Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1547-1629. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.
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Lunae, 23 Martii
Liberation of a Prisoner.
SIR John Heigham moveth a Matter of Commiseration (as he said) that where one Bigland, Servant to the Post-master of London, hath long continued, at great Charge, in the Custody of the Serjeant, was a poor Servant, and very sorry for his Offence; desired, that he might be freed, for the Time, by Connivence; and that the House might be further moved, at their next sitting, to give him Pardon, upon his Submission.
Upon this Motion, the Prisoner set at Liberty, for a Time.
Mr. Speaker's Illness.
Mr. Fuller proceedeth with this Motion; that seeing, by Reason of Mr. Speaker's Sickness (which, how long it might continue, was uncertain) Businesses of great Importance, now on Foot, were neglected that therefore they might enter into Debate of those Things themselves, which they might do without a Speaker; as the Matter of Spanish Cruelties and Wrongs, &c.
This was thought fit, and the Meeting of the Committee agreed to be in the Afternoon.
The Committee for the Bill of Watermen, in the Court of Wards, also appointed this Afternoon.
It was moved, that seeing Mr. Speaker is now sick, that such Committees as were appointed for Returns and Privileges, may consider what is to be done in succeeding Times, upon the like Occasion ; and was said by the Mover, that he had heard of Precedents, that a Speaker might be chosen from Day to Day, upon such Case of Absence; so as the Business of the House might proceed.
This was pursued by another: - That we are an intire Body of ourselves; that the Speaker is not our Head, but one of ourselves, and hath a Voice amongst us: That we have Power to chuse a Speaker; for he is only to moderate; and for that Purpose, we might appoint any other.
Answered, that there is no such Precedent; that the King must give Leave, and approve after Choice: That it were fit, the Committees should consider what were to be done in after-times.
Reply : - Antiquity not fabulous. - If we have no modern Precedents, fit to make a Precedent from Antiquity. - A Time when there was no Speaker, but the Lord Chancellor, the common Mouth to the whole Court of Parliament - Then the House not divided.
The nearest Precedent that be could find, was, that a Speaker did fear himself, that he should grow unable to serve : - He thought to bring it Tomorrow : - That therefore this Matter might be respited till Tomorrow, In the mean time, he hoped, Mr. Speaker might be so strong as to come; and then we might talk at Leisure of the Matter.
Moved further, that they might enter into it this Afternoon; and, upon the Motion, assented by such Members of the House as were assembled, that the Committees, formerly named for Returns and Privileges, should meet at Two a Clock this Afternoon, in the Committee Chamber, and consider of all such Precedents as could be produced, for the Proceeding of the House in the Absence of the Speaker; thereby the better to direct themselves, what were meet to be done hereafter, upon all Occasions of the Speaker's Absence, by Sickness or otherwise.
The Committees named were, Sir Francis Hastings, Mr. Lieutenant of the Tower, Mr. Attorney-general, Mr. Solicitor, Sir Edward Hobby, Sir John Heigham, Sir Geo. Moore, Sir Edward Mountague, Sir Robert Wingfield, Sir Herbert Crofts, Sir Francis Goodwyn, Sir William Strowd, Sir Robert Knollys, Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Geo. Summers, Mr. Bowyer, Mr. Fuller, Sir Nath. Bacon, Sir Tho. Knevet, Mr. Yelverton Mr. Hyde, Sir Roger Owen, Sir Antho. Cope, Sir Francis Barrington, Mr. Alford, Sir Geo. St. Poll, Mr. Pulleston, Mr. Tate, Mr. Peake, Sir Tho. Holcroft, Mr. Crewe, Mr. Martin, Mr. Brock.
Annivesary of King's Coronation.
A Motion made by Mr. Martin, that, Tomorrow being the Day of his Majesty's Coronation, they might, according to former Custom, assemble in the House, and from thence repair to the Abbey, there to hear a Sermon usually prepared for that Day: Which was approved ; and so they departed.