The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The third Parliament. 1678–9.
The King's Speech to both Houses.
'I Meet you here with the most earnest Desire that Man can have, to unite the Minds of all my Subjects, both to me, and to one another: And I resolve it shall be your Faults, if the Success be not suitable to my Desires. I have done many great Things already in order to that end, as the Exclusion of the Popish Lords from their Seats in Parliament; the Execution of several Men, both upon the score of the Plot, and the Murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey; and it is apparent, that I have not been idle in prosecuting the Discovery of both, as much farther as hath been possible in so short a Time. I have disbanded as much of the Army as I could get Money to do; and I am ready to disband the rest so soon as you shall reimburse me the Money they have cost me, and will enable me to pay off the Remainder: And above all, I have commanded my Brother to absent himself from me, because I would not leave malicious Men room to say, I had not removed all Causes which could be pretended to influence me towards Popish Counsels.
'Besides that end of Union which I aim at (and which I could wish could be extended to Protestants abroad as well as at home) I propose by this last great Step I have made, to discern whether the Protestant Religion, and the Peace of the Kingdom be as truly intended by others, as they are really aimed at by me: For, if they be, you will employ your Time upon the great Concerns of the Nation, and nor be drawn to promote private Animosities, under the Pretences of the Public: Your Proceedings will be calm and peaceable, in order to those good Ends I have recommended to you; and you will curb the Motions of any unruly Spirits, which would endeavour to disturb them.
'I hope there will be none such among you, because there can be no Man that must not see, how fatal Differences amongst ourselves are like to be at this Time, both at home and abroad. I shall not cease my Endeavours, daily to find out what more I can, both of the Plot, and the Murder of Sir Edmund-bury Godfrey, and shall desire the Assistance of both my Houses in the Work. I have not been wanting in giving Orders for putting all the present Laws in Execution against Papists; and I am ready to join in the making such farther Laws, as may be necessary for securing the Kingdom against Popery.
'I must desire your Assistance also in the Supplies, both for disbanding the Army, as I have already told you, and for paying that part of the Fleet, which hath been provided for by Parliament but till the fifth of June last; as also that Debt for Stores, which was occasioned by the Poll-Bill's falling short of that Sum, which that Act gave Credit for. I must necessarily recommend to you likewise, the discharging of those Anticipations which are upon my Revenue, and which I have commanded to be laid before you; and I hope I shall have just cause to desire such an Increase of the Revenue itself, as might make it equal to my necessary Expences; but by reason of those other Supplies, which are absolutely necessary at this Time, I am contented to struggle with that Difficulty a while longer; expecting for the present only, to have those additional Duties upon Customs and Excise to be prolonged to me; and that you will some other way make up the Loss I sustain by the Prohibition of French Wines and Brandy, which turns only to my Prejudice, and to the great Advantage of the French. I must needs put you in mind how necessary it will be to have a good Strength at Sea, next Summer, since our Neighbours are making naval Preparations: and notwithstanding the great Difficulties I labour under, I have taken such Care as will prevent any Danger that can threaten us, if your Parts be performed in time. And I do heartily recommend to you, that such a constant Establishment might be made for the Navy, as might make the Kingdom not only safe, but formidable; which can never be, whilst there remains not enough besides, to pay the necessary Charges of the Crown.
'I will conclude as I begun, with my earnest Desires to have this a Healing Parliament; and I do give you this Assurance that I will with my Life defend both the Protestant Religion, and the Laws of this Kingdom, and I do expect from you to be defended from the Calumny, as well as the Danger of those worst of Men, who endeavour to render me, and my Government, odious to my People The rest I leave to the Lord Chancellor.'
Chancellor Finch's Speech.
'The Considerations which are now to be laid before you, are as urgent and as weighty as were ever yet offered to any Parliament, or indeed ever can be; so great, and so surprizing have been our Dangers at home, so formidable are the Appearances of Danger from abroad, that the most united Councils, the most sedate and calmest Temper, together with the most dutiful and zealous Affections that a Parliament can shew, are all become absolutely and indispensably necessary for our Preservation. At home, we had need look about us: For his Majesty's Royal Person hath been in danger, by a Conspiracy against his sacred Life, maliciously contrived, and industriously carried on, by those SeminaryPriests and Jesuits, and their Adherents, who think themselves under some Obligations of Conscience to effect it; and, having vowed the Subversion of the true Religion amongst us, find no way so likely to compass it, as to wound us in the Head, and to kill the Defender of the Faith His Majesty wanted not sufficient Evidence of his Zeal for our Religion, without this Testimony from his Enemies, who were about to sacrifice him for it: But it hath ever been the Practice of those Votaries, first to murder the Fame of Princes, and then their Persons; first to slander them to their People, as if they favoured Papists, and then to assassinate them for being too zealous Protestants. And thus, by all the Ways and Means which our Law calls Treason, and their Divinity calls Merit and Martyrdom, they are trying to set up the Dominion and the Supremacy of the Pope, as if the Dignity of his triple Crown could never be sufficiently advanced, unless these three Kingdoms were added unto him, and all brought back again under that Yoke, which neither we, nor our Fore-fathers, were able to bear.
'The Enquiry into this Conspiracy hath been closely pursued, and the Lords of the Council have been careful to prosecute the Discovery, ever since the rising of the last Parliament, and the King doth now recommend it to you to perfect. More Evidence hath been already found out, and more Malefactors discovered, some in hold, some fled; the Justices of the Peace have been quickened in the Execution of their Duty, the Negligent have been reproved and punished, the Diligent encouraged, and assisted, in doubtful Cases by the Judges; active and faithful Messengers have been sent into all the Corners of the Kingdom, where there was any hopes of Service to be done; the very Prisons have been searched, to see whether any had fled thither to hide themselves there, and, under pretence of Debt, to escape the Pursuit; and if any have desired leave to go beyond Sea, they have first given Security not to go to Rome, nor send their Children to any foreign Seminaries; and then they have been obliged to give in a List of all their menial Servants, and those Servants too have been examined upon Oath: And Order is given that they be again examined at the Ports, and make Oath they are the same Persons who were examined above: So that all possible Care hath been taken that no Malefactors might escape us in disguise. And tho' the Priests themselves do not keep the Confessions of their Proselytes more secret than these keep the Injunctions of their Priests, yet enough hath appeared to bring some capital Offenders to public Justice, and to convict them of the Crime: some of the Traitors have been executed; several Priests have been arrested and imprisoned; all are hiding themselves, and lurking in secret Corners, like the Sons of Darkness. The Murderers of Sir Edmund-bury Godfrey have been condemned and suffer'd Death: Some Papists have banished themselves out of the Kingdom, others are imprisoned for not taking the Oaths: All are prosecuted towards Conviction; and the very Shame and Reproach, which attends such abominable Practices, hath covered so many Faces with new and strange Confusions, that it hath proved a powerful Argument for their Conversions: Nor is it to be wonder'd at, that they could no longer believe all that to be Gospel which their Priests taught them, when they saw the Way and Means of introducing it was so far from being evangelical. In a word, so universal is that Despair to which the Papists are now reduced, that they have no other Hope left but this, that we may chance to over-do our own Business; and by being too far transported with the Fears of Popery, neglect the Opportunities we now have of making sober and lasting Provisions against it. And tis not to be doubted but that it would infinitely gratify the Papists in the Revenge they wish, for this Discovery, if they could see us distracted with Jealousies incurable, and distrusting the Government to such a Degree, as should weaken all that Reverence by which it stands: For then the Plot would not be altogether without Effect; but those whom they could not destroy by their Conspiracy, they should have the Satisfaction to see ruining themselves after the Discovery: So that, tho' we had escaped that Desolation which they intended to have brought upon us, nothing could save us from that Destruction which we shall bring upon ourselves. But their Expectations of this are as vain, as their other Designs were wicked: For his Majesty hath already begun to let them see with what Severity he intends to proceed against them. He hath passed a Law to disable all the Nobility and Gentry of that Faction ever to sit in Parliament; and not content with that, he did offer to the last Parliament, and does again renew the same Offer to this Parliament, to pass any farther Laws against Popery which shall be desired: So as the same extend not to the Diminution of his own Prerogative, nor alter the Descent of the Crown in the right Line, nor defeat the Succession. He hath refused the Petition of the Lords, who, during the Interval of Parliament, desired to be brought to their Trial; and, after so long an Imprisonment, might reasonably enough have expected it. But his Majesty thought it fitter to reserve them to a more public and conspicuous Trial in Parliament: For which Cause their Trial ought now to be hastned; for it is high time there should be some Period put to the Imprisonment of the Lords.
'But that which the King hath been pleased to mention to you this Morning, surpasses all the rest, and is sufficient of itself alone to discharge all those Fears of Popish Influences, which many good Men had too far entertained: For now you see his Majesty, of his own accord, hath done that, which would have been very difficult for you to ask; and hath deprived himself of the Conversation of his Royal and only Brother, by commanding him to depart the Kingdom; to which Command his Royal Highness hath paid a humble and a most entire Submission and Obedience. This Separation was attended with a more than ordinary Sorrow, on both sides. But he, that, for your Sakes, could part with such a Brother, and such a Friend, you may be sure, hath now no Favourite but his People. Since therefore his Majesty hath shewn so much Readiness to concur with, and in a manner to prevent the Desires of his Parliament, it is a miserable Refuge our Enemies must trust to, when they hope to see our Zeal out-run our Discretion, and that we ourselves shall become the unhappy Occasion of making our own Counsels abortive. Not only the Care of the State, but the Care we ought to have of the Church too, will preserve us from Errors of this kind: For as there neither is, nor hath been these fifteen hundred Years, a purer Church than ours; so it is for the sake of this Church alone, that the State hath been so much disturbed. It is her Truth and Peace, her Decency and Order, which they labour to undermine, and pursue with so restless a Malice: And since they do so, it will be necessary for us to distinguish between Popish and other Recusants, between them that would destroy the whole Flock, and them that only wander from it. And among the many good Laws you shall think fit to provide, it may not be amiss to think of some better Remedy for regulating the Press, from whence there daily steal forth Popish Catechisms, Psalters, and Books of Controversy: And it may be another good Fruit of such Law, to hinder schismatical and seditious Libels too; for certainly it were much better for us to make such Laws as will prevent Offences, rather than such as serve only to punish the Offenders.' Then, insisting upon the Reasonableness of a Supply, from the Dangers abroad, and the Necessities at home, he proceeded thus:
'My Lords and Gentlemen, There are many Things to do, and so little Time to do them in, that there ought not to be one Minute lost. The Season of the Year is not yet so far advanced, as to make it too late to set out a Fleet this Summer; for most of the Preparations are ready, if we go about it with that Diligence which is requisite. And therefore it doth infinitely import us all to husband Time. The best Way of doing this will be, to avoid all long and tedious Consultations, which sometimes do as much harm as ill Resolutions: And, above all, to take heed to avoid such Questions and Debates as tend to raise Heat, or may create any kind of Disturbance. Nor doth any thing in the World so much contribute to Dispatch as quiet and orderly Proceedings: For they who are in haste, and attempt to do all their Business at once, most commonly hinder themselves from bringing any thing to Perfection. You have now an Opportunity of doing great Things for the King and Kingdom; and it deserves your utmost Care to make a right Use of it: For it is not in the power of a Parliament to recover a lost Opportunity, or to restore themselves again to the same Circumstances, or the same Condition, which they once had a Power to have improved. Would you secure Religion at home, and strengthen it abroad, by uniting the Interest of all the Protestants in Europe? This is the Time. Would you let the Christian World see the King in a Condition able to protect those who shall adhere to him, or depend upon him? This is the Time. Would you extinguish all your Fears and Jealousies? Would you lay aside all private Animosities, and give them up to the Quiet and Repose of the Public? This is the Time. Would you lay the Foundation of a lasting Peace, and secure the Church and State against all the future Machinations of our Enemies? This is the Time.
'My Lords and Gentlemen, The present Eace of Things, and the State wherein we now are, is so well known and understood abroad, that the whole World is in great Expectations of those Resolutions which shall be taken here: The Results of this Council seem to be decisive of the Fate of these Kingdoms for many Ages, and are like to determine us either to Happiness or Misery of a very long Duration. We use to say, and say truly, That the King, when seated in Parliament, is then in the fulness of his Majesty and Power, and shines forth with the brightest Lustre. Let no Exhalation from beneath darken or obscure it! Foreign Nations say, and say truly, that a King of England, in conjunction with his Parliament, is as great and dreadful a Prince as any in Europe: Shew them the Sight they are afraid of! And since they have laid it down for a Maxim in their Politics, That England can never be destroyed but by itself; and that it is in vain to make any Attempts upon this Nation, until they be in some great Disorder and Confusion among themselves; make the Ambitious despair betimes, and establish so perfect an Intelligence between all the Parts of this great Body, that there may be but one Heart, and one Soul among us. And let us all pray, That he who hath once more miraculously delivered the King, the Church and the State, would be pleased still to continue his divine Protection, and give us thankful and obedient Hearts. And when we have offered up those Hearts to God, let us, in the next place, offer them again to the King, and lay them down at the Footstool of his Throne, that so the King may see himself safe in your Councils, rich in your Affectons, victorious by your Arms, and raised to such a Height by your Loyalty and Courage, that you may have the Houour of making him the greatest King, and he the Glory of making you the happiest People.'
Mr. Seymour chosen Speaker.
In conclusion, by the King's Commands, he ordered the House of Commons to proceed to the Choice of a Speaker, who was to be presented to the King the next Day; and being returned to their House, Colonel Birch did nominate and recommend the Right Honourable Edward Seymour, Knight of the Shire for the County of Devon, Treasurer of the Navy, one of his Majesty's most Honourable Privy-Council, and Speaker of the last Parliament; being a Person acceptable to the King, and one who for his great Integrity, Ability, and long Experience in the Employment, was the fittest Person for so great a Trust. And Mr. Seymour being unanimously called upon to the Chair, was conducted thither by Sir Thomas Lee, Sir Thomas Whitmore, and divers other Members; and being there placed, he made a gratulatory Speech to the House for their great Kindness and Affection towards him, in their unanimous Choice of him: But still he desired the House that they would proceed to a new Election, 'For the long sittings of the late Parliament had so impaired his Health, that he doubted he should not be so well able to undergo the Service of the House, as would be expected from him.' But the House, not admitting of any Excuse, confirmed their Choice; upon which he desired Leave, 'That he might intercede with his Majesty, that he would be pleased to discharge him of the Duty.'
The King resuses him. ; Sir John Ernley by the King's Order recommends Sir Thomas Meers. ; Debates upon it.
But it appears, that he needed not have been so urgent; for the King and the Earl of Danby, taking this Choice to be an ill Presage, that this Parliament would begin where the last ended, were resolved not to approve of it: And as soon as he appeared to be presented, the Lord Chancellor stood up, and said, 'That if his Majesty should always accept a Person pitch'd upon by the House of Commons, then it would be no great Favour to be chosen a Speaker; and therefore his Majesty, being the best Judge of Persons and Things, thought fit to except against Mr. Seymour, as being fitly qualified for other Services and Employments, without giving any Reason to the Persons chusing or the Person chosen.' And therefore he ordered them to fix upon some other Person by to-morrow Morning, to be presented to the King for his Approbation. The Commons immediately returned back to their own House, where (fn. 1) Sir John Ernley stood up and acquainted them, He had Orders from his Majesty to recommend Sir Thomas Meers to them to be their Speaker, as a Person well known in the Method and Practice or Parliaments, and a Person that he thought would be very acceptable and serviceable to them.' But the House in a great Heat cried out, No, no! and fell into a warm Debate. In which several Gentlemen spoke as follows:
'It was never known that a Person should be excepted against, and no Reason at all given. It is done to gratify some particular Person; for Mr. Seymour is a Man who perform'd that Service formerly without Complaint; and as he would not consent to the Prejudice of one Hair of the Crown or Prerogative, so he will not infringe the Liberty of the People, in parting with the least of their just Rights.'
'This seems to be a Question of Right: For above a Hundred Years past, it has not been known that any Speaker, presented to the Kings or Queens of England, was ever excepted against, without some Reason given, or for some great Cause: And the Thing itself of presenting him to the King, is, I humbly conceive, but a bare Compliment. If we suffer this, we shall be put upon daily. Let us adjourn for the present.
Sir Thomas Clarges.
'There were Parliaments long before there were Speakers chosen; and afterwards, for the Ease of the House, among themselves they pitched upon a Speaker. Beside, I can prove not long since, that Parliaments have adjourned themselves de Die in Diem, for fourteen Days together, without any Speaker among them, and the Clerk of the House always put the Word for Adjournment. Gentlemen, all our Lives and Liberties are to be preserv'd by this House; and therefore, we are to preserve the Liberties of it.'
'If you admit this, you would admit any Thing. If Mr. Seymour be rejected from being Speaker, and no Reason given, pray who must chuse the Speaker, the King or us? It is plain, not us. I remember when Popham was chosen Speaker, he was rejected: But the Reason was given; because he had been wounded, and was sickly; and another for not being able to endure, by reason of Disability of Body: But nothing of this can be objected against Mr. Seymour; he being an approv'd Person by his Majesty the last Parliament.'
Sir Thomas Lee.
'I cannot forget how we addressed ourselves to his Majesty, as fearing his Person to be in danger, by reason of the Plots; but we receiv'd no Answer at all for a whole Week, from Monday to Monday, when we were immediately prorogued unexpectedly; and immediately after, dissolv'd as unexpectedly; and I suppose the same Persons who gave that Advice, gave this also. To except against a Speaker, without giving a Reason, is to do a Thing that may set us together by the Ears, and then they have their design'd End. But I shall not consent to part with the least Right that belongs to my Country; for which I am chosen a Representative.'
'He that advis'd this, will readily advise more, I'll warrant you. This is only a Bone cast among us. I thought we could not have oblig'd his Majesty more, than to pitch upon a Privy-Counsellor, and one in so great Favour with his Majesty, and in several great Places and Employments under him. Beside, he was yesterday at Whitehall, after we had chose him Speaker, to acquaint his Majesty with it, and then his Majesty was very well pleas'd with the Choice; and, for the Truth of this, I appeal to Mr. Seymour himself. But this ill Advice is given since, by some, I fear, too near the King. I shall not touch upon Prerogative. But let us think of Adjournment for the present.'
'This is an ominous Thing, to stumble at the Threshold, before we are in the House. But this ill Advice must proceed from some who are too near the King, and fearful we should agree. But I hope there is no Man here, a Representative of his Country, fearful of speaking his Mind freely, in favour of those whom he represents; nor yet afraid of being dissolv'd, if it be To-morrow, for maintaining the Right of those who chuse them to sit here for them. I will not invade Prerogative, neither will I give Consent to the Infringement of the least Liberty of my Country. But let us do nothing hastily: but consider Precedents, and adjourn ourselves till To-morrow Nine o'clock.'
The House applies to the King.
These Heats were so much the greater, because they reasonably supposed that it was all occasioned by the Earl of Danby, whose Power was not wholly at an end; and between whom and Mr. Seymour there was a particular Resentment. However, the sirst Thing resolved on the next Day, being Saturday, was, 'That an humble Application be made to the King, to acquaint his Majesty, that the Matter yesterday delivered by the Lord Chancellor, relating to the Speaker, is of so great Importance, that this House cannot immediately come to a Resolution therein: And therefore do humbly desire his Majesty, that he will graciously be pleased, to grant some farther Time for this House to take it into Consideration.' And they ordered the Chancellor of the Dutchy, the Lord Cavendish, the Lord Russel, and Sir Henry Capel, immediately to attend his Majesty with this Vote. Being returned in a short Time, the Lord Russel acquainted the House, that they had attended his Majesty, who was sitting in Council; and that his Majesty, as soon as he was informed they were to wait upon him from the House, immediately came out, and received them with great Chearfulness and Kindness: And having delivered their Message, his Majesty retired to the Council-Chamber, and coming out again, was pleased to return the following Answer by Word of Mouth, which they had reduced to Writing:
'I Have considered of your Message, and do consent to a farther Time, which I appoint to be on Tuesday next, unless you shall find some Expedient in the mean time; for as I would not have my Prerogative intrenched upon, so I would not do any thing against the Privileges of the House.'
The Commons Representation.
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, do with all Obedience return your Majesty most hearty Thanks for the favourable Reception, and gracious Answer your Majesty was pleased to return to our late Message; wherein your Majesty was pleased, not only to allow us longer Time, to deliberate of what was delivered to us by the Lord Chancellor, relating to the Choice of a Speaker, but likewise to express so great a Care not to infringe our Privileges. And we desire your Majesty to believe, no Subjects ever had a more tender Regard, than ourselves, to the Rights of your Majesty, and your Royal Prerogative; which we shall always acknowledge to be vested in the Crown, for the Benefit and Protection of your People. And therefore for the clearing all Doubts that may arise in your Royal Mind, upon this Occasion now before us, we crave Leave humbly to represent unto your Majesty, that it is the undoubted Right of the Commons to have the free Election of one of their Members, to be their Speaker, and to perform the Service of the House: And that the Speaker, so elected and presented according to Custom, hath, by the constant Practice of all former Ages, been continued Speaker and executed that Employment, unless such Persons have been excused for some corporal Disease, which has been alledged, either by themselves, or some others in their Behalf, in full Parliament. According to this Usage, Mr. Edward Seymour was unanimously chosen, upon the Consideration of his great Ability and Sufficiency for that Place, of which we had large Experience in the last Parliament, and was presented by us to your Majesty, as a Person we conceived would be most acceptable to your Majesty's Royal Judgment. This being the true State of the Case, we do in all Humility lay it before your Majesty's View; hoping that your Majesty, upon due Consideration of former Precedents, will rest satisfied with our Proceedings, and will not think fit to deprive us of so necessary a Member, by employing him in any other Service; but to give us such a gracious Answer, as your Majesty, and your Royal Predecessors have always done heretofore upon the like Occasions; that so we may, without more loss of Time, proceed to the Dispatch of those important Affairs, for which we were called hither: Wherein we doubt not but we shall so behave ourselves, as to give an ample Testimony to the whole World, of our Duty and Affection to your Majesty's Service, and of our Care of the Peace and Prosperity of your Kingdoms.'
The King's Answer.
The Commons Address.
'Whereas by the gracious Answer your Majesty was pleased to give to our first Message in Council, whereby your Majesty was pleased to declare a Resolution, not to infringe our just Rights and Privileges, we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Commons, were encouraged to make an humble Representation to your Majesty upon the Choice of our Speaker, which on Tuesday last was presented by some of our Members: We do, with great trouble and infinite sorrow, find by the Report made to us by those Members, at their Return, that your Majesty was pleased to give us an immediate Answer to the same, without taking any farther consideration; which, we are persuaded, if your Majesty had done, what we then offered to your Majesty would so far have prevailed upon your royal Judgment, as to have given your Majesty satisfaction in the Reasonabseness of our Desire; and preserved us in your Majesty's favourable Opinion of our Proceedings. And since we do humbly conceive, that the Occasion of this Question hath arisen from your Majesty's not being truly informed of the State of the Case; we humbly beseech your Majesty, to take the said Representation into your farther consideration, and give us such a gracious Answer, that we may be put in a capacity to manifest our Readiness, to enter into those Consultations, which necessarily tend to the Preservation and Welfare of your Majesty and your Kingdoms.'
The King prorogues the Parliament.
Upon reading this Address to the King, he immediately gave this quick and sharp Return; 'Gentlemen, I will send you an Answer to-morrow.' Accordingly, as he had often done before upon great Difficulties, he resolved to put an end to the Dispute; and on the next Morning, being Thursday the 13th of March, he came to the House of Peers, and sending for the Commons, he immediately prorogued the Parliament till the Saturday following, after the Commons had sat without a Speaker but six Days. And thus the King found a way to gain his Point, but with very little advantage to his own Business and Affairs.
The second Session. ; Serjeant Gregory chosen Speaker.
On the appointed Day, March 15th, his Majesty came to the House of Peers in his Royal Robes, and the House of Commons attending, his Majesty was pleased to put both Houses in mind of what he said to them, at the Opening of the Parliament: And then the Lord Chancellor, by the King's Command, directed the Commons to return to their House, and to proceed to the Choice of a Speaker. And, being returned, the Lord Russel put the House in mind of the King's Commands, and immediately recommended William Gregory Serjeant at Law, as a Person for his great Learning and Integrity, fit for the Employment. And Mr. Serjeant Gregory being unanimously called upon to the Chair, he in a short Speech modestly excused himself, and desired of the House, that another might be nominated; but no Excuse being admitted, he was formally conducted to the Chair, by his two intimate Friends, the Lord Russel and the Lord Cavendish, and there confirmed in the Place.
The House of Commons appeared resolved, to pursue the latter Measures taken in the former Parliament, and therefore on Wednesday the 19th of March, They resolved, 'That a Committee be appointed to inspect the Journals of the last Session of the last Parliament, and to prepare and draw up a State of the Matters then depending, and undetermined, and the Progress that was made therein.'
A Comittee of Secrecy appointed. ; A Resolution to remind the Lords, of the Impeachments against the Earl of Danby.
And on the next day, they Resolved, That a Committee of Secrecy be appointed to take Informations, and prepare Evidence, and draw up Articles against the Lords that are impeached, and that are now in the Tower, and to take such farther Informations as shall be given, relating to the Plot and Conspiracy against his Majesty and the Government, and the Murder of Sir Edmund-bury Godfrey. And then, to be yet more particular, they immediately after Resolved, that a Message be sent to the Lords to put them in mind of the Impeachment of High-Treason, exhibited against Thomas Earl of Danby, in the Names of the Commons of England; and to desire that he may be committed to safe Custody: Resolving again, that it be referred to the Committee of Secrecy, to draw up farther Articles against him. However, the Letters produced against the Earl being written by the King's particular Command, and some private Papers being necessary for his Defence, which his Majesty would not suffer to be made public; he at last resolved to adhere to the Benefit of his Pardon, and hoping his Absence might allay the Storm, thought fit to withdraw.
And that nothing might be wanting to prosecute the Plot, the Murder, and this Nobleman, all countenance was given to the Plot-Discoverers; and on the 21st of March, Dr. Tongue and Mr. Oates were called before the Commons, to give in their Informations concerning the Plot, &c. and the latter gave in an Information, not only against Thomas Earl of Danby, but also against Sir John Robinson, Colonel Edward Sackville, and Captain Henry Goreing, all three Members of the House of Commons: Which raised a new Flame in that place.
Oates and Bedloe's Informations.
On the same day, Bedloe likewise delivered in his Information; upon which the House Resolved, That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, That the five hundred Pounds Reward, promised by his Proclamation, for the Discovery of the Murder of Sir Edmund-bury Godfrey, may be forthwith paid to Mr. Bedloe, who, this House is satisfied to be the first Discoverer thereof: And that his Majesty would farther be pleased to order, that the twenty Pounds Reward, for the Discovery of every Priest, may be effectually paid to the Discoverers of them.
At the same time, in another Address, they desired his Majesty, That the Care of Mr. Bedloe's Safety may be immediately recommended to his Grace the Duke of Monmouth, which was carried up by the Lord Cavendish, Sir Henry Capell, Mr. Booth, Mr. Powle, Sir Robert Carr, Sir John Ernley, and Sir William Portman.
The King's Answer.
'That he would take immediate care for the Payment of the five hundred Pounds, and the twenty Pounds they desired: That he had hitherto taken all the care he could of Mr. Bedloe, and that he knew how considerable his Evidence was, and that he would see hereafter, that he should want for nothing: And that he would be responsible for him, whilst he remained in Whitehall; but that he could not be answerable for him when he went abroad.'
Besides these, there appear'd one Mr. Edmund Everard, a Scotch Gentleman, who had been four Years Prisoner in the Tower, who, as Mr. Echard phrases it, making some old Discoveries, was encouraged, as Oates before him, to put the whole into a formal Narrative.
The Plot voted to be real. ; An Address for a Fast.
Upon the whole, they came to this unanimous grand Resolve, something like that in the last Parliament, viz. 'The House doth declare, that they are fully satisfied by the Proofs they have heard, that there now is, and, for diver Years last past, hath been, a horrid and treasorable Plot and Conspiracy, contrived and carried on by those of the Popish Religion, for the murdering his Majesty's sacred Person, and for subverting the Protestant Religion, and the ancient and wellestablished Government of this Kingdom.' To this Vote they desired the Concurrence of the Lords, as they likewise did to a particular Address to his Majesty for appointing a solemn Day of Humiliation; 'being deeply sensible of the sad and calamitous Condition of your Majesty's Kingdom, occasioned chiefly by impious and malicious Conspiracies of a Popish Party, who have not only plotted and intended the Destruction of your Majesty's Royal Person, but the total Subversion of the Government, and true Religion established among us.'
'That we may, by Fasting and Prayer, and with humble and penitent Hearts, seek Reconciliation with Almighty God, and implore him by his Power and Goodness, to infatuate and defeat the wicked Counsels and Imaginations of our Enemies, and continue his Mercies and the Light of his Gospel to us and our Posterities; and particularly, to bestow his abundant Blessings upon your sacred Majesty, and this present Parliament, &c.
A general Fast proclaimed.
Accordingly his Majesty commanded a general and public Fast, to be kept throughout the Kingdom on the 11th of April, beginning his Proclamation for it, as he generally did upon such an Occasion, with mentioning and alledging the Desire of the Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled.'
During this Height of Zeal, the Commons, on March 22d, ordered a Bill to be brought in, to secure, the King and Kingdom against the Danger and Growth of Popery. And being commanded, at the same time, to attend his Majesty in the House of Peers, the King spoke to them in favour of the Earl of Danby: but returning to their House, they presently Resolved,
A Message against Lord Danby.
'That a Message be immediately sent to the Lords, to remind their Lordships of the last Message sent them from this House, relating to Thomas Earl of Danby; and to demand that he may be forthwith sequestred from Parliament, and committed to safe Custody.'
Upon which extraordinary Request, the Lords desired a present Conference: But the Commons returned answer, 'That it was not agreeable to the Usage and Proceedings of Parliament, for either House to send for a Conference, without expressing the subject Matter of it.'
A Conference about him.
'I am commanded by the Lords to acquaint you, that their Lordships, having taken into their Consideration Matters relating to the Earl of Danby, together with what his Majesty was pleased to say upon that Subject, have ordered that a Bill be brought in, by which Thomas Earl of Danby may be made for ever incapable of coming into his Majesty's Presence, and of all Offices and Employments, and of receiving any Gifts or Grants from the Crown, and of sitting in the House of Peers.
In the mean time, the Commons, hearing that the King had signed a Pardon for the Earl, appointed a Committee to repair to the several Offices, (at neither of which no Entry of it had been made) and particularly to the Lord-Chancellor, to enquire into the Manner of suing out that Pardon.
The Lord Chancellor's Account of the Pardon granted that Lord.
Whereupon the Lord-Chancellor, (after premising, that he neither advis'd, drew, or alter'd it) informed the Committee, 'That the Pardon was passed with the utmost Privacy, at the Desire of the Earl, who gave this Reason for it, That he did not intend to make use of it, but to stand upon his Innocence, except false Witnesses should be produced against him; and then he would make use of it at the last Extremity. That he advised the Earl to let the Pardon pass in the regular Course; but, after consulting with the King, his Majesty declared he was resolved to let it pass with, allprivacy: And, suddenly after, the King commanded the Lord-Chancellor to bring the Seal from Whitehall, and, being there, he laid it upon the Table; thereupon his Majesty commanded the Seal to be taken out of the Bag, which his Lordship was obliged to submit unto, it not being in his power to hinder it; and the King wrote his Name upon the Top of the Parchment, and then directed to have it sealed: whereupon the Person that usually carried the Purse, affixed the Seal to it.' The Chancellor added, 'That, at the very Time of affixing the Seal to the Parchment, he did not look upon himself to have the Custody of the Seal.
Mr. Powle's Speech against him. ; The House resolve to demand Justice against him, and declare his Pardon illegal.
'The Person to whom we owe the Dangers and Fears of the French King against us: The Person to whom we owe the Threats and severe Answers to those humble Addresses we made the last Session of Parliament: The Person to whom we owe the Ruin of this Nation, and exhausting the King's Revenue: The Person to whom we owe the Expence of two hundred thousand Pounds a Year unaccounted for: The Person to whom we owe the raising of a Standing-Army, to be kept up by the Receipt of six Millions of Livres Yearly, for three Years, to enslave us and our Religion: The Person to whom we owe the late Bone that was thrown in on the Sitting of the last Parliament, to hinder the good Issue that might have come by their Proceedings; who is now laying down his Staff, and making up his Accounts in the Treasury as he pleases, to en rich himself out of the Spoils of the People, and so depart.' At the Conclusion of the Debate, Resolved nem con. 'That a Message be sent to the Lords to demand Justice, in the Name of the Commons of England, against Thomas Earl of Danby; and that he may be immediately sequestered from Parliament, and committed to safe Custody. They likewise Resolved, That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, representing to his Majesty, the Irregularity and Illegality of the Pardon, mentioned by his Majesty to be granted to the Earl of Danby, and the dangerous Consequence of granting Pardons, to any Persons that lie under an Impeachment of the Commons of England.'
The Lords acquaint the Commons that Lord Danby had made his Escape. ; The Commons resolve to attaint the Earl of Danby. ; Bedloe's Narrative of the ill Usage he receiv'd from him. ; And Oates's. ; Colonel Sackville expell'd.
Mar. 25. The Lords sent a Message to acquaint the House of Commons, 'That they had sent to apprehend Thomas Earl of Danby both to his House here in Town, and to his House at Wimbleton; and that the Gentleman-Usher of the Black Rod had returned their Lordships Answer, that he could not be found?' Whereupon the Commons resolving not to be defeated, ordered, 'That a Bill be brought in to summon Thomas Earl of Danby, to render himself to Justice by a certain Day, to be therein limited; or in default thereof, to attaint him.' Then to render him more obnoxious, Bedloe came before the House, and made a great complaint of the harsh Usage and Discouragements he had met with from the Earl, when Treasurer; setting forth upon Oath, 'That, going to him for some Money, by virtue of an Order from the Council, his Lordship took him into his Closet, and asked him, whether the Duke of Buckingham, or Lord Shaftesbury, or any of the Members of the House of Commons, had desired him to say any thing against him, and to tell him who they were, and he would well reward him; and to know if he would desist from giving Evidence against the—and the Lords in the Tower, &c. To which Bedloe, answered, that he had once been an ill Man, but desired to be so no more. To which the Earl replied, you may have a great Sum of Money, and live in another Country, as Geneva, Sweden, or New-England; and should have what Money he would ask to maintain him there. But He, Bedloe, refusing all such Temptations, his Lordship began to threaten him, saying, There was a Boat and a Yacht to carry him far enough from telling of Tales: And after this, the Guards were as Spies upon him, and he was very ill used, till by their Address to the King the same was remedied, and better care was taken.' And at the same time appeared Oates in the House, who declared, 'That, being one day in the Privy Garden, the Earl of Danby passing by, reflected upon him, and said, There goes one of the Saviours of England, but I hope to see him hanged within a Month.' And likewise, at the same time, Oates gave his Testimony against Colonel Sackville, a Member of the House formerly mentioned, declaring that he said. That they were Sons of Whores, who said there was a Plot, and that he was a lying Rogue that said it.' Whereupon the Colonel was immediately sent to the Tower, and ordered to be expelled the House, with a Petition to the King to be made incapable of bearing any Office. But in a short time, upon his Submission, he was discharged from his Imprisonment, but not restored to his Seat in the House.
A Conference about the Earl of Danby.
On the 4th of April, there was a Conference between the two Houses, in the painted Chamber, concerning the Bill sent up against the Earl of Danby; where the Earl of Anglesey, Lord Privy Seal, delivered himself to this effect, being the chief Manager for the Peers;
The Bill against him return'd by the Lords, with Amendments.
'That the Lords chose to deliver back this Bill by Conference, rather than Message, to preserve a good Understanding, and prevent Debate and Controversy between them. The Lords observe, that the greatest Affairs of the Nation are at a stand, at a time of the greatest Danger and Difficulty, that this Kingdom ever laboured under: That the King hath always in his Reign inclined to Mercy and Clemency to all his Subjects: Therefore to a King so merciful and compassonate, the first Interruption of his Clemency they did desire should not proceed from the two Houses pressing the King to an Act of the greatest Severity; therefore they have passed the Bill with some Amendments, which he delivered to them.'
The Commons Objections.
'The Addition of the Title does shew, that the Amendments made by your Lordships to the Bill do wholly alter the Nature of it, and from a Bill of Attainder have converted it to a Bill of Banishment, which the Commons cannot consent to for these Reasons:
1st, That Banishment is not the legal Judgment in Cases of High-Treason; and the Earl of Danby being impeached by the Commons of High-Treason, and sled from Justice, hath hereby confessed the Charge, and therefore ought to have the Judgment of High-Treason for the Punishment.
2d, That Banishment being not the Punishment the Law inflicts upon those Crimes, the Earl of Danby might make use of this Remission of his Sentence as an Argument, That either the Commons were distrustful of their Proofs against him, or else that the Crimes are not in themselves of so high a nature as Treason.
3d, That the Example of this would be an encouragement to all Persons that should be hereafter impeached by the Commons, to withdraw themselves from Justice, which they would be always ready to do, if not prevented by a Commitment upon their Impeachment, and therefore hope to obtain a more favourable Sentence in a legislative way, than your Lordships would be obliged to pass upon them in your judicial Capacity.
An Address for a Proclamation to apprehend Lord Danby.
Upon the reading of this Paper, they immediately resolved, that an Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would issue out his Royal Proclamation for apprehending of Thomas Earl of Danby; and to command all Ministers of Justice to use Diligence to apprehend him, and to forbid all Subjects to harbour him; and to require all Officers of the Houshold to take care that no Person suffer him to conceal himself in any of the King's Palaces.
A second Conference. ; A third and free Conference.
'The Lords have desired this Conference with the Commons, not so much to argue and dispute, as to mitigate and reconcile: They have already observed, That the Debates of this Bill have given too long, and too great an Obstruction to public Business; and therefore they desire you to believe, that that is the reason which hath chiefly prevailed with their Lordships in a matter of this nature. And upon this ground it is, that if a way may be found to satisfy and secure the public Fears, by doing less than the Bill you have proposed, the Lords do not think it adviseable to insist upon the utmost and most rigorous Satisfaction to public Justice, which might be demanded. To induce you to this Compliance, the Lords do acknowledge, that Banishment is so far from being the legal Judgment in case of High-Treason, that it is not the legal Judgment in any case whatsoever, since it can never be inflicted but by the legislative Authority: But they see no reason why the legislative Authority should always be bound to act to the utmost extent of its Power; for there may be a prudential Necessity sometimes of making Abatements, and it might be of fatal consequence, if it should not be so. And the Lords, to remove all Jealousies of the Precedents of this kind, do declare, that nothing which hath been done in the Earl of Danby's case, shall ever be drawn into Example for the time to come, and will so enter it upon their Journal. And thereupon their Lordships insist upon their Amendments, so far, as to exclude all Attainders; and do promise themselves the Commons will in this Point comply with their Lordships, who do again as sure them, That their Resolutions are grounded only upon their Tenderness, and the Consideration of the Public.'
A third and free Conference.
'That the House of Commons might see by the present quick free Conference, which the Lords desired, that their Lordships did shew their willingness, by using all means possible, to reconcile both Houses, and to come to such an Understanding, as to pass the Bill with all Expedition. He owned the Cogency of the Commons Reasons, and therefore the Lords were content to make the Bill absolute, without giving the Lord Danby any day to appear, and the Penalties to continue. He observed, that, by the passing of this Bill, he would not only be ruined, together with his Family, but likewise those Acquisitions which he got by the Marriage into a noble Family, would be lost. And if the House of Commons would have any other Penalties added to the Bill, their Lordships would leave it to them, provided they run not to the absolute Destruction of the Lord impeached.' He took notice. 'That altho' Reason and Justice were of the Commons side, yet in a legislative Capacity, they were to consider Circumstances with relation to the good of the Public. That in this Affair they had gained two great Points; the first was, 'That Impeachments made by the Commons in one Parliament, continue from Session to Session, and Parliament to Parliament, notwithstanding Prorogations or Dissolutions: The other Point was, That in Cases of Impeachment upon special Matter shewn, if the Modesty of the Party impeached directs him not to withdraw, the Lords admit that of right they order him to withdraw, and that afterwards he must be committed. But without special Matter alledged, he said, he did not know how many of their Lordships might be picked out of the House of a sudden.'
'They were as willing to be rid of the Earl of Danby, as the Commons; but he let them know, That the Expression which was sent with Reasons from the Lords the other day, namely, That the Lords would not draw into Example the Proceedings of the Earl of Danby, but would vacate them; they intended that to extend only to the Points of not withdrawing and not committing. He likewise declared, That the way now proposed would be a means to have the Bill pass; for the Commons might have other Penalties if they would, as Confiscation of Estate, Loss of Honours, &c. Therefore he desired the Commons to consider, that there were weighty Reasons, which were better understood than expressed, that proved it necessary for the good of the Public, that this Bill should speedily pass.'
The Commons replied, 'That they hoped their Lordships did not think, they took it as if they had now gained any Point; for the Points, which their Lordships mentioned as gained, were nothing but what was agreeable to the ancient Course and Methods of Parliament.'
'They hoped that their Lordships, who are Judges for the Kingdom, and not only for themselves, will follow the Example of their Ancestors, and proceed by Rules of Law, which are to guide in passing Acts of Parliament, as well as in the ordinary Course of Judicature.'
Sir F. Winnington.
'2. Though we thirst not after Blood, and might have consented to a Bill that gave him not Advantage instead of Punishment, as this by the Amendments would do; yet, as it is, we cannot consent for that Reason.
'5. This would shew as if different Degrees of Persons should have different Degrees of Justice. Would your Lordships so make Provision for a flying Commoner? Besides, this is not the Flight of an innocent Moses from the Egyptians, but of a wicked Cain out of the sense of his Guilt.'
'It is but a Bill of Summons, to keep him from perfecting his Treasons abroad, and continuing his Enmity to his Country; but, as your Lordships have made it, it is an Act of Indemnity and Safety to him; giving him leave to go to repair the little Loss he is under here, by the Favour of those beyond Sea, whom he hath served against his Country.'
Mr. Vaughan concluded, saying; 'That Justice should have its Course, is the prime Consideration: The Earl stops all himself, therefore he should not have benefit thereby, but ought to find that Justice will be too hard for his Evasions.'
Then they delivered the Bill again to the Lords, with their Amendments, with Expression of Hopes and Desire of their Concurrence with them, that Justice may have its course, and the great Affairs of Parliament be no longer obstructed, by spending more Time on him, who hath brought the Kingdom into so sad a Condition.
The Attainder Bill passes against him.
And thus they so immoveably adhered to their own Bill of Attainder, that, within two or three days time, the Lords thought fit to give way to the Heat of the Season, and passed the Bill, in which the 21st of April was appointed for the Earl's surrendring himself to trial.
The Earl surrenders himself.
[The Earl finding himself reduced to this Extremity, rather than risk the Mischiefs that might happen to himself, or to the King, if he should refuse to pass the Bill, on the 15th of April surrendered himself to the Usher of the BlackRod, which was signify'd to the Commons, the next Day.]
The five Popish Lords put in their Answers.
The 16th, The House was inform'd by a Message from the Lords, That all the five Peers, lately committed to the Tower, had brought their Answers to the Impeachments against them, in Person, except the Lord Bellasis. Upon which a Debate arose, Whether the said Lord Bellasis, having not in Person deliver'd his Answer, was actually and legally arraign'd. And a Committee was order'd to inspect the Entries that had been made in the Lords Journals touching the Appearance and Arraignment of the five Lords, and give in their Report the next Day.
A Supply voted.
The same day, The House Resolved, That a Supply should be granted to his Majesty of 206,462 l. 17s. 3d. for the paying off, and dismissing all the Forces then in Arms, rais'd or brought over from foreign Parts, to be rais'd by six Months Tax.
The next day, a Clause was order'd to be added to the said Resolution, to appropriate the Money to that Use only, with Penalties upon such Persons as should direct the same: And, a Motion being made, That the said Supply should be paid into the Exchequer, the House divided, and it pass'd in the Affirmative, Noes 131, Yeas 191.
Mr. Hampden' Report of the Contents of the Lords Journals, relating to the five popish Lords.
That April 8. The Lord Shaftsbury reported from the Committee of Privileges, That their Lordships were of Opinion, that the Lords now Prisoners, ought to be brought to the Bar, and kneel there, and then stand up, and hear the Articles against them read. Which was order'd by the House accordingly.
That April 9. The Lords Powis, Stafford, Petre, and Arundel of Wardour did appear at the Bar of the House, where they heard the Articles against them read, and were told, his Majesty would appoint a Lord High-Steward for their Trials.
That, then, the Lords, having put in several Requests, withdrew, and, being call'd in again, were told by the LordChancellor, That the House had order'd the several Indictments brought against them by the Grand Jury, should be brought into that Court by Writ of Certiorari, that their Lordships should be allow'd Copies of the Articles against them, that till the 15th would be given them for their Answers, and farther Time, in case any new Articles were alledg'd; with Liberty to take out Copies of Records, Journals, &c.
That, then, they find notice taken, that Lord Bellafis had not appear'd at the Bar. And that Thomas Plessington, and Robert Dent, being sworn, had attested that his Lordship was so ill of the Gout, that he could not turn in his Bed without Help: Which reasonable Excuse being allow'd, the said Thomas Plessington, in behalf of his Lordship, desir'd a Copy of the Articles exhibited against his Lordship, with Council, &c. which Particulars were all granted.
That April 15. being appointed for the said Lords, to put in their Answers, they were order'd to be brought to the Bar of the House, for that Purpose, and that Lord Bellasis was permitted to deliver in his Answer in Writing.
The Commons, then, order'd the Answers of the said Lords, to be inspected by the Committee of Secrecy: Who were farther to consider the Methods of Proceeding upon Impeachments, and give in their Report accordingly.
The King's Speech to the Parliament, on declaring a new Privy-Council.
'I Thought it necessary to acquaint you what I have done this Day; which is, that I have establish'd a new PrivyCouncil, the constant Number of which, shall never exceed Thirty. I have made choice of such Persons as are worthy and able to advise me; and am resolv'd in all my weighty and important Affairs, next to the Advice of my great Council in Parliament, which I shall often consult with, to be advis'd by this Privy-Council. I could not make so great a Change without acquainting both Houses of Parliament: And I desire you all to apply yourselves heartily, as I shall do, to those Things which are necessary for the Good and Safety of the Kingdom, and that no Time may be lost in it.'
Sir John Trevor's Report, from the Committee, concerning the Answers of the Lords.
'That the several Writings, put in by the Lords Powis, Stafford, and Arundel of Wardour, are not Pleas, and Answers, but argumentative, evasive; and, to which the Commons neither can, or ought to reply.
'That the Commons do demand of the Lords, that their Lordships would forthwith order the said Lords to put in their perfect Answers; or, in default thereof, that the Commons may have Justice against them.'
A short Day required for the 5 Lords to put in their Answers.
The next day, the said Report being approv'd by the House, a Conference was desir'd with the Lords, at which, the Answers of the five Peers were return'd, together with the Reasons of the Commons for their Insufficiency: To which was added by Order that the House desir'd their Lordships would appoint a short Day for the said Peers to put in their effectual Answers.
Lord Danby's Plea, and Lord Bellasis's Answer, sent down to the Commons.
The 25th. The Lords, by Message, acquainted the House, that the Earl of Danby had put in his Plea, and the Lord Bellasis his Answer, in Person, at the Bar of the House of Lords; which said Plea, and Answer, the Lords sent down at the same time, desiring they might be return'd with all convenient Speed.
Mr. Rigby's Report, from the Committee appointed to enquire into the late Fires, &c.
'That on the 24th of Feb. about midnight, a Fire broke out at one Mr. Bird's in Fetter-Lane; which was discover'd by the Watch. That a Servant of the said Bird's, one Elizabeth Oxley, at the same time, came to her Master's Chamber, with an Alarm of Fire, which was soon after found to have begun in a Closet full of Books and Papers; tho' all was safe there, when the said Bird went to Bed. That, after the Fire was extinguish'd, Mrs. Bird going up into her Servant's Room, to see if all was safe there, found the Clothes of her two Maids ready bundled up, with other corresponding Circumstances; which creating some Suspicion, the said Bird secur'd the said Oxley, in order for Examination the next Day, (his other Maid, utterly denying all Knowledge of the bundling up the Clothes, &c.) That, accordingly being examin'd, the said Oxley confess'd her setting fire to the Papers in the Closet after the Family was asleep: That she did it at the Instigation of one Stubbs, a Papist, who gave her Half-aCrown in Hand, &c. with a Promise of 5 l. more.
'That the said Stubbs, being taken into Custody, and examin'd, did confirm all that Oxley had advanc'd; adding farther, that he was employ'd in the Business by one Father Gifford, a Priest, who held it was no Sin to burn the Houses of Heretics. That he had drawn in several to be his Accomplices: That he was to receive 100 l. of the said Gifford, who was to be supply'd with the Money, by the Church . . . That the said Stubbs, moreover, confess'd several other Particulars relating to a general Massacre of the Protestants, which was to be cover'd by an Invasion from France: That he expected to be made an Abbot or Bishop for his good Services: That he had been taught, 'twas no more Sin to kill a Heretic, than a Dog: That he was sworn to Secrecy: That he was told he should be damn'd if he made a Discovery; and, that when all their Forces met, in the middle of June, the Word was, Have at the King.'
The House then resolv'd that an Address should be presented to his Majesty, for a Pardon for the said Stubbs, and Oxley, in Consideration of the Discovery they had made: As, likewise for a Proclamation, requiring the Persons nam'd by the said Stubbs, as Accomplices, to render themselves at a short day.
The Lords Stafford, Arundel, and Powis, retract their Pleas, and send in others.
The same Day, The Lords, by Message, acquainted the House, that the Lords Stafford, Arundel of Wardour, and Powis, had that day retracted their former Pleas, and put in others, which were sent down with a Request, that they might be return'd with all convenient Speed.
The grand Resolve, relating to the Duke of York.
The 27th, being Sunday, the House Resolved, nem. con. That the Duke of York's being a Papist, and the Hopes of his coming such to the Crown, has given the greatest Countenance and Encouragement to the present Conspiracies and Designs of the Papists, against the King and Protestant Religion. To which, the Concurrence of the Lords was desired.
The Report of the Committee appointed to inspect the Earl of Danby's Plea of Pardon.
'3. That by what Means it was obtained, the Time allowed the Committee hath been so short, that we cannot as yet discover the Advisers or Promoters thereof, any farther than what is mentioned in the said Report, relating to the Lord-Chancellor.'
The King's Answer to the Address for the executing certain Priests.
'I have always been tender in Matters of Blood, which my Subjects have no reason to take exception at: But this is a Matter of great weight, I shall therefore consider of it, and return you an Answer.'
After which, several Things being prepared by the new Privy-Council, (which the King had lately established, in compliance with the Temper of the Times) in order to case the Minds of the People, now variously agitated,
The King's second Speech to both Houses.
'And to shew you, that whilst you are doing your Parts, my Thoughts have not been misemployed; but that it is my constant Care to do every Thing that may preserve your Religion, and secure it for the future in all Events, I have commanded my Lord-Chancellor to mention several Particulars: which I hope will be an Evidence, that in all Things that concern the public Security, I shall not follow your Zeal, but lead it.'
The Lord-Chancellor's second Speech.
'My Lords, and you the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the House of Commons, That Royal Care which his Majesty hath taken for the general Quiet and Satisfaction of all his Subjects, is now more evident by these new and fresh Instances of it, which I have in command to open to you. His Majesty hath considered with himself, that it is not enough that your Religion and Liberty is secure during his own Reign, but he thinks he owes it to his People to do all that in him lies, that these Blessings may be transmitted to your Posterity, and so well secured to them, that no Succession in After-Ages may be able to work the least Alteration. And therefore his Majesty, who hath often said in this Place, That he is ready to consent to any Laws of this Kind, so that the same extend not to alter the Descent of the Crown in the right Line, nor to defeat the Succession, hath now commanded, this to be farther explained.
'And to the end it may never be in the power of any Papist, if the Crown descend upon him, to make any Change either in Church or State; I am commanded to tell you, that his Majesty is willing that Provision may be made, first to distinguish a Papist from a Protestant Successor; then to limit and circumscribe the Authority of a popish Successor, in these Cases following, that he may be disabled to do any Harm: First, in reference to the Church; his Majesty is content that care be taken, that all ecclesiastical and spiritual Benefices and Promotions in the Gift of the Crown, may be conferred in such a Manner, that we may be sure the Incumbents shall be always of the most pious and learned Protestants: And that no popish Successor, while he continues so, may have any Power to control such Presentments. In reference to the State, and Civil Part of the Government; as it is already provided, That no Papist can fit in either House of Parliament; so the King is pleased that it be provided too, that there may never want a Parliament, when the King shall happen to die, but that the Parliament then in being may continue indissolvable for a competent Time; or if there be no Parliament in being, then the last Parliament which was in being before that Time, may re-assemble, and sit a competent Time, without any new Summons, or Elections. And as no Papist can by Law hold any Place of Trust, so the King is content that it may be farther provided, that no Lords or others of the Privy-Council, no Judges of the Common-Law, or in Chancery, shall at any Time, during the Reign of a Popish Successor, be put in, or displaced, but by the Authority of Parliament: And that care be taken, that none but sincere Protestants may be Justices of the Peace. In reference to the military Part, the King is willing that no Lord-Lieutenant, or Deputy-Lieutenant, nor no Officer in the Navy, during the Reign of any popish Successor, be put out or removed, but either by the Authority of Parliament, or of such Persons as the Parliament shall intrust with such Authority.
'It is hard to invent another Restraint to be put upon a Popish Successor, considering how much the Revenue of the Successor will depend upon the Consent of Parliament, and how impossible it is to raise Money without such Consent. But yet, if any thing else can occur to the Wisdom of the Parliament, which may farther secure Religion and Liberty against a Popish Successor, without defeating the Right of Succession itself, his Majesty will most readily consent to it. Thus watchful is the King for all your Safety; and, if he could think of any thing else, that you do either want or wish to make you happy, he would make it his Business to effect it to you. God Almighty long continue this blessed Union between the King and his Parliament and People.'
A Committee appointed to consider, what Part of the last Supply is undispos'd of, ; A Bill to vacate the Election of Placemen.
May 1. the Commons revived a Committee, formerly appointed to consider what part of the Money given for disbanding the Army is yet undisposed of, and remaining in the Exchequer; being still apprehensive of the Corruptions of the Earl of Danby. But to shew a personal Concern for their Sovereign at the same Time, they fell upon the farther Consideration of securing and preserving the King, and the Protestant Religion, against the Attempts of the Papists, both in the Reign of his Majesty and his Successors. They also read, at the same Time, a Bill for better Prevention of illegal Exaction of Money from the Subjects; and ordered, that Leave be given to bring in a Bill, 'That when any Member of this House is preferred to any Office or Place of Profit, a new Writ shall immediately issue out for electing a Member to serve in his stead.
Report of the Committee above-mention'd.
The 2d, the Committee for inspecting what Part of the Supply for the disbanding the Army remain'd undispos'd of, reported that on the Evidence of Sir R. Howard, (Auditor of the Exchequer) 40 or 45,000 l. is or ought to be yet in the Exchequer.
Lord Danby's Pardon voted illegal, and void.
Still the Earl of Danby was one of their chief Grievances, and his Pardon (which by the Advice of his Council he resolved to abide by) a very great Vexation; therefore on the 5th of May they resolved, that it was the Opinion of this House, that the Pardon pleaded by the Earl of Danby was illegal and void, and ought not to be allowed in bar of the Impeachment of the Commons of England.
The King's Message.
The same Day, his Majesty sent a Message to the Commons, by Lord Russel, one of his new Privy-Council, who acquainted the House, 'That his Majesty commanded him to let the House know, that his Majesty is willing to comply with the Request made to him by the House concerning Pickering, and that the Law shall pass upon him accordingly. As to the condemned Priests, the House of Peers have sent for them, in order, as his Majesty conceives, to some Examinations. And farther to acquaint you, that he repeateth his Instances to you, to think of putting the Fleet in such a Posture, as may quiet Mens Fears, and at least secure us from any sudden Attempt; which his Majesty doubts not but you will do. And tho the Streights and Difficulties he lieth under are very great, he doth not intend, during this Session, to press for any farther Supply; being willing rather to suffer the Burdens that are upon him some time longer, than to interrupt you whilst you are employed about the Discovery of the Plot, the Trial of the Lords, and the Bill for securing of our Religion. After which Mr. Speaker, with the whole House, went up to the Lords Bar, and demanded Judgment against the Earl of Danby in these Words:
Judgment demanded against Lord Danby.
'My Lords, The Knights, Citizens and Burgesses, in Parliament assembled, are come up to demand Judgment, in their own Names, and the Names of all the Commons of England, against Thomas Earl of Danby, who stands impeached by them before your Lordships of High-Treason, and divers high Crimes and Misdemeanors; to which he has pleaded a Pardon; which Pardon the Commons conceive to be illegal and void; and therefore they do demand Judgment of your Lordships accordingly.'
A Message from the Lords.
'Mr. Speaker, we are commanded by the Lords to acquaint this House with an Order yesterday made concerning the Earl of Danby, viz. Whereas the Earl of Danby hath adhered to the Plea of his Pardon, and prayed to be heard by his Council, to make good the Validity of his Pardon: And whereas the Commons have by their Speaker, in proper Person, demanded Judgment against the Earl, as conceiving his Pardon to be illegal and void; It is ordered by the Lords spiritual and temporal, in Parliament assembled, that Saturday the tenth Instant, be appointed for hearing the Earl of Danby to make good his Plea. And farther to acquaint you, that the Lords spiritual and temporal have yesterday resolved, that the five Lords in the Tower, William Earl of Powis, William Viscount Stafford, William Lord Petre, Henry Lord Arundel of Wardour, and John Lord Bellasis, shall be brought to their Trials, upon Wednesday the fourteenth of this Month; and likewise, that the Lords have address'd his Majesty to appoint a Lord High Steward.'
Their Address against the Duke of Lauderdale.
'We your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, finding your Majesty's Kingdoms involved in imminent Dangers, and great Difficulties, by the evil Designs and pernicious Councils of some who have been, and are in high Place, and Trust and Authority about your royal Person; who, contrary to the Duty of their Places, by their arbitrary and destructive Counsels, tending to the Subversion of the Rights, Liberties and Properties of your Subjects, and the Alteration of the Protestant Religion established, have endeavoured to alienate the Hearts of your loyal Subjects, from your Majesty and your Government. Amongst whom we have just Reason to accuse John Duke of Lauderdale, for a chief Promoter of such Counsels; and more particularly for contriving and endeavouring to raise Jealousies and Misunderstandings between your Majesty's Kingdoms of England and Scotland; whereby Hostilities might have ensued, and may arise, between both Nations, it not prevented. Wherefore, we your Majesty's loyal Subjects, could not but be sensibly affected with Trouble, to find such a Person (notwithstanding the repeated Addresses of the last Parliament) continued in your Councils at this Time, when the Affairs of your Kingdom require none to be put into such Employments, but such as are of known Abilities, Interest and Esteem, in the Nation, without all Suspicion of either mistaking or betraying the true Interest of the Kingdom, and consequently of advising your Majesty ill. We do therefore most humbly beseech your most sacred Majesty, for taking away the great Jealousies, Dissatisfactions, and Fears among your good Subjects, that your Majesty will graciously be pleased, to remove the Duke of Lauderdale from your Majesty's Councils, in your Kingdoms of England and Scotland, and from all Offices, Employments, and Places of Trust, and from your Majesty's Presence for ever.'
The same Day, the House took into Consideration the Amendments made by the Lords, to the Bill for granting a Supply to his Majesty of 206, 462 l. 17 s. 3 d. for paying off and disbanding the Forces raised since the 29th of September, 1677. And the first, second, third, fourth and fifth Amendments, being twice read, were upon the Question severally agreed: The sixth and seventh Amendment (for leaving out John Lord Ross, Son and Heir apparent to the Earl of Rutland) being read a second Time, and the Lord Ross having been called up to the House of Peers, since the Bill was sent up to the House of Lords; Resolved, That the House doth not agree with the Lords in the said Amendments. The rest of the Amendments, to the hundredth and second Skin, sixth Line, being twice read, were upon the Question severally agreed. The Amendment in the hundredth and second Skin, sixth Line, being read a second Time, and the Question being put for agreeing with the Lords in that Amendment, it passed in the Negative. The rest of the Amendments to the End of the Bill, being twice read, were upon the Question severally agreed. The two Clauses to be added at the End of the Bill, being twice read, and the Question being severally put, to agree with the Lords in the said Clauses, it passed in the Negative.
Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to draw up Reasons, to be delivered at a Conference to be had with the Lords, why the House have disagreed with their Lordships, in several of their Amendments, to the Bill for paying off and disbanding the Army.
Sir Thomas Clarges's Report from the Committee appointed to inspect the Lords Journals.
Sir John Trevor's Report, relating to the Amendments made by the Lords, to the Bill for disbanding the Army.
The same Day, Sir John Trevor, likewise, gave in his Report of the Reasons prepar'd by the Committee, why this House cannot agree to the Amendments, made by the Lords, to the Bill for disbanding the Army, which were to the following Effect:
'That the Commons look upon the first Clause, that they dissent from as unnecessary, because the Bill has a relative Clause to the Act for building the Ships, wherein the Clause, desired by their Lordships, is enacted.
'That the Amendments relating to Guernsey and Jersey, is such a Disposition of Money, as the Commons have great Reason to be tender of from past Experience. It alters the Bill in several Parts, and would be of dangerous Consequence if admitted.
'That the 50000 l. in the last Amendment is already appropriated to the paying off and disbanding the Army; and so there needs no such Clause: and the altering of such Appropriations by a subsequent Act, would destroy the Credit of any Appropriation to be hereafter made by Parliament.'
A Committee appointed to draw up Heads for a Conference with the Lords.
A Committee was then appointed to draw up Heads for a Conference to be had with the Lords, on the Message relating to Lord Danby, and the other Lords impeach'd, who the same Day gave in their Report as follows:
'That the Commons suppose your Lordships intend in all your Proceedings, upon the Impeachments now depending, to follow the usual Course and Methods of Parliament; and the Commons cannot apprehend what should induce your Lordships to address his Majesty for a Lord High Steward, to determine the Validity of the Pardon which has been pleaded by the Earl of Danby, to the Impeachment of the Commons; as also, for the Trial of the other Lords: Because we conceive the constituting of a High Steward is not necessary; but that Judgment may be given in Parliament upon Impeachments, without a High Steward.
'There being several other Matters contain'd in your Lordships Message, touching the Trial of the Lords impeached; which, if not settled, may occasion several Interruptions and Delays in the Proceedings: The House of Commons do therefore propose, that a Committee of both Houses may be appointed to consider of the most proper Ways and Methods of proceeding upon Impeachments of the House of Commons, according to the Usage of Parliament; that, thereby, those Inconveniencies may be avoided.'
The Lords drop their Amendments to the Bill for a Supply.
They refuse to join in a Committee of both Houses.
'That the Lords do not agree to a Committee of both Houses, because they do not think it conformable to the Rules and Orders of Proceedings of this Court, which is, and ever must be tender in Matters relating to their Judicature.
The Commons address the King, to raise the Militia round London, in which the Lords concur.
It was then resolv'd, that his Majesty should be address'd to order the Militia of London, Westminster, Southwark, the Tower-Hamlets, Middlesex and Surry, may be immediately rais'd, &c. and that two Companies of the Westminster Train'd-Bands may be put in Arms to-morrow Morning: which being the next Day drawn up in Form, was sent up to the Lords, who gave their Concurrence to it unanimously.
Several warm Resolutions.
The same Day the House resolv'd, 'That no Commoner whatsoever should presume to maintain the Validity of the Pardon pleaded by the Earl of Danby, without the Consent of this House; and that the Persons so doing, shall be accounted Betrayers of the Liberties of the Commons of England.
'That this Vote be posted up at Westminster-Hall-Gate, at the several Gates of Serjeant's-Inn, and other Inns of Court; and that the Answer deliver'd by the Lords this Day, at the last Conference, tends to the Interruption of the good Correspondency between the two Houses.'
Reasons to be offered to the Lords at a Conference.
The 10th, Mr. Hampden made his Report from the Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be offer'd at a Conference with the Lords upon the Subject Matter of the last, which were to the following Effect:
'The Commons, hoping this Conference will prevent all Misunderstandings between the two Houses, at this Conjuncture so especially to be avoided, when the most heinous Delinquents are to be brought to Justice; and when the Enemies of both King and Kingdom ought to have no Hopes left them to see this obstructed by any Difficulties in the Proceedings, have commanded us to say this to your Lordships:
'That your Lordships do not offer any Answer or Satisfaction to the Commons in their necessary Proposals, amicably offered by way of Supposition, that they might have been confirm'd therein, by Answer from your Lordships, that your Lordships do intend, in all your Proceedings upon the Impeachments now depending before your Lordships to follow the usual Course and Methods of Parliament.
'And farther, that your Lordships have not given the least Answer or Satisfaction to the Commons concerning a Lord High Steward, tho' the Commons propos'd their Desire of Satisfaction in that Matter in as cautious Terms as could be, on purpose to avoid all Disputes about Judicatures.'
'The Commons, to avoid Delays and Interruptions, propos'd to your Lordships that a Committee of both Houses might be nominated to consider of the most proper Ways of proceeding upon Impeachments. Your Lordships, without any Reason assign'd (save only that you say you do not think it conformable to the Rules and Proceedings of this Court) have refus'd to agree with the House of Commons, in appointing such a Committee, tho' not heretofore deny'd, when ask'd upon the like Occasion, and at this Time, desired purposely to avoid Disputes and Delays.
'And therefore, the House commanded us to acquaint your Lordships, that Things standing thus upon your Answer, they cannot proceed upon the Trials of the Lords before the Methods of Proceeding be adjusted between the two Houses.'
After these Reasons had been read and approv'd, and a Conference demanded thereon, the Lords, on their Side, demanded one in the Interval, the Substance of which was thus deliver'd to the House by Sir John Trevor the same Day, viz.
Sir John Trevor. ; The Earl of Danby petitions the Lords.
'That the Lord Privy-Seal manag'd the Conference; and that he acquainted them, that the Lords had received a Petition from the Earl of Danby, who was order'd to attend their Lordships this day, which his Lordship read: Whereby the Earl of Danby sets forth, that he met with Information from his Council, that they durst not appear to argue the Validity of his Pardon, by reason of a Vote of the House of Commons; and that their Lordships desir'd to know whether there was any such Vote as was alledg'd in the Petition.
Mr. Bertie examined. ; 252, 467 l. received by him for secret Service. ; And committed into Custody for a Contempt.
The same Day Mr. Charles Bertie (entrusted by Patent, with the Disposal of 20000 l. per Annum secret Service Money out of the Excise) was call'd in, and examin'd on several Questions; and being withdrawn, it was resolved that the House was not satisfied with his Answers. After which, Sir Robert Howard, Auditor of the Exchequer, informing the House that from Lady Day 1676, to March 26. 1679, 252, 467 l. 1 s. 9 d. had been paid to the said Mr. Bertie for secret Service; an Order was issued, that Mr. Charles Bertie be committed to the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms, for his Contempt to this House.
The Lords agree to the joint Committee.
The 11th, being Sunday, the Lords signify'd to the House by Message, that they have appointed a Committee, consisting of twelve Lords to join with a Committee of the House of Commons, to consider of Propositions and Circumstances in reference to the Trials of the Lords in the Tower.
Bill of Exclusion brought in.
The same Day, Mr. Treby having acquainted the House with several Particulars, concerning the Duke of York, contain'd in the Letters and Papers in the Custody of the Committee of Secrecy, relating to the Plot, it was resolv'd, That a Bill be brought in to disable the said Duke from inheriting the Imperial Crown of these Realms. And moreover, nemine contradicente,
Resolution to stand by his Majesty with their Lives and Fortunes.
'That in defence of the King's Person, and the Protestant Religion, this House doth declare, that they will stand by his Majesty with their Lives and Fortunes; and that if his Majesty should come by any violent Death (which God forbid) they will revenge it to the utmost on the Papists.'
His Majesty's Answer.
'Gentlemen, I thank you for your Zeal for the Preservation of the Protestant Religion, and of my Person; and I assure you, I shall do what in me lies, to secure the Protestant Religion.; and am willing to do all such things, as may tend to the Good and Benefit of my Subjects.'
The King's Message to them.
'Though his Majesty hath already, at the first meeting in Parliament, and since by a Word or two, mentioned the Necessity of having a Fleet at Sea this Summer; yet the Season for preparing it being far advanced, and our Neighbours before us in their Preparations, he cannot hold himself discharged towards his People, if he do not now, with more Earnestness, again recommend the same to your present Care and Consideration; and the rather, from the daily Expectation of the Return of the Fleet from the Streights, to which a great Arrear is due; and hereby he must acquit himself of the evil Consequences, which the want of a Fleet in such a Juncture may-produce: And he hath not done this without considering, That the entering upon the Work presently can be no hindrance to the other great Affairs upon your Hands; but rather a Security, in the dispatch thereof.'
This Message, tho' reasonable and proper, and proceeding from an unexceptionable Council, was no farther regarded, than after a Debate, it was resolved, that the farther Consideration of the said Message be adjourned till Monday next come seven-night.
Both Houses having agreed to a joint Committee for settling the Way and Method of trying the impeached Lords, after some meetings a Report was made to the House of Commons by Sir John Trevor, to this effect:
Proceedings about the impeached Lords.
'That the Commons had made two Propositions to the Committee of the Lords: First they desired to see the Commission of the Lord High-Steward, and those to former Lords: Secondly, they desired to know what Resolutions had been taken, about the Lords Spiritual being present or absent at the Trial of the Lords impeached. For the first, the Lords Committee produced several Copies of the Commissions to the Lords High-Stewards, and particularly that for the Trial of the Earl of Danby, and for the five Lords in the Tower.' But withal they communicated a Resolution of the Lords House, of the 12th of May, in these Words:
'It is declared and ordered, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, that the Office of a High-Steward, upon Trials of Peers upon Impeachments, is not necessary to the House of Peers; but that the Lords may proceed upon such Trials, if a High-Steward be not appointed according to their humble Desire.' Their Lordships farther declared to the Committee, 'That a Lord High-Steward was made pro hac vice only: That notwithstanding the making a High Steward, the Court remained the same, and was not thereby altered, but still remained the Court of Peers in Parliament: That the Lord High-Steward was but as a Speaker or Chair-man, for the more orderly Proceedings at the Trials. Notwithstanding which, they had petitioned and obtained a Lord High-Steward for the ensuing Trials.' As to the second Proposition, the Resolution of the House of Peers was in these Words:
The next day, the Lords explained themselves, and declared the Meaning of their Resolution to be, That the Lords Spiritual have a Right to stay and sit in Court, till the Court proceed to vote guilty or not guilty.
The second Proposition, being a Matter of great Weight and Consideration, the Committee of the Commons had commanded him to report it to the House, in order to receive their Directions for their farther Proceedings.
'Resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, That Thursday the 22d Instant be appointed to begin the Trials of the five Lords in the Tower; the Earl of Powis, Lord Viscount Stafford, Lord Petre, Lord Arundel of Wardour, and Lord Bellasis. After which Resolution passed, the Lords Spiritual asked the Leave of the House, that they might withdraw themselves from the Trials of the said Lords, with the Liberty of Entring their usual Protestations. And that the Commons Committee did desire the Directions of the House, how they should proceed thereon. Upon hearing the Report, the House of Commons, after a warm Debate, Resolved, that it be given as an Instruction to the said Committee to insist, That the Lords Spiritual ought not to have any Vote in any Proceedings against the Lords in the Tower: And when that Matter shall be settled, and the Methods of Proceeding adjusted, this House shall then be ready to proceed upon the Trial of the Pardon of Lord Danby, against whom this House hath already demanded Judgment; and afterwards to the Trials of the other five Lords in the Tower.
On the 15th of May, the Commons perfected their grand Bill to disable the Duke of York from inheriting the imperial Crown of England; now obtaining the Name of the Exclusion Bill: and was read the first Time, without any great Opposition. It set forth, after the Particulars of the execrable Conspiracy,
The Substance of the Exclusion Bill.
'That the Emissaries, Priests and Agents for the Pope, had traitorously seduced James Duke of York, presumptive Heir to these Crowns, to the Communion of the Church of Rome; and had induced him to enter into several Negotiations with the Pope, his Cardinals and Nuncios, for promoting the Romish Church and Interest; and by his Means and Procurement, had advanced the Power and Greatness of the French King, to the manifest Hazard of these Kingdoms. That by Descent of these Crowns upon a Papist, and by foreign Alliances and Assistance, they might be able to succeed in their wicked and villainous Designs.'
1. 'That the said James Duke of York, Albany, and Ulster, should be incapable of inheriting the Crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with their Dependencies; and of enjoying any of the Titles, Rights, Prerogatives and Revenues belonging to the said Crowns.
'4. That if any one, at any Time whatsoever, should endeavour to bring the said Duke into any of the forementioned Dominions, or correspond with him in order to make him inherit, he should be guilty of High-Treason.
'5. That if the Duke himself ever returned into any of these Dominions, considering the Mischiefs that must ensue, he should be looked upon as guilty of the same Offence; and all Persons were authorized and required, to seize upon and imprison him; and in case of Resistance made by him or his Adherents, to subdue them by Force of Arms.'
Upon which the question being put, whether the Bill should be committed, the House divided, and the Yeas ordered to go forth, were two hundred and seven, and the Noes who staid were but a hundred and twenty eight, the Majority seventy-nine; and so the Bill was committed to a Committee of the whole House: but the Parliament being soon after prorogued, it proceeded no farther.
May 22. A Committee having been some time before appointed to enquire into the Miscarriages of his Majesty's Navy; and the Petition of one Captain Mohun against Sir Anthony Dean, Hugh Salisbury, and John Moor, all Officers in his Majesty's Yard at Portsmouth, having been left to their Consideration, Mr. Harbord reported to the House the Case of the said Captain Mohun, to the Effect following:
The Report from the Committee on the Miscarriages of the Navy.
That the said Dean, Salisbury and Moor, did, in the Year 1673, equip the Hunter Sloop, out of his Majesty's Stores at Portsmouth; and by the favour of Mr. Pepys, Secretary to the Admiralty, procur'd a Commission of Reprisal for the said Captain Mohun, to whom they gave the Command of the said Sloop; who gave 1000 l. Bond, acknowledging the said Persons to be Owners of the said Sloop, and obliging himself to be accountable to them for the Prizes he should take.
That the said Mohun sail'd with the said Sloop to Dover, where he receiv'd a Letter from Dean, directing him to make for Dunkirk or Calais, there to make the said Sloop free of either of those Ports, and likewise procure a Commission against the Dutch; the Charge of all which the said Dean undertook to pay.
That the said Mohun, sensible of the Injustice of this Design, laid down his Command, and left her at Dover; and that being some time after at Dunkirk, he there saw the said Sloop, then commanded by one Thomas Swayne, bring in the Catherine of London as a Prize, being a free Ship of England; of which the said Mohun gave an instant account to her Owners in London.
That the said Mohun being at Calais, there came over one Balthazar St. Michael, concern'd likewise in the Sloop Hunter, and his Majesty's Cheque-Master at Portsmouth, in his way to Paris, with Instructions and Letters to get the said Ship Catherine condemn'd as Prize, tho' he knew the said Ship had been prov'd to be English before his Majesty and Council; and that his Majesty had sent Orders to his Embassador at Paris to procure her Discharge.
That the said Mohun, being since Master of a small Vessel, and putting into Dover, was press'd by the said Dean and Moor, to be Pilot of the Norwich-Frigate; where he was detain'd eight Days, and then forc'd on shore by Violence: After which, by certain Soldiers of the Garison, he was hurried to Prison; Dean bringing an Action against him for 2000 l. That, within half an Hour after he was in the said Prison, he was cruelly shackled; that he was forced to go on Crutches for five Months; and that being afterwards remov'd by Habeas Corpus to the King's Bench, he continued a Prisoner there for three Years, till discharg'd by Act of Parliament.
That the Merchants, Owners of the said Ship Catherine, have proved the Matter of Fact incontestably, charg'd on the said St. Michael (for which he was committed to the Tower) Swayne, and their Accomplices: That the Damage they received by these piratical Proceedings amounted to 5000 l. and might have been the occasion of a War between his Majesty and the States-General; it being directly contrary to the Articles of Peace made betwixt them.
That the said Dean and Pepys did cause to be made certain Maps, Sea-Journals, Draughts of his Majesty's best-built Ships, Models of Ships, and fill'd 14 Sheets of Paper, closely written, with an Account of the Number, State and Oeconomy of the Navy Royal; the Means to allure English Seamen into the French Service; the Weakness of those Places where our Fleets lie, Defects of Stores, Descriptions of Forts, Rivers, Garisons, &c. All which Papers, &c. the said Dean is accused of carrying over to France, and delivering to the Marquess de Signely, then Sécretary to the French Admiralty, in order to carry on and support the Popish Plot against his Majesty, &c.
Certain Persons ordered to be prosecuted thereon.
In consequence of this Report, an Order was issued the same day for committing the said Dean and Pepys to the Tower; and another for the Attorney-General to prosecute them; as likewise St. Michael, Moor, Swayne, and one Watson.
An Enquiry into the Disposal of Money distributed among the Members.
The 23d, the House being inform'd that Sir Stephen Fox had paid several Sums of Money to some of the Members of the late Parliament, and that he has Books of Accounts to evidence the same; it was ordered, that he should immediately attend the House with the said Books, &c.
Soon after which, Sir Stephen being come, it was order'd that he should forthwith produce his Ledger-Book, CashBook, Journal, and Receipts of Money by him paid for secret Service; and that Sir John Hotham, Sir Robert Peyton, and Sir John Holeman do accompany the said Sir Stephen Fox; and that he is enjoin'd not to go out of the Company of the said Members, before they return to the House.
Then the said Members being return'd, Sir John Hotham reported, That so soon as they came to Sir Stephen Fox's, the Lord Chamberlain came in and told them, that he durst not suffer any Books or Papers that concern'd the King to go out of his House, without the King's special leave.
Sir John Trevor's Report from the joint Committee of Lords and Commons.
The same day Sir John Trevor, from the Committee appointed to join the Committee of Peers, to consider of Propositions and Circumstances relating to the Trial of the Lords in the Tower, reported the Contents of a Paper, delivered by the said Committee of Peers, as follows:
'That the Lords, Powis, Stafford, Petre, and Arundel of Wardour, shall have Warrants for such Witnesses as will not come without (Affidavit being first made thereof) except Members of the House of Commons, and Persons charged with being Accomplices in the same Treason. And, that such Witnesses as any of the said Lords produce for their Defence, shall not be examin'd upon Oath in their own Case; but may be examin'd upon Oath, if desir'd by the Commons on their Behalf; and, that if any of the Lords do re-examine them, it shall be on the same Oath.
'That the said Lords being brought to the Bar by the said Lieutenant, are to kneel, till commanded to rise by the Lord High-Steward; when he is to let them know, that they are then to answer the Accusation of High-Treason brought against them, in the Name of the Commons of England, and take their Trials for their Lives.
'That, such Peers who shall be admitted Witnesses, at the Instance of the Commons, are to be sworn at the Clerk'sTable, the Lord High-Steward to administer the Oath, and to deliver their Evidence in their own Places.
'The Evidence which you shall give in this Trial, concerning the five Lords Prisoners, at the Bar, shall be the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. So help you God, and the Contents of this Book.'
'That Notice be given to the Lord-Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs of London, and likewise, the Deputy-Lieutenants, and Justices of Middlesex, &c. to take care for the safe guarding the Gates, and other Places, thereby to prevent the Concourse of People resorting to Westminster, during the Trial.
'To this Sir John Trevor, further reported, That the Lords of the Committee declar'd, when they deliver'd the said Paper, that the Paper was deliver'd as Proposals to be debated; not as an Order, or Rule to bind the Commons: And that the Committee of the House did declare, that they receiv'd the Paper, only as Proposals.'
The 24th, it was Resolv'd, That the Committee, appointed to join the Committee of the Lords, do insist upon the former Instructions, and do give no Answer to the Proposals made Yesterday by the Lords, until their Lordships have made an Answer to the Proposals, already made to their Lordships, by the Committee of this House.
Resolved, That an Answer be return'd to the last Message of the House of Peers, touching their Appointment of the Trial of the five Lords, to be on Tuesday next, with Reasons, Why the House cannot proceed to the Trial of the said Lords, before Judgment is given upon the Earl of Danby's Plea of his Pardon, and the Point of the Bishops not Voting in any Proceedings upon Impeachments for capital Offences be settled, and the Methods of Proceeding adjusted: And, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and draw up the Reasons.'
A farther Account of Pensions, and secret Service-Money.
The same day Sir Francis Winnington reported from the Committee of Secrecy, That there was Annually paid out of the Excise, 20,000 l. for Pensions manag'd by Mr. Charles Bertie, by Patent, for which he was to give no Account, but for secret Service. That Sir Richard Wiseman receiv'd 400 l. per An. for himself; and 400 l. per An. for three more. That Sir Joseph Tredenham, Mr. Piercy Goring, Sir Robert Holt, Mr. Glascock, and Sir John Johnson, were also Pensioners.
Ordered, That Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Lent, be sent for to attend the House, they having paid several of these Pensions. And that the Speaker issue forth his Warrant for any Witnesses, as shall be named to him by any Members of this House, touching Money paid for secret Service.
The Report from the Committee appointed to draw up Reasons, why the Commons cannot proceed in the Trials of the five Lords.
'There is now depending between the two Houses a Matter of the greatest Consequence, in the Management of which your Lordships seem to apprehend some Difficulty from the Proposals made by the Commons.
'To clear up this, the Commons have desir'd this Conference, in which they hope to prove, That the said Proposals are only such as have been well-warranted by the Laws of Parliament, and Constitution of the Government; and, in no sort intrench upon the Judicature of the Peers, but, are most necessary to be insisted upon: That the antient Rights of Judicature in Parliament may be maintain'd.
'The Commons readily acknowledge, That the Crimes, charg'd upon the five Peers, are of deep Guilt, and call for speedy Justice: but, withal, they hold any Change of Judicature in Parliament, made without Consent of full Parliament, to be of pernicious Consequence, both to his Majesty, and his Subjects; and hold themselves oblig'd to transmit to Posterity, all the Rights they receiv'd from their Ancestors; by putting your Lordships in mind of the Progress already made between the two Houses, in relation to the Proposals made by the Commons, and the Reasonableness of the said Proposals themselves. They doubt not to make it appear that their Aim hath been no other, than to avoid such Consequence, and preserve that Right: And, That there is no Delay of Justice on their part; and, to that End, do offer to your Lordships, the ensuing Reasons and Narratives.
'That the Commons, in bringing the Earl of Danby to Justice, and the Discovery of that execrable and traitorous Conspiracy, of which the five Lords stand impeach'd, have labour'd under great Difficulties, is not unknown to your Lordships.
'That, upon the Impeachment of the Earl of Danby, the common Justice of Sequestring him from Parliament, and forthwith committing him to safe Custody, was then requir'd by the Commons, and deny'd by the Peers, tho' he then sat in their House. Of this, your Lordships have been so sensible, That, at the free Conference of April 10, your Lordships acknowledged that what we then demanded, was our Right, and well-warranted by Precedents. And, had not that Justice been deny'd to the Commons, great part of this Session of Parliament, which hath been spent in framing a Bill for causing the Earl of Danby to appear and answer that Justice, from which he was fled, had been employ'd for the Preservation of his Majesty's Person, and the Security of the Nation: And, in prosecuting the other five Lords. Neither, had he had Opportunity to procure that illegal Pardon, bearing date March 1. which he hath now pleaded in Bar of this Impeachment, nor of wasting so great a Portion of the Treasure of the Kingdom, as he hath done, since the Commons exhibited their Articles of Impeachment against him.
'That, after all this Time thus lost, the said Bill, being ready for the Royal Assent, the Earl of Danby surrender'd himself, was committed by your Lordships Order, dated April 16, pleaded his Pardon; and, being prest, declar'd he would rely upon, and abide by that Plea. Which Pardon, being illegal and void; therefore, of no Force to preclude the Commons from having Justice: They did, therefore, with their Speaker, May 5, demand Judgment against the said Earl upon the Impeachment; not doubting, but that your Lordships intended, in all your Proceedings upon the said Impeachment, to follow the usual Course and Methods of Parliament.
'But, the Commons were not a little surpriz'd by a Message from your Lordships, May 7, That, as well the Lords Spiritual, as Temporal, had order'd May 10, for Hearing the said Earl make good his Plea of Pardon. And That on the 13th, the other five Lords should be brought to their Trial, in order to which, your Lordships had address'd his Majesty to name a Lord High Steward, as well in the Case of the Earl of Danby, as of the other five Lords.
'Upon Consideration of the said Message, the Commons found that the admitting of the Lords spiritual to exercise Jurisdiction in these Cases, was an Innovation, and which extended alike to the five Lords and the Earl of Danby, and that, if a Lord High Steward should be held necessary upon Impeachments, the Power of Judicature in Parliament might be defeated by suspending or denying to constitute a Lord High Steward; that the Days appointed for the Trial were so near at hand, that it was impossible to adjust the necessary Terms between the two Houses in the Interval, unless their Zeal for speedy Judgment against the Earl of Danby, that so they might proceed to the Trial of the other five Lords, should induce them to admit of the Enlargement of your Lordships Privileges, with the great Hazard of the Commons Power of Impeachment for the Time to come.
'For reconciling Differences, for saving Time, and for expediting the Trials, without giving up the Power of Impeachment, or rendering them ineffectual, the Commons propos'd a joint Committee to your Lordships, at which, when agreed to, it was first propos'd to defer the Trials of the Lords, till other Affairs were adjusted; and it was then agreed that the Proposals, as to the Time of Trial, should be the last Thing considered, and the Effect of this Agreement stands reported in your Lordships Books.
'Upon which, the Commons communicated their Vote, that their Committee should insist upon their former Vote, that the Lords spiritual ought not to have any Vote in the Proceedings against the Lords in the Tower; and that when this was adjusted, they were ready to proceed on Lord Danby's Plea of Pardon, against whom they had before demanded Judgment. But to this, the Commons have as yet received no Answer, except that the Bishops had ask'd Leave to withdraw, with Liberty of entering their usual Protestation.
'And altho' the Commons have almost daily declared, that there was a necessary Point of Right to be settled before the Trials, and offered to debate the same, your Committee always answer'd they had not Power either to confer upon, or give any Answer concerning that Matter. Notwithstanding which, your Lordships, by Message May 14, declared to the Commons, that the Lords spiritual as well as temporal, had order'd the 27th for the Trial of the five Lords; so that the Commons apprehend your Lordships have not only departed from what was agreed on, and in effect, laid aside the Joint Committee, constituted for preserving a good Understanding between the two Houses, and better Dispatch of the weighty Affairs now depending in Parliament; but must needs conclude from the said Message and Vote of your Lordships May 14, that the Lords spiritual have a Right to stay and sit till the Court proceeds to the Vote, Guilty, or not Guilty. And for the Bishops asking Leave to withdraw, &c. and by their persisting still to vote in Proceedings upon the Impeachments, that said Leave-asking, &c. is only an evasive Answer to the Vote of the Commons beforementioned, and chiefly intended as an Argument for a Right of Judicature in Impeachments, and a Reason to judge of the Earl of Danby's Plea of Pardon; and upon those and other like Impeachments, tho' no such Power was ever claim'd by their Predecessors, but is utterly deny'd by the Commons. And this the Commons are the rather induc'd to believe, as the very asking Leave to withdraw seems to imply a Right to be there; and that they cannot be absent without it; because, by this Way, they would have it in their power for the future, whether they will ask Leave to be absent, and the temporal Lords like Power of denying it, if that should be admitted once necessary.
'The Commons, therefore, are obliged not to proceed with the Trial of any of the five Lords, the 27th of this Instant May, but to adhere to their former Vote; and for their so doing, beside what has been already said, do offer the Reasons following; viz.
'1. Because your Lordships have received the Earl of Danby's Plea of Pardon, with a very long and unusual Protestation, wherein he has aspers'd his Majesty, by false Suggestions, as if his Majesty had commanded or countenanced the Crimes he stands charg'd with; and particularly, in suppressing and discouraging the Discovery of the Plot, and endeavouring to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical Government, which remains as a Scandal upon Record against his Majesty, tending to render his Person and Government odious to his People, against which it ought to be the principal Care of both Houses to vindicate his Majesty, by doing Justice upon the Earl.
'2. That setting up a Pardon to be a Bar of Impeachment defeats the whole Use and Effect of Impeachments. For, should this Point be admitted or stand doubted, it would totally discourage the exhibiting any for the future. Whereby the chief Institution for the Preservation of Government would be destroy'd, and consequently the Government itself: and therefore, the Case of the said Earl, which in consequence concerns all Impeachments, ought to be determined before that of the said five Lords which is but their particular Case.
'And, without resorting to many Authorities of great Antiquity, the Commons desire your Lordships to take Notice with the same Regard they do, of the Declaration made by King Charles the First, in his Answer to the 14 Propositions of both Houses of Parliament, wherein, stating the several Parts of this regulated Monarchy, he says, 'The King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons have each particular Privileges:' And among those which belong to the King, he reckons the Power of pardoning; after the enumerating of which, and other his Prerogatives, his said Majesty adds this again: 'That the Prince may not make use of his high and perpetual Power to the Hurt of those for whose Good he hath it: and make use of the Name of public Necessity, for the Gain of his private Favourites and Followers, to the Detriment of his People.
'The House of Commons, an excellent Conserver of Liberty, is solely entrusted with the first Propositions concerning the Levies of Monies, and the Impeachment of those, who for their own Ends, tho' countenanced by any surreptitiously-gotten Command of the King, have violated the Law, which he is bound, when he knows it, to protect; and to the Protection of which they were bound to advise him, at least not to serve him to the contrary.
'And the Lords being entrusted with the Judicatory Power, are an excellent Skreen and Bank between the Prince and the People, to assist each against any Encroachments of the other; and by just Judgments to preserve the Law which ought to be the Rule of every one of the three.
'3. Until the Commons of England have Right done them against this Plea of Pardon, they may justly apprehend, that the whole Justice of the Kingdom, in the Case of the five Lords, may be obstructed and defeated by Pardons of the like Nature.
'4. An Impeachment is virtually the Voice of every Particular Subject of this Kingdom, crying out against an Oppression, by which every Member of the Body is equally wounded: and it would prove a Matter of ill Consequence, that the Universality of the People should have Occasion minister'd to them to be apprehensive of the utmost Dangers from the Crown, whereby they of Right expect Preservation.
5. The Commons exhibited Articles of Impeachment against the Earl of Danby, before those against the other five Lords, and demanded Judgment upon these Articles; whereupon your Lordships, having appointed the Trial of the said Earl to be before that of the other Lords: now your Lordships having since inverted that Order, give a great Cause of Doubt to the House of Commons, and raise a Jealousy in the Hearts of all the Commons of England, that, if they should proceed upon the Trial of the said five Lords in the first place, not only Justice would be obstructed in the Case of these Lords, but that they never shall have Right done them in the Matter of the Plea of Pardon, which is of so fatal Consequence to the whole Kingdom, and a new Device to frustrate public Justice in Parliament.
'Which Reasons and Matters being duly weigh'd by your Lordships, the Commons doubt not but your Lordships will receive Satisfaction concerning their Propositions and Proceedings, and will agree, that the Commons ought not nor cannot, without deserting their Trust, depart from their former Vote communicated to your Lordships.
These Reasons, &c. were the same Day delivered to the Joint-Committee, of which Sir John Trevor made Report as follows: 'That the Lords of the Committee had given this Answer. That they had no Power from their House to give any further Answer to those Matters, or to debate the same with the Committee of this House.'
The Consequence of this Report was a Resolution, that a Conference be desir'd with the Lords upon Matters of great Importance to the Kingdom, and for preserving a good Correspondency between the two Houses.