House of Commons Journal Volume 1: 29 March 1604

Pages 157-158

Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1547-1629. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.

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In this section

Jovis, viz. 29o Die Martii, 1604


L. 1. B. TOUCHING Exchange of Lands.

Liberties of the Subjects.

L. 2. B. To confirm unto the Subjects of the Realm of England their ancient Liberties and Privileges : - Committed to all the Privy Council of the House, the Lord Clinton, Mr. Attorney of the Wards, Mr. Thomas Crewe, all the Serjeants at Law, Mr. Francis Moore, Mr. Solicitor, Mr. Barker, Sir Henry Mountague, Mr. Lawrence Hide, Sir Robert Wroth, Sir Arthure Atye, Sir Thomas Beomount, Mr. Nathaniel Bacon, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir William Paddy, Sir Edmond Bowyer, Sir Robert Wingfield, Sir Roger Wilbraham, Mr. Winch, Mr. Lawton, Sir George Moore, Sir Edward Hobbie, Sir Daniel Dun, Mr. Fuller, Sir Francis Hastings, Sir Henry Nevill, Sir Christopher Perkins, Mr. D. James, Sir Thomas Crompton, Sir Richard Bulkley: - To meet on Saturday, at Two a Clock in the Afternoon, in the Middle Temple Hall.

Bridger's Petition; and Proceedings against him.

Mr. Speaker offereth unto the House, to be publickly read, a Petition, given unto him in Westminster Hall, in his coming to the House that Morning, by a poor Minister, whose Name was subscribed to the Petition to be Bryan Bridger.

The Petition, upon the first View, appeared unto him to contain some Matter of Scandal against the Ecclesiastical Governors and Government: and therefore had he presumed to command the Serjeant to stay the Party, until he understood the further Pleasure of the House. The Petition, being read, contained these Words:

The Direction in the Front was,

To the High Court of Parliament:

The Information of Bryan Bridger, Minister:

That the Bishops, that enforce Men to subscribe to the Ceremonies of the Church of England, are therein, and so far forth, Antichrists.

Secondly, That those Bishops, that rule as Lords and Justices, are therein Imitators of Antichrist.

Thirdly, That the whole Land is defiled by the Means of the Bishops; and therefore, and in that respect, is subject to the Judgment and Wrath of Almighty God ; of which we had a woful Taste this last Year past, and may justly yet more throughly be plagued, unless Redress be had.

Wherefore for the Glory of God, Good of his Church, and Good of this Commonweal, the sound Judgment of this present Parliament, with the especial Approbation of the King, is to be required.

Subscribed thus :

" This is the Information of Bryan Bridger, delivered to the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Twenty-ninth of March, Anno 1604."

The Petition being read, the Minister, in the Custody of the Serjeant, was brought to the Bar, and twice urged by Mr. Speaker, and by the Authority of that High Court, to make known such as were privy to that Petition. He answered, that he feared, if he should bewray any, he might give Occasion that murder should be committed. Being asked, where, or when he did contrive or write it; he said, he writ it that Morning in one Haymer, a Scrivener's Shop, in Westminster. Being urged to deliver the Reason, why he feared Murder; he said, being so informed in his Conscience, he could give no other Answer. Being further willed to expound himself, and to set down in Writing, what he meant by the said Petition; he retired to the Door, and set down thus much ; which was brought in, and read, and had a Direction, as in the First, in the Front:

To the High Court of Parliament:

The Complaint of Bryan Bridger, Minister:

Whereas I have affirmed, that the Bishops, that enforce Men to subscribe to the Ceremonies of the Church of England, are therein, and so far forth, Antichrists; and that those Bishops, that rule as Lords and Justices, are Imitators of Antichrist; and that the whole Land is denied by the Bishops, and have delivered at the least, Two Supplications to his Majesty; and have been Four Times before the High Commissioners, and Judges of Assize in Southwark; and can have no Judgment of my Cause; and that I am retained still as Prisoner, and have been by the Space of a Year, or thereabout; I desire the Judgment of this House.

It was thereupon made known to the House, that he had been sundry times examined by some of the Commissioners for Causes Ecclesiastical; that by them he had been committed to the Prison of the White Lion in Southwarke, and was at that time a Prisoner there, and had Liberty of coming abroad only by Leave of the Keeper of the Prison. Seeing he now refused, by his Confession or Submission, further to satisfy the House, it was thought fit to name a Committee to take his Examination; and withal to give Warning to the Keeper of the White Lion, and Haymer the Scrivener, in whose House he writ the Petition, to attend the Committees; who were these: Sir Daniel Dun, Mr. Solicitor, Mr. D. James, Sir Thomas Lake, Sir Roger Wilbraham, Sir John Bennet, Sir William Paddy: And these, or any Four of them, were appointed to take the Examination of Bryan Bridger, Minister, having the same Day offered a Petition to Mr. Speaker, of Scandal and Offence to the State; and were also, by Authority from the House, to call before them all others, whom they shall think fit to call in Question for the same Cause: and this to be done presently in the Court of Wards.

Bridger committed.

It was the further Judgment of the House at the same time, that Bridger should be committed to the Tower; and a Warrant made to the Serjeant, for the conveying him to the Custody of the Lieutenant accordingly.

The Warrant, conceived according to the Order, was in these Words:

WHEREAS Bryan Bridger, Minister, did this Day deliver a Petition to Mr. Speaker, containing Matter of Scandal to the Church-government, and of Offence to the State; wherewith the Commons House of Parliament being made acquainted, and the said Bridger, upon his Examination, obstinately professing and avowing it; it is thereupon resolved and ordered, that he should be committed Prisoner to the Tower : I do therefore, in the Behalf of the said House, require you to take into your Custody the Body of the said Bryan Bridger, and to deliver him to the Lieutenant of the Tower, to be kept by him close Prisoner; until he shall understand the further Pleasure of the said House. And this shall be your Warrant. From Boswell House, this Twenty-ninth Day of March, 1604.

Directed: " To my loving Friend Roger Wood Esquire,

Serjeant at Arms, attendant upon the Commons

House of Parliament."

Privilege - Jurisdiction in Elections.

Mr. Speaker relateth what he had delivered to the King, by Warrant from the House, the Day before, touching their Proceeding in Sir Francis Goodwin's Case; and his Majesty's Answer: Whereof, because Part was afterwards penned by select Committees, read in the House, and offered in Writing to the King, I have but touched the Heads, omitting many Circumstances.

He said, he first delivered, 1. The Manner and Matter: 2. Then such Precedents, as had been vouched and stood upon: 3. He opened the Body of the Law for Election.

The first Writ of Summons dated ultimo Januarii, before the Parliament: The Writ issued duly: The Liberty was free, by that Writ, to choose in pleno Comitatu: The Election was made according to that Writ, and the Indenture duly returned: and therefore adjudged by the House, that this first Election being good, the second was consequently void.

For the Matter of Utlary against Sir Francis Goodwin, there was One prosecuted against him at the Suit of Johnson, 31 Eliz. for Sixty Pounds, and was laid and proceeded in the Hustings, London: Another at the Suit of one Hacker, for Sixteen Pounds, 39 Eliz. That Sir Francis has since been chosen, admitted, and served as a Member of this House, in the several Parliaments holden 39 and 43 Eliz.

That the Utlary remained in the Hustings; so as the Law could not take Notice of it, neither was it pleadable.

1 Eliz. one Smyth was found utlawed, and privileged by the House.

23 Eliz. one Vaughan utlawed, and, upon the Question, and Division of the House, privileged; being carried with the Difference of Six Voices.

35 Eliz. Three Precedents vouched.

39 H. VI [a]. Fits-Herbert: - The Case not judged, but Opinions delivered.

Mr. John Killigrew, having Fifty-two Utlaries returned against him, was admitted to serve in the House.

Sir William Harecourt was found Eighteen times utlawed, and yet was admitted to serve.

The Manner of the Election is limited by the Statute.

The supposed Utlary 31 Eliz. against Sir Francis, was no Utlary at all; for wheresoever a Man is sued, the Proclamation ought to go into the County where the Party dwelleth; or else the Utlary is not good.

39 et 43 Eliz. the general Pardon is good for Utlaries against all, saving the Party at whose Suit.

31 Eliz. it was Franciscus Goodwin generosus.

39 Eliz. Franciscus Goodwin, Armiger. The Sheriff is no Judge of the Utlary, neither could take notice it was the same Man; and therefore could not properly return him utlawed.

His Majesty answered, he was loth he should be forced to alter his Tune; and that he should now change it into Matter of Grief, by way of Contestation. He did sample it to the Murmur and Contradiction of the People of Israel.

He did not attribute the Cause of his Grief to any Purpose in the House to offend him, but only to, a Mistaking of the Law. For Matters of Fact, he answered them all particularly. That, for his Part, he was indifferent which of them were chosen; Sir John or Sir Francis: That they could suspect no special Affection in him, because this was a Counsellor not brought in by himself.

That he had no Purpose to impeach their Privilege : But since they derived all Matters of Privilege from him, and by his Grant, he expected they should not be turned against him. That there was no Precedent did suit this Case fully: Precedents in the Times of Minors, of Tyrants, of Women, of simple Kings, not to be credited, because for some private Ends. By the Law this House ought not to meddle with Returns, being all made into the Chancery; and are to be corrected or reformed by that Court only, into which they are returned. 35 H. VI. it was the Resolution of all the Judges, that Matter of Utlary was a sufficient Cause of Dismission of any Member out of the House. That the Judges have now resolved, that Sir Francis Goodwin standeth utlawed, according to the Laws of this Land.

In Conclusion, it was his Majesty's special Charge unto us, That, first, the Course already taken should be truly reported. 2. That wre should debate the Matter, and resolve amongst ourselves, That we should admit of Conference with the Judges. 4. That we should make Report of all the Proceedings unto the Council.

This Relation being made, the House did not enter into any further Consideration of the Matter at that time; but resolved, and ordered, That it should be the first Matter moved the next Morning.

Succession of the Crown.

Sir John Popham, Lord Chief Justice of England, Sir Edmond Anderson, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Mr. Justice Fenner, Mr. Baron Clerk, and Sir Edward Cooke, his Majesty's Attorney-General, bring down from the Lords a Bill, intituled, an Act of a most joyful and just Recognition of the immediate, lawful, and undoubted Succession, Descent, and Right of the Crown.


L. 1 B. Of a most joyful and just Recognition, &c.

Sir Mathew Carew and Sir Edward Stanhope, Masters of the Chancery, bring from the Lords Three Bills intituled,

E. of Arundell.

1. An Act for Restitution of Thomas, only Son of Philip, late Earl of Arundell.

E. of Southampton.

2. An Act of Restitution of Henry Earl of Southampton.

E. of Essex.

3. An Act of Restitution of the Son and Two Daughters of Robert, late Earl of Essex.

Succession of the Crown.

L. 2. et 3. B. Of a most joyful and just Recognition &c. - And, upon the Question, passed.


L. 1. Mr. Johnson offereth a Bill to the House, intituled, An Act to explain the Intent and Purpose of another Act of Parliament, made in the Fifth Year of King Edward the Sixth, concerning Alehouses.

Privilege - Jurisdiction in Elections.

Moved, and urged by one, touching the Difference now on foot between the King and the House, That there is just Fear of some great Abuse in the late Election: That, in his Conscience, the King hath been much misinformed ; and that he had too many Misinforrners ; which, he prayed God, might be removed, or lessened in their Number: That now the Case of Sir John Fortescue and Sir Francis Goodwin was become the Case of the whole Kingdom : That old Lawyers forget, and commonly interpret the Law according to the Time: That, by this Course, the free Election of the Country is taken away, and none shall be chosen; but such as shall, please the King and Council. Let us therefore, with Fortitude, Understanding, and Sincerity, seek to maintain our Privilege; which cannot be taken or construed any Contempt in us, but merely a Maintenance of our common Right, which our Ancestors have left us, and is just and fit for us to transfer to our Posterity.

Another: - For a Law to be made, that never any Man outlawed should, shew his Face here again. The Difference, he observed, was some unrespective Carriage towards his Majesty in this Matter; and therefore let our Proceeding be dutiful, and careful towards him, in advising of some speedy Course to give his Majesty Satisfaction ; that is (as he conceived) according to the King's Project: First, to advise amongst ourselves, and then to confer with the Judges ; not as Parliament-men, but as Counsellors; not as though they were to reverse our Errors, but that we might be better informed. -

Not now the Case of Sir John and Sir Francis, but a Case of great Difference between the King and us; wherein we are deeply to consider the Consequence, if this Pique be bruited in the Country abroad, or beyond the Seas. It is fit we let the King see how much we take to Heart this Matter; sithence our Affections have so much appeared in the Passing and present Expediting of the Act of Recognition, &c.

Conclusion. That we should tender our humble Petition to his Majesty, for Leave to make a Law for the Banishing of all Outlaws hereafter from the Parliament: And pray, that we may hold all our Privileges intire.

A third: - That we ought not to contest with the King: That it is fit to have a Conference : That by it we shall lose no Privilege, but rather gain ; for the Matters of the Conference will be Two; Satisfaction of the King, and putting in Certainty our Privilege. All is not yet said, that may be said. We are not to dispute with one that is Governor of Thirty Legions: Confitendum est, ne frustra interrogasset. Let us deal plainly and freely with the Lords, and let them know all the Reasons. They are jealous of the Honour of a Privy Counsellor, we of the Freedom of Election. It is fit great Men maintain their Prerogative; so is it fit, that we maintain our Privileges. This is a Court of Record ; therefore ought we by all Means seek to preserve the Honour and Dignity of it. If a Burgess be chosen for Two Places, the Burgess makes his Choice for which he will serve; and a Warrant shall be directed from Mr Speaker, in the Name of the House, to the Clerk of the Crown, to send forth a Writ for a new Election for the other Place left; which is a direct Proof that it is a Court of Power, and of Record. We have a Clerk, and a Register: All Matters that pass here are entered of Record, and preserved. As they stand for the Honour of a Counsellor, so we for our Privileges. It is to be wished that we had a,Law to declare our Privileges: That we have a Court of Record, and a Register.

Objec. We (they say) are but half of the Body ; and the Lords are the Parts nearest the Head.

Answ. Nothing ascends to the Head, but by the Breasts, &c.

Conclusion. That we may pray, it maybe explained by a Law, what our Privileges are ; and that no Man outlawed may hereafter be admitted.

There must be a Judge of the Return, before we sit; and this is now judged, according to the positive Laws of the Realm, by the King; which infringeth not our Liberty, since we judge, after the Court is set, according to Discretion,

No Precedent, that any Man was put out of the House for Utlary : Therefore, it had been fit, we should have desired to inform the King, that he was misinformed.

Let us now leave this particular Case to the King; and consider and resolve of the material Questions, that will fall out in the Debate of it: 1. Whether this Court hath Power to take notice of Returns made before we sit here: 2. Whether Men outlawed may be of the House : 3. Whether a Man pardoned, having not sued forth a Writ of Scire facias, may be called in question: 4. Whether the Writ were returned the Seventeenth of February, or no, upon Oath of the Sheriff.

Some others were strong in Opinion, that we ought not to confer, nor to commit; saying, That Majesty had conferred with Justice : yet Majesty had left the Stopping of the Wound to us. We should taint ourselves with Three great Blemishes, if we should alter our Judgment, Levity, Cruelty, and Cowardice. There be Three Degrees of upright Judgment; Motion, Examination, Judgment: All these have passed us. No Court can reform their own Judgment. Every Day a Term here. Every Act, that passeth this House, is an Act of Parliament, Shall Justice float up and down ? Shall he be a Member To-day, and shall we tear him off To-morrow ? If the Member be sound, it is Violence : If the Hand tear the rest, it is Cruelty. No Part torn, but it may bleed, to the Ruin of the Whole. Let Sir Francis Goodwin stand as he is. Duty and Courage may stand together. Let not the House be inveigled by Suggestions. This may be called a Quo Warranto, to seize our Liberties.

There hath been Three main Objections :

1. The King's Exception: We could shew no Precedent in this Kind.

Answer. The King could shew no such Writ before.

Our Hands were never sought to be closed before, nor we prevented. It opens a Gap, to thrust us all into the Petty Bag. A Chancellor may call a Parliament of what Persons he will, by this Course : Any Suggestion, by any Person, may be Cause of sending a new Writ.

2. Ob. By the Lord Chief Justice : By the Law we had nothing to do to examine Returns.

Answer. Judges cannot take notice of private Customs or Privileges; but we have a Privilege, which stands with the Law : The Judges informed the King of the Law, but not of a Case of Privilege. It is true, 35 H. VI. all the Judges resolved, that no outlawed Man ought to be admitted; but that was controuled by Parliament. It is the same Opinion now : Let us controul it as then. We have done no Offence to the State: Let us therefore be constant in our own Judgments.

3. Objection. ***

Another : - The King's Pleasure, that we should deliver the Reasons of that we have done, to be just. - If we clear our Contempt, we have discharged ourselves. The King's Bench cannot reverse their Judgment the same Term; therefore not the Parliament. Let us send a Message to the Lords, that we are ready so to do, as we do not undo this House.

Others: - Non coronabitur, qui non legitime certaverit. - Not to be termed a Difference between his Majesty and the Commons. Rogamus, Auguste; non pugnamus. The Question is not of Matter of Privilege, but of Judgment.

Let us attend them as Lords of the Council, and not as Lords of Parliament.

We do no ways contest or contend with his Majesty. The King is no way bound in Honour. If Writs go forth unduly, they may be controuled without Impeachment to the King's Honour: It is the Act of his inferior Officers. It is now come to this Question, whether the Chancery, or Parliament, ought to have Authority.

Quest. Whether we ought to satisfy the King in his Commandment?

The King's Message was, that we should consider within ourselves, and resolve of ourselves; then no need to confer with the Judges. If we cannot, then it is fit to be resolved by the Judges.

The Judges have judged, and we have judged; what need then of Conference? Let there be no Spark of that Grace taken from us, which we have had already from his Majesty. Let our Reasons be put into Articles, and delivered in all Humbleness unto him.

Upon the Conclusion of this Debate, in this Manner, the House proceeded to Question : And the first was,

1. Q. Whether the House was resolved in the Matter ? And the Question was answered, by general Voice, That the whole House was resolved.

2. Q. Whether the Reasons of their Proceeding shall be set down in Writing ?

Resolved, That they shall be set down in Writing: And Ordered further. That a Committee should be named for that Purpose, and appointed, first, to set them down in Writing; and to bring them to the House, there to be published, and to receive their Allowance.

The Committees were instantly named; viz. Sir Robert Wingfield, Sir George Moore, Sir Francis Bacon, Mr.Yelverton, Mr. Dyet, Sir Francis Hastings, Mr. Hedley, Mr. Recorder of London, Mr. Martin, Sir Arthure Atye, Mr. Francis Tate, Sir Roland Litton, Sir Henry Nevill, Mr. Attorney of the Wards, Sir John Hollis, Sir Robert Wroth, Sir Edw. Hobby, Sir Francis Barrington, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Hyde, Mr. Fuller, Sir Edward Mountague, Mr. Ravenscroft, Sir Wm. Fleetwood, Mr. Winch, Sir Tho. Chaloner, Mr. Solicitor. Sir Roger Wilbraham, Sir John Thynne, Sir John Scot, Mr. Hitcham, Sir Edward Stafford, Sir John Mallory, Sir Herbert Crofts, Sir Francis Fane, Sir Richard Molyneux, Sir John Hungerford, Sir Edward Herbert, all the Serjeants at Law, Mr. Nath. Bacon, Mr. Hext: - To meet this Afternoon, at Two a Clock, in the Exchequer Chamber.

The Authority given unto them by the House, was this:

The House being resolved, upon the Question, That the Reasons of their precedent Resolution, touching the Return, Admittance, and Retaining of Sir Francis Goodwin, as a Member of this House, should be set down in Writing ; these Committees were specially appointed to perform that Service; and have Warrant from the House, to send for any Officer, to view and search any Record, or other thing of that Kind,which may help their Knowledge, or Memory, in this particular Service: And having deliberately, by general Consent, set down all such Reasons, they are to bring them in Writing into the House; there to be read, and approved, as shall be thought fit.