The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 3, 1695-1706. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES, DEBATES, &c.
IN THE House of Commons, FROM THE RESTORATION.
THE Parliament having met according to the Writ of Summons, and the King being seated on the Throne, the Commons were sent for up, to whom my Lord Keeper signified his Majesty's Pleasure, that they should forthwith proceed to the Choice of a Speaker.
Mr. Foley Speaker.
After which the Commons returned to their House, and unanimously made choice of Paul Foley Esq; who being presented the next Day, his Majesty did graciously approve of him, and then made this Speech to both Houses.
'It is with great Satisfaction that I meet you here this Day, being assured of a good Disposition in my Parliament, when I have had such Proofs of the Affection of my People, by their Behaviour during my absence, and at my return.
'I was engaged in this present War by the Advice of my first Parliament; who thought it necessary for the Defence of our Religion, and the Preservation of the Liberties of Europe. The last Parliament with great chearfulness did assist me to carry it on; and I cannot doubt but that your concern for the common Safety, will oblige you to be unanimously zealous in the Prosecution of it: And I am glad that the Advantages which we have had this Year, give us a reasonable Ground of hoping for a further Success hereafter.
'Upon this Occasion, I cannot but take Notice of the Courage and Bravery which the English Troops have shewn this last Summer; which I may say has answered their highest Character in any Age: And it will not be denied, that, without the Concurrence of the Valour and Power of England, it were impossible to put a stop to the Ambition and Greatness of France.
'I think it a great Misfortune that, from the beginning of my Reign, I have been forced to ask so many, and such large Aids of my People; and yet I am confident you will agree with me in Opinion, that there will be at least as great Supplies requisite for carrying on the War by Sea and Land this Year, as was granted in the last Session; the rather, because our Enemies are augmenting their Troops, and the necessity of increasing our Shipping does plainly appear.
'I must likewise take notice of a great Difficulty we lie under at this Time, by reason of the ill State of the Coin, the Redress of which may perhaps prove a further Charge to the Nation; but this is a Matter of such general Concern, and of so very great importance, that I have thought fit to leave it entirely to the Consideration of my Parliament.
'I did recommend to the last Parliament, the forming some good Bill for the Encouragement and Increase of Seamen; I hope you will not let this Session pass without doing somewhat in it; and that you will consider of such Laws as may be proper for the Advancement of Trade, and will have a particular Regard to that of the East-Indies, lest it should be lost to the Nation. And while the War makes it necessary to have an Army abroad, I could wish some way might be thought of, to raise the necessary Recruits, without giving Occasion of Complaint.
'My desire to meet my People in a new Parliament, has made the opening of this Session very late; which I hope you will have such Regard to, as to make all possible dispatch of the great Business before you; and will call to mind, that by the long continuance of the last Session, we did not only lose Advantages which we might have had at the beginning of the Campaign, but gave the Enemy such an Opportunity as might have proved very fatal to us. And I am the more concerned to press this, because of the great Preparations which the French make to be early in the Field this Year.
'I have had such Experience of your good Affections; and I have such an entire Satisfaction in the Choice which my People have made of you, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, that I promise my self a happy Conclusion of this Session, unless you suffer your selves to be misled into Heats and Divisions; which being the only Hope our Enemies have now left, I make no doubt but you will entirely disappoint by your Prudence and Love to your Country.'
Addresses of both Houses.
Both Houses, in their respective Addresses, with great Zeal and Unanimity, congratulated the glorious Success of his Majesty's Arms abroad, and his safe Return home; and likewise returned his Majesty Thanks for the Trust and Confidence he reposed in their Affections; assuring him, that they would support his Majesty and his Government against all his Enemies foreign and domestic, and effectually assist him in the Prosecution of the present War, in which he was engaged for the Safety of England, and Liberty of Europe. The Commons Address being presented by the whole House, His Majesty gave them this Answer:
The King's Answer to that of the Commons.
'Gentlemen, I heartily thank you for the Marks you give me of your Affection: Our Interests are inseparable, and there is nothing I wish so much as the Happiness of this Country, where God has placed me.'
Bill for regulating Trials in Cases of Treason.
The Bill for regulating Trials in Cases of Treason, and Misprision of Treason, which had been several times lost in the former Parliaments, was again brought into the House of Commons, Novemb 26, and in a short time read three times there, and sent up to the Lords for their Concurrence, by which many Hardships upon the Liberty of the Subject were removed, or mitigated: For it was hereby enacted, 'That all Persons indicted for High-Treason, or Misprision of it, shall have a Copy of the Indictment five Days before their Trial, and shall be admitted to make their Defence by Councils learned in the Law, not exceeding two. That no Person shall be indicted or attainted, but by the Oaths of two lawful Witnesses. That no Person shall be prosecuted, unless the Indictment be found within three Years after the Offence committed. That all Persons indicted shall have Copies of the Jury two days before their Trial; and shall have like Process to compel their Witnesses to appear before them, as is usually granted to Witnesses against them. To this Bill the Lords added the Clause they had always insisted upon; that upon the Trial of any Peer or Peeress for Treason or Misprision, all the Peers who have a Right to sit and vote in Parliament, shall be duly summoned twenty days at least before such Trial, and shall not vote without first taking the Oaths appointed by the Act 1 William and Mary, and subscribing and repeating the Declaration mentioned in the Act made 30 Car. II. which Clause was agreed to by the Commons. [It is remarkable, that, whilst this Bill was depending in the House of Commons, the Lord Shaftesbury rose up in order to speak for it; and having begun his Speech, he seemed to be so surprized, that for a while he could not go on; but having recovered himself, he took Occasion from his very surprize, to enforce the necessity of allowing Council to Prisoners who were to appear before their Judges, since he who was not only innocent and unaccused, but one of their own Members, was so dash'd when he was to speak before that august Assembly. This Turn of Wit did great service in promoting that excellent Bill.]
Proceedings on the State of the Coin. ; Arguments against recoining the Silver.
The Lords were considering that part of the King's Speech that related to the ill State of the Coin, and had drawn up an Address, to which, in a Conference, they desired the Concurrence of the Commons, who chose rather to proceed in their own way, by appointing a Committee, who should have Power to consider of a Fund to make good the Deficiency of the clipt Money. And here the great Question was, Whether it was necessary or expedient to recoin the Silver-Money? The Country-Party held the Negative; the Court-Party the Affirmative; and the Arguments were weighed on both sides. The Reasons against calling in, and recoining the Money were, That this was no fit Juncture for it, while the Nation was engaged in a burthensome and doubtful War, by which the Kingdom had already greatly suffered, and of which it grew every day more sensible. That therefore the People, on whose good Affection the Government so much depended, should not be provoked by fresh Grievances, greater than any they had yet felt, as those would certainly be, that must arise from the calling in the Silver-Coin. That if this was done, however things might be managed and accommodated at home, it were impossible to maintain the Commerce or the War, abroad; for neither the Merchant could be paid his Bills of Exchange, nor the Soldier receive his Subsistence. That this was to lay the Ax to the Root, and to dig up the Foundation of the Government. That if this Design was prosecuted, Trade must stand still for want of mutual Payments; whence such Disorder and Confusion would certainly follow, as would discourage and dishearten the People in the highest measure, if not drive them to a perfect Despair, as Despair would to the most terrible Extremities. That therefore the recoining the Money at this time was by no means to be attempted without hazarding all.'
Arguments for recoining the Silver-Money.
It was alledged by those of the contrary Opinion, at the Head of whom appeared Mr. Charles Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Mischief would be fatal, if a present Remedy was not found out and applied. That by reason of the ill State of the Coin, the Change abroad was infinitely to the Nations Prejudice. That the Supplies that were raised to maintain the Army would never attain their end, being so much diminished and devoured by the unequal Change, and exorbitant Premiums before they reached the Camp. That this was the unhappy Cause that the Guineas advanced to thirty Shillings, and foreign Gold in proportion: That therefore to the Nation's great Loss, not only the Dutch, but indeed all Europe sent that Commodity to this Market, and would continue to do so, till the Nation should be impoverished and undone by plenty of Gold. That we must exchange for their Gold our Goods, or our Silver, till at last we should have only Guineas to trade withal; which no body could think our Neighbours would be so kind to receive back, at the value they were at here. That therefore this Disease would every day take deeper root, infect the very Vitals of the Nation; and, if not remedied, would soon become incurable. That our Enemies must be mightily intimidated by so great an Action, and would sooner be induced to agree to honourable Terms of Peace, in case they saw us able to surmount this Difficulty, by the retrieving the ill State of the Coin, on which their hopes of the Nation's speedy Ruin so much depended; and that it would justly create a mighty Esteem abroad, of the Greatness and Wisdom of the Parliament of England, which was able to conquer such an obstinate and almost insuperable Evil, in such a Juncture of Affairs.'
Debate about raising or continuing the Old Standard.
These Matters being fully debated, the Parliament resolved to call in and recoin the Silver-Money, chusing rather to run the hazard of some great Inconveniencies, than by a longer neglect to expose the Kingdom to apparent Ruin. The next Step was to consider, Whether the several Denominations of the new Money should have the same Weight and Fineness as the old; or, whether the established Standard should be raised? This Question produced many Debates: Those who were for raising the Standard, did argue, that the Price of an Ounce of Silver-Bullion was advanced to six Shillings and three Pence, and therefore the Standard ought to be raised to an Equality. That the raising the Standard would prevent the Exportation of our Coin, and the melting of it down, which of late Years has been much practised, to the great Prejudice of this Kingdom; and that it would encourage People to bring in their Plate and Bullion into the Mint. The Court-Party, who were for preserving the old Standard, urged, That as to the Price of Bullion, now raised to six Shillings and three Pence, it was impossible the Price of Silver could rise and fall in respect of itself, but the Alteration of the Value of Bullion was merely in relation to Diminished Money; for it was still Matter of Fact, that with five Shillings and two Pence of New-milled Money, they could buy an Ounce of Bullion; whilst those who bought it with Clipp'd-Pieces, paid six Shillings three Pence.
As to the Agreement of preventing the Exportation of Money by raising the Standard, it was answered, There was no Way possible to keep our Money at home, but by out trading our Neighbours; that is, by sending them more Commodities, or of gremer Value, than those we received from them, &c.
Resolutions about the Coin.
After these Debates, the Commons Resolv'd, on December 10. That all Clipp'd Money be Re-coined according to the established Standard of the Mint, both as to the Weight and Fineness. That the Loss of such Clipp'd-Money shall be borne by the Public. That a Day be appointed, after which no Crowns or Half-Crowns be allowed in any Payment. That another Day be appointed for all Persons to bring in their Clipp'd-Money to be re-coined into Milled-Money: And that a Fund be settled for supplying the Deficiencies. After this, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer reported the Form of an Address, to desire his Majesty to regulate the Currency of Clipp'd-Money, according to the foregoing Resolutions; which Address being presented to the King, he caused his royal Proclamation to be issued out for that purpose. And the Lords had already addressed his Majesty to the same Effect.
Some time before, the Commons, having considered, that the maintaining an Army abroad occasioned the Exportation of the Coin, which could not be prevented, but by supplying the said Army with Necessaries out of this Kingdom; on December 13 ordered an Address to be presented to his Majesty, 'That he would please to procure, that all Commodities and Provisions, that should be transported from England, for the Use of the Forces in his Majesty's Pay abroad, might be exempted from any Duty or Excise throughout the Spanish and United Netherlands.
An Address against the Scots African and India Company.
The Scots Parliament having this Year pass'd an Act, for erecting a Company to trade to Africa and the EastIndies; the Parliament of England took the Alarm, as if it had been a Project to destroy that Trade in this Kingdom. Both Lords and Commons presented an Address to the King against it, Dec. 17th. To which his Majesty was pleas'd to answer, 'I have been ill-serv'd in Scotland, but I hope some Remedies may be found to prevent the Inconveniences, which may arise from this Act.
Bill for regulating the Coinage.
The Commons having considered the Bill for regulating the Coinage of the Silver-Money, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had prepared, and presented to the House on December 17. ordered on December 23d, a Clause of Loan to be inserted in it, in favour of such as would advance Money on Credit of the Exchequer in general, transferrable to such Funds as should be settled by Parliament, towards making good the Deficiencies of the Clipped-Money; and likewise ordered the same Committee to take care, that Persons who should bring in Clipped-Money (above what was for Taxes) should have a Recompence for the same. This Bill was amended accordingly, and four days after passed, and sent up to the Lords for their Concurrence.
Ways and Means to supply the Deficiency of Clipp'd-Money.
On the 31st of December, the Commons resolved to raise the 1,200,000 l. for supplying the Deficiency of the Clipped-Money, by a Duty laid upon all Dwelling-Houses, except Cottages; to wit, two Shillings yearly upon each House; four Shillings upon every House having ten Windows; and eight Shillings upon such Houses as have twenty Windows, over and above the said two Shillings: which Duty was to be paid by the Inhabitants of the said Houses, and to be continued for the space of seven Years, and no longer.
The Days appointed by the King's Proclamation for putting a Stop to the Currency of Clipped-Money, were so short, that an immediate Stop was thereby put to Trade: So as the House of Commons were obliged in a grand Committee to consider the State of the Nation, and how to prevent the Stop of Commerce during the Re-coining of the Clipped Moneys. After some Debates for several days, the Commons resolved, on January the 9th,
Resolutions for the present Relief of Commerce.
Thirdly, That a Reward of five Pounds per Cent. be given to all Persons, who should bring in either Milled or broad Unclipped Money, to be applied in exchange of the Clipped-Money throughout the Kingdom.
Fifthly, That for the sooner bringing in the ClippedMoney to be re-coined, any Persons might pay in their whole next Year's Tax of four Shillings in the Pound, in the said Clipped-Money, at one convenient time appointed for that Purpose.
Lastly, That Commissioners be appointed in every County to pay and distribute the Milled and broad UnclippedMoney and the New-coined Money, and to receive the Clipped-Money. And at the same time appointed a Committee, to prepare and bring in a Bill upon the said Resolutions.
Royal Assent given to several Bills.
His Majesty came to the House of Peers, Jan. 11. and gave the Royal Assent to an Act for enlarging the Times to purchase certain Annuities, and continuing the Duties on low Wines; &c. An Act for regulating Trials in Cases of High-Treason.
Farther Proceedings on the Coinage.
Jan 21, The Bill relating to the Coinage was read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House; who resolved, That a further Encouragement be given for bringing in Plate to be coined, and Broad-Money in order to be exchanged for Clipped-Money: And that a Clause be inserted in the said Bill, to prevent the Melting-down and Exportation of Coin, or any Bullion; and another Clause to prohibit the Use of Plate in Public-Houses; which, at last, proved the best Expedient to supply the Mints with Bullion.
The Lords having made several Amendments to the Bill for regulating the Coinage of the Silver-Money of this Kingdom; most of them, after several Debates and Conferences, were disagreed to by the Commons: Whereupon Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, according to Order, presented to the House another Bill for remedying the ill State of the Coin of this Kingdom; which was received, and after some Amendments, ordered to be engrossed, and sent up to the Lords, who gave their Concurrence to it.
Grants to the Earl of Portland.
There was another Affair depending in this Session, which very sensibly concerned his Majesty. The Earl of Portland had begged of his Majesty the Lordships of Denbigh, Bromfield, and Yale, and other Lands in the Principality of Wales; which his Majesty, before he went last to Holland, had readily granted to him and his Heirs for ever: The Warrant coming to the Lords of the Treasury, the Gentlemen of the County, upon short Notice, were heard on May the 10th, before their Lordships.
Canvass'd before the Lords of the Treasury.
Sir William Williams then alledged, 'That these Lordships were the ancient Demesnes of the Prince of Wales. That the Welsh were never subject to any but God and the King. That in the Statute for granting Fee-farm Rents, there was an Exception of the Rents belonging to the Principality of Wales; which imported, that the Parliaments took those Revenues to be unalienable. That upon Creation of a Prince of Wales, there were many Acknowledgments payable out of those Lordships; and though there were at present no Prince of Wales, yet he hoped to see one of the King's own Body, &c.'
Sir Roger Puleston alledged, 'That the Revenues of these Lordships did support the Government of Wales, by paying the Judges and other Officers their stated Salaries; and if given away, there would be a Failure of Justice.'
And Mr. Price, a Gentleman of great Parts (since one of the Barons of the Exchequer) did boldly urge, 'That the Grant was of a large Extent, being five Parts in six of a whole County, which was too great a Power for any foreign Subject to have; and that the People of the Country were too great, to be subject to any Foreigner: Let it be considered, (says he) can it be for his Majesty's Honour or Interest, (when the People hear this and understand it) that he daily gives away the Revenues of his Crown; and what is more, the Perpetuity of them to his foreign Subjects? Good Kings, after a long and chargeable War, were wont to tell the People, that they were sorry for the Hardships the Nation underwent by long Wars and heavy Taxes; and that now they would live upon their own Revenues: But it is to be feared, if Grants are made so large and so frequent, there would be nothing for the King or his Successors to call their own to live upon.' He concluded thus: 'It is to be hoped your Lordships will consider, that we had but one Day's Notice of this Attendance, and must come therefore very much unprovided: Yet we doubt not, but that these Hints and broken Thoughts we have offered to your Lordships, you will, by your great Judgments, improve; whereby the ill Consequences of this Grant may truly be represented to his Majesty.'
The Lord Godolphin, the first Commissioner of the Treasury, asked for Satisfaction, Whether the Earl of Leicester had not those Lordships in grant to him in Queen Elizabeth's time? Sir Robert Cotton answered, he believed he could give the best Account in that Case; that the Earl of Leicester had but one of those Lordships, and that was Denbigh: That he was so oppressive to the Gentry of the Country, that he occasioned them to take up Arms, and to oppose him; for which, three or four of his (Sir Robert Cotton's) Relations were hanged; but that it ended not there, for the Quarrel was kept still on foot, and the Earl glad to be in Peace, and to grant it back to the Queen: Since which Time it had ever been in the Crown. Whereupon the Lord Godolphin said, They had offered many weighty Reasons, which they should represent to his Majesty.
From the Treasury, the Gentlemen of Wales attended the Grant, to the Privy-Seal, where their Reasons and Complaints against it, were heard and received with all Candour and Goodness. Yet notwithstanding all this, the said Grant being only superseded, but not recalled, Sir Thomas Grosvenor, Sir Richard Middleton, Sir John Conway, Sir Robert Cotton, Sir William Williams, Sir Roger Puleston, Edward Vaughan, Edward Brereton, and Robert Price Esqs; addressed themselves by Petition to the Commons.
Mr. Price's Speech against the Grants.
'Mr. Speaker, The Petition now presented unto you, in Behalf of ourselves and Country-men, tho' subscribed by few Hands, yet has the Sense and Approbation of thousands; who are not influenc'd by their own Interest, but by the Honour they have for the Crown, and the Welfare of the British Nation.
'If I could conceive that the Glory and Grandeur of England was, or could be upheld by a poor, Landless Crown, and a miserable, necessitous People, I could then be easily persuaded to believe, that his Majesty was well-advis'd to grant away all the Revenues of the Crown, and that his Government thereby could be well-secured, and his People best protected when they had nothing left them. I am sure this is not English, but Foreign Policy, advis'd by those who may revere the King, but hate us.
'The Kings of England always reigned best when they had the Affections of their Subjects; and of that they were secure, when the People were sensible, that the King was intirely in their Interest, and loved the English Soil, as well as the People's Money. When Kings had a landed Interest coupled with their Power, then it was most stable and durable; as is manifest by the ancient Demeshe-Lands, and other large and Royal Revenues; the many and great Tenures the People then held their Estates under, which created then such an indissoluble Union and Dependence, that they supported each other; and it is observable, that the Separation of the Revenues from the Crown, has been in all Ages the occasion of rendring the English Government precarious: And that it might not be so, your Petitioners, with a dutiful Deference to his Majesty, do represent to you (the great Council of the Nation) This, Theirs, and the People's Case, for Redress and Remedy according to your Wisdoms.
'The three great Lordships, or Hundreds of Denbigh, Bromfield and Yale, in the County of Denbigh, for some Centuries, have been the Revenues of the Kings of England and Princes of Wales, to which Lordships your Petitioners, and above fifteen hundred Freeholders more are Tenants, pay Rents, Suits of Court, and other Royal Services. These Lordships are four Parts in five of the whole County, being the best and most plentiful Part of the Country, and thirty Miles in extent.
'The present Rents to the Crown, are but 1700 l. per Ann. besides Heriots, Reliefs, Mises, Wasts, Estreats, Perquisites of Courts, and other contingent Profits. There are also great Wastes and profitable, of several thousands of Acres, rich and valuable Mines, besides other Advantages, a mighty Favourite and great Courtier might make out of this Country.
'Your Petitioners being casually informed last Summer, that a Grant to the Earl of Portland, of the Lordships of Denbigh, Bromfield and Yale, was at the Treasury, in order to be passed, your Petitioners did oppose the said Grant; and, upon considering the Grant, they found not only the three Lordships, but also near 3000 l. per Ann. of your Petitioners and their Countrymens ancient Inheritances expresly granted. So that, if all that was comprized in the Grant had passed, it had been a very noble, nay Royal Gift, worth at least 100,000 l. Nor was this Grant made for any short time to this noble Lord, being to him and his Heirs for ever; and yet not much to the Advantage of the Crown, having only a Reservation of Six Shillings and Eight-pence a Year to the King and his Successors.
'These Facts were laid before the Lords of the Treasury, by your Petitioners, who cannot say, but they were well heard, well understood, and hope, truly represented; only with this Remark, that the Docket sign'd by the Lords of the Treasury for the Grant, was dated and carried to the Privy-Seal, a Month before the Lords of the Treasury had ordered your Petitioners to be heard at the Treasury against the Grant. The next Stage we had was to attend that noble Grant from the Treasury to the Privy Seal, where, I must confess, our Reasons and Complaints were heard with all Candour and Goodness, by that noble Lord who had the Custody of the Seal; and I believe sincerely, has truly represented the whole Affair: And that is the reason, at present, that this Grant halts, I suppose, till the Parliament rises, and then I doubt not but it will find Legs and take its Journey.
'These Lordships, for many Ages, have been the Revenues of the Kings of England, the Support of several Princes of Wales, have been settled upon them and their Heirs, by sundry Patents of the Kings, and confirmed by several Acts of Parliament.
'This Royal Dominion, in most Reigns, has been attacked by great and powerful Favourites, but with little Success; for, in the fourth of Queen Elizabeth, some Parts of this Revenue were granted to some of her Creatures, but attended with so many Law-Suits and general Disturbances, that the Queen interposed, and the Freeholders gave large Compositions for their Peace, and the Queen, by her Charter, confirmed their Estates.
'In the fourth Year of King James the first, these Lordships were settled upon Prince Charles and his Heirs, Kings of England; but his Servants were (as most Courtiers are) willing to make use of their Opportunities, and had gotten some Grants of great Part of these Revenues, and proved so vexatious and troublesome to the Country, that the Freeholders came to another Composition, and gave 10,000 l. for their Peace, and for the settling of their Estates, Tenure and Commons, which were confirmed by Parliament, in the third Year of the Reign of King Charles I.
'In the late Reigns, however calumniated, there were many and great Applications made for Grants of some Members and Parts of these Lordships, which were always rejected, as too powerful a Trust for a Subject. If the Parts were so, what shall the Grant of the whole be?
'History and Records tell us, that the Grants of these Lordships have been very fatal to either Prince or Patentees; the one either lost his Crown, or the other his Head. It is therefore dangerous meddling with such ominous Bounties.
'I must likewise observe to you, that the long Parliament in King Charles the Second's Reign, when they passed an Act for the Fee-Farm Rents, excepted those within the Principality of Wales; which is a plain Intimation, that the Parliament thought them not alienable, or sitting to be aliened, but rather to be preserved for the Support of the Prince of Wales.
'There is a great Duty lies upon the Freeholders of these Lordships, upon the Creation of a Prince of Wales: They pay the Prince 800 l. for Mises, which is such a Duty, Service, or Tenure, that it is not to be sever'd from the Prince of Wales; and how this Tenure can be made reconcilable to this noble Lord's Grant, will be a great difficulty.
'If we are to pay these Mises to this noble Lord, upon this Grant, then he is, or is quasi a Prince of Wales; for this Duty was never paid to any other: But if it is to be paid to the Prince of Wales, and likewise to this noble Lord, then we are doubly charged. But if it be to be paid to the Prince of Wales, when he has no Royalty left in that Dominion, and not to be paid to this noble Lord, who by this Grant is to have the whole Lordships, it creates a Repugnancy in the Tenure of our Estates.
'But I suppose this Grant of the Principality is a Forerunner of the Honour too, and then I shall fancy we are returning to our Original Contract; for, as Story tells us, we were first brought to entertain a Prince of Wales, by recommending him to us as one that did not understand the English Tongue, and our Forefathers thence inferred, that he must be our Countryman, and no Foreigner, and one that understood the British Language; how we were deceived therein, is palpable.
'But since I have minded you of our Welsh Original Contract, which is of so long a standing, I would not have you forget another Contract made not above seven or eight Years since, which is the Foundation of our present Government; I mean the Bill of Rights and Liberties, and settling the Succession of the Crown, which is so much forgotten in Discourse or Practice, that I have not heard it named in Parliament, but once the last Parliament: And I find it as much forgotten in the Administration. I would gladly know from those who are better vers'd in prerogative Learning than my self, Whether his Majesty can by the Bill of Rights, without the Consent of Parliament, aliene or give away the Inheritance, or an absolute Fee of the Crown Lands? If he can, I would likewise know to what purpose the Crown was settled for Life, with a Remainder in Succession, if a Tenant for Life of the Crown can grant away the Revenue of the Crown, and which is incident to the Crown? Or can the King have a larger Estate in the Revenue than he has in the Crown to which it belongs? Far be it from me to speak any thing in derogation of his Majesty's Honour and Care of us!
'It cannot be pretended, that he shall know our Laws, (who is a Stranger to us and we to him) no more than we know his Counsellors, which I wish we did; I mean, those new Advisers. However, those of his Counsellors or Ministers, whom we do know, and those thro' whose hands the Grant did pass, by advising the King to grant what by Law he could not, are guilty of the highest Violation of the Laws and Liberties of England, strike at the Foundation of the Succession, and tear up the Bill of Rights and Liberties by the roots: It was their Province and Duty to have acquainted the King with his Power and Interest, that the ancient Revenue of the Crown is sacred and unalienable in time of War and the People's Necessities.
'By the old Law, it was part of the Coronation Oath of the Kings of England, not to aliene the ancient Patrimony of the Crown, without the Consent of Parliament: But as to those Oaths of Office, most Kings have CourtCasuists about them, to inform that they have Prerogative enough to dispense with them.
'It has been the peculiar Care of Parliaments, in all Ages, to keep an even Balance betwixt King and People; and therefore, when the Crown was too liberal in their Bounties, the Parliament usually resum'd those Grants, which was very frequent; for, from the Reign of Henry the Third of England, to the Sixth Year of Henry the Eighth, there was one or more Bills of Resumption in every one of those Kings Reigns, save one of them. In the time of Henry the Fifth, there was an Act of Resumption of all that was granted from the Prince of Wales in all that Principality; and yet those Acts were not look'd upon by those Kings (of whom some of them both good and great) any Lessening or Diminution to their Prerogatives, it being consider'd, that Kings have their Failings as well as other Men, being cloathed with frail Nature, and are apt to yield to the Importunities of their Flatterers and Favourites: Therefore it becomes necessary, that the great Council of the Nation should interpose for the Interest of the King and People.
'The Commons of England always entertained an honourable Jealousy of their Princes, when they perceived their Expences at Home or Abroad, their Gifts and Boons to their Favourites to be too large and exorbitant; and have therefore, by their Petitions and dutiful Applications to the Crown, advis'd the Kings of England to retrench their Expences, and not to aliene or give away the Revenues of the Crown, left they should become burthensome to the People, and chargeable to the Commonwealth, and that they would live upon their own Revenue, & Talligiis Populi. These were their just and frequent Ways, in elder Time, to repair the languishing Estate of the Crown.
'And as we are an Island, and subject to Invasion, so the Parliaments of England were very watchful, that other Countries should not outdo them in Trade and naval Strength; that Foreigners should have no more Footing, or Strength, or Settlement in England, than was conducing to carry on the Trade and Commerce of the Nation; and whenever Princes entertain'd Foreigners as their Counsellors, or chief Advisers, the People of England were restless and uneasy, till they were removed out of the King's Councils, nay, out of the Kingdom. And Instances are many in History and Parliament-Rolls, of what Great Men and Foreigners (being Favourites) were banish'd the Land for procuring to themselves too large a Proportion of the Royal Revenue, especially in Time of War, and the People's Necessities.
'As for Instance, in King Stephen's Time, who usurped the Crown of England from Maud the Empress, and her Son, King Henry the Second; William de Ipres, a Netherlander, was brought over, with great Numbers of his Countrymen; to which William de Ipres that King de facto gave an Earldom, and made him so great a Confident, that he was in all his Councils, and obtain'd great Grants, not only for himself, but also for his Countrymen the Netherlanders, called then Flemings, who then swarmed so thick about that King's Court, that Englishmen were scarce known or regarded; at which the People were so enraged, that they importuned King Henry the Second, when he obtain'd the Right of his Crown, to seize on all which King Stephen had given the foreign Favourite and his Accomplices, and banished him, and his Friends the Netherlanders, from his Court and Kingdom.
'The like Compliment was made by the People to King Richard the First, for the removing and banishing of the Duke of Saxony, his own Nephew, and his Sister's Son, being a Foreigner, and all his German Friends.
'Henry the Fourth, and other following Princes took the same Method, upon the humble and hearty Petition of the People, sometimes in Parliament, and sometimes out; and, in these Cases, the Kings seized and took to themselves all the Revenues of the Crown that they had given them, and always sent those Foreigners to their own Countries.
'For these Reasons given, in many of those Instances, the People of England disliked and opposed them, fearing both their Power and Councils, and that they would become heavy and burthensome to the State, and that England was able to foster none but her own Children.
'I must needs confess, that my thoughts are strangely troubled with the Apprehension of our deplorable State. We are in a Confederacy in War, and some of those Confederates our Enemies in Trade, tho' planted amongst us, some in the King's Council, some in the Army, and the common Traders have possess'd themselves of the Out skirts of the City. We find some or other of them Naturaliz'd, and others made Denizens. Every Parliament, we find, endeavours for a general Naturalization, and that warmly sollicited from Court. We see our good Coin all gone, and our Confederates openly coining base Money, of Dutch Alloy, for us. We see most Places of Power and Profit given to Foreigners: We see our Confederates in conjunction with the Scots to ruin our English Trade: We see the Revenues of the Crown daily given to one or other, who make Sale of them, and transmit their Estates elsewhere: We do not find any of them buy Lands or Estates amongst us; but what they can get from us they secure in their own Country.
'How can we hope for happy Days in England, when this great Man, and the other (tho' naturalized) are in the English, and also in the Dutch Councils? If those Strangers, tho' now Confederates, should be of different Interests, as most plainly they are in point of Trade; to which Interest is it to be supposed those great foreign Counsellors and Favourites would adhere? So that, I foresee, when we are reduc'd to extreme Poverty, as now we are very near it, we are to be supplanted by our Neighbours, and become a Colony to the Dutch.
'I shall make no Remarks on this great Man, for his Greatness makes us little, and will make the Crown both Poor and Precarious; and when God shall please to send us a Prince of Wales, he may have such a Present of a Crown made him, as a Pope did to King John, who was surnamed Sansterre, and by his Father Henry the Second made Lord of Ireland, which Grant was confirmed by the Pope, who sent him a Crown of Peacocks Feathers, in derision of his Power, and the Poverty of his Revenue.
'I would have us to consider, we are Englishmen, and must, like good Patriots, stand by our Country, and not suffer it to become tributary to Strangers: We have rejoic'd, that we have beat out of this Kingdom Popery and Slavery, and now do, with as great Joy, entertain Socinianism and Poverty; and yet we see our Properties daily given away, and our Liberties must soon follow.
'Thus I have represented unto you the Nature of this mighty Grant to this noble Lord, the ill Consequence that must attend the Public, and more particularly this County, by the passing of it: the Remedies that our Forefathers took to cure this mischievous Ill, were known.
'I desire more Redress than Punishment. Therefore I shall neither move for an Impeachment against this noble Lord, nor the Banishment of him; but I shall beg that he may have no Power over us, nor we any Dependance upon him: Therefore I shall conclude my Motion, that an Address be made to His Majesty, to stop the Grant that is passing to the Earl of Portland, of the Lordships of Denbigh, Bromfield, and Yale, and other Lands in the Principality of Wales; and that the same be not granted, but by Consent of Parliament.'
This stout and eloquent Speech made so great an Impression, that Mr. Price's Motion was carried by an unanimous Consent, and on January the 22d this Address was presented to the King by the Speaker, attended by the whole House.
'May it please your most Excellent Majesty, We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses in Parliament assembled, humbly lay before your Majesty, That whereas there is a Grant passing to William Earl of Portland and his Heirs, of the Manors of Denbigh, Bromfield, and Yale, and divers other Lands in the Principality of Wales, together with several Estates of Inheritance, enjoyed by many of your Majesty's Subjects, by virtue of ancient Grants from the Crown:
'That the said Manors, with the large and extensive Regalities, Powers and Jurisdictions to the same belonging, are of great concern to your Majesty and the Crown of this Realm: And that the same have been usually annex'd to the Principality of Wales, and settled on the Princes of Wales for their Support: And that a great Number of your Majesty's Subjects in those Parts hold their Estates by royal Tenure, under great and valuable Compositions, Rents, roval Payments, and Services to the Crown and Princes of Wales, and have by such Tenure great dependance on your Majesty and the Crown of England, and have enjoyed great Privileges and Advantages with their Estates under such Tenure.
'We therefore most humbly beseech your Majesty to put a stop to the passing this Grant to the Earl of Portland of the said Manors and Lands; and that the same may not be disposed from the Crown but by Consent of Parliament. For that such Grant is in diminution of the Honour and Interest of the Crown, by placing in a Subject such large and extensive Royalties, Powers and Jurisdictions, which ought only to be in the Crown, and will sever that Dependance, which so great a Number of your Majesty's Subjects in those parts have on your Majesty and the Crown, by reason of their Tenure, and may be to their great Oppression in those Rights which they have purchased and hitherto enjoyed with their Estates, and also an Occasion of great vexation to many of your Majesty's Subjects, who have long had the absolute Inheritance of several Lands (comprehended in the said Grant to the Earl of Portland) by ancient Grants from the Crown.'
'Gentlemen, I have a kindness for my Lord Portland, which he has deserved of me by long and faithful Services; but I should not have given him these Lands, if I had imagined the House of Commons could have been concerned; I will therefore (fn. 1) recall the Grant, and find some other way of shewing my Favour to him.'
Proceedings occasion'd by the Scots India Company. ; Several Persons impeach'd thereon.
The Committee of Commons having made their Report
to the House, and deliver'd a Copy of the Oath de Fideli,
taken by the Directors of the Scots India Company, and of
the Journal of their Proceedings, which, together with the
Petition of the English East-India Company, having been
maturely examin'd and consider'd; they resolv'd, January
26th, 'That the Directors of the Company of Scotland,
trading to Africa and the Indies, administring and taking
here in this Kingdom an Oath de Fideli; and under colour
of a Scotch Act of Parliament, stiling themselvesa Company,
and acting as such, and raising Money in this Kingdom for
carrying on the said Company, were Guilty of a High Crime
and Misdemeanour; and that the
Daniel Van Mildert.
Walter Stewart, and
Joseph Cohen d'Azavedo,
be impeach'd of the said High Crimes and Misdemeanours,' upon the Evidence of Roderick Mackenzie; who while the Impeachment was preparing, prevaricated in it, and was order'd into Custody: but he made his Escape, and cou'd not be apprehended, notwithstanding the King, at the Request of the Commons, issu'd a Proclamation for that purpose
A Council of Trade propos'd.
Soon after this the Commons took into Consideration the Trade of this Kingdom, and resolv'd to erect a Council, for the better regulating and improving it with sufficient Powers; but it being debated whether the Members of that Council, which were to be named by the House, but not of Members, shou'd take an Oath acknowledging King William to be rightful and lawful King of England, and renouncing the Title of the late King James; it was rejected.
King's Speech on discovery of the Assassination-Plot.
'I AM come hither this Day upon an extraordinary Occasion, which might have proved fatal, if it had not been disappointed by the singular Mercy and Goodness of God; and may now, by the Continuance of the same Providence, and our own prudent Endeavours, be so improved, as to become a sufficient warning to us, to provide for our Security against the pernicious Practices and Attempts of our Enemies.
'I have received several concurring Informations of a Design to assassinate me; and that our Enemies at the same time are very forward, in their Preparations for a sudden Invasion of this Kingdom; and have therefore thought it necessary, to lose no time in acquainting my Parliament with those things, in which the Safety of the Kingdom, and the Public Welfare are so nearly concerned, that I assure myself nothing will be omitted on your part, which may be thought proper for our future Security.
'I have not been wanting to give the necessary Orders for the Fleet, and I hope we have such a Strength of Ships, and in such readiness, as will be sufficient to disappoint the Intentions of our Enemies.
'Some of the Conspirators against my Person are already in Custody, and care is taken to apprehend so many of the rest as are discovered; and such other Orders are given, as the present Exigency of Aftairs does absolutely require at this time for the Public Safety.
'Having now acquainted you with the danger which hath threatned us, I cannot doubt of your Readiness and Zeal, to do every thing which you shall judge proper for our common Safety: And I persuade myself, we must be all sensible how necessary it is in our present Circumstances, that all possible dispatch should be given to the Business before you.'
Address of both Houses.
'We your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, having taken into our serious Consideration what your Majesty hath been pleased to communicate to us this Day, think it our Duty in the first place, to give your Majesty most humble Thanks for having acquainted your Parliament with the great danger your sacred Person hath been so nearly exposed to, and the Design of an Invasion from our Enemies abroad: We heartily congratulate your Majesty's happy Preservation, and thankfully acknowledge the signal Providence of God in it; and at the same time declare our detestation and abhorrence of so villainous and barbarous a Design: And since the Safety and Welfare of your Majesty's Dominions do so entirely depend upon your Life, we most humbly beseech your Majesty to take more than ordinary care of your royal Person. And we take this Occasion to assure your Majesty of our utmost assistance to defend your Person, and support your Government, against the late King James, and all other your Enemies both at home and abroad; hereby declaring to all the World, that in case your Majesty shall come to any violent Death, (which God forbid) we will revenge the same upon all your Enemies, and their Adherents: And as an Instance of our Zeal for your Majesty's Service, we will give all possible dispatch to the Public Business: And we make it our desire to your Majesty, to seize and secure all Persons, Horses and Arms, that your Majesty may think fit to apprehend upon this Occasion.'
'My Lords and Gentlemen, I thank you heartily for this Address; on my part you may be assured, that I will do all that is within my power, for the Conservation of this Kingdom, to which I have so many Obligations. I will readily adventure my Life for the Preservation of it, and recommend myself to the Continuance of your Loyalty and good Affections.'
Several Resolutions occasioned by the Plot.
The House of Commons dropt the Sense of all former Animosities, and generously fell into the immediate Measures of Respect and Loyalty to the King; giving a new Proof of this Observation, That Plots when discovered strengthen the Government they were designed to ruin. On the same day with the Speech and Address, they Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to empower his Majesty to secure and detain such Persons, as his Majesty shall suspect are conspiring against his Person or Government. They gave several Instructions for the more effectual raising the Militia. They Resolved, That leave be given to bring in a Bill, that whenever it shall please God to afflict these Realms by the Death of his present Majesty, the Parliament then in being, shall not be dissolved thereby, but shall continue until the next Heir to the Crown in Succession; according to the late Act of Settlement, shall dissolve the same. And that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he will please to issue his royal Proclamation, to banish all Papists from the Cities of London and Westminster, and ten Miles from the same: And give Instructions to the Judges going the Circuits, to put the Laws in execution against Papists and Nonjurors. And as the greatest Test of Loyalty, they drew up this Form of Association, to be subscribed by all the Members.
Form of Association.
'Whereas there has been a horrid and detestable Conspiracy formed and carried on by Papists, and other wicked and traitorous Persons, for assassinating his Majesty's royal Person, in order to encourage an Invasion from France, to subvert our Religion, Laws and Liberty; we whose Names are hereunto subscribed, do heartily, sincerely and solemnly profess, testify and declare, that his present Majesty King William is rightful and lawful King of these Realms: And we do mutually promise, to engage to stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our Power, in the support and defence of his Majesty's most sacred Person and Government, against the late King James and all his Adherents. And in case his Majesty come to any violent or untimely Death (which God forbid) we do hereby further, freely and unanimously, oblige ourselves, to unite, associate, and stand by each other, in revenging the same upon his Enemies, and their Adherents; and in supporting and desending the Succession of the Crown, according to an Act made in the first Year of the Reign of King William and Queen Mary, entitled, An Act declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject, and settling the Succession of the Crown.'
Signed by all the Members.
This Association was on the three following Days signed by all the Members that came to the House; and because some others had absented themselves upon Pretence of Health or Business, but in Reality to avoid setting their Hands to an Acknowledgment of King William being rightful and lawful King; it was therefore ordered on Feb. 27. 'That such Members of the House who had not already signed the Association, should do it by Monday Fortnight, or declare their Refusal, notwithstanding their Leave to be absent.'
On the appointed Day, March 16th, the Names of such Members were called over, as were absent upon the last Call of the House; and several of them being still absent, in the Country, or ill in Town, signifying their Intentions to sign the Association, were excused their Attendance: And the Speaker was ordered to write to such Members as are in the Country, and have not signed the Association, or declared their Refusal so to do, to know what they will do, and to return their Answer by the first Opportunity. And at the same time the Clerk of the House was to attend such Members as were ill in town, with the said Association, in order to their signing the same, or receiving their Answer of Refusal. The absent Members seeing themselves so pressed, and the Nation at this Time in so great a Ferment against the Disaffected, thought it Prudence to yield to the Times, and either to subscribe the Association, or to promise to do it on their first coming up to Town, though it was against the Inclination of some, and perhaps against the Principles of others.
500,000 l. for the Civil-List, and 15,000 l. a Year settled on the French Protestants.
The House of Commons taking into Consideration that Part of his Majesty's Speech, at the Opening of this Parliament, which related to the Civil-List, and to the distress'd Protestants driven from their Country, by the Persecution in France under Lewis XIV. it was Resolv'd March 17. that a Fund be settled for raising 500,000 Pounds for the Civil-List, and 15,000 Pounds a Year for the French Protestants.
A Bill for Security of his Majesty's Person.
On April the 2d, upon a Report of the Examination and Confession of Sir William Perkins and Sir John Friend, it was Resolved, that a Bill be brought in for the better Security of his Majesty's Person and Government: and that, the Heads of the Bill should be,
2. To inflict a Penalty on such as shall by Writing, or otherwise, declare, that King William is not lawful and rightful King of these Realms; Or that the late King James, or the pretended Prince of Wales, or any other Person, than according to the Act of Settlement of the Crown, hath any Right to the Crown of these Realms.
Association presented to his Majesty.
The House of Commons, on Friday April the third, presented to his Majesty in a Body, the Association, with their Subscriptions to it, and at the same time requested his Majesty, that he would be pleased to order, that the said Association, and all other Associations by the Commons of England, might be lodged among the Records of the Tower. Upon which Occasion his Majesty was pleased to say,
The King's Speech on that Occasion.
I Take this as a most convincing and most acceptable Evidence of your Affection: And as you have freely associated yourselves for our common Safety, I do heartily enter into the same Association, and will be always ready with you and the rest of my good Subjects, to venture my Life, against all who shall endeavour to subvert the Religion, Laws, and Liberties of England. And I will take care, that this and all other Associations presented to me be lodged among the Records of the Tower.'
Upon Report of this gracious Acceptance, the next day the House Resolved, 'That whoever shall by Word or Writing affirm, that the Association entered into by any Member of this House, or any other Person, is illegal, such Person shall be deemed a Promoter of the Designs of the late King James, and an Enemy to the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom.'
Bill for regulating Elections, rejected.
The Act to regulate Elections of Members to serve in Parliament, pass'd both Houses, but had not the Royal Assent, when his Majesty gave it to several other Bills, most of them private ones, April 10. Upon this the House of Commons shew'd some Resentment against those that advised the King not to pass that Bill. The Question was put April 24, That whosoever advised his Majesty not to give his Royal Assent to the Bill for further regulating Elections for Members to serve in Parliament, which past both Houses, is an Enemy to the King and Kingdom. But the Majority finding by the Warmth with which the Party above-mention'd espous'd the Affirmative, that it was intended to make a Difference between the King and Parliament, did not only put a Negative upon the Question by near 150 Voices, Noes 212, Yeas 70; but it was order'd, that the Speaker do with the Votes print the Question, together with the Numbers of the Affirmative, and Negative. It must be farther observ'd the Supply given to the Crown this (fn. 2) Session, amounted to 5,024,853 l.
YOU have shewn so great Concern for my Person, and Zeal for my Government, and have done so much for the Preservation of the one, and for the strengthening of the other, by the good Laws which have been made, and by the Supplies you have provided for the several Occasions of this Year, that the late Designs of our Enemies are, by the Blessing of God, like to have no other Effect, than to let them see how strictly we are united; and to give me this Occasion to acknowledge your Kindness, and to assure you of all the Returns which a Prince can make to his People.
'The Necessity of Affairs require my Absence out of the Kingdom for some time; I do earnestly recommend to you, that in your several Stations, you will be assisting those whom I shall leave to administer the Government; and that you will be careful in preserving the Public Peace of the Kingdom.'
To have done with this Session, we must mention some Bills which were brought in, but did not pass the House; as 1. The Bill for regulating Printing and Printing-Presses. 2. A Bill for reversing a Judgment against Sir William Williams in 2 Jac. II. for what he did as Speaker of the House of Commons. 3. A Bill for settling and regulating the East-India Trade. 4. Another to regulate the Trade to Africa. 5. A Bill to confirm the Earl of Torrington's Grant. 6, 7. Two Bills to vest in the Crown all forfeited Estates in England and Ireland, and to vacate all Grants made thereof. 8. A Bill to prevent Stock-jobbing. 9. A Bill for preventing Papists from Disinheriting their Protestant Heirs.