The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1660-1680. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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The Exclusion-Bill read for the first time.
The 4th of November, 1680. A Bill to disable James Duke of York, to inherit the imperial Crowns of England and Ireland, and the Dominious thereunto belonging, was read the first time.
Sir Leoline Jenkins.
'Mr. Speaker, I have spent much of my time in studying the Laws of this Land; and I pretend to know something of the Laws of foreign Countries, as well as of our own: And I have, upon this Occasion well-considered of them; but cannot find how we can justify the passing of this Bill, rath much against it.
'First, I think it is contrary to natural Justice, that we should proceed to Condemnation, not only before Conviction, but before we have heard the Party, or examined any Witnesses about him; I am sure, none in his defence. And to do this, by making a new Law on purpose, when you have old Laws in being, that have appointed a Punishment to his Crime, I humbly conceive, is very severe; and contrary to the usual Proceedings of this House, and the Birthright of every Englishman.
'Secondly, I think it is contrary to the Principles of our Religion, that we should dispossess a Man of his Right, because he differs in point of Faith. For it is not agreed by all, that Dominion is founded in Grace. For my part, I think there is more of Popery in this Bill, than there can possibly be in the Nation without it; for none but Papists, and Fifth-monarchy-men, did ever go about to disinherit Men for their Religion.
'Thirdly, I am of Opinion, that the Kings of England have their Right from God alone; and that no Power on earth can deprive them of it. And I hope this House will not attempt to do any thing, which is so precisely contrary, not only to the Law of God, but the Law of the Land too. For if this Bill should pass, it would change the Essence of the Monarchy, and make the Crown elective. For, by the same Reason that this Parliament may disinherit this Prince for his Religion, other Parliaments may disinherit another, upon some other Pretence which they may suggest; and so consequently, by such Exclusions, elect whom they please.
'Fourthly, It is against the Oath of Allegiance, taken in its own Sense, without Jesuitical Evasions. For by binding all Persons to the King, his Heirs and Successors, the Duke, as presumptive Heir, must be understood. And I am of Opinion, it cannot be dispensed withal. Sir, I will be very cautious how I dispute the Power of Parliaments, I know the Legislative Power is very great, and it ought to be so But yet I am of Opinion, that Parliaments cannot disinherit the Heir of the Crown; and that if such an Act should pass, it would be invalid in itself. And therefore I hope it will not seem strange, that I should offer my Judgment against this Bill, while it is in Debate; in which I think I do that which is my Duty, as a Member of this House.
'Henry the fourth of France was a Protestant, his People most Papists, who used some Endeavours to prevent his coming to the Crown; but when they found they were not like to perfect their Design, without occasioning a civil War, they desisted; concluding, that a civil War would probably bring on them more Misery than a King of a different Religion, and therefore submitted. Sir, I hope, we shall not permit our Passion to guide us instead of Reason; and therefore I humbly move you to throw out the Bill.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, The honourable Member that spoke last, may understand very much of the Laws of other Countries, and foreign Affairs; but I am apt to think, not much of the Laws of this Nation; or else he would not argue, that this is a Popish Bill, when it is the only thing that can save his King, the Kingdom, and the Protestant Religion; which I hope will never come to that Extremity, as to need any thing that is Popish to save it. For my part, I am so far from thinking that this Bill is so unreasonable as hath been argued, that I think this House of Commons will get as much Credit by passing of this Bill, as that in 1660 did, by passing that which brought home the King. For as the one restored him; so the other may preserve him, and nothing less. And therefore, I think, Sir, you ought not to delay the giving it a second reading, but appoint a speedy day for i.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not understand how it can be construed, because we go about to disinherit the Duke, that therefore it must be for his Religion. For my part, I do approve of the Bill; but it is because the Opinions and Principles of the Papists tend to the Alteration of the Government and Religion of this Nation: and the introducing, instead thereof, of Superstition and Idolatry, and a foreign, Arbitrary Power: If it were not for that, I am apt to think, the Duke's being a Papist would not be thought a sufficient Cause for this House to spend Time about this Bill. And I cannot see the Danger of reducing the Government to be elective by it; for why should we presume that any thing but the like Cause should have the like Effect? Though the Succession of the Crown hath been formerly often changed by Acts of Parliament, yet hitherto it hath not made the Crown elective; and why must we fear it now? Neither can I apprehend, that the passing of this Bill is contrary to natural Justice; because we have not heard what the Duke hath to say for himself. The Precedents that might be offered to make out, that the Parliaments have, when they thought good, condemned Persons by Bill, are numerous, and without any Hearing too. But if there were none, to doubt the Power of the legislative Authority of the Nation in that or any other Case, is to suppose such a Weakness in our Government, so inconsistent with the Prudence of our Ancestors, and common Reason, as cannot well be imagined. And I do not think we are about going to do any such strange Thing neither, but what would be done in other Countries upon the like Occasion; but do believe, that if the Dauphin of France, or Infant of Spain, were Protestants, and had, for near twenty Years together, endeavoured the setting up of another Interest and Religion, contrary to the Interest of those Kings and the Catholic Religion; especially if such Endeavours had been accompained with such Success as here, and those Nations had been so often, by such means, reduced so near to ruin, as we have been, by Divisions, Tolerations, Burnings, Plots, and ShamPlots at home, and by Wars and foreign Alliances, overruled in their favour abroad; but that they would have been more impatient than we have been for this Remedy. And for my own part, I cannot but admire more at the long Delay there hath been, in seeking out a Remedy against this great Evil, than at our offering at this Bill. For, notwithstanding what hath been said, I cannot think our Danger so remote or uncertain, as some would suppose it. Can the King be safe, as long as the Papists know that there is nothing but his Life stands in their Way, of having a King to their mind? Which is the only thing they want, to go on with their Designs and to accomplish their Expectations. Will it then be an easy thing to withstand such an enraged, barbarous People? The more false and unreasonable their Religion is, the more Cruelty will be necessary to establish it. Can it be imagined we shall not pay severely, for having shed so much Blood of their Martyrs, as they call them, and for having enjoyed their Holy-church-land so long? Or that they will not do all that they shall think necessary, to secure an entire and quiet Possession to themselves? For my own part, I cannot imagine that the Pride of those Church-men will be satisfied with any thing less, than an utter Ruin and Extirpation of us and our Posterities. And I think that nothing can save us but this Exclusion-Bill; and therefore I humbly move you to appoint a speedy day for a second reading.'
The Bill read a second time.
Resolved, That the said Bill be read a second time on Saturday Morning at ten o'Clock.
The 6th of November, 1680. A Bill to disable James, Duke of York, to inherit the imperial Crown of England and Ireland, was read a second time.
Sir Richard Temple made several Objections against the Tenour of the Bill, as not answering the Intention of the House; shewing how (if not altered) it would occasion an Inter-regnum; and that the Clause for limiting the Exclusion to the Person of the Duke only, was not well drawn.
Sir Leoline Jenkins.
'Mr. Speaker, In my humble Opinion, the Body and whole Tenour of this Bill carrieth with it a great Reflection on the whole English Nation. For to suppose that one Person is able to turn us about to Popery, is to suppose that we are either very imprudent, or irresolute, or that we have no great love to, but are rather very indifferent in our Religion. And if we may thus disinherit the presumptive Heir, not only the Royal Family, but the whole Nation, will be subject, by such a Precedent, to many Inconveniencies. For by the same Reasons the like may be done hereafter upon any other Pretence. For, Sir, though we know that this House is composed of Persons, that have a great Veneration for the Royal Family; yet we know not what may happen hereafter: But, if some such Bill as this must pass, I humbly conceive there is a great Necessity of naming a Successor, and not leave that in dispute, lest an Inter-regnum, or civil War, happen thereupon.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, because I am of Opinion, that nothing can, at this Time, be so prejudicial to the protestant Interest, as to be at a stand, or go backward with this Bill; therefore I should be sorry to see that we should enter upon any Debate of clogging it with any thing that may occasion any Delay. There may be more Difficulty in agreeing about the Provisos and Declarations, that will be necessary in naming a Successor, than to agree about the Bill itself. And we cannot make the Law plainer than it is in that Case. We intend by this Bill nothing but an Exclusion of James Duke of York, as the only Expedient that can help us in the Exigency the Nation lies under; and it being intended only as an Expedient in reference to him only; and that the Bill shall have nothing in it that can relate to, or prejudice the next of Kin: I do not see how there ariseth from that, any Difficulty more than there was before, as to the Succession. And therefore, Sir, let us not confound the Bill with needless Additions. I confess, Sir, I am one of those that am in pain until this Bill be past. For the King hath his Breath in his Nostrils, as well as other Men; and although we have all, much reason to pray for his long Life, so to fear it too; and nothing can tend so much to the securing of his Life, as the passing of this Bill: nor ours after his. For, how shall we be able to defend ourselves against Popery without it? Therefore I humbly move you, that we may not spend our time about any such Additions, but commit the Bill.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have already given you many Reasons against the Bill itself, but more do offer from the wording of it. The excluding the Duke will not give a Right to the next Heir, to take possession of the Crown while the Duke is living; and therefore unless you name a Successor, it will either prove ineffectual, or cause a great Disturbance in the Nation, by an Inter-regnum. And, Sir, as this part of the Bill is too weak, so the other is too strong: For, as it is now penned, it may probably exclude all the Duke's Children, at leastwise leave it so, as that it may prove a great question, which I suppose you do not intend. Then he stated several Cases in Law, to prove what he had said; and concluded, that it was in order to have it farther considered at a Committee.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not see how you can name a Successor, unless you can in the same Act prohibit the Queen from having of Children, the King from marrying again, the Duke from having of Sons, which would not be more preposterous, than the many Proviso's which otherwise the Act would require, to secure such Issue their Right; which would probably make the Remedy worse than the Disease. And I think, Sir, that in a Case of this Importance, you will be careful how you make Laws, that shall be liable to so many Difficulties and Disputes. And therefore you had better rely on the old Laws you have, than make new ones to perplex the Case. And I do not see how the excluding of the Duke only can any way infect the Right which his Children may have to the Succession. And therefore I think there is no need of naming a Successor; but let the Bill be committed, and to a Committee of the whole House; and there it may be farther debated, if necessary.'
Sir Roger Hill.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I tremble to hear so much Discourse about the King's Death, and naming him a Successor; certainly the like was never known in any former Age, but rather it was looked on as so dangerous a Thing to be discoursed of, as that none durst attempt it, whatever the Occasion were. Queen Elizabeth concluded, that the naming of a Successor to the Crown, would be digging a Grave for her; and therefore I hope we shall never go so far as to put it into an Act. I am for shewing a great Respect for the Duke, and his Children; but I think we are first bound in Duty to the King; and therefore ought first to shew our Respects to him. Some Persons, in my poor Opinion, have shewed so much Zeal for the Duke's Interest, that I am afraid they have forgot their Allegiance to the King. Can he ever be safe, as long as it is the Interest of every Papist in England to kill him? Which it will be as long as there is hopes of a Papist to succeed to the Throne. And therefore I think we cannot answer the permitting of any Delay in an Affair of so great Importance; and I humbly move you, that the Bill may be committed, and that all may have Liberty to be concerned therein, in a Committee of the whole House.'
The Bill committed.
Resolved, That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House: That it be an Instruction to the said Committee, that the Exclusion in the said Bill do extend to the Person of James Duke of York only.
That this House do resolve into a Committee of the whole House on Monday Morning next, at Ten of the Clock, to proceed to the Consideration of the said Bill.
The 8th of November, the House then resolved into a Committee of the whole House, to proceed in the Consideration of the Bill, to disable James Duke of York, to inherit the Imperial Crowns of England and Ireland, and the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging; and after many Debates about several Amendments, and Clauses to be added, the Bill was agreed, and reported to the House.
Resolved, 'That the said Bill, with the several Clauses and Amendments, be engrossed.'
Debate, or a Petition from the Silk-Weavers Company. ; John Basset.
The 9th of November, 1680. A Petition from the Bailiffs, Wardens, and Assistants, of the Company of Silk-Weavers, was read.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, this Petition branches itself, First, against the Bill that is here afoor, for wearing of Woollen; Secondly, Against the Importation of foreign Silks from France: And Thirdly, against the East-India Company. As to the two first Particulars, I shall desire leave to speak my mind, when the Business comes to be debated in the Committee to which you may think good to refer it. But as to the third Branch, against the East-India Company, I desire to be heard a little at this Time; for, Sir, it will be in vain for you to spend your Time in endeavouring to raise the Price of Wool, or to advantage the Trade of the Nation any way, unless you do, in the first place, make some Regulation for the East-India Trade. For not only the SilkWeavers, but most of the other Trades of this Nation, are prejudiced by the Consumption of Goods manufactured in the East-India, and brought hither: For a great many of them are not only spent here, instead of their own Manufactures, but abroad in other Parts, to which we send them. They do us such Prejudice, as must, in the End, be the Destruction of the Manufactury Trade, both at home and abroad, if nor looked after; and the more likely, because the People in India are such Slaves, as to work for less than a Penny'a Day; whereas ours here will not work under a Shilling; and they have all Materials also very reasonable, and are thereby enabled to make their Goods so cheap, as it will be impossible for our People here to contend with them. And therefore, because the said Trade hath abundantly encreased of late Years, that we may not enrich the Indians, and impoverish our own People, I humbly move you, that this Petition may be referred to some Committee that may take particular Care of it.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Navigation to the East-India, being, by the Industry and long Experience of our Sea-Men, render'd as safe and secure as to any Country adjacent; and the Trade encreased to a great Proportion, by such a dangerous Way as the Exportation of our Bullion, and Importation of abundance of manufactured Goods, and superstuous Commodities; and carried on by a few Men incorporated, who have made it their Business, by all Ways imaginable, to secure the Advantages thereof to themselves, and their Posterities, not permiting the People in general to come in for any Share; I humbly conceive it may not be unseasonable to give you a short Scheme of that Trade; and to make some Remarks as well on the Trade, as the present Management thereof; it being settled in a Company, by virtue of a Charter granted 1657, and confirmed by his Majesty, soon after his Restoration.
'Sir, It is well known what Advantage redounds to this Nation, by the Consumption of our Manufactures abroad and at home; and how our Fore-fathers have always discouraged such Trades as tended to the Hindrance thereof. By the best Computation that can be made, we now spend in this Kingdom per Annum to the Value of 2 or 300,000 l. worth of Goods manufactured in the East-India: What Part thereof are spent instead of our Stuff, Serges, Cheneys, and other Goods, I leave to every Man's Judgment, that hath observed how their Persian Silks, Bengalls, printed and painted Calicoes, and other Sorts are used for Beds, Hanging of Rooms, and Vestments of all sorts. And these Goods from the India, do not only hinder the Expence of our Woollen Goods, by serving instead of them here; but also by hindering the Consumption of them in other Parts too, to which we export them; and by obstructing the Expence of Linnen and Silks, which we formerly purchased from our Neighbour-Nations, in return of our Manufactures. For when that mutual Conveniency of taking off their Goods in return of ours failed, it is found by Experience, that our Trade in our Manufactures failed also: And, Sir, this is not only at present a great, but a growing Hindrance to the Expence of our Woollen Goods; for, as it hath been observed to you, being the Indians do work for less than a Penny a Day, and are not without Materials at cheap Rates, we may rather tremble to think, than easily calculate, what this Trade may in Time amount to; and may conclude, that it must certainly end in employing and enriching the People in the India, and impoverishing of our own.
'But, Sir, this is not all: This Trade is carried on by the Exportation of 5 or 600,000 l. per Annum in Bullion; which is so useful a Commodity, as ought not to be exported in so great a Quantity, especially seeing the Exportation thereof hath increased in some Years from 200,000 l. per Annum, to 600,000 l. per Annum: For it may encrease to Millions, to the Discouragement of the Exportation of the Products of our Country; upon which the Maintenance of our Poor, and Rent of Land, depends. Whereas by the Exportation of so much Bullion, no immediate Advantage redounds to the Nation; and though it is usually affirmed, that the Trade brings back to the Nation as much Money as it exports, yet upon an Enquiry it will be found a Mistake. And I think every Nation, but especially this, (which is so well stored with other Commodities for Trade) ought to be very jealous of a Trade, carried on by the Exportation of their Gold and Silver; and to be very careful how to allow it, it being dangerous to make that, which is the Standard of Trade, Merchandize itself.
'And as these Objections arise against the Trade itself, so there are others against the present Management, of which the People do complain as a great Grievance; and I humbly conceive, not without good Cause. For the equal Distribution of Liberties and Privileges among the People, which is one of the Excellencies of the Government, is by this Company highly infringed, a very few of the People being permitted to have any Share in this Trade, though it be now encreased to near one quarter Part of the Trade of the Nation; the Company finding it more for their particular Advantage to take up from 6 to 700,000 l. on a common Sale, to carry on their Trade, than to enlarge their Stock; thereby reaping to themselves not only the Gains which they make on their own Money, but of the Treasure of the Nation; allowing to them that lend, four or five per Cent. and dividing among themselves what they please, which now within these last 12 or 15 Months, hath been 90 per Cent. And, upon an exact Enquiry it will be found, that this Stock is so engrossed, that about ten or twelve Men have the absolute Management, and that about forty divide the major Part of the Gains, which this last Year hath been to some one Man 20, to others 10,000 l. a-piece. So that here is the certain Effect of a Monopoly, to enrich some few, and impoverish many.
'It's true, there is such a Thing as buying and selling some small Shares in the Stocks sometimes, if any Man will give 300 l. in Money for 100 l. Stock; but this amounts to no more than exchanging the Interest of John Doe for Thomas Roe, and can be no ways serviceable to bring in more Stock or People into the Trade, and therefore not to satisfy the Complaint of the Nation.
'Sir, that you may the better apprehend how unreasonable it is, that this great Trade should be thus confined to the Advantage of so few Persons, exclusive to all others, under the Penalty of Mulets, Fines, Seizures, and other extraordinary Proceedings, I beseech you, Sir, to cast your Thoughts on this great Body here by you, and the rest of the Corporations of this Nation, who mostly live by Trade, and consider how many Thousands, if not Millions, there are, whose Lot Providence hath cast on Trade for their Livelihoods; and then, I am apt to believe, it will appear very strange that so great a Trade should be so limited. If three such Charters more should be granted, what should the major part of the People do for Maintenance? Sir, the Birth-right of every Englishman is always tenderly considered in this Place: By this Company the Birth-right of many Thousands is prejudiced, and may well deserve a serious Consideration; and therefore, and because this Company, by having the Command of the Treasure of the Nation, cannot be controlled by any less Power than that of a House of Commons, this Business comes, as I humbly conceive, naturally before you.
'But, Sir, there is one Thing more in the Management of this Trade worthy your Consideration: The great Danger which may result, as well to private Persons as to the Public, by taking up such an immense Treasure on a common Sale. Sir, we all know what happened some Years since, by the Bankers taking up such great Sums on their private Sales, how it proved a Temptation for the committing of a great Violation on the Subjects Property, which in all probability preceding Parliaments would have prevented if they had foreseen; though I hope there is no Danger that the like will ever be done again; yet, Sir, you may do well to secure it, either by making some Vote, if not a Law, to prevent it And I am the more forward to move you herein; because I have heard, since I had the Honour to sit within these Walls, that, in the late long Parliament, there were Members who, by voting for Money, got Shares to themselves. I have a good Opinion of these Gentlemen that at present have the Management of the Trade, but if a few such Persons as I have mentioned should succeed them, with the same Privilege that these have, of taking up what Money they please on a common Sale, to what Danger might the Treasure of this Nation be reduced, and how might it not be disposed of, by Dividends, Loans, or other Ways? The taking up of so vast a Treasure on a common Sale, must be attended with great Danger; and therefore as well for that as for the other Reasons alledged, I hope you will take this Affair into your speedy Consideration, that so some Remedies may be applied hereto.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, by the Account which hath been given you of the East-India Trade, I doubt not but you are sensible, that it will in time ruin a great part of the Trade of our Manufactures, if not prevented. The EastIndia Company have been very industrious to promote their own Trade, but therein have given a great Blow to the Trade of the Nation.
The Indians knew little of dying Goods, or ordering them, so as to be fit for European Markets; until the Company sent from hence Englishmen to teach them, which I am afraid this Nation will have cause to repent hereafter. For the Cheapness of Wages and Materials in the Indies must enable the Indians to afford their manufactured Goods cheaper than any we can make here; and therefore it is probable the Trade will encrease prodigiously; which 'may be a good Motive for you to take into your Consideration that part of it, in which the Consumption of our Manufactures is concerned. They have already spoiled the Italian and Flanders Trade, with their Silks and Calicoes; now they will endeavour to spoil the Turkish Trade, by bringing abundance of raw Silk from the Indies. So that ere long we shall have no need of having Silk from Turkey; and if not, I am sure we shall not be able to send any Cloths or other Goods there And it cannot be expected, that the Indians should grow weary of exchanging their manufactured Goods for our Gold and Silver, nor the Company of the great Gains they make by their Trade; and therefore, unless prevented by your Care, the Trade will go on to your Prejudice; the Company having been industrious to secure themselves against all other Attempts, by New-Years-Gifts, employing of some Men's Money at Interest, and getting others into the Company, and then chusing them of the Committee, though they understand no more of the Trade, than I do of Physic; also naming of Ships by great Men's Names is made use of for the said purpose, and Oaths which they impose on all Persons they employ in any Business of importance, so that there is no ordinary way left to reach them. Therefore, Sir, I hope you will refer the Business to some Committee that you may make a speedy Report.
Resolved, That the said Petition be referred to the grand Committee for Trade, and they are to proceed upon the same in the first place, and they are then likewise to consider of the present State of the East-India Company, and to report the same, with their Opinions thereon, to the House
A Message from the King relating to the Exclusion Bill.
The 10th of November, 1680. His Majesty's Message to the House was read.
'His Majesty desires this House, as well for the Satisfaction of his People, as of himself, to expedite such Matters as are depending before them, relating to Popery and the Plot; and would have them rest assured, that all Remedies they can tender to his Majesty, conducing to these Ends, shall be very acceptable to him, provided they be such as may consist with preserving the Succession of the Crown in its legal Course of Descent.'
Debated. Henry Booth.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I look on all his Majesty's Speeches to Parliaments, and Messages to this House, to be Acts of State, and the Results of serious Councils; and therefore the more deserving our Consideration: But also I think we may in some Respects look on them as we do on Letters-Patent, or other Grants in the King's Name; if in them there be any thing against Law, the Lawyer or Officer that drew them is answerable for it. So if his Speeches be the Product of Council, if there be any Mistake in them, it must be imputed to the Council, and we may and ought to conclude the King never said it, for he can do no Wrong. I cannot, Sir, but much admire what neglect of ours, as to Popery and the Plot, hath occasioned this Message. Hath not most of our Time been spent about Examination of Witnesses about the Plot, and in making Inspections into the Proceedings of the last Parliaments as to their Transactions about it, that so we may proceed upon such Grounds as we ought? Hath there any day past, in which we have not done something as to the Plot and Popery, besides what we have done about the Duke's Bill? Which alone is sufficient Proof of our Endeavours to discover the Plot and Popery, because it plainly appears that all the Plot centers in him, and that we can never prevent Popery, but by preventing that Power to rule, which is derived from a Popish Successor, and the having of a Popish King. It is true, we have spent some Time also, in asserting the Right of the People to petition the King for Parliaments, or other Grievances; but I do not take that to be so remote to this Affair; for can the Plot ever be searched to the Bottom, or Popery prevented, as our Case stands, but by Parliaments? And seeing there were so many Prorogations of this Parliament, when there were Occasions so urgent for their Sitting, in order to search the Plot to the Bottom, and to make Laws against Popery, have we not great Reason to believe, that it was from that Party that such strange endeavours were used to prevent the meeting of Parliaments, from whom they know that nothing but Ruin can attend them? Do we not see, by Coleman's Letters, what Contrivances they always had for to manage the Meetings, Sittings, Prorogations, and Dissolutions of Parliaments? And why should we not believe they exercise the same Arts still? Seeing it is plain that the Dissolutions of the last two Parliaments, and many Prorogations of this, did not proceed from any Protestant Interest; and therefore well may we conclude from whom. And for the same Reason that they fear Parliaments, have not the People Reason to be fond of them, being the only legal Way to redress Grievances? And could we have answered the neglecting of the asserting our Rights in that Particular? Sir, I think that, next to the Duke's Bill, the asserting of the People's Right to petition, is the most necessary Affair we could have spent our time about, in order to have the Plot examined to the Bottom, by conveying to his Majesty the Desires of his People, to have Parliaments sit in order thereto. And therefore I am jealous that the Advice given for this Message, doth proceed rather from a fear that we are doing too much, than from our doing too little against Popery. However, Sir, seeing the Message comes in his Majesty's Name, let us, according to our Duty, give all the Compliance we can to it; and therefore I humbly move you, that a Message be sent to the Lords, to desire them to appoint a Day for the Trial of William Viscount Stafford.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I cannot but observe, that his Majesty in his Speech made to us at the Opening of this Session, recommended to us the Examination of the Plot, and the making Laws for the Security of the Protestant Religion, which is not yet above twenty Days ago. And therefore it is very strange, in my Opinion, that we should so soon receive another Message to the same purpose, especially considering how we have spent our time ever since our Meeting, in that which we have reason to think tends as much to the preventing of Popery, as any thing we could invent. The truth is, Sir, I am fully persuaded, that the Advice for this Message proceeds from the same Men that advised the Dissolution of the two last Parliaments, and the many Prorogations of this; for though it may look like a Contradiction, that going fast or going slow should tend to one and the same End, yet it doth so in this Case: for by the Dissolutions of those Parliaments, and many Prorogations of this, time was gotten for the disheartning of some Witnesses, and tampering with others, and the Death of the most material one; and now, by pressing upon this Parliament to make great Haste, other Witnesses may be prevented from coming in, for which his Majesty hath declared he will give two Months time by his Proclamation. So that it plainly appears, that the farther Examination of the Plot must be prevented some way, if they can do it; and that rather than fail, your Endeavours to go to the Bottom of the Plot shall be turned upon you, and made use of to their Advantage It is strange, that now fourteen Days should seem too much to have the Examination of the Plot neglected, (supposing it had been so) and the fourteen Months last past, or rather two Years, not thought so. Sir, we are under great difficulties, and therefore we must be careful what we do. By the Contents of this Message we may plainly see, that our Enemies are at work to represent our Proceedings ill to the King, that so if possible there may be some plausible Pretence found out that may serve to gull the People, if they should procure a Dissolution. But I hope his Majesty will not hearken to such Advice; in order to prevent it, let us, until we have an Opportunity to express our Duty to him by Actions, do it by Words, to satisfy him, that we have spent most of our Time in examining the Plot, and in contriving how to secure his Person and Government against the Dangers arising from Popery; and to assure him, that we will lose no Time till we have done what lies in our Power in order thereto; and that we may withal give some farther Instance of our endeavours, let us vote that we will immediately proceed to the Trial of my Lord Viscount Stafford.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am well content to understand that Part of the Speech, which recommends to us a speedy Examination of the Plot, to proceed from his Majesty's Goodness, on a Supposition that he is now more sensible than ever, of the Danger, his Person and Government is in by Papists. And I hope it is from that, and not from any other Reason, that he hath been pleased to send us this Message so soon after his Speech, notwithstanding our Endeavours as to the Plot and Popery. But, Sir, what I am most concerned at, is the latter Part of the Speech, that about the Succession; for it looks like the Difficulty that was put upon the Israclites, of making Bricks without Straw. For seeing all the Discoveries about the Plot make it clearly out, that it all centers in the Duke of York, and that all their Hopes is derived from a Popish Successor, and Expectation of a Popish King, how can we do any thing that can be effectual in pursuance of the first Part of that Proposition, without contradicting the latter, it being impossible to secure the Protestant Religion under such Limitations? However, Sir, I hope that none of these things will put the House out of that Temper and Moderation which becomes this Place; for I hope that at last his Majesty will either convince us, or be advised by us, that so we may come to a fair Understanding, and this Session have a happy Conclusion. Let us be careful not to give our Enemies any just Advantage to misrepresent us: And then I hope all will do well at last, maugre all the Endeavours of our Back-friends. That we do vote that we will proceed to Trial of some of the Lords, and appoint a Committee to draw up an Address in answer to this Message, upon the Debate of the House, is, I conceive, what is necessary at this Time.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, his Majesty's Message is a tacit Reprehension of this House, for not having done their Duty, as to the Plot and Popery. And as well by this Message, as by his Speech at the Opening of the Session, he doth now seem much concerned, that the Examination of the Plot, and the securing of the Nation against the Danger of Popery, hath been so long deferred; for my part I think he hath a great deal of Reason for what he faith, and I am glad to hear it. For I hope he is now truly sensible what strange Advice he followed in dissolving the last Parliaments, and so often proroguing this; and that he will now permit the Parliament to sit, until they have done their Duty in that Particular. But, Sir, though his Majesty may now be very sensible of the Miscarriages there have been in the Management of this Business already, yet I think we may not do amiss (seeing his Majesty hath given us this occasion) to particularise to him, how the Examination of the Plot, and the securing us against Popery, hath been prevented. Sir, was not the late long Parliament, after the Plot broke out, in a fair way to have tried the Lords, and to have examined the Plot to the bottom? And did not the Dissolution of them frustrate all their Proceedings? Did not the next Parliament fall upon the same Subject, and were they not advanced very far towards it? And did not the Prorogation and Dissolution come, and make all void? Hath this Parliament, though called to meet the 17th of October was twelve Months, ever sat till now? And have they not ever since their Meeting employed most of their time about the Plot and Popery? And can there lie any just Complaints against us? The truth is, Sir, it is plain to me, that if this Message proceeds from his Majesty's own Judgment, as I hope it doth; (for how can it be presumed that his Majesty should not see how we proceed against the Plot and Popery as well as every body else?) or if it proceed from such Counsel, as do really intend we should do something against Popery, then we may be permitted to sit until we have done something for the Security of our Religion, and Good of our Country; but, on the other side, if this Message do proceed from the same Counsel that advised the Dissolutions of the last Parliaments, and many Prorogations of this, then we may take it as a clear Discovery, that there are Persons at work to represent us ill to the King, and to find some such pretence for our Dissolution, as may pass with the People; and such I take to be Enemies both to the King and Kingdom, and therefore hope you will take a time to find them out, and proceed against them as they deserve. In the mean time, I second the Motion that hath been made, for a Committee to draw up an Answer to this Address, and for making a Vote in order to try my Lord Stafford.'
Sir Francis Winnington.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, though I know that we are under an obligation from Duty to make a good construction of all his Majesty's Speeches and Messages to this House, yet because they generally do proceed from some Advice and Counsel taken on such occasions, therefore, I think, we may, without Offence, when any thing is irreconcileable in them, attribute it to the Ministers; though all that which is good, and agreeable to that Wisdom and Prudence which is inherent in his Majesty, ought to be attributed to himself; and, as the Case stands with us, I think only from him can it proceed. What is said in this Message, that neither his Majesty nor the People can be satisfied, unless we expedite such Matters as relate to the Plot, I believe it proceeds from his Majesty's own Genius, it being so agreeable to that Love which he hath always professed for the Protestant Religion; but that tacit Imputation that we have neglected the Examination of the Plot, and Proceedings against Popery, appears to me like a kind of Infatuation in those Ministers that advised it. For, Sir, is there any thing more obvious, than that this Parliament have spent most of their time in matters relating to the Plot and Popery, and to make such Laws as may prevent the coming in of Popery upon us? And did not both the last Parliaments do the same, from the time the Plot broke out? And if I may take the liberty to prophesy, I am apt to think, that the next, and the next, will proceed in the same steps, until such Laws be made as are precisely necessary for the hindring of Popery from coming in upon us: And I pray God it may not be a cause why we shall have no Parliaments to sit and act for a while. But, Sir, as this is plain, so to our Grief it is, that there are those about the King in great Power, who are against the Examination of the Plot to the bottom, or making Laws against Popery. Hath not this appeared by the great Endeavours that have been used to stifle the Plot; the menacing and discouraging of the true Witnesses, and setting up and encouraging of false ones? I mean, by the great Power that accompanied those Endeavours; but above all, by the great Authority and Interest, which that Party have shewed in the Dissolution of the last two Parliaments, (though as to the first I heartily forgive them) and the many Prorogations of this. And must they now, after they have stopped or smothered all Proceedings that tended to destroy Popery, for above two Years, find fault that we have not brought all to perfection in two Weeks? Sir, this looks like such a profound piece of Policy, as that of killing Justice Godfrey. But I am not sorry that their Politics run so low. Such a Pretence as this can only pass with Persons that have a mind to be deceived. I will never doubt the Prudence of the major part of the Nation in this particular, who know that the Non-prosecution of the Plot, is the great Grievance which the Nation groans under; and the making of such Laws which may secure us against Popery, the greatest reason why they have so longed for a Parliament, and adventured so much, as some did, in petitioning for one. And, Sir, I think, that accordingly this House have not been wanting to do their Duty therein; and therefore do believe that such Representations to his Majesty are made, by such, as aim at the Destruction of Parliaments, and bringing in of Popery. But the better to prevent their taking any such advantage for the future, I could wish that we may not spend more Mornings about Irish Cattle, nor East-India Trade, until the Business of the Plot and Popery be more off our hands. But in order to satisfy his Majesty of our Obedience to his Commands, I agree both for the Committee, and Trial of the Lord Stafford.'
An Address voted.
Resolved, That a Committee be appointed, to draw up an humble Address to his Majesty upon the Debate of the House, in answer to his Majesty's gracious Message.
Lord Stafford's Trial resolv'd on.
Resolved, That this House will proceed in the Prosecution of the Lords in the Tower, and will forthwith begin with William Viscount Stafford.
The 11th of November, 1680. Sir William Jones reports from the Committee appointed to draw up an Address to his Majesty, upon the Debate of the House, in answer to his Majesty's gracious Message; which he read in his Place, and afterward delivered the same at the Clerks Table; where being read again, was upon the Question agreed to by the House.
The Address to his Majesty from the Commons.
'May it please your most excellent Majesty, We your Majesty's most loyal and obedient Subjects, the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, having taken into our most serious consideration your Majesty's gracious Message, brought unto us the ninth Day of this Instant November, by Mr. Secretary Jenkins, do with all Thankfulness acknowledge your Majesty's Care and Goodness, in inviting us to expedite such Matters as are depending before us, relating to Popery and the Plot. And we do, in all Humility, represent to your Majesty, that we are fully convinced, that it is highly incumbent upon us, in Discharge both of our Duty to your Majesty, and of that great Trust reposed in us by those whom we represent, to endeavour, by the most speedy and effectual ways, the Suppression of Popery within this your Kingdom, and the bringing to public Justice all such as shall be found guilty of the horrid and damnable Popish Plot. And though the time of our sitting (abating what must necessarily be spent in the chusing and presenting a Speaker, appointing grand Committees, and in taking the Oaths and Tests enjoined by Act of Parliament) hath not much exceeded a Fortnight; yet we hve in this time not only made a considerable Progress in some things which to us seem, and (when presented to your Majesty in a parliamentary way) will, we trust, appear to your Majesty to be absolutely necessary for the Safety of your Majesty's Person, the effectual Suppression of Popery, and the Security of the Religion, Lives, and Estates of your Majesty's Protestant Subjects: But even in relation to the Trials of the five Lords impeached in Parliament for the execrable Popish Plot, we have so far proceeded, as we doubt not but in a short time we shall be ready for the same. But we cannot (without being unfaithful to your Majesty, and to our Country, by whom we are entrusted) omit, upon this occasion, humbly to inform your Majesty, That our Difficulties, even as to these Trials, are much increased by the evil and destructive Councils of those Persons who advised your Majesty, first to the Prorogation, and then to the Dissolution of the last Parliament, at a time when the Commons had taken great pains about, and were prepared for those Trials. And by the like pernicious Counsels of those who advised the many and long Prorogations of the present Parliament, before the same was permitted to sit; whereby some of the Evidence which was prepared in the last Parliament, may possibly (during so great an Interval) be forgotten or lost; and some Persons, who might probably have come in as Witnesses, are either dead, have been taken off, or may have been discouraged from giving their Evidence. But of one mischievous Consequence of those dangerous and unhappy Counsels, we are certainly and sadly sensible, namely, that the Testimony of a material Witness against every one of those five Lords (and who could probably have discovered, and brought in much other Evidence about the Plot in general, and those Lords in particular) cannot now be given viva voce; for as much as that Witness is unfortunately dead, between the Calling and the Sitting of this Parliament. To prevent the like, or greater Inconveniencies for the future, we make it our most humble Request to your most excellent Majesty, that, as you tender the Safety of your Royal Person, the Security of your loyal Subjects, and the Preservation of the true Protestant Religion, you will not suffer yourself to be prevailed upon by the like Counsels, to do any thing which may occasion, in consequence (though we are assured never with your Majesty's Intention) either the deferring of a full and perfect Discovery and Examination of this most wicked and detestable Plot, or the preventing the Conspirators therein from being brought to speedy and exemplary Justice and Punishment, And we humbly beseech your Majesty to rest assured, (notwithstanding any Suggestions which may be made by Persons, who, for their own wicked Purposes, contrive to create a distrust in your Majesty of your People,) that nothing is more in the Desires, and shall be more the Endeavours of us, your faithful and loyal Commons, than the promoting and advancing of your Majesty's true Happiness and Greatness.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I hope this Address will satisfy his Majesty, that this House hath not been negligent in the Prosecution of the Plot and Popery, and that it will create in his Majesty a good Opinion of our Proceedings, that so we may not meet with any Interruption in the Perfecting of those Bills which are necessary for the Good of the King and Kingdom, and may have the Glory of having been instrumental in accomplishing that Security which the Nation so much desires in point of Religion, and in making his Majesty's Government not only more easy to him, but so formidable, as that he may become a Terror to his Enemies, and in a Capacity to give Assistance to his Friends both at home and abroad; and, if possible, so reconcile all Divisions, as that there may be no Distinction but of Papists and Protestants, nor of that neither, if there could be a Way found out to prevent it. For I know this House wants nothing but Opportunity to express their Loyalty to the King, and Love to the Protestant Religion, and their Country; but I am afraid that all our Endeavours will prove ineffectual, unless we can remove from his Majesty all Counsellors that advise him in favour of the Popish Interest, and such as influence him in favour of that Party. I do not mean little ones, but such as by Experience we had found, have in the time of our greatest Danger exercised a kind of uncontrolable Power. The Witnesses which you have heard this Day at the Bar, as to the wicked Plot of the Papists in Ireland, and in what a dangerous Condition the poor Protestants are there, how exceeded in Numbers by their Enemies, and deserted by their Friends, added to the Evidence we have of the Plot in England, hath given to me a new Prospect of the deplorable Condition we are in; and therefore, although it be a little late in the Day, seeing here is a full House, and of such Persons as I believe will never think any thing too much, that is so necessary for the Good of their King and Country; I hope you will not think it unseasonable, that I should now move you, that, the ingrossed Bill, for disinheriting James Duke of York, be read.'
The Exclusion-Bill, as amended.
The Bill amended as the House had ordered was read, entituled, An Act for securing of the Protestant Religion, by disabling James Duke of York to inherit the imperial Crown of England and Ireland, and the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging.
'Whereas James Duke of York is notoriously known to have been perverted from the Protestant to the Popish Religion; whereby not only great Encouragement hath been given to the Popish Party to enter into, and carry on most devilish and horrid Plots and Conspiracies, for the Destruction of his Majesty's sacred Person and Government, and for the Extirpation of the true Protestant Religion: But also, if the said Duke should succeed to the imperial Crown of this Realm, nothing is more manifest, than that a total Change of Religion within these Kingdoms would ensue. For the Prevention whereof, Be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by, and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That the said James Duke of York shall be, and is by the Authority of this present Parliament, excluded, and made for ever uncapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy the imperial Crown of this Realm, and of the Kingdom of Ireland, and the Dominions and Territories to them, or either of them, belonging; or to have, exercise, or enjoy any Dominion, Power, Jurisdiction or Authority in the same Kingdoms, Dominions, or any of them.'
'And be it farther enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, That if the said James Duke of York shall at any Time hereafter, challenge, claim, or attempt to possess, or enjoy or shall take upon him to use or exercise any Dominion, Power, or Authority, or Jurisdiction, within the said Kingdoms, or Dominions, or any of them, as King, or chief Magistrate of the same; That then, he, the said James Duke of York, for every such Offence, shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of High-Treason; and shall suffer the Pains, Penalties, and Forfeitures, as in case of High-Treason. And farther, That if any Person or Persons whatsoever, shall assist, or maintain, abet, or willingly adhere unto the said James Duke of York, in such Challenge, Claim, or Attempt, or shall of themselves attempt, or endeavour to put or bring the said James Duke of York, into the Possession, or Exercise of any regal Power, Jurisdiction, or Authority, within the Kingdoms and Dominions aforesaid, or shall by writing, or preaching, advisedly publish, maintain or declare, That he hath any Right, Title, or Authority, to the Office of King, or chief Magistrate, of the Kingdoms and Dominions aforesaid; that then every such Person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of High-Treason; and that he suffer and undergo the Pains, Penalties, and Forfeitures aforesaid.
'And be it farther enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, That he, the said James Duke of York, shall not at any Time, from and after the fifth of November 1680, return, or come into, or within any of the Kingdoms or Dominions aforesaid; otherwise he, the said James Duke of York, shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of High-Treason; and shall suffer the Pains, Penalties, and Forfeitures, as in case of High-Treason: And farther, That if any Person or Persons whatsoever shall be aiding or assisting unto such return of the said James Duke of York, that then every such Person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of High-Treason; and shall suffer as in Cases of High-Treason.
'And be it farther enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, That he, the said James Duke of York, or any other Person, being guilty of any of the Treasons aforesaid, shall not be capable of, or receive Benefit by any Pardon, otherwise than by Act of Parliament, wherein they shall be particularly named; and that no Noli Prosequi, or Order for stay of Proceedings, shall be received or allowed in, or upon any Indictment, for any of the Offences mentioned in this Act.
'And be it farther enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That it shall and may be lawful to, and for any Magistrates, Officers, and other Subjects whatsoever of these Kingdoms and Dominions aforesaid; and they are hereby enjoined and required to apprehend and secure the said James Duke of York, and every other Person offending in any of the Premisses; and with him or them, in case of resistance, to fight, and him or them by Force to subdue: For all which Actions, and for so doing, they are, and shall be, by virtue of this Act, saved harmless and indemnified.
'Provided, and it is hereby declared, That nothing in this Act contained shall be construed, deemed or adjudged, to disenable any other Person from inheriting and enjoying the imperial Crown of the Realms and Dominions aforesaid; (other than the said James Duke of York.) But that in case the said James Duke of York should survive his now Majesty, and the Heirs of his Majesty's Body, the said imperial Crown shall descend to, and be enjoyed by such Person or Persons successorily, during the Life of the said James Duke of York, as should have inherited and enjoyed the same, in case the said James Duke of York were naturally dead; any thing contained in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.
'And be it farther enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, That during the Life of the said James Duke of York, this Act shall be given in charge at every Assizes, and general Sessions of the Peace within the Kingdoms, Dominions and Territories aforesaid,; and also shall be openly read in every Cathedral Church, and Parish Church, and Chapels, within the aforesaid Kingdoms, Dominions, and Territories, by the several respective Parsons, Vicars, Curates, and Readers thereof, who are hereby required, immediately after divine Service in the Forenoon, to read the same twice in every Year; that is to say, on the 25th of December, and upon Easter-Day, during the Life of the said James Duke of York.'
Sir L. Jenkins.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, this great Business cannot be too well considered, before you come to a final Resolution therein. I will not now offer you any prudential Arguments against this Bill; because I did offer several at the last reading. But, Sir, I would desire you to consider, that this Prince is Brother to our present King, and Son to our late pious King Charles the first; for whose Memory this Nation hath a great Veneration: That this Prince is enriched with excellent Endowments, which he hath employed in the Service of this Nation, by fighting our Battles, and defending us from the Oppression or our Enemies; and is only guilty of this one Crime, which, I hope, upon mature Deliberation, will not deserve so great a Condemnation. Sir, I know it is usual for this House to proceed in Affairs of less Importance, with all the Calmness, Justice, and Prudence, that can be imagined; and therefore I hope you will be careful how you deviate from those Measures, in a Business of this nature. I would once more remember you, that there are Laws already for the Punishment of the Crimes he is accused of; and therefore humbly conceive, you ought not to chastise him, by making a new Law; especially with that Severity, which is, by this Bill, now intended, before any Hearing.
'Sir, for my part, I have taken the Oath of Allegiance, and think my self therein bound to him, as Heir, until it please God that his Majesty have Children. I know of no Power on Earth, that can dispense with my Oath; and therefore I cannot (so much as by being silent) give my Consent to this Bill, lest I therein wrong my Conscience; seeing I have the Honour to be a Member of this House.
'I do not doubt but most here have a great esteem for the Church of England, as Members thereof: I could wish they would consider what a great Blow this Bill will give to our Religion, and to our Church. To disinherit a Prince for no other Cause, but for being of a different Opinion in some Points of Faith, is, I think, quite contrary to the Principles of the Religion we profess, and also to the established Laws of this Land. And if such an Act, when made, should be of any validity, I do conclude, that you will thereby change the Constitution of this Monarchy, and make it in a manner elective; and therefore I humbly move you, that the Bill may be thrown out.
Sir Richard Mason.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I desire leave to offer some Objections, which, in my Opinion, do justly arise against this Bill. I think there ought to be a Proviso, That if the Duke should turn Protestant, that then the Bill should be void, and he not excluded from his Right; that so we may not leave him without some Temptation to return to the Protestant Religion. And, Sir, I think there ought to be a Proviso, that in case the Duke should have a Son, after either of his Daughters (if it should be their fortune) have ascended the Throne, for the reserving of him a Right. For there is a Possibility, that if the Duke should out-live the King, he may have a Son, after that his Daughters, by virtue of this Act, may have taken the Crown. I suppose, as there is no Intent to chastise the Daughters for the Father's sake, so not the Son; and therefore I humby move you, that some Proviso may be added, to secure him his Right, if any such thing should happen.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, the honourable Member that spoke before, made large Encomiums on the Duke, extolling his Endowments and Services to the Nation. For my part, I think, that the better qualified he is, the greater is our Danger. But as to what he said, of having fought our Battles, and done great Things for this Nation, I think he hath not done fairly by the House; for he should have told us, How the Triple League was broke, and my Lord of Sandwich lost his Life; how he changed his Religion, and hath ever since encouraged Popery, and assisted that Interest; how the City of London was burnt, and the Actors discharged; how the Discovery of the Popish Plot was prevented as much as it could be, and the Presbyterian one encouraged; that so we might have all before us.'
He was going on more severely, but was interrupted:
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, although it hath been said, that no good Protestant can speak against the Bill; yet, Sir, I cannot forbear to offer some Objections against it. I do not know that any of the King's Murderers were condemned without being heard; and must we deal thus with the Brother of our King? It is such a severe Way of proceeding, that I think we cannot answer it to the World; and therefore it would consist much better with the Justice of the House, to impeach him, and try him in a formal Way; and then cut off his Head, if he deserve it. I will not offer to dispute the Power of Parliaments; but question whether this Law, if made, would be good in itself. Some Laws have a natural Weakness with them. I think, that by which the old long Parliament carried on their Rebellion, was judged afterward void in Law; because there was a Power given, which could not be taken from the Crown. For aught I know, when you have made this Law, it may have the same Flaw in it; if not, I am confident there are a loyal Party, which will never obey, but will think themselves bound, by their Oath of Allegiance and Duty, to pay obedience to the Duke, if ever he should come to be King, which must occasion a Civil War. And, Sir, I do not find that the Proviso, that was ordered to be added for the Security of the Duke's Children, is made strong enough to secure them, according to the Debate of the House; it being liable to many Objections; and the more, because the Words, presumptive Heir of the Crown, are industriously left out, tho' much insisted on when debated here in the House. Upon the whole Matter, my humble Motion is, that the Bill may be thrown out.'
Sir William Jones.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very unfit to speak in this Place, being a Member but of Yesterday; but I will rather adventure to draw a Censure on myself, than be wanting to serve my Country (seeing they have called me hither) in a Business of so great Importance, I think, as great as ever was debated in an House of Commons. I can truly affirm, that I have a great Respect for the Duke of York; and therefore, as well for the Preservation of the Protestant Religion, I am for this Bill. For I take it for granted, That it is impossible that a Papist should come to the Possession and quiet Enjoyment of this Crown, without wading thro' a Sea of Blood, and occasioning such a War as may, for aught I know, shake the monarchical Government of this Nation, and thereby not only endanger himself, but his Children too. For no Man can foresee what may be the End of such a War, nor what Miseries it may bring on the Nation: But, in all probability, It may prove the deepest Tragedy that ever was acted on this great Theatre. For it cannot be imagined, that the great Body of Protestants which are in this Nation, will tamely submit to the Popish Yoke, which they will see in time must be the Consequence of submitting to a Popish King, without some struggling. And Wars begun upon the score of Religion are generally attended with more fatal and bloody Consequences than other Wars; and this may exceed all others that ever yet were made. And I see no way to prevent it, but by passing this Bill, which, so long as it excludes only him, and secures the Crown to his Children, is, I think, (as the Case stands) the greatest Kindness we can do him.'
'Sir, I do much admire to hear some honourable and learned Members say, that this Bill is against natural Justice, because it condemns a Man before he is heard; and that it is too severe a Condemnation; that it is against the Oath of Allegiance and Principles of our Religion; that it will be a Scandal to our Church, to exclude a Man of his Right, for his Opinion in Religion; that it is a Law that will be void in itself, and that there are a loyal Party which will never obey it; that it will make the Crown elective, and occasion a Civil War; and that the Proviso, as to the Duke's Children, is not strong enough, because the Word, presumptive Heir, is lest out.'
'Sir, the first Objection, I think, is a great Mistake; for this Bill is not intended as a Condemnation to the Duke, but a Security to ourselves; and is so far from being against natural Justice, that the passing of it is agreeable to the very Foundation not only of natural Justice, but natural Religion too; the Safety of the King and Kingdom depending thereon, which, according to the Rules of Justice and Religion, we are bound to use our Endeavours to preserve, before any one Man's Interest. That about the Oath of Allegiance I do a little admire at; for it is the first time I ever heard that Oath pleaded in favour of Popery. I have oftentimes had occasion to scan the Meaning of that Oath, but never found it extended to the Successor during the King's Life; and therefore no need of any Dispensation in that Point. And I cannot understand, how it can be any Scandal as to our Church or Religion, if by Church be meant our Protestant Church. Can our Church, or Churchmen, be scandalized because we endeavour to secure ourselves against Popery by all lawful Means? I rather think the very Supposition an high Reflection on our Churchmen, as rendering them willing to let in Popery, which I am confident they are not. As to what is said, that the Law will be void in itself, and that there will be a loyal Party that will never obey it, and that it will occasion a Civil War; I must confess these are strange Arguments to me: For, to doubt that the Legislative Power of the Nation, King, Lords and Commons, cannot make Laws that shall bind any, or all the Subjects of this Nation, is to suppose there is such a Weakness in the Government as must infallibly occasion its Ruin. And therefore I am of Opinion, that what Laws you make in this Case, will carry as much Right and Strength with them, not only now, but after the King's Death, as any Law whatsoever. And how then can there be a loyal Party that will not acquiesce therein, unless the Word Loyal have some other Signification than I know of? I take it to be a Distinction that can only be given to such as obey Laws; and, I think, we need not doubt, but if once this Law were passed, there would be Protestants enough, whose Interest it will be to defend it, that would compel an Obedience to it. And we have much more reason to fear a Civil War without it, than with it; for if we can get this Bill, we may be thereby so united, and enabled to defend ourselves, as that the Popish Party may never have the Confidence to attempt us; but without it we shall not be in any Capacity to defend ourselves; which, above all Things, may encourage a Civil War. As to the Proviso, for securing the Right to the Duke's Children, if it be not strong enough, I am ready to give my Vote it should be stronger; but I take it to be as full and comprehensive as can be made; at least, I take the leaving out the Words, presumptive Heir to the Crown, to be no Objection against it: For there is no such Word in our Law-Books, nor no such Term in treating of the Succession; and therefore I hope you will be careful how you make a Precedent in that Case.'
'And, Sir, as I do not find there is any Weight in the Arguments that have been made against this Bill; so I think, that if the Preservation of our King, our Government, our Lives, and our Religion, be Things of Moment, that there is much to be said for it. For although the Malignity of Men cannot deface his Majesty's Goodness; yet by assisting the Popish Faction, they have spoiled the beautiful Face of the best Government in the World, by breaking that good Correspondence that there ought to be between the King and his People; by dividing us in Points of Religion; and by being the Cause of just Jealousies and Fears: By which his Majesty is reduced to great Difficulties and Trouble, in the Administration of his regal Authority; and the Credit, Peace, and Tranquillity of the Nation almost irrecoverably lost. As to all which, the Art of Man cannot find out any Remedy, as long as there is a Popish Successor, and the Fears of a Popish King; and therefore I humbly move you this Bill may pass.'
Sir Francis Winnington.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Arguments that have been used against this Bill may be very excellent to lull us into a fatal Security, by possessing us with Opinions, that there is no need of taking so much care about Popery; or that we ought not to oppose it; or that it will be to no purpose, because we have no Power to hinder it. But I do not see what Weight they have in them, grounded on any other Consideration, to hinder the passing this Bill. Rather, for the same Reason that such Arguments as these here offered against this Bill, and such Endeavours used abroad to reconcile the People to have a better Opinion of Popery than formerly, I think we ought to be the more zealous for this Bill; because nothing can give a greater Encouragement and Assistance to Popery, than the growth of such Opinions, nor prevent their Design who are industrious to infuse them, than the passing of this Bill. Whoever will consider how this Monarchy hath declined in Grandeur, Honour, and Reputation abroad, by the Destruction of our Navy in 1666, and the little Appearance we have ever since made, of being formidable at Sea; but above all, our Ministers Double-Dealing in the making of Alliances, or performing of them, (in order to keep up our Interest with France.) How from being Umpire to all this Part of the World, according to the Advantage which we have by our Situation, we are become the despicablest Nation in Europe. How the Government is weakned at home, not only by Fears and Jealousies, but by the Debaucheries and Divisions which have been promoted amongst our People; how narrowly we escaped Ruin when the City of London was burnt, as well as when the Toleration came out, and the Army was at Black-Heath? as lately by the horrid Plot, if it had not been discovered; how there is nothing stands between us and Death, but the King's Life; and how all these Dangers, past and present, do arise from Popery: And how impossible it is it should be otherwise, as long as there is a Popish Successor, we may justly admire there should be any Arguments offered in this Place to lessen our Care for preventing the Growth and Power of Popery. I cannot tell how these learned Members understand natural Justice; but I am of that Opinion, that Self-preservation, and the Preservation of our Religion, and the Life of our King, by all lawful Ways, is very agreeable to natural Justice. And I do admire to hear such a Construction made of the Oath of Allegiance, that it binds all Persons to the next Heir, as well as to the King. For it is a most dangerous Maxim, and may be of ill Consequence, if ever the next Heir of the Crown should make a Rebellion; for he may thereby challenge Allegiance from the People, as well as the King; which might be of pernicious Consequence. And I do not see wherein our Church or Religion can be scandalized by this Bill. For we do not disinherit this Prince for his Religion, but to save our own, and to prevent the manifest Ruin of the Nation. And therefore I think it is a Kindness to the Church, above all Acts whatsoever; because the only Way to preserve it, I mean the Protestant Church. And those Objections that have been made against the Lawfulness and Validity of this Act, do not weigh with me; but, notwithstanding what hath been said, I do believe it will be as good in Law, if once it be pass'd, and will be as well observed too, as any Act whatsoever. The King hath his Right from God, and, as supreme, is accountable to none; his. Person sacred, and, by our Laws, can do no Wrong. If we should give all these Qualifications to a Successor, as hath been, in some measure, insinuated, it would make a strange Confusion in the Government. Life itself, to which a Man hath as much Right, as any Successor can pretend to have to the Crown, is taken away upon some Forfeitures for the public Good. And as there may be a Forfeiture for Life, so there may be a Forfeiture of a Right to the Succession. And to doubt that there is not an unlimited, uncontrolable Power residing somewhere in all Governments, to remedy the Exigencies that may happen, is to suppose there is such a Weakness in this, or any other Government, as that it must fall when a powerful Faction shall endeavour it. In this Nation, this Power is in the King, Lords, and Commons; and I hope they will make use of it to preserve the Government upon this Occasion. And I do not doubt, but if the Bill pass, all will obey it heartily, that wish well to the Protestant Religion. I am afraid, some Ministers of State, place their Safety in common Ruin; or otherwise, the settling of this Affair would not have been so long delayed and opposed, as it hath been. Hath there not been contrived and practised, and is there not still threatned, the greatest and certainest Ruin to this Nation, by this Business of the Duke, that ever was yet projected; and must we be more stupified than our Ancestors? Doth not the Act of the thirteenth of Queen Elizabeth, make it Treason for any one to say, That the Parliament cannot alter the Succession? And in Henry the Eighth's time, was not the Right of Succession changed, and rechanged by Act of Parliament?' He then instanced several Precedents, how the Succession had been settled and altered by Acts of Parliament, since William the Conqueror's time, and concluded with a Motion for passing the Bill.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is my Misfortune to lie under the Disreputation of being a Papist; but have now an Opportunity of shewing myself otherwise, in declaring that I am against this Bill; for I think there is none but Papists that are of Opinion, that a Man may be disinherited for his Religion. I have also an Opportunity to shew my Duty to my Master, in declaring, that those Reproaches which have been cast upon him are, in my Opinion, very unjust; because I believe he abhors the thoughts of doing those Actions that have been imputed to him; and therefore do think it very hard, that because he may differ with us in Points of Religion, that therefore his Reputation should thus be called in question in this House. Sir, I cannot enter into a Dispute with that worthy Member that spoke last, as to the Precedents he hath mentioned; because I know he is very learned in the Law; and the understanding of such things belong more particularly to such as have had that Education: But I humbly offer it to the Consideration of this House, Whether or no, if our English Histories be true, most of those Precedents were not accompanied with Blood and Misery? And I am of Opinion, that if this Disinheriting-Bill should pass, it will not have better Success. I cannot doubt, but that this House is for keeping up the monarchical Government of this Nation. We all know, how the Balance hath been altered by Henry the Seventh's lessening the Peers; and Henry the Eighth's destroying the Church, and by the Sale of the Crown-Lands. I pray, Sir, let us have a care how we give a greater Blow than all this, by making the Crown elective. The King lost his Father by one Rebellion, I know this House would not willingly be the Cause of losing his Brother by another; which I am afraid, this Bill, if it should pass, will occasion hereafter; especially if we name no Successor: For which I am the more sorry, because I do not know for whom to draw my Sword.'
Sir H. Capel.
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do observe, and am glad to see it, that all that have spoken in this Business, pro or con, seem to agree, that we ought to do all we can to preserve the present Government, and prevent a civil War; but we differ about the Way: Some think, that this Bill is the only Way; and others are of a contrary Opinion, I cannot tell for what good Reason. For there being nothing intended by this Bill, but the Exclusion of the Duke only, in order to prevent the great Danger we lie under, by reason of his great Influence at Court at present; and those we fear, if ever a Popish King should ascend the Throne. There being nothing in the Bill that tends any way to prejudice the next Heir, it cannot, in my poor Opinion, weaken, much less tend to alter, the present Government, or be any Prejudice to the Royal Family, more than in the Exclusion of this one Person intended by the Bill. From whom there can be no fear of a civil War; unless we should imagine, that the People of this Nation, when they have a Law, upon the Observation and Execution whereof their Lives, Liberties, and Religion depend, they should be so great Brutes as not to value themselves thereon; but rather embrace a blind, superstitious Religion, and submit to all the Slavery imaginable. We may as well think that, after the King's Decease, the People will be willing to submit to the Government, and pretended Authority of the Pope himself, though they should be never so well able to defend themselves. The worthy Member that spoke last, did in a manner affirm, that all the Precedents that have been mentioned, as to the Succession of the Crown by Act of Parliament, have been accompanied with Blood. If he would but take the pains to peruse the Histories of England, I think he would be of another Opinion. But I am sure, none ever equalized the short Reign of Queen Mary. The Barbarities which were exercised in her Reign, by Fire and Faggot, may be put into the Balance with all the Inconveniencies that ever happened by any Exclusion-Act. But, Sir, if it had been so, which I utterly deny, it would not have signified much as to our Case; for in those Days, Matter of Right was always so confounded, (I mean, as to the Understanding of the People) by the many Arguments that were imposed on them by each Party, that neither Point of Right, nor any Consideration, as to any thing of Interest, came fairly before them. Whether A. or B. should be King, was their only Question, without being loaden with any Difficulties; as to which the common and major part of the People in those days might probably be very indifferent. And yet, Sir, upon a full Examination it will be found, that most of those Acts of Parliament, touching the Succession, had the effect they were designed for; and did serve as Expedients, to prevent those Miseries which were feared, and were the occasion of them. But, Sir, the Case will be now much otherwise, if ever you should be so unfortunate, as that the Duke should outlive the King, and you should come to try the Strength of this Exclusion-Bill: For the Question in this case will not be only whether A. which is excluded; or B. which is the next Heir, shall, according to this Act, be King; but whether it shall be a Papist or a Protestant. Upon which it will plainly appear, the Safety of their Estates, Lives, and Religion, doth depend. Sir, I have heard and read of strange Things done by Popish Miracles; and I must confess, Sir, I have seen much of it, even amongst many that pretend, to be good Protestants, since the Plot broke out; I mean, as to their believing any thing against Popery. If some such omnipotent Power should hereafter over-rule in such a Conjunction, haply this Bill, if it should pass into an Act, may be slighted and neglected; but otherwise I humbly conceive, it cannot be presumed, that the Protestants should omit to make use of it, to save themselves from Popery and Slavery, which would be the consequence thereof; and thereby not only prevent a Civil War, but support the Government established in the right Line. The truth is, Sir, the most material Observation that I can make of the Arguments against this Bill is, that it is thought too good for us; and that it may probably be effectual for the securing of the Protestant Religion. And I am afraid, Sir, that this is the fatal Consideration that hath prevailed with some, to advise the King not to grant it. If we consider how all other Laws, which have been hitherto made against the Duke, have been defeated; we may, with some reason, fear the like Success of all others that shall be made; unless you can do something that may tend to changing of the Interest; which can never be done without this Bill. We have a great many old Laws against Papists; but I did never hear that any thing was done, by virtue of them, that ever prejudiced the Duke; it was once attempted by a Presentment made by a Grand Jury; the Success was, that a known material Law of the Land must be broken, by an extrajudicial Discharge of the Jury, rather than the Law against him should have any effect. There was a Law, not long since made, obliging all Persons that held or executed any Office, to take the Transubstantiation Test: It is true, the Duke was so brave-spirited, as not to dissemble, and take the Test; though haply he was earnestly press'd with a Dispensation. Yet hath not that Law had any effect, in favour of the Protestant Religion: for though the Duke hath not since acted in his Offices by himself; he put in, as his Deputies, Persons of so much Gratitude, as have in all things followed his Directions; so that, as to himself, the Act hath not proved of any Force. There was another Act lately made, which was intended chiefly against him; I mean that of excluding Papists from sitting in either House; there he got himself fairly excepted by Name. Now we would secure our Religion by another Bill against him, I find it meets with opposition here; what it may meet with elsewhere, I cannot tell. But if such be his Power under a Protestant King; what may we not justly fear, if he should come to be King himself? I think, nothing less than Popery, Misery, and Slavery; from which we can never be saved but by having this Bill: And therefore I humbly move you, that this Bill may pass.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I will not say, that Acts of Parliament cannot dispose of the Succession; because it was made Treason, by a Statute in the 13th of Elizabeth, which I do not remember was ever repealed. But I will deny, that the Kings of England rule by virtue of any Statute-Law, as was suggested; for their Right is by so ancient a Prescription, as that it may justly be said, to be from God alone; and that no Power on Earth ought to dispute it. And I am of opinion, that the Succession of the Crown is inseparably annexed to Proximity of Blood; and therefore am not yet altered in my opinion, that if this Bill should pass into a Law, it would be in itself invalid. Which, with what hath been already said, that we cannot in Justice answer the indicting of this severe Condemnation without hearing the Party concerned; and the Improbability of ever attaining this Bill, doth very much weigh with me for my Opinion against this Bill. But, Sir, I think there are many Doubts arise from the penning of the Bill. If the Princess of Orange should come to the Crown, during the Duke's Life, and the Duke should afterwards have a Son, must that Son lose his Right for ever? I see no Provision made by this Act to save his Right; and may not that occasion as great a civil War, between his Generation and the Princess's Children, as ever happened between York and Lancaster; and, Sir, I am still unsatisfied, as to that Proviso about the Duke's Children, and that it is not made as it ought to be; and I am afraid, that in the whole matter we are gratifying France, and the Papists too, by laying a Stumbling-block of Division even amongst Protestants themselves, and giving so great an occasion for a civil War; which I hope you will endeavour to prevent, by throwing out this Bill.'
'Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have hearkned to the Objections that have been made against this Bill, which have not convinced me, that we want either a just Cause, or a legal Power, for the making of this Bill. If the Popish Interest be grown too strong for the Protestant, then any of these Arguments may serve; for Force and Power will supply the Defect of them. Otherwise I think they have been so fully answered, as that there is no need more should be said about this matter; but I am sorry to see, that the Protestant Religion, and our Lives and Liberties, must have nothing to depend on, but the Continuance of the King's Life, and the Good-nature of the Popish Party afterward. And this, after such Demonstration as we have of the Interest of that Party in France, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as here; and after a full Detection of the Growth of that Interest, by means of the Duke's; and of the Endeavours that are used to possess the Protestants, with several opinions that will tend very much to the strengthening of it; and a clear Discovery, that the Plot in favour of Popery goeth on as much as ever. It hath created in me an opinion, that Popery is too strong to be subdued by Laws; and that, after this King's Life, the Protestant Religion must either be overcome by Popery, or defend itself by the Sword. At least, I believe, that this is the design of some Men now about the King; but I hope he will at last hearken to the Advice of his Parliament, and prevent the Nation from falling into so miserable a Condition. The Objection made about the Duke's Son, if he should have any, after either of his Daughters have taken possession of the Government, may, in some measure, be made against the course of Succession observed in all Kingdoms: If a King die, leaving a Queen, the next Heir is presently proclaimed, to prevent an Inter-regnum; though there be a possibility of the Queen's being with Child, to whom the Right should, in the first place, belong. If any such should be born, such a Settlement as is designed by this Bill may destroy the French and Popish Interest, but can never be a Gratification to them. Our Ancestors, upon many occasions, settled and changed the Succession;' [Of which he gave many instances; and concluded for the Bill.]
The Exclusion Bill pass'd.
After which it was resolv'd, that the said Bill do pass; that the Title be, An Act for securing the Protestant Religion, by disabling James Duke of York, to inherit the Imperial Crown of England and Ireland, and the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging: and that the Lord Russel do carry up the Bill to the Lords for their Concurrence.