge the Persons accused, yet the strict Enquiry into this matter hath been a means to discover so many other unwarrantable Practices of theirs, that his Majesty hath reason to look to them. Nor are these Men the only Factors for Rome; but there are found amongst the Laity also, some who have made themselves Agitators to promote the Interest of a foreign Religion, who meddle with Matters of State and Parliament, [meaning Coleman] and carry on their pernicious Designs by a most dangerous Correspondence with foreign Nations. What kind of Process the Proof will bear, and to how high a degree the Extent and Nature of these Crimes will rise, is under consideration, and will be fully left to the course of Law.
In the next place, let us carefully avoid all Differences amongst ourselves, all manner of clashing about Jurisdictions, and all Disputes of such nature, as can never end in any Accommodation. For this is still what our Enemies would wish, who would be glad to see us ruined, without their being at the charge of it. And therefore we must now, above all other times, labour to shew the World the most effectual Significations of our Loyalty and Duty that we are able to express; for nothing in the World can more discourage our Enemies: As on the contrary, nothing does or can so-ripen a Nation for Destruction, as to be observed to distrust their own Government. Be pleased then now to take occasion to manifest such a Zeal for the Government, as to look into the State of that Revenue which should support the constant and necessary Charge of it, and to see that it be made equal to it. There are many Motives to oblige us to this Inspection: First, you see the King expects it; and then again you cannot but see, that nothing is or can be of a more public Consideration, than to support the Dignity of the Crown, which is in truth the Dignity of the Nation. Besides, 'tis unsafe as well as dishonourable, that the King's Revenue should fall short of his most necessary, and most unavoidable Expences. And if upon a due Examination it shall be made appear to you, that though there had been no diminution of the Customs, yet no Thrist or Conduct in the World could ever make the Revenue able to answer the certain Charge of the Government, much less to discharge those Anticipations which lie heavy upon it; how can it be possible for it to supply those Contingencies which happen even in times of Peace; and which can never be brought under any Regulation or Establish ment ? You may be sure a great and generous Prince would be glad, by good Managery, to have wherewithal to exercise his Royal Bounty, but our Neighbours have found a way to prevent that: For their vast Preparations put his Majesty upon a vast expence, to preserve himself and us.
You now find the King involved in Difficulties as great, and, without your Assistance, as insuperable, as ever any Government did labour under; and yet his Majesty doth not think that there need many Words to bespeak your Zeal and Industry in his Service: For the things themselves now speak, and speak aloud.
The public and private Interest do both persuade the same things, and are, and ought to be, mighty in Persuasion. If the Honour and Safety of your Country, and, which is next to that, the Concerns of your own Families and Posterities, cannot awaken your utmost care to preserve that Government which only can support you and yours, all other Discourses will be to no purpose. There can be no Difficulties at all to them who take delight in serving of the King and their Country, and love the occasions of shewing it. Such as are here! But though the King hath had for many Years a large and full Experience of your Duty, yet there never was a time like this to try your Affections. There is so strange a Concurrence of ill Accidents at this time, that 'tis not to be wondered at, if some very honest and good Men begin to have troubled and thoughtful Hearts. Yet that which is infinitely to be lamented, is, that malicious Men too begin to work upon this occasion, and are in no small hopes to raise a Storm that nothing shall be able to allay. If you can rescue the King's Affairs from such a Tempest as this; if you can weather this Storm, and steer the Vessel into the Harbour; if you can find a way to quiet the Apprehensions of those who mean well, without being carried away by the Passions of others who mean ill; if you can prevent the Designs of those without doors, who study nothing else but how to distract your Councils, and to disturb all your Proceedings; then you will have performed as great and as seasonable a piece of Service to the King, as ever yet he stood in need of. And when the World shall see, that nothing hath been able to disappoint the King of the Assistance he had reason to hope from this Session; but that there is a right Understanding between the King and his Parliament, and that again strengthened and encreased by the Evidences of your Duty and Affection, and raised above all possibility of being interrupted; then shall the King be possessed of that true Glory, which others vainly pursue, the Glory of reigning in the Hearts of his People. Then shall the People be possessed of as much Felicity as this World is capable of: And you shall have the perpetual Honour and Satisfaction of having been the means to procure so much solid and lasting Good to your Country, as the Establishment of the Peace and Tranquility of this Kingdom, and consequently of all his Majesty's Dominions.
The first Resolves of the House were, that a Committee be appointed to consider of Ways and Means for the Preservation of his Majesty's Person: That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, for removing Popish Recusants from London; and that a Committee be appointed to enquire into Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's Murder; as likewise into the Plot. The same day the House agreed with the Lords in an Address to his Majesty, to appoint a solemn Fast; which was to the following effect:
Address of both Houses for a solemn Fast.
That Information had been given of a horrible Design against his sacred Life, and being very sensible of the fatal Consequences of such an Attempt, and of the Dangers of the Subversion of the Protestant Religion and Government of this Realm, they humbly beseech his Majesty, that a solemn Day of Fasting and Humiliation may be appointed, to implore the Mercy and Protection of Almighty God to his Majesty's Royal Person, and in him to all his loyal Subjects; and to pray that God will bring to light, more and more, all secret Machinations against his Majesty and the whole Kingdom. All which was accordingly done by Proclamation, dated the 25th of October, requiring that Wednesday the 13th of November should be kept for a general Fast. On the 24th both House again agreed on another Address, viz.
A second Address concerning Popish Recusants.
'We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in Parliament assembled, having taken into our serious consideration the bloody and traitorous Designs of Popish Recusants, against your Majesty's sacred Person and Government, and the Protestant Religion, wherewith your Majesty hath been graciously pleased to acquaint us: For the preventing whereof, we do most humbly beseech your Majesty, that your Majesty would be graciously pleased, by your Royal Proclamation, to command all and every Person and Persons being Popish Recusants, or so reputed, forthwith, under Pain of your Majesty's highest Displeasure, and severe Execution of the Law against them, to depart and retire themselves and their Families from your Royal Palaces of Whitehall, Somerset-House, St. James's, the Cities of London and Westminster, and from all other Places within ten Miles of the same. And that no such Person or Persons, do, at any time hereafter, repair or return to your Majesty's said Palaces, or the said Cities, or either of them; or within ten Miles of the same, other than Housholders, being Tradesmen exercising some Trade or manual Occupation, and settled for twelve Months last past in Houses of their own, and not having an Habitation elsewhere, giving in their own Names, and the Names of all other Persons in their Families to the two next Justices of the Peace: And that it may be inserted in the said Proclamation, that, immediately after the Day limited for their Departure, the Constables, Church-wardens, and other the Parish Officers, go from House to House in their several Parishes, Hamlets, Constableries and Divisions, respectively; and there to take an Account of the Names and Surnames of all such Persons as are Popish Recusants or suspected so to be, as well Housholders, as Lodgers and Servants; and to carry a List of their Names to the two next Justices of the Peace, who are to be thereby required and enjoin'd to send for them, and every of them; and to tender to them and every of them the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy; and to commit to Prison, till the next succeeding Session of the Peace, all such Persons as shall refuse the said Oaths; and, at the said Session, to proceed against them according to Law: And that your Majesty will be pleased to direct Commissions forthwith to be issued under the great Seal of England, to all Justices within the Cities of London and Westminster, and within ten Miles of the same, to authorize and require them, or any two of them, to administer the said Oaths accordingly. And that your Majesty would farther please to command that no Warrant or Licence granted by the Lords of your Majesty's most honourable Privy-Council, or otherwise than at the Council-Board, to be sign'd by six Lords of the Privy-Council, whereof the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Treasurer or principal Secretary of State to be one, for the Stay, Return, or Repair of any such Person or Persons, in, or to any of the said Places, till some more effectual Law be pass'd for preventing the said Popish Conspiracies, and for the Preservation of your Majesty's sacred Person, and the Religion and Government by Law establish'd; for which, we your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, will always employ our utmost Endeavours and daily Prayers. [The same Day and the next, Mr. Oats, Mr. Michael Godfrey, and Mr. Mulys, having given in certain Informations to the House, (who on this Occasion sent for Lord Chief Justice Scroggs from off the Beach to sign certain Warrants) concerning the Plot, and the Death of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, the following Clause was added to the Address.] And whereas the Safety and Preservation of your Majesty's most sacred Person, is of so great a Consequence and Concernment to the Protestant Religion, and to all your Subjects; we do farther most humbly beseech your Majesty to command the Lord Chamberlain and all other Officers of your Majesty's Houshold, to take a strict Care that no unknown or suspicious Persons may have Access near your Majesty's Person: And that your Majesty will likewise please to command the Lord-Mayor, and the Lieutenancy of London, during the Session of Parliament, and likewise, the Lord-Lieutenants of Middlesex and Surrey, to appoint such Guards of the Train'd-Bands in Middlesex, Westminster and Southwark, and other Places adjacent, as shall be thought necessary.
His Majesty's Answer.
The Speaker order'd to communicate the Proceedings of the House to the King.
The House then proceeded to scrutinize farther into the Murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, as likewise into the Particulars of the Popish Plot, and ordered their Speaker to wait upon his Majesty, and communicate to him the Informations the House had receiv'd of the Dangers that his Majesty and the Nation lay under. To which his Majesty was pleas'd to return: 'That he acknowledged the great Care of the House for the Preservation of his Person and Government, &c.'
A Bill pass'd to disable Papists from sitting in Parliament.
The following Days, the House was almost wholly employed in examining Witnesses, and Papers relating to the Plot, in the unravelling of which, they testified a very extraordinary Zeal; and October 28, to prevent Mischiefs in the Interval, pass'd the Bill to disable Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament.
Mr. Sacheverel's Report of Coleman's Examination.
The likewise appointed a Committee to examine Mr. Coleman in Newgate, of which Mr. Sacheverel was Chairman; who reported on the 29th, that the Prisoner Coleman deny'd any Design against either the King's Life or Authority, or that he ever knew or heard of any Commissions to raise an Army. That he likewise deny'd, that he ever design'd or endeavour'd to change the establish'd Religion, or introduce Popery; but confesses, he did attempt to get this Parliament dissolv'd, in order to procure Liberty of Conscience, which he thought they would never grant. In order to which, he sollicited 300,000l. from France; adding, that there were not three Men in England acquainted with his Designs, or Correspondence; of which the Duke of York was one, who, he believes, communicated them to Lord Arundel of Wardour.
That he farther confess'd, that his first Correspondence in France, was by certain Letters he had address'd to (fn. 1) Sir William Throckmorton; by which means he commenc'd a second with (fn. 2) La Ferrier, on whose Death, he sent three or four Letters to La Chaise. That he had also confess'd a Correspondence with the Pope's Nuncio at Bruslels, which was occasion'd by a Proposal from the Pope, to furnish the King with a great Sum of Money, provided the Catholics here might receive proportionable Favour.
That upon this, he was dispatch'd by the Duke of York to Brussels to the said Nuncio, for a farther Explanation of that Proposal: Who then disown'd that he had any Authority from the Court of Rome to make it; but that he had made it as a private Man? Offering however, his Services at his Return to bring it about: that notwithstanding, he had not corresponded with him for three or four Years.
That the Cypher, with the Provincial's Mark, was that used between him and (fn. 3) Father St. Germain: that he used no Cypher to the Provincial: That he used another Cypher to (fn. 4) Rouvigny's Secretary, but not in public Concerns.
And being then ask'd, whether he knew of any other Sum propos'd or treated on, he answer'd: That he believed there was, to keep the King from joining the Confederates, but could not affirm that any had been paid.
October 31. A Committee was appointed to enquire into the Delays of issuing forth the Writs, and sending them down for the electing of new Members: it having appear'd by the Clerk of the Crown, that, instead of returning the Writs after they were sealed, according to the Order of the House, the Lord Chancellor had undertook for their Delivery himself.
Mr. Robert Wright a Member examined and acquitted.
The same Day, Mr. Robert Wright, a Member, was accused by the Speaker, of having corresponded with Cole man: on which, he was examined by the House, and his Papers search'd; but acquitted with Honour.
Mr. Coleman's Letters were then read; of which (fn. 5) three were enter'd in the Journals by Order of the House, viz. one from Mr. Coleman to Father le Chaise, a second to the same, and a third from le Chaise, acknowledging the Receipt of the two former.
Sir Robert Sawyer's Report from the Committee appointed to draw up Reasons for a Conference with the Lords.
Upon the Evidence already arisen with regard to the Plot, the House came to a Resolution, and appointed a Committee to prepare Matters for a Conference with the Lords upon it; who the next Day, Nov. 1. by Sir Robert Sawyer, their Chairman, delivered in their Report as follows:
'That the House of Commons, after Examination of several Persons Papers, many of which his Majesty did acquaint the House had been communicated to your Lordships, and deliberate Consideration had thereupon, came to this unanimous Resolution:
Resolution of the House with regard to the Plot.
Resolved, nem. con. 'That, upon the Evidence, that has already appear'd to the House, that this House is of Opinion, that there hath been and still is a damnable and hellish Plot contriv'd, and carry'd on by Popish Recusants, for the assassinating and murdering the King, and for subverting the Government, and rooting out and destroying the Protestant Religion;
The House of Commons, being very sensible of the imminent Danger both the King and Kingdom are in, do think it their Duty to acquaint your Lordships therewith, and do pray your Lordships will be pleased to take it into your serious Consideration, what Remedies are fit and suitable to be apply'd for the preserving the King's Person and Government; to which the Commons shall readily concur, as they doubt not of your Lordships Concurrence to such Remedies as have, or shall be by them proposed to your Lordships for effecting this great End.'
Sir Thomas Meers's Report of the Conference.
These Reasons being agreed to by the House, a Conference was immediately desired and obtained; an Account of which was, in the Afternoon of the same Day, delivered to the House from the Committee, by Sir Thomas Meers, viz.
'The Lords have consider'd the Votes of the House of Commons, communicated to them at the Conference, and have most readily and unanimously concurr'd with them in it, nem. con. And their Lordships are very glad to see that Zeal which the Commons have shew'd upon this Occasion, and do fully concur with them; that the most speedy and serious Consideration of both Houses, is necessary for preventing these imminent Dangers. In order whereunto, their Lordships have resolved to sit de Die in Diem, Forenoon and Afternoon, and desire the House of Commons would do so too. And when their Lordships shall have well consider'd of it, and proper Remedies for these Dangers, they will be ready to communicate them to the House of Commons, and will also take in good Part, whatever shall be communicated to them by the House of Commons; and will suffor nothing to be wanting on their Parts, which may preserve a good Correspondence between both Houses, which is absolutely necessary to the Safety of the King and Kingdom.
Nov. 2. It was ordered by the House, that Mr. Speaker do address his Majesty from the House, that Mr. Coleman may be pardoned on a full Discovery, and that otherwise, neither Pardon nor Reprieve might be granted him; to both which Requests; his Majesty was pleased the same Day to accord. It was likewise ordered, that Mr. Speaker should signify what had pass'd to Mr. Coleman in Newgate, who reply'd: 'That he was very sensible of the miserablenes of his Condition; for that he knew there was enough already known to take away his Life, and that he did not know enough to save it.' The same Day, the first Debate arose on an Address for the removing his Royal Highness from his Majesty's Person and Councils.
Sir Menry Capel's Report of Mr. Coleman's farther Examination in Newgate.
On the 7th, Sir Henry Capel reported from the Committee, appointed to examine Mr. Coleman in Newgate, That the said Coleman received of Mr. Rouvigny 300l. and of (fn. 5) Mr. Courtin, 360l. for Intelligence of every Day's Debates in Parliament, and for keeping a good Table.
That he received last Session of Mr. (fn. 6) Barrillon 2500l. to be distributed among Members of Parliament, which he had converted to his own Use: That Mr. Barrillon had, on the Occasion, pointed at several Members; and that he had told Mr. Barrillon, he had comply'd with his Instructions.
That Mr. Rouvigny, believing the Parliament was inflam'd by the Confederates against France, did therefore encourage him to pursue a Correspondence with Members: To render which more effectual, he did treat with St. Germain, about a Sum of Crowns to be dispos'd of among them.
That none of that Money was receiv'd.: That he enter'd no foreign Letters in his Books, after his Correspondence with Le Chaise ceas'd: That he was to receive 30,000l. on procuring a Security for the Banker's Debt, which was afterwards reduc'd to 7000l. in Silver, and 5000 Guineas: of which he receiv'd but the Moiety of the Silver only.
An Address propos'd, to beseech his Majesty, to order Coleman's Letters to be printed.
The same Day the House agreed to an Address, and order'd it to be carry'd up to the Lords for their Concurrence: That, whereas a most wicked Design had been carry'd on for several Years past, for the utter Extirpation of the Protestant Religion and the Establish'd Government; and that it was necessary to proceed against the Persons concern'd in it, with unusual Severity: The House did humbly conceive that the best way to satisfy the Minds of the People, and stop the Mouths of the Papists, would be to publish some undeniable Evidences of their Transactions here, and Correspondencies abroad; and therefore, humbly desir'd that his Majesty would order Coleman's Letters to Father Le Chaise to be printed, till a further Narrative of the Particulars relating to the horrid Conspiracy may be publicly set forth.
A second Address for a Proclamation concerning certain Persons fled from Justice, and for disarming popish Recusants, &c.
Upon the 8th, Another Address was likewise read, and ordered to the Lords for their Concurrence; humbly beseeching, That his Majesty would issue out his Royal Proclamation, prefixing a Day for certain (fn. 7) Persons, charg'd with being in the Conspiracy, who had since fled from Justice, to render themselves in order to take their Trials; commanding all Lieutenants, Deputy-Lieutenants, Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Constables, &c. to endeavour to apprehend them.
And that it be inserted in the said Proclamation, That all Constables, Church-wardens, Headboroughs, &c. do make out a present List of all Popish Recusants, or reputed to be so, as well House-keepers, as Lodgers, in their respective Parishes, and lay the same before one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace near adjoining: Who shall send for the said Persons, and offer them the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and in case of a Refusal, to enter into Recognizance, to appear at the next Session; or in Default of entring into such Recognizance, to commit them to the Common-Goals till the next Quarter-Session; when all such Persons so refusing, shall be proceeded against according to Law. That special Commissions be forthwith issued under his Majesty's Great-Seal of England, authorizing the respective Justices of the Peace to administer the said Oaths. That all Lieutenants, Deputy-Lieutenants, and Justices of the Peace, do proceed without Delay, to the disarming all such as refuse to take the Oaths. That a Reward be given to such as shall discover where their Arms are conceal'd, or shall apprehend and bring before any Justice of Peace, any of the said Offenders. That all his Majesty's Officers of the Sea-Ports may be enjoin'd to take special Care for the apprehending all Popish Priests, &c. coming in or going out of the Kingdom, to whom the Oaths shall be tender'd; the which, if they shall refuse, the said Popish Priests shall be committed; and Notice thereof shall be sent to his Majesty's Privy-Council, that such farther Course may be taken for the Safety of his Majesty and his Government; as, in his Majesty's great Wisdom, shall be thought fit.
A Third voted for a Form of Prayers relating to the Plot.
The same Day, the House farther resolv'd, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, That there may be a particular Prayer, or Prayers compos'd for the Cities of London and Westminster relating to the Plot.
Mr. Secretary Coventry.
The 9th, Mr. Secretary Coventry inform'd the House, That his Majesty had been made acquainted that there is an Address depending before the House of Lords to be presented to his Majesty, for the Printing of Mr. Coleman's Letters. That these Letters have not as yet been read in the House of Lords, and that it was his Majesty's Pleasure (if this House has done with the Letters) that the same should be return'd, to the end they may be communicated to the Lords. With which the House having comply'd, his Majesty order'd their Attendance in the House of Peers; where he express'd himself as follows:
The King's Speech to both Houses.
'I Am so very sensible of the great and extraordinary Care you have already taken, and still continue to shew for the Safety and Preservation of my Person in these Times of Danger, that I could not satisfy myself without coming hither on purpose to give you all my most hearty Thanks for it. Nor do I think it enough to give you my Thanks only, but I hold myself obliged to let you see withal, That I do as much study your Preservation too as I can possibly; and that I am as ready to join with you in all the Ways and Means that may establish a firm Security of the Protestant Religion, as your own Hearts can wish: And this not only during my Time, of which I am sure you have no fear, but in future Ages, even to the End of the World. And therefore I am come to assure you, that whatsoever Bills you shall present, to be passed into Laws, to make you safe in the Reign of my Successor, (so they tend not to impeach the Right of Succession, nor the Descent of the Crown in the true Line; and so as they restrain not my Power, nor the just Rights of any Protestant Successor,) shall find from me a ready Concurrence. And I desire you withal, to think of some more effectual Means for the Conviction of popish Recusants, and to expedite your Councils as fast as you can, that the World may see our Unanimity; and that I may have an Opportunity of shewing you how ready I am to do any thing, that may give Comfort and Satisfaction to such dutiful and loyal Subjects.'
In the Afternoon, the House of Commons went to the Banqueting-House at Whitehall, and, by their Speaker, returned his Majesty their humble and hearty Thanks, for his most gracious Speech this Day made to both Houses of Parliament. To which his Majesty was pleased to give this Answer:
The 10th, being Sunday, The House Resolv'd, that another Address be presented to his Majesty, relating to the said Prayer, there being no mention made in it, of the Papists who are the Contrivers of this damnable and hellish Plot, and humbly to desire his Majesty to give effectual Orders that his Commons be obey'd.
The 11th, A Complaint having been made the 9th before, That the Commissions for taking the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy are not issued forth, pursuant, to his Majesty's Proclamation: And a Committee having been appointed to draw up Reasons to be offer'd at a Conference with the Lords thereon, Mr. Powle deliver'd in the Report of the said Committee, as follows.
Mr. Powle's Report touching the Neglect in issuing out Commissions for Administering the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.
Upon the Examination of the Clerk of the Crown, touching the Neglect in issuing out Commissions to the Justices of the Peace, pursuant to his Majesty's Royal Proclamation, and the Address of both Houses for Administering the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to Popish Recusants, and Persons suspected so to be; and the Clerk of the Crown having inform'd the House of Commons, that a Draught of such Commissions was prepar'd by the Attorney-General, and engross'd by the said Clerk of the Crown, and by him tender'd last Thursday Morning to be seal'd by the Lord-Chancellor: And that, nevertheless, the said Commissions, neither then, nor at any Time since, to the Time of his Examination on Saturday the 9th, at 5 o'Clock in the Afternoon, were, or have been seal'd. And the House of Commons being very sensible of the great Danger that may ensue to his Majesty and these Kingdoms by such Delay, and his Lordship being a Member of your House, thought fit to represent it to your Lordships; desiring that your Lordships will speedily enquire into the Reason of this great Neglect and Contempt of his Majesty's said Proclamation, and do therein, as to Justice shall appertain.
His Report of a Conference with the Lords thereupon.
We have attended the Lords at the Conference, which was manag'd by the Lord-Chancellor. He deliver'd all by word of Mouth, without the help of any Paper; and therefore I must crave pardon, if what I report be not exactly according to his Words, tho' I hope I shall not omit any material Passage.
He began with telling us that the Lords were very well pleased with the Representation made to them by the Commons, about the Neglect in issuing out the Commissions for taking the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy. That it was a Zeal well-becoming the House of Commons, not to suffer it to be defeated by any Person whatever.
That there was no time yet lost in this Business; for, had the Commissions been seal'd, it would have been hard to find out the Persons to whom the Oaths were to be applied; and that the Constables were still employ'd about that Work, and had not yet made their Returns.
That, nevertheless, the Lords thought it not enough to shew the Commons that there was no Negligence; but, that, on the contrary, all Diligence had been used in the expediting these Commissions: And that, therefore, their Lordships had commanded him to acquaint us with the whole Progress of those Commissions.
That it was true the Commissions had been drawn and perus'd by the Attorney-General, and brought to the Seals and not sealed, as the Clerk of the Crown had informed us; but that it was great pity that the Clerk of the Crown was not then in Court, that he might have acquainted us with the whole truth of what pass'd at that time, as well as with that part of the truth he had acquainted us withal.
That it had been debated in the House of Peers the day before, what Regulations and Limits should be inserted in the Commissions; for that their Lordships conceiv'd it hard, that Persons aged, infirm, and not able to go out of town with safety of their Lives, should not be excepted from taking the Oaths; and this they thought was a Severity beyond the Intention of the Commons.
Their Lordships likewise observ'd, that there was a prudential Power reserv'd in fix Privy Counsellors, whereof the Lord-Chancellor, Lord Treasurer or Principal Secretary of State to be one, to grant Licences. And they thought it reasonable, that the Persons so licens'd should be excepted; else; the Hardship would be greater on those that staid than those that went.
Their Lordships likewise thought that the Peers of this Realm, who are excepted by Law from taking the Oaths of Supremacy, were fit to be excepted out of this Commission: As also, that foreign Merchants and Aliens, being no Subjects, were not within the Law, and could not be thought dangerous; because they were such as did frequent the Exchange, and of whom my Lord-Mayor might have an account, and deliver a List of them to the Council-Table.
That the Lords thought it fit that these Exceptions should be inserted into the said Commissions, that the Justices of the Peace might see whom not to trouble; and thereupon their Lordships gave him directions to make such Exceptions; that the Attorney-General, sitting in Court when the Commissions were brought the next day to be seal'd, advis'd the Officer who had the Seal to hold his hand: Whereupon the Officer stepping to him, asked him, what he should do? And he told him they must be alter'd.
That he had brought before them Commissions for six Counties, which comprehended all within ten Miles of London, to which the Proclamation did extend: And he produc'd before them two Forms of Commissions, one a general Form extending to all, the other a particular Form with all the aforesaid Exceptions; desiring their Resolutions in which of the said Forms their Lordships would have the said Commissions passed.
That the Lords, tho' they thought the Exceptions most reasonable, yet their Lordships consider'd that because those Commissions had issued upon an Address of both Houses, and that, therefore, to make Explanations by themselves, which had not been communicated to the Commons, might not agree with the good Correspondence which their Lordships should always endeavour to maintain between both Houses; their Lordships gave him Directions to pass the Commissions in the general Form, let the Hardship light where it would, and gave him leave to withdraw presently to seal the Commissions; which accordingly were all sealed.
An Address for tendering the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to his Majesty's Servants.
The 12th, the House resolved, 'That, there being an Accusation of High-Treason against Sir William Godolphin, his Majesty's Ambassador in Spain, an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to desire him to call home Sir William Godolphin, to answer the Accusation.' To which his Majesty was pleased to answer, 'That he had already ordered his Letters of Revocation; and that he had a Person in his eye, who he designed should succeed him in that Service.' And on the same day the Commons presented another Address to his Majesty, praying, That a speçial Commission may be issued forth, for tendring the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to all the Servants of his Majesty and Royal Highness; and to all other Persons (except his Majesty's Portugal Servants) residing within the Palaces of Whitehall, St. James's and Somerset-house, and all other his Majesty's Houses; and that there may be likewise special Commissions issued forth, for tendering the said Oaths to all Persons residing within the two Serjeants Inns, all the Inns of Court, and Inns of Chancery.' To which his Majesty return'd an Answer in Writing two days after.
The King's Answer.
'That as to all his Majesty's own Servants, all the Servants of his Royal Highness, all other Persons residing in Whitehall, St. James's, Somerset-house, or any other of his Majesty's Houses, except the menial Servants of the Queen and Dutchess; as also all Persons within either of the Serjeants Inns, or any of the Inns of Court, or Chancery, his Majesty grants it. But as to the Queen's menial Servants, who are so very inconsiderable in their number, and within the Articles of Marriage, his Majesty does not think it fit. And his Majesty cannot but take notice, that in a late Address from the House of Peers, the menial Servants of the Queen and Dutchess are excepted; and his Majesty hopes that this House will proceed with the same Moderation as to that particular.'
This Answer not being thought satisfactory, on the 15th the House proceeded to another Address, in which they humbly advise his Majesty, and renew their Desires, that the Persons excepted in his Majesty's Message may be comprehended in the same Commission; for which they do, in all Duty, lay before his Majesty the Reasons following.
Another Address to the same effect.
1. For the quieting of the Minds of your Majesty's good Protestant Subjects, who have more than ordinary care and solicitude for the Safety of your Majesty's Person, by reason of the notorious Conspiracy of the Popish Party at this time, even against the Life of your sacred Majesty.
5. It is against the Laws and Statutes of the Realm; which, as they are preserved and maintained by your Majesty's Authority, so we assure ourselves, you will not suffer them to be thus violated by your Family and Royal Presence, upon the account of Popish Recusants.
Secretary Williamson sent to the Tower. ; The King releases him.
On the 18th, the Commons being informed, that there were several Commissions to Popish Recusants, and Warrants also that they should be mustered, notwithstanding they had not taken the Oaths, and subscribed the Declaration, according to the Act of Parliament, and that they were countersigned by Sir Joseph Williamson, Secretary of State: The Notice of this raised such a Heat in the House, that they immediately sent Sir Joseph, as a Member of their House, to the Tower. This much offended the King, who the next Day sent for the House of Commons to attend him in the Banquetting-House in Whitehall, where, in a Speech to them he told them plainly, 'That tho' they had committed his 'Servant without acquainting him; yet he intended to deal more freely with them, and acquaint them with his In tentions, to release his Secretary:' which accordingly he did that very day.
Upon which immediately, the same day, the Commons drew up an Address to his Majesty, to present to him these Reasons of their Proceedings, in the Commitment of Sir Joseph Williamson, as a Member of their House, viz.
An Address to the King that he might not be discharged.
'1. That divers Commissions were granted to Popish Officers, and counter-signed by the said Sir Joseph Williamson, and delivered out in October last, since the Meeting of this House, and the Discovery of the present Popish Conspiracy.
2. Divers Warrants have also been produced before us, of Dispensations, contrary to Law, for Popish Officers to continue in their Commands, and to be passed in Muster, notwithstanding they have not taken the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and received the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the Act of Parliament in that behalf: All which said Warrants were likewise countersigned by the said Sir Joseph Williamson; which being complained of to us, and confessed by the said Sir Joseph Williamson, we your Majesty's most dutiful Subjects, having the immediate Consideration before us, of the imminent Danger of your Majesty's Person, the Safety whereof is above all things most dear, and likewise the Dangers from Popish Plots, so nearly threatning the Peace and Safety of your Majesty's Government, and the Protestant Religion, were humbly of opinion, we could not discharge our Duty to your Majesty and the whole Kingdom, without the committing the said Sir Joseph Williamson; and therefore most humbly desire, That he may not be discharged by your Majesty. And we do farther most humbly desire your Majesty, to recal all Commissions granted to all Papists within the Kingdom of England and Ireland, or any other of your Majesty's Dominions and Territories.'
The Bill for disabling Papists, &c. sent back from the Lords with Amendments.
The 21st, the Lords sent back the Bill for disabling Papists from sitting in either House, with three Amendments, and a Proviso; which being read, the first Amendment was agreed to, but the second and third, relating to the Servants of the Queen and Dutchess of York, were rejected. On the Proviso the House divided, and it was carried in the Affirmative, Noes 150, Yeas 156. After which the House appointed a Committee to draw up Reasons to be offer'd at a Conference with the Lords, on the 2d and 3d Amendments. The same day a Fray happening in the House between Sir Jonathan Trelawney and Mr. Ash; the Question was put, whether Sir Jonathan should be expell'd? On which the House again divided, and it pass'd in the Negative, Yeas 110, Noes 130, It was then resolv'd, that he should be sent to the Tower, there to remain during the Session of Parliament; and Mr. Ash was reprimanded in his Place by the Speaker; and both were enjoin'd to prosecute their Quarrel no farther.
Mr. Powle. An Address propos'd for raising the Militia.
The 22d Mr. Powle deliver'd in the Address prepared by the Committee appointed for that purpose, most humbly to desire his Majesty that he would command all the Train'd Bands to be in readiness, and that one third Part might do Duty for fourteen Days; and after they are dismiss'd, the two others: And to require them to be very vigilant in the seizing all suspicious Persons, especially such as travel with Arms, or at unseasonable times, or in unusual Numbers. And likewise to command the Sheriffs to be ready with their Posse, in case of Insurrections, &c.
Sent to the Lords for their Concurrence.
Mr. Powle's Report of the said Conference.
The 23d, Mr. Powle, reported from the Conference with the Lords, on the said Address, That the Lord Privy Seal manag'd the Conference, and that he acquainted them, that the Lords, upon the Perusal of the Address, appointed a Committee to consider of the Laws relating to the Militia, who reported, that upon the Inspection of the Statutes they found, that, without farther Authority, the Militia cannot be kept up above 12 Days in one Year; and thereof four Days to be for general Musters, and two, and two, and two, and two, viz. eight Days, for particular Musters. And that of these 12 Days in many Counties, the Lieutenants have already muster'd their Men some of these Days this present Year. Not but that by his Majesty's Direction, (as appears by the Statute) they may be kept up longer. But their Lordships do not find that there is any power to raise Money to pay them.
Mr. Secretary Coventry.
'That he released Mr. Secretary Williamson before your, Address came, as he told you in the Banquetting-House he would do. As to the Returns of granting those Commissions, his Majesty acquainted you at large with them, in his Speech, when you last attended him. But in answer to your present Address, his Majesty promises to recal all his Commissions whatsoever, given to Papists or reputed Papists, either in England or Ireland, immediately; and for his remoter Dominions, they shall likewise be recalled with all the Expedition the Safety of those Places will permit.'
Sir Edward Deering.
Sir Edward Deering then deliver'd in the Reasons to be offer'd to the Lords in a Conference, for rejecting their Amendments to the Bill for disabling Papists from sitting in either House, which were to this effect:
Reasons to be offer'd to the Lords at a Conference on their Amendments above mentioned.
That both Houses having voted that the King's Person was in danger from the Popish Conspiracy, it would not only be most dangerous to his Majesty's Person, but inconsistent with such Votes, to admit Popish Recusants either to reside in the Palace or approach his Person.
That all Popish Recusants being by Proclamation at the instance of both Houses required to remove 10 Miles from London, we cannot think it advisable that any should be harboured in his Majesty's House, where the danger was more imminent than any where else.
That the Design of this Act being for a farther Security of all Popish Recusants, the Commons cannot think it reasonable to allow any of them liberty, contrary to the Law already in being; and if such a Number of the Queen's Servants, and her Royal Highness's are in general Terms excepted out of the Act, it will follow, that if any Peer, or Member of this House be so nominated by them, he will thereby be capable of sitting in Parliament without taking the Tests.
Sir Edward Deering's Report thereupon.
'That the Conference was manag'd by the Lord Chancellor, who acquainted them, that the Lords had consider'd of the Reasons offer'd at the last Conference; and that they carry'd great Weight with them: And that the Lords did propose an Expedient, which was for striking the Queen wholly out of the Bill; and so have her Servants liable to the Law, in general; in which they hoped this House would concur. But if this House should not think fit to concur with this Expedient, that then their Lordships would take the Amendments and Reasons into farther Consideration. That my Lord Privy-Seal told them, that there were Precedents in the Case, but did not name any.'
The King's third Speech to both Houses.
'I Told you in the Beginning of this Session, how much I had been obliged to keep up my Forces in Flanders: That without it our Neighbours had absolutely despaired, and by this Means, whatever has been saved of Flanders, is acknowledged to be wholly due to my Interposition: And I shewed you withal, that I had been forced to employ that Money which had been raised for the disbanding those Troops, in the continuance of them together; and not only so, but that I had been much more out of Purse for that Service; a Service by which the Honour and Interest of the Nation have been so much improved, that as I am confident no Man would repine at it, so I did not doubt but you would all be willing to supply it. I have now undergone this Expence so long, that I find it absolutely impossible to support the Charge any longer; and did therefore think of putting an end to that Charge, by recalling my Troops with all possible speed, who are already exposed to the utmost Want and Misery, being without any Prospect of farther Pay or Subsistence. But whilst I was about to do this, I have been importuned by the Spanish Ministers to continue them a little longer, until the Ratifications of the Peace be exchanged; without which, all that hath been hitherto saved in Flanders, will inevitably fall into the Hands of their Enemies. And now, between this Importunity to keep up those Troops, and my own Inability to pay them any longer, I find myself in great Difficulties what to resolve. If you do not think that the public Safety may require the Continuance, I do wish us heartily as any Man, that for the public Ease, they may be speedily disbanded, and paid off. I have thought fit thus to lay the Matter before you; and having acquitted myself to all the World, by asking your Advice and Assistance, I desire it may be speedy, and without any manner of Delay.'
Sir Edward Deering's Report concerning the Lord's Expedient.
'That in the Amendment propos'd to the Bill by your Lordships, to which the Commons have disagreed, the Number of the Queen's Servants to be excepted out of the Act, was limited: But by leaving the Queen's Name out of the Bill, she may have them without Number: which aggravates the Mischief, and consequently hath not the Nature of an Expedient.
'That the Scope of the Bill not only relates to the moving Papists out of both Houses of Parliament, but also from the Court, as appears both from the Preamble and Body of the Bill; and the Dangers his Majesty is expos'd to, may be reasonably suppos'd to be chiefly in his Court: And that the Safety of his Person, the Commons think ought to be more consider'd, than any Respect to any Person whatever.'
A Conference resolved thereon.
Sir Edward Deering's Report of the same.
'That the Lords did insist upon the Amendments by them made, which related to the Queen's Portugal Servants: That they wav'd what related to the excepting a limited Number of Men-Servants to the Queen and Dutchess; and did now only except a small Number of Women-Servants, from whom no Assassination could be reasonably apprehended.'
A Motion being then made, that the Words (not exceed nine in Number at any one Time,) should be added to the Lords Amendment, relating to the Portugal Servants; the Question was put, Whether the House should then adjourn, but pass'd in the Negative: Yeas, 71; Noes, 81.
An Amendment of the Lords rejected.
After which, the Question being put to agree with the Lords in what related to the Dutchess of York's WomenServants, it pass'd in the Negative: Yeas, 65; Noes, 87. And the former Managers were directed to prepare Reasons to be offered at another Conference with the Lords, why the House did not agree with that Part of their Amendment.
Sir Edward Deering's Report from the Committee on the said Amendment, to be offer'd to the Lords.
'And that as to the Amendments relating to her Royal Highness, the Commons conceive it to be an Innovation in the Law, to allow any Person except the Queen, any Family of her own separate and distinct.'
The same Day, the said Reasons, together with the Bill, were left with the Lords, who presently after signify'd by Message, their Assent to the Militia-Bill; and that for disabling Papists to sit in Parliament.
The Commons resolve to disband the Army. ; An Address to remove the Queen from Court.
The House then proceeded to the Consideration of the State of the Nation, in relation to the Army; and resolved, nemine contradicente, 'That it is necessary for the Safety of his Majesty's Person, and Preservation of the Peace of the Government, that all the Forces that have been raised since the 29th of September 1677, and all others that since that time have been brought over from beyond Seas from foreign Service, be forthwith disbanded: And farther in these Words resolved, It is the humble Opinion and Desire of the House, That the Forces which are now in Flanders, may be immediately called over, in order to their disbanding.
The 28th, Mr. Secretary Coventry acquainted the House, that the Vote with relation to the disbanding the Army, had been presented to his Majesty; which being a Matter of great Moment, he would consult and advise with his House of Lords, before he would give an Answer. After which, Mr. Oates having deliver'd certain Informations to the House against the Queen, the following Address was immediately prepar'd, and order'd to the Lords for their Concurrence. 'We your Majesty's loyal and dutiful Subjects, the and Commons in Parliament assembled, having receiv'd Information, by several Witnesses, of a most desperate and traitorous Design and Conspiracy against the Life of your most Sacred Majesty, wherein, to their great Astonishment, the Queen is particularly charged, and accus'd; in discharge of our Allegiance, and out of our Affection and Care for the Preservation of your Majesty's sacred Person, and, consequently, of the whole Kingdom, do most humbly beseech your Majesty that the Queen, and all her Family, and all Papists, or reputed or suspected Papists, be forthwith remov'd from your Majesty's Court at White-hall.
The King passes the Bill against the Papists, but rejects that for raising the Militia.
Upon the 30th, the King went to the House of Peers, and having sent for the Commons, passed the Bill For disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament. But the Militia Bill; presented at the same Time, he totally rejected, alledging, 'That it was to put the Militia out of his Power, which thing he would not do, no not for one Hour; but, if the Commons would assist him with Money for that Purpose, he would take care to raise such a Part of the Militia, as should secure the Peace of the Government, and his own Person.'
An Address resolv'd on the State and Danger of the Nation.
December 2. The House order'd, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, containing a Representation of the present State, and Dangers of this Nation, to be grounded on the following Heads, viz. 1. On the Misrepresentation of the Proceedings of this House.
Mr. Secretary Coventry delivers a Message to the House, from the King.
'His Majesty, to prevent all Misunderstandings that may arise from his not passing the late Bill of the Militia, is pleas'd to declare, That he will readily assent to any Bill of that kind, which shall be tender'd to him, for the public Security of the Kingdom, by the Militia, so as the whole Power of calling, continuing, or not continuing of them together, during the Time limited, be left to his Majesty, to do therein as he shall find most expedient for the public Safety.'
Five Popish Lords Impeach'd.
The King disowns a verbal Message delivered to the House by the said Secretary.
The 7th, Mr. Speaker signify'd to the House; that he had acquainted his Majesty, altho it was not by Order of the House, of the Entry that was made of his Majesty's Answer to the Address concerning the calling over the Forces out of Flanders; and that his Majesty was pleas'd to declare, That he never gave Orders for such Answer. But that his Majesty's Intention was only in relation to the Forces that were in Flanders; and, that Circumstances, as to those Forces, were alter'd since that Time; and that his Majesty had already given Order for their disbanding.
A Supply granted for disbanding the Army.
The 16th, The House Resolv'd, That the Bill for granting a Supply to his Majesty, for Paying off, and Disbanding the Forces, &c. should pass; and that it should be entitled, An Act for granting a Supply to his Majesty, of 206,462 l. 17s. 3d. for the effectual Paying off, and Disbanding the Forces rais'd, or brought over from foreign Parts, into this Kingdom since September 29, 1677.
A Message from the King, to inform the House, that he had ordéred Mr. Montagu's Papers to be seiz'd.
The 19th, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Ernley) acquainted the House, that he was commanded by his Majesty to inform the House that his Majesty having receiv'd Information that his late Embassador in France, Mr. Montagu, a Member of this House, had held several private Conferences with the Pope's Nuncio there, without any Direction or Instruction from his Majesty, to the end he might know the Truth of that Matter, he had given Order for the seizing Mr. Montagu's Papers.
Their Resolution thereon.
Upon which the House resolv'd, That no Judgment could be made, either in relation to their Member, or Privilege of the House, which may be in a great measure invaded, unless his Majesty will be graciously pleas'd to let this House know, whether the Information against Mr. Montagu was given upon Oath, or of what Nature the Offence was, that was thus complain'd of.
Transmitted to the King.
A Committee was then appointed, instantly to wait upon the King with this Vote, who, upon their Return, inform'd the House, That they had been to wait upon his Majesty, according to Order, who had sent them Word out of the House of Lords, that he was at that Time very busy, and that his Majesty had rather they would attend him at Whitehall, when the House was up.
Mr. Montagu offers the House certain Papers of Consequence. Which are sent for.
Mr. Montagu, then, took this Opportunity to acquaint the House, that he had in his Custody several Papers, which he conceiv'd might tend very much to the Safety of his Majesty's Person, and the Preservation of the Kingdom. This produc'd an Order of the House, That certain Members should be dispatch'd to bring them before the House; which was presently done, and Mr. Montagu himself was order'd to open the Box, and select such, as he thought might be for the Service of the House; and dispose of all those, which properly concern'd himself, as he thought fit. Mr. Montagu, then, presented two Letters to the House, subscrib'd Danby, the first, dated January 17, 1677; and the second, March 25. 1678. both which, were read by Mr. Speaker to the House, who took great Exceptions to the following Passages.
From the First, 'Yesterday young Rouvigny came to me with Monsieur Barillon, (having given me his Father's Letters the Day before) and discoursed much upon the Considence the French King hath of the Firmness of our's to him; of the good Opinion his Master hath of me; of his King's Resolution to condescend to any thing that is not infamous to him, for the Satisfaction of our King; how certainly our King may depend upon all Assistances and Supplies from his Master, in case the Friendship be preserved.—The main of their Drist was, to engage me to prevail with the Prince of Orange, as to the Town of Tournay—The King must come to some Declaration of his Mind to the Parliament when it meets. That which makes the Hopes of Peace less probable, is, that the Duke grows every day less inclined to it, and has created a greater Indifferency in the King than I could have imagined; which added to the French King's Resolutions, not to part with Tournay, does, I confess, make me despair of any Accommodation: Nevertheless. I am assured, that one principal Cause of this Adjournment for thirteen Days, has been to see if any Expedient for the Peace could have been found in that Time; and the Effect of the Adjournment hath hitherto been, that no body will now believe other than that the Peace is already concluded between us and France.'
From the Second: 'In case the Conditions of the Peace shall be accepted, the King expects to have six Millions of Livres a Year, for three Years, from the Time that this Agreement shall be signed betwixt his Majesty and the King of France; because it will probably be two or three Years before the Parliament will be in the Humour to give him any Supplies, after the making any Peace with France; and the Ambassador here has always agreed to that Sum, but not for so long a Time. If you find the Peace will not be accepted, you are not to mention the Money at all; and all possible Care must be taken to have this whole Negotiation as private as is possible, for fear of giving Offence at home; where, for the most part, we hear, in ten Days after, of any thing that is communicated to the French Minister.
An Impeachment voted against Lord Danby.
Upon reading of these Letters, the House was all in a Flame, which was no ways allayed by the King's own Hand that appeared at the bottom; and it being propounded, That there was sufficient Matter of Impeachment, the House divided on the previous Question, which was carry'd in the Affirmative, Yeas 179, Noes 116. A Committee was immediately appointed to draw up Articles, of which Mr. Montagu was one; and a Resolution pass'd, That the Speaker should not at any time adjourn the House, without first putting the Question, if insisted on.
The 20th, Mr. Speaker inform'd the House, That he had receiv'd a Letter from the Lord-Treasurer (Danby) inclosing two others written by Mr. Montagu, while Embassador at Paris, which he conceived to be for the Service of the House. The said three Letters were (fn. 8) read, and then the House adjourn'd.
Certain Amendments, added by the Lords to the Bill of Supply, rejected.
The 21st, The Lords sent down the Bill for raising l. 206, 462. 17. 3. for the Payment, and Disbanding of the Forces, &c. with several Amendments, which were read, and the greatest Part rejected: And a Committee was appointed to prepare Reasons to be offer'd at a Conference.
Articles of Impeachment against the Earl of Danby.
I. That he hath traitorously engross'd to himself regal Power, by treating in Matters of Peace and War with foreign Princes and Ambassadors, and giving Instructions to his Majesty's Ambassadors abroad, without communicating the same to the Secretaries of State, and the rest of his Majesty's Council, &c.
II. That he hath traitorously endeavoured, to subvert the ancient and well-established Form of Government; and, instead thereof, to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical Way of Government; and, the better to effect this his Purpose, he did design the raising of an Army, under pretence of a War against the French King, and then to continue the same, as a Standing-Army within this Kingdom: And an Army being so raised, and no War ensuing, an Act being passed to pay and disband the same, he did continue the Army contrary to the said Act, and misapplied the Money to the Continuance thereof, and wilfully neglected to take Security of the Pay Masters of the Army, as the said Act required, whereby the said Law is eluded, and the Army is, yet, continued, to the great Danger, and unnecessary Charge of his Majesty, and the whole Kingdom, &c.
III. That he, traitorously intending and designing to alienate the Hearts and Affections of his Majesty's good Subjects, from his Royal Person and Government, and to hinder the Meetings of Parliaments, and to deprive his Majesty of their safe and wholesome Counsel, did propose and negotiate a Peace for the French King, upon Terms disadvantageous to the Interest of his Majesty, and his Kingdoms; for the doing whereof, he endeavoured to procure a great Sum of Money from the French King, for enabling him to maintain and carry on his said traitorous Designs and Purposes.
IV. That he is popishly affected, and hath traitorously concealed (after he had notice) the late horrid and bloody Plot and Conspiracy, contrived by the Papists against his Majesty's Person and Government; and hath suppressed the Evidence, and reproachfully discountenanced the King's Witnesses in the Discovery of it, in favour of Popery, &c.
V. That he hath wasted the King's Treasure, by issuing out of his Majesty's Exchequer several Branches of his Revenue for unnecessary Pensions and secret Services, to the Value of 231,602 Pounds, within two Years, &c. And he hath removed two of his Majesty's Commissioners of that part of the Revenue, for refusing to consent to such his unwarrantable Actings therein, and to advance Money upon that Branch of the Revenue for private Uses.
VI. That he hath, by indirect means, procured from his Majesty to himself, divers considerable Gifts and Grants of Inheritance, of the ancient Revenue of the Crown, even contrary to Acts of Parliament.
Several Letters laid before the House by the King's Order, relating to Mr. Montagu.
The 23d, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer presented several Letters (afterwards Read) to the House, by Order of his Majesty, in answer to their Address, to know whether the Information against Mr Montagu was taken upon Oath, and of what nature the Offence was, that was complained of.
Mr. Powle's Report of Reasons for rejecting the Lords Amendments to the Bill of Supply.
The same day Mr. Powle deliver'd in his Report from the Committee appointed to prepare Reasons to be offer'd to the Lords at a Conference why the House did not agree to the Amendments made by them to the Bill, for granting a Supply, &c. which, in Substance, was as follows:
That the Appointment of Receiver-General by his Majesty, being made by their Lordships in reference to the Payment of the Money into the Exchequer; the Commons disagreeing with their Lordships in that Amendment, the Reasons of that Appointment cease.
That the Commons granted a Sum of Money for disbanding the Army last Year, and intrusted it to the Exchequer; but that the said Sum was employ'd for the Continuance of the Army, without disbanding one Man; and that they cannot think it safe to trust the Exchequer again, while manag'd by the same Persons.
That the Commons have directed the Payment of the Money into the Chamber of London, for its Security; and that their Lordships never before chang'd any such Disposition made on a Supply granted by the Commons.
That the Commons, thinking it necessary for the Peace and Safety of the Kingdom, that the Army should be immediately disbanded, to prevent all Evasions, have enumerated all ways hitherto used for that purpose, that they might be declar'd to be within the Penalties of the present Act.
That this being an Act for the more effectual disbanding of the Army, the Commons did limit the Indemnity to the Officers and Soldiers, being the Persons that were to be disbanded; that, thereby, they might be encourag'd to disperse, when they were satisfy'd they might return home with safety: And the Commons not thinking it necessary or convenient to extend it any farther.
That the Commons do not think fit to extend the Indemnity to any Person enlisted, or mustered, since November 1; because they see no occasion why any such Person should be taken into the Army, unless it were to increase the Charge, or for some ill purpose.
Sir Henry Capel.
Mr. Powle's Report of the Conference, on rejecting the Amendments, &c.
That the Conference was manag'd by the Lord PrivySeal, who declar'd it was principally desir'd with regard to three Points, viz. That of the Receiver-General; That of the Place for lodging the Money; and, That for indemnifying for the Breach of the former Act, and the Penalty for offending against this.
2. That the most expeditions way to nominate a ReceiverGeneral, is to leave it to his Majesty; who, having the highest Trust, is most concern'd, that the Army should be speedily and effectually disbanded.
2. That finding it inconvenient and grievous to the Subject, that his Majesty's Revenues of all forts should not be paid into the Exchequer, divers Laws have been made to enforce the Payment of all Money there.
3. That in case of Injuries to the Subject, this Act provides no Redress, in case the Money should be paid into the Chamber of London: Whereas, by Law, every Subject injur'd in his Payment, is to have Remedy before the Barons.
4. That their Lordships cannot suspect that any Person employ'd in disbanding the Army would mis-employ the Money which is appropriated for that purpose, under such severe Penalties, and to be dispos'd of by Commissioners appointed by the House of Commons.
6. That the not disbanding the Army last Year, according to the Bill for that end, was not owing to any Fault in the Exchequer, but the Necessity of Affairs; as his Majesty signified to both Houses at the Opening of the Session.
7. The Army was continued, which occasioned the Clause of Indemnity to all those that have since continued in Arms; and this is not only a reason for our Amendments, but an Answer to the first Reason of the House of Commons upon this Point.
8. That their Lordships cannot charge their Memories with not having alter'd any such Disposition made in a Supply. But that, nevertheless, their Lordships do herein but claim the Exercise of their Right, to make Alterations according to their Judgments.
The Lords insist upon their Amendments, against the following Reasons offer'd by the Commons: Because they conceive the effectual disbanding the Army is secur'd, as they have amended the Bill. As the Commons sent it up, it would have invaded the King's declar'd Power, to have rais'd or employ'd the Army on any other Emergency; it would have disabled him from filling up the Guards and standing Troops, and furnishing the Islands out of the Forces so disbanded; which is likewise a main reason why the Lords could not consent to make the Penalty of Felony so extensive, as to reach any so employ'd.
That, concerning the Indemnity being limited by the Commons to Officers and Soldiers, the Lords thought fit to enlarge it to all other Persons; and being a Work of Mercy, and no Officer impeach'd or question'd for Breach of the former Act; and for the same reason they insisted on their two last Amendments.
Dissatisfactory to the Commons.
The Question was then put, to agree to these Amendments, and passed in the Negative without a Division: After which other Reasons were appointed to be drawn up, and another Conference was desired. But, on the 30th, the King commanded their Attendance in the House of Peers; where, he put an end to the Session, with a Speech to the following effect.
The King's Speech at proroguing the Parliament.
'That it was with great unwillingness that he came to tell them, that he intended to prorogue them; that all of them were Witnesses he had not been well used, the Particulars of which he would acquaint them with at a more seasonable time. In the mean time he would immediately enter upon the disbanding the Army, and do what good he could for the Kingdom, and Safety of Religion; and that he would prosecute the Discovery of the Popish Plot, to find out the Instruments of it, and to take all the Care that was in his power to secure the Protestant Religion, as it was now by Law established.' And accordingly his Majesty was pleased to prorogue the Parliament till the 4th Day of February next. And thus ended the Eighteenth and last Session of the Second and long Parliament, after it had continued the Space of two Months and nine Days.
A Proclamation, to dissolve the Parliament.
'That he had taken into his serious Consideration, the many Inconveniencies arising by the over-long Continuance of one and the same Parliament; wherefore he publishes and declares his Royal Will and Pleasure to dissolve this present Parliament. But to the Intent his Majesty's loyal Subjects may perceive the Confidence his Majesty hath in their good Affections, and how willing and desirous his Majesty is to meet his People, and have their Advice by their Representatives in Parliament, he will cause Writs in due Form of Law, to be forthwith issued for the calling of a new Parliament, which shall begin and be holden at Westminster, on Thursday the sixth Day of March next; when his Majesty doth expect such Laws will be enacted, and such Order taken, by the Consent and Advice of his Parliament, as will tend to the securing the true Protestant Religion, and the peaceable and happy Government of this his Kingdom.'